Best Mic Preamp: Enhance Your Voice

Last updated on:

If you have a recording studio setup at home, you probably must have often noticed that when you record a song with a microphone, for instance, the signal or the output level produced by the mic is too weak.

This means that it can’t be used by any other equipment or tool present in your home studio.

Winner
TRITON AUDIO FetHead in-Line Microphone Preamp
ART TubeMPSTV3 Variable Valve Voicing Tube Mic Preamp With Limiter
Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC100 Audiophile Vacuum Tube Preamplifier with Limiter
Best For The Money
rolls Mini Microphone Preamp, Black (MP13)
IK Multimedia iRig Pre Microphone Preamp For Smartphones And Tablets
Our Rating
9.8
9.7
9.5
9.6
9.3
Dimensions
4.7 x 1.1 x 1.1 inches
5.0 x 5.5 x 2.0 inches
5.3 x 5.3 x 2.5 inches
5 x 5 x 5 inches
8.8 x 5.8 x 1.8 inches
Weight
0.55 pounds
1.5 pounds
2.2 pounds
1.05 pounds
0.53 pounds
Warranty
2 years
1 year
3 years
1 year
1 year
Inputs / Outputs
3-pin female XLR input and a balanced 3-pin male XLR output
1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4", 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4"
1/4” TRS and gold-plated XLR inputs and outputs
XLR and 3.5mm inputs, XLR and 1/4" outs
1 x XLR, 1 x 1/8" TRRS plug
Winner
TRITON AUDIO FetHead in-Line Microphone Preamp
Our Rating
9.8
Dimensions
4.7 x 1.1 x 1.1 inches
Weight
0.55 pounds
Warranty
2 years
Inputs / Outputs
3-pin female XLR input and a balanced 3-pin male XLR output
ART TubeMPSTV3 Variable Valve Voicing Tube Mic Preamp With Limiter
Our Rating
9.7
Dimensions
5.0 x 5.5 x 2.0 inches
Weight
1.5 pounds
Warranty
1 year
Inputs / Outputs
1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4", 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4"
Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC100 Audiophile Vacuum Tube Preamplifier with Limiter
Our Rating
9.5
Dimensions
5.3 x 5.3 x 2.5 inches
Weight
2.2 pounds
Warranty
3 years
Inputs / Outputs
1/4” TRS and gold-plated XLR inputs and outputs
Best For The Money
rolls Mini Microphone Preamp, Black (MP13)
Our Rating
9.6
Dimensions
5 x 5 x 5 inches
Weight
1.05 pounds
Warranty
1 year
Inputs / Outputs
XLR and 3.5mm inputs, XLR and 1/4" outs
IK Multimedia iRig Pre Microphone Preamp For Smartphones And Tablets
Our Rating
9.3
Dimensions
8.8 x 5.8 x 1.8 inches
Weight
0.53 pounds
Warranty
1 year
Inputs / Outputs
1 x XLR, 1 x 1/8" TRRS plug

This is where a microphone preamp comes in. This is a device that helps boost and amplify the weak signal so that you can use it with other equipment in your studio, be it your recording software or simply your computer.

The main job of a mic preamp is to bring up the signals to the standard operating levels that should be achieved by your recording gear.

To help you find a nice mic preamp for your home project, here is a handy guide, “Best Mic Preamp: Enhance Your Voice,” that lists some of our top mic preamp choices.

Winner: TRITON AUDIO FetHead in-Line Microphone Preamp

TRITON AUDIO FETHEAD IN-LINE MICROPHONE PREAMP

Key Impressive Features

  • 4 matched JFETs
  • Low-Noise Class-A JFET Amplifier
  • Easy install with just 2 clicks
  • Shielded, well-protected enclosure
  • Perfect for ribbon and dynamic microphones

Benefits

The TRITON AUDIO FetHead in-Line Microphone Preamp is one of the highest quality in-line microphone amplifiers, making it our winner product that helps enhance your voice.

It has a unique low-noise feature that helps provide top-quality sound, especially when used with dynamic and ribbon microphones.

This microphone preamp is ideal for using at home, on tours, and also in professional studios. The electronics of this product are encased within a robust and hard metal chassis that ensures great protection and durability.

It features a balanced 3-pole female XLR input along with a 3-pole male XLR output, which makes the FetHead microphone preamp great for rugged use, be it at a home studio or a professional studio.

The circuit of this mic preamp makes use of 48v phantom power, but at the same time, it also provides maximum protection to the microphone by shielding it from its input and output.

This is quite a standout feature because there are many ribbon microphones that don’t have the ability to withstand phantom power.

The FetHead mic preamp has the edge over the others in this regard because it greatly protects the microphone from the effects of phantom power.

One of the best things about this mic preamp is that it’s super easy to install and use.

All you need to do is attach it to the cable of any balanced microphone and then directly insert that into the main body of the microphone. You can then thoroughly enjoy clean gain by switching on the phantom power

You will also love the ‘low-noise, high-quality’ feature of this product that provides enhanced signal amplification that further increases the range and usability of a ribbon microphone.

This makes it one of the best microphone preamps for recording softer passages. 

Drawbacks and Downsides

One downside of the FetHead mic preamp is that it’s a tad heavy on the pocket. Although it does everything exactly as advertised, some people might still think that it could be a little cheaper in terms of price.

Secondly, this product can tend to get very loud and might even end up clicking with 0.5 gain. Other than that, it’s an excellent little mic preamp.

Buying Advice

If you go on tours a lot, this product is ideal for you, given its super small size. It’s also a must-have product if you run a home-based recording studio.

It doesn’t really have many drawbacks, performs every function flawlessly, and is extremely handy. So, if you have enough of a budget to spare and wish to invest in a long-lasting mic preamp, go for the TRITON AUDIO FetHead in-Line Microphone Preamp.

Runner Up: ART TubeMPSTV3 Tube Mic Preamp

ART TUBEMPSTV3 VARIABLE VALVE VOICING TUBE MIC PREAMP

Key Impressive Features

  • V3 (Variable Valve Voicing) Technology
  • OPL (Output Protection Limiter)
  • +48v phantom power
  • +20dB switch
  • Hand-selected 12AX7a Tube

Benefits

The ART TubeMPSTV3 Variable Valve Voicing Tube Mic Preamp with Limiter is another excellent mic preamp that has primarily been designed for never-ending exceptional performance.

It features a super sturdy all-steel construction that ensures great durability and protection against possible wear and tear.

One of the main reasons why this product is one of the best microphone preamps is that it contains some very unique features that give it an edge over other microphones.

For instance, it features the new V3 (Variable Valve Voicing) Technology that greatly optimizes the reference points that are required for a recording process.

The V3 technology allows you to hone the perfect tone by providing you multiple presents for each recording instrument.

The best part is that you can also tweak these presets as per your liking in order to make all your recordings sound absolutely flawless and professional.

Another feature is the ART’s OPL (Output Protection Limiter), which plays a very important role in maintaining the output peak signal so that it can be controlled with accuracy.

Additionally, the OPL is necessary for maximum protection of all the following links in a signal change, for instance, when using a sound card or a hard disk recording system.

This mic preamp has majorly been designed to be used with a microphone; the design of this product also allows you to use it as a direct box.

You can plug it into any instrument you want where it will do its best to improve the sound quality of the instrument and greatly amplify the overall results.

You will particularly love how this mic preamp delivers exceptional results, similar to those of any professional recording studio.

What makes it one of the top best preamps are amazing factors like +48V phantom power, clip LED, and professional sound quality.

Drawbacks and Downsides

A drawback of this mic preamp is that the variable voice settings of this product often don’t do much even when you don’t use it as a limiter.

Secondly, the meter tends to stop functioning, which can lead to substantial noise and hum in your audio recordings.

Buying Advice

If you are looking for an inexpensive mic preamp with some really striking features, RT TubeMPSTV3 Variable Valve Voicing Tube Mic Preamp with Limiter certainly won’t disappoint you.

Minus a few downsides, it’s an excellent product that offers professional studio-level performance, whether you’re working on a hard-disk, a computer, or even a digital multi-track recorder.

It’s ideal for those people who have a home-based recording studio and are looking for a versatile tool for home recording projects.

Alternative: Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC100 Tube Preamplifier

BEHRINGER TUBE ULTRAGAIN MIC100 TUBE PREAMPLIFIER

Key Impressive Features

  • Hand-selected 12AX7 vacuum tube
  • UTC technology
  • +48 V phantom power
  • 20 dB Pad
  • Phase Reverse switch
  • 8-segment LED level meter

Benefits

The Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC100 Audiophile Vacuum Tube Preamplifier with Limiter is an incredible high-end preamplification device for all your audio projects.

It is not only designed for microphones but also works well with line-level and instrumental resources.

This is one of the best microphone preamps on the market and significantly caters to your studio-grade condenser microphones.

Whether you have a hard disk recording set up, a proper studio, or even a live setup, this mic preamp every arrangement with perfection.

It features UTC technology along with a hand-selected 12AX7 vacuum tube that guarantees the lowest level of noise coupled with incomparable warmth.

Furthermore, this device comes with a great output limiter that prevents distortion in the output signals.

The MIC100 tube preamplifier is just ideal for live and studio recording applications. In both cases, you’ll experience great flexibility and versatility with the help of the product’s ¼” TRS and gold-plated XLR inputs and outputs.

It allows you to monitor the output levels quite accurately with its 8-segment LED meter, which comes in extremely handy during audio sessions.  

At a fairly low price, this mic preamp is like an all-in-one product that provides you the prime combination of a high-end DI box’s sound quality with that of a vintage tube preamp.

When you use it as a DI box, you will notice that it guarantees exceptional signal transparency.

Drawbacks and Downsides

While it is surely an outstanding product, one major downside of this mic preamp is that it is quite noisy, more than what has been advertised. The LED light bar further adds to the noise, which ends up vibrating the power supply.

However, the noise does end up muting when you start recording or playing on the device.

Buying Advice

If you are looking for a combination of decent features at a very low price, the MC100 is a great product for you. It’s perfect for live and studio setup recording sessions, so if you do either of those, you will thoroughly enjoy this product.

It is also quite easy to set up and use, so if you are a beginner, you might want to buy this product for starters.

Best for the Money: Rolls Mini Black Microphone Preamp

ROLLS MINI BLACK MICROPHONE PREAMP

Key Impressive Features

  • +24 Volts phantom power
  • Works with phantom, dynamic and Headset microphones
  • Small size
  • Single-channel design
  • Single mic preamp
  • Clip LED indicator

Benefits

The Rolls Mini Black Microphone Preamp is a simple, mini, cost-effective mic preamp and a great solution to all your audio and recording woes.

It consists of a single-channel feature that is flexible and versatile enough to suit a variety of numerous applications.

This product is ideal for stereo or mono applications and comes with a single gain control featuring a LED clip indicator. It supplies excellent phantom power and also delivers exceptional amplification levels to any microphone that you pair with it.

Some of the major benefits provided by this microphone preamp include great versatility, ease of use, maximum convenience, good power output, great audio, and clear sounds.

Furthermore, it packs into a small space given its fairly small size and provides +24V Phantom power, which is ideal for condenser microphones.

Drawbacks and Downsides

One downside that you are likely to notice in this mic preamp is that it has quite an obvious noise floor and can end up being a tad noise for your requirements.

The noise level at full gain can be incredibly annoying and tends to worsen if any of the XLR connectors are moved from their places.

Secondly, the XLR input connector of this microphone preamp is also a little unstable. It works great when it is still, but if you ever mistakenly wiggle the cable, it tends to produce quite a loud pop.

Buying Advice

This product is a great cost-effective solution, so if you have a low budget, this one is quite a decent option for your audio and recording sessions.

It is also very handy and small in size, which makes it a must-have mic preamp for studio applications.

Runner Up: IK Multimedia iRig Pre Microphone Preamp

IK MULTIMEDIA IRIG PRE MICROPHONE PREAMP

Key Impressive Features

  • 1 x 9V power supply
  • +48v Phantom power
  • 16″ / 40cm cable and Velcro strap for easy positioning
  • 15.75” cord for easy connection
  • Headphone output
  • XLR input connector for microphones

Benefits

With a +48V phantom power and 30 hours battery life, the IK Multimedia iRig Pre Microphone Preamp for Smartphones and Tablets is yet another one of the best mic preamps and a high-quality device that is compatible with Android, iPad, and iPhone!

This product offers you a wonderful opportunity to record high-quality audios where the XLR output allows you to connect your device with a variety of microphones such as condenser mics, ribbon as well as dynamic.

It is one of the first microphone preamps that have been designed to support the iOS platform and is even compatible with android devices. If you wish to upgrade the function, all you need to do is switch on the phantom power feature.

It is a great device that allows you to attach your favorite microphone to any of your iOS devices, which you can use to create music from wherever you are.

It features an ultra-compact design that makes it travel-friendly, super portable, and can fit almost everywhere. The phantom power of the iRig microphone can be used by connecting any condenser microphone to your iOS device.

Furthermore, this amazing little mic preamp comes with a 3.5 mm headphone that helps you monitor the sound while it’s being processed.

All these features make it the perfect mic preamp for any recording situation, especially considering how it supports all types of microphones. It also comes with an adjustable gain that helps you achieve the optimum level of sound.

The 9V battery works amazingly well, giving it a 30-hour battery life, which reduces to 10 hours when you switch on the flip for phantom power.

Drawbacks and Downsides

As amazing as this mic preamp is, it also comes with a fair share of downsides and drawbacks.

Firstly, the built-in amplifier that comes with this product produces a lower level of output if you compare it with any standard microphone preamp. The volt produced by this device often ends up being unusable for many mixers and speakers.

Secondly, the headphone jack only works well when you have the TRRS cable connected with a phone or PC that is supposed to send the output to the TRRS connector.

Buying Advice

This mic preamp does have a few benefits and is extremely easy on the pocket, but also has quite a few considerable disadvantages.

You should probably research a lot before buying his product. However, it also does have a few features that give it an edge over its competitors.

Microphone Preamp FAQs

Why Do You Need a Mic Preamp?

The main purpose of a microphone preamp is to increase low-level signals up to the point that they match the standard line level. The line level is defined as the typical or average operating level that should be provided by any recording gear.

If you have a home studio set up, you will require a microphone preamplifier for numerous reasons such as better sound quality, special sound characters, more gain level, and lower noise, to name a few.

Microphones are known to provide very low and unusable output levels, so a mic preamp basically boosts that output to a usable sound level.  

What’s the Best Mic Preamp for Vocals?

There are many amazing mic preamps for vocals, each of which offers unique features and functions.

One example is the Focusrite OctoPre, which is a highly professional and top-quality piece of equipment. It is a 5-star preamp with a great distribution of LED output meters. It is also quite simple, easy to use, and extremely versatile.

Do Tube Mics Need a Preamp?

Yes, a tube mic also requires a preamp. Basically, tube mics have quite different requirements as compared to condenser microphones. So, they do need an extra power supply to power the tube as well as to provide higher current and voltage.

How Do You Set up a Mic Preamp?

Here is a simple, easy guide on how to set up a mic preamp.

  1. The first thing you need to do is set the gain controls appropriately. They should typically be at least 10 dB below 0 dBFS. One important thing to remember is that you always play or sing louder than what you here on a recorded version.
  2. Different mic preamps have varying numbers of knobs to determine the level of the gain. Look at the manual of your mic preamp to see if it just has the gain control or also has level control.
  3. If you wish to create saturation effects, you can increase the gain control way more than the requirement and then use the output control to attenuate the signal in order to prevent digital clipping.
  4. If, however, you want undisturbed audio without saturation effects, use the standard level of gain and crank up the output level in order to prevent internal distortion.
  5. If your microphone produces too much level, you might have to tone down the signal by using a pad switch. Attach the pad switch to the microphone to calm the signal and enhance the sound quality. However, this option should always be your last resort because microphone pads can actually end up worsening the situation.

Conclusion

Choosing the right mic preamp for your studio is extremely vital if you wish to greatly enhance your voice and the quality of the sound output.

Use our guide to find the best mic preamp and have a fantastic recording session like never before!


Best Mic Preamp: Enhance Your Voice 1

Lucas Turner

Lucas Turner didn’t have a childhood filled with music—he traded in his toolbox at a pawn shop one day (because he just realized he wasn’t good at construction) for a guitar, and spent the day learning. From there, he practiced other instruments and built his own in-home recording studio from the ground up, learning everything about audio production along the way. Today, he’s showing you everything he’s learned, and divulging his ever-expanding archive of knowledge on recording hardware, software, and the right home studio conditions.