The Neumann TLM 102 studio microphone was put through its paces by the NME Award winning, Mercury Prize nominated star Jamie T in the first part of this review. Today, Jamie and his partner in all things recording Ben Coupland go into more detail on their opinion of the new Neumann microphone, which has been designed to appeal to the home recording market. Having recorded two albums, Panic Prevention and Kings & Queens, inside a shed, it’s a working method with which both Jamie and Ben are particularly familiar.
“I like recording somewhere with things growing through the walls and where foxes can get in,” jokes Ben, as the pair sit down with Musical Notes shortly before leaving for an Australian tour. In fact, the notorious shed has been described elsewhere as a little more impressive than Ben would have us believe. One description even used the phrase ‘pimped out’.
Nevertheless, in testing the TLM 102, Jamie believes that he may have found a use for the microphone beyond his home recording set-up.
“This would be perfect for when we’re out on the road,” he enthuses. “There’s not a lot of space when we’re touring, and this mic would be really easy to pack away then get out when we need it.”
The observation comes as Jamie describes himself as “itching to start writing again”, a process that he adds is difficult on tour. “We do about 80 demos and whittle it down from there. But recording on the road is tough. You spend a lot of time sitting around, but not quite enough. By the time you set everything up, you have to put it away again. Or you have to watch everyone else having a good time after a gig while you’re working.” He pauses for a minute before adding, with a smile: “It doesn’t usually work out that way though…”
The writing process is made all the more difficult, he continues, because “when I’m writing I have to listen to what I’m doing before I can carry on and finish a song. I have to hear the first eight bars. If I just sit down and try to write something then I get tired of it.”
To solve the problem, Jamie and Ben have been putting together a recording facility for the tour – a shed on wheels, if you like. “We want a set-up on the road with us, with some little monitors, just so we can get on with it.” Jamie’s wondering if the TLM 102 could become the centre-point of the touring rig, simply because he’s found it so easy to use.
Indeed, when pressed to come up with anything negative about the mic, the pair glance at each other, blank-faced, then mutually shrug “no”. Judging by the reaction, Neumann may well have pinpointed its target market with the right product.
Will the average home recording enthusiast agree? There’s no denying the fact that even with its reduced price tag, the Neumann TLM 102 is considerably less budget-conscious than some other studio condensers. But as with all Neumann models, the primary attraction of a microphone like this is the quality that it offers. The price drop between the TLM 102 and its big brother, the TLM 103, is significant enough to grab the attention of a bedroom engineer, but it’s the performance that will keep the likes of Jamie and Ben interested. In that regard, Ben is adamant, going so far as to say: “If this had been around when we started then we would have got one.” For the Neumann TLM 102, that’s high praise.