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Any LDCs around $1500 that can touch a Neumann M149?
Old 10th May 2017
  #1
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tkaitkai's Avatar
 

Any LDCs around $1500 that can touch a Neumann M149?

Hey guys,

As the thread title suggests, I'm looking for a mic that can get in the ballpark of an M149 on a slightly smaller budget.

I'm currently using a TLM49, and while it certainly bears semblance (mid-forward without sounding honky, very smooth LF and LMF, the high end is tucked in nicely without sounding "dark", sibilance is less of a worry), it's got a very pronounced upper midrange that can border on unusable β€” with my voice in particular, there's a nasty resonance around 3.5kHz that's almost impossible to reign in.

This doesn't seem to be something that can be fixed after the fact, so I'd rather address it on the front end.

I'm open to any suggestions, really. I don't care if it's cheap, as long as it doesn't sound cheap. I've considered some Soyuz and Manley mics, but I'd love to explore some more affordable stuff first.

Definitely open to smaller companies, too (any 3U mics that can measure up?).

Current signal chain: TLM 49 -> WA12 preamp -> WA76 compressor -> Apollo. Will probably be swapping the WA12 out soon.

Any and all suggestions welcome!

UPDATE: I've included a completely unscientific M149/TLM49 comparison in post #21 .

Last edited by tkaitkai; 11th May 2017 at 11:22 PM..
Old 10th May 2017
  #2
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BarcelonaMusic's Avatar
 

I really like this video..
Old 10th May 2017
  #3
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tkaitkai's Avatar
 

Great video, but doesn't really address the question at hand. Thanks, though!
Old 10th May 2017
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tkaitkai View Post
Great video, but doesn't really address the question at hand. Thanks, though!
Yeah, I agree I just don`t know. Just throwing my 2 cents in there. But I`m the person that can`t help tearing into their mics to make sure everything is good as humanly possible. A mic-modder..
Old 10th May 2017
  #5
The M149 plays in its own ballpark, far away removed from those of mere mortals. I held one once in my hand, plugged into a focusrite red7. All I needed to do to understand was say the word "checking..." I didn't even make it to the words "...testing, 1,2,3." I was literally- flabbergasted. I swear to GOD if I ever hit the lottery, I'd order like 10 of them immediately, along with the sluttiest pre's I could get. NOW it's time to record some damn drums, by God.

Seriously? $1,500.00? Well I dunno, maybe you could try the new Stam SA-47 through their SA-73. That might get you on the same planet, at least, and maybe even into the same country. Same ballpark? I seriously doubt it. But hey, dreaming is good. It's healthy.
Old 10th May 2017
  #6
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Rockabilly69's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarcelonaMusic View Post
Yeah, I agree I just don`t know. Just throwing my 2 cents in there. But I`m the person that can`t help tearing into their mics to make sure everything is good as humanly possible. A mic-modder..
you tear into Neumann mics? What have you modded of theirs?
Old 10th May 2017
  #7
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tkaitkai's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studioman22 View Post
The M149 plays in its own ballpark, far away removed from those of mere mortals. I held one once in my hand, plugged into a focusrite red7. All I needed to do to understand was say the word "checking..." I didn't even make it to the words "...testing, 1,2,3." I was literally- flabbergasted. I swear to GOD if I ever hit the lottery, I'd order like 10 of them immediately, along with the sluttiest pre's I could get. NOW it's time to record some damn drums, by God.

Seriously? $1,500.00? Well I dunno, maybe you could try the new Stam SA-47 through their SA-73. That might get you on the same planet, at least, and maybe even into the same country. Same ballpark? I seriously doubt it. But hey, dreaming is good. It's healthy.
Ha! I figured this might be kind of a tall order. Worth a shot, though!

It certainly is a fantastic mic, isn't it?

I have some raw vocal tracks I recorded with the M149, and there's just nothing I could possibly complain about with regards to the tonality. I'll probably have to pony up for one eventually!

I'd say the TLM49 gets me maybe 60 - 70% of the way there, but misses the mark when it comes to the smooth upper midrange. The lower midrange is perhaps a bit lacking in detail, as well. I'm hoping I can find something that gets me more in the realm of 80 - 90% there.

Maybe a Gefell?
Old 10th May 2017
  #8
Honestly I cannot help you with this task. This would perhaps be better posted in the high end forum, where the sluttiest of slutz hang out.
Old 10th May 2017
  #9
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Had a pair of M149's at the last place I worked. There wasn't anything else in the mic locker that was similar. The closest thing we had sound wise was probably the Mojave MA-200. I'm not going to say the 149 was the most amazing mic ever, but it is pretty unique in my experience. Stuff always sounded very smooth but never unclear, a very unique presence in the high frequencies but still thick.

Whatever you do, don't get a 147 expecting a cardioid version of the 149, completely different mics. I hear that recomendation in the same breath occasionally and wonder what ply toilet paper they pulled off the front of their NS-10's and stuffed in their ears to hear any similarity....
Old 10th May 2017
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andersmv View Post
Had a pair of M149's at the last place I worked. There wasn't anything else in the mic locker that was similar. The closest thing we had sound wise was probably the Mojave MA-200. I'm not going to say the 149 was the most amazing mic ever, but it is pretty unique in my experience. Stuff always sounded very smooth but never unclear, a very unique presence in the high frequencies but still thick.

Whatever you do, don't get a 147 expecting a cardioid version of the 149, completely different mics. I hear that recomendation in the same breath occasionally and wonder what ply toilet paper they pulled off the front of their NS-10's and stuffed in their ears to hear any similarity....
Great info my friend, thanks for the heads up! I had briefly looked into the M147, but from what I could gather, it seemed quite different from the M149. I'll definitely steer clear.

The Mojave looks interesting. I'm familiar with the MA-201FET, which always seems a little too edgy for my tastes, in a way that reminds me of my TLM49. No experience with the MA-200, though. How would you describe its similarities to the M149?

Last edited by tkaitkai; 10th May 2017 at 12:17 PM..
Old 10th May 2017
  #11
We went round and round last year in this price range with a couple dozen different vocal mics. I know what you're talking about. The TLM49 was one we bought and sold twice. It would work great on one tune and cause problems in that upper mid range you spoke of. We ended up with a Telefunken Copperhead, Lauten Atlantis, Pearlman TM1, Blue Stage 2/VD67, and 2 Violet mics - Emerald LE and Amethyst Vintage.

I would recommend the Pearlman for that smooth upper mid range but any of the others work great on vocals. Try before you buy! Bring one in and give a go, if it doesn't work, send it back and try again.
Old 10th May 2017
  #12
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Isn't that Warm pre based on an API 312? Based on your description about the mid-highs being a problem area and being familiar with the API sound, I would recommend trying a different pre with your TLM49 first. The API pre sound is all about opening up the upper mids, which is why I love them on guitars, toms and percussion and not so much on vocals.
Old 10th May 2017
  #13
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Rockabilly69's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate View Post
Isn't that Warm pre based on an API 312? Based on your description about the mid-highs being a problem area and being familiar with the API sound, I would recommend trying a different pre with your TLM49 first. The API pre sound is all about opening up the upper mids, which is why I love them on guitars, toms and percussion and not so much on vocals.
I agree, the aggressiveness of the API style pre may be pushing that upper mid. The first thing I do when I use my Manley VoxBox with a new microphone is to sweep the mids to see if something can get ugly, and sometimes just the slightest cut gets me there. I remembered having an upper mid problem with Blue Kiwi so I just plugged it into a Blue Robbie, which is tailor fit to the Kiwi, and I just mimicked the curve I heard through the Robbie with my Voxbox and then that mic came alive. So now I rarely write a mic off until I give it a try with a bunch of different preamps.
Old 10th May 2017
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate View Post
Isn't that Warm pre based on an API 312? Based on your description about the mid-highs being a problem area and being familiar with the API sound, I would recommend trying a different pre with your TLM49 first. The API pre sound is all about opening up the upper mids, which is why I love them on guitars, toms and percussion and not so much on vocals.
Yeah, this is the main reason I've been thinking about swapping it out (in addition to having no HPF or output trim). Great preamp, but perhaps a little too aggressive for my needs.

That said, I've also tried out all of the Unison preamps on my Apollo, and the issue persists. The Unison stuff probably isn't as informative as using the real thing, but it's such a pronounced issue that I think it's more likely the mic is the culprit.

Interestingly, out of the bunch, the Apollo's stock preamp with no emulation sounded the least shrill, followed by the Manley Voxbox. Still, though, the edgy sound of the TLM49 is poking out way too much.

Definitely going to be exploring some other preamps, though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RKeefe1032 View Post
We went round and round last year in this price range with a couple dozen different vocal mics. I know what you're talking about. The TLM49 was one we bought and sold twice. It would work great on one tune and cause problems in that upper mid range you spoke of. We ended up with a Telefunken Copperhead, Lauten Atlantis, Pearlman TM1, Blue Stage 2/VD67, and 2 Violet mics - Emerald LE and Amethyst Vintage.

I would recommend the Pearlman for that smooth upper mid range but any of the others work great on vocals. Try before you buy! Bring one in and give a go, if it doesn't work, send it back and try again.
I've actually had my eye on the TM-1! Would really love to try one out. The Violet stuff looks really neat too, I've never heard of them until now. I'll definitely be looking more into those. Thanks for the suggestions!

Last edited by tkaitkai; 10th May 2017 at 08:36 PM..
Old 10th May 2017
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockabilly69 View Post
you tear into Neumann mics? What have you modded of theirs?
After reading my post it does sound like I'm stating I tear into Neumann mics. My bad, I do not and would not. I wouldn't buy one, actually. Just personal preference.
Old 10th May 2017
  #16
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hw2nw's Avatar
 

API is definitely not helping, something Neve-ish would smooth that frequency range a bit depending on mic. Also check out the Copperhead and Lauten Atlantis. Hard to tell without you singing on it. I've also had great results with the Peluso stuff, mainly P12.
Old 10th May 2017
  #17
Miktek cv4
Pearlman tm-1
Blackspade um17b
Old 11th May 2017
  #18
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Rockabilly69's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarcelonaMusic View Post
After reading my post it does sound like I'm stating I tear into Neumann mics. My bad, I do not and would not. I wouldn't buy one, actually. Just personal preference.
Oh that's good, I love Neumann mics, especially the ones people love to hate one (M147, KM184, TLM103, and the U87ai), but there more ways to skin a cat, whatever works for you!!!
Old 11th May 2017
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate View Post
Isn't that Warm pre based on an API 312? Based on your description about the mid-highs being a problem area and being familiar with the API sound, I would recommend trying a different pre with your TLM49 first. The API pre sound is all about opening up the upper mids, which is why I love them on guitars, toms and percussion and not so much on vocals.
I TOTALLY agree. These days I really only record vocals, acoustic guitars, and sometimes clean electrics. I started using outboard preamps and compressors, and API style just doesn`t work here. I had a Tonebeast, a Black Lion B12a, and a bunch of Neve clones. I sent all the API stuff back. Just doesn`t work for me. Not that it`s bad, the Tonebeast is cool as hell! They just didn`t play well together, I have a female vocalist and the Neve style is just where it`s at for my style of music. I do like the 2500 plugin for some things. I take Addictive Drums and do the multi out, so each drum is on it`s own track. The only way to go IMO.
Old 11th May 2017
  #20
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Oldone's Avatar
I can't think of anything I've heard that's close except maybe a U87. I picked my M149 up for $2400 used a few years back so there are deals out there. Great mic and it always pulls in a good take but you have to learn what you can do with all those patterns and the amount of room (less or more) you need. In your price however, it's going to be tough.
Old 11th May 2017
  #21
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tkaitkai's Avatar
 

Got some audio clips to share.

About these:

These are two takes of the same part from a song that I recorded with a well-known engineer several years ago (using the M149).The TLM49 clip was recorded today β€” I tracked through the Unison 1073 and used my WA76 for some moderate compression.

They're not perfectly level-matched, and this is anything but scientific (the M149 is a little more compressed and was run through a much more high-end chain), but this should give you a good idea of where I'm at.

As mentioned above, I personally feel that the TLM49 is about 60 - 70% of the way there, but still leaves a lot to be desired. I have a very "in your face" voice (probably bordering on annoying lol!), so the strident upper mids are a bit much.

Incidentally, I had a sort of "happy accident" the other night β€” for the hell of it, I decided to pull out my old, beat up ART TubeMP and compare it to the WA12. I was fully expecting this to prove useless, but much to my surprise, the difference was NOT subtle. The ART certainly didn't sound great (sounded veiled and noisy), but it was shockingly smoother to my ears.

The WA12 is a great preamp, but definitely not appropriate for my voice. Needless to say, I returned it, and am now exploring some different options β€” namely the ADL 700, Vintech 573, and the Portico 511.

Would love to hear your thoughts!
Attached Files

Neumann M149.wav (2.12 MB, 5343 views)

Neumann TLM49.wav (2.12 MB, 5355 views)


Last edited by tkaitkai; 12th May 2017 at 12:20 AM..
Old 11th May 2017
  #22
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TLM stands for transformerless circuit technology. No tubes, no transformer. I am not surprised that a tube preamp would start to move in the right direction. The TLM 49 really needs both to get things in the ballpark from my experience with the mic. Your WA12 is a solid state circuit preamp, not going to be the optimal solution. This is why I sold the TLM49, too few preamps matched up to give it girth and if you have strident or nasal type singer, it just doesn't work.

If you want to try some preamps I would suggest maybe a UA610, Daking MicPre 1. These might get you in the ballpark. Maybe a Avalon 737.
Old 11th May 2017
  #23
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tkaitkai's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldone View Post
TLM stands for transformerless circuit technology. No tubes, no transformer. I am not surprised that a tube preamp would start to move in the right direction. The TLM 49 really needs both to get things in the ballpark from my experience with the mic. Your WA12 is a solid state circuit preamp, not going to be the optimal solution. This is why I sold the TLM49, too few preamps matched up to give it girth and if you have strident or nasal type singer, it just doesn't work.

If you want to try some preamps I would suggest maybe a UA610, Daking MicPre 1. These might get you in the ballpark. Maybe a Avalon 737.
Great info, thanks for sharing. I've always been told to pair FET mics with tube preamps, but I guess it took hands-on experience for it to really sink in!

I've actually been eyeing the Daking MicPre One β€” seems like it would be a great choice in the event that I do decide to pony up for an M149, and this would save me from having to get a proper 500-series chassis for the Vintech/Portico.

In the event that I decide to keep the TLM49, I'll probably lean more towards the Avalon or the ADL 700.

Last edited by tkaitkai; 12th May 2017 at 09:23 AM..
Old 12th May 2017
  #24
Get a neve flavor preamp. Try just changing the preamp first. Like you said the difference is not subtle. Then if you still dont like the sound get the Telefunken Copperhead its a great tube mic that wont break the bank. To add some extra sauce i reccommend a wa2a as well. I record butter smooth vocals with my copperhead > bae 1073mp > wa76 > wa2a > pthd

By the way room treatment plays a huge role in your sound. Even with cardiod only mics. If your sound still isnt there with all the gear, dont worry, just get more room treatment. Also id reccommend getting an se electronics s.p.a.c.e filter.
Old 12th May 2017
  #25
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Wulfshayde's Avatar
 

I've not personally used an M149. However, I do have and regularly use a Rode K2 which sounds amazing on everything. Might be in the same Galaxy at least...
Old 12th May 2017
  #26
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Back in 2005 I had an M149 on loan and was about to buy 2 of them when I tried a Pearlman TM1. I liked the Pearlman better by a lot, especially the texture and heft of the transformer, the tube you don't have to unsolder to replace, and the $2800 (at the time, for a pair) vs. $8000.

I still have them and love them, and over the years Dave has tinkered with them a lot -- I think at this point they're the same as his current ones.

If you want to hear any examples of a certain style or gender, I can probably post a clip or a link, maybe several.
Old 12th May 2017
  #27
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CM67se is a great LDC tube mic for just under 1K. U67 clone from Advanced Audio
Old 12th May 2017
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
If you want to hear any examples of a certain style or gender, I can probably post a clip or a link, maybe several.
Can't speak for the OP, but I'd love to hear some male vocals on one of these, been mulling the Tm-1 for a while.
Old 12th May 2017
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carabinerx View Post
Can't speak for the OP, but I'd love to hear some male vocals on one of these, been mulling the Tm-1 for a while.
Male Vocals. Go here: Welcome to Studio Noho

John Torres, Harold Payne, Lantz Lazwell, Earth Wake, Everett Coast (both guys), Chase Bell, Fisher 15, Michael Penrose (spoken word), Chazz Frichtel, Emmett Skyy, Marco Aiello, Grant Maloy Smith, Darrin Stafford.

And I have two or three more that haven't been added to the site yet.
Old 12th May 2017
  #30
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Ajavalon's Avatar
Totally agree with Brent,the TM 1 is a very underrated Mic & it certainly deserves a look see.The dark horse in the equation is the
sE electronics Gemini II,sometimes referred to as the" poor man's M149 ".It's also right at your price point.
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