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I'm looking for a simple, compact, high quality but reasonably priced 2-channel microphone preamplifier. I will use the preamp with a stereo microphone with two phono connectors so the inputs need to be unbalanced - or can I use phono to XLR adapters? The output from the preamp will go into the left/right RCA input of a Behringer UCA202 USB sound card. The M-Audio Audio Buddy have the right feature set but it seems to be discontinued. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Edit 2016-05-04: After having searched the Internet for some time I find it rather strange that there are no real budget options. I'm a bit suspicious about high-price components that does a seemingly simple thing. What make mic preamps so expensive?

  • What's your budget? Also is there a particular source that you're going to be recording (musical instrument, speech etc)? – Simon Bosley Apr 28 '16 at 14:08
  • @SimonBosley Regarding the budget I haven't really decided yet. How much do I need to pay to get good quality? My Behringer sound card is very low cost though. I plan to record live performances at home with just one stereo microphone (or maybe later one microphone per left/right channel). – August Karlstrom Apr 28 '16 at 15:02
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Most of the popular-priced two channel mic preamps as you are asking about include USB audio interfaces built-in. So keeping your UCA-202 while finding a low-price standalone dual mic pre severely limits your choices nearly to zero.

Behringer makes a rather nice dual mic preamp with built-in USB interface in the "U-Phoria UMC202HD Audiophile 2x2 USB Audio Interface with MIDAS Mic Preamplifiers, 24-Bit/192kHz Resolution"

Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD Audio Interface

Google shopping reveals that there are vendors selling these for US$60

  • Thanks for your advice. As far as I understand, this interface does not have fixed gain levels, so how are you supposed to maintain the exact same level between left and right channel? Does it come with a rubber band? – August Karlstrom May 5 '16 at 7:35
  • No mic preamps like that have fixed gain levels. That would not be practical for live stereo recording. It is not clear why exact same level between left and right channel is important to your application? Standalone mic preamps like that are very rare because few people need them apart from a USB interface. So the economics of supply and demand make them rare and expensive. You are looking for something that doesn't exist. – Richard Crowley May 5 '16 at 11:43
  • The FMR RNP has gain levels in fixed 6 dB steps. – August Karlstrom May 5 '16 at 20:19
  • The FMR RNP is a $500 mic preamp. This is why we originally asked you for a number value for budget. Few people would call a 2-channel mic preamp for $500 as a "real budget option" (your words). – Richard Crowley May 6 '16 at 15:48
  • I don't consider the RNP a real budget option either. Still, it seems to be one of the cheaper non-USB preamps with the functionality I need. – August Karlstrom May 9 '16 at 11:42
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I suggest considering the wide range of small mixing consoles that Behringer make. The one I've been using for the last 10 years or so doesn't appear to be on the market now, but this one looks similar. They make smaller and cheaper ones than that too, and all appear to include mic preamps that should be of the appropriate standard. I've been very happy with mine.

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Although more expensive than the M-Audio Audio buddy, the FMR Audio RNP8380 has the functionality I need.

FMR Audio RNP8380

  • Indeed the FMR RNP is a very nice preamp. But it is ~10x your originally-hinted budget. If you had stated that you had a $500 budget, the responses would have been different. – Richard Crowley May 5 '16 at 20:56

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