when i was putting my first 'real' project studio together, i went on a search for the best large diaphraghm condenser i could find for the money. thanks to sweetwater's great 'return if not satisfied' policy, i had the opportunity to try some great mics without fear of getting saddled with one i didn't really want.
i already had a pair of at4033's, and a rode nt1, as well as a 'bargain' (NOT) chinese mic. the 4033's were fine for drum overhead, acoustic guitar, ect, and the rode found some uses too... but i had purchased both a langevin dvc and a neve 9098, and i wanted a mic that could really match the quality of those preamps. another consideration was that i was (and still am) working with a group of exceptional male and female vocalists, and i needed a mic that was flattering to many different voices. both the 4033 and nt1 tended to sound overly harsh on the girls voices, tho on male vox they were fine. i set my upper dollar amount at $1,000 and started looking (and listening!).
obviously, the tlm193 was my final selection, so i'll get down to the reasons why.
the neumann moniker sure was part of my reason for auditioning it in the first place! it never hurts to have a potential client know you have that kind of quality on hand. but the name doesn't mean squat unless it performs, and it does that far beyond my expectations.
it doesn't have the presence bump most large neumann's have (and most cheap mics copy)- it's a very neutral mic. on the female vox, it sounds big and lush, w/out any hint of harshness. on the male vox, it easily blew away the other condensers i have- the resulting tracks always seem to enhance the best qualities of the singer!
vocals are just the tip of the iceberg where this mic's capability is concerned tho... it's my first-call mic for electric bass and guitar amps... if you close your eyes in the control room, you'd swear the amp was in the room with you! it also shines on kick drum- i like to use two mics on the kick, a '57 aimed at the beater, and the 193 a couple of feet in front of it... talk about BIG!
the 193 isn't one of neumann's more 'famous' mics, tho i don't know why- that feeling seems to be shared by many of the reviews of the mic i've found on the web. perhaps it's because it only has a cardioid pattern, or maybe because it lacks a pad and lo-cut filter? hey, my preamps have those things! i had never even considered the 193 (i guess due to it's lack of hype) 'til i asked my sweetwater rep if he had any demo/refurb mics available. the 193 was mentioned, and i was told it was a demo and it had some wear on it, so it was being sold rather cheaply. well, the 'wear' turned out to be some scratches on the wooden case! the mic itself was pristine.
i'm saving up to purchase a second tlm193, and i hope to use them as my main drum overheads. of course i wouldn't turn down a free u87, but i don't feel like it would give me anything i don't already have from the 193. my mic collection has grown huge since i bought the 193- i have high-end mics from BLUE, shure, gefell, AKG, ect.... and i use them all the time when i'm tracking full bands. when it's time to lay down overdubs tho, the 193 pretty much gets used for the rest of that sessions, and that's the highest compliment i can give it.