Originally Posted by maisonvague
I've gotten a lot of information from the standard "preamp shoot-outs" in other forums on this site.
It wasn't until I actually experienced it myself first-hand that I became a convert to using high quality preamps with my synths. I bought a UAD Solo 610 awhile back for vocals and the odd single mic acoustic recording and then one day tried it out as a DI box on one of my analog synths. Wow. What a sound!
I wouldn't use that preamp on every track for sure, but it has a lot more character and color than the neutral (but adequate) preamps on either my Mackie VLZ3 mixer or MOTU 8pre.
I then invested in a UA 4-710d which has both solid-state and tube preamps or a blend of the two. Synths sound fantastic through this as well. What's nice about the 4-710d is that it has a good quality A/D converter onboard which can be light-piped elsewhere via ADAT.
I'm not necessarily recommending these model preamps, but rather only that IMO there is something to be gained from using higher-end preamps than what one normally finds on the average audio interface. The landscape is constantly changing, however, as audio interfaces continue to improve. The need for expensive outboard preamps for synths is slowly diminishing it would seem.
100% agreed on the sentiment here, a preamp will open up the sound of your synths, doesn't even have to be expensive.
I'm always amazed at how much we'll all spend on synths and then have no preamp, crap converters, and headphones for monitoring
Even a decent FX unit can bring more new sound out of ALL your synths over buying just one more synth,
Recommends: UA make good but affordable, buy used and try to find a Pacifica, a racked pair of API 512c, or visit the low-end section and there will be plenty of great options there too (all equally valid)