The Neumann TLM 103: An Affordable Microphone Alternative

Neumann Tlm 103

The Neumann TLM 103 was originally released in 1997 as a more affordable alternative to the legendary Neumann U87 Ai. Of course, the Neumann U87 Ai is one of the most popular studio microphones in history. As such, the Neumann TLM 103 had some very big shoes to fill. So how does it live up to the previous mic’s reputation?

Before you invest in this microphone, you must consider a few things. Is this microphone something you can afford? Will it give you the sound you need? And how does it compare to its competition? These are all important questions to ask when shopping for the Neumann TLM 103.

Neumann Tlm 103 Comparison Table

How Does It Compare to Other Condenser Microphones?

Of course, there are plenty of other great condenser microphones on the market today. How does the Neumann TLM 103 compare to its competition?

Rode NT1-A

Rode NT1-A Anniversary Vocal Cardioid Condenser Microphone Package
  • Amazon as the seller is the ONLY authorized Fulfilled by Amazon Dealer, and purchases from unauthorized dealers carry No Warranty
  • Delivers a warmth, extended dynamic range, and high SPL capability typical of more expensive offerings
  • An incredible self-noise level of only 5dBA makes this an extremely quiet studio microphone
  • The low noise makes it an ideal vocal microphone as well as perfect for recording guitars and percussion
  • Includes everything you need to get a truly professional vocal recording and is ideal for home studio recording

The Rode NT1-A is an extremely popular condenser microphone in its own right. Like the Neumann TLM 103, it has a reputation for being one of the quietest microphones on the market. It has a self-noise of only five dB-A. It has a large one-inch capsule with a gold-plated diaphragm and a cardioid pickup pattern. Furthermore, this microphone features internal shock mounting. It has a frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz.

Most customers have been very happy with this microphone. They particularly loved how quiet it isVoice over workers especially appreciated the lack of noise. Many people also said it has just the right amount of sensitivity. However, there have been a few complaints about it being too bright on the high-end. S’s and P’s, in particular, come across as very harsh.

This microphone will typically cost between $$ and $$$. This is obviously much cheaper than the Neumann TLM 103. However, that’s its only real advantage. The Rode NT1-A’s quietness is its greatest claim to fame, but the Neumann TLM 103 has a similar level of self-noise. The Neumann TLM 103’s warmth and clarity also make it a higher quality microphone in general. That said, the Rode NT1-A is a great mic if you can’t afford the Neumann TLM 103. Amazon gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Shure Beta 87A

Shure BETA 87A Supercardioid Condenser Microphone for Handheld Vocal Applications
  • Smooth frequency response with gradual presence rise
  • Highly consistent super cardioid polar pattern provides superior gain before feedback
  • Electronic low-frequency roll off compensates for proximity effect
  • Wide dynamic range (117 dB) and low distortion characteristics
  • Built in pop filter reduces undesirable wind and breath sounds

The Shure Beta 87A is an excellent condenser mic from the legendary Shure brand. It’s an electret-powered microphone with a super-cardioid pickup pattern. This pattern helps you isolate it from other nearby instruments. It features a gradual presence rise that helps brighten up the midrange and a low-frequency roll-off that helps prevent muddiness. There’s also a built-in pop filter, so you don’t have to worry about plosions. This microphone has a frequency range of 50 to 20,000 Hz.

Customers have absolutely loved this microphone. This is partly because it can be used in a live setting. This is unusual for condenser mics, but the Shure Beta 87A does a great job of rejecting sounds from other sources. It performs well in the studio also, and it has the durability you’d expect from the Shure brand. There have been relatively few complaints, but some customers did feel it was better suited to lower ranged voices. There have also been a handful of complaints about it being ugly.

This microphone will cost between $$ and $$$. Once again, the budget will be a major factor in your decision. You’ll also want to think about how you want to use the microphone. The Shure Beta 87A excels as an onstage mic, but the Neumann TLM 103 has the classic Neumann sound that broadcasters and recording artists love. You’ll have to decide for yourself which of these is more important to you. Amazon customers have given the Shure Beta 87A 4.5 out of 5 stars.

MXL V67G

MXL V67G Large Capsule Condenser Microphone
  • Large 32mm pressure gradient condenser capsule
  • Gold-sputtered, 6 micron density diaphragm
  • Solid state preamp balanced transformer output
  • MXL-57 isolation shock mount available

The MXL V67G is a gorgeous microphone with a very low price tag. It’s easily identifiable by its golden grille and green body. This is a large diaphragm microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern. It uses Class A FET circuitry to produce a sound that’s often compared to tube microphones. Be aware that this microphone requires an analog-to-digital interface if you plan to use it with your computer. It has a frequency range of 30 to 20,000 Hz.

Many customers really appreciated this microphone for what it is. It’s a very affordable microphone, and it’s one of the best in its price range. Several people have used it successfully in narration and voice-over work. However, they also conceded that it doesn’t have the same level of quality you’d find in a more expensive microphone. Many described its sound as being a bit harsh by comparison. Also, it’s not nearly as versatile as the Neumann TLM 103. You can only use it for vocals.

This microphone will cost between $55 and $90. This is a world of difference compared to the Neumann TLM 103. However, there’s world of difference regarding quality as well. The MXL V67G doesn’t have nearly the same level of versatility or sound quality as the Neumann TLM 103. In truth, the only real reason you’d choose it is if you need a cheap microphone for broadcasting work. Otherwise, you’re better off investing in the Neumann TLM 103. Amazon customers give it 4.6 out of 5 stars.

AT4040

Audio-Technica AT4040 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
  • Technically advanced large diaphragm tensioned specifically to provide smooth, natural sonic characteristics
  • Externally polarized (DC bias) true condenser design, Exceptionally low noise, wide dynamic range and high SPL capability for greatest versatility
  • Transformerless circuitry virtually eliminates low frequency distortion and provides superior correlation of high speed transients
  • Precision machined, nickel plated brass, acoustic element baffle provides enhanced element stability and optimal sensitivity
  • State of the art surface mount electronics ensure compliance with A T's stringent consistency and reliability standards

The AT4040 is an excellent condenser microphone from Audio-Technica. It is a large diaphragm microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern. It uses transformerless circuitry that helps prevent low-frequency distortion. This microphone also features very low self-noise, high SPL capability, and a wide dynamic range. It also comes with a flat, roll-off switch. This microphone has a frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz.

Customers have loved this microphone for its clarity and accuracy. It’s great at capturing the voice as it is without giving or taking anything away. Many have also successfully used it for voiceover work. Unfortunately, some customers have also said it’s too sensitive. There have been multiple complaints about it picking up sounds from other rooms, which can make home recording difficult. Some have also said that lower ranged voices and instruments can come across as a bit dull.

You can expect the AT4040 to cost between $ and $$$$. You could see it as a legitimately more affordable alternative to the Neumann TLM 103. It’s a fantastic microphone in its own right. However, you also have to remember that it has given people problems in a home recording set because of its sensitivity. If you need a microphone for this purpose, you might want to invest in the Neumann TLM 103. Amazon customers give this microphone 4.4 out of 5 stars.

What Is the Neumann TLM 103?

The Neumann TLM 103 is a transformerless large diaphragm condenser microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern. This means it primarily focuses on sounds from the front of the microphone while rejecting noise from the back and sides. This mic also features a presence boost for frequencies over 5000 Hz.

This product is well-known for being among the quietest microphones on the market. It has a self-noise of only 7 dB-A. It also has a sensitivity of 23 mV/Pa. All of this means you won’t have to deal with any annoying noise or hiss when you’re recording your vocals.

Furthermore, the Neumann TLM 103 has a tapered head grille that gives it that classic Neumann look. This helps you present a professional appearance when recording for clients and other musicians. Be aware that you will need phantom power to use this microphone. It has a frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz.

What Do You Need to Know?

Now that you know what the Newmann TLM 103 is, there are a few features you need to know about.

How is it different from the Neumann U87 Ai?

As mentioned before, the Neumann TLM 103 was created as an alternative to the famous Neumann U87 Ai. The first significant difference you’ll notice is in the price. A Neumann U87 Ai will cost anywhere from $3000 to $5000. On average, you’ll find it in the $3500 range. The Neumann TLM 103 is much cheaper by comparison.

Of course, the Neumann U87 Ai is a classic microphone with a classic sound. It also gives you the option of choosing between three different pickup patterns. These are cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8. This gives you a variety of different options to choose from when recording. However, many customers prefer the Neumann TLM 103 because of its more modern sound. Its presence boost makes it sound more like a recording you would hear in this day and age.

What can you do with this mic?

The Neumann TLM 103 works wonders in the studio when it comes to recording music. In particular, it’s great for recording vocals and individual instruments such as acoustic guitars. In addition to this, it also works very well as a broadcasting mic. Many of its customers have used it for narration and voiceover work. These customers have been very happy with its performance.

Keep in mind that like most condenser microphones, the Neumann TLM 103 is not appropriate for live performances. It will have difficulty handling feedback and noise in these situations.

What do the customers think of it?

Most customers have absolutely loved this microphone. Many of them compared it to driving a luxury vehicle after years of driving a regular car. They especially loved it for its clarity and warmth. It has that classic Neumann sound that many people were looking for. They also loved that it can be used for a variety of different purposes. As said before, the Neumann TLM 103 can be used for everything from recording vocals and guitars to doing voiceover work and narration.

Most complaints have been relatively few and far between. However, a few customers have complained about it being too bright. This can cause high-end vocals and instruments to sound a bit harsh. That said, these complaints were very rare. Unfortunately, there’s one other problem with the Neumann TLM 103. That’s the price.

How Much Does It Cost?

While the Neumann TLM 103 is much cheaper than the Neumann U87 Ai, it’s still going to hurt your wallet. It typically costs between $1000 and $1600. Of course, many people will say the quality is worth the price. In fact, many customers have said this is practically a steal for a microphone this good. That said, you can't deny there are many high-quality microphones out there for a much lower price.

You can find this microphone on Amazonguitarcenter.com, or sweetwater.com. You can also find it in many music shops around the country.

How We Reviewed

The basic information and specifications for these microphones were mostly gathered from their official websites and Amazon while also using sites such as guitarcenter.com and sweetwater.com on occasion. Furthermore, customer reviews from sites such as Amazon largely informed our opinions. When reviewing these products, we chose to focus on aspects such as clarity, versatility, durability, and features. Price was also a significant factor in our reviews.

Pros and Cons

Overall, there’s a lot to love about the Neumann TLM 103. It has all the warmth and clarity you’d expect from the Neumann brand, and it can be used in a wide variety of different applications. Unfortunately, there have been a few complaints about it being too bright. This can lead to problems when you’re recording higher-ranged vocals and instruments. And while it’s not as expensive as some condenser mics, it’s not cheap either.

Pros

  • It’s a cheaper, more modern alternative to the Neumann U87 Ai
  • It’s incredibly warm and clear
  • You can use it for many different purposes

Cons

  • It’s expensive
  • It can be too bright for high-end voices and instruments

Should You Buy the Neumann TLM 103?

At the end of the day, the Neumann TLM 103 is a truly incredible microphone. Amazon customers give it 4.3 out of 5 stars. It has that classic Neumann sound you’d expect, and it gives your voice a warmth that you won’t find in many other microphones. The main question is whether or not you can afford it. Even so, you could easily end up spending thousands of dollars more on a microphone with similar quality. If you have the budget for it, there’s no reason not to get it.

The only other potential issue is its brightness. Again, these complaints were very rare. Odds are, you won’t have these kinds of difficulties. In most cases, the Neumann TLM 103 is simply one of the best condenser microphones on the market today.

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