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Old 14th August 2016
Lives for gear
enossified's Avatar

Preamps are something of a fad, at least in the sense that people just used to record through the pres of their mixing boards.

Now that using big studio mixers are out of the reach of many (mostly because using big studios are out of reach), you can buy standalone preamps that duplicate (or try to) the circuitry of various Neve, API, Harrison, Abbey Road consoles, you name it. There's also software simulations of all those preamps.

Face it, anything you run the signal through has the potential to change the sound for the better or the worse. Mikes need preamps because of the low level, but the line level of a synth does not need further amplification, it could be patched straight into an analog tape deck or an A/D converter.

So, are preamps important? If every other part of your recording and mixing chain is fantastic, a nice preamp might add something that you would like. If your current chain is crap, forget it and spend your money improving that first.