REVIEW: Warm Audio WA-251 Tube Condenser Microphone

Warm Audio has rolled out a 251-style mic that sounds great and is well within reach, pricewise, to the discerning user.

Build wise, this new WA-251 from Warm Audio is really robust. The all brass capsule design is based off of a CK12, with a 24k 6 micron gold sputtered diaphragm. Cinemag is the transformer of choice and the capacitors are polystyrene, Wima film, while a Solen French cap covers the output end. The tube driving all of this is a JJ Slovak 12AY7. 

What all of that techno speak means is, Warm went through and picked the best of the best components, for supreme audio quality. Even the seven pin cable from the power supply to the mic is done by Gotham, and is really well done at that.

Like the classic “251” it’s meant to evoke, it’s a large diaphragm microphone, with three modes selectable on the power supply unit: omni, cardioid, and figure 8. It can handle pretty much everything thrown at it, with a max SPL of 132dB, a dynamic range of 125dBA, and a frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz (better than human hearing, but who’s counting?).

Amazingly, as it’s built like an armored tank, it can really capture nuances incredibly well. We used it as a room mic during a drum tracking session, and it really added a presence to the mix, in a completely surprising way; there was plenty of top-end to help capture the cymbals, without getting glassy or annoying, while the low-end stayed clear, with plenty of tweakable definition. It was one of those, “We’ll throw it up and see if we actually use it” situations, and it made a really nice addition to the overall “air” of the mix that would have been missed otherwise.

Putting it up to a guitar speaker in cardioid mode yielded some fantastic results — backing it off the grille just a bit gave some really colorful responses overall. As our guitar amp was a solid state design, the tube nicely offset the harshness, but still featured the attack and immediate response we were shooting for. Even the lower end frequencies stayed in the musically lush areas, with articulation that sometimes gets lost in a mix, but not in this instance. Acoustic guitars also really loved this mic; we put it into figure 8 mode in a small room, and it captured a nice balance of the room, as well as the instrument. Even placing the mic closer to the bridge, the top end didn’t get harsh or brittle; in fact it smoothed out the higher frequencies, and still retained an excellent sense of depth.

Vocals? Again, amazing. As stated before, it’s really nuanced, and when you go for it, the mic gets out of the way of the performer. Our reviewer kept repeating, “I wish I had this for my last vocal session  over and over again, mentioning that this would have made the multi person gang vocal session a lot easier, and better sounding. There’s no need to have to throw EQ or plugins at it, as it simply just captures the tone placed in front of it perfectly. 

Don’t tube mics cost a small fortune, especially those 251 styled units? Nope. The whole kit comes in at $799. Yep there’s no number missing before that 7. This mic opens up a ton of great possibilities in any recording application, and considering the cost, it’s not a pipe dream to have two (or more) of these in a mic locker for stereo or multi-performer setups. We loved it, and give it our highest recommendation. 

PROS:

Excellent components, fantastically great on pretty much everything, well priced.

CONS:

None.

STREET PRICE:

$799

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