Home Studio Zone Review
The Neumann name has become one of the most sought after brands in the microphone world. They have a wide range of high-quality, hand-made microphones that are referenced time and time again for their superb quality. In this condenser mic review, I will discuss the pros and cons of the Neumann TLM 103 and take an in-depth look at what this mic can do for your home studio.
Neumann TLM 103 Pros
- Rugged construction – makes a big statement about Neumann’s quality
- Less expensive than some of the higher end Neumann mics
- Offers clean, transparent recordings with a flat frequency response
- Based on Transformerless Circuitry, which eliminates any RF interference that may affect the audio signal’s balance
- Comes packed with a neat wooden case that will protect your mic from any damages when not in use
- K103 capsule (based on K87 capsule famously used in U67 and U87 microphones)
Neumann TLM 103 Cons
- Only offers cardioid polar pattern
- Does not come with shock mount unlike most Nuemann microphones, only a hard stand mount
- No frequency rolloff option
- Has a bright top end so singers who are more sibilant need to be EQ’d
Some Technical Details
The TLM 103 is what Neumann calls a Universal Cardioid Microphone. This means that the microphone has somewhat of a “apple-shaped” directional pattern in which sound is picked up, accepting sound from the front and rejecting sound from the back. High-end Neumann mics, such as the u87, have switchable directional options like omni and figure-8 patterns.
This mic also features a high SPL rating of 138db. Even though there is no pad on the microphone, the TLM 103 can handle a large load and has a super low self noise. This eliminates any “need” for a pad. Having a -10db switch is nice in certain situations, but with this mic you can get away without having one fairly easily.
The TLM 103 has a flat frequency response up to 5kHz, and a 4db presence boosts for higher frequencies. This is great for certain applications such as low-mid range vocalists and instruments. However, this can be a slight issue for vocalists with natural sibilance in their voice, making the need for an EQ adjustment a neccessity.
Some professionals say a great way to make the TLM 103 shine is to pair it with an Avalon vt737sp Preamp. This will add a unique coloration to your track and it really tends to make vocals pop.
Here is a video showing off the unmixed, raw signal the Neumann TLM 103 captures:
And, here is a video of the TLM 103 first without any processing, then paired with a Avalon vt737sp Preamp:
Overall, I would consider this to be a great addition to your home studio mic locker. The pros outweigh the cons by a long shot, and it is offered at a low price compared to most Neumann products. This large diaphragm microphone works exceptionally well for vocals, drum overheads, drum room, and guitar amps. I recently tried miking my Fender 1983 Concert with the TLM 103, and it sounded fantastic. For those who don’t have means to mic an amp, you might enjoy a previous article I wrote on how to get smashing guitar tones using a DI.
With it’s hand-built, rugged construction, the TLM 103 will be a microphone that you have for many years to come. I hope you found this condenser mic review helpful, and for more tips and tricks, be sure to visit the blog.