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Neumann TLM 103 Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone - Nickel Reviews

4.5 stars based on 33 customer reviews
Questions about the Neumann TLM 103 Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone - Nickel?

Questions about the Neumann TLM 103 Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone - Nickel?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • Stuart Niven

    The TLM 103 is nothing short of amazing and for the price, such an affordable way to get into the pro league. Once you have had the Neumann experience you will understand why these microphones are such an industry standard and sought after by many. From the moment that you open the elegant wooden Neumann box to the moment you put the TLM 103 to bed after a session, you'll notice that you have been smiling from ear to ear!

  • Kenny Bergle

    One of the best mics on the planet for the price! AND it's a Neumann! Super clean and super great on any musical instrument. Voices sound good on it, singing and voiceover. Many v.o. talents across the country swear by the TLM 103 and there's good reason - it sounds rich and full and compelling yet is relatively accurate and transparent as well!

  • from Virginia November 6, 2016Music Background:
    Retired musician, currently a VO talent

    My last mic (maybe)

    I do audio books and some other VO work from my home studio and have been using at AT 2035, which was the best I could afford at the time.

    Saw the TLM 103 on sale and had the money so I said "why not"?

    Good decision. Crisp, clear, good bottom end. If you have a studio adequately prepped (acoustic panels, etc.) it's a great choice. I do have to tweak it a little with EQ, but not much - say 2 or 3 db in select areas. It's worth the full price and then some.

  • from October 9, 2015

    Big step up from the TLM 102

    I tested 3 mics at my local music store on 2 different pre-amps. The UA 710 Twinfinity preamp and the UA LA610 MkII preamp. I am a home hobbyist and have a medium voice for a male so I wasn't going really high or really low in frequency.

    Started with the TLM102. Honestly, I thought it sounded great. I was very happy with it.
    Then tried the AKG C414. A little fuller sound maybe but pretty equivalent to the 102. If I had to choose between them, the AKG is more versatile.

    I wasn't going to really go for the TLM 103 due to the higher price, but it was there so why not try it? OH.MY.GOSH! It was a whole other league. I felt like I just stepped into the pro mics. The other mics were accurate but this was PRESENT. I mean it made me sound better than I do but didn't seem like it was coloring my voice either.

  • from Chicago, IL September 28, 2015Music Background:
    Studio owner, producer and recording engineer.

    Neumann TLM 103

    Neumann TLM103, great mic for classical vocal, acoustic instruments. Special acoustic guitar and sax. Very accurate and transparent.
    Special thanks to Nick LaMendola hi made possible to be delivered next day with free charge .
    Thank you Nick, thank you Sweetwater !

  • from May 1, 2015

    Such a relief

    I bought the 103 and loved the sparkle and full-bodied sound SO much that I 'upgraded to a U87' almost immediately, to get more of the greatness. Preamp is ME-1NV. So, the U87 arrives and it sounded incredibly smooth to me. I was so excited about it and sung for hours. I reviewed the vocal cuts later that day and something felt off about it. It was too smooth, to the point of sounding artificial. Imagine a genuine multi-million dollar watch completely covered with diamonds and everyone just assumes it's a fake! It negates the whole purpose. In the same way, the U87 offers this soft, smooth and dreamy sound and it just sounds like BS. I would recommend it on a girl's voice probably. On mine, the TLM 103 has way more clout and definition, and is more bright in the middle range. Quality is king and I fully expected the U87 to outperform, and to my financial relief, it didn't.

  • from Manhatten, Big Apple March 20, 2015Music Background:
    Recording engineer and Producer


    I really get a kick out of the idiots from Gearslutz, who continuously slam the TLM103 and all TLM mics. They think that they can turn people away from this fantastic mic with their lies- maybe because they don't want you to have something great that they use in the studio. It's so obvious that when you A/B this mic against other microphones like the Shure SM7B and Electrovoice RE20 (which are nice microphones), the TLM103 wins out hands down on everything from vocals to acoustic guitar ! I own 2 TLM103's and I own 2 Neumann U87's . There's NOT alot of difference in recordings when running the U87's in cardiod mode ! I've been in the recording industry for 50 years and can tell you that what I say is true. The Neumann TLM series mics have a very low noise floor and GREAT dynamic range,especially for vocals! I would pair this mic with an Avalon VT737 for the best audio quality.

  • from Somewhere just outside Sedona December 7, 2014Music Background:
    50 years of performing and recording and still going strong...

    Transparency I've been waiting for...

    Really liking this mic. What ends up on the track is exactly what the room sounds like! Amazing quality as well...Really never liked what I recorded before this mic, but now I'm in Heaven...get one you won't hate it, you'll love it!

  • from Boston MA USA October 18, 2014Music Background:
    musician, engineer

    Everyone notices the difference

    Everyone that's recorded their vocals into this mic always asks me what I did to their vocal on playback. They don't believe it's the raw track - it sounds that good! Silky smooth, hot signal, great highs that don't hurt the ears, full bodied - I couldn't ask for more.

    Luxury you CAN afford!

  • from Corpus Christi, TX USA September 9, 2014Music Background:

    This is the mic I'll die with

    The value of this mic is incredible. A capsule derived from the U-87's at 1/3 the cost. No, it's not a U-87 killer, but it's damned close. Silky highs and prominent full sound. It's exceptionally quiet in self-noise and capable of handling loud SPL's. I traded a C-414XLS in to get this mic. The 414 was brittle and sibilant while this is so very smooth. Want my TLM-103?? From my cold dead hands!!

  • from USA June 27, 2014Music Background:
    engineer, musician


    I've been using these mics for many years. The TLM103 does a great job on everything you put in front of it especially acoustic guitar,and vocals. That's why ALL PRO studios have MANY of them. There is no roll-off or Hi Pass Filter on this mic, but when it's used with software programs such as ProTools or Hardware preamps such as an Avalon VT737 they (rolloff and hi pass filter) can be utilized from each. There are alot of recording engineers that use this mic because it has a great sound and because it has no problem with high SPL's. The mic picks up lows and highs amazingly and the middle is neutral. I also use the U87, U87ai,M49 and TLM49. I can say that I like the TLM103 as much and even more than the TLM49 on vocals. The other models are a little better but cost ALOT more.

  • from Connecticut November 9, 2012Music Background:

    It's everything I hoped for

    I been looking for the magic bullet of microphone's for quite sometime. The moment I tried this microphone I fell in love. The warmth is present, the high end is clean but not harsh and the voice is captured true and natural. The TLM 103 is well woth the investment.

  • from Chicago, IL May 29, 2012Music Background:
    Sound Engineer, Recording Engineer

    Outstanding Mic!

    Now I known what my studio has been missing...you should not record vocals without this mic.

  • from Clifton, NJ February 3, 2012Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Producer

    The Truth

    This mic IS THE TRUTH. I own a studio in Clifton NJ. I heard great reviews on the mic and I couldn't be any happier. I run it with a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 mic pre and its clarity could almost bring a tear to your eye, well worth the money.

  • from Grand Rapids, MI November 11, 2011Music Background:
    Home Recording Studio/Bar Musician

    Needs Great Preamp!!!

    I've been building a home recording studio, did the research, and was super excited to get my hands on this mic. I bought it and was EXTREMELY disappointed with its sound. My Shure SM57 sounded just as good if not better on vocals. Why? Because through low end to average preamps this thing sounds no better than a 57.

    Months later I bought a Daking Mic Pre One and this mic literally transformed into a golden goddess of audio pleasure before my ears.

    The TLM 103 NEEDS a good to great preamp to play with before it becomes useful at all (not quite true.. I still plug it into my Behringer Tube Pres from time to time for drum overheads = not bad).

  • from US January 7, 2011Music Background:
    Professional Pianist, Project Studio Enthusiast

    The Magic Microphone

    The TLM 103 is remarkable. Ive used it on alto saxophone, upright bass, female vocals, male spoken word, a Steinway piano, an acoustic nylon string guitar, a clarinet, and a toy accordion. In every instance, the sound lept out in the mix with clarity and life. I often pair it with a UA Solo/610 Tube Pre for added warmth. What a killer combo. I LOVE this microphone!!

  • from PITTSBURGH, PA December 19, 2009Music Background:

    sounds great!!!!!!

    had a couple of neumanns now(tlm 49 and the 103)i must say i like this 103 better for vocals sounds real good well at least on my voice

  • from Beirut, Lebanon September 26, 2009Music Background:
    recording, mixing engineer, musician, composer and producer.


    this is a must have microphone, it sounds perfect, just like a very expensive tube mic. especially if u use it with a solo 610 tube pre amp from Universal Audio.

  • from Dallas, TX June 1, 2009Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Pro Musician

    Amazing Mic!

    Absolutely incredible sound. Be ready to be blown away by this mic. I use it for vocals and guitars, sound is incredible. I have owned mine for 5 years now and have not had one problem.

  • from north shore April 12, 2008Music Background:
    recording engineer

    amazing mic

    beyonce and justin timberlake use this. granted they have probably the best mic chain ever (neve pres, la-2a compression) but u can start with the same mic and created ur own awesome mic chain. just buy the mic.

  • from New England, U.S.A. November 11, 2007Music Background:

    Best Kept Secret!

    I've owned my TLM for seven years and have used it on hundreds of acoustic guitar and vocal sessions. I also rely on David Royer’s unparalleled Mojave Audio MA-200, AKG and Rode mics. I must say that I love Neumann, in particular the TLM-103. I find it fascinating how lower-priced gear can alter someone’s objectivity. I advocate rejoicing at the luxury of this price and then let your ears be the judge. If it were four grand, everyone would be enthralled and impressed because it’s a Neumann. It’s amazing how the price can play with your head, yet this mic is not what I consider inexpensive simply because it’s under a grand. It’s a great mic. I’m proud to own one and am grateful that I got mine for less than a thousand. I feel proficient knowing that I’ve done so and try to place my efforts into talent and capturing the moment more than unnecessarily depleting my savings. I’m not George Martin producing Paul McCartney, but I sure have gotten some sweet recordings using the TLM and nobody knew the distinction until now. Go for it!

  • from February 17, 2016

    Definite Upgrade

    This is a definite upgrade to my old (and maybe worn out) AT 4033. I'm an old (56) home hobbyist but have been singing and drumming in local party bands most of my life and got into the home recording studio thing about 20 years ago. But, as many folks like me have experienced, our home recordings just seem to be missing a certain depth and sizzle that the pros get. Well, I decided to try a "pro" mic before I retire from the day job and got the TLM 103 and immediately noticed it got rid of the harshness to my vocals and just seems to add a nice overall tone that needs very little EQ after the fact. But, the sizzle still wasn't quite there so I (gulp) bought a pre-amp for it to get everything one needs to get that pro sound, and yes, I finally have it. My pre-amp is a Universal Audio LA-610 Mk 2, and the combo of the TLM 103 and the 610, make for great depth, sizzle and transparency.

    My vocals now sound so good I barely even need reverb/delay and virtually no EQ tweaks. I use Sonar Platinum as my DAW with a Roland Octacapture interface and I used to spend HOURS trying to get the vocal tone better but now I can just record and know the vocal will come out great from the get-go - a real time saver. I haven't tried this on anything other than vocals (and I play guitar, bass and keyboards) but I'm sure this combo will work well on most instruments but the vocals are the one thing I wanted to improve and this mic has done it. I just wish I would have taken the plunge sooner as it really is affordable if you save up and I think one can really get "Pro" sound now for just a few thousand dollars.

    FYI - sadly, I don't have any other experience with other "Pro" mics/pre-amps but I'm fairly happy with this purchase and just went with well-known companies. I'm sure there are even better things out there but this fits in my budget and definitely does improve the sound.

  • from Duluth Minnesota March 15, 2015Music Background:
    Owner Of Lake Breeze Audio Recording

    Great Mic!

    This is a great mic i knocked off a half star for no pads or filters but most good preamps have that already. This is one of the most hated and misunderstood mics around. Why? Because people think just because its a Neumann it will magically shine with a terrible sounding room bad mic placement and budget preamps and headphones.

    You need a Universal Audio solo 610 tube preamp or a Warm Audio Tone Beast both great pres overall! don't buy into the hate it does suit some voices and some not so much just like any mic. Great buy i and i love it! Buy the anniversary model with shockmount and case!

  • from Pasadena, CA June 24, 2013Music Background:

    Great Mic!

    Exceptional Mic! Very warm, good for recording instruments and very sensitive. Make sure you get one with a shock mount, I didn't and my recordings suffered from mic stand movement.
    I bought a pop filter for mine, never tried the specially designed Neumann WS87 windscreen for it, but I still wouldn't recommend. The sound is already warm enough, you wouldn't need a windscreen to dampen it anymore.

  • from Brooklyn, NY USA February 5, 2013Music Background:

    Bold & Beautiful

    I'd been wanting to step up to an excellent condenser mic after many years of recording on a Shure SM7B. I love the Shure, but had been craving the increased detail and richness of a condenser--I do storytelling/narration, so I wanted something that would allow me to be more vocally adventurous.

    I narrowed my choices to the 103, the TLM 49, and the Shure KSM 32. I'm fortunate enough to live close to B&H here in NYC, so I went to the store and demo'd all three. I went in expecting to like the TLM 49 the most, but ultimately found the 103 and the 32 to work much better for my voice--I am a somewhat tenor-y male. Both the 103 and the 32 provided much more clarity and detail for me, and in the end I decided to go with the 103 for it's superior richness and sparkle. Don't get me wrong, the 32 sounded great, but it just seemed boring and dull compared side-by-side with the 103.

    I then ordered the mic from Sweetwater (can't say enough about their excellent customer service), and have been working with it the last few days paired with a Grace m101 pre. I continue to be thrilled with the specificity and detail I'm able to get out of the mic that simply wasn't there with the SM7B, and also find it to be extraordinarily versatile--it responds well to every EQ/compressor setting I've thrown at it. The central tonal quality is irrepressible.

    My only note of caution would be to keep in mind that it's a hyper-sensitive mic, and while I'm satisfied with the recordings I've been able to make thus far, it really exposes any weaknesses in your room's set-up. Even in my office with the door shut on the sixth floor, I can hear the cat meowing two rooms away, the clink of a fork on a plate in the kitchen, and cars passing on the street below. That's actually a testament to the quality of the mic I suppose, but something to keep in mind before you spend the money.

    All in all, I'm very pleased with this mic and look forward to continuing to master it.

  • from Terre Haute, IN December 12, 2011Music Background:

    Superior value

    My go-to mic now for vocals. It's also quite sweet on acoustic guitar. Very warm and loves my Digitech VTP-1 preamp. The only reason it doesn't get five stars is the lack of a pad - although it's rated at 138 dB SPL.. I've heard others complain that the mids are harsh, but that's not been my experience at all.. I suspect it's their preamp/monitor set up. In any case, you get the Neumann name and sound for a very reasonable price. I'd buy another with no reservations.

  • from Pinckney, MI April 25, 2007Music Background:
    Live performance, Home recording, Whaever I feel like doing.

    Can Anyone Say "Versatile?"

    I have had TLM 103 for about 7 years now, great mic. It will do just about anything well. Well worth the money. I think that any mic that would honestly earn 5 stars (if such thing exists) would cost many times more than the TLM 103.

  • from Prescott, AZ February 15, 2007Music Background:
    Studio owner, Engineer, Producer

    Phenoms for the price... actually for any price.

    The absolute only reason that these don't get a 5 is because they lack the 'industry standard' reputaton of the U87. These mics are amazing, I use a pair for drum overheads and then pull them down to use on guitar cabs! So versatile, so clean, just some solid Neumanns for a grand a piece!

  • from South Louisiana December 29, 2016Music Background:

    Great mic but....

    According to the Neumann website this mic was launched in 1997. I bought mine in 2001. I've had a "love/not_so_much_love relationship with this mic since I owned it. From the beginning I thought it was a bit to "bright" for vocals. I've used it substantially on acoustic guitar. It's not great for guitar cabs, bass or drums (close mic'd) because there's no pad switch. If you look at the frequency response of the mic you'll see about a 4dB rise at around 7K all the way to 15K before it rolls off. Hence the reason it's "bright". (I'll add it has some massive bottom end too!!!). So, I've opted for other mics over these years for vocals. Now and again I'd break it out for a male vocalist but I just couldn't get used to it as a dedicated vocal mic. That is UNTIL I paired it with a Universal Audio LA610! After reading the plethora of "no-love" forum posts because of it being "too bright" or "too sibilant", I tried some drastic stuff with it. On the 610 I cut 3dB at 7K and 6dB at 200hZ! Yes, ALL subtractive eq! My reasoning was the hump at 7K (to tame the sibilance territory) and the lack of a low-cut filter on the mic (massive bottom end!!). All I can say is "wow"! I have a new vocal mic in my locker! If you have these two pieces of gear I'd encourage you to try it! But... at the end of the day it's a Neumann. It's a well-made mic and can be made to sound as pro as it's meant to be. Just may not be the best choice for some situations.

  • from February 9, 2012Music Background:

    If it sounds brittle and harsh then you're doing something wrong

    Mic is great. If it sounds bad don't blame the Neumann. I work professionally in the recording industry and I've never been disappointed when I've thrown this mic on a vocal or instrument.

  • from June 11, 2008Music Background:

    Great Mic!

    Gearfolks poke fun at the TLM 103 and say it's like buying a huge diamond with poor clarity and color, but when you've spent $4k on a vintage mic, any legitimate competition from a sub-$1k piece will make you break out in hives. I've used this thing with fantastic success on a rapper with overly sibilant Ts and Ssses and on a nylon-stringed guitar with very dull strings. Ignore the jealous vintage guys and just get it. Incredibly versatile mic for the project studio owner!

  • from Santa Barbara, CA May 23, 2008Music Background:
    Studio Owner,Voice Talent

    Pro Mic - Great Value

    I use a TLM 103 as our studio's announcer mic.
    It's been heard on a slew of national broadcast commercials and radio programs for NPR, BBC and CBC.
    Most recently featured on promos for Indiana Jones and will be heard opening the Indy 500 broadcast on ABC. Not the most expensive tool in the rack - but you never have to apologize for using a mic this good.

  • from Philly January 16, 2011Music Background:
    Pro Musician, Recording Engineer

    Yes, it's a Neumann...but don't let that fool you

    I bought this mic thinking that I was FINALLY getting a THAT Neumann sound. Well, I was wrong. There are at least 10 other mics in this price range that absolutely clean the floor with this mic. It is harsh and brittle in the high end. Sounds incredibly thin on female vocals and barely usable on most vocals in general. Gritty and harsh on acoustic guitar, I sold mine 2 months after buying it. Disappointing.

  • from Boston January 28, 2010Music Background:
    recording and mixing engineer

    not good

    mic is too harsh or too bright..not good to capture the highs on anything..but mic under this price range sound way better than it....don't recommend it...

  • from Huntsville, Alabama, USA February 1, 2005

    Love my TLM103

    I have a matched pair of these microphones. As the recording engineer for the Huntsville Symphony I can attest to their wonderful sound. My best project so far was recording the 150 piece chorus on Carmina Burana. WOW! I used a pair or Schoeps on the orchestra and the TLMs on the chorus.

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