Telefunken M80 is a rugged dynamic cardiod mic for live vocals. It reminds of the well-known SM58, with a similar sound except for a better-balanced low-end response that helps it cut through the mix better. In terms of gain before feedback, there isn’t much of a difference either (when both are adjusted to the same levels) although it appears that M80 requires less gain despite the specs actually saying it has a lower sensitivity. Telefunken of course, is a well-known brand and it does not disappoint for making a mic that feels good and look good. The question is, are you ready to pay premium?
Sound & quality
Telefunken M80 indeed seems to resemble the sound of the old trusty Shure SM58 to a high degree; they have similar curves and behave in the same way. The only strong difference here is that the response of the M80 has less low end, in fact the frequency chart shows that it starts rolling off at 200 Hz, whereas Shure has it a little above 100. Ideally, we don’t want color especially when it comes to the low end, so one could expect that a flat curve is the way to go. However, this isn’t the case here, because these types of cardioid handhelds are inevitably affected by the proximity effect.
Therefore, when you hold the mic up close, the lows become significantly boosted and what was supposed to be flat response on the chart becomes significantly bumped and overblown, resulting in ‘mud’. The SM58 has always been suffering from this muddiness, causing a lot of disappointment and often times resulting in the vocalists struggling to be heard. Instead of producing clear voice there would just be this mud and rumbling. In this regard, Telefunken M80 is a big step up – the low end has a much better balance to it and the response becomes optimal at the actual close range of a handheld.
In terms of clarity, the difference isn’t that big although the M80 is slightly superior, as there seems to be a bit more air to it. I wouldn’t call it as crispy as a condenser, it sounds rather smooth but the amount of detail is good regardless. There is also another difference between the two mics. The SM58 has a noticeable dip between 7 and 8 kHz whereas the M80 does not have it, which mean the latter is more accurate and requires less EQ. However, when this nuance is tackled the SM58 actually sounds almost identical. The similarity between the two is remarkable, which is good news for those loyal to Shure.
Brand and build
Telefunken is a German brand, which has subsequently opened in the USA. It has a long history and legacy of producing some legendary mics – we can’t take that away from them. In modern times however, they seem to have been rebranding and modifying some of the Chinese mics. You can google the Apex 460 controversy, which lives to this day. Of course, they do have engineers to produce their own models, and the M80 reviewed is their original design but it seems to come at a premium cost. Consumers are convinced and are willing to pay extra for the mic that has a Telefunken logo on it.
For me, I don’t find it justifiable to pay two hundred and fifty bucks for a dynamic cardiod that doesn’t offer anything special from the technical standpoint. We have reviewed Heil PR 35 at around the same price, which really offers something different. It’s in its own league with its massive diaphragm that provides a dramatically deep low-end response and it’s priced accordingly. For the Telefunken M80 I just don’t find this to be the case. They even charge huge premium for their wooden and chrome designs. That being said, they indeed look pretty, feel solid and durable, meeting the definition of a reliable workhorse, albeit a bit pricey.
- Reviewed at $249.00
- Very good! - 8/108/10