I have an Avid Mbox 3 soundcard. It has a preamp built in, but it does not do the job for me when it comes to getting a respectable gain. the mic I'm using is a rhode NT-1A, pretty decent condenser for what I've heard. What I tried was bumping the gain up via Ableton's default gain increasing functionalities, and compressing the signal, but the 2 give me very high noise in my recordings! I was recommended to get a pre-amp, and was told that behringer pre-amps are pretty decent for a good bargain. My question is, if I get a pre-amp, will I get a higher gain with no noise?
Compression gives you higher noise levels without a noise gate. Do you have the -20dB pad turned off? The gain the Avid mbox-3 is advertised with should most certainly be sufficient for a rather hot microphone like the NT-1A. Maybe check whether there is some internal software mixer or something like that in the interface that interferes.
Maybe measure whether the advertised 48V are actually 48V and not something entirely less.