Odds are, if you’re reading this post, you’re interested in purchasing a microphone preamp for your home music studio and looking for one in your price range. When it comes to microphone preamps, $$$ isn’t a lot of money to spend. But, if that’s all you have to spend on a microphone preamp – I’ve got a good suggestion for you.
FYI: There’s no such thing as a microphone preamp specifically for rap vocals. Why? Because there’s no specific frequency that only applies to hip-hop. However, there are preamps that work best for soft or harsh vocals, or male and female vocals.
Anyway, before we start, I want to let you know that I could talk about a few different microphone preamps and then let you know which one I recommend – but I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to list the best preamp I’d recommend in this price range.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
There are several ‘budget’ home studios that I’ve been to and sent artists to that use this mic preamp. In addition to the budget studios I’ve been to, I’ve also borrowed one from a friend that quit music. Out of all of the preamps that I’ve been able to experience, this one has performed great. So, I’m a big fan of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.
Here are a few preamps I’ve had experience with in this price range:
And a few others that I never got the names of. Now listen, I’m not the smartest when it comes to the build materials and inside components – so I’m not going to act like I know the exact reason why the Scarlett 2i2 sounds better than other preamps I have experience with. However, I am going to tell you what I like and don’t like about this preamp.
What I Like
When it comes to buying equipment for my home studio, this is one of the first things I look at. I can look at tons of cool mic preamps, but if I can’t afford them, it’s just window shopping on the internet.
You can buy this preamp for less than $$$ on Amazon. For some upcoming artists with little-to-no money, this may sound like a lot but it’s not. Remember, this audio interface will connect to your microphone, as well as your speakers. It not only affects the sound that gets recorded but also affects the sound that comes out of your speakers.
Another thing I look at is the build quality. Obviously, it’s hard to identify the build quality before buying it (if you’re internet shopping) – but a great way to determine the quality is to read the reviews. If something is crap, people are usually eager to talk about it.
Another method for testing the quality is to call and ask a local studio if they have the Scarlett 2i2. If so, go take a look at it and ask them questions about the quality.
Anyway, I use a laptop for most of my creative work and having equipment that can survive my travels are necessary. The Scarlett is more than capable of handling it. However, I will say that It does get scratched up quite easily – but if you don’t plan on moving it around much, you shouldn’t have to worry.
Because I usually travel with the Scarlett 2i2, I love the fact that I can simply plug it into my laptop and get to work. While there are benefits to having an externally powered preamp, this USB powered preamp meets my needs nicely.
Yea I know – the looks don’t do anything to help the sound. But, if you’re a human – looks matter. I don’t have my studio equipment for other people to look at, but I don’t mind getting compliments. I’ve worked with a few artists that looked at this box and said something along the lines of “Aye bro, what that red thing do? It looks hard”.
What I Don’t Like
Like I said above, it does get scratched up pretty easily. This could be my fault for traveling with it. To be honest, I can’t blame a $$$ piece of equipment – so, I can’t expect it to be made out of $$$$ materials. Regardless, it still does what I want it to – just with a few scratches.
Windows 10 Driver Issues
I’ve noticed that there are some weird things going on when trying to connect the Scarlett 2i2 to a Windows 10 computer. Sometimes it works, and other times it doesn’t. I’ve also experienced the preamp working perfectly, only to randomly disconnect in the middle of a session.
If you don’t have a Windows 10 computer (or have a mac also – like I do), then you should be fine. If you only have a Windows 10 computer, I’d still recommend you purchase it – but verify that the drivers are working beforehand.
I’m a big fan of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. It does exactly what I need it to do and looks nice. As far as a budget microphone preamp goes, it’s the best bang for your budget. So, if you’re looking for a good microphone preamp while on a budget, I highly recommend you check it out.