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Neumann TLM 49

Test & Review

Are you looking for a microphone that offers great versatility in recording sound? A microphone that is capable of recording vocals, voiceover, podcasting, gaming and streaming? Why not opt ​​for the Neumann TLM 49? It is a directional condenser microphone with cardioid polar pattern. This model is equipped with a large membrane. This is the perfect microphone for any form of vocal recording. Discover our complete test of this microphone through this article.

test and review of the Neumann TLM49

🎤 by Kevin Jung

Summary of the Test 👇

Buying a microphone is a delicate process in selecting equipment for a professional recording studio or a home studio . There is no point in buying cutting-edge equipment without first equipping yourself with a good quality microphone .

The risk of coming across a microphone of poor design is nevertheless quite low in the case of Neumann products. This German brand has confirmed its expertise in the manufacturing of audio equipment of all kinds for years. The Neumann TLM 49 showcases this unique know-how through a meticulous approach to design and internal components.

Design history of the Neumann TLM 49 microphone

Neumann defined the sound of the 50s through his craftsmanship. This brand actually produced the two most popular microphones of the time, namely the Neumann U47 FET and the M49 . The common element between these two models is the K47 capsule , which revolutionized microphone design for years to come.

The K47 capsule has not become obsolete despite all the innovations established in the field of sound reinforcement. Neumann proves it by combining this classic capsule with the technology of its TLM series. The word “TLM” is an abbreviation for “ Transformer-Less Microphone ”, which can be translated as a microphone without a transformer . This is a circuit design where an output transformer is not necessary.

The TLM 49 clearly illustrates the application of this concept to Neumann microphones. It was released in 2006, but remains one of the best condenser mics with a cardioid polar pattern on the market.

Neumann TLM49 microphone
Picture from Audiofanzine.com

The design of the TLM 49 was also a long and tedious process. It was especially during the final phase of its development that Neumann was most meticulous. Practical tests were carried out several times in the studio with professional singers to get as close as possible to the desired result . The goal was to create the perfect microphone for voice recording.

In particular, the designers wanted the Neumann TLM 49 to generate a , soft and transparent sound when picking up vocals. The microphone also had to meet current technological standards regarding the dynamic characteristics of the transmission. The bet seems to have been successful considering the overall quality of the Neumann TLM 49.

TLM 49 Condenser Microphone Overview

Presentation is a criterion on which many people are demanding when purchasing a microphone . Manufacturers often deliver their models in a sturdy carrying case or in natural wood to attract buyers. This is not limited to the most expensive microphones, but also to many entry-level models.

The team behind the creation of the Neumann TLM 49, however, did not adopt the same reasoning for its packaging. This model does not come in a fancy wooden box or a sleek vinyl case. It just comes in a plain cardboard box that doesn't give away the fact that it's a high-end mic . It is also quite incongruous that this box could be reused as long-term storage for the Neumann TLM 49.

This misstep, however, is ignored fairly quickly when you take the Neumann TLM 49 out of the box. The microphone immediately presents itself in a refined matte bronze finish

Neumann-TLM-49

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The brand also chose to install a large, wide mesh grille to protect the TLM 49 capsule. The latter is taken from the design of the M49 , which made Neumann famous in its early days in the audio industry. The finish as a whole corresponds to the idea that one can have of a high-end microphone of German construction. The Neumann TLM 49 has been worked down to the smallest detail, without anomalies likely to affect the quality of handling.

Neumann was also not lying when he used the slogan "retro at its best" to introduce the TLM 49. The design of this microphone suggests that it comes from a time when color television had not yet been invented . The use of an XLR connection in place of a Tuchel port certainly contradicts a vintage style , but the rest of the design aligns with this philosophy. They also make you feel like you have a quality product when you hold this microphone in your hand.

The microphone weighs 825 g with a diameter of 78 mm and a height of 165 mm . As such, it is larger than other condenser microphones in the Neumann transformerless series. It specifically resembles an enlarged version of a Neumann TLM-103 . These imposing dimensions are also premonitory of its performance in recording voice .

It is recommended to include a sturdy microphone stand when setting up the Neumann TLM 49. Its substantial weight of more than 825 grams cannot be handled by just any microphone stand. However, it would be a shame to see the TLM 49 tip over with its foot on the floor during a studio recording.

The capsule of the Neumann TLM 49 is 34 mm in diameter , which is much greater than the standard for large diaphragm models . It is installed on an oscillating rubber part to provide optimal protection against the transmission of structural noise .

The Neumann TLM 49 additionally comes with an elastic attachment for a metal EA-3 spider stand . The manufacturers have taken care to design the support to counterbalance the spider and ensure a perfect connection . You must purchase the spider mount separately to use the elastic attachment. However, this is a lesser inconvenience considering its quality-price ratio.

Neumann TLM49 packaging
Picture from Worthpoint.com

Neumann TLM 49 audio processing technology

It is reasonable to think that a wireless microphone with the concept of a dynamic instrument is a simpler choice for those starting out in home studio . Condenser microphones, however, tend to outperform dynamic microphones in sound quality. The richness of the sound generated by Neumann TLM 49 cannot be imitated by other microphones in its own category.

The only advantage a dynamic microphone can have over the Neumann TLM 49 is the ability to operate without an external power supply. The TLM 49 must in fact obtain the electrical current necessary for its operation from a 48V phantom power supply . The latter is a priori provided by a corresponding input on the preamplifier to which the microphone is connected.

However, the Neumann TLM 49 may be used with an external sound card instead of a microphone preamp . Phantom power can, if necessary, be activated on the audio interface to which the microphone is connected. A LED light will then illuminate to indicate that phantom power is active. However, this depends on the type of external sound card you are using.

The external sound card is also a necessity for using the TLM 49 with a computer. It does not in fact work via USB connection as on the Blue Yeti or via micro USB connectivity as on the Rode NT USB . The connection is instead made using an XLR cable .

The TLM 49 is also a directional microphone with a cardioid polar pattern or unidirectional pattern. The polar pattern, however, reveals that this directional microphone is more oriented towards a supercardioid pattern . This type of directivity is usually found in condenser tube mics like the shotgun mic.

The advantage of this directivity for a condenser microphone is to restrict the capture to a narrow field to eliminate any unwanted noise. This includes background noise or handling sounds from the mic itself. This is why microphones with supercardioid polar pattern are mainly used for recording dialogue during filming.

Neumann-TLM-49

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It is therefore legitimate to think that Neumann did not stop at the idea of ​​a vocal microphone in the design of the TLM 49. His intention was to create the perfect microphone for any form of vocal recording . This includes singing, voiceover, podcasting, gaming and streaming.

The addition of an omnidirectional directivity to the polar diagram would a priori have made the Neumann TLM 49 more versatile in sound recording . This is especially true considering that the Neumann M149 had a switchable polar pattern and a high-pass filter. The TLM 49 is however limited to a cardioid directivity in addition to being devoid of a filter or a switchable level reduction.

It should also be noted that an omnidirectional microphone is not the most suitable choice for voice recording. However, it is on this aspect that Neumann wanted to concentrate when creating the TLM 49. It is therefore quite logical that he excluded the omnidirectional motif from his design.

Design of the Neumann TLM 49 microphone capsule

The design of the capsule plays an essential role in the sound quality of the Neumann TLM 49. It is clearly visible through the microphone grille and is 34 millimeters in diameter . Such a dimension is uncommon for a large membrane model.

The most common diameter in this regard is around 24.5 millimeters. However, Neumann is not his first attempt at using a capsule of this size, as evidenced by the K49 and K47 models .

The capsule responds more slowly to magnetic field transients as it is designed in a larger size. The sound captured with the microphone is then more pleasant . This observation should certainly not be generalized, but has its full legitimacy in the case of the Neumann TLM 49.

The transformerless circuit complements the large-diameter capsule to give character to the microphone's sound . Neumann manages here to reproduce a behavior typical of the sound of old tube circuits with the transistor circuit used. This results in particular in a gentle distortion with a progressive increase in intensity.

Neumann TLM49 microphone
Picture from Audiofanzine.com

Sound quality of the Neumann TLM 49 microphone

The Neumann TLM 49 delivers a very rich sound which reduces the need for correction during mixing. The signals are not a priori as neutral as on other condenser microphones like the SC 400 microphone from T.Bone for example. Still, it's hard to ignore the vast improvement that the Neumann TLM 49 can bring to vocals.

The transformerless circuit of the TLM 49 allows it to operate at high gains while reducing self-noise. The air of the voice is perfectly captured by the capsule to give warmth to the voices of both men and women. The 3 dB boot also preserves the clarity of vocal recordings above 2 kHz .

A look at the frequency response curve reinforces the idea that the Neumann TLM 49 is intended for vocal recording . It reveals a peak of presence in the 5 kHz before gradually descending to 20 Hz . Any part below 1 kHz is recorded below 0 dB .

Using the Neumann TLM 49 immediately reveals a round and precise sound with the breath maintained in the low frequencies. The internal components have in fact been designed to accentuate regular harmonics . The Neumann TLM 49 thus presents itself as an excellent studio microphone for recording vocals by men and women.

The sound of the Neumann TLM 49 reveals very bright highs, but which nevertheless seem to return to a velvety result. This microphone is therefore not an adequate choice for those who wish to amplify the dynamics of the sound with crystal clear highs. The TLM 49 is nevertheless a wise choice for the sound engineer who wants to give a vintage and warm touch to vocal recording.

The TLM 49's proximity effect is also very smooth and subtle in the lower mids and bass. Such an effect often starts abruptly on many condenser mics. The TLM 49, however, gives the impression of having a stage filter on a preamp to slowly gain width . Signals actually get more pressure at the output level when the distance to the mic is shorter. On this point, it is recommended to use the microphone at a distance of 2 to 20 cm .

Neumann-TLM-49

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The idea that the TLM 49 favors the proximity effect is not a disadvantage. Such an effect is indeed very useful for the formation of the sound picture . The resulting low frequencies are only clearly perceptible at the shortest listening distance from the capsule. They are certainly already present at medium distance, but at a very discreet level.

The speaker of the monitoring speaker in our recording studio revealed a significant thickness in the bass when listening to a vocal recording. However, the problem was easily corrected by creating a cutoff point from around 100 Hz on an equalizer .

The very linear shape of the frequency response curve also brings great finesse to the reproduction of the midrange . The smallest nuances of sound waves can be effortlessly tracked during final mixing. The mids are certainly not neutral, but they help to fuel the dynamics of the sound by providing comfortable warmth.

The cardioid polar pattern and condenser capsule of the Neumann TLM 49 also make it very suitable for recording acoustic instruments . The quality of capture will certainly not match an instrument microphone like the DPA 4099. Neumann nevertheless seems to have strengthened the design of the TLM 49 so that it can reproduce the sound of an acoustic guitar with clarity.

It is also impressive to see to what extent the Neumann TLM 49 can reproduce the sonic subtleties of an acoustic guitar . It highlights the highs while restoring the mids with a rich and warm sound . Its performance lives up to the expectations that one can have for a tune microphone. The quality of the recording also gives the impression of no longer having to go through the equalizer for its processing.

The performances delivered by the Neumann TLM 49 with the acoustic guitar also seem to apply to the double bass. The microphone gives impact to the plucking of the strings while ensuring the precision of the contours in the bass. Neumann mics have always been excellent with stringed instruments , but the TLM 49 takes this to another level.

Neumann TLM 49
Picture of Sud-claviers.com

The Neumann TLM 49 microphone overall manages to hold its own with a wide variety of sound sources. The sound specific to the microphone characteristics can still be heard in recordings. Its presence is not, however, intrusive, but rather seems to complete the harmony of the arrangements to better deliver the music to the ears.

The liveliness and sparkle of transients are softened somewhat by the internal design of the Neumann TLM 49. This should not be a problem for most signals, however. The same observation can be established for the dynamic and colorful restitution of midrange and bass.

It is wrong to believe on this point that a vintage sound results in the coverage or even the darkening of the sound picture . The latter must remain detailed and dynamic, regardless of the warmth and scope that the microphone can bring to the sound of the recording.

Neumann engineers are not, however, magicians. The picture of the TLM 49 always seems to be slightly off when compared to that of a more expensive microphone. The sound delivered by the Neumann TLM 49 nevertheless remains very satisfactory for its price range.

Technical characteristics of the Neumann TLM 49

The Neumann TLM 49 condenser microphone has a frequency response stated to be between 20 Hz and 20 kHz . The bandwidth seems to be more focused on high frequencies than low frequencies. It would have been wise on this point if the Neumann TLM 49 had benefited from a pre-attenuation pad or a switchable high-pass filter . Neumann, however, ignored all of these features in favor of a purist design for the TLM 49.

The Neumann TLM 49 has a sensitivity of 12 mV/Pa for the injection of a 1 kHz sound wave . This seems quite impressive given that the average sensitivity of a typical condenser microphone is around 4 mV/Pa .

The advantage of such sensitivity is to establish a good compromise between ground noise and maximum acoustic input. These two parameters are set to respective values ​​of at least 29 dB and approximately 120 dB SPL .

Neumann-TLM-49

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It should be noted that the Neumann TLM 49 datasheet lists two values ​​for the maximum sound pressure . This is due to the mic's transformerless circuit design, which affects its response to analog distortion .

The first SPL value listed is 109 dB 0.5% distortion . This value corresponds to the signal generated under conditions where distortion is practically not present. The other value listed for maximum sound pressure is 129 dB for 5% distortion . It should be possible to hear the compression, distortion and saturation of the signal at this value.

The distortion nevertheless occurs smoothly with a gradual increase between the two values ​​indicated for the SPL. The sound obtained is thus more pleasant for the ears .

For comparison, the Neumann TLM 103 has a maximum sound pressure of 138 dB at 0.5% distortion . Distortion begins abruptly in case the TLM 103 signal may be saturated. The sound obtained is then very discordant and makes the recording unusable. However, the TLM 103 was not designed with a neutral microphone in mind, as is the case with the TLM 49. It cannot therefore match the latter in faithful, distortion-free sound reproduction.

The equivalent self-noise level is further 12 dB (A) for the maximum sound pressure level of 129 dB SPL . The volume tolerance threshold of the Neumann TLM 49 microphone is therefore not high enough to manage the distortion created by a bass drum. The microphone's sensitivity to high frequencies, however, is favorable for recording a snare drum or cymbals.

The Neumann TLM 49 is further set to an impedance value of 50 ohms . This model is therefore classified in the category of low impedance microphones , which is an advantage in itself. The microphone can in fact be used directly with mixer inputs from 150 to 4000 ohms . Most mixers or consoles on the market are designed with this in mind.

testing the Neumann TLM49 in the studio
Picture from Yes-audio.fr
Neumann-TLM-49
Our Overall Opinion

Overall Sound Quality

4,9 /5
4.9/5

Value for money

4,7 /5
4.7/5

Global mark

4,8 /5
4.8/5

Our opinion on the Neumann TLM 49 microphone

Neumann took on a bold challenge when he decided to design the TLM 49. His ambition was to create a modern, high-performance microphone for vocal recording, drawing inspiration from his previous models. This bet seems to have been successful given the design quality of the TLM 49.

The Neumann TLM 49 microphone is an exceptional model, whether for the careful finish of its design or its sound quality. It gives character to the voice during recordings without giving the impression of invading the sound picture . The TLM 49 also performs very well in capturing stringed instruments even though it is advertised as a vocal microphone. This microphone is a good deal for its price, and especially if you can take advantage of the special offers at Neumann.

Neumann TLM 49 Microphone Demo

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