The Top Microphone Pre Amp For Vocals

Dave Mostert
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If you’re a singer, singer-songwriter or working in music production, you probably already know how important it is to have a good microphone.

While you can sing (or record other instruments) into a cheap mic, an even better option is to use a more expensive one, as it will automatically sound better.

Conveniently though, not all mic pre amps are created equal, and picking the best model for your vocals or instrument recording can be a tough one, especially when there are so many available.

NameCategoryProduct
Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic ActivatorBest OverallCloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic Activator
Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 Audiophile Vacuum Tube Microphone/Line PreamplifierBudget PickBehringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 Audiophile Vacuum Tube Microphone/Line Preamplifier
Solid State Logic Alpha VHDUpgrade PickSolid State Logic Alpha VHD

1. Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic Activator

Our rating: 9 / 10

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic Activator

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Pros:

  • Adjustable volume settings
  • Minimal design
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Perfect for using with a range of voice applications including vocals, loops, and cell phones
  • Compatible with a wide range of microphones
  • Offers a complete overview of the recording environment

The Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic Activator helps you to raise the level of your vocals or voice-overs, while keeping the sound of the room you’re in out of the recording.

You might be wondering just how something so tiny can accomplish this, but in fact it has a trick up its sleeve. The tiny microphone-port mounted device boosts your gain up to 20dB and cancels out background noise. It does this through a gyrator-based moving coil design with special circuitry that makes your voice stand out on tracks that many people listen through.

Other options utilize multiple microphones or complex heavy units, while Cloudlifter CL-1 comes in a minuscule package. It utilizes a single 6.35mm input jack and works with phantom power. This means you can treat and use a variety of microphones with relative ease.

2. dbx 286s Stereo 2-Way

Our rating: 9 / 10

dbx 286s Stereo 2-Way

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Pros:

  • Consistent performance on vocals
  • Comprehensive connectivity options
  • Solid design

There are plenty of excellent options for a mic preamp, but ultimately, we chose the dbx 286s as our top pick when you want to record vocals cleanly and enhance your vocals using a preamp for vocals. Besides, this two-way crossover with a four-way option capable of processing excellently both vocals and instruments.

It provides a high-quality output that uses all the design-specific features to improve performance when compared to other crossover systems or basic microphone preamps. The strong A/D converter handles highly-specified digital audio tracks with no issues.

The dbx 286s helps reduce background noise with a high-pass filter, as well as eliminate feedback with a tri-mode filters featuring low-, high- and band-pass controls. Plus, it comes with switchable/variable 20Hz bass roll-off.

3. ART ProMPAII Two Channel Discrete Class A Microphone Preamp

Our rating: 8 / 10

ART ProMPAII Two Channel Discrete Class A Microphone Preamp

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Pros:

  • Easy operation
  • Low noise
  • Superior sound quality
  • Eliminates hum and noise in the analog domain
  • Sound is smooth and detail is crisp
  • Accentuates and pronounces vocals
  • Bass is full and tight
  • Class A circuitry
  • Precise gain controls
  • High quality components

Cons:

  • No Phantom Power
  • Chassis is a little flimsy
  • No gain control for Microphone
  • Chassis doesn’t lock down

This is a very high-quality, very unique and innovative preamp, so you’ll want to read on to find out why we love it so much.

ART is a company that is well-known for creating exceptional professional audio equipment. They use only the highest quality components in all of their products. That comes across clearly in this preamp.

This product features a 2-channel design that makes it simple to use in a variety of situations. There are also 2 separate gain controls per channel, which is great when you’re working with multiple microphones.

4. Grace Design m101 Single channel microphone preamplifier

Our rating: 8 / 10

Grace Design m101 Single channel microphone preamplifier

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Pros:

  • Available in a wide range of configurations to suit different budgets
  • Solid construction
  • Input impedance option
  • Easy to use
  • High-quality design
  • User-friendly

The Grace Design m101 is a mic preamp that has been specifically designed with recording vocals in mind. It is a single-channel microphone preamp that brings together some of the best technology on the market.

The m101 is the entry-point for the Grace Design range of microphone preamps, and one of the best choices for anyone who needs a high-quality setup. The preamp features a volume knob, a microphone gain control, and a -10dB pad control.

There is also a switchable output impedance, meaning that you can change the sound of your vocals by selecting between 100ohms and 600ohms. There is one input, and the appropriate cables are provided to connect the microphone.

5. PreSonus BlueTube DP V2 2-channel Mic/Instrument Tube Preamp

Our rating: 7 / 10

PreSonus BlueTube DP V2 2-channel Mic/Instrument Tube Preamp

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Pros:

  • Proximity control ensures a consistent, quiet, and natural acoustic guitar sound
  • Specially engineered for vocals, which can be a challenge to record
  • Comes at a relatively low price considering its quality
  • Plug-and-play connection for any studio or stage setup
  • Lots of different settings to get the exact sound you want
  • Two compressors with level, low, and unity settings
  • Dual inputs with XLR/TRS combo jacks
  • Control room erasing and quality components
  • Great for recording high-quality vocal or instrument tracks
  • True bypass

For any musician, a microphone preamp is one of the most crucial pieces of equipment you carry. Without it, your sound will most likely be underwhelming. But, with the right preamp you could turn a so-so performance into a hit. The Proximity Control and two compressors work well together to produce you a crisp vocal recorded at a distance.

The BlueTube DP V2 could be used in the home studio or in pro-level studios, and with this one product you can instantly improve your recordings. The preamp can handle high-gain and hot instruments and is completely plug-and-play, so it makes recording and getting your sound out or getting it ready for a performance much easier.

6. Solid State Logic Alpha VHD

Our rating: 6 / 10

Solid State Logic Alpha VHD

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Pros:

  • Great for applications like podcasting and voiceover
  • Classic preamp design is great for audiophiles
  • Dual-channel option for processing multiple signals
  • Flexible input options
  • Great for miking instruments
  • Integrated features make this product easy to use
  • Affordable price point
  • Audible enhancements make music sound more impressive and clear
  • Soft-knee compression circuit minimizes overload
  • Great features for the price

This is a graphical mic preamp from Solid State Logic that is a great value for the price.

Being a part of a larger line of audio equipment, this is an audio interface that allows the user to get a crystal clear sound. This product has been designed to make things like instrument miking and voiceover more professional.

This device includes a sturdy and durable metal chassis. It also allows you to take full advantage of advanced features like balanced XLR and TRS inputs.

7. Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 Audiophile Vacuum Tube Microphone/Line Preamplifier

Our rating: 6 / 10

Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 Audiophile Vacuum Tube Microphone/Line Preamplifier

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Pros:

  • Works instantly with little to no setup
  • Easy to use volume and gain controls.
  • Can be used on both model kits as well as your vocals.
  • Drive option gives it an even warmer sound

Cons:

  • NO SKEWING!

The Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 will certainly give your sound an airy, expansive, and punchy pre-amp. This pre-amp allows you to boost your vocals or instrument and eliminate background noise. This preamp is the type that you plug in as soon as you get it out of the box, move a switch or two, and then you can use it.

With a preamp like this one, you can really take your performances to a whole other level. This highly rated pre-amp lets you instantly see the results of your different adjustments.

This pre-amp is no doubt a good value. The price is affordable considering it gives you high quality sound and all the extra features. The majority of people who own this product are pleased and have little to no complaints.

8. PreSonus DigiMax D8 Eight-Channel Preamp

Our rating: 5 / 10

PreSonus DigiMax D8 Eight-Channel Preamp

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Pros:

  • Anti-hum design prevents most hum and buzz
  • Great tracking, giving money’s worth even in low-budget projects
  • Pres/Deck switch allows you to switch between analogue and digital
  • D-As/A-D for digital conversion

PreSonus is well known for creating high-quality music production gear and the PreSonus DigiMax D8 eight-channel preamp is no exception. At the same time, they have managed to provide an AD/DA converter that comes at an affordable price.

The compact design of the DigiMax-D8 is perfect for any home-studio setup. It works with both analogue and digital equipment and is capable of converting the signals from the inputs to the outputs. The preamp also has eight XLR mic inputs, one 1/4– TRS instrument input, and 8 front panel 1/4– TRS outputs.

This makes it well suited for recording both band and voice overdubs. It will be just perfect for your home studio and for every project you may take on.

9. ART TubeOpto 8 Tube Microphone Preamp 8 Channel Class A Digital 24Bit Audio I/O 44.1 or 48kHz

Our rating: 5 / 10

ART TubeOpto 8 Tube Microphone Preamp 8 Channel Class A Digital 24Bit Audio I/O 44.1 or 48kHz

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Pros:

  • Low noise floor
  • Excellent product quality
  • Tubes for cold sound
  • Excellent bass response
  • High input impedance
  • High output impedance
  • Volume knob
  • High performance compared to price

Cons:

  • Mid range feel thin
  • High gain for mic input may need preamp for high gains
  • Can get noisy

The ART TubeOPTO 8 is a powerful tube microphone pre amp for vocals.

This tube preamp has a very low noise floor and its high performance is based on the ECC82 dual-triode tube. The ART TubeOPTO 8 has a balanced/unbalanced input with a built-in phantom power supply. The control is via a volume pot, and has a high-Z, high-impedance mic input. Some have reported that on the higher gain settings, their signal became noisy, so be mindful of your gain setting and monitor the noise floor levels as well.

10. Focusrite OctoPre MKII Preamp

Our rating: 5 / 10

Focusrite OctoPre MKII Preamp

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Pros:

  • Comes with DAW software for easy editing
  • Can connect to different instruments and mics
  • Comes with basic cables
  • Great for home and pros for recording
  • 8-channel audio interface
  • Comes with 48V phantom power
  • Compatible with various recording software like Pro Tools, Logic Pro®, Abletone and many more
  • Two headphone jacks – easy to practice with a friend
  • Control your input gain, headphone mix, and phantom power to get the optimal settings

Cons:

  • Does not come with a manual
  • Does not come with software (others on this list do)

This product made the top list precisely because of its ultra-compact design. We found this to be the ultimate microphone pre-amp for vocals and podcasts.

This product is great for those starting out in recording and for people with somewhat of a budget. It is also very easy to use.

You can connect this to your computer to record your voice or instruments. You can also plug in a microphone, guitar, or even connect an instrument like a saxophone and play along with your favorite song.

11. Focusrite OctoPre MkII 8-Channel Microphone Preamplifier

Our rating: 4 / 10

Focusrite OctoPre MkII 8-Channel Microphone Preamplifier

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Pros:

  • 16×18-in/40×45-cm micpreamp in a 1U rack
  • Two mic/line inputs on each channel
  • Automatic noise sensing for PAD, AC hum, and ground-lift switches
  • Each input has two choices for input impedance (75 Ohms, 150 Ohms)
  • Eight channels of ADAT optical I/O
  • Two and four mic preamp operation
  • 48V phantom power
  • Instantly available direct console input

For serious home studio owners, there’s always the option to upgrade the mic preamp section of your interface to a professional preamp like the Focusrite OctoPre MkII. It’s an 8-channel mic preamp and line-level input section with a D-type front panel design. Keep in mind this is definitely not a plug and play device – this preamp requires some technical knowledge in order to set it up correctly. However, not only is it a good sounding preamp, it can also save you money if you’re planning to go the DIY route.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which type of mic is best for vocals?

The type of microphone you use for singing depends on cost, style, and your vocal level. If you are performing in a band, you will want to use a different microphone than if you are recording a solo album. If you are just singing in your garage band, you may not need anything high-end, but if you are going to be singing in front of a large audience, you need to upgrade your mic to something that will reduce the effects of feedback from the PA system.

If the microphone is a high-quality, Shure SM58-style mic will be your best choice. A dynamic microphone like this lets your voice pass through it easily and doesn't sound as though it is being filtered in any way.

What does a preamp do for vocals?

If you have never used a microphone preamp before, you might be wondering just how helpful it can be to your vocal recordings.

A good mic preamp can transform your studio recordings completely, bringing out audio details that would have been previously hidden in the mix. We are talking about subtle details such as improved stereo imaging, as well as reduced background noise.

Beyond this, the best preamps can also help you to shape and mold your sound by providing every last bit you need to create a clear and detailed vocal track.

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Do I need a preamp for my mic?

If you are using a condenser microphone for recording or live sound, a preamp is an essential part of your setup. For those who aren't, a preamp won't add much benefit to your voice or instrument.

The sheer power of a preamp will dole out a rich, warm sound for any microphone. A preamp can also cut down on vocal handling noise and handle a volume level that's higher than what the internal circuitry of the microphone could manage.

So, it's something that any serious sound-editor or musician should take into consideration.

Now, if you are wondering which of these preamps is best, we have that covered too.

What Microphone do professional singers use?

The microphone that a professional singer chooses to use is often based on their vocal sound (acoustics, not their personality/tone; unless the singer is hiding in a sound booth). In most cases, it is based on the frequency response that the singer needs for their voice.

For example, a person on tour with a band might have a different microphone needs than an acoustic singer performing at the local coffee shop.

Some singers (like Neil Diamond) have microphones with exceptional range that sound great on any voice.

In recent years, singers have used vocal microphones in both ways. Some singers use microphones that are great for certain ranges, while other singers use more versatile mics to cover the entire frequency range to ensure a vocal tone that is consistently pleasing to almost everyone.

You can find out more about what microphones professional singers use here.

Conclusion

What do the pros use to get that rich, warm, and full sound? It’s a top microphone pre amp for vocals. These miniature amplifiers are used to control the audio levels going to microphonel, especially in home studios where the microphone signal must pass through several other pieces of audio equipment to get to the mixer. Our top pick is the choice of professional artists, producers, and engineers.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic ActivatorBest OverallCloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic Activator
Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 Audiophile Vacuum Tube Microphone/Line PreamplifierBudget PickBehringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 Audiophile Vacuum Tube Microphone/Line Preamplifier
Solid State Logic Alpha VHDUpgrade PickSolid State Logic Alpha VHD