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Neumann TLM 103 Test & Reviews

The Neumann TLM 103 succeeded the U87 in 1997. Since then, this cardioid condenser microphone has become one of the German company's greatest successes. Many reviews claim that this little gem of technology offers outstanding sound. But I decided to put it to the test in order to fully evaluate its effectiveness for all users.

Neumann Tlm 103 Test Complet

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Test Summary 👇

The TLM 103, a classic of the Neumann brand

The Neumann TLM 103 is a popular studio microphone and is recommended for use in the home studio. It is a transformerless cardioid condenser microphone. It was created 20 years after its predecessor Neumann U87 Ai ,a condenser microphone most widely used and recommended by professionals since its conception.

The Neumann microphone has become a successful classic and is a versatile microphone for singers and musicians in studio recording situations as well as on stage. By the way, its use by the musician Jack White, during his live show for the sound of the amplifiers, the microphone has reinforced its notoriety.

Neumann TLM 103 microphone

It is a sort of update of the legendary U87, still considered today as the most famous and most used condenser microphone of the brand. Its K103 large diaphragm capsule is based on the K67 / K87 capsule found in the U67 microphones and U87. But, so to speak, the Neumann TLM 103 is an improved version of its predecessor.

Neumann TLM 103 Achat


While the U87 has a large dual-diaphragm capsule with three directional patterns: omnidirectional, cardioid, and figure-8, the Neumann TLM 103 is a primarily cardioid condenser microphone with a transformerless circuit. Therefore, compared to the dynamic studio microphones, it offers a more direct sound and excellent definition.

Neumann TLM 103 Design
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A careful design

At first sight, the build quality of the Neumann TLM 103 displays all the design characteristics of a high-end microphone designed to capture sound. The unit is made entirely of metal and appears to be meticulously assembled.

The head is conical and has a wire mesh grill that is visibly a bit thin, but thick enough to effectively protect the capsule from impact and explosive sounds while keeping out ambient noise.

Neumann TLM 103 Achat


It also has a reasonable weight of about 450 grams. In addition, its black or metallic appearance guarantees a unique refinement, with only the Neumann brand logo in red on the body.

Neumann TLM 103 Frequence Mono Set

The frequency response of the Neumann TLM 103

Technically, the Neumann TLM 103 microphone has a bandwidth of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Depending on the response curve, the microphone responds at low frequencies of about 65 or 75 Hz. It then remains flat for about 3.5 kHz, before rising by 4 dB to about 6 kHz at 15 kHz, until it reaches 6 dB at 20 kHz.

Neumann TLM 103 Achat


In other words, it provides a much more modern sound, with a wider presence amplification for frequencies above 5 kHz. The sound is more direct, but very refined. It is ideally suited for vocals or solo instruments.

The Neumann TLM 103 also has an excellent midrange, typical of Neumann products, as well as a deep and controlled bass for recording voices and bass instruments with great sonic power.

Neumann Tlm 103 enregistrement
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Discover also our complete test of the Rode Podcaster USB microphone. This is a dynamic front-panel USB microphone. This microphone is for you if you are looking for an easy-to-use, durable, and versatile microphone with great sound.

Cardioid directivity for excellent sound quality

The Neumann TLM 103 also has a cardioid, albeit slightly omnidirectional, directivity with a fairly wide frequency response from 2 kHz to 4 kHz. But it is still much more sensitive with a sound source coming from the front. Sound sources from other directions are rendered naturally. And the bulk of the sound to be recorded is well isolated, without having to adjust the microphone volume.

Although it picks up a lot of ambient noise, it suppresses feedback considerably and sound waves from the rear are well attenuated. Especially when used in live situations or with playback through a speaker.

Neumann TLM 103 Achat


Note that this quality sound is achieved without having to correct the effects of resonance with the mixing console. In fact, the Neumann TLM 103 is able to maintain a good impulse response. This is achieved by reproducing every detail of the sound of music or vocals with a minimum of modification depending on the recording technic.

Also, the self-noise level is very low, and the Neumann TLM 103 reproduces even the least inaudible sounds without ambient noise. The dynamic range is 131 dB (A-weighted). The microphone can withstand sound pressure levels of up to 138 dB without distortion.

Neumann TLM 103 : Une référence en microphone
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Neumann’s TLM technology, a reference in microphones:

The Neumann TLM 103 has defined a new generation of high-end products from Neumann. It incorporates a technology never used before: a transformerless output circuit. Thus, a simple electrical circuit replaces the output transformer usual of other microphones like the U87.

But it does so while guaranteeing good common-mode rejection and less interference that can interfere with the recording. And since the advent of TLM technology, it has set the standard by which contemporary studio microphones are considered to be of excellent quality.

Neumann TLM 103 Achat


For which users are the Neumann TLM 103 intended?

The Neumann TLM 103 is highly regarded in studios around the world for its careful construction and sound quality. It offers unparalleled performance and is a more modern alternative to U87 studio microphones in your recording equipment.

And so, the Neumann TLM 103 is very versatile. Among other things, you can use it for recording lyrics or vocals, music from drums, or as an amplifier for instruments such as acoustic guitars, cymbals or piano.

Neumman TLM 103 home studio
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It can also be used as a microphone for classical recordings with stringed instruments such as the guitar, cello or double bass. It is an all-purpose microphone, perfect for voice recording, singing or instruments, and even for use in broadcasting or dubbing.

While it’s very popular in the studio for various recordings, it’s also suitable for use in the home studio, especially due to its cardioid directivity. Sounds from the front are picked up the most, making it easier to use and isolate from other sound sources.

Neumann TLM 103 Achat


The high sensitivity of the microphone allows it to pick up a lot of ambient noise, so you will need to arrange the room in such a way that ambient noise is reduced.

Otherwise, the recording or voice pickup may be severely affected by handling noise, vibration, background noise, static, etc., depending on the sensitivity of the microphone to pick up sound.

Tlm 103
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Summary of technical characteristics

  • Sensor: pressure gradient sensor
  • Directivity : Cardioid
  • Output circuit : without transformer
  • Bandwidth : 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Nominal impedance : 50 ohms
  • Nominal load impedance : 1000 ohms
  • Sensibility : ~ -33dB, 21 mV/Pa
  • Maximum sound pressure level : 138 dB for DHT < 0,5 %
  • Signal to noise ratio: 87 dB (weighting A), 76,5 dB (CCIR)
  • Maximum output voltage : 13 dBu
  • Minimum self-noise : 7dBA
  • Maximum self-noise : 17, 5 dB (CCIR)
  • Power consumption: (P48, IEC 61938) : 3 mA
  • Connector : XLR-3 F
  • Supply voltage : 48 V +/- 4 V
  • Dimensions : 132 x 60 mm
  • Weight : 450 g
  • Color : Black or metallic
Neumann TLM 103 Packaging
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List of supplied accessories :

  • A wooden storage box
  • Microphone stand
  • 5/8″ to 3/8″ foot adapter
  • Instructions for use

What’s the Neumann TLM 103 worth?

You should remember that its main advantages lie in its various features. In particular, its wide dynamic range of 131 dB, and its optimal noise of only 7dBA. Without forgetting, its rather soft response in frequency. And finally, its capacity to support a sound pressure going up to 138 dB without distortion.

Neumann TLM 103 Achat


This best studio microphone also offers a lot of versatility. In the home studio, it is a perfect choice because of its cardioid directivity. It is in any case a quiet model, offering a very pure and refined sound. This despite the fact that it picks up a lot of ambient noise. It also offers a good proximity effect, even for beginners who want to record voice or music. And the absence of a transformer is perfect for limiting interference.

Neumann TLM 103 : Microphone professionnel
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My opinion

The cardioid condenser studio microphone TLM 103 from Neumann is a professional microphone. I particularly like the incredibly refined pure sound. The minimal self-noise of only 7dBA and the wide dynamic range of 131 dB. And of course, the great versatility, which places it in the upper end of the range.

It can be used for projects in the recording studio as well as in the home studio. Especially for classical recordings and qualitative sound amplification. If it offers a very soft tone, you also have an excellent proximity effect.

Neumann TLM 103 à large diaphragme
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A detail you can use to your advantage to strengthen your voice. And compensate for other disadvantageous technical details like ambient noise. It is durable and can be used for live situations. As a microphone for guitar amps, for example.

Its main flaw is its ability to pick up a lot of ambient noise. For home studio use, be sure to work in an acoustically treated room.

Neumann TLM 103 Achat


The Neumann TLM 103 microphone has everything it takes to impress professionals and amateurs alike. The sound reproduction is very good. The sound emitted is very pure and faithful. This may also be the sound you are looking for in such a high-quality and expensive microphone. The sound is not shrill, not too high, not too fat, but rather soft and pleasant to listen to.

I also appreciate its robustness. It can handle live events. It’s amazing. Not to mention its very high maximum sound pressure to spare you from distortion.

Neumann TLM 103 Excellent qualité
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In summary, if you are an artist or a musician, you will recognize in it a concentrate of technology. It can really enhance and record your voice or your musical instrument. Whether it is a microphone for singing, a voice recorder, an amplifier for a musical instrument, in the end, only the price can make you reluctant.

But considering its audio quality, the Neumann TLM 103 is a professional microphone with excellent value for money. Perfect to complete your recording equipment!

Neumann TLM 103 Achat
Our Global Review

Global Sound Quality

4.8 /5

Quality / Price ratio

4,6 /5

Overall Score

4,7 /5

Our opinion on the Neumann TLM 103:

The Neumann TLM 103 microphone has everything it takes to impress professionals and non-professionals alike. The sound is very pure and professional, especially considering the price of the microphone.

Neumann TLM 103 Demo

Special offer from Neumann 🔥

Neumann TLM 103 Achat