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. 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
  • as the seller is the only authorized fulfilled by dealer, and purchases from unauthorized dealers carry no
  • 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.

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. 

Shure Beta 87A

Shure BETA 87A Supercardioid Condenser Vocal Microphone
  • 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.


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.


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.

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

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.

Should You Buy the Neumann TLM 103?

At the end of the day, the Neumann TLM 103 is a truly incredible microphone. 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 only other potential issue is its brightness. 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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here