Best Preamp for SM7B

Best Preamp for SM7B

If you have the Shure SM7B then you know that almost nothing can beat it when it comes to quality and reliability. But to what it should be connected is a whole different story. So, in this article, we will investigate a few options to see which is the best preamp for SM7B.

Quick answer:

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 – if you want a budget-friendly preamp with completely transparent boost and industry standard quality, you don’t need to look any further.

Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKIII or Golden Age Project Pre-73 Jr – If you’re looking for that wow factor, that secret sauce for your SM7B, Project Pre-73 is a great option. Just choose between MKIII for rackmount or Jr for desktop.

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Top 10 Best Best Preamp for SM7B

  1. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen)
  2. Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1
  3. DBX 286s
  4. ART TubeMPSTV3 Tube Mic Preamp With Limiter
  5. sE Electronics DM1 Dynamite
  6. Golden Age Project Pre-73 Jr.
  7. TritonAudio FetHead
  8. Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKIII
  9. Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-4
  10. DBX 580 Compact, Professional Mic Preamp

Best Preamp for SM7B Reviews

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen)

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen)

Pros
  • Excellent preamp
  • Budget-friendly
  • Ensures high-quality recordings
Cons
  • USB-powered, a potential issue if you don’t have many slots on your laptop
  • Not great when it comes to recording a lot of instruments or vocals simultaneously
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) is a state-of-the-art budget audio interface with two preamps of the highest quality possible. Both preamps also work as DI boxes and sound extremely clean even if pushed very hard.

Best features and specs

Each preamp also has an Air module which gives you a very gentle high-shelf boost when engaged. The 3rd generation of Focusrite audio interfaces gives you extremely low latency and high-quality digital-to-analog conversion.

User impressions

Users say that Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) is a great product and is easy to set up. Users note that this preamp is a good choice for webcasts or studio recordings.

What we think

What you need to know about Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) is that we actually own one and have been using it for a couple of years now. And it would be very hard to convince us to replace it with anything other than the same interface but with more inputs.

Bottomline

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) is a great choice for someone who is looking for a budget-friendly audio interface with very clean and transparent preamps.

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1

Pros
  • Budget-friendly
  • Totally transparent boost
Cons
  • None
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 is a very simple and compact mic preamp that instantly gives you +25 dBs of very clean and transparent gain.

Best features and specs

Cloudlifter CL-1 provides you with noise-free amplification and its Class-A JFET circuitry gives you some very transparent boost.

User impressions

Users like Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 for being a very simple device, adding a lot of beautiful and clean gain for any type of low output mic.

What we think

This might not be the most versatile preamp in the world, but it could be very useful if you deal with long cable runs frequently.

Bottomline

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 is a great choice for someone who is looking for a very compact mic preamp that gives you a very clean and transparent boost.

DBX 286s

DBX 286s

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Functional and compact
  • Well-worth the price
Cons
  • Rackmount unit
  • Does not have an on/off switch
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

DBX 286s is a full-sized rackmount channel strip that has a de-esser, expander, and gate on top of a very capable compressor.

Best features and specs

DBX 286s features a classic DBX OverEasy compressor with a soft knee and de-esser that lets you choose frequencies. It also features phantom power and a very clean solid-state preamp.

User impressions

Users say that DBX 286s is a good choice for radio broadcasting and it gives your voice more clarity and warmth. Users note that this preamp is packed with additional features, noise gate, for example, will easily eliminate all unwanted noise from the untreated room and make you sound like a professional.

What we think

The only downside to DBX 286s is that it’s a rackmount unit, which means that it’s not a small device. So you have to check if your studio has enough free space before purchasing it.

Bottomline

DBX 286s is a great choice for someone who is looking for a fully-functional channel strip with a very capable compressor and a transistor-flavored preamp.

ART TubeMPSTV3 Tube Mic Preamp With Limiter

ART TubeMPSTV3 Tube Mic Preamp With Limiter

Pros
  • Versatility
  • Compact size
Cons
  • Might create hum and substantial audio noise
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

ART TubeMPSTV3 is a very budget-friendly mic tube preamp with a lot of tweakable presets, phantom power, and a 12AX7 vacuum tube.

Best features and specs

ART TubeMPSTV3 has presets specifically designed for every recording situation, whether it would be vocals, electric guitar, or percussion. It also has a +20 dB booster switch and a very cool analog VU meter.

User impressions

Users like ART TubeMPSTV3 because it’s really easy to use, it sounds great and it adds a nice tube feeling. Users note that this preamp is a good choice for everything from podcasting to voice-overs.

What we think

ART TubeMPSTV3  is a very capable mic preamp that gives you a very convincing tube sound for a very budget-friendly cost.

Bottomline

ART TubeMPSTV3 is a great choice for someone who is looking for a budget-friendly tube mic preamp with switchable presets and a very distinctive coloration.

sE Electronics DM1 Dynamite

sE Electronics DM1 Dynamite

Pros
  • Very budget-friendly
  • Low power consumption
  • Robust and compact design
Cons
  • Very limited functionality
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

sE Electronics DM1 Dynamite is a very compact mic signal booster that gives you an additional 28 dB of very clean and transparent gain.

Best features and specs

Its Class-A circuitry is claimed to have the lowest self-noise in its class, which means that it’s less susceptible to RF interference, hum, and bass.

User impressions

Users agree that sE Electronics DM1 Dynamite gives you a clean and transparent boost. Users also like that this preamp is very affordable, durable, and very easy to use.

What we think

Sometimes you don’t need a very fancy and complicated device to make your life better. Sometimes something as simple as sE Electronics DM1 Dynamite is more than enough.

Bottomline

sE Electronics DM1 Dynamite is a great choice for someone who is looking for a very minimalistic and simple mic signal booster with a very clean and transparent sound.

Golden Age Project Pre-73 Jr.

Golden Age Project Pre-73 Jr.

Pros
  • Well-built and compact
  • Great tone quality
  • Budget-friendly
Cons
  • Some users may not like the lack of tone “neutrality”
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

Golden Age Project Pre-73 Jr. is a very characterful mic preamp that shares its basic DNA with the famous Neve 1073 Console Module. So you’ll get an iconic British sound for a very reasonable price.

Best features and specs

Golden Age Project Pre-73 Jr. offers a vintage Class-A circuitry and a gain switch with a dynamic range of 70 dB. It also has phantom power and a switchable high-impedance instrument input.

User impressions

Users are quite impressed with Golden Age Project Pre-73 Jr. as it’s an outstanding preamp that provides clean sound. It’s really easy to use and quiet. Users say that this mic preamp is a good choice for voiceovers and podcasting.

What we think

You wouldn’t exactly call Neve devices affordable, so Golden Age Project Pre-73 Jr., with its budget-friendly price, is a breath of fresh air.

Bottomline

Golden Age Project Pre-73 Jr. is a great choice for someone who is looking for an extremely affordable copy of Neve 1073 with its very distinguishable British character.

TritonAudio FetHead

TritonAudio FetHead

Pros
  • Boosts the mic gain by around 20-25 dB
  • Gives more clarity and presence
  • Fits any dynamic mic with an XLR connection
Cons
  • Requires phantom power
See price @ Amazon

TritonAudio FetHead is an in-line microphone preamplifier that gives you 20 dBs of very transparent amplification. Using it is as simple as plugging it straight into the microphone and turning on the phantom power.

Best features and specs

It has a built-in high-pass filter with a corner frequency of 220 Hz and Class-A JFET circuitry to ensure low self-noise and resistance to RF interference.

User impressions

Users like TritonAudio FetHead for its design, form factor, and build quality. Users say that this preamp is a good choice for streaming and podcasting.

What we think

TritonAudio FetHead might not give you much benefit when paired with a condenser mic such as SM7B, but it’s extremely useful for low-signal dynamic and ribbon mics.

Bottomline

TritonAudio FetHead is a great choice for someone who is looking for a very compact in-line booster with a very clean and transparent amplification.

Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKIII

Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKIII

Pros
  • Vintage and punchy sound
Cons
  • It might be hard to achieve transparency of the sound
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKIII is a big brother of the already mentioned Pre-73 Jr. It has the same Neve DNA, two-position high-frequency boost, and a built-in DI box.

Best features and specs

Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKIII offers you a staggering 80 dB of gain, legendary vintage circuitry, and a very characterful British sound. Mic input also has switchable impedance and a high-pass filter.

User impressions

Users agree that Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKIII is a perfect tool if you want to add more vintage tone and glossy polish to your recordings. Users like that this preamp is packed with features to address any situation. Also, it works well in an untreated room, making all unnecessary noise disappear.

What we think

If for some weird reason, you found features of Pre-73 Jr. to be limited, this model most definitely will suit you better, especially if you consider that the price difference isn’t that big.

Bottomline

Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKIII is a great choice for someone who is looking for a very capable and versatile mic preamp with a very distinguishable and legendary vintage character.

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-4

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-4

Pros
  • Gives a clean gain for any type of dynamic mic
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • None that we know of
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-4 is a 4-channel version of the already mentioned Cloudlifter CL-1, which gives you exactly the same benefits and functionality. But this time, you can amplify 4 mics simultaneously.

Best features and specs

The best part about CL-1 and CL-4 is that you can give any mic a very distinguishable ribbon mic flavor. Especially that might be very useful for a a clean mic such as SM7B.

User impressions

Users are quite impressed with Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-4 as it’s a great preamp that adds a lot of clarity. If you work a lot with lower volume sources, this one is your go-to.

What we think

It all really comes down to whether you need 4 channels of sound or a singular channel is enough. Other than that very specific feature, both CL-1 and CL-4 are absolutely identical.

Bottomline

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-4 is a great choice for someone who is looking for a rackmount mic booster that gives you 25 dB of very clean and transparent amplification and very subtle ribbon mic flavor.

DBX 580 Compact, Professional Mic Preamp

DBX 580 Compact, Professional Mic Preamp

Pros
  • Affordable pro quality
  • Great feature list
  • Well laid out and information-rich faceplate
  • Versatile and transparent sound
Cons
  • Not exactly budget-friendly
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

DBX 580 Compact is a mic and instrument preamp module designed for 500-series racks. It has phantom power and a very rich, transistor-flavored sound.

Best features and specs

DBX 580 Compact also offers you a 20 dB pad, low-cut filter, Low and High Detail controls, which both give you low and high-shelf EQs with a very broad range of sonic capabilities.  The preamp also gives you a staggering 60 dB of gain, which lets you capture the sound in great detail.

User impressions

Users like DBX 580 Compact for giving tons of headroom and “in your face” signal without any noticeable color or distortion. The low and high detail is very musical. The only downside that some users mention is that this preamp doesn’t have any specific character, but if someone is looking for just a good clean mic preamp, they shouldn’t look further.

What we think

Although DBX 580 Compact isn’t the cheapest one on the list, the way it sounds is totally worth it. It gives you some very subtle and contained saturation that sounds very modern but at the same time has a certain vintage feel to it.

Bottomline

DBX 580 Compact is a great choice for someone who is looking for a mic preamp that fits into a 500-series rack and gives you the sound with a very subtle coloration and the ability to shape the sound even further with its High and Low Detail controls.

Best Preamp for SM7B Buying Guide

We’ve decided to include a few key points that might help you more efficiently choose a preamp suitable for your needs. Given that the Shure SM7B is one of cleanest, most popular and widely used microphones that ever exists, we are highlighting it as the benchmark for all of the comparisons here.

What is a preamp for SM7B?

A preliminary amplifier is an electronic device that is usually inserted between a microphone and an A/D converter. Preamps are usually used to boost the signal of your SM7B and give it some coloration if necessary.

Why would you need a preamp for SM7B?

Although preamps that are built-in to audio interfaces and recording mixers are very decent, more often than not, they lack a certain flavor and it’s very noticeable on such a clean microphone as Shure SM7B. So an additional preamp might help you to add some vintage analog coloration to your sound.

Important features

In order to choose your preamp for SM7B more efficiently, you may consider looking into coloration, additional features, and size.

Coloration 

There’s a wide range of sounds, starting from a very clean and transparent flavor to a warm and dirty tube tone and almost anything in between. And it’s up to you what particular sound suits your taste and artistic vision the most.

Additional features

On this list, we have very minimalistic and simple preamps and fully-featured channel strips. And the choice between those two will depend on whether you prefer a very fast-paced workflow or you implement a very surgical and thorough approach.

Size

On this list, you can find preamps that can fit in the pocket or full-sized rackmount units. So the choice comes down to whether or not there is enough space on your working desk or simply prefer it to be very minimalistic and uncluttered.

How to choose the right one for you?

In order to choose the best preamp for SM7B, you should consider what type of coloration you would prefer based on your own taste and artistic vision. You also should decide if you want your preamp to have some additional features such as compressor and EQ. And, finally, you should keep in mind how a preamp would fit into your working environment.

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