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Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

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Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby shxdohmusic » Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:05 pm

Looking for my first neuman mic and stuck between the 102 and 103. I heard that the 102 is a lot more flatter/thicker and wider and that the 103 is more airy and sometimes harsh sounding especially on vocals... aside from the 102 clearly being the smartest option and safest I cant help but feel that giving up the chance on a 103 may be something I later regret. Especially after I keep seeing them in music videos and studios i visit more and more. I never see 102s in studios, only 103s. :yawn: the inbuilt pop filter in the 102 also puts me off a little as it would suggest that the mic isnt exactly made for the studio setting where a mic stand pop filter would be used, almost feels like its more tailored for the youtube podcaster. I’ve also seen people take these out and it helps the sound become a little less muffled but i just dont know if i wanna buy a mic that i need to mod straight away. The 103 doesnt have an inbuilt sheild.

I would be using this mic for vocals only (rap/pop/singers) in a sound treated room . I already have a SE2200 II and a SE Gemini. The se2200 gives me a low end rumble and a more boxy loose bassy although direct sound where as the Gemini gives me a massive wide and clean cut but not exactly a “in your face” vocal for modern rap.

I suppose Im now looking for a condenser that cuts the mix as clean as the Gemini but also comes across a lot more direct in the mix like the SE2200 does without as much editing needed to make it sound imaged, Eq’d and warm sounding within the mid range freq’s.

What is the safe option here? 102 or 103? ...

My typical mastering style for vocal tracks is to get the main vocals soundinf as warm, wide, compressed, clean and in your face as possible. I know both mics would pull this off, wich one is going to give me a better starting point is my question??
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby Wonks » Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:48 pm

Hi and welcome.

You haven't mentioned the Shure SM7b as a possible mic, but as it seems to be probably the favourite rap/hip hop mic in use today, I thought I'd mention it. Being a dynamic, It hasn't got a high output and so is often used with an in-line signal booster (like a Cloudlifter) to assist the level. Then you don't have to have your pre-amp gain right up. Just a thought.

For the Neumann I'd so with the 103 as it has the stronger output and much lower noise figure. It won't suit every voice, but that's why you have a collection of mics.

On the other hand, you could get a TLM 102 and an SM7b for a similar price as a TLM 103.
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:42 am

shxdohmusic wrote:What is the safe option here? 102 or 103? ...

My typical mastering style for vocal tracks is to get the main vocals soundinf as warm, wide, compressed, clean and in your face as possible. I know both mics would pull this off, wich one is going to give me a better starting point is my question??

The 102 is far less voiced than the 103, which is brighter. If you can, try them out and see if the 103 works for you. If you have to go blind, the 102 is a better shot.

I use both a TLM102 and a U87 and I like the results with both, actually more work with the 87 usually.
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:44 am

You probably need to audition them, both are good mics, it’s a question of which flavour you like. But as has been said the SM7b would make an excellent alternative to what you already have.

Bob
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby Watchmaker » Fri Jan 18, 2019 2:02 am

I have a 102 because I have a decent budget but really modest needs. I wanted to have a selection of very nice vocal mics and decided on three: an AKG C414XLS, an RE20, and a TLM 102. I think I chose wisely and do not regret having any of these mics. They all have a voice and a purpose. I wanted a U87 but just couldn't make the case for the spend. I looked at the 103 but it too was a bit much for the use case.

I love the 102. It's warm but very open, much closer to my experience with U87's than the 103. You can definitely get the upfront compressed mic timbre and it handles people singing up in its grill very well. I use it often for acoustic guitar and hand percussion and find it very versatile. Lovely piece of gear. Oddly enough, I've never used an sm7B.
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby Jack Ruston » Fri Jan 18, 2019 7:29 am

I'm not sure either is really a great option. These are not what you'd really think of as a 'Neuman' sound. I owned the 103 for several years and found it useable but underwhelming. For that money there are a lot of very good microphones out there.

J
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby Mixedup » Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:44 am

I'd agree with Jack. I didn't keep my 103 for several years... about one year, in fact, before trading it in. It's a decent quality build, and an OK but (deliberately) quite bright-sounding mic. Sound wise it's nothing particularly special IMO and there are eqially good mics for less money. Though it is one of those that will continue to hold its price if that matters to you...
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:25 pm

Mixedup wrote: Sound wise it's nothing particularly special IMO and there are equally good mics for less money. Though it is one of those that will continue to hold its price if that matters to you...

And that may be an important point... A few years ago I spent decent money on a good mic from a significantly less well-known manufacturer than Neumann. I was very happy with the sound, but eventually it became redundant for me. When I tried to sell it I almost had to (comparably) give it away. No pedigree... whereas a Neumann....
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby Ariosto » Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:29 pm

"the inbuilt pop filter in the 102 also puts me off a little as it would suggest that the mic isnt exactly made for the studio setting where a mic stand pop filter would be used, almost feels like its more tailored for the youtube podcaster. "

I have read somewhere that you can unscrew the grill on the 102 and take out the foam filter - but you need to check this - it might not be correct.
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby James Perrett » Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:55 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:And that may be an important point... A few years ago I spent decent money on a good mic from a significantly less well-known manufacturer than Neumann. I was very happy with the sound, but eventually it became redundant for me. When I tried to sell it I almost had to (comparably) give it away. No pedigree... whereas a Neumann....

As one prospective client recently said to me when he asked me what sort of mic I was planning to use on a session: "That will be fine - you used the 'N' word".
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby Darren Lynch » Fri Jan 18, 2019 2:48 pm

I own and use the 102. I always describe it as a really, really competent microphone. By this I mean it records sounds with no obvious vices. But since you already have access to other large condenser mics, and vocals are your thing, then I do recommend trying a Shure SM7b.
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:22 pm

Jack Ruston wrote:I'm not sure either is really a great option. These are not what you'd really think of as a 'Neuman' sound. I owned the 103 for several years and found it useable but underwhelming. For that money there are a lot of very good microphones out there.

J

No idea of what is a "Neumann sound" but what I love with the 102 is that it seems to work on everything that I throw at it, from voices to instruments. When I've no idea of what I'm gonna get (say a new vocalist recorded on location, or a 100 years old cello which I've never head before) and I don't want to get the expensive mics out of the studio, I pack the 102 and so far it's been a killer.

Mind me, I do think that the AT2020 is a great little mic as well so ymmv :)
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:49 pm

The AT2020 ~is~ a great mic and surprising so given its price. It's won out in several SOS shootouts too, which is amazing!
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 18, 2019 4:52 pm

Good! I mentioned because it's very inexpensive..
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby Dave B » Fri Jan 18, 2019 4:53 pm

I think I'd describe the 2020 as great for the money - it isn't bad per se, but there are better ones out there if you spend a little more. It's not so bright, but it can sound a little hard. Wonks and I did a shoot out many moons ago.

But then with mics and voices, it's horses for courses... having a few options is always good.
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby Wonks » Fri Jan 18, 2019 4:56 pm

The 2020 sounded really thin and nasty on Dave B's AE22s in a treated room, but the 2020 file sounded much better on my Genelecs in an untreated room.
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:00 pm

Wonks wrote:The 2020 sounded really thin and nasty on Dave B's AE22s in a treated room, but the 2020 file sounded much better on my Genelecs in an untreated room.

Totally agree that there's a risk of harshness, especially with loud male vocals. I never experienced it as thin and nasty tough - given that the recording is properly set up. Could the test depend more on the room where the source was recorded, than the one where the result was auditioned?
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby Wonks » Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:03 pm

All the other mics sounded fine, so I doubt it. But IIRC it had come from Dave's guitar speaker isolation cab, though he doesn't own any particularly loud amps or had actually used it much.
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:08 pm

Wonks wrote:All the other mics sounded fine, so I doubt it. But IIRC it had come from Dave's guitar speaker isolation cab, though he doesn't own any particularly loud amps or had actually used it much.

I recorded a distorted guitar only once with it, but it was a 4x12 and was much definitely not isolated!

Sounded pretty good after finding the right cone and position. I guess that the little bump which sometimes may make it a trifle harsh with near vocals (which is solved by having the singer back up a little) could hit the same way if it's pointed towards the center of a bright cone at good volume..
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Re: Neumann TLM102 or TLM103?

Postby shxdohmusic » Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:41 pm

thanks for all the replies :clap: :clap: , its my first time posting on SOS. Usually I refer my questions to other forums full of people who just hate on every-bodies decisions. Good to see a community of sound heads actually having a nice conversation. :lol: . I think I'll come here from now on.. no more waiting around either as it would appear.

Now for the mics.. I've often seen the sm7bs mentioned. Infact, near enough every thread asking about rap vocals on the internet you can bank on someones having already suggested them somewhere. I'm thinking It may be worth getting one and rigging it up just for the hell of it now... I've heard vocals from them on many videos too and always just wrote them off because of how they looked (ignorant, I know).. I just assumed they were more a microphone suited to the Radio Broacaster type of setting as apposed to a Studio set up. One thing I do know is its that they're widely used by many vocalists now and the reviews are all good. plus, visually it looks mad professional on a desk boom :smirk:. Not sickeningly expensive either.. I may even use it to start doing vlog reviews on all the equipment I'm set to buy this year lol.

a massive thank you goes to the kind gentleman on the first comment who pointed out I can get a TLM102 and the Sm7B for the same price as the TLM103... that alone may make my decision a lot easier now :thumbup: .Not to forget that the TLM102 comes with the EA4 Shock-mount. I believe thats the newer model. If I buy the TLM102 studio kit, I could pick up a second hand 103 or 107 somewhere down the line if I still felt the urge to try more TLMS out and it would fit on the EA4 no problem. One thing that put me off the TLM103 was the fact it came with the old shockmount :protest: .. The EA4 looks so much cooler and clearly designed to work better with proximity recording. If I got the 103, It was gonna cost me £100 extra on top of £800 in the long run because I would HAVE to upgrade the shockmount as well :lol: . I couldn't find the 103 being sold with the EA4 anywhere... so that kinda annoyed me. I later found out the TLM103 was the older model and it then made sense..

in the end after endless hours of research and review videos. I really don't think there is £300 of a sound difference in QUALITY from what I've heard. Infact, sonically I do prefer the bassy low end of the 102 like most people I reckon. Take these clips for example...

TLM102
https://soundcloud.com/sonic-sense-pro-audio/neumann-tlm102
sounds nice and warm with a nice tone in the low/mid area''

TLM103
https://soundcloud.com/sonic-sense-pro-audio/neumann-tlm103
sounds very loose on the high end (harsh as many describe when up loud).

As for the modification of the TLM102 (removal of inbuilt pop filter). I seen a video of someone removing it but nobody really comparing the sound. that was my only real worry about preceding with doing that. Unscrewing the case and removing the foam is kids work... the real question is, does it sound better? :( . Maybe I'll buy it and do the review myself lol. I'd imagine it would make recordings clearer. surely.

And finally, to the people suggesting other mics. I'm fully aware there may be better mics out there for the price but the whole Nuemann thing has been annoying me for long time. I now want to try them out as a manufacturer to get future gear from. I've been looking up reviews on them for years and could never really afford one until now. I'm now looking to jump in, but not too deep.. I was set on the 103 at first until I seen reviews of everybody selling them for 102's. I even seen people refer to the 103 as neumanns worst microphone on more than one occasion. I never seen any of that with the TLM102.. all reviews seem to be great for the 102 with people describing it as Warm, Tight, Tonal and crispy on the highs maintaining the the high end Nuemann ''sheen'' as they call it.... it also seems to work on a range of voices/genres for a number of people..

The way I see it now is that If the TLM102 is specifically designed by nuemann to be the introduction mic then maybe it is exactly that. Seems like the 103 is a more expensive risk, especially now that I've taken time to weigh up the pros and cons and speak to you great people. It would appear the 102 is more likley to make me appreciate Neumann as a company a lot more than the 103 might...

Im also really intrigued to see how big the sound really is from this microscopic microphone, at first I wrote this mic off due to its size... now its got me really wanting to see what all the fuss is about.

Wish me luck!
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