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Can get a AKG c414 b-uls or a TLM 103 for about the same cost - help me decide.
Old 21st April 2020
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Can get a AKG c414 b-uls or a TLM 103 for about the same cost - help me decide.

Normally, I would take my apollo twin to a shop and test side by side ...

I have a SM7B, Fathead Ribbon, SM57 and Senn e935 that I have used for various live settings and home use but I am looking for something that will round out my collection and give me some better options for warm sound in the room recording of vocals, guitar (Both acoustic and electric)

I have an opportunity to get the TLM 103 for about the same price as a c414 b-uls. I can also get a C414 xlii for about $200 less.

I have a lower voice though I can get up there when needed. I play a silverface vibrochamp in the home studio as well as acoustics (more martin sounding).

I've read the threads and hear so many differing opinions on this.

Let me know what you think.

I am leaning towards the TLM 103 as maybe I can resell for probably more and have enough for the C414 if I didn't like it.
Old 21st April 2020
  #2
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To help us answer:

What are you priorities? Vocals, electric, acoustic, in that order?

What do you feel is most lacking with your current selection of mics?
Old 21st April 2020
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Thanks for the kind reply

I feel like I get really focused sound from the current microphones and I am looking for a more clear open (yet with some warmth still) sound that matches more of what I hear in the room.

Additionally, none of the mics I have now can really be used to record me singing and playing at the same time in the way I would like.

Probably horrible answer and I should know probably a lot more about recording before spending money on either of these mics.

I appreciate the input.
Old 21st April 2020
  #4
Lower voice and acc/el guitar recording here as well - absolutely adored my AKG 414 B-ULS... recorded everything with it for years before it sadly passed away... never even thought of trying other mics... like a big mama hug... TLM 103 felt more like a punch in the face to me but of course your mileage may vary -
Old 21st April 2020
  #5
Ps, if the XLL... is the new 414 model... for what it's worth (as i only tried it at a shop) - it sounded very plastic to me, no organic mojo warmth as the B-ULS.
Old 21st April 2020 | Show parent
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Thanks, it's the B-ULS model. Thanks - planning to move forward on the B-uls. THat being said, I may end up getting an amazing trade deal on the TLM 103. If I do, I will do some side by sides.
Old 21st April 2020 | Show parent
  #7
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jdier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by wherearemykeys View Post
Thanks, it's the B-ULS model. Thanks - planning to move forward on the B-uls. THat being said, I may end up getting an amazing trade deal on the TLM 103. If I do, I will do some side by sides.
Sounds like you made up your mind. I do not have the 103, but I do have the B-ULS and for the applications you are describing, I think you will like it quite a bit. It is a very flexible mic.
Old 21st April 2020
  #8
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tedtan's Avatar
 

The 414 BULS will be warmer, the 103 will be brighter.
Old 22nd April 2020
  #9
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foldback's Avatar
The 414B-ULS is much more versatile than the cardioid-only 103.

The 414B-ULS is a very neutral, flat response microphone. Check out the original factory manual and look at the frequency response plot, it's an almost straight line.

The 103 is very bright, I could never use it for vocals, I tried to like it because friends I respect use it but it hurt my ears. The U-87ai was similar in that respect, bright in the highs.

I own four of the 414B-ULS, I use them regularly for acoustic guitar and drum overheads. They also make fantastic tom-mics in a drum setup.

I'm not a fan of the newer 414 models. They're overly bright sounding to me and I don't care for the electronic pattern switching. The small precision switches on my old 414's are still working fine since around 1993-94 when I acquired my first pair of 414B-ULS new.

Good luck and good music to you!
Old 22nd April 2020 | Show parent
  #10
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check out austrian audio' oc-818 if you're into any 414-ish mic: imo the best 414 akg never did!

and for recording vocals, flat mic response isn't necessarily what you want...
Old 22nd April 2020
  #11
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I'd personally go with the 414. I own a 103 and versatile is not a word I'd give to it It actually has a surprising low end (I have several friends with acoustic basses who use one) but I find the mids hard to describe. Smeary, maybe. The combination of what it gives in lows mids and highs doesn't add up to a sound I find especially pleasing. What it DOES do well is because it's extremely quiet while also having a nice high output, it's good for low db sources. But for me, the character of a mic, and whether or not it makes me smile with mojo, is more important than anything else, and for whatever reason I do not have a love or like affair with the 103. It's not that it's too bright, because that can be dealt with and/or use for sources that call for brightening, but my experience is that it doesn't take eq all that well. Unlike an 87, which I find when it's a little bright eq usually takes care of it.

414's are more versatile, and I've usually had great luck with them. I would say that if I A/B'd the two on sources I generally use them for (vocals, percussion, acoustic guit) which I've not done, I'd no doubt prefer the 414 every time. 414's make great room mics, drum overhead, and lots more, and I've tried the 103 on those and didn't like it.

All of this is purely subjective taste. No legitimate audio science was ever harmed forming those conclusions.

Last edited by rboy; 24th April 2020 at 03:26 AM..
Old 23rd April 2020
  #12
Gear Addict
 
ABBA's Avatar
I've had many Neumanns, had a pair of TLM 103 long time ago. I only have a Neumann U87ai now
and 4 AKG 414 B-uls. I can borrow 6 more B-uls and TL2 from a friend close by, otherwise
I'd buy even more of them.
AKG B-uls are GREAT!
Old 23rd April 2020
  #13
Here for the gear
 

Picked up the AKG c414 b-uls and its everything I had hoped. This mic sounds amazing. I still have to test out the different preamps in my Apollo - so far only used Manley Vox and 610-b, but so far it's great.

Will start searching the threads for best practices using it (preamps, placements, patterns) for different usage but so far it's a real winner.

Thanks everyone who chimed in.

I can pick up the Neumann for $700 so might do it just to try as I can probably move it on for as much or slightly more.

Cheers!
Old 27th April 2020
  #14
Eh, I wouldn't bother with the TLM103. IMO it's a mic you pick up when a client insists on the Neumann name (or so you have something with the Neumann name just in case). I'm pretty sure that's half the reason it's used so much for voiceover, even though the AT4050 and C414 XLS would do just as well and be much more versatile.
Old 28th April 2020
  #15
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xenozeno's Avatar
I have the B-ULS, it's neutral without sounding tasteless, which makes it work for many things.
Old 28th April 2020
  #16
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 

The TLM103 is amazingly quiet. Much quieter than any other similar microphone. Probably much quieter than you would ever care about, but if you ARE recording very quiet sources it's a win.

The 414 B/ULS is very forward sounding without sounding exaggerated. It can be converted into a 414/TL with minimal work and I think that helps the bottom end out.

Neither one are bad microphones to have at all.
--scott
Old 1st May 2020 | Show parent
  #17
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jdier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by wherearemykeys View Post
I can pick up the Neumann for $700 so might do it just to try as I can probably move it on for as much or slightly more.
Glad you are liking the 414... love mine!

With an extra $700-800 I would be inclined to pick up a Soundelux/Bock U195 for a cardioid only LDC.
Old 3rd May 2020
  #18
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+1 on the U195 fan club. I was going to make an offer, to buy my Buddy's 414 B-ULS. But that "got delayed", because I won a U195 in a raffle.
(made up for the $1000 I spent on car smogging right before that)

By the time I was "ready again"... He has given it as a gift to his (successful in VO BTW) young adult daughter. Very nice thing to do.
It must have helped, she's buying a larger house now!
Chris
Old 3rd May 2020 | Show parent
  #19
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dohreetoh View Post
I'm pretty sure that's half the reason [the 103 is] used so much for voiceover...
Very conservative estimate, I think.
Old 10th May 2020
  #20
Gear Addict
My vote for the 414.
Old 10th May 2020
  #21
Lives for gear
Get a pair of Advanced Audio CM414. Better mic than what AKG offers today. Less cost, sounds better.

I have had a pair of 103 and 414 TLII. Did not like either set that much. Tubes and ribbons are a huge step outwards.
Old 11th May 2020
  #22
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Good advice. The B-ULS though, is been becoming a collectible, and mostly likely will continue to appreciate.
Chris
Old 31st July 2020
  #23
Here for the gear
 

I started with a tlm103 but then I did a mic shootout with 12 mics. The U87 and the 414 B ULS were hands down the best. I would call it a cross between a 103 and an MKH 416. Not as bright as the 103, and not as deep as the 416. I mean, I love the 416 and go to it all the time, but I really prefer the AKG.
Old 7th August 2020 | Show parent
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum View Post
Get a pair of Advanced Audio CM414. Better mic than what AKG offers today. Less cost, sounds better.

I have had a pair of 103 and 414 TLII. Did not like either set that much. Tubes and ribbons are a huge step outwards.
I'd say just get a pair of CAD M179s instead. I find they sound every bit as good as mics using the RK-12 capsule. Actually a bit better IMO, more in line with the AKG sound, though they are transformerless, but they have all the patterns of a C414. I like my M179s as much as my AT4050 so far, though I haven't tested too many voices and sources. But the M179 is IMO a $200 mic that sounds like it could cost $500+ easily.

For the flatter nylon C414 sound, I think the sE T2 is a good bet. About $350 used.
Old 9th August 2020 | Show parent
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by wherearemykeys View Post
Picked up the AKG c414 b-uls and its everything I had hoped.
That's the move! TLM103 would have been a bust, in comparison. I have one, and I get some use from it, but versatile is probably the last word that comes to mind in reference to the 103.
Old 9th August 2020
  #26
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The 414 B-ULS is a very a cool mic.
IMHO they'll keep going up in $$ value too.
Chris
Old 11th August 2020
  #27
Gear Addict
 

Glad you're enjoying your 414. I personally never found much to like about the 103.

In fact, I find the TLM 102 to be a much more useful mic than the 103 (blasphemous?) On the new market, a pair of 102's is the same price as one 103. Two Neumann badges for the price of one.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #28
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
Good advice. The B-ULS though, is been becoming a collectible, and mostly likely will continue to appreciate.
Chris
When I was doing quite a bit of studio work in NYC in the early 90’s I decided to buy one mic for around $1000. At every studio it was unanimous. Get an AKG 414 B-ULS. I even had a couple producers tell me something different and when I mentioned the 414 they laughed and said oh **** right the 414 is so perfect and ubiquitous I forgot about it. It was funny watching engineers argue as I went in to the session and then both tell me the 414 hands down as I broke down to leave.
I use a number of different mics now for different things but the 414 stays near by at all times.

I want to ad that the AKG is not a particularly “warm” sounding mic. It is a truly great mic though. In the world of great vocal mics that have a sound of there own you may need to spend quite a bit more money. I would start with the AKG and over time learn what works for you and get another epic mic that is perfect for your needs later on. Or do what I do and buy stuff that I can’t afford using the no interest VK credit card. Kick financial disaster down the road .

Last edited by Bobhoffnar; 2 weeks ago at 07:19 PM.. Reason: Adding stuff
Old 2 weeks ago
  #29
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the 103 has lower self noise. the 414 is multi pattern. 414s are good for drum overheads. i find the 414 hit/miss with vocals. with me it is an epic miss. every modern 414 simply does not work at all on my voice... bright, aggressive, terrible tone. other vocalists sound fine on it.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #30
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 

This may not help you but... the 414B/ULS is going to be increasing in price as it ages. The TLM103 will stay in production for a good while and the value will probably stay constant. So from an investment perspective, you will likely do better with the 414B;/ULS.
--scott
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