Warm Audio excels at re-creating vintage microphones and outboard gear, and selling the units at affordable prices. The company describes its latest product, the WA-8000, as “a professional large-diaphragm tube-driven studio condenser microphone.” What they can’t say for legal reasons, but imply heavily, is that it’s an emulation of the Sony C800G, the legendary and expensive mic (a new one costs over $10K and vintage ones go for over $20K) that has long been a favorite in the hip-hop and R&B worlds, particularly in the 1990s.
The WA-8000 comes in a large, heavy-duty, plastic hard-shell case. Inside is the mic, a shock mount, a power supply with an IEC cable and a 7-pin cable made by Gotham Switzerland. The metal shock mount seems solidly made.
The mic looks a lot like the C800G, with a similar external heat sink, although it is somewhat smaller. The heat sink isn’t just window dressing; when the mic is on, it gets warm.
According to Warm Audio, the WA-8000’s internal components are “true to spec” with the original. These include a Lundahl transformer, a brass K-67-style capsule and a 6AU6 tube. One wonders how Warm can match the parts at a tenth of the cost, but that’s the kind of thing the company has been doing successfully for a while. Like the C800G, the WA-8000 features both cardioid and omnidirectional polar patterns.
Alas, I don’t own a C800G to compare with the WA-8000. The only comparison I could make was of their frequency response curves. Although they weren’t identical, Warm Audio engineered the WA-8000 to have a largely similar response to the Sony, both in cardioid and omni modes. The most significant difference I noticed was in cardioid, where the WA-8000 has a presence boost that peaks at about 5 dB at 12 kHz, which is several dB more pronounced than the Sony’s peak in that area.
Specs aside, I was impressed when I recorded with the WA-8000. I tracked several different vocals, and the WA- 8000 provided a detailed, present sound, which is what the C800G was renowned for.
The vocal tracks I recorded sounded clear and nicely balanced. They were a little less beefy in the bottom end than I’d expect from a tube mic, but that worked well on vocals. The recordings sounded more finished, even before I applied any EQ or compression. Getting a good vocal sound with the WA-8000 was close to effortless.
Warm Audio says the mic is also well-suited for capturing acoustic instruments. I tried it on a couple of acoustic guitars, a mandolin, a tambourine and a shaker.
The acoustic guitars came out clean and present. The mandolin sounded overly bright, but it became nice and punchy once I rolled off some highs. The mic did a good job on the shaker and the tambourine, nicely capturing their transients.
I was also curious to try it on a guitar cabinet. I placed it about five inches from the speaker of a Twin Reverb, aimed a little bit off-axis, and recorded myself playing clean rhythm on a Strat. I was quite pleased with the clarity and realism.
Without having a C800G to compare it to, it’s hard to judge how close the WA-8000 is to the original, but it certainly seems to capture the vibe. If you want a mic that gives you a forward and present sound for vocals and other sources, Warm has succeeded once again in creating an excellent product that performs above its price point of $1,199.