I've been recording songs for almost a year now but I still don't know all the secrets of a good home recording.

I'm currently using a Rode NT1-A condenser microphone, a Focusrite Saffire 6 audio interface and a Line 6 Pod HD for my guitar. I am really satisfied with my gear, yet I'd like to know more about the recording for the vocals:

I'm sure that a condenser microphone is a great thing, but I can't use it with my Pod HD because the XLR-port doesn't provide phantom power, so I can only plug in a dynamic microphone. I like my microphone, but I always have to add a lot of VST effects to my vocal track because they sound too bright, which is also a minor problem. (I have a 5 bucks dynamic karaoke mic which doesn't need any VSTs to sound full, so it's not about my performance)

My question is, does a preamp make a lot of difference when using a condenser microphone? I think my interface already has a built in preamp, does it make sense to buy a separate preamp? When is it a good idea to get a dynamic microphone for home recording?

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    Why do you want to use Pod HD? Why don't you just use Saffire 6? May 25, 2014 at 19:53
  • @el.pescado I can only use one interface at the time in my DAW. It would be nice if I could use only one interface, but that was just an idea :) Saffire 6 doesn't model the guitar, I don't use it for guitar recording.
    – muffin
    May 26, 2014 at 8:44
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    You could connect line output to line input of Saffire, as a workaround. May 26, 2014 at 9:59
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    Can't you also just use the POD to record the guitar parts, then switch to the Saffire for recording with the mic? It supports phantom power so the Saffire is compatible with condenser mics. At this stage you don't really need another preamp.
    – charlie
    Oct 10, 2014 at 0:24
  • Many condenser mics can use a battery, when phantom power isn't available. You still need XLR, but that's another matter.
    – slim
    Apr 10, 2015 at 7:54

5 Answers 5


It all depends on what sound you are looking for. "Better sound" is a rather subjective concept.

I do suggest you to get a system with phantom power, not for a "better sound" necessarily, but for increasing your arsenal of options. Your mic choice will vary in different scenarios, and it's very useful to have the option of going condenser.

Vocals are commonly recorded with big diaphragm condensers, but dynamics are sometimes used too. Once you have a system capable of handling both, you will be able to make the decision based on what you are hearing.

Definitely a very good inversion for any studio, of any size.


Phantom power is here to stay. Condenser mics are better for recording. Dynamic mics tend to be more use in the rough and tumble of live stage situations. To future-proof yourself, it's better to get equipment which can provide phantom power. Better recording mics will generally need it. A pre-amp would do, but eventually you'll be better off with a system that provides p.p. inbuilt.


A microphone certainly needs a preamp, to provide phantom power and to amplify the signal. But the preamp in your mixer or in your audio interface is probably just fine. A recent test in Sound on Sound magazine established that a variety of mic preamps, from utility-priced to boutique, unless set up to deliberately add distortion all sounded exactly the same.

  • can you link to that article? it sounds really interesting. Apr 9, 2015 at 20:52
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  • A lot of people were really upset at these results, and came up with ingenious arguments to prove their expensive gear DID actually add value to their recordings.. SoS continues to review boutique preamps with a straight face. And hi-fi magazines still advise spending a hefty proportion of a system's cost on "interconnects". You can't fight religion :-)
    – Laurence
    Apr 10, 2015 at 11:20
  • With modern electronic components, it's quite hard to design a preamp that doesn't sound good (and have good measured characteristics) - unless you set yourself a real challenge like "the total component costs for the design must be less than 1 US dollar").
    – user19146
    Sep 4, 2017 at 13:15

To get a better sound at vocals your best bet would be to sit down and work with what you got. Improve your mixing skills. Your gear is pretty good and there's no reason that you can't get something at least workable out of it.

  • Of course I will not stack up my gear until I am satisfied with the sound. My question was just about the possibilities of how I can bring together my gear the most efficient way. I got my answers, but I'll wait quite a while before buying something new so don't worry, I'll practice enough with what I have ;)
    – muffin
    May 26, 2014 at 8:57

Uh, when I read about you shouting in your NT1A, I cannot but wince. The NT1A is a large diaphragm condensor with high accuracy and sensitivity. It's great for picking up stuff faithfully and from a distance with minimal noise.

Which makes it a superb recording mic for, say, a Liederabend. Put it on a suitable gallows and record piano and singer from near the first seat rows.

That's not what you have here. Maybe you should take a look for a small amp and a singer's microphone that match your idea of a good sound. It can still make sense to then record the overall sound (if the room does not mush it up too much) with one or two NT1A after going through suitable voice and instrument amps.

  • Very useful hint, I thought that a dynamic mic would solve such a problem, but I don't have one yet. What microphones do you recommend, especially for shouting techniques?
    – muffin
    Oct 10, 2014 at 7:15
  • If you're a shouter, shout into a SM58. There's probably one lying around!
    – Laurence
    Apr 9, 2015 at 9:33
  • The NT1A is typically used as a close vocal or instrumental mic. You COULD put a stereo pair of them in front of a concert platform I suppose.
    – Laurence
    Sep 4, 2017 at 22:31

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