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I use my dynamic RE20 mic with Focusrite 2i4 preamp/USB-interface.

I have some noticeable hiss with this setup. The least noise I can get is when the gain knob is on maximum (which is not what you would normally expect). But it still can be heard.

If you search this mic on Youtube, you can hear that it can sound really clean and really noisy. For example, the video that features RE20 on the official EV channel sounds horrible, maybe even worse than what I have: https://youtu.be/ESuwVqvSsCk?t=5m15s

At the same time the guy who runs it through Neve 1073 DPD (a $2k preamp) sounds great: https://youtu.be/xkqFe6gft_s?t=8m3s

So am I right to assume, that preamp is what matters? And if so, what's the cheapest preamp to get rid of the self-noise?

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The noise is probably not self-noise but white noise in the preamp, which would explain why the preamp makes a difference.

The RE-20 is not on the sensitive end of the microphone spectrum, which means it's not meant for quiet sounds. It does great on brass, strong voices, kick drum, amplifiers, etc. Since it is not as sensitive, if you put it in front of a fairly quiet sound source you'll have to increase the preamp gain more than with other microphones, and therefore you might have to amplify the white noise that every preamp generates to an audible level.

There are preamps that have less thermal noise, but it's not easy to tell what products will work for your specific recording needs. Also, it's considered off-topic to recommend specific products on StackExchange.

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The problem with the RE20 of current production is that they make use of an SMD PCB and the PCB has errors in the layout and components which are noise generators.

This can be verified by taking any RE20 with filter assemblies from previous iterations and compare with the newer style RE20 A/B on an FFT. You will find the newer RE20s have an unaceptable amount of noise.

They are aware... yet for almost 5 years (since 2011) nothing has been done to remedy.

Good luck, my advice is to sell the newer mic and go after an older RE20.

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