[linux-audio-user] Re: Do I need a preamp for the SoundBlaster Live?

Tim Beauregard helycos at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Sep 21 02:04:49 EDT 2006

Hash: SHA1

Florin Andrei wrote:
> To the original poster:
> The fact that you're using a SM58 and a SB Live indicates that you're on
> the cost-effective side of things. If the signal level is strong enough,
> then you don't need a preamp, nor do you need to change your sound card.

Thank you for your guidance, I am going for the cost-effective end!
I'll be buying a preamp.

> On Thu, 2006-09-21 at 00:07 +0200, Carlo Capocasa wrote:
>> However, since you are willing to invest in a pre-amp, you might want to
>> consider getting a sound card that is geared at pro recording, that
>> INCLUDES a pre-amp. This is the path I have chosen, full analog signal
>> chain integration (tm).
> Full analog signal bullsh**.
> "Pro recording" and cards with integrated mic preamps do not mix. That's
> bang-for-the-buck amateur recording, not "pro".
> There are three reasons to get a mic preamp:
> 1. The signal is too low for the existing card
> This is the most obvious reason. This situation can also be remedied by
> a card with an integrated preamp, if the quality requirements are not
> too high.
> If the signal is strong enough and you're satisfied NOW with the
> quality, then you don't need a mic preamp, obviously.
> 2. Sound quality
> The majority of the preamps integrated in sound cards are in the low end
> of the quality spectrum. The best ones are somewhere in the midrange.
> There is no high-end mic preamp integrated with a sound card, unless you
> include in the "sound card" category some multichannel mixing consoles
> connected digitally to a workstation (and even then some of them are
> pretty average when it comes to their integrated mic preamps).
> If you're not satisfied with the quality of the integrated preamp, and
> you're sure it's the preamp (not the mic, not something else), then it's
> time to shop around.
> 3. Another reason, perhaps more subtle, is related to compression. In
> the majority of cases, you want to perform some compression on anything
> captured by a mic.
> Doing compression in the analog chain, before the signal hits the
> digital domain, allows you to use the full resolution of your digital
> channel, which otherwise would be wasted on high-amplitude peaks which
> need to be trimmed off anyway, and allows you to easily fend off digital
> clipping which is awful and must be avoided at all costs.
> That's why, in a decent setup, you will often see a compressor between
> the mic preamp and the sound card, configured for very gentle and
> transparent compression.
> That's also the reason why many mic preamps include compressors.
> There's really no digital workaround for this issue. If you're already
> hitting that kind of quality ceiling, you must separate the preamp /
> compression stages from the digital chain.
> That being said, for amateur recording, cards with integrated mic
> preamps are fine. Careful with clipping and you're going to be OK. Most
> amateurs are in this situation.
> Just don't bring the pro domain into this discussion, please.

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