Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Warm Audio WA-12 Review

I wasn't originally going to do a "review" of this product. While I've played through numerous versions of a Tube Screamer, I don't have a lot of experience with outboard gear. But I I got a great deal from Sweetwater (who is currently blowing out the orange version) and was surprised at how much easier this has made my workflow. Let me explain. 

My old interface was a cheap one, just something to experiment with, and you had to chose mic/line or instrument level before you plugged something in. If you plugged in a TRS cable and turned on the phantom power it would send phantom power over the TRS cable, which I guess can be useful, but could also fry a mic pre. My current interface is the IK Multimedia AXE I/O. It's a 2 in 5 out interface that has good quality clean mic pre's built in. With the AXE I/O when you turn on phantom power it sends it to both inputs, but there is a kill switch when you input a TRS which in turn removes the phantom power from just that one. (there is another one when you plug in an instrument, this is smart) It is well known that microphones will make a bigger impact on your sound than a preamp, and you can get those preamp sounds out of plugins. So why buy the Warm Audio WA-12 when I can get those sounds in a plugin?

Flexibility: The WA-12 has a TRS line level out as well as a mic out. So before if I was using two mics they either had to be two dynamic mics or two condenser (phantom powered) mics. Now I can have either or both. 

Headroom: Line level is higher which therefor offers more headroom. This allows more dynamic range out of my mics, I can run them quieter so that it doesn't pickup as much room noise or higher for more details. 

Louder perceived volume: The WA-12 is based on the old API312 preamp. As you crank the input volume of the mic it hits a transformer that adds 2nd order harmonics adding saturation to the recording. Once again you can do this with plugins but you can add very subtle saturation and actually lower the overall volume level of your recorded track while making it sound louder! Now if you want a lot of saturation click the pad button and crank the input and you're in saturated heaven. 

Tone Choices: There is a button on the front of the WA-12 marked tone. This changes the impedance of the preamp which, depending on the mic, can alter the tone. It's a great cure for cheaper overly bright mics. 

So now I can leave more stuff plugged in. I don't have to decide between only dynamics or condensers when recording with two mics. I have more available dynamic headroom out of the AXE I/O. I have more tone options. 

I'm starting to feel like this is a rabbit hole. Like I can see some sort of patch bay working it's way into my setup and then a bit more rack gear.... oh boy. haha. 

No comments:

Post a Comment