Published by Tim67 on 16th March 2012
neumann tlm 103
Well this mic is really quite special.
As we all know the U87 has been resulting in sublime excellence for years to date and surely will for years to come.
The TLM 103, though, is exceptional for a number of reasons.
It uses the tried and true transformerless circuit found in numerous Neumann microphones and the capsule, derived from that used in the U 87.
As it solely employs the cardioid pattern, the attenuation of unwanted rear signals is excellent.
In such situations it has been considered superior in quality to the greatly more expensive U87.
This microphone provides an extremely true, uncoloured reproduction.
What you record is accurate to the original sound.
There is no roll off switch but so it is worth equalising on record.
To quote from the Nuemann website: "With just 7 dB-A / 17.5 dB CCIR the self-noise level of the TLM 103 is so reduced that even the smallest signals are reproduced basically noise-free. As it is capable of handling sound pressure levels up to 138 dB without distortion, the TLM 103 provides a dynamic range of 131 dB (A-weighted).
The letters TLM stand for "transformerless microphone". With TLM technology the usual output transformer is replaced by an electronic circuit. As with traditional transformers, it ensures good common mode rejection, and prevents RF interference that may influence the balanced audio signal. "
I personally love this mic and have used it both for vocals and harmonica, saxophone and clarinet.
It gives an honest sound and whilst not adding its own colour, due to its amazing sensitivity, it will pick up the room to give some natural re-verb which can be useful with such instruments.
For the price I believe you will be hard pushed to get a a better professional product.
By amoryblane on 17th March 2012
An Underrated Little Brother; A Very Nuanced Mic
Over the last couple of months I've become a huge fan of this mic. For a good long while we would not put anything but ribbons on woodwinds and the like. But when we came across a bass clarinet and we were missing the breathiness that is key in obtaining a warm/sad/gloomy bass clarinet sound we naturally figured it was the ribbons.
The natural go-to condenser after that was, for us, a Gefell MT71s but for kicks we threw on the TLM103. Before this I hadn't had much experience with Neumann other than the 87 and 89, and only with a vocal or as room mics. It kind of blew me out of the water. It crashed and burned when we put it on a trombone but the clarinet was just so amazing we had to shoot it out the placement and pre choice a little bit.
We patched it in to a couple of different pre's to see the difference. It reacted really well to both an SSL and and API (but what doesn't?) with extremely different characters. Doesn't react fantastical to EQ though.
After the session I took a look at the price on these things. It's pretty pricy for what it is and I think that most of that price is just the little red Neumann insignia on the front, but watcha gonna do? The fact is that I will never be able to buy my own and I can live without it. If you have the money, definitely check it out but be sure to shoot it out first. I've only tried it on winds. I'd be interested to know how it'd sound on electric or acoustic guitar.
On a different day we shot it out on some standup bass and it failed miserably to a DPA omni.
By Roland Marckwort on 17th March 2012
Neumann tlm 103
Another stellar addition to the classic Neumann line of killer mics!
I'm already biased because of their previous products, but they never fail to impress.
Everything you expect is here from a quality studio-condenser; silky smooth
high end without sounding harsh in the mids, and big warm bottom end.
I tried this mic on female vocals thru my Focusrite Saffire pre, and she sounded
wonderful - captured every nuance from belting it out vox, to whisper quiet right up on the pop screen...
Its a winner, go buy it!
By Ripple Q on 7th April 2012
Neumann TLM 103
A quality mike which works better with a sE Reflexion filter as it is prone to proximity effect.
I am proud to have it in my collection - like most, it's application depends on the singer, the acoustic enviroment, ... when it is used with the right application, all I want to do is smile - yeah, it is that good.
*features - really, it has a base connection and does what it is supposed to do.
By Scott003 on 10th April 2012
very bright Neumann
Crisp, bright sound
Very bright sound
No HPF or pad
Sounds pretty good, have used it on piano and for stereo-pair applications. I once recorded a college recital with a pair and it was very bright. However, not the pleasant, shimmery Neumann clarity I wanted; they sounded similar to KSM LDC's to my ears. I read something about raising input impedance due to the lack of transformer to alleviate this, but haven't tried it. Similarly, the piano tracks turned out bright and lacked that Neumann magic. I have access to u87's, a u147 tube condenser, and a pair of KM140's, and did not find the TLM 103's to be on quite the same level.
By greenbloke on 12th April 2012
Used the 103 for recording vocals from a mezzo soprano in a booth. Used for recording one of four tracks so a direct comparison could be made.
Used mike's were
Obviously the U87 is known as an industry standard (as could be said for the 414s) but I must say that I was more than impressed with the 103. Considering its less than half the price of the U87, cheaper than most 414s and same sort of money as the ribbon I would recommend this mike.
By producerjay on 1st May 2013
An 87 for less...
I purchased this microphone as part of my mobile recording set-up. It provided crisp, clean, ready to go vocals out the door stock. You get the performance back that you put into the mic.
This thing works well for rap vocals. For singing it would be used for back up vocals, or maybe just harmony.
The microphone could have had better features, but for the starting musician this thing is a great starter. Can't go wrong with a versatile mic locker.
By Paul Ryan on 5th March 2014
I've only had this mic for a month or so, but already its taken over on a couple of previously difficult instruments to mic. My music is acoustic, so naturally I tried the TLM 103 with a couple of guitars first. And while it was nice, still preferred a couple of my other microphones for the guitars. But when I used it for a standup bass, wow! The sound was rich and full and this mic clearly is superior to others for that purpose. When I took the first bass track to my producer, he described the bass as "filling up the whole track". Just so creamy and rich and powerful. And we had a similar reaction to the way it captures dobro. The sounds are nice and full, and warm for an instrument that can be quite edgy and nervous. Have other microphones that sound pretty solid on dobro but the 103 sounds way beyond solid.
Before buying, I read the negative reviews as well as the positives. In my case, it took a bit of trial and error to get the sounds I was looking for. I could be wrong, but this seems to be a very sensitive mic, so my Great River preamp has both dials on the low side. That was a major factor. Also the mic doesnt sound as good through my Grace. They're both good pres, but the 103seems to prefer the GR. So the preamp and its settings are important. The second point-someone else mentioned is placement. For my "wow" tracks, I had it a bit further away than my other top mics (a 47 style tube, a manley ref style, a ribbon). I think the 103 needs a little breathing room so to speak. Overall, count me a a big fan of the Neumann TLM 103.
By Knobz on 7th March 2014
Great mic for most singers.
Paired with a great pre you can achieve a great vocal sound with this mic. Our main "money channel" for vocals is a 103 thru a Vintech x73i straight into PTHD10 and it is very versatile over many different applications. I did however like the U87 better for drum overheads and instrument recording mainly because of it's HPF and pad but I don't miss that on vocals.
By Alrod on 12th March 2014
I feel impelled to write a review on this mic because of the negative press that it gets here on GearSlutz.
I have been burned several times by purchasing equipment that gets hyped on this site. I am VERY cautious these days. Ironically enough, I stayed away from the TLM-103 because of the negative hype.
I had an opportunity to listen to one of these mics, and was floored! I thought maybe it was the A-Designs Pacifica, or the Great River that it was running through. Still a bit skeptical, I didn't want to pay full retail, so I purchase a used one. What a fantastic mic! Every mic I have tried on my voice to date, has been underwhelming. I have been through Peluso, AKG, Audio technica, Shure, and other Neumanns (not the high-end Neumanns). I am not dissing those mics, just saying that they did not work for my soft tenor vox.
I have a very nicely treated room. I run the TLM-103 through either a Vintech Audio Dual 72, or LA-610 Mk ll. The detail is phenomenal. I find the mic to be warm, articulate, and not harsh at all. It takes EQ very nicely when needed. The mic is easy to fit into a mix regardless of the track count. It also layers nicely. The added bonus is that the mic works well on my acoustic and nylon string guitars.
If you are reading this and think that the TLM-103 is a bad mic just because GS say's so, think again. Try one and judge for yourself. This experience has once again taught me that negative reviews on this site need to be taken with a grain of salt. I can personally say that this mic was the best choice in the $2500 and under range.
You hear some people saying that there are $200 mics that sound better than the TLM-103. My guess is that their rooms are not treated properly. The TLM is high gain and picks up everything. In an untreated or poorly treated room, this mic will amplify all of the imperfections of the room, no question. I am sure that even a U47 would sound bad in their room. It's kind of like putting lawn mower wheels on a Lamborghini and saying that it's a bad car.
Bottom line, to me this mic is outstanding!
By Magenta_rules on 13th March 2014
I used the 103 on a record for some jazz- based band recording.
I was really surprised about the detail this mic was offering, therefor it was very clear, almost kinda sterile, but it was possible to give the signal some character in processing it.
This is basically the way i like to work, record sound in natural and make it sound in the mix. So you have some scope to make something different from what you recorded. I think this Mic wouldn´t work very well for somebody who prefers to record with a lot of color. Personally I dont like the sound of an Neumann U87, or a hot driven tube. Therefore I gt a lot of blame from other technicians but i still dont like that kind of Sound. So on the TLM 103 is a great deal for everyone who like to record very clean and likes the sound of condenser.