A microphone preamplifier, or preamp is an analog electronic device principally designed to boost the output voltage of a microphone to line level before it, where it can be more easily manipulated by signal processors such as equalisers and compressors to sculpt tone and shape dynamics. This processing happens before the signal reaches the final power amp stage, hence the name "pre-amp". Preamps are usually found in mixing desks, but they are also found in stand alone rack units and audio interfaces.Though their primary purpose is basically a signal gain stage and impedance matching device, as with all electrical circuitry, preamps impart a unique tonal colour to a signal due to distortion. Some devices are more obvious and less transparent than others. For this reason, preamps are often employed to add particular warmth or flavours to the microphone signals they are amplifying. Tube or valve preamps such as the ART MPA II stereo preamp. are great examples of this.
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