mixer vs preamp

I’m currently using a 2 channel Mackie mixer for condensor mics to record vocals and acoustic guitar on ipad Cubasis. Also use Cubase7 to mix and master. I think it pretty sounds good, but I haven’t compared the sound to a preamp. I’m wondering if I’ll get a better result using a Steinberg preamp. Is there an advantage to using a preamp as oppossed to the mixer when tracking? Should the sound quality, etc, be better than the mixer?

The preamps in the UR series (MR too i should think) are probably better than those in the Mackie mixer. Using other standalone Preamps is also viable, many engineers have their own particular preferences, and such preferences only come with experience - 20 different engineers will give you 20 different suggestions for the best preamp, and none of them will necessarily be “right” - you have to use your own ears to decide for yourself.

Aloha and

When microphones were first invented it was quickly discovered that the better the mic
(mainly that meant clarity/bandwidth) the lower the output from the mic.

So pre-amps (pre’s) were used to boost the signal going to the console.
Being older-than-dirt when I first started in this business some pre’s were not in the control room at all.
The pre’s sat at the base of each mic and engineer’s (in white lab coats ha!)
came out from the control room to adjust them.

Of course initially theses ‘pre’s’ were designed to have flat response and to be
as transparent/clean as possible.

But it was soon found that some pre’s that were not ‘clean and transparent’
and did add ‘colour’ to the signal, sounded waaaay kool as well.

Depending on what you were micing, these pre’s along with certain mics could help shape the tone
in certain directions.

So we ended up today with pre’s of many stripes. I tend to think of them as colors on a pallet,
and try to pick the appropriate one for the ‘scene’.

I personally like UA type stuff for clarity and Joe Meek type stuff for colour but as BriHar

there are many paths to the same location.

Good Luck!


My personal preference, for a single do-it-all preamp, is as clean as possible. If it has to be an alternative to a small mixer’s preamp, I would guess that tone colors are not as important as faithful reproduction of the sound coming from the microphone.

Mixing and matching mics and preamps is something that one learns with practice. A good match for a particolar ensemble in a particular room might not be the best for a different ensemble/room. There are too many variables to find the ‘perfect’ match. Clean and faithful is usually the sweet spot, from where you can make your tone while mixing.

Associating with someone else is a good way of having a rich color palette. If you have a particular kind of tools, your associates might have a different one, that can be borrowed when needed.

As for the UR824, I find its preamps to be clean and faithful, but with a hint of character. If I can try a description, bright mics seem to be made a bit mellower (not darker), mellower mics will create a round and full sound. Going there from the small Mackies will be a considerable step up. Recording with them you will have materials that will immediately work, but that will let you a lot of room in shaping your tone during mixing.