Spend a little time researching recording technology and you’re bound to run into a little hype. OK, maybe a lot of hype. How does the home producer make heads or tails of all the information out there? Where does the hype end and the truth begin?
The best judge is always going to be your ears. If you take the time to listen and really understand what you’re hearing, you’ll be able to find the gear and techniques that work for you.
In that spirit, I present this article from the Recording Review. As with much of the content from this site, the level of “keeping it real” is extraordinarily high.
Site owner Brandon Drury does his best to debunk and deflate the hype and “sophistication” of modern recording. In this article, he attacks the idea of the super-expensive mic preamp. Of course, we all know that only the most expensive preamps will give you a suitable signal. Maybe.
Here’s a taste of what Drury thinks about the matter:
I divide the preamp thing into three categories: cheapo, adequate, and fancy. Once you get passed the cheapo stuff, the adequate pres do the job just fine. They may not add anything interesting, but they don’t murk up anything and they don’t add the megaphone effect.
Don’t worry, he still advocates mic pres. But you just need to do some research and realize that they’re not going to make or break your recording. You’ll do that all on your own, without any help.
On the other hand, a mic pre can be a very important link in your gain staging, boosting your signal before it ever reaches your interface and giving you the kind of quality that you associate with professional recordings. At the same time, they can add color to your signal and affect everything they touch. You need to know what you’re dealing with. Which sometimes means going for a no name piece of gear that gets good results, not spending thousands of dollars on the best mic pre around.