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Author Topic: Suitable non-Neumann replacement capsule for TLM103  (Read 4042 times)

Mo Facta

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Suitable non-Neumann replacement capsule for TLM103
« on: August 28, 2013, 03:58:24 AM »

Hi guys,

So, I'm in a bit of a bind and it sucks.

Firstly, I've got a matched pair of TLM103s that I use for overheads, vocals, etc so they're pretty important to me.  Unfortunately one has kicked the bucket.  I have had trouble with it for the last year or so and after seeing three techs - including Sennheiser/Neumann South Africa - I still don't know 100% what's wrong with the mic.  Each time it goes out it gets assessed, cleaned and then comes back working.  The first and last techs were independent and I was told by the last guy that the capsule seemed to be fine.  It outputted a strong signal when paired to a makeshift test preamp circuit.  Although, the mic is intermittent at the best of times so I'm not to sure there.

Neumann told me that it needed a new capsule, which is going to cost me $600 (excl. labor) and I just can't afford it right now.  Plus, they were very cagey and unhelpful with their assessment, which made me suspicious of their motives (i.e. they wanted to make a sale) and put a bad taste in my mouth.  My first thought was to buy a replacement U87 or C12 capsule clone from either Peluso, Beezneez or Microphoneparts.com, which will work out to a lot cheaper but after reading a thread by Klaus on the TLM103, I started to become concerned:


I don't mind a slight change in tonality but I'm certainly not going to shell out for a matched pair of clone capsules if they're going to sound terrible.

What are my options, besides getting a new K103 capsule from Neumann?  The cost is just insane to me, considering it's a $1000 mic.  $600 plus labor is almost the cost of a new mic altogether.


Cheers :)

EDIT:  By the way, the microphone is outputting spitty, rumbly noise that sounds similar to low-level thunder.  Each time its seen a tech it has gotten cleaned and worked again.  However, the time it's taking to fail is getting smaller and smaller after each successive cleaning. 
Quote from: Slipperman
That'll learn those arrogant LA *bleeps*.



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Re: Suitable non-Neumann replacement capsule for TLM103
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2013, 04:26:06 AM »

You already cited my 2008 tests with other than TLM 103 capsules in that mic, so you already know that foreign objects will probably not improve your situation, let alone, match the sound of your other, intact, TLM103.

I see two practical solutions:

1. Buy a good, used TLM103. Completed eBay auctions for a TLM103 set, including wooden case and elastic suspension mount, average in the low to mid $500s.

2. From what you write, there may be some remnant moisture or contaminant left inside the capsule, which may not have been sufficiently removed in the two previous cleaning efforts (most people use simple mechanical cleaning-via brush-which is unsuitable to remove heavy contaminants completely. A truly professional cleaning, together with preventative maintenance by the user (pop screen, plastic bag, etc.) may be the cheapest solution after all. If Neumann, Berlin could take a look at the capsule, that would be the cleanest (so to speak) option, though it may take some time and customs/import efforts.
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®


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Re: Suitable non-Neumann replacement capsule for TLM103
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2014, 07:34:31 PM »

Siegfried Tiersch in Germany is able to reskin a TLM103 capsule.
It's not expensive either because its a single diaphragm capsule.
Anders Grop
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