How to choose a preamp for Pro Tools

If you are planning on getting in the land of Pro Tools, you will faced with many options for a preamp/digital interface. The most common choice is the Digi 002/003, which gives you 8 input channels (4 mic-pres).  Other popular choices include M-Audio and PreSonus models.

The main consideration for making the proper preamp/firewire choice is your primary tracking method.  Will you be recording a full drum kit? Many musicians/instruments at once?  Or just one instrument at a time?

Basically, if you are going to mic up more than four instruments at once, you will need the M-Audio or PreSonus series, since they have eight mic pres.  The Digi 002/003 has only four.

The next consideration is the quality of the mic-pres.  Many of the top engineers don’t like the “sound” of the standard Digi 002/003 mic-pres.  For an amazing sounding modification for the 002/003, Black Lion Audio offers a killer upgrade.

There will likely be many more players entering this field in the coming years with the mass adoption of home recording.  A brand new preamp/interface with a special tube configuration by PreSonus looks very interesting.

There are other considerations, such as sampling rate and analog/digital converters, but those features probably won’t mean much to the average DIYer.  Once you get into the arena of producing material for TV/Movies/Major Labels, then there’s a next level of equipment to enhance the sound landscape.

Here is a tutorial on how to setup and configure your pre-amp with any version of Pro Tools.

Download our spreadsheet!

  • ramin

    Interesting article. Little coverage of other noteworthy solutions that are out there. But nevertheless, good stuff.

    I agree with the weak preamp on digi002. I am a novice and I was always disappointed in the quality of the audio when I recorder. Then I finally realized that it’s the preamp that’s not giving me a good true signal.

    I just bought the 1-channel TubePRE and also Digimax D8, both by PreSonus. I recorded last night with TubePRE and I have to say OMG!!!! What a difference. My guitar sounded warm and fat and I loved it.

  • Excellent. I always tell people, invest first in good mics and mic-pres before anything else. You can make a great recording a 4-track cassette if you have quality sources.

  • As a follow-up to this post, I’d also highly recommend the RME line of mic-pre’s and interfaces. I have the Octamic II and it is perfect.

  • Corey 23

    Does pro tools have pre amps in it ?? Mad debut over this

  • Hi Corey! Pro Tools is just the software. The mic pre-amps are electronics that are built into an interface where all the mics are plugged into. Hope that helps!

  • Pingback: How To Use Pro Tools - Pro Tools Tutorial()