First Look: Warm Audio Warm Bender & Ringer Bringer

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First Look: Warm Audio Warm Bender & Ringer Bringer

Warm Audio Warm Bender
Words by Andy Lloyd-Russell

It’s hard to go past iconic pieces of gear, but to state the blaring and painfully obvious, they are both increasingly hard to find and typically attract an obscene price tag, making them unobtainable for the majority of people who would put them to good use. 

Warm Audio have been at the forefront of a movement of recreation, becoming insanely popular within the pro audio community for making well made clones at a fraction of the price, particularly when trawling through the vintage market.

The past ten or so years has seen them rise to popularity, not necessarily due to bespoke designs or the weird, wacky or wonderful type of product, but rather specialising in meticulously cloning classic pieces of audio gear, be it a compressor, preamp, EQ or effects pedal.

Starting off with a humble selection of products such as the WA-12 preamp, WA-76 FET compressor and EQP-WA EQ, Warm Audio continued down the proverbial rabbit hole, ending up at the guitar pedal end of town, setting out to clone several slightly more unusual pedals.  

Read more gear reviews here.

Warm Bender

Any self proclaimed guitar nerd or fan of 60’s/70’s era guitar playing would have been living under a rock if they hadn’t heard of the original Vox Tone Bender. A coveted stomper of gritty fuzz, the OG Tone Benders were played (and made famous) by guitar icons such as Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Pete Townsend, Mick Ronson, Mark Bolan and Dave Davies. Utilised for their versatility, the Tone Bender’s ability to go from edge of breakup tones on a clean amp through to saturated overdrive and raucous feedback and microphonic pickup noise, these pedals guaranteed any guitarist that pushed any riff or solo through these unique circuits to perk the ears of any discerning guitar fan. 

Utilising some NOS Germanium transistors including several OC75’s, an OC76 and an SFT337, Warm Audio’s Warm Bender is able to create some beautifully authentic vintage fuzz tones straight out the gate inspired by the iconic circuits of the vintage two transistor Vox unit and three-transistor Mercari Sola Sound model. With the addition of a completely new silicon transistor based circuit plus a selectable SAG (aka starved circuit) feature make this fresh take on a classic design more versatile and all the more suitable to the modern player. 

The three individual circuits of the Warm Bender include the NOS 76, NOS 75 and Silicon, with simple controls for attack (level of distortion/fuzz) and volume (overall output) keeping this true to the original designs. The aforementioned SAG switch located at the top of the pedal starves the circuit of voltage, creating classic battery starved fuzz tones synonymous with iconic fuzz pedals of the golden era. 

The NOS 76 circuit is raw, edgy and gritty, reminiscent of the Vox MKI Tone Bender, which assures to cut through any mix with its iconically far from subtle tone. The NOS 75 circuit brings a (dare I say it… warmth) with a robust bottom end and more woolly, thick flavour of fuzz, much like that of the Mercari & Sola Sound model. This circuit simply demands the attention of riff lords. As for the third circuit, Warm Audio have taken the classic Tone Bender vibe and modernised it with silicone transistors, giving a more distortion/fuzz like quality with natural compression and silky sustain. These three distinct flavours of fuzz provide players with a rich palette to choose from, be it gritty and nasty, thick and woolly or more modern distortion like fuzz with smooth sustain. 

Ringer Bringer

Having taken care of iconic fuzz tones coming out of the UK in the 60’s/70’s, Warm Audio have also gone for something completely different. The 90’s made for some pretty interesting pedals, partially from brands not associated at all with pedals, but rather monolithic, gargantuan sounding synths. Moog first introduced its now legendary Moogerfooger pedals to the world of sonic explorers in 1998, with the introduction of the MF-101 Low Pass Filter and MF-102 Ring Modulator. The bespoke MF-102 all-analogue beast inspired some of the most fringe and experimental guitar players of the time, most notably Omar Rodríguez-López (The Mars Volta), Trent Reznor and Jonny Greenwood as well as guitar royalty Jeff Beck, creating some explorative, never heard before guitar tones. 

Ringer Bringer

Until now, other reproductions of this classic pedal haven’t come this close to the original spec, as Warm Audio have gone to extreme lengths to faithfully recreate this legendary all-analogue signal path, where others have implemented digital processing. This new exciting pedal dubbed the RingerBringer utilises TL072ADR Op-Amps and hand-selected DMMT3906W and MMBT3904 transistors to deliver an incredibly accurate true-to-spec experience, just like the original. 

The RingerBringer certainly looks the part with its custom black panel enclosure and wooden sides, with chunky and robust knobs and switches for control over LFO amount, LFO rate, an LFO Waveform switch, Modulator frequency and mix as well as a universal drive control. The soundscaping abilities of the RingerBringer are near endless, an absolute delight for tone tweakers and sonic explorers alike. Certainly not pitched for guitarists alone with connectivity a plenty, 1/4” CV inputs for Rate, Amount, Mix and Freq are available as well as 1/4” inputs and outputs jacks plus LFO Out and Carrier In/Out. Warm Audio have done a fine job of recreating this iconic 90’s tone machine that is sure to reignite some more experimental noise makers by adding this gorgeous pedal to their sonic arsenal. 

Suffice to say Warm Audio have added to their already exciting range of pedals, with the Warm Bender and RingerBringer sure to excite guitars and tone enthusiasts alike. It’s faithful recreations like this that capture the imagination of those familiar with the original inspiration and equally for those new to vintage tones such as these. Exciting times indeed. 

For local enquiries, visit Studio Connections.