I'm pretty new to recording, I've had a few mics and an interface for about a year and a half, but whenever I recorded something, the sound quality was so far below my liking that I became very discouraged.

To the point: What exactly is the function of a preamp? Even though I don't really know what they do, I have a feeling I may need one in my chain... because whenever I record guitar or vocals, the sound is really quiet and junky.

Do they make the sound louder and clearer, more "professional"... or what?

I'm eyeing this one http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/ART-Tube-MP-Studio-Mic-Preamp?sku=180581 mainly because of the price.

BTW, at the time being my chain is mic > firewire interface > garageband
The mic, mic position, room, and the source is going to make the biggest difference. Once you have all those things set, you can upgrade the parts in your signal chain that won't make as much of a difference. Preamps, Converters, Cables all fall into that category. They add "flavor", but they won't make something that sounds bad sound good. It will make things that sound good better.
Take a look through 3 4 and 5 in my sig, that'll help you get your mixes sounding better.

Will a new preamp make your stuff sound better? well that entirely depends on what you get.

That preamp there, from what i've heard (and i actually looked at it myself) that its a great little tube bass DI and an OK mic pre... but it won't be that much of an upgrade.

Some people trash the ART stuff, but the ART MPA is a pretty decent preamp if you replace the tubes.
It depends on how high you wanna go. I'd suggest a new program (like logic) before a good preamp (like a great river me-1nv or mp-2nv)
Thanks guys. I'll experiment with mic positions and such, and I'll check out tracks^.

edit: Ah, I see they're threads, not tracks.
Last edited by heaven's gate at Jan 25, 2009,