The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 All  This Thread  Reviews  Gear Database  Gear for sale     Latest  Trending
KM 140 vs Modern Mics
Old 15th October 2013
  #1
Gear Addict
KM 140 vs Modern Mics

I currently have the ability to purchase a stereo pair of Neumann KM 140's for $1180. These are the older models (80's) and are the KM100's with the AK 40 capsules. I will be these mics for acoustic guitar/piano in a studio setting.

Questions:

1) Is this a pretty good deal in your eyes? It seems relatively cheap for a matching pair, and the condition is actually decent.

2) Are there better options for the money? Would I be better off going with a Peluso, or Josephine, or even a U87 mic rather than these Neumanns

3) Are they similair to the KM 184's that I should just spend less and get a pair of those?

If I need a modern dense acoustic track, I have been using my Manley Ref C and it comes out nice. However, it is not something I would use in a sparse arrangement. These mics seem to be a bit better for that.
Old 15th October 2013
  #2
Gear Addict
 
AwTAC's Avatar
 

1. yes.
2. at $590 a mic, for a small diaphragm condenser, thats crazy value.
3. absolutely not

100 series are fabulous mics which really get lost in the noise of people comparing 84's to 184's. These are good mics. 50 capsule is a fave.
Old 15th October 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Cathedral Guitar's Avatar
For me, a better value might be found in the vintage AKG C451s. Not arguing it is a better mic, but with the vintage 451s you can get a pair for the same price of a single KM140. It has a more colored sound than the KM140, but I happen to like it a lot, particularly when paired with a TG2.
Old 15th October 2013
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
KM 140 came out in 1989 if I remember correctly. We bought them right off the bat and they are outstanding mics. Much better than the current KM184. The capsules that are available for the KM 100 series are all excellent. You see these mics in all kinds of excellent venues where acoustic music is paramount. They could use any mic and they choose KM 100 series.

Buy them today.
Old 16th October 2013
  #5
Gear Addict
Loving the positive feedback

I have never used a microphone like these, and am not the most DIY guy. Is it difficult to assemble or take apart these microphones and separate the capsules?

Also, has anyone else used them on anything other than acoustic guitar that can chime in? I wonder how they sound on group vocals if you get an omni cap..
Old 16th October 2013
  #6
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
KM 140 came out in 1989 if I remember correctly. We bought them right off the bat and they are outstanding mics. Much better than the current KM184. The capsules that are available for the KM 100 series are all excellent. You see these mics in all kinds of excellent venues where acoustic music is paramount. They could use any mic and they choose KM 100 series.

Buy them today.
In a studio situation, do you typically find the KM 140 to be your acoustic mic of choice? What do you typically reach for before them ? Are they more warm or hyped sounding if you had to describe them, just so I can get a feel if it is what I am looking for.

It seems the capsules are extremely expensive, so replacing them wouldn't really be ideal. If I am planning on just keeping the KM 140's as cardioid, is it still one of the better options out there or do you think that I can sacrifice flexibility and do better?

Thanks!!
Old 16th October 2013
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Kronos147's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathedral Guitar View Post
For me, a better value might be found in the vintage AKG C451s. Not arguing it is a better mic, but with the vintage 451s you can get a pair for the same price of a single KM140. It has a more colored sound than the KM140, but I happen to like it a lot, particularly when paired with a TG2.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeeyb View Post
In a studio situation, do you typically find the KM 140 to be your acoustic mic of choice? What do you typically reach for before them ? Are they more warm or hyped sounding if you had to describe them, just so I can get a feel if it is what I am looking for.
FWIW, I have three KM-140's, a pair of vintage 451e's with CK-1 and CK-2 caps, a pair of Beyer MC930's, and a pair of KM184's. A single SM-81, and an MXL600. To be honest, I have never heard a KM84 in person (and would love to).

I think I will eventually sell them all except the KM-140's and the 451's. The 451's, I would keep for sentimental reasons. Unlike Cathedral Guitar, I am not especially fond of these mics. Nothing wrong with them, but I still prefer the 140's.

To the OP.
Incredible deal - get them or let me and you can buy my 184's or 930's.

I LOVE these mics.

I should check out the 50 cap it sounds like.
Old 16th October 2013
  #8
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kronos147 View Post
FWIW, I have three KM-140's, a pair of vintage 451e's with CK-1 and CK-2 caps, a pair of Beyer MC930's, and a pair of KM184's. A single SM-81, and an MXL600. To be honest, I have never heard a KM84 in person (and would love to).

I think I will eventually sell them all except the KM-140's and the 451's. The 451's, I would keep for sentimental reasons. Unlike Cathedral Guitar, I am not especially fond of these mics. Nothing wrong with them, but I still prefer the 140's.

To the OP.
Incredible deal - get them or let me and you can buy my 184's or 930's.

I LOVE these mics.

I should check out the 50 cap it sounds like.
You just made me very happy! Right before you posted, I said screw it and purchased it lol. NOW I need to ask you a huge favor. I know it is hard to tell online, but I have never actually purchased a vintage microphone before. Does everything seem to be in order here? This is where I purchased it, and I just want to make sure there are no red flags that someone more experienced might see. Should I hear how they sound, and then maybe send them in for a tune-up? Thank you so much!!!

KM 140 vs Modern MicsNeumann KM140 Matched Pair SDC Small Diaphragm Condensers | eBay
Old 16th October 2013
  #9
Gear Addict
Also, are these going to be ready to go right out of the box? I saw that I may need a "LC 3 KA 10 m microphone cable" to connect the capsule to the output stages. Is that true? I do not want to have to buy anything other than the microphones, plug them into my Great River via XLR and have them work. Is there an entire process to this?
Old 16th October 2013
  #10
Gear Addict
 
AwTAC's Avatar
 

you are certainly not going to learn about a mic's serviceability by looking at a photo like that, however all the parts are there. The cable you mention goes between the capsule and the body allowing for the capsule to be hidden without the body attached. Makes for a smaller thing on screen for a podium mic for instance. The capsule just screws on and off the body, nothing technical about it, just be careful with the threads as its an oddly fine pitch. You simply mount the cap on the body as pictured and plug an xlr in.

I had a bunch of 84's at one point in time. When the price on those mics went up, I sold them all, still have five 100 mics. Easiest decision I ever made in my life. 84's are cool, but for a variety of factors can sound very tubby when they go out of spec which isnt particularly useful for me. 100 amps are rock solid sounding and tight, but with all the neumann softness youd ever want, you'll see. Its pretty much one of the best mics they ever made and is always overlook and dwarfed in the shadow of the 84 vs 184 discussion. Everyone that has 100's is likely laughing when they read those.

I think you'll discover those mics to be quite amazing if they arent broken which considering how hard I beat two of mine on film sets for a decade, is doubtful. It is a well made microphone and when you get a good one, nothing sounds quite like it.
Old 16th October 2013
  #11
Gear Addict
 
AwTAC's Avatar
 

If you dig through this clip, you can hear a 150 compared to some other common mics.

A small pile of Microphones and an hour of free time in August - AwTAC

the 40 capsule is great but Im not a cardioid guy so much when I have the choice. the 50 cap is a thing of beauty in every way. The figure 8 is also a stand out.
Old 16th October 2013
  #12
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by AwTAC View Post
If you dig through this clip, you can hear a 150 compared to some other common mics.

A small pile of Microphones and an hour of free time in August - AwTAC

the 40 capsule is great but Im not a cardioid guy so much when I have the choice. the 50 cap is a thing of beauty in every way. The figure 8 is also a stand out.
Perfect, thank you again for all the help. I'll be sure to post back some clips once I get them, to see how they stand compared to other 100's ! I hope the 140 can hold its own against the 150, cus those capsules are too expensive to buy again lol

PS: The 150 KILLS it in that test! Sounds really awesome
Old 16th October 2013
  #13
Gear Addict
 
AwTAC's Avatar
 

you have the same amp and the 40 and 50 could possibly be using the same capsule, just a matter of polarization voltage, never really looked into it closely. anyway, the 40 is the card, the 50 the hyper, its not a question of holding its own, think of it more as turning the knob on the pattern selector... It's a fine mic, you should be psyched. Infinitely better than so much of the stuff that seems to get people excited around here. No nonsense, top quality microphone. Those were not particularly cheap when they were new (as you see with the price of capsules).
Old 16th October 2013
  #14
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeeyb View Post
..... I have never actually purchased a vintage microphone before.
The KM140 is *not* a "vintage mic." - it is still a current product.
Old 16th October 2013
  #15
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
The KM140 is *not* a "vintage mic." - it is still a current product.
I guess I should have used the word *old*. I've never purchased a mic from the 80's so I was unsure if there was anything to watch out for.

That being said..anyone ever hear a 1980s KM 100 system vs a 2013 KM 100 system? Any noticeable differences? I am still trying to figure out if this thing sounds exactly like the km184 as Neumann says, or if they really are closer to the KM84. If anything, the electronics would have been closer between the 84 and 140 due to the age..
Old 16th October 2013
  #16
Gear Addict
 
AwTAC's Avatar
 

your bodies with a red badge are more than likely from the 90's.

If the new mics are surface mount, there will surely be a difference. Your through hole mic will be more like an 84. But honestly, why are you at all concerned with how close it sounds to an 84 or a 184? A 140 imo is somewhat of an upgrade from an 84.
Old 16th October 2013
  #17
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by AwTAC View Post
your bodies with a red badge are more than likely from the 90's.

If the new mics are surface mount, there will surely be a difference. Your through hole mic will be more like an 84. But honestly, why are you at all concerned with how close it sounds to an 84 or a 184? A 140 imo is somewhat of an upgrade from an 84.
I guess because I've avoided buying a 184 for a long time (due to all the gearslutz hate on it) I try to take everything I read here with a grain of salt, but the 184 has been badgered for years so I have always been weary of it. Especially how its upper range has been described as harsh or troublesome when recording brighter ac guitars.

That being said, I am ultra excited for the 140's!
Old 16th October 2013
  #18
Gear Addict
 
AwTAC's Avatar
 

If you can't make a good recording with a KM184 it is beyond flawed thinking that all of a sudden you'll be able to make a good recording with an 84 in its place. 184 is surely not the mic that an 84 is but speaking of through hole versions of these, they are close enough that alot of what you are reading is really far under the microscope. If you arent making a good recording with a 184, its not the mic's fault. There are better mics for sure, but its far from terrible sounding. Given the choice between the three, Im picking 100 bodies ten times out of nine. If the mics you get are in good shape and you dont like them my logical advice is that your upgrade in a small diaphragm is to a schoepps. An 84 (which are all hit or miss depending on condition) is a lateral move at best. You'll have to decide for yourself, but the fact that people dont talk about those mics shouldnt influence your view about them. Realize the reason they were never so popular is because they were so expensive and introduced in a time where a used 84 was a good value alternative to the guy that wanted a 140, then the 184 was available, so the entire 100 series really spoke to a professional market whose needs were served by the capsule selection and the "remote-ability" of the capsule to the head amp. See Plush's comments in post #4. I routinely used 150's for dialogue recording on jobs that literally had sky is the limit budgets and never once ever had a complaint. These mics were designed to in every way compete with the schoepps cmc series and while they dont sound at all alike, neumann was not screwing around or cheaping out in any way when they initially introduced this mic to compete with the almost paradigm status that schoepps had with the cmc in some professional circles, namely broadcast.
Old 16th October 2013
  #19
Gear Addict
Yeah, wow I never really thought of it like that. I guess it's not so odd that they have stayed under the radar!

Thank you again for all the reassurance. I now completely understand the little difference it has, and cannot wait to get the mics !
Old 16th October 2013
  #20
Lives for gear
 
jnorman's Avatar
here is a shootout of the KM140 vs KM184. listen for yourself.
KM184 vs KM140
Old 17th October 2013
  #21
Lives for gear
 

I have a pair of KM140's, serial numbers 631-632, that I bought new in the early 90's. Along with my pile of AKG 460B's, these are still my go-to SDC's. Great on acoustic guitar (especially aggressive strumming), percussion, overheads, and I have used them on group vocals. I've had the opportunity to use a number of KM184's in other studios, and always felt they were kinda ugly sounding by comparison, but I've never used them side-by-side so I assumed it was either just not the right choice for the situation, or maybe my imagination. Interesting to hear there may be some validation in the perceived difference.
Old 17th October 2013
  #22
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post
I have a pair of KM140's, serial numbers 631-632, that I bought new in the early 90's. Along with my pile of AKG 460B's, these are still my go-to SDC's. Great on acoustic guitar (especially aggressive strumming), percussion, overheads, and I have used them on group vocals. I've had the opportunity to use a number of KM184's in other studios, and always felt they were kinda ugly sounding by comparison, but I've never used them side-by-side so I assumed it was either just not the right choice for the situation, or maybe my imagination. Interesting to hear there may be some validation in the perceived difference.
Hey Sean, great to hear. It's always nice to get some different feedback when you are making a big purchase. Interesting though, about your serial numbers being 631-632... The guy selling them on Ebay claims he bought his in the 80s, (late 80's im assuming) but the serial numbers are 17023-17024. Wouldn't that be much later than when you got yours since the number is so much higher? Odd..
Old 17th October 2013
  #23
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
here is a shootout of the KM140 vs KM184. listen for yourself.
KM184 vs KM140
I actually listened to that a bunch of times! Great shootout. What I am REALLY interested in, is a shootout between the 84's and the 140's. Just for curiosities sake
Old 17th October 2013
  #24
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeeyb View Post
Hey Sean, great to hear. It's always nice to get some different feedback when you are making a big purchase. Interesting though, about your serial numbers being 631-632... The guy selling them on Ebay claims he bought his in the 80s, (late 80's im assuming) but the serial numbers are 17023-17024. Wouldn't that be much later than when you got yours since the number is so much higher? Odd..
Hmm, hard to say. There are a bunch of other code numbers on the boxes, but these serial numbers are on both the boxes and the mics. Maybe your mics are actually numbers 23 and 24?
Old 17th October 2013
  #25
Lives for gear
 
jnorman's Avatar
mike - here is a shootout of the KM84 vs KM184.
Neumann KM 84 / KM 184 SHOOTOUT!!!
Old 18th October 2013
  #26
Gear Addict
Great! Believe it or not, I actually wish the G was the 184 because i liked it better. Now i just need to find someone with an 84 and a 100 series to tell me their thoughts!

So last question for everyone. From that Ebay link I posted, how does the condition of the mics look? To me, there seems to be some scratches but is that a cause for concern? What about those chips in the mic near the capsule? I am going to test them first, but would shipping them off to be tuned up be a good option or is that just a waste. Should i take off the capsule and clean it?
Old 18th October 2013
  #27
Gear Addict
 

I'm very happy with my 140's. They've given me my best bowed double bass sound out of lots of classic mic choices. They live up to their reputation for acoustic guitar too.
Old 18th October 2013
  #28
Lives for gear
 
didier.brest's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeeyb View Post
3) Are they similair to the KM 184's that I should just spend less and get a pair of those?

Information from Neumann forum: The 184 specifications are a bit better because of a more recent electronic design. The KM 140 and the KM 184 capsules have the same acoustic. But the AK 40 capsule of the KM 140 has electronic inside (active capsule) unlike the K 40 capsule of the KM 184. Both capsule are screwed on the microphone body but the KM 184 works only with the K 40 capsule (especially it does not work properly with the capsules of the KM 183 and the KM 185 while the capsules can be exchanged between both these latter mics).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Schneider on Neumann forum
In similar applications, I'd use all of these mics:

KM64 [tube]
KM74 [A-B power]
KM84 [P48, transformer]
KM140 [P48, modular, transformerless]
KM184 [P48, transformerless]
all hold the same capsule construction.

All mic electronics were designed, at their time, to be as staightforward linear as possible. [KM64, 74, 84 has a slightly lower output.] With KM64, KM74 & KM84 you might find limitations in handling high SPLs. Slight overload can sometimes be found pleasing, sometimes not.
KM140 & KM184, with their lower noise floor, are definitely preferable for low SPLs.

The capsules can have a maximum tolerance of +/- 2dB in the low end [that's where cardioids are most probable to differ, in production]. In the high end, we'd be talking of typically only 0.5....1dB differences... Most findings on "brightness" etc. should be traceable to differences in the low-end frequency response.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Schneider on Neumann forum
As the optics tell you already, KM140 + KM184 are acoustically identical. The KM184 circuit is the more modern one, and thus differs in some aspects [e.g. even less noise].
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Satz on Neumann forum
The KM 84 was part of a small series of modular fet 80 microphones with interchangeable capsules and amplifiers--the KM 83 omni, KM 84 cardioid and KM 85 speech cardioid. The present-day counterpart is the KM 100 series, which includes the KM 130 omni, KM 140 cardioid, and KM 145 speech cardioid among several other models.

The KM 184, in turn, is a non-modular version of the KM 140, trading the versatility of the modular approach for somewhat lower cost. Since the KM 180-series circuitry was updated, some of its performance specifications are actually a little better than those of the KM 100 series.

The direct comparison works out like this: The circuitry of the KM 184 is improved in all repects--greater sensitivity, lower noise, considerably improved ability to handle high sound pressure levels without overload. However, the circuit also requires more operating current, so it won't work properly with some (mostly older) phantom power supplies even if they're 48 Volt.

The capsule, internally, is the same "linear admittance cardioid" design that Neumann has been using for over 40 years. But the way the rear inlet of the capsule head has been arranged in the KM 140 and KM 184 causes a slight additional response elevation around 9 - 10 kHz. This makes the KM 140 and KM 184 sonically distinct from earlier models. People who have used both types tend to have a preference for one or the other; the difference isn't enormous but they clearly aren't the same, either.
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Satz on Neumann forum
Neumann's "100" model numbers refer to microphones with transformerless output circuitry, beginning with the TLM 170 in 1983 and continuing through the KM 100 series, the KM 180 series, the TLM 103 and the M 147/149/150 Tube microphones among others. But simply knowing that a microphone has a transformerless output circuit doesn't tell you anything about its sonic characteristics. No one can listen to a set of different recordings and pick out which ones were made with transformerless microphones, for example.
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Satz on Neumann forum
For one thing, the capsules in the KM 180 series (I don't mean the capsule heads or active capsule assemblies--I mean the capsules themselves) are the very same ones as used in the corresponding models of the KM 100 series (KM 183 <-> KM 130, KM 184 <-> KM 140, KM 185 <-> KM 150). There's no "presence peak" versus "flat" difference between the two series, nor any other difference in the acoustical properties of the capsules. They're the same capsules, period.

What might have someone confused is that the KM 140 and KM 184 have a ca. 2 dB greater elevation at 10 kHz (though that's far above the "presence" region, and even above what many people would consider the "brightness" region) than the classic, discontinued model KM 84. And there certainly are differences of opinion about that extra boost. Personally I happen not to prefer the slight high-frequency elevation which all the small Neumann directional capsules have nowadays. But I can respect the fact that many people prefer it--while other people probably don't even notice it as such. It's just a small accentuation.

--If you don't need the special accessories of the KM 100 series--the ones based on the detachable capsules with self-contained electronics--then the electronics of the KM 180 series are a bit more advanced nowadays than those of the KM 100 series. The KM 180 amplifier circuit was revised a few years ago for about 3 dB lower self-noise, with no other side effects apart from a small increase in current consumption. So you actually get a 3 dB better signal-to-noise ratio with the less expensive microphones, if you're lucky enough to record in quiet enough surroundings.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Schneider on Neumann forum
the KM185 and KM183 capsules could be interchanged. The KM184 housing needs to be different due to acoustical reasons [rear port entry deflector as part of the housing], and the hypercardioid capsule will not really fit properly onto that housing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Schneider answering on Neumann forum about the consistency of the production of the KK 84, the capsule of the discontinued KM 84
yes, KK84 are consistent, as they have never been OUT of production. As there are so many KM84s around, the KK84 was always a standard replacement capsule. And, as you might know, the inner parts are identical to KM140 and KM184 capsules. The only difference is in the housings, with the rear entry ports.

As to "fuller" bass: with small diaphragm cardioids, it's always one aim to make a bass response as extended as possible. With the increased consistency over the decades, it might be that current KK84 have on average "more bass" than 40 year old ones. But, we're talking about 1...2 dB here.

The KM84 was a nice design. But with e.g. 117 dB SPL maximum, the circuit does not fit all of today's applications anymore, like close miking drums and trumpet. And, compared to KM184, it is noisy.
Note that there is also the new KM D and KM A modular ranges, including the KM 184 D (digital) and KM 184 A (analog). According to the Sound on Sound review of the KM 184 D, it sounds the same like the KM 184 plugged on a GML preamp and a Benchmark AD converter.
Old 18th October 2013
  #29
Gear Addict
Thanks for all the information. Always fun getting into the nitty gritty.

If any other owners of the 84, 140, 184 want to comment on their experience please do !
Old 20th October 2013
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Rumi's Avatar
Ah, now I can stop thinking about writing the seller again to tell him that I will buy the mics in spite of my initial hesitation.

All the best with your new microphones!
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump