Warm Audio WA12 Mic/Instrument Preamp

Mic/Instrument Preamp with 71dB of Gain, Cinemag Transformers, hi-Z Setting, Phantom Power, and 20dB Pad
Warm Audio WA12 Mic/Instrument Preamp image 1
Warm Audio WA12 Mic/Instrument Preamp image 1

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Warm Audio WA12 Mic/Instrument Preamp
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Great Preamp, Amazing Value

Many Sweetwater engineers prefer mic preamps that do something. And no, we're not talking about raising gain - they all do that. We're talking about making your signal sound better. Character. Coloration. Whatever you want to call it, it's that inimitable sonic quality that the most coveted classic consoles and outboard gear had. Warm Audio's WA12 preamp has it, shaping your sound with an exciting, vibey warmth that makes any vocal or instrument sit proud in your mix. We dig the Warm Audio WA12, and - especially considering its gentle pricetag - we're sure you will, too.

Warm Audio WA12 Mic Preamp at a Glance:
  • Coloration - and why you want it
  • Impedance switching gives you versatility
  • Top-tier performance - and a amazing value
Coloration - and why you want it

The most coveted vintage consoles and outboard gear weren't transparent. Au contraire. And that's the point behind the Warm Audio WA12. Coloration is, in many cases, desirable. If your mixes sound unprofessional, lacking in vibrance and depth, you'll adore the WA12. Subjective listening tests played a big part in the development of this amazing preamp. Test equipment can tell you only so much, and there's a point in the design process where you've got to let your ears call the shots. You wouldn't mix with earplugs and an oscilloscope, would you?

Impedance switching gives you versatility

Warm Audio equipped the WA12 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. And speaking of mics, with 71dB of gain, the WA12 has enough on tap to handle your favorite ribbon mics.

Top-tier performance - and amazing value

At Sweetwater, we understand that outfitting your studio is a balancing act between performance and value. Warm Audio gets that, too, and their WA12 delivers on both counts. In spite of its ultra-reasonable pricing, Warm Audio gear is made using only the finest components like genuine Cinemag input and output transformers. Look at it this way: at this price, you can pack your rack with two or more WA12 preamps - a capital idea if you record live drums or more than one track at a time.

Warm Audio WA12 Mic/Instrument Preamp Features:
  • A robust 71dB of gain powers all your mics - even ribbons
  • High voltage 1731-style operational amplifier
  • Tone button gives you tonal versatility by switching input impedance from 600 to 150 ohms
  • Fully discrete design
  • 48-volt phantom power; 20dB pad
  • Mic level balanced input: XLR or 1/4" TRS
  • Balanced outputs: XLR and 1/4" TRS
  • 2-megohm true hi-Z input on front panel - great for guitars, bass, keyboards
  • Custom-designed Cinemag input and output transformers
  • External power plug for low noise
Pack your rack with the Warm Audio WA12 mic pre!

Additional Media

Studio Preamp Buying Guide

Tech Specs

Preamp Type Solid State
Number of Channels 1
Phantom Power Yes
Analog Inputs 1 x Combo (TRS/XLR), 1 x Instrument
Analog Outputs 1 x TRS, 1 x XLR
Rack Spaces Half (with rack kit)
Manufacturer Part Number WA12

Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews
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Unbeatable on Drums

Just like the original API 312's these Pre's are amazing on toms, snare, and kick. Gives my mixed drum tracks a sound that everyone asks me about. I own eight of these pre's and I'll never do a drum session without them! Bryce hit it out of the ballpark on his first time to the plate.
Music background: Professional

Back to Warm WA12

Well, awhile back I swapped my Warm WA12 for the Presonus RC500. I gave the RC 500 a very good review because I felt that it sounded great and did what it's supposed to do. What I missed was the vintage vibe of the WA12; what I won't miss is fiddling with all of the knobs!! I really do find that the tone button gives me two pre sounds. As I wrote earlier, I DO NOT need more choices and options going in. For me, its redundant eq-ing and compressing going in; thats probably just me?? I'm a hobby guy that needs things simple. I strongly considered the tone Tonebeast, but realized that the choices would paralyze a guy like me. The RAXX is perfect. Along with mounting my WA 12, I get a nice storage compartment for odds and ends making for a very clean cool looking rack. This WA adds a very classy tone to everything and really simplifies mixing. Less eq, compression and harmonic plugins!!! I'm very pleased with its simplicity and beautiful tone.
Music background: former simi pro gig guy; recording hobbyist


I was looking for a mic pre to replace my old Focusrite Twin Trak Pro.I was doing my research, and came upon Warm Audio. I was torn between the TB12, and the WA12. If I settled for the WA12, would I be missing something that I needed. Finally, I decided that having fewer options/buttons to push, and knobs to turn would be good for me. I ordered the WA12. It arrived quick as always, thank you Sweetwater. I noticed as I lifted the wa12 box out of Sweetwater's shipping box the wa12 box had some weight to it. I opened the box, and saw what I hoped would be my savior. The bright orange front caught my eye, and my heart began to pound. I promptly mounted the WA12 to the Raxxess UNS-1 Universal Shelf that I had also purchased. The WA12 came with the mounting screws, don't forget to remove the rubber feet from the bottom of the WA12 prior to mounting. I plugged her in, connected my KSM44, fired up my DAW, and my Warm Audio relationship began. I started this review by saying that I was torn between the TB12, and the WA12 as the TB12 had more options. Let me say that the WA12, and it's tone botton allow this unit to expand your quest for sound. In my opinion the difference in sound between the tone botton on and off isn't suttle. It has it's own very distinctive sound. Vocals, Bass, Guitar, this mic pre does it all. I was fortunate, and also purchased the WA76 at the same time, so I am running the combo. I'm a singer/ songwriter and my life has become much simpler since using the Warm Audio WA12. Plug & play, very easy to dial in a sound. My recordings have never ever sounded this good. Last night myself and my writing partner sat down, took my Shure KSM44, placed it between us, switched it to Omni, he played Mandolin, I played Acoustic guitar, Harmonica, and sang. The sound that I got was just incredible. If your on the fence, and wondering whether or not to purchase anything from Warm Audio I have 3 words for you. "pull the trigger". You will not regret your decision.
Music background: Singer/Songwriter/Studio Owner

The Half-Rack 312-esque Preamp that started Warm Audio's stellar analog reign. A MUST HAVE!

I'm one of those guys who reads reviews. Magazine Review, Forum Reviews, you name it. A few years, ago I started hearing a small amount of buzz about a small company called Warm Audio. Having just bought my API3124, I brushed off the claims of the WA12's great tone. I'd spent some serious cash on the API unit, and I didn't want to believe that similar tone could be had for less. Though I do appreciate gear reviews, the reviews on Sweetwater and sites like it don't have any particular shortage of people trying to convince themselves and others that their cash has been well spent. Now, certainly, there ARE many helpful reviews, written by people who know what they're talking about. I like to believe as a career audio engineer/producer, I'd fall into the latter catagory. Further, as it pertains to the WA12, I own both, the WARM AUDIO unit and it's inspiration the API3124 (in the form of the 3124, 4 channel preamp). I hope my perspective adds some knowledge as what you can expect from the WA12. I don't know if "Clone" is the right word for what Warm Audio has brought to market here. It's an overused word anyway. The API does one thing, one sound, and does it pretty darn well. It's a sound that's great on nearly everything, and quite recognizable to boot. The simplicity of the 312 adds to the reasons I like it. Plug in, set volume, "go to town". The WA12 is good for these reasons, but also has much to like aside from these factors. I can distinguish them apart by tone, they each have their very own distinct "flavor", BUT they have the same "type" (for lack of a better word) of sound. They're similar. But distinguishable. That said, they're both GREAT sounding, without one sounding "better" (once again for lack of a better word) than the other. People often don't believe me when I say it (until I work with them on a tracking date) but I tend to plug into my WA12's more often than the API 3124's. Why? Preference. When I'm "getting sounds" (finding mic placement, gain, signal chain, choosing instrument settings/variable, tuning drums, Eq'ing amps, etc) Regardless of the source, I find the WA12 more useful, because with its "TONE" switch, it's more like two preamps in one. For my purposes, it gets more mileage based on that fact. The tone switch makes the tone fatter, warmer, and perhaps a bit louder. It sounds like what you'd expect the original 312 to sound like when cranked and padded. So, it's easier to get the more colorful and harmonically rich, "pushed" sound out of the WA12 using more reasonable gain/volume levels. Yes, both have PAD switches, but the "Tone" switch makes that lovely "pushed" API sound without blasting your converters into the stratosphere, causing clipping and undesirable transient murder. I'd say the transients stay more intelligible when using the tone switch for more warmth/oomph as opposed to cranking the original API and using an inline pad (I used to do this often before I bought my WA12's. Other features keep it on par with preamps well above its price range: Cinemag Tramsformers, High Quality Components, Truely Discrete Signal Paths, etc. The WA12 includes a wall wart power supply, akin to those used in the Golden Age Pre73, and many other half rack single channel pres. The weight savings from foregoing a traditional built in power supply are noticeable, but the build quality of the WA12 is still very solid. The gain pot has a positive feel with detented increments, though it's not an actual stepped pot, I prefer it this way. The stepped pots/switches on my Golden Age Pre 73's come loose frequently, and one or two solder points have come unsoldered at one point. No such misfortune here. The quality of the WA12 opened my eyes to their fantastic products. I now on multiple WA12's, WA76's TB12's and have pre-ordered their next offering. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to spoil the surprise here, but let's just say another Warm Audio take on an analog outboard classic is on its way to stores In the very near future. I've never been more excited about a single piece of gear in my entire career. Their products are quality, the customer support is second to none and is handled 100% by their founder/owner, Bryce Young, who it turns out is a heck of a nice guy to boot. No customer service email I've sent to them (I've sent 3) has ever taken any longer than 2 hours to receive an initial reply and he often resolved the issue then and there. In summary: Don't buy a WA12: Buy Two.
Music background: Studio Owner, Audio Engineer, Producer, Composer and Musician

Brass Tacks

At this price point, this is the best microphone pre-amp you can buy. It competes with $1000+ pre amps, with several professional testimonies actually preferring it over other popular, ubiquitous pre's. Warm Audio is an amazing company; I have emailed the owner with questions and he was quick to reply and very polite. The actual physical quality of this unit is top notch (even if it is constructed in China). The buttons, nobs, and connectors feel like they can take the every day use from a studio and keep working for years to come. The total +71dB of gain (with tone) is great for ANY microphone; whether a condenser, dynamic, or ribbon, you will get great, clean audio. Overall, this pre-amp is amazing; it takes studio quality audio and matches it with an amazing price point that when I punch it into my calculator, it makes a smiley face.
Music background: Voice Over Artist, Enthusiast
See also: Warm Audio, Warm Audio Preamps