Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review of the Pearlman TM1

Hey everyone - another review from the studio world. This is a mic that is growing in popularity slowly, with some notable producers and artists already using it frequently. I am talking about the Pearlman TM-1, a hand built microphone made by master of mics, Dave Pearlman.

Notable users of this microphone include producers like Ken Scott (The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John, Jeff Beck, and more), Ronan Chris Murphy (countless projects all over the world) and Jack Miele, whose review (courtesy of the Pearlman website) is below:

I own the TM-1 with the EF-14 tube in it. I have engineered such acts as Ani Difranco, Dr. John, Better Than Ezra, Ivan Neville, C.C. Adcock, Anders Osborne and Irma Thomas to name a few and have use your microphone on all of those sessions in one way or another. I have also worked on audio post for such feature films/TV shows as "The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons" (which it was used for some of the actors voice overdubs), "Dirty Politics" & TV's "Family Guy". Once again, on those sessions, The TM-1 came to the rescue. Please feel free to add me, if you so desire, to your list of professional users. It would be an honor for me and thank you for all of your wonderful work.

Among all of the artists that have been recorded with Pearlman Microphones include some greats like Bob Dylan, Josh Groban, Sylvia McNair, along with countless others including Hilary Duff, Hannah Montana, Jesse McCartney, Jimmy Eat World, John Mayall, and Terry Evans. Needless to say, Pearlman mics are certainly top notch; these producers and artists could easily use just about any mic in the world, and the Pearlman mics fit the bill.

I had the pleasure of obtaining a Pearlman TM1 (Dave’s most popular microphone) about a year ago, and it has been heavily used every since! This mic still astounds me. It can be placed on almost any source and find a place. I have used this microphone on guitars, pianos, vocals, strings, winds, as a room mic, as an overhead, as an accordion mic…It really shines one everything. These microphones are hand-wired, completely point-to-point (i.e., no circuit boards of any kind) by Dave Pearlman himself. Considering these facts, the price tag of $1650 USD is a steal. There are microphones that cost three times this price that are not of the same quality. In fact, many of the reviews on the Pearlman website and all over the internet talk about how the producers have these mash ups between vintage Neumann mics as well as Telefunkens of all kind, and the Pearlman is an easy competitor, if not the winner of the shootout.

The TM-1 comes with a well made box with dense foam to hold the mic in place, a custom made cable, a custom made power supply for the mic, and a shockmount. My only complaint is that the shockmount is a bit cheap. It holds the mic well and everything, but what really gets me is the threads on the mounted part itself. They don’t fit very well over an average mic stand, and sometimes slip off. Be careful of this! I bought a thread adapter for the stand to go inside of the mic stand, then another thread adapter to fit on the stand. So I was out about $5, so how can I really complain. Still, this mic is truly a beautifully made microphone. I am saving up to get a second one because I can’t get enough!

A mic that I might compare it to is a Telefunken AK47. The AK47s are about the same price, but I don’t think they are point to point wired. The Pearlman TM1 to me sounds a bit fuller on the low end (though they both have a fantastic top end), especially when placed on things like vocals. One interesting feature of the TM1 is its high end roll off. Most mics have a low end roll off, but this particular mic has a high end roll off switch that allows the mic to sound a bit darker. This is very helpful when using the mic on certain vocalists (in my opinion, female vocalists) where there might be a more sensitive top end, and it works certainly well when using the TM1 for overheads when a warmer sound is desired (or when the cymbals are a bit brighter than others). In addition to this, the TM1 has a switch for omni-directional operation.

In my opinion, this mic is a modern classic. It sounds as good as a lot of the old mics (and trust me, hearing that from a guy like me—who is usually all about the old gear—is a big statement. Very rarely will I say that new stuff sounds as good as old). It’s well built, you can use it right out of the box, and it’s affordable. How can you go wrong? I’ll try to post some samples recorded with the TM1 on a podcast soon.

Note: I just posted a new podcast about work-flow in the production process. I hope you enjoy!