Why Microphones Are More Important Than Preamps - Short Answer
* Microphones introduce far more amplitude, phase and distortion artifacts compared to preamps. These artifacts can be used to good effect to color the source.
* Microphones operate in 3D space. Moving a mic relative to its source and room boundaries offers far more control over recorded sound than a preamp which operates in 2D space (no spatial control over amplitude vs. frequency artifacts).
* Microphones share an important attribute with their human users - energy transformation. Preamps simply amplify and do not change input energy type into another form.