The Telefunken M80 is a dynamic microphone designed mainly for live vocal performances but boasts enough range to make it well suited for studio work as well. With big-name users from a wide variety of genres, from ZZ Top to Snoop Dogg and Cee Lo Green, the M80 has become a popular alternative to to the more common SM58. Residing in the very crowded mid-tier range of dynamic microphones, does the Telefunken M80 have enough going for it to separate itself from the pack?
The M80 is advertised as a great vocal microphone that aims to surpass the 'industry standard' (in other words, the SM58) on every level. From our own experience with the mic, it delivers. The frequency response is impressively wide with enough presence to help vocals cut through a mix without sounding muddy. While most live dynamic microphones tend to lack this mid-range clarity, the M80 is able to yield vocals that sound clear, accurate and polished. While it doesn’t display much proximity effect, the M80 still boasts a great, full-body sound with plenty of low-end response. Adding a slight amount of compression and some EQ work made the M80 sound even better, rivaling dynamic mics that go for hundreds more.
The M80 is also well suited for a wide-range of vocal styles and signing voices, both male and female, although it's particularly popular among male rock vocalists. And thanks to its tight cardioid polar pattern, the M80 features impressive outside noise rejection. In a live performance, this means that monitor feedback should be a rare occurrence. And in case you employ in-ear monitors, you’ll be happy to know that the tight pattern will eliminate stage bleed as well.
Although designed primarily for vocal work, the M80 also performs surprisingly well on percussion, brass and guitar cabinets, making it a versatile microphone for both the stage and the studio. One noted drawback is the mic’s tendency to suffer from plosives a little more frequently than other mics if you sing too close -- but nothing that can’t be fixed with proper mic technique.
The Look and Feel
The M80 is available in a series of different colors and finishes just in case the standard's black rubber finish isn't your taste. Regardless of the color or finish, the M80 is a durable and rugged microphone, perfectly suited for heavy use and should easily take the beating of life on the stage.
Singers that tend to hold their microphones during performances will welcome the standard version's rubber finish, allowing for superior grip that should make accidental drops a much less frequent occurrence. Other available finishes include White, Red, Cherry and Custom Oak. For a little extra you can even spring for the lustrous Chrome model, just in case you wan't your mic extra flashy.
Despite being in a very crowded field consisting of a good number of great dynamic mics, the M80 manages to rise above the pack into field normally occupied by much more expensive microphones. It might not be as cheap as an SM58 but in return you get an overall better microphone. With its extraordinary off-axis rejection, impressively wide frequency range featuring clear, expressive vocals and a rugged build that’s made to last for years, the Telefunken M80 is a great microphone that melds excellent performance, versatility and value in one outstanding package.
Your Turn to Sound Off!
Have you tried or own a Telefunken M80? What are your thoughts on the mic?