Inexpensive Dual XLR Microphone Preamp?

dual-preamp-xlr

Joey T. writes in and says this ART USB Dual Preamp works well for adding XLR Phantom power to your DSLR. Although it's designed with some old school USB 1.1 and interfaces with a computer, it's also a portable PreAmp with XLR and 1/4" inputs. It can run completely portable with a simple 9 Volt battery or power it with a variety of external power sources. There's also headphone monitoring available too, which makes it even more functional with DSLR audio. He's currently running it directly into a Canon T2i with Magic Lantern to disable the AGC, but for 60D owners you should be all set with Manual levels. Preamp boxes not only power your microphones, but can boost gain with very little noise. This one claims to boost signals up to 48dB, but up to what point is super clean only real tests will tell. If you've been looking for a very inexpensive preamp box to power fancy microphones and clean up audio hiss, this little thing runs under $70 bucks. It would be interesting to see a real video test, but here's more specs.

From BHPHOTOVIDEO.com
Combination portable preamplifier and computer interface, housed in a compact rugged case. The unit is suitable for a wide variety of applications including remote field work to desktop/studio recording. The 2 input channels can accept either a microphone or line input and provide up to 48dB of gain.

Phantom power is available for use with condenser microphones even when running from the USB bus or any of the other powering options. Those include using an optional external power supply, or an optional internal 9V battery. When running off the battery, operational hours are in excess of 50 hours with phantom power off.

A stereo mini headphone jack is provided for monitoring and the rear level and monitor mix controls allow for latency-free recording. The monitor mix is also routed to the main outputs. The USB interface is fully compliant with the USB 1.1 specification and uses USB adaptive mode for playback and USB asynchronous mode for record.

• Portable USB interface with dual microphone preamps
• Low-noise, fully balanced XLR and 1/4" TRS combi inputs
• Preamps provide up to 48dB of gain and feature independent gain controls
• Built-in, low-noise phantom power supply
• Signal present and clip LED indicators
• Latency free monitoring with mix and level controls
• Includes Audacity recording and production software
• 3-way powering options - via the USB bus, an optional external power supply, or with an optional 9V battery

dual-preamp-xlr
find-price-button ART USB Dual Pre - USB 1.1 Audio Interface with Dual Mic Preamps



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26 thoughts on “Inexpensive Dual XLR Microphone Preamp?

  1. frazzywig

    Can anyone comment on the noise that this reviewer (http://vimeo.com/2451806, starting at about 6:10) experienced when touching the external casing? Have any of you experienced that same noise. I would think that it would make it close to unusable if you intend to be able to make any adjustments or ride the gain while recording. Thanks in advance.

  2. Kevin

    Mounting problem? That's why there's velcro! I use the wide industrial stuff for batteries, my sennheiser g2 wireless, mics, you name it.. theres's also the option of cracking the thing open and tapping a 1/4" threaded hole into the chassis. Thanks for the awesome pre recommendation- I was so close to going with a juicedlink, but have more cash for sd cards!

  3. Juan

    @d bird, I read in other blogs that when the mic is battery powered has clean audio, when you use phantom power you got noise. I believe the NTG-1 is just for phantom power. If you have the chance to try with a battery powered, like the NTG-2 (phantom and battery) may be you got clean audio.

    I think I will try the ART and use it with my NTG-2. The price is great! Y most of the comments are very good too.

  4. d bird

    i'm using this art dual mic pre with a rode ntg1 into my gopro hero hd. works great. even with the gopro's automatic audio compression, the sound is definitely useable. wouldn't want to record an orchestra on it, but it's great for capturing speech. i'm going to use it for police "ride along" interviews inside the squad car.

  5. I am now using the 5DII with magic lantern and I am using the Rode NT1 as the mic. I had not dialed down the the level in magic lantern.

    I hadn't really played with it enough before I got thrown into some shoots. I'll play with turning down the levels in magic lantern today and I bet that helps.

  6. Emm

    Post author

    @allen - What camera are you using? You would dial down the audio levels on Canon 5D Mark II or 60D and then turn it up on the amp. Also which microphone are you using?

  7. Am I the only guy who bought this thing and thought it was a total piece of crap? All my video has had a heavy noise floor.

    Perhaps I should experiment with it more before I resell it. Perhaps I am just setting my camera audio wrong.

  8. Anh Dang

    Just a small update on this preamp: I bought it and it works great out of the box with my t2i. Battery slot is not that snug. I can change batteries quite easily. Also I bought a cheap belly pack that goes around my waist to house this. Not the neatest solution for portable audio but for the price, can't beat it.

  9. Anh Dang

    hey, anyone figured out how to remove a dead battery out of this yet? I read a lot about the horror but haven't tested that on mine yet.

  10. Joe G

    @Jared, I was thinking about doing the same thing with my H4n and AT897 since the audio is super low with the AT897.

    This recorder doesn't have xlr out right? So would that decrease the quality when putting just a standard cable in the zoom h4n?

  11. savagecross

    is it possible to connect this into a 60d connect a mic into it and also monitor the sound recorded by the 60d using a headset plugged into this? thanks.

  12. I bought it a while ago for the 550D. I mounted it to a belt that I can click around my waist, so there's room for other stuff on the camera. It has a higher dynamic range than the Juicedlink (33 vs 48) and a simple and easy to use design. +1 for this thing

  13. Jared

    I use this with the zoom h4n and although it is an ergonomic pain - it works really well. Just be really careful with the 9v battery cause if you shove it in there it is next to impossible to get out. Shooting a project now and it's nice for once to get a nice clean signal from my AT897 and Zoom H4n - it also helps that it can power my mic instead of either using the battery or powering it from the zoom (which destroys batteries in minutes).

  14. Joey T.

    @Thomas, We tested it by hooking up headphones directly to the line out on each device and compared at what gain level the noise on each became noticeable. Not the most scientific test, but the recordings I've made also came out very clean. I didn't have time to do any heavy analysis on the noise floor of the two, but I'd love to see how they stack up in a more rigorous analysis.

    @RJett, it has a headphone mini jack for monitoring output, but it's noisy and hotter than the line out signal.

  15. If you use this with a DSLR camera and you use the monitor out as your connection to the camera. How do you hear the audio while your recording?

    Or, can you set up the 1/4in phono outs to a mini male to plug into the camera freeing up the monitor port for headphones?

    Has anyone tried this preamp with a Panasonic GH2?
    Thanks, rj

  16. @kevin, Yes magic lantern does allow you to manually adjust the audio gain and monitor the audio but the preamps in the camera are very cheap and introduce a lot of noise into the track. Using this device would allow you to leave the in camera gain as low as possible while still recording a good track.

    While it does add a bit of weight to your rig, I find that most of my shooting is mounted, either on sticks, or a slider, or something of that nature, and very rarely is my mic attached directly to the camera. I would love to have this as a belt pack for my boom operator. That way he is monitoring off of the box and then sending a signal to the camera that I monitor off of there.

    @joey t, When you say you tested this vs the h4n how did you record the audio off of this device? over USB into the computer? or did you use the h4n as your recording medium. I was thinking i would split the monitor signal and send one into my h1 and one into the camera as a sync track.

    This looks like a very promising device. As per usual thank you emm for posting.

  17. Joey T.

    @Mike, This thing is pretty beefy in terms of construction. All aluminum housing with nice rubber covers on the sides which act as feet. One area where they did skimp is the battery holder: Basically a cardboard insert. Hasn't really been a problem for me, but it could be better.

  18. Kevin

    Isn't it kind of useless to monitor your amp but not your actual recording device?
    Magic lantern not only fixes the audio gain, but also lets you monitor the camera.

  19. @Zach: Can you show us a pic of how you mount it to your DSLR rig?

    Anyone else got a pic?

    Also, is it heavier b/c it is better built than the Zoom H4n? If so, seems like a good trade-off to me.

  20. Joey T.

    @Chris, I just popped it on the scale, and it comes in at exactly 453 grams with a 9v battery installed, so not quite as bad as you'd think.

    Man, I love the sound, personally. Went 1 on 1 with an H4n a few days ago, and the noise floor was about the same, if not lower.

    @Zach, for $230 less than the juicedlink, I'll strap it on my waist if I have to.

  21. Darius

    The mounting would be a bit of a pain, but I just got a JuicedLink box and if the rumors are true I'd love nothing more than to throw it on eBay and roll around in the money I'd saved.

  22. Good find! I was just considering replacing my Zoom H4n solution with this (they also have a few in stock at Amazon, BTW, for $10 more).

    Anyway, what is keeping me from buying it is the weight. Every spec I can find says this little guy weighs in at 1.3 lbs compared to the Zoom H4n which is 280 grams (just over 1/2 lb).

    I'm trying to keep our 60D rig lightweight, so I'm passing on this. If I didn't already have the H4n I would get it though... the price is a steal!

  23. I have one of these preamps. They sound MUCH better than the Juiced Link. The only con, and it's a big con, is that it's difficult to mount onto the camera.

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