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When does it make sense to use a pre-amp? I'm using the Shure SM57 with the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) to record my podcast. This mic requires a lot of gain - I always have the gain on the interface turned up to the max which sometimes mean a lot of unwanted noise.

Could a preamp help with this? Is there any reason for me to use a FetHead or similar?

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  • Any noise you get when turning up the gain on a dynamic mic is in your preamp itself. Dynamic mics have no measurable self-noise.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 23 at 16:11
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The Scarlett has a pre amp built into it. Most likely the issue is the distance you have the microphone from your mouth. An SM57 is not ideal for podcast recording because you will need the microphone inches from your mouth, as well as dealing with proximity effect. You would benefit more from a condenser microphone than an external preamp.

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  • Ah, thank you. I did not know that. I'm ok with the mic inches from my face, I've gotten used to that. I specifically went with a dynamic mic because my understanding was that a condenser mic is more suited for a studio setting or in a space where there are sound treatments, which I don't have in my room. I don't have any of that and am pretty happy with the SM57 sound. I'll just have to tolerate practically kissing the mic while talking ;)
    – LuxuryMode
    Feb 14 at 6:05
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    @LuxuryMode not at all. I use a condenser microphone in my bedroom all the time with a Scarlett, no acoustic treatment, and have perfectly clean audio. But if you like the results of a 57 then use whatever equipment gives you the results you want. Feb 14 at 6:14
  • A 57 is definitely going to need a pop-shield - even if it's a pair of tights stretched over a bent coat hanger.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 23 at 16:09
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I wanted to use the SM57 to record music vocals, but I have the same exact setup, and the same problem. I added a preamp in line with the mic, and it solved my problem.

In the near future, I'm going with a condenser mic so I can also do meetings and podcast work more easily.

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  • All you're doing with a preamp is gaining level & bringing your noise floor with it. if the preamp is quieter than the built-in one in the Scarlett, then you might see some benefit.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 23 at 16:11

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