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How do I hook up an external mic pre with a recording interface?

Asked 1445 day 20 h | Viewed 13454 times | Updated 1099 day 19 h |

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Gravatar photo Martin Swain

This might sound like a stupid question, but I've never used external gear with my Presonus interface before and I'm a bit confused with how to hook stuff up. I know that with an external compressor for example, you run the output of the interface into the input of the compressor and then the output of the compressor back into the input on the back of the interface and plug in a mic into an avaliable mic pre on the interface.

My question basically is how do I do this with an external mic pre? I assume that you plug in the mics into the avaliable XLR inputs of the external mic pre but then where would I go?

Would I use the outputs of the external mic pre to plug back into the avaliable inputs on the back of the interface, or would I plug them into the XLR mic pres on the front of the interface?

Your answers would be great help for me!

3 Answers

  1. Answered: 1445 day 17 h (2) | Permalink

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    Gravatar photoTwisted Engineer

    According to your profile you have a Presonus FP10?  

    It looks like it has a TRS line input for both the 1st and 2nd input on the interface so I think you should be able to run the line output from the external preamp to the line input on either the first or second channel of your interface.

    Remember this will use the FP10's internal Analog to Digital (A/D) converters to convert whatever signal you send to it -- which is fine.  

    If your external preamp happens to have a A/D converter built in with a SPDIF RCA output you would probably want to connect that to the FP10's SPDIF input and skip the on board A/D.  (This would be the preferred method if you have a really nice external preamp and A/D converter combo because it would skip the inferior electonics in the FP10.)

    I hope this clears it up a bit.  Let us know how it works out.

    • Thanks a lot for the answer, it's very helpful! I do have an FP10, but I'm looking to get 2 Firestudio Projects relatively soon though. I assume the process would be the same for that? So the line inputs which are on the BACK of the interface are what I'd plug the outputs of the external mic pre into and I would route this in DAW? If I get a mic pre with 4 channels would I only be able to use 2 of them because of the 2 line inputs on the FP10?

      Martin Swain | Aug 09 at 03:08

    • You got it. I explain it a bit more in my answer. But the FP10 will limit you.

      Gml Lover | Aug 11 at 11:08

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  2. Answered: 1444 day 17 h (1) | Permalink

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    Gravatar photoGml Lover

    I would suggest not getting two FireStudio Projects because it really limits your upgrade options.  

    The problem with both the FP10 and the FireStudio Project is that neither of them offer any optical inputs or outputs, they only offer an RCA Digital connections.  

    • RCA inputs and outputs can only offer 2 channels of audio each.
    • Optical inputs and outputs can handle 8 channels each at 44.1k (4 each at 96k)

    This means that the FP10 and FireStudio Project can only ever add 2 new channels to each--2 using the RCA digital input.  You can also add 2 using the analog inputs on the first two channels but when you plug an external preamp into the line inputs you lose the use of those two preamps on the box.  So basically you are swapping 2 external preamps in place of the ones that come on the interface. :(

    Instead take a look at the PreSonus Firestudio -- it has the same analog inputs and outputs that the other interfaces have but also adds two each of digital optical in and out.  (16 channels of external stuff at 44.1k!!) And the best part is that you can still use all the on-board preamps at the same time for a total 24 (+2 more if you happen to use the RCA inputs as well)

    Finally this would allow you to instantly add something like the Presonus Digimax or the Focusrite Octopre to the interface with a single optical cord. BAM...8 more inputs each.

    Then if you really want to step it up, you can get something like the Focusrite 828 with the digital expansion card.  8 channels of classic Neve transformer mic preamps.

    All of this with just the one interface.

    • Thanks for your answer! This is VERY helpful! I've got my eyes set on a TL Audio 5001 external valve preamp. This is the stage where the routing gets a bit complex for me because there's a lot of stuff on the back of the Firestudio which I haven't used before. How would I go about setting this up with the Presonus Firestudio to get the full use out of the 4 mic inputs on the valve preamp?

      Martin Swain | Aug 14 at 08:08

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  3. Answered: 1105 day 9 h (0) | Permalink

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    Gravatar photoguest

    This means that the FP10 and FireStudio Project can only ever add 2 new channels to each--2 using the RCA digital input.

    You can actualy link up to 3 fp10 or firestudio project together by firewire so that makes 24 preamp plus 2 if you use external preamps through spdif (on firestudio project only).

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