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Neumann Tlm 103 Hype or Real Deal?
Old 27th January 2015
  #1
141550
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Neumann Tlm 103 Hype or Real Deal?

im interested in the Neumann TLM 103, read so much hype on the net, best reviews from almost all sources SOS, sweet water, and countless othes. SOS claims that its the closest thing to classic vintage u87, or even better and the price point is low vs high quality. so to the owners, or anyone who used it in studios, vocals, is it that good? does it live up to the hype? or is it great marketing

Last edited by 141550; 28th January 2015 at 10:59 PM..
Old 27th January 2015
  #2
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
It's an OK mic. - some people like it, plenty of others hate it.

It does some things well - others, not so well.

If it does what you want - buy it.

Others to consider are the Gefell M930 or the cheaper Neumann TLM 102 at a similar quality and price range, but will all sound different.

As with any good mic. I would try it out before you buy.
Old 27th January 2015 | Show parent
  #3
141550
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett ➡️
It's an OK mic. - some people like it, plenty of others hate it.

It does some things well - others, not so well.

If it does what you want - buy it.

Others to consider are the Gefell M930 or the cheaper Neumann TLM 102 at a similar quality and price range, but will all sound different.

As with any good mic. I would try it out before you buy.
have you ever A/B with the vintage? what are the weak and strong points in your opinion? care to explain what the mic does well and not so well?

i heard some samples on 102 and didnt like it much. although samples i heard of 103 are the ones i preferred.
Old 28th January 2015
  #4
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mbvoxx's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Compared to Vintage what? I'm not sure an older 103 qualifies as "vintage". Check with Neumann to find out whether they have changed anything on the mic from it's inception to the latest builds.

But in a nutshell, The TLM103 sounds like a TLM103. And somewhat unique to that model, it has an accentuated frequency response that rises from 3.5K and plateaus at almost +5db at 8K thru 16K which is why it is noticeably brighter than a TLM102 or most other mics for that matter.
If that high freq bump is what you need or prefer then it's the right mic for you. The 103 works well for broadcast use since it tends to cut thru well, due to that high end bump...and by that I don't mean radio station use but commercial VO use. It comes down to what you prefer and what works for you and what you are going to record with it. There are about as many 103 lovers as there are haters and you'll probably be able to find them all right here.
Old 28th January 2015 | Show parent
  #5
141550
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbvoxx ➡️
Compared to Vintage what? I'm not sure an older 103 qualifies as "vintage". Check with Neumann to find out whether they have changed anything on the mic from it's inception to the latest builds.
when i say comparing to vintage. im talking about comparing to the vintage u87 which SOS claims is almost identical in sound or close enuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbvoxx ➡️
The 103 works well for broadcast use since it tends to cut thru well, due to that high end bump...and by that I don't mean radio station use but commercial VO use.
i was wondering about the mic in terms of recording vocals, guitars, not broadcast.
Old 28th January 2015
  #6
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pencilextremist's Avatar
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
for me personally I really like the 103. It works well on softer sounding things such as classical guitar and heavy midrange sounding voices because of the air and slight bass boost, it's great on male voice too, especially softer voices. I found it's very sensitive to mic placement, and it makes an amazing distant ambient and room mic because of 1/ the low self noise and 2/ the high end boost. I've tried other neumann mics and love the 'reach' of the 103, something to bear in mind. Just don't fool yourself, it's NOT the U87ai, to my ears the U87 is far better on voice, bear in mind though I don't actually own the U87 but have heard it in pro studios.
Old 28th January 2015
  #7
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
If you've seen any of the Pandora Whiteboard Session videos, they use what looks like a 103 out a ways in front of the band and a shotgun of some sort to spot-mic the lead singer, and that appears to be all. Those videos sound pretty good for what they are. And the 103's lack of self-noise and its brightness (if it is in fact a 103) make it a workable choice for that job.
Old 28th January 2015
  #8
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Sacalait's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I've owned a TLM103 for over ten years now. It gets used some- but not as much as I would expect a Neumann to get used. It's good on a few vocalist- but never my number one pick. Very nice on acoustic guitar. Good as a room mic too. It's a bit 'brittle' sounding to my ears- that could be because it's got a pretty flat response and the high end can get a bit over-whelming in the digital world. Maybe they've changed some things in the design over the years but frankly, it's not the mic I use most. I don't mean to discourage you either. I'm happy I own it.
Old 28th January 2015
  #9
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malekmusic's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
For vocals you should look somewhere else.
Old 28th January 2015
  #10
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cinealta's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Please don't get this mic. It is honestly the worst mic I have ever heard in my life. Even a lowly Shure SM57 sounds better than it. It's really bright and edgy. Like a glass cutter on glass. Get a Gefell UM70 (or UMT 70s) or even an older U87 (not the newer AI) instead.

http://youtu.be/oAlrlFyEAt4?t=4m30s

Last edited by cinealta; 28th January 2015 at 07:42 AM..
Old 28th January 2015 | Show parent
  #11
141550
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by pencilextremist ➡️
for me personally I really like the 103. It works well on softer sounding things such as classical guitar and heavy midrange sounding voices because of the air and slight bass boost, it's great on male voice too, especially softer voices. I found it's very sensitive to mic placement, and it makes an amazing distant ambient and room mic because of 1/ the low self noise and 2/ the high end boost. I've tried other neumann mics and love the 'reach' of the 103, something to bear in mind. Just don't fool yourself, it's NOT the U87ai, to my ears the U87 is far better on voice, bear in mind though I don't actually own the U87 but have heard it in pro studios.
have you ever tried it on a deep voice. i gota hiphop artist that has a deep voice but he has a nasally type voice. bright mics suits quite good so im not sure if this is the right pick for him. when we rented expensive studios back few years, sony c800g sounded excellent on him, so did the telefunkun 251 ela m. the mic i didnt like was the u87ai. what i read online that u87ai is different from the classic u87 and 103 kinda comes close to that but i dont know cause i hvaent heard the classic u87.
Old 28th January 2015 | Show parent
  #12
141550
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sacalait ➡️
I've owned a TLM103 for over ten years now. It gets used some- but not as much as I would expect a Neumann to get used. It's good on a few vocalist- but never my number one pick. Very nice on acoustic guitar. Good as a room mic too. It's a bit 'brittle' sounding to my ears- that could be because it's got a pretty flat response and the high end can get a bit over-whelming in the digital world. Maybe they've changed some things in the design over the years but frankly, it's not the mic I use most. I don't mean to discourage you either. I'm happy I own it.
u own any other tlm you use that you recommend? i also liked what i heard from tlm 49. what type of vocalists it worked on so far? male or female? when you say brittle, do u mean harsh or something lacks warmth or mid forward in ya face type sound? i think they kept the design the same if im not mistaking.
Old 28th January 2015 | Show parent
  #13
141550
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by malekmusic ➡️
For vocals you should look somewhere else.
why?
Old 28th January 2015 | Show parent
  #14
141550
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by cinealta ➡️
Please don't get this mic. It is honestly the worst mic I have ever heard in my life. Even a lowly Shure SM57 sounds better than it. It's really bright and edgy. Like a glass cutter on glass. Get a Gefell UM70 (or UMT 70s) or even an older U87 (not the newer AI) instead.

http://youtu.be/oAlrlFyEAt4?t=4m30s
i never like shure sm57, not sure why people like that mic. whats wrong with bright? i mean look at sony c800g, they are very bright mics but sound good on certain artists. glass cutter on glass? ouch, that bad? wow, sos magazine quoted them as "Virtually identical in character to the classic U87" hmmmmmmmmm
Old 28th January 2015
  #15
Lives for gear
 
8 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
The 103, to me, is very preamp dependent for getting a great sound from it. Running it through a good tube pre really seems to balance it out. It's a nice sounding mic with a tube pre. The tube tames the top end a bit.

Still not in my top ten. But can be a decent workhorse mic with a tube pre.

Lastly. If someone absolutely loves or hates something - I tend to discount their opinion a little. Maybe I'm jaded. But I always throw out the most polarized opinions from the batch.

It's a decent mic. Not horrible. Not amazing.
Old 28th January 2015 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by unmasked truth ➡️
have you ever A/B with the vintage?
Not A/B tested it with a U87 (if that is what you mean by "vintage"), but I have heard the U87 and do have a TLM 103.


Quote:
Originally Posted by unmasked truth ➡️
what are the weak and strong points in your opinion? care to explain what the mic does well and not so well?
No, I don't like to go into this. A lot depends on how the mic is positioned, what it's recording and the room acoustics and this varies a lot.

You have seen answers by some people who love the 103 and others who hate it with a passion - which is why you really need to get one in your own hands and try it yourself.


Quote:
Originally Posted by unmasked truth ➡️
i heard some samples on 102 and didnt like it much. although samples i heard of 103 are the ones i preferred.
I have never ever chosen a mic. by listening to samples; as I said above, so much depends on mic. positioning and how it's used. What may suit one voice may not suit another. Generally, for vocals, people tend to prefer the 102 over the 103.

Although I have a 103 I hardly ever use it and choose a different mic. most of the time.

Try it yourself - I don't know what country you are in, but in the UK it's possible to borrow a mic. to try before you buy. Gefell in the UK certainly do this and I know that Sennheiser UK had (or used to have) demo models they can loan to dealers for this purpose.
Old 28th January 2015 | Show parent
  #17
141550
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianellefson ➡️
The 103, to me, is very preamp dependent for getting a great sound from it. Running it through a good tube pre really seems to balance it out. It's a nice sounding mic with a tube pre. The tube tames the top end a bit.

Still not in my top ten. But can be a decent workhorse mic with a tube pre.

Lastly. If someone absolutely loves or hates something - I tend to discount their opinion a little. Maybe I'm jaded. But I always throw out the most polarized opinions from the batch.

It's a decent mic. Not horrible. Not amazing.
great point on pairing with tube pre. what needs taming on top end? too bright? harsh? i wonder how it would sound paired with 511, but thats not tube.

what mics do you like around that price-point. you heard the AA cm12se? what you think of that if you have.
Old 28th January 2015
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
Nyquist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Don't mind the 103 but, I liked the TLM102 better for vocals.
Old 28th January 2015
  #19
Lives for gear
 
8 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I actually have an AA CM12. Really like it. Better than the 103. What's cool about mics like the CM12 is that if you dial the polar pattern one or two notches towards omni it pulls down that typical LDC cardioid top end a little bit. I find that mic a lot more useful than I did the 103. I ended up selling that one as it just wasn't getting used much.

Last edited by brianellefson; 28th January 2015 at 05:06 PM..
Old 28th January 2015
  #20
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
It really is a great mic. Nicer still if you pair it with a transformered pre. I have it going into a Neve Portico 5012 and I love the thing. Those who have higher end Neumanns don't really like it because of how good it sounds for how much it costs and, of course, because of how much they paid for theirs.
Old 28th January 2015
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by unmasked truth ➡️
im interested in the Neumann TLM 103, read so much hype on the net, best reviews from almost all sources SOS, sweet water, and countless othes. SOS claims that its the closest thing to vintage, or even better and the price point is low compare to the high quality. so to the owners, is it that good? does it live up to the hype? or is it great marketing
It's fine and will get the job done. Check it out and see if you like it.

As an aside, SOS and [particularly] sweetwater are about as far as one could stray from an unbiased arbiter of anything relating to mic purchase.

The TLM103 is a fine mic. A silver bullet it is not.

Cheers
Old 28th January 2015
  #22
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edva's Avatar
 
26 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Not the worst mic in the world, but certainly one of Neumann's weakest efforts, IMHO.
Old 28th January 2015 | Show parent
  #23
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Kronos147's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbvoxx ➡️
Check with Neumann to find out whether they have changed anything on the mic from it's inception to the latest builds.
FWIW, I believe there are two version. I have seen a version with a pad on a small dip switch inside the connector port on the mic. The original ones did not have that.

I like them as drum overheads.
Old 28th January 2015
  #24
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Sacalait's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
yeah, the word "brittle" gets used a lot. I define it as "too flat a frequency response." In the real world the level of frequencies should drop off as the frequencies get higher. Someone recommended a tube preamp. I'd agree because they naturally roll off some of the high end. Also, some light cutting with a high shelf eq would work on this mic. The bottom end can be a problem too because there's no rumble filter. ...but still not complaining. I'll try it out again today.
Old 28th January 2015
  #25
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by unmasked truth ➡️
... so to the owners, is it that good? does it live up to the hype? or is it great marketing
You realize that by only asking for responses from owners, you're filtering out all the objective people, right? The ones who have experience with the mic but don't feel the need to defend the choice and the expenditure?

And as for "… so much hype on the net," by talking about it you're just adding to it.
Old 28th January 2015 | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
 
8 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
You realize that by only asking for responses from owners, you're filtering out all the objective people, right? The ones who have experience with the mic but don't feel the need to defend the choice and the expenditure?

And as for "… so much hype on the net," by talking about it you're just adding to it.
Wait. If someone hasn't owned one, how can they comment on what it's like?

I don't know, I had one for years and realized a while back it wasn't getting used anymore. It's not terrible but it's not great. Seemed very preamp dependent to me. If I used a UA610 with it then it sounded pretty good, but I'd classify the mic as one that's more temperamental than others. Needs the right conditions to shine.

There seems to be this high freq. bump that's not flattering like on many other cardioid mics. Dave at Advanced Audio explain to me once that the "bump" is practically a product of cardioid and virtually all cardioid mics have it - although each one sonically a bit different. Something about the bump on the 103 is harder to work with.
Old 28th January 2015 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianellefson ➡️
Wait. If someone hasn't owned one, how can they comment on what it's like?
Can't tell if you're being serious. I'll guess "yes."

Well, in my case I first encountered the 103 because several years ago my company fourwalled a room and the landlord owned a couple. I tried them out on a lot of stuff over a period of time and got to know them pretty well.

Now, much later on, a steady ad client of ours is in the habit of using an inexpensive LA studio for ISDN's and phone patches of VO's. We'll be doing the music, sound design and audio post for his stuff, so we'll get the VO elements, too. Whenever there's a change in the VO copy (which seems to be every time) we'll record the pickups at our place. I discovered right away that if you wanna match the sound of a 103 for VO, you need a 103. Nothing else (nothing in our locker, anyway) comes close. So I'll either rent one, or borrow from my ex-landlord.

As for your question in a more general sense, I'd guess that anyone who has spent any time at all working in a decent-sized commercial facility has developed working familiarities with, and valid opinions about, mics and lots of other gear they'll never own themselves.
Old 28th January 2015
  #28
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andychamp's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
It DOES have a highmid peak (not to be confused with cheap-chinese-condenser brittleness), so it's really better suited to duller or more distant sources where that peak will be a help instead of a hindrance.
It was Neumann's first "affordable" mic, so many people bought it for the brand-image without taking its sound into consideration, later regretting spending the money on what they now considered a "lousy" mic.
It DOES have its applications, so I blame marketing, rather than engineering.
Old 28th January 2015
  #29
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
When I first started recording (and getting paid for it) back in 1995 or so, I used a TLM 103 exclusively for vocals and just about everything else, because it was the only mic I had. I've since moved on to other mics but the TLM is a good mic and I wouldn't hesitate to use one if it were around. It's very sensitive and I always liked how detailed and breathy it was on vocals. A friend at the time had a vintage U87 and it was always a coin toss which mic we were going to use for vocals if the U87 was available. I never considered and still don't consider the 103 to be too bright or harsh. It always sat pretty smoothly in my mixes. I only began to hear complaints that it was harsh or brittle when I started coming to gearslutz! I discovered that it's one of the most polarizing pieces of gear in the world of gs. Ultimately, you'll have to get your hands on one and test it out. Trust your own ears, though, always.
Old 28th January 2015
  #30
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Vintageidiot's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
A great gear designer friend of mine whose opinion I respect made it a point to prove to me that the tlm103 is a very nice mic. He has decades of experience so I know he knows how to use it.
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