Neumann TLM102 - reviews?

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One of these has come to my attention , bear in mind I've recently been considering the Shure SM7B and SKG 4114XLS..

Anyone got one / used one? 


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Comments

  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 1333
    I think it's a decent mic. It doesn't have the painful high boost that the TLM103 has which is a good thing on most sources. Out of your list I'd probably prefer the 102 or SM7B for most vocals and the 414 for acoustic instruments. Try the Austrian Audio OC18 too, that's a really good mic.
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 1730
    Stuckfast said:
    I think it's a decent mic. It doesn't have the painful high boost that the TLM103 has which is a good thing on most sources. Out of your list I'd probably prefer the 102 or SM7B for most vocals and the 414 for acoustic instruments. Try the Austrian Audio OC18 too, that's a really good mic.
    Yeah I like the idea of the AA mics...just slightly more than I want to spend right now.


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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 1730
    Well I got it anyway !


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  • mike257mike257 Frets: 321
    spark240 said:
    Well I got it anyway !
    Let us know what you think! 

    I've been working exclusively live for years now, and my mic collection is geared very much in that direction. Getting involved in a new studio space and will be looking for something decent for vocal tracking on a modest budget, this is definitely on the list. 
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 1730
    I just gave it a quick try on acoustic guitar......it’s very sensitive !


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  • jamesguitarjamesguitar Frets: 139
    spark240 said:
    One of these has come to my attention , bear in mind I've recently been considering the Shure SM7B and SKG 4114XLS..

    Anyone got one / used one? 

    I have the TLM-103 which is similar. I find I like it most on warmer female vocals, but try it with different singers and see what you make of it. I also have the Sm7b which I like a lot for rock etc and the Slate M1 which I love / use on most voices. I just dug out my AKG c414 XLII to track acoustic and vocals and forgot how good it sounded - all great mics.


    Stuckfast said:
    I think it's a decent mic. It doesn't have the painful high boost that the TLM103 has which is a good thing on most sources. Out of your list I'd probably prefer the 102 or SM7B for most vocals and the 414 for acoustic instruments. Try the Austrian Audio OC18 too, that's a really good mic.

    It’s funny how maligned the TLM-103 is, especially on Gearslutz etc. It’s the mic Billie Eilish used for all of her recordings and those are some of the best vocal sounds we’ve had in years. I think it just needs a bit of EQ, but then that should be the case with any mic.
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 1333
    jamesguitar said:

    It’s funny how maligned the TLM-103 is, especially on Gearslutz etc. It’s the mic Billie Eilish used for all of her recordings and those are some of the best vocal sounds we’ve had in years. I think it just needs a bit of EQ, but then that should be the case with any mic.

    I'm not saying you can't get a good recording with a TLM 103 but I don't think it's a great mic. It's fiercely bright in a way that sounds superficially impressive but often makes things hard to mix. The 102 is a much more useful mic even though it's less expensive. At current prices there are many better options than the 103 for the same money.

    I don't think you should expect to need to EQ a mic, as a rule, except maybe for cutting unwanted low end. And if you do have to EQ, I find it much easier to get it right when adding top end to a dark mic than cutting top end from an over-bright mic.
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  • jamesguitarjamesguitar Frets: 139
    I do personally think you should EQ any mic (even if very subtle), but Al Schmitt is the most famous example of an engineer who doesn’t EQ and he has regularly described the TLM-103 as an incredible mic.

    It got a bit of hate on some audio forums as Neumann’s marketing team had touted it as the new U87, when in reality it’s its own thing. The U87 may be three times the price, but I know plenty of engineers that own both and prefer the 103 for a lot of use cases.

    Drake and Billie Eilish are the biggest / most relevant artists in the world right now and both their vocal sounds are the TLM-103. Drake is on around 50 Grammy awards / nominations now and Billie Eilish has at least 10. Her brother won both producer and engineer of the year Grammy’s for those recordings and I do think they’re more than just good.

    Other famous vocal recordings with the TLM-103 include Crazy (Gnarls Barkley), anything by Alter Bridge, the first Vampire Weekend album, anything by Imogen Heap, James Blake, Duran Duran, plus numerous rappers and r&b artists. I’d struggle to name a single influential artist on the other hand that used a TLM-102 on their hit recording / album - it’s just a bit bland and noisy compared to the 103.
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 1730
    @jamesguitar maybe, but that's like suggesting if I get a TLM 103 I'm gong to be successful, and with the 102 I wont..?

      I just don't think those theories stand up nowadays.


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  • jamesguitarjamesguitar Frets: 139
    edited April 7
    Of course not, am pointing out that the TLM-103 isn’t this ‘horrible mic’ it’s often painted to be on audio forums - it’s literally become a gold standard / first choice of award winning artists, producers and engineers. 

    The 102 is very usable and you’ll likely get your money back if you ever decide to flip it. A lot of good recordings have been captured using an Sm58 even - some singers feel more comfortable holding / moving around with it (Bono/U2, the Killers etc, Pantera etc), so will get the better performance with the cheaper mic / less hi-fi mic. 
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 1333
    No the 103 isn't a horrible mic, but it does deliver a very particular sound with a strong high-frequency emphasis. That suits some things, and with the right singer in the right space it would be good for getting the sort of bright, up-front vocal sound you hear on some modern records. But on the wrong singer, or on many other sources, it wouldn't sound great. I would much rather have the 102 as an all-rounder. It certainly shouldn't be noisy -- it's quieter than a U87 for instance.

    I would question the idea that the 103 is any sort of first choice or gold standard though. I've never seen one in a top level studio. Most of those artists you reference are people who had a hit with a low-budget home recorded album. Pretty sure that Drake's producer moved to a Sony C800G as soon as they struck it big for example.
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  • jamesguitarjamesguitar Frets: 139
    I think we’re just going to agree to disagree on this one. 

    The TLM-102 is significantly noisier than the 103 though. And Billie Eilish, Finneas, Imogen Heap etc are still using their TLM-103 instead other more expensive mics on their latest works. Al Schmitt still uses and highly recommends it to others, despite also using U47’s etc. I’m also very surprised if / when a top studio doesn’t have one.

    There’s a good chance if you didn’t like it when you last tried it then you’d love it through a different preamp. I’m primarily running it through a Neve 1073 which is a great match (into an Apogee Symphony mkii), but it genuinely sounds better than my Schoeps CMC64’s, Slate ML1, AKG c414, Sm7b etc on a lot of voices / applications.

    Again, YMMV.
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 1333
    Well I agree to the extent that a good engineer should be able to get usable results with the TLM103 on most things. But if I had one I doubt it would ever be my first choice for anything, and I do think it would be pretty challenging to get a good sound on anything that has the potential to be screechy, like a violin.

    I am generally a fan of Neumann mics and own several, but in that particular case I think there are many better alternatives for the same money.
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  • NerineNerine Frets: 1244
    Any vocal recorded with any mic is always going to need a bit of EQ. To say otherwise is a bit disingenuous IMO. 
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 1333
    Tell that to Al Schmitt!
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  • NerineNerine Frets: 1244
    Stuckfast said:
    Tell that to Al Schmitt!
    I think pretty much every recorded vocal ever has had some EQ on it at some point. No matter how slight. 

    Don’t get me wrong, if you’re having to carve out huge notches or deal with overly sibilant and harsh vocals on the way in, then there’s either an issue with the mic choice, the mic positioning, the room, the singer, or all of those things. 

    But most vocals will benefit from EQ. Even if it’s during mixing. 

    I don’t tend to EQ much on the way in. But if it needs brightening, brighten it. There’s little point in being purist about it. 

    If the tracked vocal sounds better with a high shelf at 8kHz, then record it like that. Far too many variables to say that a mic shouldn’t need EQ as it’s completely situation dependant. 
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  • Macca_25387Macca_25387 Frets: 74
    @spark240 Whats your verdict on the 102? I’m fancying one myself, im in between that and the Austrian Audio OC18. Both similar price. 
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 1730
    @spark240 Whats your verdict on the 102? I’m fancying one myself, im in between that and the Austrian Audio OC18. Both similar price. 
    I really like it...its def bright and quite sensitive, which suits me for acoustic guitars , vocal, and vocal work on videos.

    I would think its very similar to the OC18...I did look a that one as well but the Neumann cropped up locally.




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