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Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

After 15 years of great discussions, the Sweetwater Forums are now closed and preserved as a "read-only" resource. For discussions about current gear, check us out on Facebook, YouTube, inSync, and our Knowledge Base.

Audio Interface and Mic Preamp


Can a audio interface be a microphone preamp? I am getting a mic soon and have to know what i need for it. Could i use a microphone preamp, and not use a audio interface or what?
February 24, 2013 @09:17pm

Microphone preamps exist as part of a great many "interfaces." Standalone microphone preamps can be used with any interface that has a proper line-in. Usually you want a +4dBu rated input rather than -10dBV one. The former may be called professional, the later is normal for home audio equipment. Sometimes they can be switched from one to the other, for your convenience.
For almost all microphones, if you want it to work, you need a microphone preamp. If you want to record onto a computer through your microphone, you need some way into the computer, mostly some way that includes analogue to digital converters (one of the primary parts of an audio interface).
USB microphones are generally a poor choice for music or other serious work but they contain both preamp and converters, so all you need is a USB port on the computer. That is all you need to get something into the computer, but quite possibly far short of what you need for a satisfactory result. It all depends on what you are doing.
February 25, 2013 @06:05am

Could i use a microphone preamp, and not use a audio interface or what?

No. Microphones and preamps put out voltage and that needs to be translated into numbers for the computer.
You need an interface so the current from the mic is translated to numbers for the computer.
As Andy said, interfaces that you plug a mic into contain preamps.
Stand-alone preamps may be boutique (fancier) but they will output a line-level analog signal that needs to be turned into numbers by an interface with a line-level input.
February 25, 2013 @02:02pm