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For VO only: KSM32, TLM 102 or TLM 103?
Old 3rd November 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 

For VO only: KSM32, TLM 102 or TLM 103?

I think I've narrowed my search for a VO mic.
I really need help of those who tried these mics for spoken word.

To my ears, from demos on the internet, KSM32 and Neumann TLM 103 sound almost identical. Here are these demos:

https://youtu.be/9T5GX3_CthU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Xfz3KyaBiI

I even downloaded audio from these and normalized them and still it was hard to spot the difference. It's very subtle and probably KSM32 sounds even more natural (and I think it's better that way for VO).

So, if KSM32 is really that close to the sounds of TLM 103 I don't need to pay extra 500$. So the choice is more between KSM32 and TLM102 (closer price range and 102 is also similar to 103)

So, my only concern at this point is the following. I've read people complaining about Shure quality control. Maybe I should take Neumann 102 instead of KSM32?

Am I missing something here or I can easily take KSM32 and finally be happy?

All your thoughts are very welcome. I've been looking for the right mic for years :(
Old 3rd November 2019
  #2
I would purchase from a place that excepts returns and try each of those mics out in your own environment and see what you prefer and sounds best for your voice in your room.
Mic choices are very very personnel and the smae mic can sound different in every environment you use it in.
Old 3rd November 2019
  #3
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matucha's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by garrywindshield View Post
Am I missing something here or I can easily take KSM32 and finally be happy?

All your thoughts are very welcome. I've been looking for the right mic for years :(
Well this depends on so many things. All the mics you mentioned will give you usable material to work with and you can go a long way with processing today to shape them almost any way you like.

Other thing is personal taste, how much you value your time, what your clients expect to see... this all can change. One year you're perfectly fine with tweaking the sound of one mic with almost unlimited time on your hands, the next one you work for higher end clients that ask for that neumann (or other) logo and there is no time to tweak anything clean signal needs to be it. You'll know what to do when you get there.

Personally I keep trying different mics and keep returning to sennheiser MKH60. It's super consistent from talent to talent and always sounds righ to my ears. MKH416 is one of the classics and sort of close in price (2nd) hand to the mics you've picked. Have you considered it?

Anyways both the neumanns are good (but different). BTW there is also TLM193 for that neutral U89ish sound for reasonable price 2nd hand. I have no experience with the shure unfortunatelly.
Old 4th November 2019
  #4
If I had to pick one of those, it'd be the Shure. But I really like the AT4050. A used one is something like $450 USD.
Old 4th November 2019
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

In my experience, the TLM 103 is actually not the best mic in the Neumann line to compare to the KSM32. I understand why people are, from a price perspective. But, amazingly, the KSM32 is a lot closer sonically to the U87 than the TLM103, which is an even wider price gap.

In the first shootout video you posted, OP, I preferred the TLM103's crisper upper mids/top end to the very very linear KSM32, which reminds me the U87.

The TLM103 is known as being one of the brightest mic offerings in Neumann's line, so this comes as no surprise to me.

I'm more surprised at how close the KSM32 sounds to the FAR more expensive, and legendary, U87. Listen to some audio samples from the U87 and you'll see what I mean.

The KSM32 gets my vote, considering its reasonable price range, PLUS the 15 dB pad, and two different bass roll-off settings. That's a lot of bang for your buck, and that bass roll-off will come in very handy for VO work.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dohreetoh View Post
If I had to pick one of those, it'd be the Shure. But I really like the AT4050. A used one is something like $450 USD.
Thank you for your vote! Really happy to hear it.

As for AT4050 I know it would sound extremely dumb, but after using AT2020 for a few years (it's the only 'expensive' I had in my life) I grew so much to hate it that I don't want to touch anything made by AT in the near future. AT2020 sounds like they wanted to fool people so much that they actually managed to do it. But when you finaly realize it it's not a nice feeling lol. I understand it's not logical, but I don't like such company ethics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattyJoe View Post
I'm more surprised at how close the KSM32 sounds to the FAR more expensive, and legendary, U87. Listen to some audio samples from the U87 and you'll see what I mean.

The KSM32 gets my vote, considering its reasonable price range, PLUS the 15 dB pad, and two different bass roll-off settings. That's a lot of bang for your buck, and that bass roll-off will come in very handy for VO work.
Thank you for your vote. 2 in a row! As for U87...I don't even want to touch it in my dreams

Soooo expensive, but yes I really enjoy it's sound. So full, natural and open.

If you hear some resemblance it's really, really nice. And I agree that TLM 103 is too bright and probably not the best Neumann's mic. It's just that it's widely recognized as VO mic.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by garrywindshield View Post
Thank you for your vote! Really happy to hear it.

As for AT4050 I know it would sound extremely dumb, but after using AT2020 for a few years (it's the only 'expensive' I had in my life) I grew so much to hate it that I don't want to touch anything made by AT in the near future. AT2020 sounds like they wanted to fool people so much that they actually managed to do it. But when you finaly realize it it's not a nice feeling lol. I understand it's not logical, but I don't like such company ethics.



Thank you for your vote. 2 in a row! As for U87...I don't even want to touch it in my dreams

Soooo expensive, but yes I really enjoy it's sound. So full, natural and open.

If you hear some resemblance it's really, really nice. And I agree that TLM 103 is too bright and probably not the best Neumann's mic. It's just that it's widely recognized as VO mic.
I lost some respect for Audio Technica when I saw they sell some cheapo video mic like those generic $20 "shotgun mics" from China but charged $70 bucks for it (and it sounded as bad as the usual Chinese ones, maybe even worse than some). But the AT4050 is a very good mic. It's no U87, but it's something like a quarter of the price, and it's still a very good mic. Lewitt's mics like the LCT 441 or LCT 640 TS are also really nice. Either of those would be a definite buy over the TLM103 IMO. But you can sometimes find the KSM44 used for $500 or so on eBay. At any rate, the AT4050 and Lewitt LCT441 Flex easily outperform the TLM103 IMO. Similar sound, but multiple patterns.

Also check out some of Oktava's mics. The MK-219 could be of interest to you, and they're only $150 or so used.

Last edited by Dohreetoh; 4 weeks ago at 12:07 AM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
Here for the gear
 

I've read on some other forums that due to the fact that KSM32 is not LDC (but rather medium sized condenser) it's not preferable for VO.
Should I worry about it? Because still to my and MattyJoe's ears it really is close to U87 sound.

I've found good comparison of the both mics:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wuw_C6ER654

What do you think, guys?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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matucha's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by garrywindshield View Post
I've read on some other forums that due to the fact that KSM32 is not LDC (but rather medium sized condenser) it's not preferable for VO. What do you think, guys?
I think that you def don't need LDC to get good results with voiceovers. U89 is MDC, so is TLM193, sennheiser MKH416 is not LDC, neither is MKH60 or MKH50. And all of them are great on voiceovers, some even classics.

Pick a tool that works for you. The quality of the VO talent you're going to record will be more important than if you use U87 or KSM32. Some EQ and compression will help if needed/required.

In the youtube comparison you posted, KSM32 is nowhere close to U87 imo. I prefer U87 here quite strongly, but if someone just sent me the KSM32 file to work with, it would be perfectly fine. Normies (including 99% of clients) wouldn't notice. They would notice if the VO talent wasn't good though.


Not a VO, but here TLM102 does quite a good job, though not as solid/compact in the sibilance region as U87 and others, very usable https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScQISlpnjoQ
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

I'd steer clear of the TLM102 - imho all you're paying for with that mic is a Neumann badge.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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matucha's Avatar
you don't need LDC for voiceovers



(but it wouldn't hurt to use popfilter or deal with the pops in postprocess )
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
You certainly don't need a large diaphragm condenser for VO. The MKH416 is a staple in Western animation (not so much in dubbing, and videogame localization, I think it's the proximity effect and broad high frequency boost). The CAD E100S is another small diaphragm mic that's good for VO. Moreso narration IMO.

You could use one of the Schoeps small diaphragm mics. Or the AT4053b. I'm sure the Oktava MK-012 or Audix SCX1 would work as well. Really any small diaphragm mic that's relatively neutral and good for dialogue recording would probably work reasonably well for voiceover. In a lot of cases you won't get the flattery a large diaphragm mic gets, but you could always add some of that in post.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 

On the REALLY cheap...
The (good) flukey AKG P120 (black),
is a an excellent singing/speaking microphone.
Get one with one spare change!
Chris
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by matucha View Post
I think that you def don't need LDC to get good results with voiceovers. U89 is MDC, so is TLM193, sennheiser MKH416 is not LDC, neither is MKH60 or MKH50. And all of them are great on voiceovers, some even classics.
Thank you very much. This is the answer I was looking for. Yes, I know how popular MKH416 is. If I had the money I'd buy it (with only slight hesitation).

I knew something was wrong with people criticizing mics for being MDC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by matucha View Post
In the youtube comparison you posted, KSM32 is nowhere close to U87 imo. I prefer U87 here quite strongly, but if someone just sent me the KSM32 file to work with, it would be perfectly fine. Normies (including 99% of clients) wouldn't notice. They would notice if the VO talent wasn't good though.
Yes, I prefer it also. It's not that I'm looking for a Neumann sound because it's Neumann, a famous brand. It's because I really like its sound and think it will benefit my voice. I don't have expensive speakers and only ATH-M20x as my headphones that I plug into standard audio card (for the moment). I guess the little difference I hear between KSM32 and U87 is much greater. But I'm glad to hear it's not critical.

I've written before that I can't try mics before purchasing. It's not an option where I live, I tried.

I think you probably won't choose WA-87 over KSM32.
But what about AKG C414 XLS? Some people have mentioned it in this thread before. Here is a comparison:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdldWP3Ffgk&

P.S. By the way the video with voice talents you posted is really, really great. Very decent professionals to my non-native speaker's ears.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
If you can afford the TLM103, you can afford a MKH416. They're both about $1000 new, but a used MKH416 can be found for $600-$700.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dohreetoh View Post
... The MKH416 is a staple in Western animation...
I've recorded tons of animation and have never seen anyone use a 416. Hack VO demo producers might.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
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robert82's Avatar
RE 20 is a broadcast staple. Not a condenser, but a fine VO mic. $450
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
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matucha's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by garrywindshield View Post
I think you probably won't choose WA-87 over KSM32.
No but from the videos that I heard Stam U87 clone sounded nice.

But guess what? If you buy Neumann 2nd hand in a good shape. Chances are you won't loose any money if you decide to sell it. With vintage stuff you might even end up in profit if you sell it 10 years from now (but it's getting hard as the prices are getting ridiculous with some mics/gear). Vintage U87s still don't go for (much) more than Ai, so there is some speculative room to play if you buy a good piece for Ai money.

In other words. Whenever I bought a classic mic in a good condition for a good price, the money I put in didn't evaporate. And the few exceptions where I bought some budget also-sort-of this famous mic, it ended up as a black hole for the money.

Great mics that can be bought for cheap(ish) 2nd hand are MKHs and Gefells. The spread between the new prices and 2nd hand can be surprisingly big. So they are not a great deals new, but spending some time hunting on ebay/reverb/classifieds can be worth it.

C414s, as much as I like my old ones (EB, COMB), I'd rather go with U89 or TLM193 for VOs. On the other hand they are perfectly capable of capturing a good sounding VO.


There are many opinions on this and the only way to form your own is to work with the mics for some time.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I've recorded tons of animation and have never seen anyone use a 416. Hack VO demo producers might.
I believe Isaac Hayes used one on South Park (Matt Parker and Trey Stone used U87s from the behind the scenes stuff I saw), at least from the behind the scenes footage I've seen. The SpongeBob behind the scenes stuff I've seen a shotgun mic used a lot, I'm pretty sure it was a 416.

I'm sure a lot of studios that have it and use it for animation also do a lot of commercials/promos/audiobooks, and I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the director and not necessarily an audio engineer deciding what's best for the actor's voice (i.e. In SpongeBob a shotgun mic was used on everyone from the footage I saw, but in Adventure Time it looked like they used a TLM170R on Tom Kenny, and everyone actually).

If I'm being honest I hate the MKH416 close miked on voiceover. A lot. Of course I don't own one myself, partially because I don't like the sound (too "punchy" for anything other than promos and commercials IMO, of course that can be fixed in post), but I'm also just a hobbyist so I went with the Deity S-Mic 2 (cheaper, and has a really neutral sound).
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
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If you're talking about Shaft...
We can dig it!
Chris
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
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MarkF48's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I've recorded tons of animation and have never seen anyone use a 416. Hack VO demo producers might.
A few animation folks here that have an MKH-416 listed in their gear. May or may not be the mic used in their demo.
https://www.voices.com/talents/searc...&category_id=1
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkF48 View Post
A few animation folks here that have an MKH-416 listed in their gear. May or may not be the mic used in their demo.
https://www.voices.com/talents/searc...&category_id=1
Those people have different mics for different tasks, just like the rest of us.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
MYN
Gear Addict
 
MYN's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Those people have different mics for different tasks, just like the rest of us.
Exactly. The 416 is an excellent mic for VO because it has that signature sound that producers recognize and it cuts through a mix with ease, but all that extra harmonic content you get when you record on it up close (which, of course was not what it was designed for) can get super hairy when you shout or project loudly into it. That alone makes it a sub-optimal choice for animation voice recording. Plus, the hyper cardioid pattern on a 416 gives it a much smaller sweet spot up close than an LDC, so if you move around too much you’ll get noticeable off-axis tonal variances. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the 416, but it’s not a VO all-rounder. Of the 7 commercial bookings I had today, only two were cut on a 416 because it was the right tool for those particular jobs.

A lot of time people incorrectly choose a VO mic because they love the way it sounds solo in their headphones instead of picking the mic that will make their voice sound good in a mix.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
I haven't suggested this since you seem keen on one of the mics you listed, by why not try something from Oktava? They make great mics, and I'm seriously considering their MKL-5000 tube mic as my first expensive (by which I mean over $1000 USD) mic. It's amazing how good their cheap mics sound too. A used MK-219 is incredibly good value. An MK-012 could be a good choice too. I've got a pair of frankenones (Chinese pres, matched Russian capsules, might replace the pres with the MK-012UP the has the HPF and pad built in) that sound absolutely great.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MYN View Post
Exactly. The 416 is an excellent mic for VO because it has that signature sound that producers recognize and it cuts through a mix with ease, but all that extra harmonic content you get when you record on it up close (which, of course was not what it was designed for) can get super hairy when you shout or project loudly into it. That alone makes it a sub-optimal choice for animation voice recording. Plus, the hyper cardioid pattern on a 416 gives it a much smaller sweet spot up close than an LDC, so if you move around too much you’ll get noticeable off-axis tonal variances. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the 416, but it’s not a VO all-rounder. Of the 7 commercial bookings I had today, only two were cut on a 416 because it was the right tool for those particular jobs.

A lot of time people incorrectly choose a VO mic because they love the way it sounds solo in their headphones instead of picking the mic that will make their voice sound good in a mix.
Yeah, I've seen voice actors say the same thing. I can't remember who it is, (EDIT: It was Corey Burton, link to his rant is on RecordingHacks' MKH416 entry, Corey's site is down right now though) but one has a rant on his website about how much he hates getting a 416 thrown on his voice in the studio because the director tells him he's not doing the same voice as his demo which he insists he does, but I'm guessing a bunch of factors from the 416 make ot sound different. Crispin Freeman (a lot of anime work, additional voices in Elder Scrolls Online and Legends, also Will Turner in the Kingdom Hearts games) has also said it's a bit too punchy for animation, in his case ADR, but of course it's an industry standard for film and commercials/trailers. I'd imagine when it is used for animation there's a lot of extra EQing. I've seen a lot of freelancers use it too, but I don't know how much animation they do if any. I wouldn't considering what's good enough for an online flash cartoon to be as good for actual broadcast television (there are a lot of mics that work for online stuff I absolutely hate!).

@OP, I can record a sample of my Deity S-Mic 2 tomorrow, I'm not really much of an actor though, I could even EQ it to be relatively similar to the MKH416 (the S-Mic 2 is actually really flat for a shotgun mic). It won't be the same thing because it'll only be tonally similar of course.

Last edited by Dohreetoh; 3 weeks ago at 01:58 PM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #26
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kennybro's Avatar
OP... I own and use the 103 on occasion. My opinion... don't buy it. It's OK, but there are a lot of better mics in that price range that are more neutral and generally useable. I won't suggest models, because there are already a ton of everyones' faves suggested, but I will suggest that you don't drop the cash on a 103.

Regarding what is the best all around VO mic if you're just having one or two, Brent is the one here (as far as I am aware) who does a ton a professional voice work, and has used a ton of mics in a ton of situations on a ton of voices. If an opinion carries real world weight, that's four tons worth.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #27
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tymish's Avatar
 

TLM 103, It's a good mic, on the right voice. I know at least one singer who it works well on. There's also a well known you tube VO guy who likes it a lot as well. I find it just a bit too sibilant / hissy sounding for my tastes. But some folks like that modern extended hi lift sound.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by tymish View Post
TLM 103, It's a good mic, on the right voice. I know at least one singer who it works well on. There's also a well known you tube VO guy who likes it a lot as well. I find it just a bit too sibilant / hissy sounding for my tastes. But some folks like that modern extended hi lift sound.
If you're taking about Booth Junkie, he sounds just as good on the Lewitt LCT 440 Pure. But he also has an MKH416 and a Deity S-Mic 2.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #29
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Dan Popp's Avatar
"VO" is too broad a spectrum for one mic to handle, unless maybe it's the U87 followed by a good EQ. The KSM/U89/TLM170 small-diameter-mics-in-a-large-body are "boring" if you want a promo sound, but probably good if you're doing audiobooks. The 416 still rocks on all scripts beginning with the words, "In a World...," but not for long documentaries and eLearning projects, for which you want something more neutral and less fatiguing. So it's about your voice, the genre, the room, your budget - and not very much about the clueless experts on YouToob.

Last edited by Dan Popp; 3 weeks ago at 11:44 PM.. Reason: didn't know "******s" was verboten
Old 3 weeks ago
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Popp View Post
"VO" is too broad a spectrum for one mic to handle, unless maybe it's the U87 followed by a good EQ. The KSM/U89/TLM170 small-diameter-mics-in-a-large-body are "boring" if you want a promo sound, but probably good if you're doing audiobooks. The 416 still rocks on all scripts beginning with the words, "In a World...," but not for long documentaries and eLearning projects, for which you want something more neutral and less fatiguing. So it's about your voice, the genre, the room, your budget - and not very much about the clueless experts on YouToob.
My favorite thing about "experts" online is when they're recording with pro level mics (bonus points when they use a U87ai) but are completely clueless about any sort of treatment, or have a few thin squares of foam one part of one wall.

I'm just gonna say, if you're doing a project where you have to use a U87, or TLM103, for some reason even if it doesn't fit your voice (I've heard a lot of engineers use an older C414 on female and higher male voices), the client is probably demanding Neumann mics as part of the contract.

Quote:
Originally Posted by matucha View Post
No but from the videos that I heard Stam U87 clone sounded nice.

But guess what? If you buy Neumann 2nd hand in a good shape. Chances are you won't loose any money if you decide to sell it. With vintage stuff you might even end up in profit if you sell it 10 years from now (but it's getting hard as the prices are getting ridiculous with some mics/gear). Vintage U87s still don't go for (much) more than Ai, so there is some speculative room to play if you buy a good piece for Ai money.

In other words. Whenever I bought a classic mic in a good condition for a good price, the money I put in didn't evaporate. And the few exceptions where I bought some budget also-sort-of this famous mic, it ended up as a black hole for the money.

Great mics that can be bought for cheap(ish) 2nd hand are MKHs and Gefells. The spread between the new prices and 2nd hand can be surprisingly big. So they are not a great deals new, but spending some time hunting on ebay/reverb/classifieds can be worth it.

C414s, as much as I like my old ones (EB, COMB), I'd rather go with U89 or TLM193 for VOs. On the other hand they are perfectly capable of capturing a good sounding VO.


There are many opinions on this and the only way to form your own is to work with the mics for some time.
I'd actually really love to hear how the teflon capsule EB handles VO. It seems like it's certainly flat enough. I mean hell, one of the mics used for Seth Rogen in the Lion King remake was a C12. I don't know if it's the mic they chose because they had 3 mics on the actors.

Last edited by Dohreetoh; 3 weeks ago at 01:03 AM..
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