A type of amplifier specifically designed to amplify signals from microphones. Mic amps come in all shapes and sizes. Usually there are several built in to most mixing boards, but there are hundreds of different outboard units as well. Mic amps are often referred to as preamps, or mic preamps. Either way they are designed to work with the relatively low level and potentially fragile signals produced by microphones (see WFTD Mic Level). Since there are so many different types of mics (condenser, moving coil, ribbon, etc.) signal levels and impedances can vary widely. Besides sounding better in general, a good mic amp is better equipped to maintain the integrity of the signal under these widely diverse conditions.