Recording without preamp? Effects on Recording Quality and Signal Level

Conclusion and Recommendation: You should NOT record without a preamp

If quality is important to you when recording, then you should not record your tracks without passing the signal through the pre-amp. Below are some common scenarios in any home studio recording project that you should be using a pre-amp:

a.) Recording vocals and background vocals
b.) Recording acoustic guitars and electric guitars (either using microphone or DI techniques)
c.) Recording drums
d.) Recording any musical instruments

Where can I find my pre-amp in the signal chain? Pre-amp is placed right after the microphone or instrument level output. Refer to the signal flow chart below:

Pre amplified signal flow

Pre amplified signal flow

Once the signal is in great shape after the pre-amplification outputs it will then feed to an analog to digital converter. This will convert to digital data which will then be save in your hard drive during the recording session.

Pre-amps can be a very expensive recording gear. However the good news is that there is a high quality audio interface that includes a pre-amp on its input such as Focusrite Saffire Pro 40. So you do not need to buy an external pre-amp hardware because the audio interface can handle both pre-amplification and analog to digital conversion.

Content last updated on August 7, 2012