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It’s no secret that Georg Neumann GmbH (also more popularly known as Neumann) microphones are considered among the best of the best in the industry. The brand has offered products with some of the highest quality sound and manufacturing over its 80-year history, and many of their products have shaped the direction of studio recording forever.
Mics like the U87 and U67 are considered legendary for a reason, and indeed have pulled in imitations and homages from different manufacturers over the years. The quality of Neumann products is without compare, and you’ll find their mics are a staple in many of the top recording studios around the world.
However, if there’s one thing Neumann is infamous for, it’s price. While their microphones and equipment are certainly top quality, their pricing often puts them out of the range of many home and even some professional-level studios. Fortunately for Neumann fans, the company has released one of their most affordable studio vocal mics yet: the TLM 102. Find out just what sets this mic apart from the crowd, and whether it’s worth the price, in this Neumann TLM102 review below.
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Sensitivity at 1 kHz into 1 kohm
Equivalent Noise Level
Maximum SPL for THD 0.5%
The Neumann TLM102 is the cheapest mic in Neumann’s TLM range, which on a whole contains the company’s most affordably priced microphones. A large-diaphragm condenser mic with side-address, it’s also one of the company’s smaller mics at only approximately 210g. However, despite its small size, its performance doesn’t disappoint— as you’ll be seeing in the rest of this TLM 102 review.
The microphone itself is relatively simple, and does away with quite a few of the features that lend other Neumann products their versatility. This isn’t exactly a disadvantage, and the sound of the TLM 102 is certainly Neumann-level quality. Its capsule does make use of more cost-effective design, although the performance certainly doesn’t suffer, and the lack of pad and high-pass filter also makes it a fairly straightforward unit.
The Neumann 102 is one of the company’s most affordable condenser microphones, but it’s also well loved for its sound and performance. It’s an excellent vocal mic, lending recordings a natural warmth and richness without adding too much color. And while the packaging for the unit is pretty minimal— users thinking about taking this mic on the road might need to invest in a solid carrying case— the performance holds up to and even exceeds the standards set by many other mics in the same price range.
Neumann mics are known for adding an air of nobility and clarity to recordings, and the Neumann 102 is no different. Recording vocals on this mic create a sound that’s full of clarity and detail, with a brightness that’s lively yet subtle. Its SPL of 144 dB and defined, resonant bottom end allow it to hold up against louder sound sources like kick drums without losing detail. The TLM 102’s capsule allows for an organic separation between human vocals and instruments, enabling your voice to sit comfortably in the mix without fear of being overpowered.
While the fixed cardioid polar pattern and lack of high-pass filter and attenuation pad might seem limiting, the Neumann TLM 102 condenser microphone has a performance that is anything but. With a max SPL of 144 dB, the Neumann TLM-102 is able to hold up to jumps in volume and dynamics without distorting or losing clarity. It’s able to mic drums and brass instruments with detail and refinement, adding a richness and depth without compromising detail. You can use this mic to record anything from a soloist to an electric guitar to a full drum kit and come out satisfied each time.
Despite its small size and relatively affordable price, Neumann certainly didn’t skimp on the materials for the TLM 102. Although it is tiny when compared to other large-diaphragm condenser microphones, the TLM 102 has a solid, elegantly built all-metal body. The metal grille is sturdy and without give, and the mic has an inbuilt pop filter that obscures the capsule. The capsule itself is located in an elastic suspension mount that helps to isolate it from vibrations. Overall, it looks sleek, elegant, and well-made— a microphone anyone would be proud to have in their studio.
The TLM 102 is the younger, cheaper brother of the TLM 103. While that certainly doesn’t mean that the TLM 102 is lacking in quality, there are certain differences between the two that explain the price disparity. The TLM 103 has an output signal 6dB louder than the TLM 102, allowing users to get a louder signal without having to drive up their preamps. It’s also a quieter mic, with a self-noise of 7dB(A), 5 dB softer than the TLM 102. While this difference isn’t always relevant depending on the sound source, the TLM 103’s lower self-noise allows greater freedom of placement.
The Neumann TLM 102 can be used to record a variety of sound sources, including very loud and very soft instruments, but where it truly shines is in recording the human voice. The mic is designed with a thick, integrated pop shield behind its metal grille, which allows vocalists to perform without having to worry about pesky sibilants and plosives. It’s been engineered to respond well to the human voice, with a sound signature that is finely tuned for the range of 8 to 12 kHz and lends a supple, silky elegance to recordings.
Many might be skeptical of the Neumann TLM 102’s value for money, especially when compared with other, cheaper microphones on the market. But quality speaks, and in the TLM 102’s case it’s loud and clear. It offers users a richness, clarity, and definition that’s nearly impossible to find in other mics in the same price range, and despite its lack of added features is able to perform admirably with any sound source. If you’re looking for excellence, then you’re going to get a whole lot of it in the TLM 102’s tiny package.
While the excellence of Neumann microphones is widely known throughout the industry, their prices can make the dream of owning one seem like a far-off impossibility. The Neumann TLM 102 is all about taking those aspirations into reality. It brings premium performance into an affordable range, and is an excellent investment for both home and professional studios alike. Find the best deals for the Neumann TLM 102 Microphone here.