I’ll start out with full disclosure by saying the M88 TG is not a mic that gives me shivers. It’s not a bad mic and one that I’ve used, particularly in sessions with lots of mics set up and it was needed. It’s not one that I reach for. If a session were a pick-up baseball game, this is not my last pick, but it’s in the latter half.
That said, online reviewers don’t agree with me. Those who are enthused about the mic for the most part reflect its targeted use. Beyerdynamic is a well-regarded German manufacturer and the M88 does turn up in a lot of pro studios. The TG stands for TourGroup, and reflects a more durable mic grille to stand up to the rigors of live use.
My Advice For What It’s Worth Department: There are more versatile and cheaper alternatives to the M88 TG. For a better value ($50 cheaper) and better quality dynamic mic I recommend the Shure SM7B. (Read my review here)
The M88 TG is a dynamic hypercardioid mic connecting via a standard 3-pin XLR mic cable. As a conventional dynamic design, it does not require phantom power. It has no low-cut switches or attenuator pads – not unusual for a dynamic of this size and shape – and no other bells or whistles.
The manufacturer recommends the M88 TG for vocals, bass drums, bass amps and boasts its mild presence boost accompanying detailed bass reproduction. The hypercardioid pattern rejects side and rear signals aggressively and because of this has a higher gain-before-feedback feature, handy in live situations. While Beyerdynamic claims the mic can handle high sound pressure levels, the M88 TG is somewhat more vulnerable to plosives than most mics of its class. Granted, few mics of handheld design have a reputation for being stuck into kick drums, as the M88 TG does.
As with directional mics, the M88 TG exhibits bass proximity and in its case, it’s pretty pronounced. At 80 Hz, a nice solid kick drum frequency, the M88 TG shows -4 dB one meter away from the source, but +12 dB if the distance is about an inch. That’s a lotta bass! Couple that with high-frequency emphasis that hits +4 dB at 2500 Hz, but continues flat until about 12,500 Hz and you have a rather odd voicing. The M88 TG’s frequency response chart gets me more excited than the mic does.
What that means in practical terms is that yes, this could be an interesting mic on a bass drum or other deep percussion, particularly when close miked. The pumped proximity will prop up sounds that might otherwise be deficient in bass, and the lack of any narrow high-frequency peaks looks good as far as taming harsh sounds, such as guitar amps or brass, while still giving some boost in the 3,000 to 4,000 Hz range. In live music situations, a kick drum usually has a low end boost to give it body along with another boost in that 3 kHz to 4 kHz to highlight the beater punch. In theory, the M88 TG provides that even before touching EQ on a mixing board.
Singers with thin, harsh voices may find this mic flattering also, since it won’t add high frequency hype on the top end, while it will prop up the low range starting around 400 Hz, at the point where richness in vocals is usually found.
Here is a great video I found demonstrating its use in vocals:
There’s nothing that draws concern here. This is a mic that needs a pop filter to use on a kick drum, which is a little unusual in itself. Purpose-made kick drum mics will incorporate this in an integral windscreen, possibly at the cost of some of that smooth high frequency response.
It’s a hefty mic at 320 grams compared to an SM57, which is around 200 grams. Since the M88 TG has a body diameter that’s only as wide as the narrowest part of an SM57, that’s a heavy mic, though the M88 is longer.
Again, the TG version of the mic has a mesh head that will take more abuse than the original, always a good thing. I haven’t used the mic enough to know if it was a particular problem.
Though not extensively reviewed, the M88 TG earns all 4 and 5-star reviews. Since most mics usually have a review from that one guy who expected the mic to plug itself in and make him a sandwich, this is notable. Typical platitudes come from its use on guitar amps. A bass gospel singer loves it, as does a harmonica player, both applications that make sense when reading the frequency response chart.
Another reviewer mentioned it did not reject feedback. Given the tight polar pattern and Beyerdynamic’s own advice, I suspect the problem is with the reviewer, not the mic. That other mics seemed less likely to feed back was probably due to comparative frequency responses. I have a feeling the feedback he got was probably deeper than typical high range feedback.
It’s a bit uncomfortable to go against the grain on a classic mic with plenty of fans. I know that the look of the mic reminds me of something a greasy lounge singer may hold preciously with little finger sticking out, but that doesn’t explain my ambivalence. The M88 TG has a street price of $400 and I get antsy saying, yes, try it out at that price point. I think most readers are after advice about good vocal mics. That’s often a matter of matching a mic to a voice, and certainly we’ve had a number of mics here lately that are definitely suited for a narrow range of singers, as is the M88 TG. I personally feel this is a mic to have in a deep closet, when you already have an extensive collection and you can afford $399 to have that one mic that will be perfect in one session out of ten. Get some experience with other mics before trying the M88 TG.
If you’re a M88 TG lover, please rebut the review in comments below. I’d love to know where your mileage varied. While you’re at it, sign up for Hear the Music mailings to your inbox to learn what other gear astounds or disappoints.