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When it comes to recording voices, each microphone has its own personality, but one thing that manufacturers try to emulate in particular is a feeling of warmth. This is a trait in recordings that has carried over since the mid-20th century, when the Neumann U47 ruled the studio. The U47 was a condenser mic used in famous, timeless recordings of Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, and had a warm sound quality that made each recording impossible to forget.
Unfortunately, the U47’s condenser tubes were almost impossible to obtain, and eventually led to a discontinuation of U47 production. Many microphone manufacturers have attempted to mimic the sound quality of the U47 over the years, but only one has come close. Enter the Warm Audio WA-47, which aims to provide the same kind of sound quality for a more affordable price.
Read on for our WA-47 review.
9 Patterns – Cardioid, Omni, Figure-Of-Eight + 6 Mixed Patterns
Maximum Input Sound Level
144 dB SPL, 1 kHz at 1% T.H.D.
Dynamic Range (Typical)
The Warm Audio WA47 is a tube condensor mic that aims to capture a classic sound without the requisite high price that many Neumanns go for. The WA-47 is designed to sound exactly like the U47— no easy feat, given that the vintage components that made up the U47 are now out of production.
The WA-47 is a large diaphragm, tube condenser microphone with 9 pickup patterns. It’s built and designed for home studio, professional studio, live, and broadcast applications, with a frequency range that sounds great for vocals, acoustic and electric instruments, piano, brass, woodwind instruments, and many more.
According to the Warm Audio website, the WA 47 makes use of a custom reproduction of the vintage capsule that was used in the U47, including hole pattern and frequency response. In order to replicate the tone of the U47, Warm Audio made sure to listen carefully to samples from actual U47 microphones. The end result is a microphone that captures the same quality of the classic ’47, without sacrificing affordability.
Your Warm Audio 47 is well-packaged, coming with an external power supply that can be adjusted to either 115V or 220V, an IEC power cable, a shockmount, and a wooden box. Users who expect to travel a lot might want to invest in a briefcase for the WA47, but otherwise the microphone is safely packaged to ensure that it ends up in your hands in perfect condition.
The Neumann U47 has an undeniably classic tone that has helped it define the sound of a generation. It’s considered one of the greatest microphones to have ever been manufactured, but have now become extremely expensive to acquire. The WA-47 holds its own when compared against actual U47s, and performs even better when compared with modern competitors.
The WA-47 is constructed out of quality materials, and as an homage to the ’47 includes design choices that nod to the ’47’s heyday. It comes with a high-end, Swiss-made Gotham Audio GAC-7 7-pin cable with Zwee connectors, as well as a sleek metal body with a classic silhouette that looks great in any recording set up.
The WA-47’s build quality is quite high, and when compared with similar mics that are almost ten times the price, performs pretty well. Its tube is a Slovak Republic JJ 5751, and is held in place with a metal clamp which also functions as a heat sink as well as dampens microphonics. The head basket is made of a three-layer mesh, with a thicker outer and inner mesh sandwiching a fine mesh in between. The WA-47 can be quite hefty, so it’s a good idea to invest in a mic stand that’s able to carry its weight comfortably.
Many a microphone manufacturer has attempted to capture the sound of the Neumann U47 without success due to the lack of available tubes. While the Warm Audio WA-47 adopts a fairly neutral sound, it has a subtle distortion that adds grit and character as the sound source gets louder. This keeps recordings from falling flat, while also allowing the natural character of the sound source to come through.
The challenge of an homage mic is keeping close to inspiration while still creating a personality that’s the unit’s own, and the WA-47 performs admirably. Like the U47, it has a fairly hot output and doesn’t require a lot of gain from your mic preamp. It has a detailed-sounding midrange, with highs that are not too bright and lows that are not too muffled. It also has a better signal to noise ratio at 82 dBA, as well as an 11 dBA self-noise that makes it far quieter than any U47.
On the subject of pickup patterns, WA-47 takes itself a step higher when compared with the U47. While the U47 originally had two polar patterns, Warm Audio went all out with 9: cardioid, omni, figure-of-eight, and six additional mixed patterns. In addition, rather than adjusting patterns on a switch on the unit itself, you can now do it remotely at the power supply, without having to go between your sound source and the mic.
If the question is between going big or going home, the WA-47 definitely goes big. It performs incredibly with a wide range of instruments, but unlike cheaper mics is able to match larger than life sounds with no distortion or feedback. The WA-47 has a large bottom end that allows you to go all out with electric guitars, and the multiple patterns allow you to construct a sound that you feel fits your vision best.
As an homage to the U47, the Warm Audio WA-47 is able to deliver what users want: a classic, warm sound that works incredibly with almost any sound source. While it’s had fantastic use as a vocal microphone, it also performs superbly with any instrument from brass to percussion. Singing on this mic sounds beautifully balanced, and you’d be hard-pressed to get a vocal performance that sounds this good from any other mic. The WA-47 is able to produce world-class results with almost anything, so if you’re looking for one mic to do all your music recording on, let it be this one.
The Neumann U47 is at the heart of many of the musical classics we’ve come to know and love, and if you want to achieve the same kind of sound for a fraction of the price then the WA-47 is for you. It has a range of features and specs that make it perfect for any recording set up, and for less than USD $1000 it performs better than many other microphones in the same price range. If quality is what you’re going for, then the WA-47 has it all.
While the Warm Audio WA-47 may be a little bit pricier than other tube condenser microphones, its performance certainly goes above and beyond. With this unit, paying a little more goes a long way, and its quality build and incredible sound will make this a favorite in your microphone collection. For a classic tone without having to pay through the nose, the Warm Audio WA-47 is exactly what you need. Find the best deals for the Warm Audio WA-47 here.