Shure KSM44A and Neumann TLM102 studio microphone test
Shure has been making high quality hi-fi and audio products for nearly a hundred years. The KSM44A is an extremely powerful microphone, offering several polar patterns: cardioid, circular and bidirectional patterns, thus offering a wide range of applications. Its own noise level is very low and it produces extremely good performance and sound quality.
The premium quality condenser microphone has features that make it perfect for almost any recording, and a lot of sound engineers use this microphone in their work. Made of aluminum, the large diaphragm design is ideal for vocals, the internal pop filter and transformerless output, and the Prethus Advance Preamplifier technology ensure clear sound and quiet operation.
This studio microphone has a double diaphragm, 3-pole pattern, is also equipped with a damping pad and an optional surface-pass filter. The frequency response is between 40 and 20,000 Hz, the impedance is 100 Ohms, and the maximum sound pressure level (SPL) is 131 decibeL. Also perfect for professional use.
According to reviews, this is the flattest, clearest, most neutral-sounding microphone, super quiet to operate, not noisy at all, and very easy to use. The disadvantage is the excessive neutral sound of the microphone. For sound to be perfect, it is important to place the microphone.
Condenser microphones are best for recording vocals and vocals, as they record more sonic detail, but sound pressure management is limited. Dynamic microphones, on the other hand, can handle louder sources, and noise filtering is better than them, and condenser microphones require a phantom or their own power supply. Cardioid microphones are mostly used to record sounds coming from the front. Pop filters actually filter out excessive air movement, as these sudden incoming movements can cause unpleasant volume jumps that degrade the quality of the sound recording. The adjustable attenuation pads included with the microphones allow you to create distortion-free sound at higher volumes and larger sound sources.
It can also be used for live performances. It is also great for recording background music thanks to the different recording patterns that you can choose according to the type of audio you are recording. It does an excellent job with any instrument. It can also be used as a top microphone for orchestral choir or percussion.
It features a wide frequency range, a high output signal level and a wide dynamic range, as well as uniform polarity. It has gold-plated connectors. The three-position, switchable, low-frequency filter reduces unwanted rack vibrations. Equipped with an ultra-thin 2.5 micron thick 24 carat Mylar diaphragm and a shock absorber that reduces resonance problems. Made of durable zinc material and carbon steel grille.
A competitor to the Shure microphone is the Normann TLM 102 studio microphone. which contains a large membrane capacitor capsule and is equipped with a capacitor without a transformer. It has a single cardioid pattern, it hasn’t been given any extra features that limit its versatility, but it makes the job easier because there are no different settings to deal with. It was specially designed for singing and vocal recordings, with an emphasis on sounds coming from the front. The frequency response is between 20 and 20,000 Hz, the impedance is 50 Ohms, the maximum sound pressure (SPL): 144 decibels.
The compact size of the solid, rugged microphone can be liked by many, but its streamlined design doesn’t appeal to everyone.
This microphone is made with more cost-effective manufacturing methods, so the pad and filter switches should be omitted, but this does not affect the sound quality. The newly developed large-diaphragm capsule is designed primarily for vocal microphones, but is also suitable for louder instruments. Made with a flexible suspension that makes it easier to disengage the vibrations of the housing, the microphone is available in black and nickel. It comes in a simple, foam-lined cardboard box and comes with a swivel stand.
The design is very stylish and beautiful, with a silver bar and a red Neumann logo below the basket. Its noise level is slightly higher than that of the Shure microphone, but this can still be said to be a low noise level. The TLM 102 has a balanced sound.
Which is the best microphone?
The Neumann microphone provided a very fine, spacious sound, the middle and deep ranges were perfectly understandable and clear. When using musical instruments, it produced less depth than some other types of microphones, but it was still able to produce vivid, bright sound. Proper placement of the microphone is very important, depending on whether you want to use it for instrumental or vocal recordings. Despite having only a cardioid pattern, the TLM102 is surprisingly versatile and not at all ashamed compared to the more expensive microphone. The price is also cheaper than the Shure microphone, but when we unpacked, we missed the storage case that came with the Shure microphone, but this was omitted. Neumann also has a more expensive microphone, but the TLM 102 produced excellent performance compared to its price.
The KSM44A studio microphone is much more expensive than the Neumann, but thanks to its multiple polar patterns, it is also much more versatile to use. It can also be used as a top microphone for stage, vocal or instrumental recordings, but if you can’t or don’t want to spend that much money on a microphone, you won’t be disappointed with the Norman TLM 102 either, but remember that the cardioid mic designed primarily for vocal recordings.
Keep in mind that if you want to create perfect quality sound recordings or music mixes, it is not enough to buy premium quality hi-fi and audio products. If a studio has poor acoustics, unfortunately the sound recordings will also be of poor quality. Subsequent adjustments and refinements using computer software will not be enough to ensure proper sound recording. It is essential to deal with reflections and standing waves, and to ensure that the reverberation time is adequate, and this can only be solved with acoustic elements specifically designed to improve acoustics.
Written by Róbert Polgár