The Neumann name is synonymous with fine studio microphones.
However, Neumann is no stranger to live sound microphones; in fact, its
KMS140 and KMS150 handheld condenser models have been available for nearly a
decade. Unfortunately, at approximately $1,500, the KMS140/150 is a
little pricey for the average band or sound company. Now Neumann has
addressed the affordability issue and has produced a competitively
priced live mic: the KMS105 cardioid condenser.
Available in either nickel matte or black matte finishes, the 105
retails at $595. Included in the package is a clever, nylon-and-Velcro
padded bag that wraps around both the mic and the stand clip, offering
a high degree of protection. Speaking of the clip, the 105 fits snugly
into a standard-sized clip, which simplifies onstage setups/breakdowns.
Unlike the more costly KMS140/150, the 105 does not include switchable
highpass filters or pads. SPL handling is rated at
an ample 150 dB (at less than 0.5% THD), while the mic employs
an internal (nonswitchable) bass roll-off circuit that attenuates a gentle -3 dB
from 120 Hz downward. A steeper filter cuts signals below 100 Hz to
keep handling noise to an absolute minimum.
The phantom-powered condenser capsule is a supercardioid design, based on the K 50 capsule
used in the KMS150, KM150 and KM185 mics. Featuring the proven
electronics used in Neumann's FET 100 Series, the KMS105 offers a wide
frequency response and low (18 dBA) self-noise spec. The output is
transformerless, which is well-suited for the ultralong cable runs
frequently encountered in sound reinforcement applications.
A four-layer acoustic pop filter not only protects the capsule from
grit, saliva and other road hazards but does a superb job of handling
pops and breath blasts. No foam material is used in this application:
The outer grille is formed of woven hardened steel, with a tight,
inside metal-mesh dome and a fine-weave, mesh-covered basket. The outer
screen assembly unscrews easily for cleaning, and the inner mesh basket
is removable for a light dusting or replacement.
In use, the 105 proved to be an impressive mic with a character all
its own. Its high-SPL reproduction capability and effective plosive
handling (combined with the onboard highpass filtering) are
characteristics ideal for vocalists, and the controlled proximity effect suits singers who like to work
the mic close. The mic has a full sound but is free of boominess or
overload distortion—no need to worry about exaggerated
low-frequency buildup or destructive vocal pops. Handling noise was
Overall, the 105's supercardioid pattern is remarkably consistent at
all frequencies, a feature that reduces the chance of feedback. With a pair of wedges set about
45-degrees off-axis from the rear of the mic, feedback was nearly
nonexistent and was easily tamed with minimal monitor mix EQ. In terms
of polar response, the 105 strikes a nice balance: The tightness of the
pattern offered plenty of off-axis rejection, while the width of the
pattern afforded a comfortable sweet spot for the performer.
The capsule provides an uncolored sound with a wide, even frequency
response. A slightly rising HF peak centered around 12 kHz brings out
the sound of the voice, rather than the mic. But the 105 does not have
the huge upper-midrange boost that's common to many handheld vocal
mics, and singers that depend on that presence punch will probably be
disappointed with the 105's sound-or lack of "sound." However, for the
performer with clarity and articulation, the open and natural character
that the 105 imparts to an outstanding vocal will be appreciated by
those with the ears to hear it.
Neumann USA, www.neumannusa.com