Studio Diary #24: Mic Down! Mic Down

It was all going so well over the New Year break. Writing up my Annual Review posts had spurred me into action, and I was starting to make progress on mic’ing up my acoustic guitar to do some recording.

The following day, I tried to re-create the mic setups, only to discover that my Neumann TLM-49 had died …

Oh No! What Happened?

I’m getting a low-frequency, persistent hum from my Neumann TLM 49. It’s the kind of sound you’d associate with a humming transformer, even though the TLM range of microphones is a transformer-less design.

It’s not the first time this has happened. Previously, I thought it was down to a damaged cable. That was my mistake and lack of knowledge.

This time round, I’ve got plenty of different cables, different preamps, different microphones and a cable tester. I was able to systematically swap out everything to prove to myself that it’s the TLM 49 that’s at fault.

Can’t You EQ It Out?

No, I can’t. It’s both too loud a hum and too wide a frequency range.

The mic is out of commission until I get it repaired.

How Much Will A Repair Cost?

The microphone is out of warranty, so I’m going to have to pay for a repair.

Here in the UK, Neumann repairs are handled by Sennheiser UK. They charge a flat-fee of £390 to repair a Neumann microphone.


There’s Better Ways To Spend That Money Right Now

It doesn’t make sense to send the microphone off to be repaired today.

  • This is a microphone that works best (for me) on Tess’s voice. We live in different countries, and it seems unlikely that I’ll get to record her in 2021 at all.
  • I’d already decided that I probably wanted to find a different large-diaphragm condenser mic for recording acoustic guitar anyways.

I’m going to buy a different microphone for now, and get the TLM 49 repaired at a later date.

What Options Are You Considering?

I’ve ordered a Roswell mini K47. It costs less than the Sennheiser repair fee, and also comes highly recommended specifically for recording acoustic guitar.

[Ed – it’s here, and so far, so good]

Final Thoughts

I’m looking at this as a bit of a blessing in disguise.

I already knew that I needed to use a different mic for recording acoustic guitar. If you’re following me on Twitter, you’d have seen that I’ve been my usual indecisive self about what to get.

The Neumann TLM 49 going down … that forced me to act.

Why is it a good thing? Well, thanks to Brexit, imports into the UK are grinding to a halt right now. As we import nearly everything to do with making music, even the larger stores are starting to sell out of various things – especially items that aren’t big sellers, like microphones.

If the TLM 49 was still working, it would probably have been Easter before I went looking for a specialist microphone. By then, there would have been even less choice than there is right now in January.

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