REVIEW: Warm Audio WA-84 Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Musicians have poured their time and money into perfecting their sound, regardless of the instrument or style of music. So, it makes sense to record in the purest way possible to capture it. A small-diaphragm condenser mic can achieve this task in most cases, across a variety of applications, and Warm Audio’s WA-84 is their version of a classic mic design that delivers on all fronts (all at a price that can’t be matched).

We’ve had some experience with Warm Audio’s gear in the past, and they really pull out all the stops on the selection of components the WA-84 is no exception. Cinemag transformers, Fairchild FET, and polystyrene and Wima capacitors, along with a gold-plated XLR jack. What it adds up to is an amazing sound. It can certainly handle anything thrown at it, either live or in the studio. The maximum SPL is 123dB, and the package includes a case and mic clip, shock mount, and windscreen. 

Acoustic instruments will really gravitate to this naturally, it’s as if they were made for each other. We used it quite a bit on some acoustic guitar tracks, and it was incredibly well balanced and nuanced in detail, overall. Placement just past the 12th fret about a fist’s distance away, it really captured the punch and attack with a really articulate low and low-mid response that didn’t get woofy or notchy. Getting acoustic guitars to sound good in a room with just one mic isn’t easy, but this one really captured a big and overall vibrant tone easily. Capturing that extra top end without having to add in EQ or compression during tracking was very welcome. Consider this your new #1 mic for acoustic stringed instruments. 

A great application of this is also as an overhead for drum mics – just grab a pair and you’re good to go. Either as a traditional room mic, or getting creative like angling the capsule against where the room and ceiling meet captures things nicely. Again, the high frequencies aren’t harsh or too aggressive; they’re present, but seem to be rolled off just a bit to keep things natural sounding, while retaining a dynamic response on the low end, that right from the start doesn’t need to be tweaked in a DAW during mix-down.

So, on its own, it really delivers, but pair it with other mics and it really adds up; it worked really nicely as a counterpart to their WA-251 tube mic, naturally. The two together were a wonderful pair on acoustic stereo guitar tracks, and even when using it with a variety of other manufacturer’s mics, it added in just enough to be present overall, and when pulled from the mix, it was sorely missed.

The price is a ridiculously low $399, meaning a pair of these for drum overheads isn’t unreasonable, or even using a trio of them for capturing room sounds is still pretty reasonable on the old studio budget. Warm’s somehow managed to take amazing components, make a great sounding mic, and yet not overcharge. The value of sound vs. cost is well on the user’s side here — so take advantage of that fact while you can. 

PROS:

Great components, great sound, great price

CONS:

None (other than you might want more than one)

STREET PRICE:

$399

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