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U87 v TLM 103
Old 29th December 2002
  #1
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Renie's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
U87 v TLM 103

What's between them?
Other than twice or half the cost.
TIA
Old 29th December 2002
  #2
no ssl yet
Guest
In my limited testing of the two (Back Room while working at GC )

The frequency response was close. But the U87 had a more open sound with a bit more air(not necessarily hi end just an openess) I guess it could have been the proximity effect of the 103.

The difference that I heard did NOT justify the expense of a new 87
(I tried not to be biased since I already had a 103 at home)

The 103 didn't sound like a lesser mic just a different mic. Yet the similarities between the two were so close that I felt I was cool with the 103 since I'd only NEED one pattern for how I'd use it

Side Note: My voice gave better results with a 4060 than either of these though (would have tested more but this was GC and these were the best mics in stock) Of course this info has nothing to do with your question since I'm talking about tube mic. (I"M just hoping it will lead someone to give their opinion on the 4060)
Old 30th December 2002
  #3
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groundcontrol's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'm not a mic specialist but...
The 87 has an output transformer... It probably also have a dual backplate design since it's capable of multiple patterns and, I guess, discrete fet electronics whereas the 103 use an IC in its amp and balancing circuit along with a single backplate capsule. All this (and a lot more I guess) add up to a different sound signature and a different dynamic behavior that make the 103 a bit too brightish for my taste most of the time. So I've not yet found much use for the 103 so far. Although I don't use 87's that often these days, whenever there's a good one around, it usually sees some action.
However, 87's at the top places around here often have modded electronics.
Old 30th December 2002
  #4
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The 87 sounds smoother to me and the top isn't quite as airy/brittle/extened depending on the source. Maybe it's the same and the low mids are a bit thicker. Possibly because of the tranny. Plus, don't overlook the obvious stuff, multi-pattern, pads etc.
Old 31st December 2002
  #5
Here for the gear
 
🎧 15 years
The 103 is hotter & more modern, the 87 more versitile.
I find the 103 to be a rockin' room mic, or for low spl stuff that needs a lift (harmonium & bigger recorders spring to mind).
I don't like what happens around 2k with a lot of women's vocals with the 103.
Old 31st December 2002
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
... never liked the U87 for vocals ( it`s a great OvHd mic ), but once I compared it to the TLM and in that specific case - loud rock vocals - V76 - 1176, the TLM sounded way better than the U87.

I think the TLM is a great mic, not just for the money.
If you wanna compare it to any other Neumann, it`s way closer to the TLM170 than to the U87.

By the way, in that test I compared the U87 to a lot of other mics, even some not popular at all for vox ( 414 TL II, Gefell UM70, U89, Brauner Phantom, ... )
Beeing the most expensive mic of all, the U87 got smoked.
Maybe it was that specific scenario, or there was something wrong with that U87, but overall it was very dissapointing.
Old 31st December 2002
  #7
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The U87 is kind of like a 57. Rarely amazing but never really sucks.
Old 2nd January 2003
  #8
Gear Head
 
nick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If you're thinking of buying one of the two, then definetely try both of them. Cause there is a big difference in the sound and general tone IMO.

Lots of people like the 103 mic but I think it has quite a piercing, overly bright sound, also I have to say I think the treble sounds f'd up. Then again there are a lot of transformerless mics i don't like...

But you may well like it like alot of people do, so try both!

Old 2nd January 2003
  #9
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RKrizman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by clipgod
...
If you wanna compare it to any other Neumann, it`s way closer to the TLM170 than to the U87.

Wow, to my ears the 103 sounds nothing like a 170. Way brighter. FWIW, I've found that the Phoenix DRS-2 tames its high end nicely.

-R
Old 3rd January 2003
  #10
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groundcontrol's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
FWIW, I've personally found that putting it back in its box tames its top end even better... :eek:
Old 3rd January 2003
  #11
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Renie's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks for all the input guys, agreed this has got to be a shootout I do myself. Neither mic sounds like it'll do for my first choice but I guess there's a chance either or both possibly could be handy or a step up (or to the side) for now from my AKG Solidtube. It may be that the U87 just clicks with my vocalist and pre, but
I'm prepared that it won't.
The Soundelux U195 is getting a much bigger "user" buzz for the same price as the U87. I wonder how much of this is the "new" factor it brings, maybe people are bored of Neumann for being so ubiquitous.
Old 4th January 2003
  #12
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RKrizman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by groundcontrol
FWIW, I've personally found that putting it back in its box tames its top end even better... :eek:
LOL. that was my solution for about a year (why did I buy that damn thing). Then for some reason I used it on a commercial demo with the newly acquired DRS-2 and the female lead singer sounded very sweet--clear and present with little of that "hash". I ended up tracking the whole date with it, with as many as 25 tracks of 5 singers stacked up in various places. I ended up with a great sound, nice separation, understandable lyrics, little eq required, and all in all it was a beautiful thing. Who knew? (of course, these were awesome and charismatic singers). I also did a voiceover shootout using a U-67, 414, 416, U-47 fet, TLM103 and a few others through a UA-2-610, API 312, Avalon 737, Jim Williams modified Trident 24, and the DRS-2. My favorite result for clarity, emotion and 3-D floating-in-space realism was the TLM 103 with the DRS-2.

To get back on topic, every time an engineer has put an 87 up for me for vocals I've always ended up opting for something else. OTOH, you could probably make a whole record with one.

-R
Old 4th January 2003
  #13
Lives for gear
 
groundcontrol's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
RK, for v-o work I actually enjoy the M-149 and I can't stand it for singing voice 99% of the time, go figure!

Renie, I think a 103 (and probably even an 87) would most likely BE a sidestep... I haven't heard it yet so "I" would definitely want to check out a U-195 before putting $1K of my dough on a new Neumann mic. Most definitely an ifet7 too since I think I've recorded vocals at least as many times with a fet47 than with a U87.

In fact, even though I'm lucky to have access to some cool rental classics in great shape for a relatively low price, I've decided to get (and hopefully keep) an E47 to shoot out against my favorite U47 (most rented mic) and possibly do an ifet7/fet47 shoot-out too. The rental fee/hassle factor and "cautious" use/stress factor of the collectible units is getting old lately and having them around for the low budget gigs is a definite bonus.

Keep us posted on what your final choice will be and good luck!
Old 5th January 2003
  #14
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malice's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by clipgod

If you wanna compare it to any other Neumann, it`s way closer to the TLM170 than to the U87.
I don't quiet agree.
The TLM103 is the same capsule as the U87, even if transformer less, it does not really compare to a TLM170 in character.
TLM103, as U87 are great on some male voices, but I would advise not to try it on females that have sibilance problems, a case where a TLM170 could save your ass sometimes.
What is closer to a TLM170 is the TLM193, a very misjudge little mic.
I would compare the 103 to a 87, with a little more harshness, no multi paterns and very low noise floor.
Old 31st December 2018
  #15
Here for the gear
 
Anyone experience vibration sensitivity on the mic cord of a 103 at the connection to the mic ... I.e.. tap on the cord and it converts the tap tap to sound like tapping on the capsule ... no such issue with my other mics
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