Mic 2 PC.. Do I need amp or preamp? and what's the difference? - diyAudio
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Old 4th May 2013, 10:11 PM   #1
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Default Mic 2 PC.. Do I need amp or preamp? and what's the difference?

Hello..

I'd like to record high quality vocal on PC using a dynamic mic. of course connecting the mic directly into the mic input produce poor sound.. I read that I need to get a pre-amp.. I don't exactly know what that is, and I don't comprehend the deference between amp and preamp. and can't I use an amp for the same job?

thanks in advance
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Old 4th May 2013, 10:22 PM   #2
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Moved to more appropriate forum.
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Old 4th May 2013, 10:26 PM   #3
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A pre amp amplifies small signals to make them big enough for an amplifier.

A microphone mixer would do your job.
Loads on ebay or internet.
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Old 4th May 2013, 10:33 PM   #4
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An amplifier designed to amplify some low-level signal from a transducer (such as a microphone) and bring it to line level is often called a preamplifier, although the term preamplifier may also refer to a box with a bunch of line inputs, a source selector, volume control and possibly other controls and a line output.

What you need is a microphone preamplifier, that is, an amplifier that is designed to handle microphone signals and bring them to line level. That means among other things that it has to be designed for flat voltage gain over the audio band, with noise optimised for a source impedance in the 200 ohm to 600 ohm range, and with adequate headroom.
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Old 4th May 2013, 10:44 PM   #5
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Basically, a preamp is a voltage gain device while an amp is a power gain device.
The nature of the poor sound should suggest what the fix should be. A level that is too low, or an interface issue, would suggest the need for a preamp. Perhaps a microphone preamp connected to the soundcard line-in, bypassing the card's microphone circuitry, is what you need.
Otherwise, it may be something that could be corrected via computer settings.
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Old 5th May 2013, 10:57 PM   #6
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Thank you all for your responses..
Okay so I have a small amplifier that I use to power up two speakers in my office.. I don't recall its wattage or specs, but it's about one and a half the size of a car radio.. and the speakers are couple of 120w, 10".. Can't I just use an amp like this to amp the mic‘s signal, and feed the output to the PC (instead of the speakers)? .. will the output of an amplifier like this one be too much power, and damage the PC or something?

What I meant by poor sound is that the volume is too low and sound is too weak.. it's like I'm using my headphone mic.
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Old 6th May 2013, 04:11 AM   #7
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Well, you could. It might not make as much improvement as you'd like. You're talking about a power amp, and the output level would probably need to be kept way down, too close to the noise floor, to function as a quality microphone amp. And exceeding the power supply voltages at the PC inputs is definitely not a good thing, but a real possibility. What you need is just a level boost, some voltage gain, a preamp. Just estimating, something in the neighborhood of 10x-20x gain should work.
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Last edited by sofaspud; 6th May 2013 at 04:15 AM.
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Old 6th May 2013, 11:18 AM   #8
oshifis is offline oshifis  Hungary
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Most PC sound cards have microphone input AND line level input. The microphone input is color coded with pink, the line input is blue (and green is the output). It is worth trying, and if the quality is not good enough, you can still use an external microphone preamplifier.
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Old 6th May 2013, 09:17 PM   #9
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At the very beginning of this thread, hunted 22 already stated: "of course connecting the mic directly into the mic input produce poor sound.."

I don't know exactly what is meant by "poor sound", but if it is too high noise floor, then a good low-noise microphone preamplifier can certainly help (while a main amp abused as a microphone preamp can not). PC sound cards typically have very noisy microphone inputs, and even if they haven't, the interference from the PC may make them noisy.
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Old 6th May 2013, 11:31 PM   #10
dheming is offline dheming  United States
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If high quality recording is your goal you will need a dedicated mic preamp. Are you up to building a kit or would you rather buy a ready to go commercial unit? What's your budget?
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