Pre amp in Cubase

I am looking at buying the SM7B matched to a 2i2. The ratings/research indicate that the gain is too low. However, I found on the channel strip a PRE which boosts the input gain by 50 db and I tested it and it works very cleanly too when used judiciously. The question is this: Is there a downside to this PRE Cubase approach?

Get a Cloud Lifter and youll be happy

I think you misunderstand my post. What I’m saying is that C8 Pro contains a strip that has a PRE which boosts to +50db. You are suggesting that I buy a piece of hardware for $200 that boosts to +25db. Why would I be ‘happy’ with that?

Generally speaking a software Pre should be fine as usually you don’t want any character on a preamp therefore it can be based on an ideal mathematical model without any concerns regarding part tolerances etc.

Sorry, it was late and I was tired. If the gain is NOT screwing with your sound in any way then you are good to go IMO. You could also increase the INPUT TRIM on the channel as well since its just GAIN your looking for for the mic

2i2 has mic inputs with gain control, so level should be fine. Just crank the level up until it is fine. If your level is too low, you must be doing something wrong.
If your level is low on analog input, and you crank it up with Cubase pre amp, your sound quality is not optimal it two ways; you will get higher noise floor, and you will get lower bit resolution.

If the input is reasonably noise free but quiet, then a digital gain boost (which is what the Cubase gain will be) should be pretty quiet too. I’ve abused input gain several times - the sort of boost levels you simply would not have gotten away with in the old analogue days without introducing a massive noise floor.


The suggestion from Sonicstate should not go amiss!
You should always strive to get the optimal signal from the source, or as early in the chain as possible.

The 2i2 preamp has only 46 dB of gain - this is quite low for a microphone such as the SM-7 (unless the source is loud). You would be best off purchasing the Cloud Lifter and using it close to the mic itself so that you can properly drive the A/D converters. Adding digital gain in Cubase will “work”, but proper gain staging in the analog domain is the correct way and will sound the best, as the noise floor and low level resolution will be compromised if you do not hit the A/D converters at the right level .

Plus, the Cloud Lifter is a great product and could be useful if you end up with a passive ribbon mic.

The output of the sm7 is very low. You could use both preamps to get a healthy input level, one after the other.

Just for some perspective, the sound quality using digital gain to boost the quiet analog signal will only degrade to 16 bit quality (still totally adequate) if the input level to the computer is -48 dB. I’m guessing it’s a lot hotter than that, so probably not a big deal.

Of course, using something like the cloudlifter would be better, but maybe not $150 better. Also, a cheaper option for that sort of thing is the fethead. A lot of people are using that w/ low output mics like SM7 and it’s supposed to be pretty comparable in quality.

True regarding bit resolution, but not true regarding noise. Because preamp’s analog input noise is not at -144dB. More realistically it is peaking around -90dBFS, or could be even higher if you crank your gain to the max because mic level is low, depending on preamp. So if you have preamp input noise at -90 dBFS, and record your signal so that it needs 30db of gain in Cubase to reach fulls scale, you end up with 60dB between peaks and noise. Which could still be ok, depending on what you do.


Indeed - I started using 4 tracks in the mid 80s - after a bounce down or two the noise floor would be horrendous,by the time it’s all mixed together it sounded fine - I think you can get too precious about how clean the gain staging should be these days - the amount of gain you can add digitally is an a different world compared to the old days. If you do add a noise floor - I’m inclined to leave it in for the whole track - if it’s gated and only comes in with the vocal then that sometimes makes it more apparent - a constant noise will just be filtered out by the listener - and in some cases can make the track sound warmer and less “digital”.

Additional, if the noise is AC hum or something constant like that - then you can use the noise during silence to program a noise removal plug in to remove it altogether.

Actually the first suggestion was the the best suggestion. The Cloudlifer and similar products are pre-preamps and we’re created for low output mics (especially ribbon mics). The more volume you get from the mic before the preamp the better. It’s simply best practice and makes for cleaner, low noise recordings. More than likely you’re cranking your preamp to the max which is most definitely going to add noise to your signal chain, then you’re increasing your signal (and noise) with the software preamp gain. If you’re looking to evolve and improve your recordings, the Cloudlifter would be a nice addition to your home studio inventory.