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Warm Audio TB12 Tonebeast Microphone Preamp

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The Tone Beast is a great mic pre with loads of gain that can effortlessly capture an array of sources very well. With top notch CineMag transformers...Click To Read More About This Product

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The Tone Beast is a great mic pre with loads of gain that can effortlessly capture an array of sources very well. With top notch CineMag transformers and multiple discrete signal paths, it's hard to beat its big, bold, fully-professional sound at its price.

The Tone Beast is a mic pre that likes to be pushed and when pushed will colorize your signal ever so sweetly. The 2 opamps and 2 output transformers at the flip of their switches won't appear to be much different, but as one drives the pre into harmonic distortion, the unique character of each of these components becomes apparent. Additionally the Tone Beast is customizable and allows for other opamps to be sourced and easily swapped into the unit. I've pulled my best tones from this pre right at the saturation point (as loud as I can push the gain before clipping). The output control on the TB12 allows you to limit the signal exiting the preamp even when pushing the gain to really hot levels, giving you maximum control.

The x731 (Melcor 1731) and x18 (Dean Jensen's 918) Op Amps saturate a bit differently. The 1731 breaks up faster and has more color when pushed. The 918 is fairly linear/clean with a smidge of character and does not break-up/saturate as quickly. The 100% steel output transformer colors the signal more than the 50% nickel transformer when pushed. However, both are designed to impart character. The 50% nickel transformer will impart less character and provide greater high and low frequencies. For an ultra clean, character-lacking tone, try the x18 while bypassing the output transformers completely.

Have no fear of hurting the Beast, you can push it very hard into full-on distortions if you wish, and these can sound quite nice on electric guitar, bass or anything else that likes some nice grit.

When hand building mic pres I learned a bit about the "subtle" differences component choices can make. A little change here, and another there often times became a huge deal in a finished mix, but often times is not very noticeable at first take. The different component options in the TB12 are subtle, but when driven into saturation are noticeable and can make a big difference to the way your final mix will sound.
Home-based musicians and professional studios alike will find the Tone Beast to be an extremely powerful and fully professional piece of gear that is capable of warming and shaping signals/mixes in a way that is very pleasing to the ear.

In the 60²s and 70²s many console/preamplifier builders hid the operational amplifier (Op amp) stage of their preamps by cramming its components into a small box and then attaching the box to the circuit board. Inside these small boxes, the components were covered in glue to make them hard to disassemble/analyze. Manufacturers of that day felt the character these Op Amps imparted was unique enough to protect.

A trend grew in the industry where the little box the Op Amp components sat in became of similar size and shape between manufacturers. These boxes eventually mounted to the PCB board with the same number of pins, spaced identically, even from different manufacturers. You could remove an Op Amp from one console preamp and place it in another of a different manufacturer without much headache/difficulty.

The TB12 uses this same square shaped op amp and pin configuration as these originals but not enclosed in plastic and glue. The TB12 is designed so that users can remove the stock opamps and replace them with their own. If you are a tone FREAK like me you will love the ability to do this. Beware that Warm Audio may not be able to warranty a unit that has been opened and tinkered with. Below are some examples of 6 pin opamps that can pop right into the Tone Beast!

  • Versatile tones from vintage to modern
  • Capacitor select
  • Supplies phantom power
  • Bypass transformer

Order now and enjoy the scrumptiousness of this versatile hardware processor.

  • Discrete 312 preamp design with coupled CineMag Transformers
  • 71db of gain
  • Transformer selection provides both Steel and 50% Nickel CineMag output transformers for rying character
  • Transformer bypass switch allows for removal of the output transformer from the circuit
  • Discrete Opamp selection provides both the classic 1731(vintage) and 918(cleaner) style opamps. These are socketed/swappable with your choice of 2520 6 pin footprint opamps.
  • Impedance switch labeled TONE to switch between 150 and 600 ohms input impedance
  • Capacitor selection between Tantalum and Electrolytic for different characters
  • 80hz hipass filter
  • Polarity Reverse
  • +48V phantom power
  • Output attenuation allowing for saturation flexibility of both the opamps and transformers
  • ¼" insert for the use of inline compressors, eq's etc..
  • Balanced XLR mic (front and back), balanced TRS line, and ¼" instrument inputs
  • Balanced XLR and TRS outputs
  • -20db Pad
  • LED VU Meter
  • 19" rackmountable
  • External line-lump 24V AC power transformer for low noise

Review Snapshot

by PowerReviews
Warm AudioTB12 Tonebeast Microphone Preamp

(based on 3 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars



  • 4 Stars



  • 3 Stars



  • 2 Stars



  • 1 Stars




of respondents would recommend this to a friend.


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    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Professional musician (3)

Reviewed by 3 customers

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(5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)


Must have!

By Lj

from Las Vegas

About Me Professional Musician

Verified Buyer

Comments about Warm Audio TB12 Tonebeast Microphone Preamp:

This pre is every pre you could ever want. It can do the pristine, uncolored sound or harmonic coloration up the waaazoo! I mix in the box and wanted a pre that could warm bass and guitar. It does so much more! I can dial in vocals using the nickle transformer for smooth r&b or hike up the saturation for that gritty rocker tone. The steel transformer is clean and acoustic guitar rings out but isn 't tinny. I tried it before going into Guitar Rig using the Ramfire amp. NASTY! Bass is PHAT going into GR5 using the direct setting. I've only scratched the suface. If you get one you won't be dissatified!

(3 of 7 customers found this review helpful)


Dial In Your Own Tone...!!

By lone waudy

from port richey, florida

About Me Professional Musician


  • Clear Sound
  • Easy To Use
  • Powerful
  • Professional Functions
  • Versatile


    Best Uses

    • Home Studio
    • Performances
    • Professional Recording

    Comments about Warm Audio TB12 Tonebeast Microphone Preamp:

    This is a Microphone Preamp. The Tone Beast is "THE ONE" you have to have. I like to have OPTIONS. This piece of gear has more options to choose from than ANY OTHER preamp on the market today. I spent weeks comparing and confirming my choice before buying the Tone Beast. WELL WORTH the money spent. I also own an ART MPA II that is a great piece of gear. Side by side, both of these pieces of gear are a "HAVE to HAVE" in any studio. I use both, The Tone Beast and The MPA II in the studio and playing gigs for vocal performance. I don't think you can beat either one for SOUND quality.

    (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


    Warm and Awesome!

    By djp420

    from New York, NY

    About Me Professional Musician

    See all my reviews

    Ask me a question


    • Attractive Cosmetics
    • Easy To Use
    • Great Sound
    • Many Sound Choices
    • PRICE
    • Professional Functions


      Best Uses

      • Di Bass Guitar
      • Guitar
      • Home Studio
      • Professional Recording
      • Vocals

      Comments about Warm Audio TB12 Tonebeast Microphone Preamp:

      I've been experimenting with the TB 12 for about 4 months. I've recorded spoken word for an audio book (male), female rock and roll vocals, rhythm guitars D.I., resonator guitar mic'd and D.I. It sounds brilliant with mic's like AKG's C141XLII, Sure SM 57, Sure Beta 58 and some cheesy MXL's I have bought here on MF Stupid Deal of the Day.

      As far as Warm Audio's description of the TB 12, they are tack on. While there ain't nuthin' like the real thing it sure does come in close.

      I like Black Lion Audio's gear equally as much however there is a difference between BLA and is Warm's hardware quality; Warm is much better. With BLA I'm afraid too much of a turn will rip the knobs off. No offense BLA you sounds great and it's sound thats important.

      All in all The TB 12 rocks and I am putting a second one on my Xmas list this year. Does anyone know if Santa reads musicianfriend's reviews :D

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