Within the past decade there has been an enormous amount of musicians, singers, and songwriters investing in their home studios and multi tasking to learn every aspect ofthe production process. One priority piece of gear should be a quality microphone; every studio professional or hobbyist should have one real good mic in the house, or better yet a few to choose from to deliver the desired tone needed within a recording session.
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This month's feature mic is the NEUMANN TLM 127, a large diaphragm condenser microphone. It's clarity and ability to capture frequencies both low and high allow this microphone to shine in vocal tracking, broadcast, and voice over situations. Female Musician caught up with Dawn Birr, product manager for Neumann, to ask her about this new designer mic. Female Musician also provides some microphone sound samples, so be sure to download the MP3s, not only to compare, but also to listen for what tones each mic captures.
[Female Musician] What should a singer look for when purchasing a studio mic?
Dawn Birr There are some important factors to consider...first, is this going to be your do-it-all microphone? If so, what are yourgoals? Is this mic going to enhance your "flavor" or should it faithfully reproduce what you give it? Will you use this mic on any other application, or are you only interested in using it for vocals? Finally, let your ears be the judge ... demo different mics before deciding and make sure you get exactly what you want. Remember, this is your most important tool!
[Female Musician] What makes the TLM 127 a good purchasing choice?
Dawn Birr The TLM 127 is a good purchasing choice for many reasons... The TLM 127 is our newest studio microphone addition and we have configured it into 2 sets: TLM 127/Set Z, and TLM 127/Set A. The Set Z ships with the EA 1 Elastic Suspension and inside a wooden cherry jewelers case and the Set A ships with the EA 1 Stand Mount. The TLM 127 has multiple polarity switch able from the mic (cardioid and omni) plus an "R" setting that will enable a remote control function that will ultimately give the microphone 5 settings. It has a 14 dB roll off pad and high pass filter...with the pad engaged the mic can handle SPL (sound pressure levels) of 154 dB! You can practically place this microphone in any recording situation and get stellar results. It has a dynamic range of 132 dB and as a reminder to FM readers, does require phantom power.
[Female Musician] Explain what type of audio is captured when using a large diaphragm microphone?
Dawn Birr Large diaphragm microphones are usually known for their character and sensitivity and can really lend their personality to a recording. I often am asked about the "Neumann sound" in relation to our older, large diaphragm mics (U 47, U 67) and our more recent product line (U 87 A I or M 149 Tube).
[Female Musician] There is a remote control that is available for this product. What are the features of the TLM 127's remote control?
Dawn Birr The TLM 127's remote control unit, the N248, will be available in early 2004. This will allow the user to switch the polarity of the microphone from a remote control unit without actually changing polarity at the microphone. If you have a vocalist on stage and you're miking overhead, and need to change polarity for any reason, this can be done at the N248 in your control room, studio or wherever. Or, if you're permanently mounting the TLM 127, the remote control unit will insure that you have flexibility in your miking options.
[Female Musician] There are a couple of switches located on the back of the TLM 127.Can you give a scenario when it would be best to switch and suppress frequencies?
Dawn Birr The switches on the microphone have important functions. The 14 dB roll off should be utilized when there is a chance that a very high sound pressure source could overload the electronics of the microphone - this could lead to distortion. The high pass filter can be used to minimize sensitivity from very low frequencies like HVAC noise; it's also quite useful for suppressing proximity effect.
[Female Musician] A few of FM's past interviews included Grammy award winners Janis Seigel and Cyndi Lauper who both enjoy working with the Neumann U87. Other than the price, what are some differences between the TLM 127 & the U87?
Dawn Birr The TLM 127 shares some lineage with the U 87 A I...mainly the capsule design. The TLM 127's capsule was based on the well-known TLM 103, which was based on the U 87 A I. So it is definitely in the family; however the TLM 127 does have its own distinctive sound: a full, wide, almost warm sound that people time and again swear sounds a bit like a tube. The 127 absolutely shines on female vocals, acoustic guitar, drum overheads, ambient miking...the list goes on and on. Personally I've had experience with male and female vocals, acoustic guitar and mandolin, and found this microphone to really give a silky type of clarity. It's always hard to describe sound, so I would be happy to help FM readers find a demo friendly dealer in their area - just a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org will do it.
HEAR THE MP3 DIFFERENCE:
I plugged a few mic's directly digital into the Digidesign MBOX running the 5.2 version of the PRO TOOLS LE software, into a Mac Powerbook laptop. No effects or EQ added.
Now, if you are uncertain what to listen for, that's ok! Just like our voices, our ears are unique and we all hear things differently as well as gravitate towards sounds we prefer. If you are new to this area but are interested in hearing a difference, download the Mp3s and just play a few seconds of each. Then toggle back and forth to see if you can hear a difference between them. That will be a great way to train your ears to hear for certain frequencies that mic’s produce. These sound samples do not represent what mic is best, but are designed to educate our listeners what type of sounds the mic's produce. Please bare in mind, not all mic's are designed for vocals.- Our vocal examples are designed to give you an "idea", once again, of how the mic's sound.
Cardioid microphone: Cardioid comes from the Greek word for heart and the pickup pattern is somewhat heart shaped. Sound is picked up from front and rejected from the rear. A directional microphone.
Condenser microphone: Condenser is another word for capacitor. This microphone uses a charged capacitor to pick up the sound from the air and convert it into an electrical signal. Microphone with a capacitative electrical element.
Dynamic microphones: These microphones have a simple design. A diaphragm is moved by sound waves (for example, waves produced by a singing voice), and in turn a coil connected to the diaphragm moves within a magnetic field, producing a current. This current is then passed to the recording equipment, amplified, and translated into a form that can be transferred to recording devices.
While a cardioid pattern microphone rejects sounds from the rear, a figure-8 pattern mic picks up front and rear sounds. Omni directional microphones pick up all sources at equal volume, regardless of direction.