Recording Through a Preamp – Warm Audio WA-412

I was recently asked how I like my Warm Audio WA-412 by another recording engineer who is considering purchasing one. In short, I like it a lot. I think it adds warmth, roundness, and depth to most sounds I record through it, and I haven’t found an instance where I would choose to record through the preamps on my interface unless they are the only inputs available.

To help my engineer friend make their decision, I offered to record a few examples using the preamps of my interface, an Apollo x8, and my WA-412. Here are the files if you want to check them out and see what recording through a preamp can add to your recordings.

I tried my best to match the volume of the three files from each source, but there may be minor discrepancies. One cool feature of the WA-412 is that it includes an output trim knob on each channel which allows you to “drive” or turn up the input of the channel to introduce coloration from the transformer/op-amp into the signal. The third track in each set is an example of this. I don’t always love this sound on its own, but in a mix find it adds some tone and vibe. It can also round off poky transients which can make it especially useful on a snare top mic.

Adding Color

It’s important to note that how an outboard preamp changes a sound varies from unit to unit. The WA-412 is Warm Audio’s attempt to emulate an API 3124+, a preamp known for taming the harsh high end present in cymbals and electric guitars and adding some weight to the low end. Other preamps are known for a different set of sonic qualities and some are even designed to be as transparent as possible. In my experience though, many of them offer something different than the relatively flat preamps found in most audio interfaces.

Meters in the red while “driving” the preamps of the WA-412

Bass Example

Apollo x8
Bass WA-412 Clean
Bass WA-412 Drive

Synth Example

Synth Apollo x8
Synth WA-412 Clean
Synth WA-412 Drive

Guitar Example

Guitar Apollo x8
Guitar WA-412 Clean
Guitar WA-412 Drive

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