The bottom line of this Warm Audio Tone Beast Review? The TB12 is an amazing value, with great sounding, vintage tone. Retailing for around $599, it’s got good build quality, a ton of flexibility, and is very easy to use.
For those visual learners, here’s a video review of the TB12 Tone Beast.
To begin this Warm Audio Tone Beast review, the TB12 features, from left to right, the input control section, the tone control, and finally its output section.
The input control is incredible, and one of my favorite features that Warm Audio added. It can take an xlr mic (with or without phantom power), a line level instrument, or an hi-z instrument like a guitar. You can pad down the instruments if they’re too loud (which allows you to use more of the TB12’s tone shapping), and add a decent sounding high pass filter.
From there, the real power of the Tone Beast comes out. With two discrete signal paths made with high quality cinemag transformers, as well as multiple tone shaping options for each signal path, you have a ton of flexibility in shaping your sound.
Sometimes these changes are very subtle. To really hear a different, you need to start cranking up the saturation knob on the output section. As the different signal paths get gained up, you can really start to hear the differences.
No Warm Audio Tone Beast review would be complete without digging into the sounds, though. With the x18 sounding a little brighter and “present,” while the 731 has more of a vintage, warm sound. Just be careful not to overdue it with the saturation. It is absolutely possible to get full on saturation and distortion effects on the unit, but it’s also possible to clip, which sounds decidedly un-musical.
But of course, tone is notoriously difficult to describe. So you can listen to a Tone Beast demo recordings here.
If you can only afford one preamp, I’d recommend the TB12 Tone Beast. Warm Audio did a great job in creating a high quality, affordable preamp that provides a ton of flexibility to the recording engineer.