Looking for a quality condenser mic that doesn’t cost tons of bucks? AKG C214 vs Neumann TLM 102 are great options that you can put into consideration. The companies behind both mics are known to produce high-quality microphones and audio equipment. Both mics have received lots of positive reviews. So, which one is the best mic that you should choose?
Continue reading below to find out more information about:
- The design and build quality of each condenser microphone here
- The additional features on AKG C214 and Neumann TLM 102
- The accessories that come included with each mic
- The performance of AKG C214 vs Neumann TLM 102
- Which condenser mic that is more recommended for you
AKG C214: Design and Features
Let us start with AKG C214. This is a large-diaphragm side-fire condenser mic that is very interesting because it comes at a very reasonable price point, while other mics of the same category can easily cost twice or thrice more. Although it only has one pickup pattern, which is cardioid, it does come with useful accessories that will allow you to get started immediately or bring the mic along as you travel. See also: AKG K712 Pro Vs HD600
Inside its body, AKG C214 utilizes a 1-inch edge-terminated large diaphragm that has been optimized to deliver a detailed up-front sound. This large diaphragm also enables the mic to handle loud sources of up to 136dB SPL – or, with the pre-attenuation pad enabled, 156dB SPL. It captures transient details with incredible accuracy.
The body is equipped with an integrated capsule suspension which helps to reduce mechanical noise, hence improving sonic accuracy and clarity further. The all-metal die-cast body shields the internal parts against RF interference, while the rugged double mesh grille protects the capsule and the matte grayish-blue finish provides resistance against shocks and scratches.
AKG C214 offers an extremely low self-noise, which is barely 13dB(A). In addition, it has a very high headroom, and it can easily work with a phantom power source of 12V – 52V.
As mentioned above, AKG C214 is equipped with a pre-attenuation pad, which will heighten the headroom by 20dB when enabled. This is very useful when you are trying to record a very loud sound, such as the sound from a guitar amp or drum kit. AKG C214 also comes with a switchable 160Hz bass roll-off filter which can be useful for removing unwanted low-frequency noise, such as floor vibrations, without really affecting the sound of the recorded vocal or instrument.
AKG C214: What’s Included?
Condenser microphones can be quite expensive, and having to purchase additional accessories separately won’t help your budgeting. Fortunately, AKG C214 comes with a few items that can be very useful especially for people who are just starting out.
When choosing between AKG C214 vs Neumann TLM 102, the fact that AKG C214 comes with more items may make you incline towards this mic more than the other. Inside the box of AKG C214, you can find a windscreen, a spider-type shock mount, and a carrying case.
The windscreen fits nicely on the mic, and is handy for eliminating breath noise from vocals. You may also want to use it for vocals that have too much ‘hissing’ so that they won’t sound too sharp.
The spider-type shock mount is definitely a welcome addition for pretty much any studio. While the mic has an integrated suspension to minimize handling noise, this shock mount ensures that there won’t be much of it in the first place.
The carrying case has a hard shell with a padded interior. This is really nice for travels. The carrying case will protect your mics and its accessories properly against scratches and impacts.
AKG C214: Performance
So, how about the performance of AKG C214 vs Neumann TLM 102? Well, both mics are great, and both can handle very loud sources without breaking a sweat. However, it should be pointed out that, with the pre-attenuation pad enabled, AKG C214 can have a higher maximum SPL handling.
AKG C214 works really well with vocals, speech, piano, organ, and acoustic as well as electric guitars. It is also recommended for strings, such as violin, cello, and double bass. The high overhead makes it a viable mic for drums, too. However, this mic is not really good for electric bass.
The frequency response is relatively flat from 60Hz to 1kHz, hence allowing for very accurate and solid bass. It dips down between 1kHz and 2.5kHz, and this helps to prevent electric guitars from getting too shrill.
This ‘wiggle’ in the frequency response is mirrored with a lift between 2.5kHz and 5kHz. This is to make sure that instruments won’t sound too dull and boring. Finally, there is a steady rise in the frequency response between 5.5kHz and 13kHz, which gives a strong presence lift to vocals and strings.
Neumann TLM 102: Design and Features
Now, let us continue with Neumann TLM 102. It is interesting due to being one of the most affordable studio mics from the company. It is a large-diaphragm and transformerless capacitor microphone that features a cardioid polar pattern.
Although the edge-terminated diaphragm capsule has been constructed with more cost-effective manufacturing methods, it doesn’t show any compromise in build quality and performance. Well, a notable difference between AKG C214 vs Neumann TLM 102 is found in the feature set; Neumann TLM 102 doesn’t have any pre-attenuation pad or filter. So, this mic is really no-frill and straightforward. Then again, the lack of such features doesn’t really impinge on the sound quality.
With a newly developed large-diaphragm capsule that is capable of handling up to 144dB SPL, Neumann TLM 102 is perfectly suitable for recording loud instruments like drums, guitar amplifiers, and brass instruments. However, the company has conceived this mic primarily as a vocal mic, so it isn’t surprising to find a presence lift above 6kHz. The presence lift will add some definition to transients.
The capsule is actually a little bit under one inch in diameter. It is put in an elastic suspension mount, which helps to isolate it from mechanical vibrations. On the top, there is a grille with a dense pop screen which obscures the sight of the capsule. The integrated pop screen can reduce popping from plosives slightly, but most singers will still need to pair the mic with an external pop shield.
Neumann TLM 102 is available in black and nickel finishes. Both variants look good. The mic comes in a simple foam-lined cardboard box.
Neumann TLM 102: What’s Included?
Unfortunately, Neumann TLM 102 doesn’t include many items. Inside the box, there is only one item besides the microphone itself, which is the stand mount.
The stand mount is a basic one rather than a spider-type like that of AKG C214. It still has its uses, but it won’t be very effective for minimizing mechanical noise. It is made from plastic and doesn’t seem to be very robust.
You don’t get a windscreen and carrying case. The lack of a carrying case is quite unfortunate because it means that you need to resort to your own means to store the mic safely when traveling.
Neumann TLM 102: Performance
The frequency response range of Neumann TLM 102 extends from 20Hz to 20kHz. It is relatively flat until 6kHz, where the gentle presence lift starts to kick in. Neumann TLM 102 needs to work with a phantom power source of 48V.
The sensitivity is very good, and the equivalent input noise level is only 12dB(A). You can easily capture crystal-clear recordings with virtually zero noise, even with close or loud sound sources.
Neumann TLM 102 immediately sounds well-balanced with vocals and speech. It doesn’t really need any EQ. The presence lift is subtle, yet very useful for opening out the sound while keeping the mids and lows perfectly integrated. This creates a sense of closeness and clarity.
The mic also performs fantastically on acoustic guitars. It is able to deliver a bright, lively sound. Interestingly, the sound is quite smooth, unlike some other mics which tend to make guitars sound too gritty. You will be able to record a good guitar track for a pop mix with ease. For solos, you may need to experiment with the positioning a bit more in order to balance the highs and lows, but this isn’t a real problem.
The mic still produces usable results on hand percussions. However, one interesting capability of Neumann TLM 102 is that it can be put off-axis in front of a guitar amp to deliver an extremely close sound, yet without harsh edges. This showcases the versatility of the mic, because capacitor mics are usually not very suitable for recording guitar amps.
AKG C214 vs Neumann TLM 102
Between these two condenser mics, AKG C214 is generally better and more recommended. It has a higher maximum SPL handling, hence allowing you to work with louder sounds easily. In addition, the box includes a shock mount, windscreen, and carrying case, which are all very useful. The overall performance is excellent. AKG C214 works really well with vocals, speech, piano, organ, and acoustic as well as electric guitars.