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April 4, 2024

All-Star Gear: Microphone Preamps

zZounds customers' top-rated mic preamps

It's easy to see why so many musicians and engineers love their microphone preamplifiers. Whether you need tons of clean gain to make a low-output dynamic mic sing, or you're looking for a fat-sounding tube pre to add warmth and grit to your signal, the preamps on this list can help you capture great sound from the start.

Many of the happy customers on this list gave a new preamp a shot after reading good reviews online. Now they're a staple of their studios, starring on countless tracks. We want you to have the same experience, so check out these glowing reviews, and you may just find the perfect pre to put your recordings over the top.
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Universal Audio LA-610 MkII Classic Tube Microphone Preamplifier

Universal Audio LA-610 MkII Classic Tube Microphone Preamplifier
Our customers say:
"Sound is simply amazing. Very warm and clear, but when you drive the pre or the output you can get a really aggressive saturation."
- Marcus in Bradley, IL

"This is without a doubt an amazing piece of equipment. I've used it on everything from kick drum to snare, bass guitar to guitar, and most of all vocals. Amazing warmth and tone and such a great out-board piece to have to keep your tracks clean."
- Richard in Old Orchard Beach, ME

"This unit rocks and integrates what made the LA-610 predecessor along with several enhancements. Definitely worth the investment at this price point!"
- Tony in Southfield, MI

PreSonus Studio Channel Tube Microphone Preamp

PreSonus Studio Channel Tube Microphone Preamp
Our customers say:
"I just set it up for vocals according to the specification recommendations of the manufacturer and gave it a try. Unbelievable! No distortion, clear, warm, and simple."
- Corey in Lexington, KY

"I picked this lil' puppy up, plugged it in and started turning knobs......WOW!!!! The sound that came from my mic (AKG C214) was awesome and it reduced the amount of effects needed in Pro Tools."
- Oscar in Copperas Cove, TX

"Overall, these units have been a game changer for me...very inspirational for studio work."
- Paul in South Shore, MA

Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity Microphone Preamplifier

Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity Microphone Preamplifier
Our customers say:
"The UA-710 has made a HUGE difference in sound compared to my interface's stock preamps. The sound I hear through my headphones while tracking has so much more body and's actually inspirational."
- Nathan in Jonesboro, AR

"This is the best preamp I have purchased by far. Simple knobs with big results. The 710 will be my first choice with vocals. I am sure my acoustic will have the same results."
- Andrew in Eidson, TN

"The blend knob is extremely adept at covering the gap between the full-bodied tube sounds of my 610 and the accuracy and attack of my 110 units."

Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator

Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator
"The CL-1 took my existing pre-amps, added the levels I needed, and improved the sound. I'd say the price is worth that sort of performance! Dynamics like an SM57 and SM7 are brought to life. Not to mention any passive ribbon mic!"
- Eric in Brooklyn, NY

"This is a great product if you are trying to boost the headroom of your dynamic mics. There are no bells and whistles, no dip switches, just gain."
- JW

dbx 286S Microphone Preamplifier

dbx 286S Microphone Preamplifier
"This is truly a phenomenal piece of equipment. The preamp is extremely quiet for a consumer grade system. The expander/gate really helps tame echo/room noise."
- Joe in Ione, CA

"The compressor, expander, de-esser and hi-low enhancer -- plus the added gain out makes this strip a most desirable outboard addition to any studio."
- Robert in Boise, ID

"This is one of those pieces of gear that changes your studio from good sounding to great sounding."
- Eric in Brewer, ME

Warm Audio TB12 Tone Beast Microphone Preamplifier

Warm Audio TB12 Tone Beast Microphone Preamplifier
Our customers say:
"Plan to spend some time getting to know this piece of equipment if you really want to get your money's worth. However, if you just plug it in and pick a random setting, you will be hard-pressed to go too far wrong, assuming that you have your levels set."
- Tom in Northfield, VT

"My favorite part is the gain and saturation section. You can crank the gain but turn the output if you really want to drive the preamp and it can give you some REALLY awesome sounds, especially with snare."
- Michael in Chandler, AZ

"I can drive it dirty, or make it very clean. It is flexible, and easy to use. I have used it on vocals (though for my voice, I like my LA-610 MkII better), but it shines on guitar and bass."
- Jeff in Webster, NY
All-Star Gear