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So I Just Bought A U87.. Condenser Microphones
Old 30th January 2016
  #1
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So I Just Bought A U87..

so i just bought a u87 to go with my 1073N and cl1b...so far im not very impressed..i have a wekk or two to exchange the mic...does anyone have any suggestions? i have a manley ref mic that im not 100% satisfied with but i fell like it does a better job than the u87 already..felling pretty fraustrated right now..and help is greatly appreciated!



nic
Old 30th January 2016
  #2
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illnus's Avatar
 

What is it that you don't like about it? It's a very mid-forward mic that simply doesn't work on some voices/sources. That being said, taking out some of that 800hz honk will often balance things out a little, if one's short on options.

There are many good alternatives to a U87 of course. I'm partial to M149's if we're talking Neumann.
Old 30th January 2016
  #3
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Wilburguy's Avatar
Was the 87 new or used? U87->1073->CL1B is a pretty classic signal chain.
Old 30th January 2016
  #4
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Oldone's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by illnus View Post
I'm partial to M149's if we're talking Neumann.
Same here.
Old 30th January 2016
  #5
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Dan Popp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicnac712 View Post
so i just bought a u87 to go with my 1073N and cl1b...so far im not very impressed..
Hi, nicnac. No one is impressed by a U87 just out of the box, and it will "lose" most mic shootouts. So why has it been around for almost 50 years? Because it's an accepted, identifiable, almost "standard" vocal sound; and mostly because many engineers find that they can EQ it to sound like what they want.

I feel your pain. The first mic I bought in 1990 was a U87. Sold it. Several mics later bought it again. Had it modified. Eventually sold it. I'm now on my 3rd U87. I understand both sides of the U87 debate.

Whatever the Manley is not doing for you it will most likely never do for you; whatever the Neumann is doing to you, you can probably make it stop doing.

The M149 is definitely something special, though.
Old 30th January 2016
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Popp View Post
. . . and mostly because many engineers find that they can EQ it to sound like what they want.. .
I am not a fan of the U87ai but I think that before you make a decision it would be a good idea to record a few tracks and then mess around with them.
Old 30th January 2016
  #7
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What do you not like about the Ref C? Is what you don't like similar or different from what you don't like about the U87? Apologies for the abstract questions - I have both those mics and use them with a Great River and CL1B - if the voice is a nice match in either case I like them both
Old 30th January 2016
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicnac712 View Post
so i just bought a u87 to go with my 1073N and cl1b...so far im not very impressed..i have a wekk or two to exchange the mic...does anyone have any suggestions? i have a manley ref mic that im not 100% satisfied with but i fell like it does a better job than the u87 already..felling pretty fraustrated right now..and help is greatly appreciated!



nic
What kind of voice is this chain for? More into modern or retro sounds? And yeah, I always felt a lot of subtractive EQ ends up necessary on a U87, but it can really open up and sound brilliant quick.

Best,
Old 30th January 2016
  #9
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drBill's Avatar
Ai or vintage? The 87 is not a "perfect" mic, but it's been used on thousands of records for a reason. Very rarely do I ever put it up, and then have to take it down. It will almost always work - even if it's not the best choice. If I have no idea what's coming in or going to be recorded, then the 87 is usually my first choice. Ac Gtr, Standup bass, Vox, electric Gtr, woodwinds, percussion - it does it all.
Old 30th January 2016
  #10
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hasbeen's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicnac712 View Post
so i just bought a u87 to go with my 1073N and cl1b...so far im not very impressed..i have a wekk or two to exchange the mic...does anyone have any suggestions? i have a manley ref mic that im not 100% satisfied with but i fell like it does a better job than the u87 already..felling pretty fraustrated right now..and help is greatly appreciated!



nic

Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Ai or vintage? The 87 is not a "perfect" mic, but it's been used on thousands of records for a reason. Very rarely do I ever put it up, and then have to take it down. It will almost always work - even if it's not the best choice. If I have no idea what's coming in or going to be recorded, then the 87 is usually my first choice. Ac Gtr, Standup bass, Vox, electric Gtr, woodwinds, percussion - it does it all.
I'm with the Doctor on this one. I love my U87 (1977). And the Manley Ref is certainly no slouch.

Maybe need to rethink the gain staging or something? How far are you from the capsule? Have you gotten up close and personal for some proximity?

Old 30th January 2016
  #11
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deuc647's Avatar
 

Maybe you confused the u87 with the c800g for classic vocal chain? Cuz everything in that chain points towards the c800g.
Old 30th January 2016
  #12
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mattcollen's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicnac712 View Post
so i just bought a u87 to go with my 1073N and cl1b...so far im not very impressed..i have a wekk or two to exchange the mic...does anyone have any suggestions? i have a manley ref mic that im not 100% satisfied with but i fell like it does a better job than the u87 already..felling pretty fraustrated right now..and help is greatly appreciated!



nic
What do you not like about it? On what sources have you tried it? It tends to work 9 times out of ten for me. The M149 and U47fet are good alternatives, but determining an alternative depends on your issues with the U87.
Old 30th January 2016
  #13
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bgood's Avatar
I've yet to find the magic mic for myself... 30+ years on

I'm gonna start playing with ribbons next!
Old 30th January 2016
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Popp View Post
No one is impressed by a U87 just out of the box... .
I am sorry, but that is absolutely ridiculous.
Old 30th January 2016
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Ai or vintage? The 87 is not a "perfect" mic, but it's been used on thousands of records for a reason. Very rarely do I ever put it up, and then have to take it down. It will almost always work - even if it's not the best choice. If I have no idea what's coming in or going to be recorded, then the 87 is usually my first choice. Ac Gtr, Standup bass, Vox, electric Gtr, woodwinds, percussion - it does it all.
That ^

Plus, I have found that some mics are more influenced by the room than other mics. The U87 - to me, anyway - is one of these. Are you recording in a space that is less than ideal?

Also, +1 to the cutting of 800hz (or thereabouts) idea.

Cheers.
Old 30th January 2016
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
I am sorry, but that is absolutely ridiculous.
Jeff, please ridicule me if you find my statement ridiculous. I've known enough engineers like the OP who plug in a U87 for the first time and wonder, "What's the big deal about this mic?" to know that I've made a reasonable (if slightly exaggerated) statement based on my experience.
Old 31st January 2016
  #17
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I understand being underwhelmed by the U87 when you first get it. Naked and unprocessed it can sound thin and a little cold.

But in the context of a busy mix or when it comes to compression and EQ time, I have yet to find another mic that works as well.

It's an awesome tool where it really counts, which is when you need the track to cut through and be present without sounding harsh or over-processed.

I also echo the question, did you buy it new or used. That can be a key factor.

I'm speaking to you as a slut who sold my U87ai (twice) and very soon after regretted it. Doubt that I will ever make that mistake again.

Don't know what you paid for it, but the resale on U87s or U87ai is very strong, in case you do keep it past the return period.
Old 31st January 2016
  #18
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Drumsound's Avatar
The thing I like about the U87 (vintage, never used an ai) is that its totally malleable. It deals well with EQ and compression. I had a bigger love affair with mine when I first had it, and when I still had a VoxBox to plug it into. I've oft considered getting a Manley Mono mic pre just to use with the U87 on vocals.
Old 31st January 2016
  #19
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Dan Popp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by VO Guy View Post
I understand being underwhelmed by the U87 when you first get it. Naked and unprocessed it can sound thin and a little cold.
VO, I remember an article from maybe the late 80's about radio stations swapping out their RE20s for U87s, and being underwhelmed. Most radio station control rooms and production rooms weren't acoustically-designed "studios;" they were just rectangular boxes with foam on the walls. The RE20s had been masking the ugly sound of the rooms because of their tight pickup pattern, but the U87s brought it into play.

Also, the stations were just running the mics into the preamps on the board, which were abysmal. And of course, because of DJs spitting into the mics 24 hours a day, they had to keep the foam windscreens on. All of this made for disappointment for stations expecting to merely apply 48 volts to the Neumann and instantly have the sparkle and clarity of an NPR station.
Old 31st January 2016
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Popp View Post
VO, I remember an article from maybe the late 80's about radio stations swapping out their RE20s for U87s, and being underwhelmed. Most radio station control rooms and production rooms weren't acoustically-designed "studios;" they were just rectangular boxes with foam on the walls. The RE20s had been masking the ugly sound of the rooms because of their tight pickup pattern, but the U87s brought it into play.

Also, the stations were just running the mics into the preamps on the board, which were abysmal. And of course, because of DJs spitting into the mics 24 hours a day, they had to keep the foam windscreens on. All of this made for disappointment for stations expecting to merely apply 48 volts to the Neumann and instantly have the sparkle and clarity of an NPR station.
Exactly. The room is another factor along with mic technique. U87s will show no mercy to poor acoustics or mic technique. A U87 will capture much more detail which can be a blessing or a curse depending on your recording environment.

I was in radio for 10 years and don't ever remember seeing a U87. It was always bullet-proof dynamics like RE20s, Sm7s or Sennheiser 421s.
Old 31st January 2016
  #21
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BOWIE's Avatar
Go with your ears and don't let anyone talk you into thinking that a certain mic should necessarily sound good in your application. It completely depends on the individual singer/instrument and how you're trying to work it into a specific mix. If you don't like it, you don't like it, and that's all the reason you need to move onto something else. There's also a good chance that your tastes will grow/change and you'll find yourself loving certain things that didn't work for you before. Forums sometimes nurture the herd mentality but there's nothing wrong with you not liking a certain mic, no matter how popular it is.
Old 31st January 2016
  #22
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VO Guy's Avatar
 

This is a good point, although I am still a strong believer in the value of the U87ai.
Old 31st January 2016
  #23
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by VO Guy View Post
Naked and unprocessed it can sound thin and a little cold.
Vintage? Ai?? My vintage 87 has never sounded thin or cold. That statement has me wondering if your 87 was broken.

[edit] : I see it was an Ai. Maybe that's the problem. All the 87's I've used were not Ai's so maybe the Ai is thin and cold, but a vintage 87 is anything but.
Old 31st January 2016
  #24
Sen
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Sen's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
I see it was an Ai. Maybe that's the problem.
No, it's not ... Ai here sounds absolutely fine, although I 100% agree about it sounding (very) honky in bad rooms.
Old 31st January 2016
  #25
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Read here about the U87Ai versions and their sonic differences:
http://repforums.prosoundweb.com/ind...?topic=36656.0

And here you can read technical details about the differences between the U87 and U87Ai:
http://repforums.prosoundweb.com/ind...c,36194.0.html
Old 31st January 2016
  #26
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I had two vintage U87s and sent them to Klaus Heyne for mods. When he opened them up it turned out that both had non-Neumann capsules in them, and both were somewhat broken. These were from two separate eBay purchases. He replaced the capsules with new K87s and did his signature mod stuff. They sound much better now.

It just goes to show that you never know with some of the old U87s out there.

Another thing about this mic (pre-Klaus mod) is that it really requires eq to sound it's best, but it takes it very well.
Old 31st January 2016
  #27
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Dan Popp's Avatar
I suppose it's wishful thinking, but what if Neumann, possibly in collaboration with Klaus Heyne, were to introduce a U87 B - opening up the top and bottom a bit, and reducing the characteristic "honk"? Well, one can dream.
Old 31st January 2016
  #28
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TheAmpFactory's Avatar
Mics are just tools at the end of the day... don't try and use a spanner when you need a screwdriver. - ignore hype on mics. - the end of the day, whatever comes in to record.. try it and see, if it works Great!.. if not use another, this is why most studios have a mic locker.. because you have a good named mic, does not mean it will sound like a (insert fav track) commercial record.

Ive had equal success on real cheap mics, mostly because it just worked at the time for the given performance/vocalist/instrument. and sometimes I use the greats on others. - just have to always have options, and never ever force it because its a good mic!.
Old 31st January 2016
  #29
I like the U87 for the same reason I like a Strat, Les Paul, or P bass...It's a familiar sound, used on thousands of classic records. It makes vocals sound like vocals to me. There are better mics for some things for sure (usually costing more). But not much better. At one time, I felt like the U87 was overpriced/overrated. I just don't feel that way anymore. You can get a lot of mileage out of the 87. It has that familiar midrange that can be fantastic.

If you don't like it, then you don't like it. Trust your gut, that's the only way you'll find YOUR sound.
Old 31st January 2016
  #30
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VO Guy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Vintage? Ai?? My vintage 87 has never sounded thin or cold. That statement has me wondering if your 87 was broken.

[edit] : I see it was an Ai. Maybe that's the problem. All the 87's I've used were not Ai's so maybe the Ai is thin and cold, but a vintage 87 is anything but.
My first U87ai was a new one manufactured in 2008/2009. My expectations were, like many, a bit unrealistic. It just didn't sound like the heavens opening up which although I didn't consciously realize it, is what I had expected.

Also the blurb below from Klaus' forum may explain part of it:

The U87ai that I use now was manufactured in 2001 and for the most part I do not find it cold and thin.
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