Neumann TLM 103 Review

Today we're not looking at a budget microphone, we're looking at a high end mic from Neumann, the TLM-103.

For this review, I have the mic connected directly to the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen), with the input gain set at approximately 10:00. I have done no post processing on the audio, it is all raw, but the audio was slightly boosted in final cut pro X to simply make the audio easier to listen to. In the review I also include a test on the Audient ID4 to see how the mic sounds through a Class A Mic Pre.

If you are interested in this microphone, it will set you back around $1,100 on Amazon

What's In the Box

  1. Wooden Storage Box
  2. Microphone
  3. Microphone Mount
  4. 5/8" to 3/8" Stand Adapter
  5. Documentation

Specifications

  1. Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
  2. Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  3. Sensitivity: ~ -33dB
  4. Impedance: 50-ohms
  5. Max SPL: 138dB
  6. Self Noise: 7dBA

Performance / Features

The build quality of this microphone is what you'd expect out of a mic that exceeds $1,000. It has an all metal body that feels meticulously machined. It has a metal mesh grill that does feel a little bit weak (but it's not like this will be on stage taking abuse) and this thing has a good amount of weight coming in at 450g.

The frequency response is listed as 20Hz - 20kHz. It begins to roll off the bass frequencies at around 65 or 75Hz, and then remains flat all the way up through around 3.5kHz at which point it builds to a 4dB boost from 6kHz to 15kHz at which point it rolls off the remainder of the air hitting around -6dB at 20kHz. 

The polar pattern of this mic is cardioid. At 2kHz and 4kHz it has a fairly wide response that is almost omnidirectional but slightly quieter at 180-degreed. As a whole this thing picks up a large amount of ambient noise. 

The overall performance of this mic is excellent. The mic offers a very smooth tone, even though it has a broad boost from 4kHz - 15kHz. Additionally, this microphone has an excellent proximity effect that you can use to your benefit to beef up your voice or offset some of the boost in the presence/treble/air. The self noise of this mic is also only 7dBA, so it is quiet. This means it offers a dynamic range of 131dB which is more than you could ever need, but it's nice to have. However, it does tend to pick up a lot of ambient noise, so if you're in an untreated room, this may have a negative impact on your recordings.

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Pros

  • Very smooth frequency response
  • Great proximity effect
  • Low self noise of 7dBA
  • Dynamic range of 131dB
  • Great build quality
  • Handles processing very well

Cons

  • Picks up a lot of ambient room noise
  • Very expensive

Conclusion

I was very impressed with this microphone. On the electric guitar it provided a fairly accurate representation of the guitar amp, but it added more bite and attack due to the presence & treble boost. The acoustic guitar accomplished a sound I am always looking for, a nice full body without sounding muddy or boomy with a nice shimmer on the high end and good attack from the guitar pick. For singing, this thing sounded amazing. It really cut through the mix and sat forward without sounding shrill or harsh and the smooth tone made it sound very pleasing. For spoken word the presence/treble/air boost offer great clarity, while remaining clean sounding, and then if you need a bit more bass you have the buttery proximity effect to use. 

If you're a voice over artist or a musician and you're looking for a brighter microphone that is very pleasing to listen to, this is a great option if it fits within your budget, and I'd 100% recommend it.

If you have any additional questions about this microphone, leave them on the youtube video, and I will try to reply ASAP. 

Buy the Neumann TLM103
US: https://amzn.to/2IT9gSa
UK: https://amzn.to/2upKG8m
CA: https://amzn.to/2I8Raur
DE: N/A

Buy the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen)
US: http://amzn.to/2vDFbzK 
UK: http://amzn.to/2w8O2f6 
CA: http://amzn.to/2wKGKfG 
DE: http://amzn.to/2hbtxsV