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TLM193 Condenser Microphones
Old 29th March 2003
  #1
Bernard 
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Talking TLM193

I've got a chance to get a good deal on neumann tlm 193. I'll get to test drive it this weekend but I'd like some feedback from any users. Thanks.

Old 29th March 2003
  #2
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
Prior to serial #5825 they were perhaps one of the 5 worst sounding LDCs I'd ever tried... at serial #5825 they made a change to the amplifer... now it just sucks.

A remarkably lifeless sounding piece of dung...
Old 29th March 2003
  #3
Rab
KMR Audio
 
Rab's Avatar
 

Ditto. I don't think there could ever be such a thing as "a good deal" on a TLM193. Don't be seduced by the Neumann badge and simply walk away.
Old 30th March 2003
  #4
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Wayne Butler's Avatar
I had one and was able to trade through Chic in Atlanta for a Trakker. I could never get the TLM193 to sound better than the other mics I have, so it never made it thru tracking. It is really neutral sounding in that it doesn't seem to enhance what you're recording. If you want to record WYSIWYG then get a TLM193. No air on top and low mids just aren't there.

The only other Neumann I have is a TLM103 and I do use it some along with my AKG 414TLII's, AT4050's, AT4047. MXL67, MXL63's, and a GT62. As you can tell I don 't have a deep, expensive locker.


Wayne
Old 30th March 2003
  #5
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littledog's Avatar
 

About 10 years ago I bought one as my first "good" condenser mic, back when the only choices for "cheap" (under $1300) large diaphragms were the TLM 193, one of the AKG414's, and a couple of things from CAD. Needless to say, my cabinet has expanded quite a bit since then.

Everybody disses it, but I still own it and use it from time to time. It doesn't have much character, and no pads or filters, and i wouldn't use it on a lead vocal, but a neutral mic can be useful on a nice sounding acoustic guitar, upright bass, or some other instruments.

That being said, there's so many more choices out there for a whole lot less money these days. If someone was selling it for a couple of hundred, I'd probably buy it in a heartbeat. But once you start getting up in the $400-$600 or higher range, there seems to be a lot more attractive alternatives.

But unlike some others, I wouldn't kick it out of my way if I found one in the street. Actually, my fantasy is to send it to Stephen Paul someday...
Old 30th March 2003
  #6
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malice's Avatar
 

I agree with you littledog, It is not a great mic, it has not great character, but it can be handy if you provide it a good preamp.
Sometimes, I used it with a good pre on vocals, when I had sibilance problems.
It won't be my first shot at all now, but I agree it can be nice on acoustic gtr.
It has a dead flat response btw ...

malice
Old 30th March 2003
  #7
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by malice
I agree with you littledog, It is not a great mic, it has not great character, but it can be handy if you provide it a good preamp.
What's your point? The same could be said for a Shure SM-57.

Quote:
It has a dead flat response btw ...
That's an excellent description... "dead" and "flat", though I would probably include "vile ****ing piece of ****"...
Old 30th March 2003
  #8
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malice's Avatar
 

LMFBO Fletcher,

Nevertheless, I won't advise to buy this mic, but if you have it, there are some situations where you could use it.


My point is don't throw it away, but don't buy it either ...

Is that clarifying my opinion ?

malice
Old 13th June 2008
  #9
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Smile

However - there are people who absolutely *love* the TLM 193 - and I'm talking about well respected engineers.

Don't say a mic. is sh*t because it does not do what *you* want it to do.

Try and see for yourself - if you like it: good - if you don't: fine - look at something else.

An artist has paintbrushes of all sizes and chooses the right one for the job - same with mics.
Old 13th June 2008
  #10
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666666's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
However - there are people who absolutely *love* the TLM 193 - and I'm talking about well respected engineers.....
In recent times I have gotten my hands on some TLM170s which are supposedly similar sounding to the TLM193s (when in cardioid mode of course).

For what I do, the TLM170s are the best LDCs I've ever used... period. Yes, they are quite "flat", neutral, controlled, fast, detailed, etc... but this is exactly what I wanted. I did NOT want ANY hype or color or "enhancements". (By the way, I almost never record vocals FWIW).

I personally like mics that capture what I'm hearing and send it back to me as "accurately" as possible. I prefer to add color and excitement either with the mic pre-amp or later on in the mix with one of many different color devices. But that's me. We all have our preferred methods of working.

Yes, I actually tend to favor SDCs since they more often capture stuff the way I want to hear it, LDCs by nature are "less accurate"... but these 170s have really impressed me. I don't see a reason to search for another LDC at this point... I think I found my "dream LDC". But again, I do not do vocals and I like a mic to provide a good deal of "accuracy". I'll add color later IF I feel the track could use it.... though sometimes accuracy is just what the end product needs.

So the thing I'm still trying to determine... is a TLM193 "identical" to a TLM170 in cardioid mode? There have been quite a few posts about this in the past. Some say it's darned near identical, some say it's similar but there is a noticeable difference, some say the 170 is great and the 193 sucks. ??? I suppose I'll never know unless I try `em, but comments from users are always welcomed.

But IF by chance the TLM193 is as good / same as the 170 in cardioid, that would make the 193 a spectacular deal in my opinion.

So I was doing a session where a fellow engineer decided to use some ULTRA colored mics in a place where I probably would have used some Schoeps SDCs or 170s... they were some huge tube LDCs, very expensive, top brand, I can't remember which though, but extremely colored. Yes, they surely did impart some serious "mojo", added lots of distortion, compression and hair etc... and I could see how this could potentially enhance the tracks later in the mix.

But I heard the final mix and in the end, these ultra colored mic tracks wound up barely being used... and the little that got through I personally did not care for in the mix... just too colored, too extreme, too sloppy for me. The color did not serve the tracks in that situation IMO. I would have used TLM170s.... then there would have been full flexibility later in terms of color options or having no color at all.

Some of this is apples and oranges of course, depends on what you want to hear, but I still like the idea of adding serious color LATER in the mix if you are going to add it at all. You can always add it, but you cannot take it away.

I'm sure recording vocals is a very different story though in general. I don't know if I've ever heard an "accurate" bone-dry vocal (close mic) that truly sounded "good" on tape. Close miked vocals seem to always need some "special sauce" and perhaps mojo LDC mics are perfect tools for that. Perhaps a TLM193 or 170 would not be an appropriate all-around close vocal mic for this reason. Instruments however may or may not fall into this category.

Does anyone here care to comment on the similarities / differences between the TLM193 and TLM170 (cardioid)? Perhaps the 193s are indeed "lesser" than the 170s? If some call the 193s "****", then I have to question how close they are to the 170s which I feel are excellent.
Old 13th June 2008
  #11
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Spookym15's Avatar
 

If it sounds good to you then get it. I like the TLM 103 but that also gets trashed on GS. The 193 is not a bad sounding mic. In my opinion there is nothing spectacular about the mic. It depends on the deal. If it was $700 I would go and buy it. It just depends if you like how it sounds and if you have a use for it.
Old 13th June 2008
  #12
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macgee's Avatar
wow, i can't believe several people have responded to this thread and not liked this mic.

i have it and love it

it's not a versatile mic at all but for it's specific purpose (harsh female vox, guitar amp and turmpet - amazing on trumpet) it's absolutely incredible.

i don't find it flat at all and it's very clean and quiet

i find it drops the mids a little and is the kind of mic that if used on the right source you need no EQ at all!!!

other mics i have are C414, TLM49, KM184ST, MD421 and many others and i rate the TLM193 highly. if it's going to be your one good mic then don't choose this mic but it definitely has it's place...similar things could be said about the TLM49 and many other mics
Old 14th June 2008
  #13
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popmann's Avatar
I had one for years.

I think Fletcher's being harsh on it. I think it captures a quality picture...but, it's color is less useful as you upgrade other gear in the chain, IMO.

Still, I sold it after many years because there was just nothing it excelled at...I have so many useful mic colors for different sources...it just didn't get used. I think the Royer 121 was the nail in it's coffin--as it often served as my "digital harshness killer"--which the 121 does better.
Old 14th June 2008
  #14
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666666's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
I had one for years....I think it captures a quality picture... I have so many useful mic colors for different sources...it just didn't get used. I think the Royer 121 was the nail in it's coffin--as it often served as my "digital harshness killer"--which the 121 does better.
So it seems that many are agreeing that the 193 is a good mic and takes a quality picture, but it's just not "exciting" enough to make people want to use it in many or most cases. This all makes sense to me, but this situation then makes the 193 a very underrated mic. It seems it's a quality tool but gets passed off as junk just because it's not a wild child.

The 193 is perhaps like a mini-van... nobody wants to drive one because they're boring, but they'll do just about anything, do it well and get the job done. However, everyone wants a Corvette because a Vette is intense, sexy and exciting, but in the grand scheme of things, a Corvette is a limited use vehicle which is only good at doing certain things and not able to do other things. If I could only have one, I'd take the mini-van... in the name of getting the job done.

For me.... the Royer... very cool stuff, amazing on the "right" sources, but I don't use them because for me, they impart too much color typically... and I'm not always hip with the way that color works on the things I most often record. Though they can indeed be amazing when the stars are aligned. But this is indeed an apples / oranges thing, also related to the genre of music being dealt with, production goals, etc, etc, etc.

I guess if I could have an unlimited amount of mics up on a given source, I'd have one of everything... a TLM170, a Royer, a vintage tube mic, you name it.... then could A-B test later in the mix and pick the one (or combination) that works best in the mix. But, since I usually do not like to take the time, tracks etc to record every instrument with a zillion different mics, it seems best to just capture the source with an "accurate" mic (such as a TLM170), then effect it later in the mix if necessary. Start with a nice clean picture of the source and then paint from there.

Plus I am often not confident enough at the recording stage to choose a heavy color to be forever recorded onto tape... I very much like having color options later at mix time. Otherwise, once you commit in advance, you're stuck, for better or for worse. I'm sure highly experienced engineers feel confident about commiting in this way, that's cool... perhaps I'll get more confident too as I gain more experience. For now I like to start with a clean slate and then have the option to color things up this way or that way or not at all, depending on how the mix is shaping up at mix time.

So what it's boiling down to is that the 193 has its own thing, granted, perhaps a "boring" utilitarian kinda thing, but it does it well, and if that's the kind of tool you're looking for, the 193 should do well. That's the kind of tool I was looking for and I found it in the 170. But it seems that most people prefer more radical and exciting tools... which is cool... all depends on what you're going for.

I am interested in the 193 because it's about half the price of a 170... and IF by chance it actually does sound as good or identical to a 170 in cardioid mode (as some suggest), then it's a killer deal and would be a good option for anyone interested in this TYPE of mic.

But I guess if you want "sexy", look elsewhere. heh
Old 14th June 2008
  #15
Lives for gear
 

So much hate for the 193. It works well when used in the proper situation. Put it in front of a trombone, trumpet (back about 2 feet), in an orchestra on bass or cello or even viola. It seems to me that those that hate this mic try to use it in places that it does not excel in.

It is similar to the TLM 170 but I find the 170 to be a tad brighter (although, I have never done a direct comparison on the same source at the same time).
Old 14th June 2008
  #16
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ImJohn's Avatar
I have 2 TLM193's and I like them. I only paid about $700 each for them though (used in near perfect condition) They have worked well as drum overheads for me before.

While I agree that they don't nessesarily 'add' any hype or spice to the signal, they don't hurt the signal either. I think they do record upper mids / high end with a nice 'smoothness' and not like a lot of other mics under $1000 that are maybe a little overly bright/brittle/harsh.

If you use a hyped WOW/PAZAZZ/OMG sounding mic on every track, I think it would be harder to mix. Reliable high quality gear certainly has it's place and like performers, every mic can't be a soloist ALL the time! (that said, I really like bands where everyone is playing ballz out all the time )
Old 14th June 2008
  #17
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Kronos147's Avatar
The thing I don't understand is why Fletcher is always pulling his punches, not letting it all hang out, not sharing harsh opinions. C'mon, Fletcher, it's just us.






Sorry, couldn't resist.

heh
Old 14th June 2008
  #18
Buy with eyes open, use with ears open

I have two TLM-193's that I bought used for around $600 (with shock mounts). This was prior to the flood of cheaply-made LDC's, and I still wouldn't trade them for most of the junk I see at similar prices today. I often use mine as a stereo pair, despite having purchased them as singles. Try that with your average Chinese-made model.

Mine have the older (single-ended) amplifier cards, meaning I have to use some care about what preamp I plug them into. But I find they work well as string spots, tolerably well on acoustic guitar, and just fine on percussion. They have the sort of quick transient response one usually associates with SDC's. They can work on piano if their slight mid-bass emphasis is ok for the track. I don't really like them on complete string sections, but they're just dandy on brass. If you like the sound of an AKG C460, but hate the way it overloads, try a TLM-193 instead.

Don't buy one as a lead vocal mic -- you will be bored to tears. But they are just fine for female backing tracks.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Old 14th June 2008
  #19
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 

I work a lot at a studio with a TLM193 - it lacks a bit of sparkle and I think my Gefell M930 suits my voice much better, but it's perfectly serviceable for my line of work.

Bottom line: Would I buy one for my own studio? No. Would I be quite happy using one if nothing comparable was available? Yes.
Old 14th June 2008
  #20
On a slightly related note....

Does anyone know why in gods name the KM184s sound like such utter dog SH!t? I mean they are shockingly TERRIBLE imo. About the only thing I would use them for is a hammer but they arent heavy enough to even be good at that. dfegad
Old 14th June 2008
  #21
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malice's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
However - there are people who absolutely *love* the TLM 193 - and I'm talking about well respected engineers.
Then name them. You got my attention now...

Can you tell us about what they tracked with it and on what album ?

Why undigging a four years old thread about the tlm 193 with very little infos and above all, very little interest at the time from other posters, really ?

Instead, you should have started a fresh thread like :

<insert famous Engineer/Producer name> loves tlm193 !

How about that ?

malice
Old 14th June 2008
  #22
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macgee's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Rick View Post
but they're just dandy on brass. If you like the sound of an AKG C460, but hate the way it overloads, try a TLM-193 instead.

Don't buy one as a lead vocal mic -- you will be bored to tears. But they are just fine for female backing tracks.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
i think this is where this mic excels, BRASS...incredible mic. i recorded a jazz session and decided for the hell of it to put it up in front of the trumpet and it was like they were made for each other. it really takes the harshness out of the instrument in a big way.

i love it for a specific vocalist i record. she's got a bit of a harsh voice (she can't use the TM49) so it's either C414 for fuller sound or TLM193 for the right sound straight off. depends on your confidence at recording phase. i don't find this mic boring at all, it's really sweet and smooth with crystal clear highs...a standout mic imo however i don't use it often at all!
Old 14th June 2008
  #23
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Tlm193

Quote:
Originally Posted by malice View Post
Then name them. You got my attention now...
You'll see it very often in front of Wynton Marsalis and others in the Lincoln Center group.

They're used a lot in orchestral and other acoustic recording. They're fantastic choral mics. I've seen them used for PA mics, too, in semi-outdoor venues. Often on brass and saxes.

I suppose no one uses the TLM170, either. And you now expect people who post to provide footnotes?

The TLM193 is indeed a piece of junk. If anyone wants to clean out their mic closet, know that you can send them to me and I'll give you a scrap fee and maybe a few extra dollars. The TLM170 is equally bad, I'll take those as well.
Old 14th June 2008
  #24
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blackcom's Avatar
 

Awsome metal guitar mic! Try with a marshall cab w/ 75's.

Meshuggah - DEI, Chaosphere
Soilwork - STD
Old 14th June 2008
  #25
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macgee's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackcom View Post
Awsome metal guitar mic! Try with a marshall cab w/ 75's.

Meshuggah - DEI, Chaosphere
Soilwork - STD
i imagine it would work well for that, definitely takes out the harshness
Old 14th June 2008
  #26
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666666's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Full Clip Audio View Post
Does anyone know why in gods name the KM184s sound like such utter dog SH!t?....
LOL!

Ok, I do realize now that certain folks here are simply anti-Neumann for their own personal reasons. Probably pimps trying to move non-Neumann mics and feel a need to bash Neumann in order to do so.

Not long ago I did a shoot-out with KM-184s and a bunch of other top-end SDCs... the KM-184s indeed had their own unique character, great on some things, not as good at other things, but were in NO WAY "dog ****". They're way better than folks around here would have you believe.

Everyone has their opinions, but the endless and obnoxious Neumann bashing is unjust. So I urge fellow sluts to keep that in mind and always remember to take info here WAGOS (with a grain of salt)! When in doubt, test it for yourself before taking on an opinion.

I'm not saying that Neumanns are necessarily better than other options, though it's apples and oranges, per situation, but, from first hand experience, I can tell you that TLM170s and KM-184s are, at the very least, excellent worthy mics.

So now I guess I just ticked off a lot of pimps here who push non-Neumann stuff. Sorry guys, just trying to be fair. To be cool though I'll be sure NOT to bash many of the other non-Neumann mics sometimes promoted on this forum that I DO feel are crap.

Hopefully by later in the year I'll have some recordings finished where the 170s, 184s etc will be used... then you can take a listen. I guess it's all hot air until some "proof" is presented. heh
Old 14th June 2008
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by 666666 View Post
LOL!

Ok, I do realize now that certain folks here are simply anti-Neumann for their own personal reasons. Probably pimps trying to move non-Neumann mics and feel a need to bash Neumann in order to do so.

Not long ago I did a shoot-out with KM-184s and a bunch of other top-end SDCs... the KM-184s indeed had their own unique character, great on some things, not as good at other things, but were in NO WAY "dog ****". They're way better than folks around here would have you believe.

Everyone has their opinions, but the endless and obnoxious Neumann bashing is unjust. So I urge fellow sluts to keep that in mind and always remember to take info here WAGOS (with a grain of salt)! When in doubt, test it for yourself before taking on an opinion.

I'm not saying that Neumanns are necessarily better than other options, though it's apples and oranges, per situation, but, from first hand experience, I can tell you that TLM170s and KM-184s are, at the very least, excellent worthy mics.

So now I guess I just ticked off a lot of pimps here who push non-Neumann stuff. Sorry guys, just trying to be fair. To be cool though I'll be sure NOT to bash many of the other non-Neumann mics sometimes promoted on this forum that I DO feel are crap.

Hopefully by later in the year I'll have some recordings finished where the 170s, 184s etc will be used... then you can take a listen. I guess it's all hot air until some "proof" is presented. heh
I dont bash them at all. I like some of their mics a LOT! I am also not going by what anyone else said. I had them for a while and thought they were TERRIBLE. They were honestly some of the worst mics I have ever used. That is not Neuman bashing at all but imo they REALLY got it wrong on them. I used them as overheads a few times and it was consistently the worst overhead sound I have gotten. Granted they were usable for some less critical applications but the experience with them as overheads just ruined them for me.
Old 14th June 2008
  #28
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Kronos147's Avatar
I started out with KM-184's as my main SDC's. There are vast libraries of sample libraries that many of you slutz may have used that were recorded with KM-184's and a TL Audio PA-1.

For overheads, the KM-184's like to be close. Like maybe 18" off the cymbals. For anything with brushes, they might be the best call. Light swing or anything where the drummer is not really hitting hard and they get sounds I like.

That being said I have beefed up the mic locker a little bit and now I find the KM-184's as a pair not being used as much in my room. I still like it on hi hat but I put my pair on eBay yesterday.

So, there is better than the KM-184's, but, I disagree as to them being "dog ****."
Old 14th June 2008
  #29
There must have been something wrong with the pair I had then. REALLY wrong.
Old 14th June 2008
  #30
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666666's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Full Clip Audio View Post
There must have been something wrong with the pair I had then. REALLY wrong.
Possible!

Honestly, the KM-184s are not my first choice for overheads, I'm digging Schoeps MK-4s these days, but I would not hesitate to use KM-184s on OH if I wanted that 184 character... which could be cool depending on the tune / production. The KMs are probably the most colored SDCs I'd use... but that's just me. Many others would probably consider the KMs as not colored enough. It's all good, just depends on what you want to hear. We all have our preferences.

I've read reviews of the classic KM-84s... and to me, the 184s sound the way the 84s are described in reviews... even though many folks here say the 184s are way worse and sound harsh by comparison, etc. I never heard a classic 84, but if it's noticeably more colored than a newer 184, it must be an extremely colored mic. Perhaps the 184 does have the 84 color but just not as extreme...?... and thus to 84 lovers, it is "harsh" by comparison...??? Just speculating. If this is so, then the 184 is perfect for me because I do not like extreme color in a mic.

It's all good - Cheers!
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