Unusual gear advice: TLM 102 vs. MA KM-69 (maybe KM184?)

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Unusual gear advice: TLM 102 vs. MA KM-69 (maybe KM184?)

Post by jgimbel » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:28 pm

I know these are an LDC and SDC, and not two mics I've really seen compared to one another, the number of samples I've heard of each of these mics actually seem to show some similarity between the two. Or rather, I feel like I can hear some similarity between a TLM 102 and KM84, and between the KM84 and KM69. In KM84s, there is kind of a rounding up top and a thickness to snare drums/toms. The KM69 seems to have a bit of that kind of sound though there's definitely more up top while the 102s seem to be in that league too but maybe a bit less up top than the KM69s. SoundPure's demo on YouTube is a big reference for that for me.

My overheads are on their way out. I'd like to get a new pair of mics that I can use for overheads. It'd be great to get something to use on acoustic guitar too, multi-tasking is great, but I don't mind getting something just rocks on a few things. I've generally been very impressed with the TLM 102s, and I wouldn't only get them with the mindset of thinking they might be slightly KM84-ish, I just generally like samples I've heard from them. I'm not looking for a cheap KM-84 here, but I do like the sound of KM84s and just want some nice mics that aren't the farthest away from a KM84 as I can get.

I just saw that the KM184s are actually cheaper than the KM69s. I see a lot of complaints about crispiness but I've also heard samples I've liked (and ones I didn't).

I won't be able to try these mics before buying, unfortunately, but I've had very excellent luck with the months of research I tend to do informing my purchases. This is a next month purchase, so I've got a little bit of time to decide. I do need a pair of these mics, and if I got TLM 102s or KM184s I could afford to get a pair at the same time. The KM69, on the other hand, I'd have to buy one soon and another at the end of the year. But if it'd be worth it, I'd wait. Oktava MK-012s are on the list of potentials too but I want to make sure I'm getting something that'll blow me away. I'm also looking at getting a BAE 1073MP (two at some point), so I'm going to have to decide what I'm getting first (one of these mics and the pre, a pair of mics and wait on the pre, etc.).
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Post by jgimbel » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:33 pm

I forgot to mention, I get all kinds of clients in here - singer-songwriter folks where I'm doing session drumming, metal bands, indie rock, rootsy folk, gritty blues, doo wop, funk/hip hop, all sorts of things. I also do my own music which is more of an indie rock kind of thing, and when buying gear I tend to make purchases that cater to that and my own preferences which happen to most always work beautifully for a wide variety of kinds of music.
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Post by sessionsatstudiom » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:39 am

My favorite overheads are typically AKG 414s. They sound excellent in the room I record in. I have not heard the 102 or KM69 so I can't officially comment there. But I have a set of Oktavas the 012 and they are nice. Do not blow anyone away but nice. They are similar to the KM184 and would be a nice option as an overhead mic.

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Post by sdelsolray » Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:14 pm

Take a look at the 3 Zigma CHI mics. Quite nice, well built and reasonably priced.

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Post by sdelsolray » Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:14 pm

Take a look at the 3 Zigma CHI mics. Quite nice, well built and reasonably priced.

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Post by vxboogie » Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:39 pm

You might take a look at the Ultimate SDC mods by Michael Joly at Oktavamod. I don't have a KM84 to compare to, but they definitely became my best SDCs and are highly regarded.
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Post by jgimbel » Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:35 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. Since I've got two MXL 603s right now, I've definitely looked at the Ultimate SDC mods, though they're starting to have issues with the connectors and I think some capsule stuff, so I'm a little worried about the reliability. I'm also looking to get something that, while of course sound is by far the most important thing, might really be "it", just something really amazing, maybe even something with better resale value than a modded mic, should I ever absolutely need to sell.

I've been looking at the KM184s now since they're cheaper than the KM69s, but it seems like people have the same complaints about the 69s as the 184s - that they're brighter than the KM84s, though people have seemed to love both of them when not comparing them to a KM84. The TLM 102s still seem nice but I'm concerned that there are things that SDCs would excel at and spending money there would be a better choice. I'm getting lost in the world of SDCs now, like the Josephson C42s and Peluso P28s both look really nice as well. I had written down the Shure KSM 141 forever ago as a suggestion from Chris Garges, and like all the others, some people have complaints while others love them. It seems like with SDCs it's really hard to get a good view of what you're generally getting. Obviously trying them is best but not all of us have that option. LDCs tend to at least have pretty decent description that's helpful around, but these SDCs..oy.
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Post by Dominick Costanzo » Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:18 am

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Post by blungo2 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:32 am

sorry, i haven't read the whole thread but the chameleon labs ts-1 is a very nice sdc imho. i wish i had two of them.

i've also had good luck with the line audio sdc on guitar.

tlm 102 is nice for vocals, kinda smooth and dark, but not lacking in the highs through my gear.

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Post by vxboogie » Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:07 am

jgimbel wrote:Thanks for the suggestions. Since I've got two MXL 603s right now, I've definitely looked at the Ultimate SDC mods, though they're starting to have issues with the connectors and I think some capsule stuff, so I'm a little worried about the reliability.

I had written down the Shure KSM 141 forever ago as a suggestion from Chris Garges, and like all the others, some people have complaints while others love them.
Joly's mods don't replace the capsule, he opens the side vents, mills down the front of the capsule and mods/replaces the electronics, but since he practically overhauls the whole mic, it might work for you. I'd email him. He is very easy to work with and very informative.

My prior "go to" mics for acoustic and drum overheads were SM81 on the SDC side and KSM27(pair) or KSM44(mono) on the LDC side. I was never really happy with the stock 603s. OK for the price but not what I wanted. I did a few acoustic comparison recordings of an SM81, unmodded 603, Ultimate mod 603 and for me and a few friends the Ultimate 603 came out on top each time. I even proved to a friend that milling down the front capsule edge did help the sound by putting an unmodded 603 capsule on one of the modded 603s and doing a side by side recording. The reduction in capsule resonance was definitely audible.

I can see if I still have the tracks if you are interested.
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Post by rhythm ranch » Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:30 am

Let me stir the pot a bit more - you should also check out the Beyer MC 930 and the AKG C391. Both have played quite nicely in the studio. I think the 930s come very close to the KM84s.

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Post by jgimbel » Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:42 am

Very helpful guys!

blungo2, I'll check out the TS-1, I remember seeing them mentioned before but never checked them out. Smooth and dark is exactly what I'm hearing in samples of the TLM102s, and is what made me think maybe the Oktava MK-012s would be right, but in samples I feel like I hear the low mids as a bit more tubby, rather than the thickening/rounding quality I hear with the KM84 and similarly with the 102s. I'm still thinking maybe the 102s might be the ones. And while the name is not at all what's important to me, I do get all kinds of people in here and it's possible having some Neumann mics of any kind in here might impress some folks and get me some more clients. It's funny what people feel like they need to see, but if it impresses them, and the sound impresses me, that sounds good!

vxboogie, yeah I've seen and read what he does to them, it's pretty impressive! If you were able to find those tracks that'd be great! I'm definitely considering them, just also looking to take advantage of the decent chunk I've got coming around the end of October after a handful of sessions, so I figured I'd explore more expensive options too. Definitely one in the competition though.

rhythm ranch, the Beyer MC930 popped up when I was searching for "KM84 vs." threads. From what everyone says about it, it seems like an incredible mic. The 5db+ boost above 10khz scares me a bit, looking at the freq. chart, though being that high up I'm not sure that it's in a spot that's really going to make cymbals sound harsh. Having the pad and the bass rolloff make it really tempting too, since I've often got loud drummers, and when I'm recording pop/rock stuff I very often roll off low end in the overheads to keep the kick focused in the center. I'm a bit surprised to see the Beyers as coming close to the KM84s just looking at the chart, but you're definitely not the only one saying that. I'll check out the AKGs too.

I'm definitely starting to look less at the KM184s. They seem to be okay, but it looks like there are a lot of other mics that are cheaper per mic that people are raving about. The Josephson C24s seemed appealing, but from what I'm hearing, the Josephsons may sound like what I'd expect the Beyers to sound like based on their chart - bright and airy. I keep seeing the Beyers described as "warm", and that sounds good to me. I'm also going to be getting a BAE 1073MP, which makes me fear that very high end bump in the Beyers too.

Right now the frontrunners are the Beyer MC930s and the TLM102s. Keep it coming, you guys are a huge help!
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Post by rhythm ranch » Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:00 pm

jgimbel wrote: rhythm ranch, the Beyer MC930 popped up when I was searching for "KM84 vs." threads. From what everyone says about it, it seems like an incredible mic. The 5db+ boost above 10khz scares me a bit, looking at the freq. chart, though being that high up I'm not sure that it's in a spot that's really going to make cymbals sound harsh. Having the pad and the bass rolloff make it really tempting too, since I've often got loud drummers, and when I'm recording pop/rock stuff I very often roll off low end in the overheads to keep the kick focused in the center. I'm a bit surprised to see the Beyers as coming close to the KM84s just looking at the chart, but you're definitely not the only one saying that. I'll check out the AKGs too.
I hear you on the freq response chart for the 930s. All I can tell you is that they don't sound like that chart - the high-end is very smooth. The 391s also surprised me, beating out a number of other SDCs (451, SM81, AT4041 and the 930 in this case) on a few acoustic guitar tracks.

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Post by jgimbel » Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:04 pm

rhythm ranch wrote:
jgimbel wrote: rhythm ranch, the Beyer MC930 popped up when I was searching for "KM84 vs." threads. From what everyone says about it, it seems like an incredible mic. The 5db+ boost above 10khz scares me a bit, looking at the freq. chart, though being that high up I'm not sure that it's in a spot that's really going to make cymbals sound harsh. Having the pad and the bass rolloff make it really tempting too, since I've often got loud drummers, and when I'm recording pop/rock stuff I very often roll off low end in the overheads to keep the kick focused in the center. I'm a bit surprised to see the Beyers as coming close to the KM84s just looking at the chart, but you're definitely not the only one saying that. I'll check out the AKGs too.
I hear you on the freq response chart for the 930s. All I can tell you is that they don't sound like that chart - the high-end is very smooth. The 391s also surprised me, beating out a number of other SDCs (451, SM81, AT4041 and the 930 in this case) on a few acoustic guitar tracks.
Interesting. The 391 frequency chart looks very similar to the Shure KSM 141, which is a bit less money and has two patterns rather than separate capsules you can buy. The Beyers are definitely tempting though as I've been looking into both their ribbons and dynamics lately and seen so many people raving about all their mics, it makes me want to try them. Having something with "Neumann" on it would be a nice addition here, but really all of these seem like great mics. I wish I was able to try a bunch here first, but I don't have a way to do that and won't have enough to buy them all and return what I don't want.
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Post by blungo2 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:29 pm

not that i know anything, but afaik, freq charts often aren't that much of a clue to a what a mic actually sounds like. i'd even go so far as to say they can be downright misleading.

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