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Warm Audio WA73-EQ

Microphone Preamplifier & EQ
By Alan Tubbs

Warm Audio WA73-EQ

Find out just how well this vintage recreation compares with the original that inspired it.

While the mic preamps that are built into most modern audio interfaces work perfectly well most of the time, there are occasions when you might still want something a little more capable, or perhaps a little more colourful. Some, for example, don't have enough gain on hand to allow passive ribbon or dynamic mics to be used on anything other than drums and amps, or a good recording from a more distant condenser. Others don't respond too well when they're being overdriven — they sound clean all the way up to the point of clipping and then sound... well, awful!

If you find yourself in search of both colour and more gain, you could do worse than consider a preamp inspired by Rupert Neve's famous 1073. In 1970, Mr Neve developed a new module for the first 24-channel console to be installed in Britain — the Class-A 1073 preamp/EQ. This module helped to define the 'British sound', in part due to the sonic contribution of the Marinair Radar input and output transformers. The size, materials and windings of transformers all have an effect on the electrical signals passing through the metal, and therefore on the sound of an audio signal. As tastes changed, engineers who loved 1073s (and other Neve modules) began stripping them out of consoles and had them racked up with power supplies so they could take them anywhere, and this practice became even more popular as more audio engineers started doing serious work in home and project studios. The supply of sacrificial donor consoles available for mutilation and amputation naturally became increasingly limited, and various companies began issuing recreations of Mr Neve's design to meet the growing demand. But both the rackmounted originals and the boutique clones remained pricey. That's something that, thankfully, has changed in recent years, as a number of more wallet-friendly homages to the 1073 have come on to the market.

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Published April 2019