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Neumann KMS 105 review

Neumann is one of the most renowned manufacturers in the music industry. The company’s catalog comprises some of the most coveted and regarded microphones in the history of recording technology.

In this article, I’ll be taking a look at the KMS 105, a handheld microphone that first hit the shelves around the turn of the millennium. Let’s get started.

About the author

I’m a producer, audio engineer, and songwriter with over 10 years of experience with a wide range of gear and recording techniques. I’ve worked with a huge variety of microphones from Shure, Electro-Voice, Neumann, and AKG, among others.

Neumann KMS 105 review
Image: Neumann
  • supercardioid condenser
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz range
  • 150 dB max SPL
  • 18 dBA self-noise
  • 50 ohms impedance
  • 4.5 mV/Pa sensitivity

Final verdict on the KMS 105 4.0

While I personally love this microphone, I can’t recommend it for any and everybody. It’s much more apt in a studio setting, although it can definitely hold its own in live situations. I would implore you to try to find a way to test it out before buying it.

What I like

  • Tonally rich.
  • Low handling noise.
  • Fairly versatile.

What I don’t like

  • Quality costs.
Buy Neumann KMS 105 at: SweetwaterAmazon


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Polar pattern and frequency response 4.0

The Neumann KMS 105 is a supercardioid condenser microphone. It sports a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz, a max SPL of 150 dB, and omits 18 dB (A weighted) of self-noise.

Designed as a handheld mic, the KMS 105 is particularly suited for close-miking applications, yielding an incredibly flat response when positioned about two inches from the source. There is a slight roll-off that tapers below the 200 Hz mark, and a rough 5 dB peak around 12 kHz to help with presence and clarity while still managing to avoid emphasizing sibilance.

There is virtually no handling noise, and the microphone’s polar pattern is finely tuned and tight, making the KMS 105 cutely adept at rejecting unwanted noise and feedback. Vocalists with solid mic technique can get a lot of mileage out of this, although it might highlight mistakes in less experienced folk.

Now, let’s go over some common applications for the Neumann KMS 105.

Studio vocals 4.5

The microphone’s neutral response, tapered low-end, and presence boost can help many a vocalist shine in their performance. It can sound a bit shrill for vocalists who veer towards the aggressive side, but it comes down to taste whether or not it works.

In my experience, it bats about 50/50 depending on who starts singing into it. When it works, you’ll get a performance that is beautifully rich in color and sound.

Live vocals 4.5

This is a great microphone for live use for all the same reasons previously mentioned, as well as the microphone’s tightly-tuned polar response and its insanely high SPL.

It is worth noting that it can be quite keen to omit feedback given the venue, but that’s kind of a risk you’ll need to be willing to take when using a condenser.

Guitar amps 3.8

This mic isn’t typically used to record electric guitars, although I’ve heard of some who do to find successful results. While there’s no danger in damaging the microphone, you probably won’t want to position it as closely as you would a Shure SM57 or something. You can, although your meters might say otherwise.

Bass amps 2.0

I don’t have much experience recording bass with the KMS 105, and I haven’t heard of anybody else doing it. I figure the results would most likely be OK, although it ultimately comes down to a preference thing. You’ll probably want to run it DI so you can make up for that roll-off in the lows.

recording acoustic guitar with a Neumann KMS 105
Image: Neumann

Acoustic guitars 4.0

If you were to record acoustic guitars with this mic, I’d probably suggest taking the grille off first and trying it that way, just so you can get more of that top-end shimmer out of your guitar.

Drums 5.0

This is a great choice for all and any percussion. Snare tops and bottoms, hi-hats, overheads, room mic, crush mic, auxiliary percussion like tambourines or claps, whatever. Just set your gain and let it rip.

Brass 5.0

This is maybe an overlooked application, but the KMS 105 really works wonders on trumpets, sax, etc. If you’re recording big band stuff, this is definitely a good mic to have at your disposal.

Build quality 4.9

As always with Neumann, the design and build of the KMS 105 is of exceptionally high quality. The body is made of metal, which helps suppress any handling noise. The grille also features an internal steel-gauze pop shield, which can be taken off for cleaning and maintenance.

The microphone comes with a nylon pouch for safe keeping and a mic stand adaptor.

Compared to other microphones

The KMS 105 is a great stage mic for vocalists and can work really well in a handful of other applications, like drums. Here are a few alternatives to think about in comparison.

Neumann KMS 105 vs KMS 104

The KMS 104 is flatter out of the box than the KMS 105, and I feel that the KMS 104 is more useful in a broader array of applications. Ultimately, it’s best to A/B them (if you’re able to) before pulling the trigger on either.

Neumann KMS 105 vs Shure KSM9

For starters, the KSM9’s frequency response is narrower than the KMS 105, reaching from 50 Hz to 20 kHz. This isn’t a huge deal, and honestly it makes the Shure mic a bit more ready for vocalists. They have similar max SPL levels, and are both incredibly reliable.

That said, I think the KMS 105 is slightly more durable than the KSM9. Still, you can’t really go wrong with either.

Neumann KMS 105 vs Sennheiser e 965

The e 965 is far more capable as a workhorse microphone than the KMS 105. In most cases, I’d say it’s probably your safest bet for most applications and vocalists.

Who is the Neumann KMS 105 microphone best suited for?

The KMS 105 is best suited for anybody who likes the way it makes their voice and other sources sound. I would highly suggest testing it out before making a final decision.

Buy Neumann KMS 105 at: SweetwaterAmazon