Warm Audio is a gear manufacturer that strives to emulate the sound quality of vintage high-end gear, but with a much smaller price tag. We wanted to see how some of their microphones compared to their vintage counterparts and so we tested four microphones…
The microphones I tested were…
Warm Audio WA-87 FET Condenser Microphone against Neumann U87 Ai
Warm Audio WA-14 Condenser Microphone against the AKG C 414 EB P48
Warm Audio WA-47 Tube Condenser Microphone against the Peluso 22 47 LE
Warm Audio WA-47jr FET Condenser Microphone against the Peluso 22 47 LE
The Set Up, Sources and Testing
You can learn more about how the tests were conducted in the first article and also listen to the samples too. Thanks again to Bryan Drewyor, Sarah Pray of indie folk band Carrellee, Kaia Kalise, and Sam Ness for giving their time to play and sing for these comparison tests.
Which One Do You Prefer?
In the previous article we asked you to listen to the samples and rather than tell you which recording has been made with which microphone, we presented the examples in a blind comparison and asked you to tell us which example you prefered. We can now reveal which microphone was which for each example and share the results from each of the polls.
After the session, I trimmed the beginnings and ends of each artist’s original song then used clip gain to even out volumes so that I could get the best A/B comparison possible. I also added a Waves PAZ Analyzer insert on each track so I could screenshot the frequency response results. I know, it’s not the most sophisticated analyzer, but you try screenshotting a moving target like Izotope Insight!
Anyway, here are the graphs along with my observations starting with the piano and vocal examples from Bryan Drewyor and Kaia Kalise…
The graphs are pretty similar, but the biggest difference I noticed during the tracking sessions was in the low range. In the Warm Audio WA-87, there wasn’t quite as much response in the 60 Hz to 120 Hz range compared to the U87 Ai. For these more acoustic-based genres, I actually like this slight dip in the low frequencies since this is an area I tend to pull back with EQ or multiband compressors a bit anyway.
Let’s check out some more samples to see how the other mics stack up to their vintage counterparts. Next up lets take a look at the guitar and vocal examples…
Overall these are looking pretty close too, but there is a bit of a difference in the 3 kHz and 9 kHz areas as well. Let’s see if that is coming from the 47’s or the 14’s.
Again, these look really close, but we can see (and hear if you check out the examples) that the C 414 EB has a touch more top end. The low end is a bit more even between the two of these mics. Moving onto the vocals…
Most of the difference I’m hearing between the Peluso and the WA-47 is at around 10 kHz. The Peluso has a boost in that range so I usually avoid this mic on sibilant singers in favor of something darker. The WA-47 was closer to what I would prefer, though I would still pay attention to sibilance when auditioning this mic on a singer.
Finally lets take a look at the guitar amp examples. Sam’s guitar had a pickup so I put a little Marshall amp I had on hand in an isolation booth and miked it up…
Here we have the biggest difference between mics, which makes sense. One is a tube (the Peluso), and the other is a transformerless condenser (the WA-47 jr). The Warm Audio 47 jr had a dip in the high end which was suited nicely for this amp. That being said, the fullness of the Peluso was my preference in this case.
The Poll Results
In this table we reveal which microphone was used for which examples and the results of each poll showing which example you prefered…
|Bryan Drewyor Piano and Vocal Example 1||Neumann U87 Ai||53%|
|Bryan Drewyor Piano and Vocal Example 2||Warm Audio WA-87 FET||47%|
|Kaia Kalise Piano and Vocal Example 1||Neumann U87 Ai||60%|
|Kaia Kalise Piano and Vocal Example 2||Warm Audio WA-87 FET||40%|
|Carrellee Guitar and Vocal Example 1||AKG C414 & Peluso 22 47 LE||36%|
|Carrellee Guitar and Vocal Example 2||Warm Audio WA-14 & WA-47||64%|
|Carrellee Guitar Example 1||Warm Audio WA-14||40%|
|Carrellee Guitar Example 2||AKG C414||60%|
|Carrellee Vocal Example 1||Warm Audio WA-47||61%|
|Carrellee Vocal Example 2||Peluso 22 47 LE||39%|
|Sam Ness Guitar and Vocal Example 1||AKG C414 & Peluso 22 47 LE||39%|
|Sam Ness Guitar and Vocal Example 2||Warm Audio WA-14 & WA-47||61%|
|Sam Ness Guitar Example 1||Warm Audio WA-14||63%|
|Sam Ness Guitar Example 2||AKG C414||37%|
|Sam Ness Vocal Example 1||Warm Audio WA-47||47%|
|Sam Ness Vocal Example 2||Peluso 22 47 LE||53%|
|Sam Ness Guitar Amp Example 1||Peluso 22 47 LE||55%|
|Sam Ness Guitar Amp Example 2||Warm Audio WA-47jr||45%|
At the end of the day, use your ears and choose whatever works for your particular situation. Mics that sound this close to their highly coveted, high quality counterparts, but with a cheaper price tag are a no-brainer, especially for remote recording. That’s my thoughts and observations, but what about you? Do share your thoughts about which microphone you prefer and why in the comments below.