Telefunken has an illustrious history in the microphone scene. Upon the company’s rebirth in the year 2000, they have continued to pave the way forward with a superb range of microphones. In this review, I take a closer look at one of their most recent offerings, the fantastic TF11.
The TF11 combines decades of experience with modern technology to deliver a rock-solid cardioid microphone with a broad application base. The high attention to detail sets it apart and solidifies its position as one of the best large diaphragm microphones available today.
The Telefunken TF11 offers a distinct design along with impressive performance. It’s highly versatile in a studio setting but also holds up very well in live sound applications. Let’s dive into the details.
I’ve had the chance to test a lot of condenser microphones, and a substantial majority offer some gentle tweaking of the sound profile with an aim to give additional warmth and vibrancy to vocal recordings. I’m a proponent of this as it can help elevate a vocalist, but equally, it can sometimes introduce too much character for other studio recording applications.
The Telefunken TF11 differs from this trend and delivers a more refined and neutral response than the competition. This might be a detriment in some ways as it’s exceptionally transparent and unforgiving. If you work with a less-than-stellar vocalist, the flaws will instantly appear. I’d likely opt for a different microphone in these situations.
Fantastic performance across a range of applications.
On the flip side, this high degree of accuracy and transparency can also help highlight the true talent of the artists you work with. Every nuance in their vocal range will be fully displayed, ensuring authenticity in every recording.
The cardioid polar pattern is ideal for vocal recording sessions, including voice-over work. Once again, the high accuracy is perfect for achieving clean and precise recordings, but with no internal filtering, you’ll need to pair this with a capable pop filter or shield to mitigate plosives.
While I consider condenser microphones a favorable option for a studio setting, the TF11 also holds up impressively in live sound applications thanks to its low self-noise and high SPL handling. If you want a condenser microphone for the studio and the stage, you could do much worse than the TF11.
“Sublime accuracy that delivers authentic recordings for vocals and instruments.”
So it’s excellent with vocals and speech, but how does it handle instruments? The short answer is exceptionally well.
As for the longer version, the TF11 is an excellent choice for acoustic instruments thanks to its near-flat response in critical regions. Every pluck on an acoustic guitar offers a sublime translation into your recordings. It helps highlight the individual character of the guitar you are playing. Likewise, it works wonderfully with other string instruments.
Not to be outdone, the high Max SPL also ensures it can handle a broad range of louder instruments without distortion. The response curve shows a lower-end drop-off, but in practice, I couldn’t find any fault in the recordings when dealing with low-frequency content.
The TF11 is a versatile microphone that can serve several roles in a studio.
Great with vocals? Check. Solid across a range of instruments? Check. How about drums? I’m happy to report the showing here is also impressive, but it also highlights one of the only minor quibbles I have with the TF11.
As an overhead, the TF11 is an outstanding performer, and it can also handle kick drums thanks to its high SPL handling capability. But there is a slight lift in the top end of what is another otherwise relatively flat curve. This presents a little brightness in the top end, which can be a little much for cymbals. It’s not overly harsh by any stretch but certainly not as forgiving as some other microphones.
Overall, there is little to fault here. In many instances, this is an ideal microphone and one of the very best for clinical recordings where you want to retain as much authenticity as possible.
Diving into the specifications highlights my initial experiences with the Telefunken TF11. The Frequency response is an expected 20Hz-20kHz, and as mentioned, the curve does offer a roll-off in the low end and a lift towards the top, but for the most part, this is an exceptionally neutral microphone.
The TF11 features a TK51S – Edge Terminated large diaphragm. This results in greater frequency response but can lead to an increase in sensitivity to plosives. I strongly recommend using a high-quality pop filter or shield with the TF11.
The TF11 features exceptionally low self-noise.
The Max SPL of 135dB ensures it will handle louder instruments, but there are other microphones available that have a higher SPL capacity than the TF11. Some also offer a Pad for even greater reach. While it might not be the highest, the TF11 has ample headroom to cover most situations.
The low self-noise is truly impressive. At just 4dB, this condenser microphone is a superb choice for low-volume recordings. Whispering, including niche recordings like ASMR, is a breeze, as is capturing ambient sound.
The Telefunken TF11 harmoniously blends its vintage roots with modern sprinklings. Combining the two results in a unique, attractive design that catches the eye.
The combination of blue and silver works well together. It imbues the microphone with a unique presence in a studio setting compared to the abundance of plain black options that litter the market.
The striking blue color is a nice change of pace compared to other mics.
The iconic Telefunken diamond logo completes the slick appearance. Some might find this microphone too colorful, but I see it as a welcome change from other microphones on the market.
As you would expect from a studio microphone, the Telefunken TF11 features an XLR connection point.
“An excellent combination of iconic design and modern technology.”
As for non-aesthetic components, the TF11 doesn’t offer any additional bells and whistles often found on many modern microphones. You’ll only have access to a Cardioid polar pattern. If you want access to other patterns, you’ll need to invest in different microphones or buy a microphone with switchable patterns.
Likewise, the TF11 doesn’t feature frequency cut-off switches or pads. These extra features can be handy in the right situations, but the lack of them here doesn’t detract from the overall design direction of this focused microphone.
Disposability in modern audio gear is an increasing problem, so I’m always happy to sing the praises of any company that goes out of its way to ensure its products can last the distance.
Telefunken has an outstanding reputation for high-quality microphones, and the TF11 is no exception. The ultra-tough cylinder is robust and up to the rigors of frequent use.
Premium quality components inherited from Telefunken’s more expensive mics.
Internal components are also exceptional. Telefunken approaches each microphone with handcrafted care, and the TF11 features components inherited from their more expensive offerings.
The rebirth of Telefunken was an exercise in restoring some of the best vintage microphones ever made. The desire for authenticity for a bygone era remains in every new product they release. A delicate balance between iconic design and engineering with the benefits of modern technology.
In a sea of cookie-cutter production line music gear offerings, I’m heartened to see that some companies out there still want to retain a combination of durability and function without resorting to excessive pricing.
Despite offering a large diaphragm, the Telefunken TF11 retains a relatively modest footprint. It is among the smallest condenser microphone offerings in the Telefunken lineup.
The TF11 is on the heavier side compared to some microphones.
I will be the first to admit the TF11 is a little heavier than some might like. At 1.2 lbs. (545 grams), it is pretty hefty. You’ll need to ensure that any stand you use can comfortably handle this compact yet bulky mic.
Condenser microphones vary significantly in price. You can pick up solid budget microphones that are adequate starting points for a hobbyist studio. Likewise, you can rapidly escalate into the multiple thousands for premium high-end offerings.
The Telefunken TF11 isn’t exactly cheap, but equally, it still represents solid value if you appreciate high-quality sound and dependable build quality. There is some stiff competition around this price point, but the TF11 holds its own. A reasonable balance between quality, performance, and price.
The included accessories are high quality.
The included accessories also add to the value proposition. The MC11 microphone case is excellent and a perfect storage compartment for your microphone when not in use. Supplementing this is the MS01 microphone sleeve to protect your investment further.
The M 703 shock mount is also excellent and matches the high quality of the microphone. Finally, you’ll have access to the M 782 stand mount for easy compatibility with microphone stands. Ideal accessories which help to add value to what is already a reasonably priced offering.
The Telefunken TF11 is a popular choice, and the reviews reflect the microphone’s exceptional attention to detail and neutral capturing capability. Ample praise for the build quality and the included accessories. Industry experts also rate the TF11 highly.
Two Is Better Than One
Recording drums can be challenging, and it can also become an expensive endeavor for a complete setup. But you can achieve some great results with a pair of microphones, and there are several reasons why you should invest in a second microphone if you are recording drums.
Using two microphones allows for a more accurate and detailed capture of the drum sound, providing a more precise representation of each drum’s individual characteristics and nuances.
Multiple microphones are ideal for recording drums.
Using two microphones can help create a more well-rounded and balanced drum mix, as you can position one microphone to capture the kick drum’s low-end frequencies while the other can focus on capturing the higher frequencies of the cymbals and snare.
This setup also provides more flexibility during the mixing process, allowing for separate control and processing of each microphone’s signal, resulting in a more polished and professional drum sound.
So, while you can get workable recordings from a solitary microphone, I highly recommend you invest in a pair for much more refined results.
As mentioned in the value section of this review, some stiff competition exists around this price point. Below, I give you a quick insight into some other options that might suit your needs better than the TF11.
Mojave Audio MA-200 Review
The Mojave Audio MA-200 is perhaps one of the closest competitors to the TF11. It is slightly more expensive but offers an exceptional sound profile that is ideal for vocals and instruments alike.
- Rich and warm profile that is more forgiving than the clinical TF11.
- Outstanding build quality from a company with a history of excellence.
- Some people might dislike the external power supply configuration.
Mojave Audio MA-200
Sennheiser MK 8 Review
While the TF11 is a superb microphone, it does lack additional features. If you want increased versatility, the MK8 from Sennheiser is among the best choices on the market.
- Offers five polar patterns, three pad settings, and three filter settings.
- Excellent sound quality that provides clarity and warmth.
- Doesn’t come with a hard case or a shock mount.
Sennheiser MK 8
Mojave Audio MA-50 Review
The final alternative worth considering is the more affordable MA-50 from Mojave Audio. It’s a solid all-rounder with impressive tonality and exceptional build quality.
- Excellent balance between neutrality and warmth with a smoother top end.
- Dependable build quality with high-quality components.
- Higher self-noise and not as capable in live sound settings.
Mojave Audio MA-50
Should You Buy?
It’s not often that a legendary company from a bygone era gets a second lease of life. It is even rarer for such a company to retain its authenticity and hold onto what made it great in the first place, but that is precisely what Telefunken has achieved.
Their attention to detail and passion shine through their products, and the marriage between old and new is on full display in the TF11. This is a highly capable microphone with a distinct place in the market thanks to its neutral and crystal clear sound. If accuracy is a top priority for you, the Telefunken TF11 is a superlative choice.