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Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

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Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby jellyjim » Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:16 pm

Hi

Looking at three mics. My thoughts so far are below. Mic is for mostly male vocals, mine, occasionally acoustic guitar and even less frequently a guitar cab (at sensible volumes).

Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 and Neumann TLM103.

Budget; the Shure (£303) is fine, the Electrovoice (£445) I can stomach and the Neumann (£699) ... I'll do it if I won't need another mic ever again!

I'm going into a UA Apollo Twin and recording in an untreated room (save for a hanging duvet, of course).

The Shure; it's the cheapest and it's held in high regard but I read it requires very high gain and is well suited to rock vocals, my vocal style's hardly 'shouty'. I doubt it'd be the last mic I'd need either.

The Electrovoice; seriously love the retro look and the fact it's associated with Thom Yorke (whose vocal style I like) is cool (not that it'll magically make me sound like him, obvs). Also, as with the Shure, it has excellent rejection of anything behind it. Am I correct in thinking that's useful given I'm in an untreated room?

The Neumann; the most expensive but that Neumann legacy, the reputation of this specific mic, it's a condenser which is arguably better for voice (though see point above, might high sensitivity work against me in a noisy and untreated environment?) and well ... it's a Neumann!

Perhaps the obvious answer is the Neumann if I can afford it in which case I'd need to understand what I really gain over the others.

Or as a potential counter argument, given I'm new to both my voice and recording it, start with the cheapest option. Learn how to record yourself, what you sound like, borrow mics, learn what they sound like with your voice and then spend the big kahuna!

Any input appreciated!
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:27 pm

Well I’ve owned all three and still have the SM7, which may say something, but it’s not a mic I would use on acoustic guitar.

First up the RE20 and SM7 could be seen as similar as they are good dynamics. Of the the two, I nearly always ended up using the SM7. I have used it on my own voice (baritone intimate acoustic styles), sometimes in preference to a U87.

As I said I wouldn’t choose to use an SM7 on acoustic guitar and actually, if you’re recording just vocals and guitar, I’d look to record the guitar in stereo.

So a better solution could be an SM7 and a pair of Rode NT5s which would give you far more options and would still come in under the price of a TLM103.

Then you could work out on sorting your room.........

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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:50 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:So a better solution could be an SM7 and a pair of Rode NT5s which would give you far more options and would still come in under the price of a TLM103.

Exactly that.

The SM7 is a great mic for male vocals and not just shouty rock. A friend uses one all the time for gentle ballads and it works brilliantly for him. I'd pick the SM7 over the RE20, personally. You will need a preamp with a reasonable amount of gain -- and the Apollo has 65dB which should be sufficient -- but if you find you're struggling you can add an inline gain booster for a modest extra outlay. (My friend uses an RME interface with 75dB gain on hand, but it's never running flat out).

As Bob says, neither dynamic would be a great choice for acoustic guitar, although they'd be fine on electric guitar cabs. So go for the SM7, and then add a decent small-diaphragm capacitor mic (or better still, two ) for the acoustic guitar work and other interesting sources!

The Neumann is a fine mic, but it's pricey... and its shockmount is really silly money... but more to the point, it's a bit of a one-trick pony in that while it does usually work well on male voices, I've not had much success with it on female vocals. And in an acoustically challenging room, the SM7 will be easier to work with anyway.

So an SM7 and a stereo set of NT5s or similar would make a lot of sense.
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby jellyjim » Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:53 pm

Thank you gentleman. You are legends.
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby jaminem » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:16 pm

Just to echo what the legends have said....

Shure SM7b is the perfect male vocal mic, I try others in sessions, I nearly always come back to the SM7b.

Often used on guitar cabs - its the Andertons mic of choice for all their guitar based vlogs - if youtube is your thing, you'll get loads of examples of what it can do.

Love it on bass cabs as well, and have seen it used on hi hats quite a bit

Its not sexy, slutty, new or has any shiny bells and whistles, but it nearly always gets the job done to a superb standard with little fuss - and that's always preferable in a session. I use mine with a Triton audio FETHEAD as the output can be a bit low.
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby Matt Houghton » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:34 pm

Well... just to be all contrary, I've owned all three and currently own none of them. And if I did buy one again, it would probably be the RE20... but more for how it complements the rest of my mic collection than for male vox particularly. (Though the lack of proximity effect bass boost can be handy in less than ideal spaces... since you can get closer to the mic without screwing the sound).

But is there a reason you've narrowed it down to these three?

I mean, even if you were sticking with 'classic' mic choices there are more versatile options that should work well enough on all the sources you mention. Eg. AKG C414-XLS. (Or maybe a second hand C414 B-ULS for about the same price as a TLM103, or less if you're lucky.) I use my B-ULS model on all of the sources you mentioned and more.

And if you're willing to go a little more 'off-piste' with the brand names, there are some lovely large-diaphragm condensers for much less money than the TLM103 which don't have from the same character (which could be seen as light and airy or horribly bright and spitty, depending on the source and the listener's opinion...).

That said, the SM7 + SDC pair could be a decent option.

The bottom line, IMO, is that if this is primarily for one voice, you really should check out and compare a few options rather than buy on a whim. And if you can't get anywhere in person to do that, maybe take advantage of the distance selling regulations (ie. right to return/refund).
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:06 pm

Like Matt I'd consider some less expensive condensers than a Neumann. Often the more expensive dynamics are "trying to sound like condensers" anyway so why not a condenser in the first place? No problems with preamp noise and possible need for a Cloudlifter. If we want to minimise room noise, close mic , use a pop screen and reduce the unnatural bass in post.

A popular Rode condenser is the NT2a. It really copies the features of the U87. The U87 goes for a lot more money than the TLM103 being more versatile, with three polar patterns compared to the TLM's one. It also goes some of the way towards the RE20 in reducing proximity effect.

But really, any of the three mics you mentioned, the SM7b, RE20 and TLM 103, and a stack of other mics on the market, can give excellent results when used correctly. Often it's not so much the mic but how it's used.
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby Darren Lynch » Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:03 pm

I own a SM7b. It does sound great on male vocals. It does close out more room sound than many other mics. But this 'it needs tons of gain' legend just seems to be something to keep Gearslutz in conversation. :D Singing direct into it will not require exceptional amounts of gain. Oh, and in an interview Bruce Swedien, perhaps the SM7's biggest fan, said he would happily use one on acoustic guitar. But I get Bob's point - 1xSM7 and 2xno-fills small condensers from Rode, Audio Technica or another reliable maker and you'll be able to record anything with results ranging from usable to excellent.
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby Darren Lynch » Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:05 pm

PS: The Sennheiser MD421. It can record anything. And it happens to sound fab on baritone male vocals.
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby jellyjim » Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:33 pm

Darren Lynch wrote:PS: The Sennheiser MD421. It can record anything. And it happens to sound fab on baritone male vocals.

Any experience with the MD441?
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:49 pm

Darren Lynch wrote:I own a SM7b. It does sound great on male vocals. It does close out more room sound than many other mics. But this 'it needs tons of gain' legend just seems to be something to keep Gearslutz in conversation. :D Singing direct into it will not require exceptional amounts of gain.

Singing direct into it meaning being much closer to it than the typical pop shielded LDC you see in all the recording studio videos (mic 12" from singers mouth)? If so surely that is why it 'closes off more room sound'?
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby The Elf » Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:10 am

jellyjim wrote:
Darren Lynch wrote:PS: The Sennheiser MD421. It can record anything. And it happens to sound fab on baritone male vocals.
Any experience with the MD441?
The 441 is very forgiving on shrill vocals. It works very well for female vocals, or for 'metal' shouty/growly vocals.

I can't say I'm much of a fan of the 421 on vocals generally - it always seems to have a lot going on in the mids and not enough top. But yes, for a baritone it might be just the job.
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby fatbenelton » Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:42 am

Neumann TLM102 studio set with shockmount can be had for around £480. A lot of people like it more than the 103 esp on male vocals and spoken voice.

Perhaps that’s another option? Mic alone (without shockmount) is £389 in Andertons which is surely a bargain for a Neumann - and not a crap Neumann either!
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby MOF » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:11 pm

Would the Aston dynamic mic do the trick? Just a suggestion, it’s cheaper than the mic’s mentioned by the OP. I don’t own one nor the SM7b / RE 20.
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby jellyjim » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:16 pm

Thank you all

Truth is I wanted the RE20 or the MD441 because they're sexy and retro (to my eyes) and the Neumann because I like spending money :headbang:

The Shure SM7b was the sensible choice for lots of reasons and I have one winding it's way to me as I type!

Do I get points for being a grown up? :beamup:

Cheers
Jim
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:36 pm

Yes... and double points today because it's a Friday! :lol:
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby jellyjim » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:47 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Yes... and double points today because it's a Friday! :lol:

Haha! Thanks Hugh ;) I even resisted a ratty old MD441 on eBay despite it going pretty cheap
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby The Elf » Fri Jan 17, 2020 2:38 pm

jellyjim wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:Yes... and double points today because it's a Friday! :lol:

Haha! Thanks Hugh ;) I even resisted a ratty old MD441 on eBay despite it going pretty cheap
Mine is pretty damned ratty too - I occasionally fantasize about buying one in decent condition, then I go off and make another recording.

Of course, a lot of my love for the 441 could be down to seeing Stevie Nicks use one... Oh, my spine just gave way... :blush:
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:28 pm

Cold flannels for Mr Elf....
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Re: Shure SM7b, Electrovoice RE20 or Neumann TLM103?

Postby jellyjim » Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:32 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Cold flannels for Mr Elf....

Lolz. Nurse!

He's not wrong though.
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