I’ve been using Neumann TLM193’s for about 6 years now, and have changed my mind several times about them!
My first experience with them was while working at Electronic Arts recording speech and foley. The chief engineer there had a few of them and they got used on every speech session. They were so clear and quiet, so when I began my own studio I bought one second hand, as I wanted a great primary vocal microphone. It was initially bliss, although I soon started to feel that the recordings were coming out almost TOO clear, and quite characterless. The mic’s frequency response is incredibly flat for a large-diaphragm condenser (LDC) and the off-axis response is as impressive as it is on-axis, but this is not always what’s needed when recording vocals (except Classical perhaps).
At this realisation I started to look at the TLM through different eyes, and it got very little action for a few years. As I began getting more Classical recording work however, it began to come out of it’s wooden case and shine once more. As a spot mic within an orchestra or quartet, or as part of an M/S main pair the mic sounds so beautiful. Transients come through very nicely and instruments tend to just sound “as they should” – not usually what you’d want for a Rock/Pop recording, but for a Classical recording that’s usually just the ticket. The low self-noise makes it an excellent choice for recording very soft instruments, and the lovely off-axis response means it sounds very natural in a diffuse field.
I think this is a great mic for several applications but generally not one for Rock/Pop productions (unless it magically fits the voice, which it occasionally does. Possibly good as drum overheads, and I use it as a FOK mic). The high price is a bit of a downer (go for a second hand one if anything!) and there are small-diaphragm condensers that’ll do a similar job for less money. Nonetheless, I love it again and it’ll be my ‘cello mic of choice for a long time!