Warm Audio TB12 500 Microphone Preamp

500 Series Rack Format Microphone Preamplifier/DI/Line-level Signal Processor with Switchable Fully Discrete Circuity Offering 24 Unique Signal Paths, Swappable Op Amps and Up to 71dB of Gain
Warm Audio TB12 500 Microphone Preamp image 1
Warm Audio TB12 500 Microphone Preamp image 1

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Warm Audio TB12 500 Microphone Preamp
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Every Preamp You Want!

Ask any Sales Engineer here at Sweetwater, and you'll here the same thing: there simply is no single "best" microphone preamp out there, because it all depends on what kind of coloration you're going for. That's why were's so jazzed about the Warm Audio TB12 500 Tone Beast, which sticks the equivalent of 24 amazing preamps all in the space of two 500 Series rack modules. And we're not talking about any fancy modeling here, the TB12 500 gives you two input impedance settings, two op amps, two capacitor sets, and three output transformer options - all built with discrete circuitry that you can mix and match as you please. The result is a single preamp that can offer up anything from the most pristine modern transparency to the most colorful vintage console sound you can imagine.

Warm Audio Tone Beast TB12 500 Series Mic Preamp at a Glance:
  • Impressively flexible op amp options let you select your sonic coloration
  • Swapping out CineMag transformers offers even more character control
  • Impedance and capacitor switching give you extra tonal versatility
Impressively flexible op amp options let you select your sonic coloration

The most coveted analog consoles and outboard gear are't transparent, and the Warm Audio TB12 500 was designed to deliver that same beautifully flawed and richly vitalizing sound. In fact, Warm Audio loaded this Tone Beast preamp with two discrete op amps in separate switchable signal paths. The classic Melcor-style 1731 op amp (x731 setting) offers a more vintage sound, whereas the Dean-Jensen-type 918 op amp (x18 setting) gives you a cleaner, more modern sound. And if you're a real tone freak, then you'll be delighted to know that these op amps are both mounted to the TB12 via standard 6-pin sockets, so you can swap them out with any 2520-class op amps you like.

Swapping out CineMag transformers offers even more character control

What's better than a high-end CineMag transformer? Two of them, of course! That's why Warm Audio loaded their TB12 500 Tone Beast with both a 100% steel CineMag transformer and another one that's 50% nickel, and you can swap them out with the flip of a switch. When you push the gain - something that's easy to do, thanks to the independent gain and output volume controls - the TB12 500's steel transformer distorts (colors) significantly more than the 50% nickel option, which generally offers a wider frequency spread. But even the nickel option is delightfully warm, so if you're going for totally clean, then you may want to bypass the Tone Beast's transformers altogether, which is also an option.

Impedance and capacitor switching give you extra tonal versatility

Warm Audio equipped the TB12 with a secret weapon: a Tone button that switches the input impedance from 600 to 150 ohms. Pushing this button changes the tone of both the mic and hi-Z inputs, letting you individually optimize for each of your microphones and giving you a measure of sonic versatility without your having to resort to EQ. Another way you can significantly alter the Tone Beast's character is with the Clean/Vintage switch, which lets you flip back and forth between tantalum and electrolytic capacitors. Between the op amps, transformers, impedance settings, and switchable capacitors, owning a single TB12 500 Tone Beast preamp is like owning a series of 24 pres, ranging from ultra-clean to intensely colored.

Warm Audio Tone Beast TB12 500 Series Mic Preamp Features:
  • An amazing preamp that adds the sound of 24 signal paths to your 500 Series rack
  • Separate gain and output volume controls let you saturate your circuitry, without overloading your rig
  • Selectable input impedance (600 or 150 ohms) offers a dramatic shift in character and response
  • Choose between Melcor 1731 and Jensen 918 op amp styles for more or less colored tone
  • Op-amps are 6-pin socketed and swappable with any standard 2520-type op amps for further customization
  • Select tantalum or electrolytic capacitors with the Clean/Vintage switch for even more character variation
  • Switchable CineMag 100% steel and %50 nickel output transformers offer highly colored or mildly colored sound
  • Bypass the transformer section altogether for extremely clean sound
  • Additional options include an 80Hz highpass filter, -20dB pad, +48V phantom power, and both instrument- and line-level inputs
  • LED VU meter lets you monitor your levels
Get every preamp sound you desire with the Warm Audio Tone Beast TB12 500!

Additional Media

500 Series Buying Guide

Tech Specs

Preamp Type Solid State
Phantom Power Yes
Analog Inputs 1 x XLR, 2 x 1/4"
Manufacturer Part Number TB12-500

Customer Reviews

5/5
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5/5

Its alright - if you like great sound or whatever.

Okay funny title aside, I see why they call this a "tone beast". I actually think I use this thing more as a color box than I do just strictly as a preamp. Don't get me wrong, its a great preamp. But I absolutely love running VIs, loops, or tracks I've gotten from outside the studio through my pair of these to give them life. Its so flexible that I can really shape it into whatever I want.So if you don't already know, this is basically an API style preamp. Not exactly a "clone", because it uses a totally different set of transformers and capacitors. But that doesn"t make it "less than" an API, in fact I prefer cinemag transformers, so I think its sort of an improvement. The other improvement you have on this preamp as opposed to say a modern production API 512 is the output amp. Thats HUGE. APIs are like any other preamp, they have a sweet spot. And like most preamps, that sweet spot is pretty high up there. That means you really gotta crank that input gain to hit it. But on many sources, especially with sensitive mics like condensers, you'll be running too hot to go into your converters. So that output knob allows you to have your cake and eat it too. Drive the pre, bring it down with output. Its really no different than driving a guitar amp's gain and pulling down the master to a usable level. Back in the day when APIs were always in consoles, that's what the consoles volume fader was for. But API has made a very big omission by not putting in some type of post-input level control. Now sure, you could hit that hander PAD switch hit that sweet spot, but now you've gone and changed the impedance relationship between your mic and pre, altering your tone (usually not for the better).Sorry for the rambling but hopefully you guys get a better understanding now of why this preamp, especially at this price, is an amazing deal! Get one (or better yet a pair), you will not regret it.
Music background: Engineer, Producer, Studio Owner
See also: 500 Series Pre, Warm Audio, Warm Audio 500 Series Preamps