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CAT5 14th September 2011 10:59 PM

Old tlm 103 vs new tlm 103
First ; I post this in high end as I think the members here now mikes way better than the 103 as well, and can probably judge this better than some guys in other GS sections that own a bunch of chinese crap Mikes and nothing else ... (don't want to offend anybody though)

Has anybody else noticed that older 103's look and sound very different from the new onces? I bought 2 when they where just on the market. I recently had them side by side with 2 new onces. The older once are a couple off mm's longer and slightly wider. The mesh protecting the capsule is different (new onces have much 'finer' mesh). And even the capsules look slightly different.

I have read a lot of bad stuff about 103's. Mostly about it being harsh sounding. I never understood why. My 103's are on the bright side but certainly not harsh. Now I heard the new onces and I understand the critisism.

Does anybody know if Neumann changed factories, capsule, electronics...??? I can post some examples if somebody wants to hear for themselves.

XHipHop 14th September 2011 11:24 PM

post pics!

Karloff70 14th September 2011 11:25 PM

Brilliant! Now it'll be 90's 103's like 70's U87' classic. How can this not have been noticed before?? Let the battles begin.....hehhehhehfreshflowe

Chris Lago 14th September 2011 11:30 PM

Wow this is incredible, you seem quite serious about it too. Can you post some pics and samples?

CAT5 15th September 2011 04:23 PM

I am serious. I'll have one of the new 103's again this weekend to make some pic's. Audio examples before that :-)

CAT5 15th September 2011 04:24 PM

@karloff; lol; I Just sold my 70's U87 this week to fund the purchase off a Sontronics Apollo. Never really used the 87...

Strange Leaf 15th September 2011 04:29 PM

I totally agree with the OP, but I was under the assumption that this was a known fact. To me it seemed pretty obvious. I too had a 103 from when they first came out and never experienced anything harsch what so ever, just a wide open top end. In the end I sold it and now rely on my Lawson MP47 as main vocal mic, but have nothing bad at all to say about the 103 I owned. It was also very nice in the bass/low midrange, like in front of bass amps.

tchibo 15th September 2011 04:42 PM

According to Neumann forum, they changed the TLM 103 at least once at the end of 2006. The newer ones have two dip switches if you remove the little screw at the side of the XLR connector and pull it out a few millimeters.

One of the switches gives you -14db PAD (so the noise is increased by 14 db for silent signals - makes only sense for very loud signals or if your preamp cannot cope with the high output of the mic), the other one is labeled 'Low cut' but is without function.

All Aspects of Neumann Products - Re: TLM 103: Internal PAD and LOW-CUT via dip-switch?

legato 15th September 2011 05:18 PM

I have here an early TLM103 and a U67 and they have the exact same headbasket/grill. The size, shape, mesh and coating are identical (which BTW is quite an achievement or sign of consistency when you realize they were made at least three decades apart).


Tomas Miller 15th September 2011 05:26 PM

Now I've got to go check out which 103 I have. I too have never had any complaints about the mic. It has even beat out my U87 on a few occasions for specific singers.

CAT5 15th September 2011 11:42 PM

@Tomas; that's what I found as well. I often liked the 103 better than the 87. Good to see that more people have the same thought about this, and even better that there have indeed been changes. Although I think Neumann should better not have done this... :-)

Sqye 15th September 2011 11:45 PM


OK, the title of this thread is making me feel OLD. heh


TobyToby 16th September 2011 02:40 AM

This is a quote from Martin Schneider from Neumann, Mic. Development. He stated it in the PSW Recording Forum.
See: PSW Recording Forums: Klaus Heyne's Mic Lab => TLM 103: Can It Be Improved?


Hello again,

the TLM103 capsule was designed as it still is nowadays, and it has never changed. The capsule design is a modification of the U87 capsule. It has an average rise of 2...3 dB in the treble between 5kHz and 15kHz (in the lower tolerance range of the published specs). It's one of the mics with the smallest actual tolerances in production, so they all sound the same.

Two notes:
- you could also have asked us directly, on the Neumann forum, and got a faster answer.
- Mic models do differ, for different applications. If you don't like the TLM103, and prefer mic XYZ.... well, just take mic XYZ.

Best regards,
Martin Schneider / Neumann Mic. Development


Hi CAT5,
There are probably some people here who are a curious about the differencs between the 1998 TLM-103 version and the latest one.
We bought one in 1998 (it got lost over the time) and it was good for our young 'Mackie 24/8, Audiowerk' spoiled ears in these days. I've just bought the latest version but I can't remember if it sounds equal to the one we once had (our female singers from the 90's have past the thirty mark and are retired now ;) It would be quiet interesting if you find the time to compare old vs new in a recording.

legato 16th September 2011 12:05 PM

Just to make sure, the new ones you saw couldn't have been TLM102s by accident?
The difference in size is more than a couple of millimeters, but I thought I'd ask anyway so we can rule that possibility out.


CAT5 16th September 2011 01:29 PM

No, It's 4 103's without a doubt. I have been on the neumann forum for years, but have not visited it for some time now. I know Martin Schneider and have nothing but respect for him. However.... My eyes did not deceive me. Nor did my ears. I had better than 1 on 1 comparison (2 on 2 :facepalm:) and came to this conclusion.

bit busy right now but I'll post examples soon!

CAT5 16th September 2011 01:31 PM

PS: I should have made the photo's when I noticed. Just didn't think of it.
I'll have one of them back over the weekend and make pictures from all sides.

legato 16th September 2011 01:36 PM

Yeah, I knew it was a long shot. Just wanted to make sure.

Do keep us posted.


TobyToby 22nd September 2011 11:46 AM


Originally Posted by CAT5 (Post 7037518)
PS: I should have made the photo's when I noticed. Just didn't think of it.
I'll have one of them back over the weekend and make pictures from all sides.

Hi KAT5 which weekend do you mean then gooof

JRE Productions 22nd September 2011 02:50 PM

I found this to be true to. In fact in the book Behind the Glass, Al Schmidt talks about how amazing the TLM103 sounds. That book has to be from the late 90's if I recall. I was reading thru a few passages of it this week and saw that comment. I had a black/grey 103 that sounded beautiful. I sold/traded it because I thought there was something better for the $500 I paid for it. Wish I had that one back.


warhead 22nd September 2011 04:56 PM

My tech who runs a full time recording studio and has had the original TLM103 since the late 90's thinks that at the time of its release it was considered quite bright compared to the handful of mics available then.

With all the bright condensers on the market today, it seems the TLM103 is quite natural in sound relevant to other modern offerings.

Maybe a lot of the old writings about it just don't make sense in 2011 and beyond.

I gotta say, it's actually one of the smoother mics in our Clipalator too, by comparison to many others.

The TLM102, which has been received very well, is not called bright or harsh compared to the current market. It does not sound worlds apart from the 103.

War yingyang

legato 3rd October 2011 08:57 PM

Any pictures yet?


CAT5 23rd October 2011 10:51 AM

OK guys... Sorry, but it is this weekend! Finally!!!!
I am making recordings as we speak. Some 12 string gtr, some vocal etc...

Ward Pike 23rd October 2011 05:08 PM


Originally Posted by CAT5 (Post 7157029)
OK guys... Sorry, but it is this weekend! Finally!!!!
I am making recordings as we speak. Some 12 string gtr, some vocal etc...

This has raised my curiosity also. In addition to comparative pictures, would also be kind enough to provide comparative audio samples also?

Perhaps this will end my personal dislike of the 103 and show me a 103 I can actually not intensely dislike. (oddly enough, I love the 102)

Many thanks in advance,


John Willett 23rd October 2011 05:57 PM


Originally Posted by Ward Pike (Post 7157721)
(oddly enough, I love the 102)

That's because the 102 is a very different mic. from the 103

legato 23rd October 2011 06:59 PM


OK guys... Sorry, but it is this weekend! Finally!!!!
I am making recordings as we speak. Some 12 string gtr, some vocal etc...

Don't forget the pictures.


Ward Pike 23rd October 2011 10:11 PM

@John Willett.


CAT5 19th November 2011 09:37 PM

Here goes (finally!) the left 103 is over 10 years old and has a serial in 6000. The other is just a few years old and has serial over 44000.
It is not to hard to see that the right one is a few millimeters larger. The left one is a little wider. Also the mesh in the older one is much more open. the ring on the bottom is different as well. As this is not my own 103 I did not open it...
Now, these differences are minor, I know, but the audible differences are much bigger (will follow as examples)

CAT5 19th November 2011 09:39 PM

3 Attachment(s)
and the photo's

Ryan Gregory 20th November 2011 04:32 AM

I actually never heard the 103 until about 2007, but I never noticed it being harsh at all, I thought it had some pretty good midrange presence. (it was definitely one of the newer ones)

paul999 20th November 2011 04:55 AM


Originally Posted by CAT5 (Post 7248452)
and the photo's

I can't see the difference in height or in the mesh but the one on the left looks wider.