Price $ 1199 / Â£ 1179
Contact Warm sound
Being a daily user of the Sony C-800G, I was delighted to have the opportunity to review the WA-8000 and compare the two. Placed side by side in the concert hall of Sensible Music’s main studio, they look like parent and offspring.
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The C-800G we are using for comparison is 26 years old and lives in the studio. The mic was built in the ’90s with no expense spared in its components or development and costs over Â£ 10,000 / $ 10,000 new. We use it for all kinds of performance captures. It sounds fantastic on all sources, but especially sparkles with vocals, for which it was primarily designed. It’s the mic of choice for Mariah Carey, Luthor Vandross, Jay-Z, Eminem and more. Sensible’s also played its share of successful records.
All it needs is occasional maintenance and valve replacement, about every seven years. In short, it’s sturdy, versatile, sounds great, and it’s a constant pleasure to use. So any pickup maker coming in for the C-800G crown had better bring their A-game. Fortunately, Warm Audio did just that.
The WA-8000 is a fantastic and highly specialized interpretation of a unique and beautiful microphone, and given that it costs a ninth of the Sony, it’s hard to believe it can compare.
At first impressions, the differences are apparent. The WA-8000 is strong and light in construction right down to the feed and cradle. The mic and power supply weigh in at around a third of the Sony but are still sturdy. The only problem with the build quality is the 7-pin cable that connects the microphone to the power supply; he needs special care. However, once you turn on the power, the mic in Warm heats up a bit faster than the Sony.
The mic capsules (both type K67) look almost identical. This fidelity to the original is essential to the sound but is not the only factor. The most obvious physical difference is the protruding heat exchange system which keeps the mic’s valve temperature constant, reducing noise. The Sony uses a Peltier thermoelectric heat pump (to give its correct term), a solid-state refrigerator technology. This is much larger than Warm Audio’s finned heat sink.
Some may question the value of the heat pump / sink sticking out the back of the mic. Still, the Sony certainly has a distinct dynamic response that gives it depth and richness. It sounds more like the way humans hear than a traditionally truthful microphone performance.
By testing both with a precise source – a voice – the difference is audible but surprisingly close. The output levels of the microphones are the same, requiring equal amounts of preamp gain. Sony’s low-end sounds are polished and tastefully produced. It can be a bit too responsive for rappers, but it’s always forgiving. This quality is what makes it such a popular mic for singers. During this time, the Warm offers a representation closer to the source; it has a tighter, less plosive sound with a more linear response. It is possible that with prolonged use the mic will loosen up a bit, making it sound closer to Sony, but its reproduction is still impressive.
The pickups are voiced very similarly, as you can see in a snapshot of the Spectrum Analyzer plots. However, the response over time at different frequencies is slightly different. The C-800G will dampen certain frequencies, so you will have less processing to do in the mix. The WA-8000 does something similar, but its transient response is faster.
Along with vocals, the WA-8000 sounds crisp and produced but lacks a bit of the character and wisdom of the C-800 G, but it’s still very encouraging.
Tested on a constant high level signal – in this case overdriven guitar chords from a Marshall stack – the tighter sound of the Warm is exceptional at close range. In contrast, the Sony seemed to capture more ambience in the room, suggesting a tighter cardioid pattern on the Warm.
On a Yamaha upright piano, by placing both microphones in the same position, the detail and precision of Warm reproduction is second to none. The Sony captures more of the delicate ambience.
Likewise, the Sony has a very smooth response on percussion instruments, smoothing out some of the punch of a drum kit. Warm also does this to some extent while keeping a bit more transients.
The WA-8000 stands out in terms of definition and precision. You can rely on it for clarity in close-up shooting situations. In omnidirectional mode, it also holds itself. It has more bravado than the Sony. The latter better captures the three-dimensionality of a sound; with the C-800G, you can tell how far away from the microphone is your subject. Although the WA-8000 is impressive, the sound is a little less spacious.
The Sony has a depth that accentuates and encourages its subject with a dynamic assistant-type response. The Warm emulates this exceptionally well, with precision, sensitivity and control.
Without a doubt, the WA-8000 represents extraordinary value for money, taking a modern and elegant approach. It inspires confidence in watching, and this is reaffirmed in use. We highly recommend it to anyone serious about voice capture and performance as a mic of choice.
His talents are not limited to singing either. As a versatile microphone, this is exceptional. Whether you’re recording at home, in a project studio, or even in a large room, it won’t disappoint. In our comparative listening tests it beat a Neumann U87 and a U47 FET, both significantly more expensive.
The Sony C-800G is the ultimate in large diaphragm condenser microphones; you can use it on everything. The WA-8000 can do this too. It’s not a perfect replica, but it’s a great knockoff. And for less than a quarter of the price of the Sony, you can get a pair, flight cases and all.
- Includes shock mount, power supply, 7-pin cable, custom hard case
- Brass capsule inspired by the K-67
- Vacuum tube NOS 6AU6
- Large Core Custom Lundahl Transformer
- Wima capacitors
- Cardioid and omni polar diagrams
- Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Maximum SPL: 131 dB (cardioid), 134 dB (omnidirectional)
- Weight: 13.3 lbs / 6 kg
- Microphone dimensions: 7.5 “x 2.5” / 19cm x 6.4cm