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Neumann TLM 103 - What compares?
Old 6th February 2009
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Neumann TLM 103 - What compares?

I'm giving serious consideration to purchasing a Neumann TLM 103 but would like to know what the top competitors are so that I can really do my homework before the purchase. Can anyone help?

I need something that is versatile since I will be recording several different vocalists and instruments.

Thanks gang!
Old 6th February 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 
VO Guy's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I have owned a TLM 103.

I liked it and think it is a solid mic.

I have owned, and still have, a Gefell M930.

It is a stellar mic, and better than the 103 IMHO. (at least for voiceover work)

Okay, stellar may be a bit of a stretch, but you get the point.

I would strongly encourage you to take a hard look at the M930.
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
i like the tlm 103, but care must be taken in its application to avoid off-axis funkiness.

an akg c414 is a good one...and you have your polar pattern options and a pad. very versatile.

regards,
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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rty5150's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
not a huge fan of the tlm103. i was going to get one, as we recorded with one for our ep originally, but opted for a mojave audio ma-200 instead. after hearing the tracks cut with the tlm103 to the ma-200, the tlm was overly sibilant and needed a ton of compression to even it out. the tlm was pretty bright, but seemed to just lay back in the mix. the ma-200 was a bit more agressive and warm. it cut through the tracks with more clarity and was a perfect fit for our singer's voice. actually, everyone who has sang into it has fallen in love with it. it makes me wish they made a multipattern version of the ma-200.

rich
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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larry b's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The TLM 103 is a good mic. Personally i dont have any problems with sibilance or brightness with mine. I'm using it with a UA LA-610 or a Chandler TG Channel MkII.

The C414 is one of my favorites in the same price/performance bracket.

But you posted this in High End so be prepared for the TLM103 bashing thats bound to happen up in here. Just remember, if its not a vintage U47/67, it sucks and wont work for anything other than toms. heh
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
lambro's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
actually for less money one mic that I really liked was the CAD E-200

it was awesome on acoustic and as a room mic for electric guitars, with the top at 18Khz it has a warmer vibe. You could get a CAD and an EV20 and cover a lot of ground. Just tools nothing to brag about.

to my ears the 103 is pretty sterile, kinda flat and a tad harsh, I cant see doing female vocals with it. When I recorded acoustics I always paired it with a ribbon. I think the 103 is best used with tube / or a warm sounding pre. I was happier when I sold mine that when I got it.

Look into the Lauten Horizon, lots of good press.
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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dannygold's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I personally like the TLM103. Sounds good on my voice, and most mics don't. My voice is VERY sibilant and the TLM103 flatters it without removing high freqs. It has a nice high end, at least for my vocals. Also sounds nice of my friend’s female synth pop vocals.

This mic might be similar:

Kel Audio HM-7U review
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
strat+ac30's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by larry b ➑️
But you posted this in High End so be prepared for the TLM103 bashing thats bound to happen up in here. Just remember, if its not a vintage U47/67, it sucks and wont work for anything other than toms. heh
I know you're exaggerating but I don't really think that's fair with this mic. I interned at Mercenary Audio for a summer and probably tested out every large diaphragm condenser they sold. Fletcher still has one of the very first TLM103's that he keeps around as a test mic, so I heard that particular one hundreds of times.

I am NOT one of those golden-eared gods...in fact it was working with Fletcher that helped me realize how much more detailed my auditory analysis had to be...but I kid you not I could pick out that thing in my sleep because of the overly bright character. No other large diaphragm condenser mic in the shop even came close.

As usual YMMV...I don't make any claims that the mic sucks, just don't get if you're not looking for something very very bright.
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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Yoda117's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
ehlrich,

what are you doing with this mic? If you're doing VO it's one thing, but if you're looking to use it for multiple purposes then the 103 might not be your best choice.

Also, what's your price range? That will affect the range of mics available to you.

Personal opinion on the 103 is that it's good for some stuff, but not as utilitarian as I think Neumann originally intended it to be. On the right chain it can sound good with a lot of people's voices. For me it was a bit too bright and sibilant (ironically, the mic it was designed after, the U87 works much better for me).

Anyhoo, a little more info please and we can probably help you out a bit more. I mean, if you're using this to record a piano, we're probably going to steer you in a different direction, lol.
Old 6th February 2009
  #10
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lordmiguel's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
ehlrich, you didn't mention what kind o stuf you're doing, but it sounds like you need a clean all rounder. the problem with the tlm103 is that you buy a $1000 mic and get the sound of a $500 one. then you'll decide to scrap it and start over. personally i'd get something like the groove tubes 67 any day over the 103, but there are many other foreign options nowadays as well. take those extra few hundred bucks and put it into your preamp.

one thing to keep in mind is that if you are going to buy a world class mic, then you can afford to buy an expensive german brand. if you are looking to stretch your budget into the land of semi-pos mics, after paying for brand, marketing and a rich german pension plan, you're left with a mediocre mic.

Take a listen to some of the blue mics, AT4060, and some chinese mics that will get a better sound for the buck.
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
if the word is versatile, and you are in that price range I would look at the shure ksm44. It does equally well on vocals and instruments not to mention polar pattern options.
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #12
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Chaellus's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
ehhh ok as a room mic.... but i didnt like it for anything else...
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoda117 ➑️
...not as utilitarian as I think Neumann originally intended it to be.
I think they didn't intend that.
Quote:
(ironically, the mic it was designed after, the U87 works much better for me).
It was designed after the U87? Says who?
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I think the TLM103 sounds good on almost anything (piano, acoustic guitar, room mic, vocals) and for the price you get a solid mic with neumann character less smooth than a U87 and a bit bigger sounding than a 414.
There are better mics out there but you can achieve very good results with the right placement ...
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
zeppe's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I liked the TLM 103, worked great on some voices. A bit harsh on others. Definitely useable and looks cool to the clients, got the "Neumann" name. I offloaded it for a great price last year though(I couldnt refuse) and bought 2 Fatheads, a Gefell M71 and Gefell M93 capsule with the proceeds. It was a good ebay dayheh

My main vocal mic these days is the Red Type B or Gefell UM70. I'm really lusting after a Neumann M9 capsule for the Red though. I love omni on vocals....

The Jute Factory Studios on MySpace Music - Free Streaming MP3s, Pictures & Music Videos
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #16
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Jorg's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I got a TLM 103. Unfortunately my only mic at the moment. I use it mainly with the UA LA-610 which is not a bad combo.
However I think its a too harsh mic on most female vocals but I do like it a lot on male vocals.
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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Yoda117's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by audio ergo sum ➑️
I think they didn't intend that.
Actually, yeah they did. At the time it was their "entry level Neumann for the home studio" mic. Obviously being cardoid it had it's limitations, but a lot of the early stuff coming out from the mags and manufacturer had it labeled as being a lot more utilitarian than it actually is.

Quote:
It was designed after the U87? Says who?
Neumann did. The capsule was derived after the U87s capsule, and more than a bit of the marketing labeled it as a "budget U87".

One of the big misconceptions from a lot of people (particularly VO folk) is that the 103 uses the same capsule as the U87.
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
That having been said, it is a great tom mic ; )

I love mine for slightly dull sounding acoustic guitar. It's got more bite than the U87. It's a good mic, but that bite sometimes translates into harshness. You could do much worse than have that as your main male vox mic. Female vox are usually better through the 414 in my experience, if you are stuck with the two.

Quote:
Originally Posted by larry b ➑️
The TLM 103 is a good mic. Personally i dont have any problems with sibilance or brightness with mine. I'm using it with a UA LA-610 or a Chandler TG Channel MkII.

The C414 is one of my favorites in the same price/performance bracket.

But you posted this in High End so be prepared for the TLM103 bashing thats bound to happen up in here. Just remember, if its not a vintage U47/67, it sucks and wont work for anything other than toms. heh
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #19
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camerondye's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I find it good on some voices, it works well in front of a electric guitar amp, it works excellent for a room mic for drums, and it can get a half decent acoustic guitar sound with the right placement. I love and have 4 tube condensors and it's a great complement to them and haven't regretted it.

I agree that it's overpriced, but so are all the Neumann mics...every single one of them so that is a silly arguement IMO.
cam
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoda117 ➑️
Actually, yeah they did. At the time it was their "entry level Neumann for the home studio" mic. Obviously being cardoid it had it's limitations, but a lot of the early stuff coming out from the mags and manufacturer had it labeled as being a lot more utilitarian than it actually is.
You are possibly better informed, what the marketing department had to say about this, but I have heard from people close to the development, that it was more intended as a cheap radio announcer mic, thus the high presence.

Quote:
Neumann did. The capsule was derived after the U87s capsule, and more than a bit of the marketing labeled it as a "budget U87".

One of the big misconceptions from a lot of people (particularly VO folk) is that the 103 uses the same capsule as the U87.
On paper it looks more like a SM69 mono offspring to me. (or redheaded stepchild)
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #21
Lives for gear
 
jjblair's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoda117 ➑️
Neumann did. The capsule was derived after the U87s capsule, and more than a bit of the marketing labeled it as a "budget U87".

One of the big misconceptions from a lot of people (particularly VO folk) is that the 103 uses the same capsule as the U87.
Neumann stretched the truth VERY far in that description. The 103 capsule has NOTHING to do with a K87. If there's a derivation there, nobody I know can see it.

Furthermore, nothing about that mic has anything to do with a U87. Doesn't even sound like one.

Cheap radio announcer mic indeed. It's got a pointedness I don't care for at all.
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #22
Dan
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Dan's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I think it's pretty similar to a Blue baby bottle. Maybe a touch brighter, but they're pretty interchangeable.
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #23
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KEYBEEETSSS's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by larry b ➑️
you posted this in High End so be prepared for the TLM103 bashing thats bound to happen up in here. heh
Especially when there is 1 billion threads on this mic..."Mostly bashing on'eim"hehhehheh
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #24
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Yoda117's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair ➑️
Neumann stretched the truth VERY far in that description. The 103 capsule has NOTHING to do with a K87. If there's a derivation there, nobody I know can see it.

Furthermore, nothing about that mic has anything to do with a U87. Doesn't even sound like one.

I'm not disagreeing with you on that at all. However, the company stated that the capsule was derived from the K87.

I think that's one part of the hate some folks have for this microphone. The marketing for the mic was completely different from reality (we all know how much hype plays into gear, but when this mic first arrived on the scene it was a doozy). For a lot of people this was their first Neumann mic and it turned a lot of folks off of the brand, or at least tarnished it in their opinions.

I'm not going to bash the mic (some folks are making great stuff with it), but depending on your needs, there are better options.

If only the OP would let us know what those needs are...
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoda117 ➑️
I'm not disagreeing with you on that at all. However, the company stated that the capsule was derived from the K87.
...
Do you have that in writing somewhere? I never heard it before.
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
found the answer to my own question, some quick research at Neumann's website:
"The K 103 large diaphragm capsule is based on the K 87" Georg Neumann GmbH - Products/Current Microphones

"based on" is a rather vague term though. It's round, it's a LDC capsule...

then the reseller already sells it as "K87 capsule"...
NEUMANN TLM 103 - U.K. International Cyberstore

no wonder people are upset...
Old 6th February 2009
  #27
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Meriphew's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ehlrich ➑️
Neumann TLM 103 - What compares?
Try putting a cheap Chinese LDC in the freezer, then use it to record. It should give you some of the same harsh brittle flavor of a 103.
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #28
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KEYBEEETSSS's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meriphew ➑️
Try putting a cheap Chinese LDC in the freezer, then use it to record. It should give you some of the same harsh brittle flavor of a 103.
Still may be a tad bit warmer than the 103
Old 6th February 2009 | Show parent
  #29
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Audio Hombre's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meriphew ➑️
Try putting a cheap Chinese LDC in the freezer, then use it to record. It should give you some of the same harsh brittle flavor of a 103.
OT (i've commented on the tlm103 enough already heh) but i just listened to "headphones" on your myspace, mer. sounds real good. i love the tone of the guitars and vocals especially thumbsup
Old 7th February 2009 | Show parent
  #30
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Meriphew's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio Hombre ➑️
OT (i've commented on the tlm103 enough already heh) but i just listened to "headphones" on your myspace, mer. sounds real good. i love the tone of the guitars and vocals especially thumbsup
Hey thx! Vocals were all done with a TLM103...


Just kidding (Elux 251).
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