Here you`ll find the best Voice Over Preamps. More Info you`ll find here:


But remember: It is always the combination of Mic, Preamp and AD converter which defines the result. Not to mention "little things" like EQ, Compression or even cables (we only use Monster Cables or Vovox Klangleiter in our studios):

DAV_bg 1u front   DAV No. 1U

The features of this microphone amplifier consist of low noise and low distortion. It offers switched gain controls for high accuracy level setting (4 dB steps), D.I. Input (high impedance), level indication, high pass filter (switchable), 26dB pads (switchable), phase reversal and 48v phantom supply (switchable).This british made two channel preamp rocks at an unbelievable price. Our voice over preamp favorite for under 1000 $ !
Price $560 (US) or 699 € (Europe)

Mixwerk-Grace-Design-m101 Grace Design m101

This preamp has a stellar quality for a unbeatable price. 0,5 % precision metal film resitors offer a clean and authentic sound that you normally get only from the expensive stuff. When paired with the right mic, the m101 sounds fantastic on your voice. It doesn`t color the voice but it will deliver every last bit of detail in the source.
Price $565  (US) or 699 € (Europe)

528EFront_MF Symmetrix 528 E

This complete single channel strip performs six separate functions: microphone preamplification, de-essing (sibilance removal), compression/limiting, downward expansion, parametric EQ, and voice symmetry alignment. All six processes may be used simultaneously. For Broadcast, podcasting in very good quality.
Price $599 (US) or 699 € (Europe)

Universal-Audio-710-Twin-Fi Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity

This fine preamp combines both the classic retro warmth of tubes with the transient bite of solid-state, all in a 2U, half-rack unit. With tone blending between 100% tube and 100% solid-state, offering a practically infinite range of unique preamp tones. Ultra High Z impedance for christal clear voice sound. This thing sounds huge.
Price  $799 (US) or 729 € (Europe)

APHEX 230 Master Voice Channel Processor

Make YOUR voice heard above the crowd with the Aphex 230! Reflected Plate Amplifier Tube Mic Preamp, EasyRider Compressor, Logic Assisted Gate, Split Band de-esser, Aural Exciter, Parametric EQ, Big Bottom, +4 dBu and -10 dBV outputs,24 Bit 96 kHz A/D, AES, SPDIF and Optical outputs, Low jitter word clock output, Word Clock Input. Everything you need from Aphex. Best Podcasting euipment. The APHEX 230 Master Voice Channel Processor is a professional grade voice over microphone processor.
Price $899 (US) or 1199 € (Europe)

ISA220-Mixwerk Focusrite ISA 220 Session Pack

For anyone serious about professional voice over production, the ISA 220 Session Pack from Focusrite is one of the best values you'll find. This Focusrite channel-strip style processor is a complete processing toolbox, featuring a transformer-coupled mic/line/instrument preamp, 4-band EQ with filters, compressor, optical de-esser and a frequency adaptive limiter. Together with a Neumann U87ai or TLM 103 you have a perfect setup to record your voice.
Price $1499 (US) or 1299 € (Europe)

M5-large AVALON M5

Easily one of the world's finest-sounding and respected preamps, the M5 belongs in the studio of every audio professional. The M5 is a low-noise mic preamp with DI instrument input. It's also a sterling example of Avalon's first-class design specifications-100% discrete. Hit the Hi-Z Input Button and you will hear your voice much detailed. Very clean sounding, some folks like it more than its big brother, the AVALON 737. The M5 is also the single channel of the Avalon 2022. It sounds great with the AT 4060 and any Neumann (U87 or TLM 49 or TLM 103).
Price $1575 (US) or 1449 € (Europe)

AVALON-737-sp-Mixwerk AVALON 737

The VT-737sp brings its magic touch to everything in your voice. Run your dullest, most sterile mic through the VT-737sp and you'll be amazed at how warm and sweet it sounds. This 2-rackspace combo brings a new standard to high-end audio, taking your voice to places you never thought possible and giving you precise creative control. The VT-737 will energize your voice recordings! Press the High Gain Button and your mic will sound like playing in a different league. This preamp is widely used with the U 87 or MKH 417 (Los Angeles area). The compressor is not like a LA2A, yes, but it works.
Price $2250 (US) or 2089 € (Europe)

Mindprint-DTC-Mixwerk Mindprint DTC

The 3-rackspace DTC is a fine processor with a very high-quality mic preamp, line input and instrument stage (all with superb noise and distortion characteristics) and a wide-open, clean-sounding nature made in germany. The EQ is very musical and simply fabulous — even at extreme settings — allowing subtle creative shaping of a voice tonal colour. Every mic sound just more detailed and way more expensive. Use it with a AT 4060 or TLM 103 or U 87, the result is simply amazing. The build in compressor/limiter is the only thing that could be improved, we use a LA2A in our voice chain and the result is just perfect. And it has two channels - for this price it is simply our mid class favorite for your voice recording!
Price $2299 (US) or 2149 € (Europe)

Universal Audio 6176

The Universal Audio 6176 combines one channel of the legendary 610 amplifier with an updated 1176LN to create the ultimate single channel signal path. The 610 amplifier is packed with features, such as Mic, Line and Hi-Z inputs, two bands of shelving EQ, and a 15dB pad. The resulting character, heritage and tone simply cannot be found on other channel strip units.
Price $2399 (US) or 2395 € (Europe)

Pendulum MDP-1 Mixwerk Pendulum MDP-1

Entering the major league, the Pendulum MDP-1 is a modern two channel vacuum tube Mic/DI preamp designed to be the ultimate way to get your mic or source directly to tape or hard disk. Unlike vintage or hybrid designs, the MDP-1 uses a pure tube, class A high voltage circuit topology with a transformerless output stage to deliver an open, intimate sound with a level of detail that meets the requirements of the most demanding recording applications. It can be orded with two different transformers: a Jensen 13K7A for a full, open sound with plenty of sparkle in the high end and a deep low end, or a custom-wound transformer for a more 'focused' sound, with extra presence and clarity in the midrange - ideal for a bright vocal sound that easily distinguishes itself in a mix.
Price $2700 (US) or 2520 € (Europe)

Telefunken-V72-Mixwerk Telefunken V72

The V72 and the V72s are highly sought after because they set the benchmark for high quality studio equipment and have also been used by most of the European Recording Studios with productions for the Beatles, Pink Floyd and many others. The prices are very low compared to the quality and sound, they sound fat and creamy but not muddy at all. This is a major league unit for a middle class price. On the picture you see 2 of them in a special custom made rack.
Price around $2700 (US) or 1500 € (Europe)

Milleania-STT-1 Millenia STT-1 Origin

The STT-1 Origin is a perfect go-to channel strip for your voice when you need a massive selection of tones without compromising audio quality. Not only is the complete signal path of the STT-1 Origin totally discrete, but it features Millennia's exclusive Twin Topology design that combines two completely separate and discrete amplifiers (one solid state, the other tube) into the same chassis. The STT-1 Origin's signal processing section also offers completely independent tube and solid state paths, and the input transformer is bypassable — giving you control-freak dominion over your voice sound. Capturing the vitality of your voice performances with STT-1 Origin is almost effortless. Major league sound - clean, crisp and the tubes are marvelous, we just really love them on every voice.
Price $3055 (US) or 3290 € (Europe)

Manley_Voxbox Manley Voxbox

Manley's all-tube VOXBOX channel strip may well be your "last stop" voice processor, but it's also set to make the most out of virtually any voice you throw its way. The VOXBOX shares its fully featured microphone preamplifier design with Manley's acclaimed Mono Microphone Preamplifier, offering a whole lot of headroom and Class A vacuum tube tone. What's more, the smooth compressor section is a perfect blend of Manley's best-selling Variable MU and the opto-design of their ELOP. All of these features, in addition to a flexible Pultec-style mid frequency Equalizer, de-esser/limiter section, and Stereo Link function, make the VOXBOX a true sonic studio workhorse. Combined with a Neumann M149 or Brauner VM1 you get the ultimate voice sound.
Price $3600 (US) or 3490 € (Europe)

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Comment by Eric Raines on January 19, 2012 at 10:51am

Good show Howard.  The only thing that matters is to keep listening at all times.  If it sounds interesting, it is.  Some pre's also take a while for one to fully realize the particular benefits they give, and finding the perfect one is not very different from finding the perfect spouse!  It takes time, dedication, and always...a little money ;)  Good luck mate!


Clean to the max is right!  It blew me away the first time I fired one up as I've been working with colored sound forever.  I had to "retrain" my ears perse.  I sense you're very much like me, as we prefer our sound to be "built in" to the technology.  The Grace nowadays makes sense, for those that want to butcher the audio in post.  But as you and I know, does nothing for you during a live session ;)  Transformers will always be king for my vocal footprint.  Grace is like today's digital camera, Transformers are like beautiful Kodachrome 64, which is very sweet indeed :)     

Comment by Gordon Gibb on January 19, 2012 at 6:35am

I have a Grace M101 and my only complaint with it is that it's TOO clean it's to the point of being clinical.  Like walking into a hospital and smelling the antiseptic. I wanted something that would give me a clean, true interpretation without the hospital smell, so eventually went with a John Hardy M-1 (with Jensen transformers in and out) for my main rig, which gives me clean without clinical. That said the Grace is light and portable, and I've kept it for my mobile rig. No doubt, for the money the Grace M101 is very good, if you want clean. Yes baby, it IS clean.......

Comment by Howard Ellison on January 19, 2012 at 5:02am

Eric, hi.  That's fascinating!  Here, alas, it will be a while before I bow before Lord Neumann but I don't entirely slum things with a Coles ribbon, with a touch of passive EQ at the top end to bring it at least halfway from AD 1954 to  2012. 

Your mention of transformers reminded me of listenng closely to them A/B back at the BBC: you could just detect the effect of inserting a line tranny.   Speech or music, it created a slight warming, a sort of melody - though the measured response was straight line 30 - 15k.   So now, having acquired one, I do use it in the chain, at line level.  Odd though that the hi-fi industry spent years trying to eliminate the things from amplifiers!

Thanks for the tip about the Grace - a casting to pray for I guess!

Comment by Eric Raines on January 19, 2012 at 2:55am


Nothing is wrong with it.  Using pre's for additional color is highly luxury, and more of a "purest" approach and is in no way a necessity.  But simple EQ will never get you a "transformer", or "tube" sound.  Along with the inherent equalization curves that each character type pre provides, you also get artifacts that make each unique due to the underlying topology limitations.  Advantageously, these limitations tend to lend very musical sounding elements to the human voice.  Let's take Lundahl Transformers for example (Focusrite ISA), the "favorable" distortion they tend to give off is what makes them give a "pushed" sound in the lows, full mids, and smooth "airy" highs that tend to not get harsh.  This is very close to the sonic imprint of the wildly worshiped U87.  And let's face it, if you could EQ any mic to sound like a U87, they wouldn't command the $3499 that they do.  To me, coloring with pre's is the best way to go...that is, if you want to start a Crayon Box.  Because while the U87 is a glorious mic, at the end of the day, you still can't take the color out of it.  And sometimes, you have to.  But of course, this whole rant is because I'm the biggest nerd you'll meet when it comes to all things audio :)  But based on this list, if I had to give anyone advice, based on the sound of "today", you will be in the best shape by going with the Grace M101.  No pre on the market in this price range can compete in regard to transparency.  This thing has a fixed load impedance over 8000ohms, which will yield the truest sound possible out of any mic you plug into it, therefore, telling you everything you need to know about your own unique timbre, the mic in front of you, and the room you're in.  

It's a pre as honest as a Casting Director :)          

Comment by Howard Ellison on January 16, 2012 at 4:46am

Eric paints a fascinating picture of choosing a pre for 'smile EQ' or some other sound.  I understand his point (and I do know how nice and warm valves sound - I use them to monitor) but want to know what could be wrong with using ordinary EQ, either pre or post, to fine-tune the recording curve to the gig?

Comment by Dustin Ebaugh on January 16, 2012 at 12:27am

When I got my Blue Robbie, I sold my M5.  I like it much better and it's reasonably priced.  No color to it at all, just pristine sound with a nice warm tube.  One knob.  Simple.  :)

Comment by Eric Raines on January 15, 2012 at 7:15pm

Alexis, the UA Solo 610 is a fantastic pre.  I use mine daily.  But understand, do not purchase it as your only pre, but rather, as an additional color.  In uses a discrete transformer prior to the valve gain-staging.  This transformer already starts you off with a "colored" sound, which can be described as "slow", "round", or mildly compressed.  I pick pre's based on the kind of read that comes my way, and this pre is best mated with compassionate, relaxed types of reads.  Reads that are not meant to be forward in a mix.  Reads that don't require hysteric energy.  This pre gives off a sound that sits distant within a mix (if mixed correctly of course)

After the transformer, the input impedance allows for even more color.  Two choices here, 500ohms and 2000ohms.  With most LDC mics, 500 will yield higher gain, a slight low-frequency roll-off, larger mids, and prominent upper mids.  In other words, a larger, exciting, and somewhat aggressive sound.  Like if you're trying to pull out rasp in your voice.  2000 will give you what most call "smile eq", which is a light low-end bump, tucked-mids, and very smooth, "airy" highs.  A more "hi-fi", smooth, dimensional sound.  

The gain staging aspect of this pre determines just how hard you're hitting the tubes with level to create that elusive "tube sound" that everyone seems to clamor for, which is essentially pleasant, or "musical" distortion.  This is where tube pres TOTALLY shine, because with tube mics, the only way you can get to that distortion is with increased performance volume, which as you know, may not always appropriate for the copy in front of you.  With gain-staging pres, you can dial it in.  This takes practice and patience to find based on your voice, mic technique, and of course, the mic you're using.  

Also, with gain-staging pres, and non-energetic reads, you can dial in your input and output gain in such a way where you won't even need to insert compression!  Lots of benefits with gain-staging pres if you take the time to sit with them.  Also, is it VERY difficult to hear a pre's true value unless you audition your take in a mix.  This will tell you everything you need to know about any pre!          

Comment by Youssef on January 15, 2012 at 3:59pm

Of course we all have our favorites, that's a given.  But what I would NOT recommend doing is pairing up a $1000 dollar microphone with a $100 dollar Preamp.  Also, be wary of the $100 dollar pre that claims to sound like "Vintage Tube Gear."  It's almost certainly a low-cost solid state preamp with a tube coupled to the output gain stage for very minimal tube saturation.  After experimenting with lots of low-cost tube gear, I finally settled on a transformer balanced, solid state pre: the Focusrite ISA One.  Today's voice actors often whisper their performances, and what we need is low-noise gear that has a wide dynamic range.  If you can afford it, the Avalon 2022 is tops in its class, though there are other pre's that are quite good for less money.  We sometimes seem to forget that Large-Diaphragm microphones make our voices sound big, so a good clean pre that can capture all of the performance is sometimes just the ticket.

Good luck in your search for "The One."

Comment by Alexis Serrano on January 15, 2012 at 12:20pm
Any thoughts on the Universal Audio Solo 610?
Comment by Gordon Gibb on January 15, 2012 at 11:47am

They forgot one....and a stellar preamp it is.....the John Hardy M-1. Clean, accurate, reliable. John's a legend. The M-1 is right up there with the Avalon M5

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