Before you decide between buying a preamp vs. an audio interface, it is important to understand what they are. A preamp and an audio interface are basic components of an audio system for recording music or sounds.
What Is A Preamp?
Short for preamplifier, the preamp is an electric device designed to amplify low-level or weak signals before going to a power amplifier and speaker. Preamps are necessary to apply more gain, clarify music sounds, and make them louder and more pronounced. They convert microphone-level or instrument-level signals to line-level signals, which are stronger electric signals at a higher voltage to create a louder, more audible sound and a better-quality recording.
Preamps are commonly found built into microphones, instruments, mixers, and most musical equipment. If you use a turntable or a record player, you can also buy preamps with phono stage connections. Otherwise, these devices are directly plugged into an external preamp to avoid distortion or interference. Preamps come in single, dual, or multiple channels, depending on the usage. For instance, a multiple channel is more efficient for a band since many instruments can plug into one preamp.
What Is An Audio Interface?
An audio interface is a device used to send analog audio signals to a computer to be converted into digital data, creating music recordings. The main consideration when choosing an audio interface is device compatibility, since you need to connect it to your computer. Find out whether you need a Thunderbolt or FireWire, mostly used with Macs, or USB, which is great for mobile work since it is compatible with anything with a USB port. Or, you can opt for PCIe, which is more used by professional studios, but also the most expensive.
Another feature to consider is the input/output configuration, which depends on how many devices you plan to plug into the interface. You need to have enough inputs for microphones and instruments and output sockets for studio monitors and headphones.
A preamp and an audio interface are both necessary for clear and high-quality audio recordings, although some audio interfaces already include preamps. However, we recommend that they be separate for more flexibility and optimal sound quality.
Tips For Buying a Preamp
If you have decided to get an external preamp vs. an audio interface with a built-in preamp, here are a few tips to consider:
Choose a preamp based on your desired sound. You can choose a transparent preamp that accurately reproduces the sound recorded or one that enhances or alters the sound you record to add different tones or colorizations.
Some preamps have a reputation for producing a certain sound. Do your research and only choose trusted brands used by audio experts and professionals, such as ADCOM.
Pick a preamp designed for your purpose; for instance, you must use a microphone preamp for microphones and an instrument preamp for instruments.
Outstanding Sound Delivery by ADCOM
For more than three decades, ADCOM has been delivering excellent sound quality through high-quality audio devices that offer great reliability, performance, and affordability. World-renowned among musicians and sound engineers for introducing groundbreaking amplifiers, ADCOM continues its success with innovative and reliable audio products. ADCOM’s modern, practical, and award-winning designs ensure that our devices can help you produce outstanding sound in any environment.
Our range of preamps, power amplifiers, and speakers are staples in home and professional studios worldwide. We remain a trusted brand with high-performance audio devices such as our state-of-the-art GFP-915 Wide Bandwidth Stereo Preamp, enhanced legacy GFA-555se Power Amplifier, new generation GIA-275 Integrated Stereo DAC/Amplifier, and product design award-winning Luna Wireless Speaker.
If you are still undecided about whether to get an external preamp vs. an audio interface with a built-in preamp, ask our sound experts at your nearest ADCOM dealership about the best setup for you.