Neumann KMS 105 Review

Let me start by saying I own this microphone and I use it on a regular basis. I have owned it for 3 or 4 years now and the Neumann KMS 105 mic is easily the best mic I've ever used -- and I've used them all. While most people do sound good in your average high-end Shure and other brands, those mics are not good at picking up much of anything in the tenor range, and being that most of what I sing falls into that range, I wanted a better mic. If you've got a mid-range voice, you'll still fall in love with this mic, but it's not something you need; not the way someone like me does. But read on either way and I'll tell you what's fabulous about this mic, and the few things that aren't.

Me Singing Live w/ my Neumann KMS 105

It works well in clubs of all sizes

Some condenser mics are just way too sensitive to be used in everyday gigging situations. If you're standing next to the drums your mic can pick that rattle up and it will be a problem. This does not happen with the KMS 105, even if you're standing an inch away from them. Same goes for any other instrument/amp setup that you might be next to or sandwiched between. By the same token, it sounds fabulous in an arena with 10,000 people in front of you and huge gaps of space behind and beside you.

Feedback is not an issue

If you're a singer who knows how to use dynamics you're going to want the mic set at certain volume so that people can still hear you when you're singing softly. This can be a real problem for some mics because as soon as you get a bit louder they can have feedback, even if you're a foot away from the mic itself. That doesn't happen with the Neumann KMS 105. It handles everything beautifully. I have never had feedback issues with this mic, except when ignorant sound engineers fiddled with the monitor. That's an easy fix, however, as I simply stopped using one. I'm not saying you have to do that yourself, but I find it's easier than educating every sound man I meet.

They're pretty damned durable

I have dropped this mic at least twice from waist high. Accidentally, of course, and I do not recommend that you do the same, but it didn't affect the quality at all, nor did it leave a scratch. You can see directly into the basket itself so it definitely looks a bit fragile, but it's a sturdy mic.

It works fine on all PA systems.

I have used this mic with mega expensive PA systems (and let me point out that the quality is so good that no mixing was even required) and with cheap hole-in-the-wall-club PA systems. As long as the PA system has phantom power, the mic works fine. Make sure you have the phantom power off when you connect the mic and make sure you have the volume on mute before you switch the phantom on -- believe me when I tell you that the massively loud POP it will make if you don't do this will scare the tinkle out of you. Same goes for when you are disconnecting it. I don't know if that can damage the Neumann mic or not, but it certainly sounds as if it could!

Now... there aren't many cons, but there are a few.

  • If the PA system doesn't have phantom, you've got to either bring a backup mic or use the house mic.

  • It's not a common mic on your average tour circuit and many engineers have no idea what it is or that it needs phantom power. If they tell you it's not working, tell them to turn the phantom power on. If only I had a nickel for every time I had to tell someone that!

  • It doesn't come with a good case and I HIGHLY recommend you buy one. This is not a mic you carry around in a pouch. I have a fantastic old case from a Peavey mic that a mate gave me 10 years ago. I still love it. If you get this mic, get a good hard case to carry it around in.

  • One thing that can affect the quality of your mic is the cable quality. The only time the mic ever sounded crappy-ish was when I'd used a very cheap cable. Mind, high quality cables are not expensive and if you can afford to buy this mic you are silly if you don't get a good cable to go with it. I use a Neutrik, personally, and I'm quite happy with it.

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