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Warm Audio - WA12 Microphone Preamp 312 Style (API SSL NEVE AVALON)

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by WarmAudio.com, May 5, 2012.

  1. WarmAudio.com

    WarmAudio.com Active Member

    Hi,

    I wanted to introduce a new 312 style mic pre to the forum. The Warm Audio WA12 is completely discrete with custom wound USA made Cinemag transformers, 71db's of gain and high headroom. I've sold 8 channels of this design to a Neve console owner in Florida at a much higher price, it is the real deal. Though the price tag suggests otherwise, this is not a budget or sub-pro piece of gear, it hangs right along side pres with much loftier price tags.

    Things that make the preamp noteworthy/unique:
    - High quality components - Low cost $449
    - It's intentional vintage (mid-boosted) character


    Most of the info needed can be found at the site Warm Audio | Warm, FAT, Luscious Analogue tone! including sound samples. Let me know if you have any questions, thanks guys.

    Bryce Young
    Warm Audio
     
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Bryce, I don't know about you but a 312 & Neve 3115 does not have a hyped midrange. Your cost of $449 for a microphone preamp is really not much less than an API 512. It's actually more than a API 312 card. And the API utilize a Jensen microphone transformer with a custom-made multi-winding secondary output transformer. You're also not including any specifications other than 71 DB worth of gain. So what is its maximum output capabilities into a 600 ohm load? What is its bandwidth capabilities? Noise floor? THD? Anybody can purchase a used Yamaha PM 1000 channel strip which also have qualities similar to API & Neve. As those were reverse engineered from the Neve products. And other manufacturers here paid to advertise their products so this could also be considered SPAM. So what about that Bryce?

    API & Neve console owner here
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  3. WarmAudio.com

    WarmAudio.com Active Member

    RemyRAD,

    I don't remember saying anything about a Neve 3115. I also don't believe I said that the WA12's mid range is identical to an API module, or that the mid push was a characteristic of a particular module/model/preamp. Mid presence is a very common characteristic in A LOT of vintage gear as many older components were not as good at carrying the highs and lows, this arcing the mids to the top of the spectrum. Character doesn't appear out of a flat line. A pre can borrow/share a classic gain structure without claiming to sound identical to the original, this is what the WA12 is doing. There are few (if any) out of hundreds of clones that sound identical to their original modules or to each other.

    An API 512c is $750 without a power supply, with a 2 space lunchbox or similar power supply you're looking at $900-$1000 total. Not similar in price.

    Not just anyone knows how to recap and rack up a used Yamaha channel strip. This really is not a realistic option for most people. These are also a lot of work to recap, rack, add a power supply and find and buy the mixer in the first place.

    Do you know the Jensen Cinemag history? How they share some of their designs? Jensen charges more, but is not of higher quality. Do you mention them because they are a popular name or because you actually have experience with different brands of transformers and think one is better than the other?

    API uses 2 of the output windings on their output transformers in series making their output transformer a 1:2, this has nothing to do with quality...not really sure why you mentioned it. Many audio output transformers are built with multiple output windings to give the gear makers different options on the output, sending an extra coil to a meter or to a secondary output.

    Typically detailed specs are given to show accuracy, transparency etc... The WA12 is not trying to be "accurate" or "ultra transparent.". I personally like character, warmth, color, mojo, THD etc... I want to be able to say, "wow, listen to how my preamp made my microphone sound different/better." Showing a spec of fairly high THD in comparison to many of the ultra transparent pres of today doesn't do a whole lot for the WA12 as it's not competing for those metals. The WA12's charactered tone and purposeful imperfections are what make it great and give it life. Similar imperfections are what make people drool all over original modules and consoles as old consoles are not typically ultra transparent....smooth and warm, yes. I personally go with my ears, sound samples etc... when shopping out a pre but I still may make these specs available in the future for those that want them.
     
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    looks pretty interesting. I've PM you Bryce.

    Please continue Remy and Bryce
     
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Price I know that the Cinemag, Jensen, Reichenbach's do all share a similar family line. I was merely pointing out that the API's have typically utilized the Jensen's. The multiple output windings on the API transformers have the ability to present a higher headroom output at the cost of slightly more noise. It's all in what you want. I personally love the headroom. But as you have indicated, that doesn't necessarily factor in. I also drive a lot of 600 ohm stuff where most others are loading into 10,000-20,000 ohms. And a lot of that stuff cannot accommodate those higher output levels at their inputs. So you would be correct more so than I. But folks do need to hear both sides to understand better what they might want to purchase. For example, my 10 year old MOTU 2408 MK I I doesn't like to see anything greater than +20 at its input. My Neve can deliver +30 and with the double series output windings on my API's, +28. So in a sense, my output advantage is lost. But it wasn't like that when I was feeding the Ampex MM 1200-24 I started with. However we do have some folks here that really dig some of those old beasts so they should know this. We are both helping them to understand this and make better decisions along with better recordings.

    My previous custom console that I built back in 1978 was flat to nearly 100 kHz. I don't have an oscillator capable of that anymore but I do know that my current equipment the old Neve & API can make it well beyond 30 kHz where my current oscillator's stop. LOL. Back in the late 1970s fast slew rate was all the rage. My mid-70s Neve has a slew rate of 15. However, few people know that the API only has a slew rate of 1.5 yup, 1 1/2 but because of its output buffering it never slew's. Chips do slew and a lot of this stuff folks are using today does exactly that. That's why they think their stuff doesn't sound quite right. They're pushing it too hard. We can push the old stuff. I would assume that your stuff is like the old stuff? So it should also be awesome. Paul Wolff told me when he owned API that he didn't want to let people know that he had a 1.5 V per microsecond slew rate. But he told me since we were friends. Then there were the folks that thought they API sounded more aggressive than the Neve. Others thought the Neve sounded more aggressive than the API. And I've never quite considered there was much difference between them except for how the equalizer sounded since they were two different concepts of equalization networks. One being inductor capacitor and the other being capacitor resistor. One was reciprocal and one was not. I liked both I used both. And that's where the difference was more in one's technique than in one's equipment. Bob Clearmountain, whom I worked with at Media Sound, NYC, told me he could never get a good sound that he wanted from an API. The Neve he felt more comfortable with. George Massenburg's stuff was quite different sounding from a Neve but he made some fine recordings on old vintage Neve's, for Linda Ronstadt, for instance. And while his compressors were also highly coveted, they utilized DBX RMS detectors and DBX VCA's early on. It was his input and output circuitry that differed from the DBX stuff. And there was a big difference in the sound. I don't think having the lowest THD makes that big a difference if you're getting the sound you want? To others, it makes all the difference to them. What's your take on all of that?

    I'll take two because they're small.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  6. WarmAudio.com

    WarmAudio.com Active Member

    Warm Audio WA12 Discrete Mic Pre

    The WA12 is definitely like the older stuff and can be pushed, great headroom, uses 3 coils on the output tranny.

    Valid points regarding specs. I'll most likely provide more specs here shortly.

    Thanks for your interest.

    Thanks,
    Bryce Young
    Warm Audio | Warm, FAT, Luscious Analogue tone!
     
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Bryce,

    What inspired you to make this?
    Does it perform similar to other 312?
     
  8. WarmAudio.com

    WarmAudio.com Active Member

    The schematic is based on the classic 312 gain structure and uses a 1731 discrete op amp. It will perform similar to other 312's but it does use some unique component choices that give it some fun analog flavor. I'm a big fan of vintage gear for the colorful tone it carries, there's a reason why some big money is spent on 30-50 year old gear, it's tone can be priceless (depending on the brand/model of course). There are a lot of clones on the market that are based on vintage circuits but don't carry much vintage analog "console" tone. My love for older priceless gear is what inspired the release of this pre. What makes this design special I think is that it has a unique sonic signature (vintage, colorful, open, smooth), but what makes it really special is its price tag.

    Here are some links to sound samples: http://warmaudio.com/listening-room/
    And a link to a review: http://everythingrecording.com/reviews/review-warm-audio-wa12/
     
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Well now you're talking buddy. A Saul Walker/MELCOR 1731 a.k.a. API 2520. I still have six 1731's preamps going in an old Neil Muncey 8 channel package with a couple of 2520's sitting in with the group. Even the old Beyer microphone transformers impart that old vintage quality that more theoretically correct designers can tell you they are bad. What the heck do they know? That may have been true in the days of analog tape but with digital, all bets are off today.

    IVC 9000's were segmented helical scan 2 inch analog video machines back in the day...
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     

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