WARM AUDIO 47-FAMILY OF MICROPHONES
I must admit, when Warm Audio first announced their 87-ish microphone I was highly skeptical of the anticipated audio performance. The low acquisition cost was a chart-busting bargain basement price but the mic was not a “clone”. True clones are what Telefunken USA produces, they’re uber expensive and place the greatest importance on look and feel of the originals they’re meant to mimic. Warm Audio took some liberties to get the price down, instead of custom cast-plastic parts, expensive machined metal parts and exotic connectors their microphones utilize high quality industry standard switches and other components.
The first Warm Audio microphone we actually purchased was the WA-47. I’ve built and modded many microphones so I felt totally comfortable with this new model given the component list it includes.
Bryce, the president of Warm Audio has always placed a big emphasis on extremely high quality electronic component parts and the WA-47 is no exception. Even though it’s a Chinese manufactured item this microphone has the wonderful smooth character of a quality tube microphone. Inside the microphone is a very high quality American manufactured output transformer, premium quality capacitors and resisters and a European sourcedvacuum tube from JJ.
I’ve owned several Neumann microphones in the past and they never really resonated with my ears and modern digital recording. The high frequencies sounded strident on rock vocals while the low frequencies seemed lacking. My vintage U-67 was a maintenance nightmare, there was nobody in my vicinity that offered quality service and repair so I sold it for a tidy profit because I like making music a lot more than dealing with maintenance issues.
Instead of trying to make a physical clone of a vintage German mic Warm Audio spent considerable R&D time listening to vintage specimens that have “that” magical sound, and then they spent more R&D trying to make a microphone that captures “that” sound but for an almost ridiculously low bargain price. There are certainly plenty of naysayer fanboys of more pricey brands who decry the performance Warm Audio has achieved.
Over the last 50 years I’ve owned and listened to hundreds of microphones. Currently our personal mic cabinets have over 50 microphones in inventory but for male and female vocals I’ve been reaching for the WA-47. It consistently sounds good on any vocal source and to me that’s exactly what I want when I reach for a mic. I don’t care about voodoo or forum opinions, I’ve been making my own sonic choices since way before there was an internet. The WA-47 sounds big, open and delicious to my ears.
The WA-47 got all the attention when it came out because the original 1940’s vintage Neumann is arguably the most coveted microphone in the world. Collection grade original Neumann 47’s are selling for $25,000 each and higher.
|Neumann U-47 FET, $4000 new from Sweetwater
|WA-47jr, $299 from Sweetwater website as of Jan 10, 2019
|WA-47 (left), WA-47jr (right)
The WA-47 tries a little to look like a proper U-47, the WA-47jr has nothing in common in appearance to any Neumann model, if anything it looks a bit like a shrunken U-47. The WA-47jr has three pickup patterns and comes with two stand mounts, a solid firm mount and a spider shock mount. Two other switches provide “Pad” and “Bass Rolloff”. The WA-47jr is advertised to have the exact same capsule as the much more expensive tube type WA-47.
I learned from my custom microphone construction adventures that the capsule has the greatest affect on the actual sound a large diaphragm microphone reproduces. Tubes and transformers can certainly affect the output timbre but the capsule is where the magic happens.
In the studio the WA-47jr quickly became a favorite of mine because it’s got a great big smooth sound quality and no external power supply is required since it operates from standard 48-volt phantom power. I have four vintage AKG 414 microphones that get used a lot around the studio but it’s been easy to keep them put away while I experiment with the WA-47jr model. Recently I acquired a second WA-47jr so I’d have a stereo pair. After listening to the pair of microphones closely I was very pleased with how their outputs matched each other.
I must say, I started using the WA-47jr regularly because I wanted to keep my precious old AKG models safe. Now that I’ve been recording and using the WA-47jr models to capture stereo guitar sounds I’ve become a big fan of their sound quality. These microphones sound great and wow, what a stunning price.
Every now and then someone just starting out with home recording asks me what microphone they should get. I like microphones that have smooth flat, natural response and not a lot of high frequency boost. In the lower priced field my recommendations are usually some Audio Technica models but now there’s a new kid on the block.
The WA-47jr is a stunning bargain in the world of large diaphragm condenser microphones. It has a convenient shape, good quality mounting hardware and most importantly a classic professional sound. Combine all that with the extraordinary $299 street price and highly consistent manufacturing and you’ve got a recipe for a great microphone.
I was so impressed with the WA-47jr that I finally purchased a WA-87 too. I like it a lot but you’ll have to wait for a full review to learn what I really think.
Good Music to You!