Neumann TLM 103 Vs Warm Audio WA87

Large-diaphragm microphones like Neumann TLM 103 Vs Warm Audio WA87 are often preferred for voice and vocals. They will capture the most of your voice and deliver clean and clear audio to your audience or recording. They are equally high-quality capable microphones for most people. But, the two are not cheap so let’s see below what you can expect before investing in one.

In this comparison, we are going to talk about:

  • What are Small and Large Diaphragm Microphones
  • What are TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87
  • How is the Build Quality of TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87
  • How is the Setup of TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87
  • How are the Specs of TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87
  • How are the Sound Characters of TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87
  • What else TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 can offer
  • How is the Performance of TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87
  • TLM 103 Vs Warm Audio WA87

Small and Large Diaphragm Microphones

There are many different microphones, but the diaphragm is probably the most crucial part of the equipment regardless of the type and connector or polar pattern. This component will determine the mic’s ability to move accurately with sound pressure waves that hit it. Some factors affect how this element works, such as size, mass, and rigidity. In general, there are small and large diaphragms microphones. The small diaphragms typically have less than 0.75 inches, and the large diaphragms are bigger.

Due to the size, both small and large diaphragms microphones have different typical characteristics. The smaller sizes tend to do a better job at capturing transients and other high-frequency sounds. They have this “airy” quality and have less coloration than their larger size. The performance is an effect of reduced mass that allows it to follow any air disturbances it is receiving more closely. They also tend to be more rigid, preventing other types of distortion while having greater sensitivity as it takes less sound pressure to make it move.

On the other hand, large diaphragms are those microphones with a diaphragm size greater than 0.75 inches, such as Avantone CV-12 Vs Aston Spirit. It is still arguable, but they tend to capture the depth of very low-frequency sound better. Many engineers agree that they sound better on low frequency or have a “big” sound, especially pleasing for application with the human voice. They are beautiful for applications that want more coloration, such as vocals, guitar or bass amps, drums, and acoustic guitars.

 Neumann TLM 103Warm Audio WA87
Product Dimensions9.5 x 4.2 x 11.5 inches 14.9 x 11.55 x 6.25 inches
Shipping Weight7.7 pounds 4.94 pounds
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About TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87

Sound is subjective, so you will often hear different opinions and preferences, but it is wise to go with what you are comfortable with because not everyone has the same taste. If this is your first microphone, it is convenient to check the market leader to ensure we are getting a good quality product. On the other hand, you can check what you need and look for and match it with the current market’s offering. There is plenty to consider, but some are more attractive than others.

Neumann is one of the most prominent players in the market, especially when you talk about studio microphones. People will mention at least one of this brand’s microphones for how good it is. But, like most professional equipment Neumann is not cheap, and the demand is relatively high, which gives way for alternatives to compete, and one of them is Warm Audio. Not so surprisingly, this brand is offering similar microphones but at a lower cost, and many love their performance.

Today, we talk about the famous Neumann TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87. As you can guess, the WA87 is a replica or alternative to the classic U87 from Neumann, which is no longer available and has been replaced by U87Ai. Many people seem not to adore the new iteration, making WA87 a desirable choice as it is a copy of the original microphone. The TLM 103 is like the smaller version of U87, not necessarily identical, but the form factor is an advantage.

The TLM 103 is cheaper and less versatile than its big brother, but many are okay with what it can offer. If your application revolves around human voice and instruments like guitar, there is no reason not to have this microphone in your studio. Like most products from different companies, the main difference between TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 is the sound character, where the latter may be better for singing, acoustic guitar, and speech.

TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 Build Quality

Now let’s see the microphones before checking what else they can offer. As expected, these microphones are rigid from something that costs more than $500. You can expect an all-metal body, including the grille, and there is a solid weight to these mics. The size is different because WA87 follows U87, which is quite a huge model than TLM 103. Interestingly both come in a wooden box to secure the microphone and accessories. The WA87 provides a standard mount and shock mount with an adapter and elastic bands.

We noticed there is TLM 103 with shock mount inclusion, and there is a package without one, so ask your seller which model they carry. With or without the shock mount, TLM 103 also comes in a wooden box, and you get a standard microphone mount with an adapter. TLM 103 is a straightforward microphone as there is nothing you can pick on the unit. On the other hand, WA87 has a polar pattern selector at the front and a pair of switches on the back.

TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 Setup

Next, let’s see the setup first because both TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 are condenser microphones, so you will need equipment to provide phantom power. Sadly they won’t work directly to the computer or via an adapter, so you want something like an audio interface or a mixer with a USB cable to record on the computer. Depending on your preamp, the gain for the condenser mic is usually around 10-11.30, but the WA87 is less sensitive, so you may want to drive the gain higher.

TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 Specs

It is also helpful to see the general specs of your microphone before buying one because we can get a glimpse of what they can offer here. The frequency range is from 20Hz to 20kHz for both microphones. Strangely Warm Audio doesn’t list the sensitivity of this mic, so we are not so sure about this specific spec. A source lists it at 8mV/Pa while TLM 103 is 23mV/Pa. The maximum SPL for WA87 is 125 and 132db for WA87 and 138 for TLM 103.

TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 Sound Characters

Now is for the crucial part, which is sound quality and character. True to the price, both TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 are great microphones that sound good for most people. They are very smooth and make your voice sound full without being dark or too boomy like some models. There is a noticeable boost in the high frequency, but instead of making your voice harsh or sharp, we find them to be very pleasant and add characters to your speech.

Overall they are perfect for human voice like broadcasting and voice-overs, especially if you use them in a treated room. The vocals are similar, impressive for male or female voices. We think the high end gives your voice nice sparks without being overwhelmingly bright. What we notice as slightly different is for guitar recording. While both sound fantastic for the guitar amp, the WA87 can sound a bit soft on the low end, making it feels thin and lacking in body, but the top is satisfying.

Depending on what you play, some notes may sound a little bit harsh or piercing to the ears, which is not what TLM 103 sounds like as it gives a good balance of low end and high frequencies. We also find that WA87 is not very reliable for miking drums as an overhead for the same issues, and it sounds thin for this type of application.

TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 Features

Next, let’s check the features that you can find on TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 or WA87 because TLM 103 doesn’t provide any switches or features in the unit. All of the processing for TLM 103 will be done on the computer. On the other hand, WA87 offers both polar pattern selector and switches for -10db pad, and the other is for 80Hz high pass filter. The polar pattern selector is handy as we can choose the ideal model for your application, overall making the microphone more versatile.

TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 Performance

Lastly, for the performance, we think the TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 are working very well for most people. The build quality is excellent, and the accessories are reliable. The only complaint about TLM 103 is the price point and the lack of features so we will need other equipment to adjust the sound. The WA87 is a good microphone, but the sensitivity is very low compared to a typical condenser microphone, so you will most likely need to drive the gain higher than TLM 103.

TLM 103 Vs Warm Audio WA87

Both TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 are worth the price because they are impressive. The main charm of these microphones is how smooth they sound and how they can accommodate different applications, especially for human voices. The difference between TLM 103 and Warm Audio WA87 is sound character and features because, for some applications, the WA87 can lack body and produce slightly harsh tones, which is not an issue for TLM 103.

- Large diaphragm cardioid microphone
- Extremely low noise: 7 dB-A. Supply voltage (P48, IEC 61938): 48 V ± 4 V
- Straightforward handling for homerecording and professional studios
- Set includes microphone, shockmount and briefcase.Dynamic range:131 dB
- Audio Analog or digital: Analog Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz Max SPL: 125 dB Connectivity: XLR Pattern and type Capsule: Condenser
- The classic ‘87 is arguably the most widely-used large diaphragm condenser microphone in pop recording history
- Rather than base our WA-87 circuit on current incarnations of this mic, we decided to closely follow the early circuit designs that date back nearly half a century
- As is true with many classic microphones, engineers who have worked with different versions of these microphones often prefer the warmer, more forgiving nature of the earlier commercially available models

Conclusion

The decision is yours because we love both models. But, we recommend the WA87 depending on the application. We love that it is cheaper than TLM 103 but sounds similarly fantastic, especially for spoken words and singing, so we think it will be a great choice if you often record voice.