Neumann KMS 105 Review (2020)

The Neumann KMS 105 is a condenser mic that uses a super-cardioid polar pattern with a smooth frequency response, similar to the Shure 55sh. It’s quite famous by now as one of the best studio recording mics for mid to high range frequencies.

Inside its stainless steel headgrille, you get to see a metal pop filter. And right outside the metal body is an XLR 3F connector for phantom power.

But is it really as good as it seems? And why so?

Today, we’ll dive deeper in this in-depth Neumann KMS 105 review and discuss all of its features in detail.

Sound Quality

Frequency Response

The Neumann KMS 105 has a highly stable frequency response, even at higher frequencies. It operates from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, which is the standard range for normal human hearing. The response curve gradually rises from 20Hz to up to 200 Hz, where it starts becoming a bit more stable. The rest of the curve remains somewhat straight till it suddenly rises between 10,000 and 20,000 Hz, and then falls again.

This pattern is reminiscent of most vocal mics. The odd peak at approximately 10 kHz is a bit concerning. But be sure the mic will perform quite well at normal studio conditions.

Lower frequencies may exaggerate when you place the mic closer to your face. But the effect might not be the same. And higher frequencies will more or less remain consistent.

However, one should note the rise from 50 Hz to 200 Hz is gradual instead of instantaneous. So deeper bass sounds will be more or less inaudible. As such, this mic is only for the singers and vocal performers, and not by musicians.

Proximity Effect

The proximity effect refers to how the bass in your voice increases as you move closer to the mic. Many singers, musicians, and DJs take advantage of this effect. It can boost the tone of your voice and make you’re singing a lot more dynamic.

When discussing the frequency response, the rise in volume from 50 to 200 Hz is gradual. This would render the mic useless for heavy-bass enhancing applications. However, when you move the mic closer to you, say by 5 cm or more, the bass curve significantly rises.

The Neumann KMS 105 can control and maintain a smooth proximity curve via its 120 Hz high-pass filter. The proximity effect makes the mic sensitive to even 20 Hz frequencies when it’s only sensitive to 50 Hz frequencies normally.

You can take advantage of this if you have a deeper voice and want to enhance your flatter notes. Or if you’ll be alternating between high and low notes.

Max SPL and Noise Ratio

SPL refers to the Sound Pressure Level, and it is the volume of sound the speaker can produce when we place it 1 meter away from the listener. Max SPL is a reference to how loud a speaker or mic can get before the sound starts to get more and more distorted.

The Neumann KMS 105 has a max SPL of 150 dB, which is slightly above the rock concert standard of 110 dB. This allows you to record louder sounds on the mic and play them back without noticing any audible distortions.

This also impacts its signal-to-noise ratio, which is around 76 dB. A higher signal-to-noise ratio is always preferred as it means you get lesser background and electronic noise and more of your own vocals.

Also read the Shure Super 55 review here.

Build Quality

Headgrille

The Neumann KMS 105 uses a high-quality headgrille from hard commercial steel. Stainless steel is a good choice for its extreme durability and lack of corrosion. However, if its protective coatings wear off, it may start to rust, especially in the crevices where oxidation is high.

One major difference between this mic and similar models is its use of a special pop filter. Pop filters help soften your breath as it enters the mic’s headgrille and adds to the noise rejecting capabilities of the device.

The pop filter does not interfere with sibilance (s- or sh- sounds), nor does it impact the direction of your voice. So it’s great for some high-level transcript or vocal recording. Since it doesn’t use foam, it’s great for indoor use, either in studios or on large concert stages. Pop filters aren’t recommended for use outdoors, as they aren’t as apt at reducing sound as the foam is.

Metallic Housing

The main amplifier of the circuit and the rest of the circuitry are housed within a tough metallic case. This too is presumably made from stainless steel, which is a great material for its low cost and high impact durability. Regular drops and falls won’t take a toll on this microphone. And for that purpose, it is a perfect fit for use on tours and large stages.

What’s more, is that both the headgrille and the metallic body can be unscrewed if you need to clean the interior. This makes for an easier maintenance option as opposed to having to work your way around the grille. And it makes the mic tour-ready.

Condenser Microphone

Neumann’s KMS 105 is a condenser microphone. Condenser mics use a capacitor that converts analog sound waves into digital electrical signals. These signals can transmit over long distances.

Condenser mics differ from dynamic mics in that dynamic mics are for rendering louder vocals and music. They are good only for rock concerts or really loud singers. Condenser mics, on the other hand, are better for generating more delicate, fragile sounds. These mics are best for studio recordings where the vocalist has a medium to high-pitch voice.

The Neumann uses a highly protected condenser capsule that provides crystal clear highs and deep lows. It’s packed inside the pop filter, so it’s safe from dust and wind damage. Though it’s not exactly waterproof, it can still be used in some humid environments temporarily.

Controls:

Phantom Power Connector

Being a condenser microphone, you can expect the Neumann KMS 105 to require some form of an external connection. It requires a 48 V phantom power connection from the bottom. The connector is a male XLR 3F connector, which is the most common type in microphones.

Phantom power is required by almost all condenser mics, so it’s not a surprise. However, some mics can be more portable than others, using a battery instead of an active connection. The Neumann KMS 105 is not one of those. But an active connection allows you to record and sing live for hours at a time, which is great when you’re on tour.

Plus, due to its low impedance of just 50 ohms, it can readily transit through cables of over 1,000 feet with little to no losses. This optimizes it for stage and studio use.

Stand Mount and Nylon Bag:

Aside from the connector, you also get a special stand mount with the mic. The stand clamp is quite a simple accessory, but it has a lot of uses. For one thing, it can be swiveled about its axis, allowing you to hit your voice at the right angle.

Along with that, you also get a fully-equipped nylon bag with padded insides to secure your mic against impact damage. Nylon is known for its water-resistance, so your mic will survive a few splashes inside the bag. However, it’s not a good idea to submerge the bag completely, as it’s not watertight.

A more budget friendly microphone is the AKG P120 which I reviewed here.

Polar Patterns:

Super-Cardioid Pattern

The Neumann KMS 105 uses a super-cardioid polar pattern. Polar patterns depict the range of a microphone’s sound pickup capabilities by envisioning the mic at the center of the pattern. In this regard, the mic is divided into two sides. And patterns that lie on one half are unidirectional, while those that lie on both are bidirectional.

The super-cardioid pattern is somewhat bidirectional. It mimics a cardioid (inverted heart), with a small lobe towards the other half. This pattern is not to be confused with the hyper-cardioid pattern, which has a similar shape but is wider.

Super-cardioid mics have an acceptance angle of 170 degrees. The acceptance angle is the maximum angle at which your voice can be detected by the mic without any obvious distortions.

The super-cardioid also has a very strong pickup from the front and a very small pickup from the rear. It should be noted that while the rear lobe is small enough to reject noise, it isn’t completely non-existent. The lobe exists and picks up noise if the room is heavily noise-insulated. That’s when small sounds and vibrations from monitors become more profound.

Pattern Range Consistency:

Unlike dynamic mics, condenser mics like the Neumann KMS 105 have a consistent polar pattern. The pattern remains mostly super-cardioid from 2 Hz up to 1,000 Hz. The left lobe remains consistent, but the right lobe will start to waver and seep into the rear half at lower frequencies. So it’s not stable in the very deep bass region. But trebles and high whistle-notes will render beautifully.

Super-Cardioid Uses and Benefits:

The best part about the super-cardioid pattern is its extreme Nosie rejection from the sides. It does tend to fall just a bit over onto the rear half. But be sure, super-cardioid patterns stay nominally noise-free.

It is this pattern that lends the Neumann its ability to control the proximity effect so efficiently. It also accounts for a higher gain before any feedback. And it is due to this pattern and the phenomenally straight frequency response that you won’t require any EQ boosting. All the hard work is for you, right there in the housing of the mic.

Neumann KMS 105 Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Steady frequency response at all levels.
  • Controlled proximity effect.
  • Rejects mechanical and electronic feedback.
  • Stainless steel headgrille.
  • Foam-free metal-grid pop filter.
  • No additional EQ boosting is required.
  • Consistent and smooth polar pattern.
  • Includes padded nylon bag.

Cons:

  • Not for loud music and heavy bass instruments.
  • Not waterproof at all.

Conclusion:

Condenser mics bring out the best in your voice. And the Neumann KMS 105 is only a testimonial to that. It has a smooth frequency response with a super-cardioid polar pattern and a full-metal body. With effective feedback rejection and a metallic pop filter, the Neumann is the best condenser mic choice for indoor use.

Use this mic on the concert stage, live and pre-recorded performances, and for home studios. It’s a good choice to recording vocals if you don’t have a necessarily deep voice. If you have a deep voice or want to bring out the bass in it, we suggest a dynamic mic.

This is a great choice for its proximity effect and the accessories you get with it. But do beware, it’s only for singing and not for music.

About Shawn Shepherd

Hi, I'm the owner of the Hifi Guide and have been an audio lover enthusiast for over 16 years. I have a Bachelor's degree in Sound Engineering and I work on producing content for the Hifi Guide in my spare time. My love for audio stemmed from my Dad who was an audio technician, and now I share my knowledge here on this website!

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