Telefunken M81

Dynamic Vocal Microphone with Supercardioid Pickup Pattern and 30Hz-18kHz Frequency Response
Telefunken M81 image 1
Telefunken M81 image 1
$249.00
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Telefunken M81
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A Higher Standard of Handheld Mic!

The Telefunken M81 dynamic microphone continues the legacy of the original M80, providing you with minimal proximity effect, maximum feedback rejection, and exceptional midrange articulation. By pulling back the high-frequency response a bit to flatten out its sound, Telefunken designed the M81 to handle a much broader vocal range than typical handheld dynamic mics. You'll also find it incredibly useful for guitar cabinets, snare drums, brass, and pretty much anything else you can throw at it. Live or in the studio, the Telefunken M81 is a true workhorse microphone.

Telefunken M81 Dynamic Handheld Microphone at a Glance:
  • Specially-designed capsule gives the mic a wide, balanced response
  • Remarkably consistent sound no matter what you're plugging into
  • Clear, detailed sound is perfect for vocals or instruments
Specially-designed capsule gives the mic a wide, balanced response

Telefunken designed the M81's head and capsule to reduce the proximity effect created by the supercardioid polar pattern. That means your vocals won't get boomy or indistinct, yet you still get the feedback-fighting characteristics of a directional microphone.

Remarkably consistent sound no matter what you're plugging into

If you're a live performer, you know that it's tough to get a consistent sound every night when you're plugging into a different mixing board each time. Different microphone preamplifiers can operate at different impedance levels, and that affects the sound of your microphone. The Telefunken M81 sports an American made, custom wound transfer that automatically matches impedance, and that means your vocal sound will be consistent no matter what you're plugging into.

Clear, detailed sound is perfect for vocals or instruments

The diaphragm on the Telefunken M81 is super thin, which gives it a fast, un-colored response that captures your sound with incredible detail. Because it's not a midrange-heavy mic like some dynamic mics, it's not just for vocals. You can get great results with the M81 in front of a guitar amp, over a snare drum, or virtually any other instrument that needs a detailed, well-balanced microphone.

Telefunken M81 Handheld Dynamic Microphone Features:
  • Durable, reliable, and great-sounding supercardioid dynamic microphone
  • Clear midrange articulation with tamed highs and minimal proximity response compliments most vocals
  • Consistent supercardioid polar pattern provides excellent onstage feedback rejection
  • Remarkably flat response and smooth transient handling flatters drums, horns, guitars, and more
  • Built tough enough for touring use, yet sensitive enough for studio recording
No mic locker is complete without a Telefunken M81 dynamic microphone!

Additional Media

Studio Microphone Buying Guide
7 Tips for Guitarists Using In-ears

Tech Specs

Microphone Type Dynamic
Polar Pattern Supercardioid
Frequency Response 30Hz-18kHz
Output Impedance 200 ohms
Color Black
Connector XLR
Weight 0.82 lbs.
Manufacturer Part Number M81

Customer Reviews

5/5
Based on 4 reviews
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5/5

A singer's perspective

As a bit of background, I'm a classically trained soprano who is mid-50s and has migrated to singing rock and Christian and church music. Interestingly, when my husband did a blind hearing test of our three microphones (SM58, Beta 58, and M81), he liked the M81 least. We tested with EQ at noon, so ostensibly flat. In the end, he wasn't sure what he was expecting to hear from this mic. We think it's because he's spent years hearing me sound a certain way through the Shures and the lack of coloration on the Telefunken didn't impress him at first. It's not like I was blown away by the sheer force of sound either. But what I did hear made me want to work with it. My SM58 was pretty muddy sounding when singing with another singer who was using a Sennheiser 935. I switched to the Beta58 wireless and preferred that sound much more. However, it was still not clear enough over two electric guitars, drums, keys, and bass. Admittedly, my Shures were purchased long ago, and I'm sure mic technology has left my Shures in the dust. So, I was on the hunt for a new mic that didn't color my voice too much, as I already have roundness and depth and bottom end plus an easy top. I have the ability to color my voice as I desire, and I didn't want a mic that did it for me. I was looking for clarity, cut, brightness without shrillness. After reading and researching the top mics these days, I chose to try the M81 because it seemed to have the qualities I needed for my voice. Before I played with the EQ, I listened to myself singing in the room, and then I listened to myself singing the same song through the M81. I heard myself sound like me, which may sound like a ridiculous statement, but sounding like me without a lot of tweaking was what I was looking for. Then I played with the EQ, which is only low and high -- nothing fancy -- until I heard me but enhanced a little. I'm still playing with different settings of EQ and input volume. And depending on the type of music I'm singing or the mood of the song, the EQ settings can make a difference. However, when I leave the EQ at the setting that sounds most like my voice naturally, it does indeed work with any type of song. So, there's no need to mess with it once you find something you like, but it's just something you can do if you feel like exploring the mic's capabilities. There are three things that have stood out about this mic: (1) the clarity is beautiful. My voice cuts through the mix now, and I'm hearing details and nuances in my singing that I never heard. Honestly, I didn't know I was doing all those things, just naturally, when I was using my other mics. I surprised myself the first time I ran through some favorite songs with my guitarist husband; (2) how EASY it is to sing with this mic. By that I mean that, in comparison to what I found myself having to do with the Shures -- relying less on technique (like taking good, deep breaths) and relying more on more of a shouting style to be heard over the mix, shallower breaths, more difficulty making it through phrases, some vocal fatigue after many hours of practice, the M81 is very easy to sing through and doesn't force me to do things that I know I shouldn't be doing in order to achieve the sound I want; and (3) the consistency across the vocal range is awesome. From the bottom of my range to the upper range (the highest note I've come across in our repertoire is A5, though my voice extends to the whistle range), the response of this mic is smooth and consistent. In my lower range, there is roundness and warmth without muddiness, and the high notes sound exactly how I want them to without harshness or shrillness. At no point does the mic make my voice jump out or hurt my ears or make me sound muffled. It's clear and responsive throughout my range. As a matter of fact, I thought it lost some of my overtones when EQ was flat, but a slight tweak brought out my natural overtones. With the M81, I hear everything so well that I don't have to even try to be heard over the mix. I sing with good technique, my phrasing is better, I'm not running out of breath in places where I had trouble making it though the phase, I even hear colorations over a loud, distorted guitar sound, and that was something I never heard before. In one song, I sing softly and intimately juxtaposed against an overdriven electric guitar sound, and I hear it easily. I don't have to neglect my vocal musicality and expression. I don't have to tell the band to lower the volume so that we can hear the singers. This mic makes it so easy to be expressive and soulful and meaningful with all types of songs. From the harsher, edgier, more screamy sounds of rock to the soft, sultry, soulful sounds of ballads to the rounder, more full voiced church songs -- the M81 handles them all beautifully and makes my job as a singer more easy and even more fun. It's that wonderful. After running through a dozen songs, we came to the conclusion that just the fact that the M81 allowed me to sing with good technique, which is important to me to maintain vocal health and stamina and endurance without vocal fatigue, this mic is worth its weight in gold. But there's nothing like being able to hear what I'm doing while I'm singing because I can make adjustments on the fly -- too bright? I can darken the tone; too much breath and I can adjust my breathing and make sure I'm breathing properly, etc. Being able to hear gives me control over the sound, and I love that. I love being able to be expressive vocally in a way that I've never been on a mic, or never been on a mic that I could hear the expression. This mic is sensitive, detailed, nuanced, and it's becoming like my best friend -- trusty and reliable, sensitive and responsive. A true winner.
Music background: Classically trained; church and contemporary Christian; rock
5/5

Lead harsh voice tamed, now cutting!

I am a sound engineer. I was looking for a different sound for voices, after all is usually the most important thing on music, I wanted a microphone that would help me with the usual problems: more me on the monitor, more me on the mix, singers than don't know how to proper position the microphone (to far, to close, off axis, hand over the capsule area, etc), reduction in feedback and specially a harsh sounding singer. There are tools that help you to solve this problems at the mix stage but I wanted a different approach: to solve this issues at the source. I did choose the Telefunken m81 based on the specs since there where not many reviews of it. The microphone delivered on all the areas I wanted to solve and now the sound of the voice is fantastic, cuts easy over a congested mix, no feedback, not muddy at all just clear and loud voices. It is a transparent musical microphone, doesn't add a character of its own, it just make the source to sound naturally and louder, that as an engineer, is what I am looking for. I did liked so much that ordered the wireless capsule version and used it with a Shure digital system so I could keep all the benefits of the wired version. As an added bonus, I tried on guitar amps with stellar results, I am not risking it as a snare mic yet since is so good on vocals to mess it up with an out of control drummer. The price of this mic is good, is more than the usual vocal mic price range but the sound of it is the sound of the high end mics that are in another league. I am looking to get the m80 so I can experiment with "a little bit more of highs" Telefunken is talking about.
4.5/5

Love the Telefunk...

I own the M80 and the M81, and the M81 doesn't have the top-end bump that the M80 does, but the M81 is a very full mic. I also have a Sennheiser 945, which seems to have a little of both the top and bottom end of a very good dynamic mic with bit more bottom than the M80. I'm not quite ready to provide a full-blown review just yet on the M81, but the build-quality and sound of the Telefunken mics are top-notch. In my experience with the M80, it is absolutely killer on female vocals and snare drum. If you prefer a more mid-low sound and are a strong male singer, the M81 would be an excellent choice. I will experiment soon with the M80 and M81 on guitar cabs, and provide an updated review after a good bit of use. First impressions or the M81 are all good!
Music background: Performer, Studio Guy
4.5/5

Finally a male rock (baritone) vocal mic I truly love!

This mic is very refreshing in terms of NOT trying to instantly “wow” you with over-brilliance or full-force bass when you plug it in with flat EQ. Many other dynamic mics out there over-do things in those departments and make you love them at first…and later you notice how annoying certain upper mids and highs are, or how raising the volume in a rock band makes those pretenders sound hard or thin. It’s also not trying to be one of those mics that makes a weak-chested singer sound deep and full to the point of muddiness (though it DOES deliver enough of the right kind of bass). Mics which overemphasize the top or bottom end can be far worse than a stuffy old SM58 (which can, after all, be compressed and EQd for drive and brilliance, anyhow). Those pretenders jump right out at you and aim to please in the showroom (and over-flatter singers), but make it hard to tame their overkill frequencies, esp. if your mixing desk is modest. After having tested tons of mics over the years (many of which I bought, some of which I returned – included lots of very high-end mics from Audix, Shure and others), I have come to the impression that most of the modern mics out there belong to the overemphasizing category. Every company has chosen their preferred “flavor” of overemphasizing. In my long quest for the right vocal mic for me, I was dreaming of something like the venerable SM58 (for warmth and drive) but with intelligibility and sparkle without excessive bite. And I wanted one that would work in most mixers and acoustic amps without a lot of complex EQing.Enter the M81, which at first hear is a master of understatement, i.e. not a pretender. You plug it in…and might even thing it’s a bit dull at first, until you raise the highs a bit. When you do, it’s like a revelation! It sparkles without grating, and if you flip on the bass-cut filter and up the bass you even get chestiness without mud – esp. if you use a compressor. If your compressor (like my old DBX 286) also offers enhancer, it doesn’t hurt to dial in some upper harmonics and a pinch of bass, too, for an even bigger sound). The great thing is that this mic BEHAVES well when you boost those regions of EQ. It doesn’t make you cut as much as boost, and the result is brilliant yet easy-to-manage on stage (read “high feedback resistance”!). Handling noise is negligible, esp. if you use a bass-cut switch. The M81 takes a wee bit more gain than some of the modern-day mics, but nothing out of this world. Works fine on my Spirit Soundcraft and Allen & Heath, as well as my acoustic amps (Roland AC-33 and Crate Gunnison). For real kick, try plugging it into the new singer’s foot pedal by TC Helicon called the “Harmony Singer”, with adaptive tone shaping (compressor and EQing) on. Wow! Even though the (inexpensive!) TC box overdoes the highs a bit and slashes a bit too much out of the manly lows, you can throttle back the highs on the mixer a wee bit, and add in a fair amount of lows for a fantastic sound. This is a dream combination for quick-and-dirty use in front of an acoustic amp – and great reverb is also included in the pedal. Just mentioning this so you see how versatile the mic is.I’ve been using the M81 for a few months for solo acoustic gigs, an acoustic duo (rock, pop and folk) AND in a rock band (R.E.M. covers, so vocals like Michael Stipe does). It sounds full, has the right amount of sparkle without bite, takes compression nicely and cuts through the mix exactly as I want it to without losing guts or slashing ears when pumped up. For me, it’s got a touch of what makes the SM 58 so popular (warmth, naturalness and the ability to make it cut through when you add a bit of high end). But unlike that classic mic, it is far more responsive and detailed, and not at all nasal or stuffy. It has plenty of modern sparkle without sawtooth bite, and offers chest without muddiness. Compared with the M80 Telefunken first put out (expressly for vocals), the M81 is far more natural. The M81 (which I also own) has a pretty unnatural upper-mid boost that gets on my nerves at high volumes, and starts making my male vocals sound cutting and thin in a loud rock setting, also because the bass roll-off is even more extreme (so probably better for female singers, or for jazz or something). The M81 gives you as much high-fidelity as you need but remains real. The proximity effect (bass increase when close up) is tamed, but not to the point where a man doesn’t sound like a man – esp. if you use a compressor.Something else that thrills me: Of all the mics I own (Shure SM58, Beta 58, SM86; Sennheiser MD-431II, MD-441, MD-421; Neumann KM 105 , AudioTechnica AE 6100; HeilSound PR 35; beyerdynamic TGX-81; AKG D7), this is the ONLY one that I like for my vocals whatever the style of music (solo acoustic, duo acoustic, rock band) or whatever the sound system being used. Many of the above mics sound perfect on one setup but much less so on the others.In short, the M81 has become my default mic for all my vocals. If Telefunken keeps marketing it especially for snare and such, they’re not likely to get singers too excited about it. Maybe this review will help. In closing, I’ll add that I totally love the black model for its out-of-way understatement. The shape of the M81 doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, either. It looks and feels solid, and like the fine tool it is.If you’re more into smooth and slightly sugary, you’ll probably end up with one of the eXXX Sennheisers or an AKG. But if you want honest guts and just enough edge to bury your SM 58 with glee, go for the M81.
Music background: Hobby singer/guitar player (solo, duo, rock band)
See also: Dynamic Mics, Telefunken, Telefunken Dynamic Microphones, Telefunken Dynamic Microphones