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Who really owns a u87ai and can give me a clear review Condenser Microphones
Old 16th September 2016
  #61
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IanBSC's Avatar
I think it's been a long time since I got a real fair test of a U87ai, or otherwise. A few years ago I bought a pair off of ebay, and they sounded pretty lame. It turns out that the diaphragms and capsules had been replaced with a bunch of aftermarket crap, and the diaphragms were are also wrinkled and warped! Now, I have those same two mics with the Klaus mod so they sound badass and compete nicely with my tube mics. I suppose a new ai is somewhere in between.
Old 16th September 2016
  #62
Gear Nut
 
cdruzeta's Avatar
Useful Information for U87 users

Wow this is useful information.Thank you Klaus.
I have a couple old U87s (one recapsuled a couple years ago and the other purchased straight from Munich). Both always amaze me.

Recently we offered a vocalist choice (all set up similarly through a Focusrite Red1 and a GML pre - alternate takes) a U78, TLM 49 (which I enjoy the harshness on soft high pitched vocals), type M147 (personal fav for male) and a C414XLII and a C414EB.

I liked the M147 (more modern but with the tube roundness and air). The talent chose U87 with the C414EB second. With a little subtraction in the low mid with eq, its the sound you're used to through the 70-80s.

There are a lot of good mics out there for the price of an AI.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Klaus View Post
[email protected]'s observations of the U87Ai's sound are the same as many other users of that model have reported.
It's worth repeating for the novice reader the three major build-differences between U87 and U87Ai, and how they affect the sound:

1. Higher polarization voltage in the U87Ai adds electrostatic suck of the diaphragm towards the backplate. It also lowers the mic's headroom about 6.5dB (the mic's overall headroom in this case is limited by the FET's headroom).

2. Capsule changes since around 2000/2002 have tightened the bass response, adding to the "honk" even the original U87 was infamous for. (U87 replacement capsules- old and current models- are also affected.)

3. The U87Ai is 3dB hotter at its 9kHz peak. This, despite identical eq circuitry used in both models. The boost is mainly a result of the higher polarization voltage.

Until two years ago, Neumann for a while used a sub-chip instead of a discrete FET as impedance converter (circuit #04 ), which added fuzz and an unpleasant timbre, but has returned to the discrete FET version since.
Old 16th September 2016
  #63
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robert82's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathedral Guitar View Post
My explanation for this is that transformer-based 70s/80s mics were designed for the impedance of the consoles / preamps available at that time -- which was around 200 ohms. Yet now the impedance of new preamps is often more than 10x higher than that, and the impedance difference is very audible in the direction of shrill / peaky. i.e., C451 also has lots of very different opinions, and for me they also sound great through preamps that come from the same era, like 1073s.

I would even go so far to say that the vintage craze is in part due to the fact that vintage mics will sound best through vintage preamps -- by design.
I was under the impression that input impedance should be around 10x mic impedance as a general rule.
Old 17th September 2016
  #64
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TobyToby's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Motherpeople View Post
if anyone is still lurking around this thread, im the OP and got the mic two days ago. after two days of shootouts (at4047, SM7B, SM57, and the U87ai) i have come to the conclusion that the u87 actually kinda sucks. i was dissapointed. im not here to advertise or anything, im just a amateur producer who records indie rock.

Its not worth the money at all, it was so bad on my voice. like bad af. i tried hard to like it but the price tag was completely unjustifiable. i expected a smooth as butter but still present sound that i had imagined from some of the positive comments oh this forum, but ended up with the opinion that most people have about this mic. Its honky as hell, it has sharp edges, it just plain sucks for a piece of equipment worth 3200 dollars. it sucks for being a piece of equipment being over 1000 dollars.
i was lured in by the name and the fame, but it ended in shame lol.
im returning this mic tomorrow. most of you guys were right. it is bright and defs not worth the money. like at all.
forget a review man, i rather forget about this purchase. and dont come at me with that preamp crap bc i like my audient preamps and have worked well on my other mics. im not gonna kid myself. i dont recommend this mic to anyone. i finally got a chnce to own one and it failed miserably.
the SM7B beat this mic in almost every way.
goodnight
Well, I guess you are not very experienced and you got used to an dullsh and unbalanced sounding AT4047. To me that equals living in North Korea for a year and getting brainwashed. The also not very detailed sounding SM7B doesn't help either to develop a concept how a 'go-to' mic can or should translate audio informations. The U87 on vox cuts great through a dense rock mix. The later AI version can sound a bit hard on certain voices. Tube or transformer based pre amps can compensate for that. For less money, as a start, I would buy a used AKG C414 B-ULS. That's the last C414 version with a transformer. It sounds overly neutral combined with a bit of character and it works and sounds decent on almost everything. It's one of those microphones where the mic can't be the reason when a recoding doesn't sound right. Never ever buy a Chinese made mic. They are all cursed

Last edited by TobyToby; 18th September 2016 at 02:06 AM..
Old 19th September 2016
  #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawk View Post
It's very easily explained. The U87ai is very picky about preamp pairing, as well as the source.

A lot of people buy one because of the name and the fame, save up their hard earned cash, then run it into their M-Audio interface preamp, and wonder why their vocals don't come out sounding like Frank Sinatra, Usher, Jay-Z etc...
Which mic(s) make people sound like Frank Sinatra or whoever?

Maybe that's true about the preamp, but I'm thinking that's not the problem!

Quote:
So yeah, it can be a picky mic, more than most LDC tube mics in that price range, which tend to generally be a little smoother and more forgiving, and less picky about pairings.
What might those be?
Old 19th September 2016
  #66
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Squawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by hhamilton View Post
Which mic(s) make people sound like Frank Sinatra or whoever?
Not a one. That's my point.




Quote:
Originally Posted by hhamilton View Post
What might those be?
My LDC tube mics that I have here tend to be less picky about pairings than my U87ai. There are in "my studio" link if you are interested.
Old 19th September 2016
  #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Maybe because 'in your day' you were not using the ai, but the battery compartment model (which is the model the OP is asking about). If you had used the current model ai or compared it to an older 87, you would certainly call it bright.

I have two ai models and one vintage model here. the ai model is bright, harsh if pushed. The older model is not. I'd agree in fact with your comments re dark and a bit wooly.

To the OP, I rarely use my AI models on a lead vocal (because of the brightness/harshness referred to by others above). I do however use it on things like choirs, strings, bass and, sometimes, as a room mic. It is my go to mic for VO.

Hope this helps.
Seeing as the original U87 was thought of as a "go to" mic for vocals, what might be your "go to" now?
Old 19th September 2016
  #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawk View Post

My LDC tube mics that I have here tend to be less picky about pairings than my U87ai. There are in "my studio" link if you are interested.
Thanks. So the Blue Bottle with lots of caps and the Wunder CM7? Those are 4 grand plus though.
Old 19th September 2016
  #69
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Squawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by hhamilton View Post
Thanks. So the Blue Bottle with lots of caps and the Wunder CM7? Those are 4 grand plus though.
Lots of excellent mic options for much less though. Best to try some out if you can, for your specific applications/sources before spending money on something.
Old 20th September 2016
  #70
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawk View Post
Lots of excellent mic options for much less though. Best to try some out if you can, for your specific applications/sources before spending money on something.

Yep. What he said. ^^^ Here is a VO snippet of the Warbler MKI vs the Advanced Audio CM87 done by another GS member. Two mics in the same sonic ballpark as the AI and every bit as good IMO. If you want I can give you the names of some mics that compete with any Neumann out there right now.
Attached Files
Old 20th September 2016
  #71
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Ephi82's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawk View Post
It's very easily explained. The U87ai is very picky about preamp pairing, as well as the source.

A lot of people buy one because of the name and the fame, save up their hard earned cash, then run it into their M-Audio interface preamp, and wonder why their vocals don't come out sounding like Frank Sinatra, Usher, Jay-Z etc...

So yeah, it can be a picky mic, more than most LDC tube mics in that price range, which tend to generally be a little smoother and more forgiving, and less picky about pairings.
I dont know whhy, but folks on this forum underestimate how important a pre amp can be to a mic sound
Old 21st September 2016
  #72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephi82 View Post
I dont know whhy, but folks on this forum underestimate how important a pre amp can be to a mic sound
It does depend on the mic. I'm paraphrasing, but a well known boutique mic manufacturer said to me it was something like an electrically balanced (by transformer) mic is less fussy, therefore will sound great on a wide range of preamps. An electronically balanced mic will be more affected, and will benefit from a "proper" transformer or tube based pre versus even a "good" IC based design.

He used the example of the M149 which is a bit of an odd design apparently and electronically balanced. Possibly why some people love them and some don't. Personally I think they sound great - but I use ours with a great tune pre, not straight into an interface.

A transformer balanced mic like a U67 is much more forgiving.

Again - I'm probably paraphrasing and mixing up a few things, but that's the gist of it - some mics are more dependent than others (and obviously that's more likely to be modern mics, built to a budget and with IC tech, than "classic" mics).
Old 21st September 2016
  #73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Yep. What he said. ^^^ Here is a VO snippet of the Warbler MKI vs the Advanced Audio CM87 done by another GS member. Two mics in the same sonic ballpark as the AI and every bit as good IMO. If you want I can give you the names of some mics that compete with any Neumann out there right now.
Really knocked out by the Warbler I, what a great sounding mic, forget the price, we have to get one now for our upcoming VO job. Thanks for sharing!
Old 21st September 2016
  #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TobyToby View Post
Well, I guess you are not very experienced and you got used to an dullsh and unbalanced sounding AT4047. To me that equals living in North Korea for a year and getting brainwashed.
Brainwashed or not, they use 87's.


I think that they are the "vintage" ones.
Old 21st September 2016
  #75
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Squawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetam View Post
Brainwashed or not, they use 87's.


I think that they are the "vintage" ones.
Those aren't U87's, they are clearly mini ICBM's in disguise...
Old 16th January 2019
  #76
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Axelrod View Post
You should return it and buy used. Way more bang for the buck. A vintage U87 will sound better and likely cost less than a new ai. I have a new ai that was modified by The Mic Shop and its stellar. Amazing on the right singer and my first choice for acoustic guitar. I bought it from The Mic Shop fully modded for like $2500. That was about 6 years ago.

I know this thread is old but you do not have go find/buy a vintage one to sound good. The issue with the AIs was that between the serials 100,000 (I believe it was) to 124,000 there was a daughter board in there that made them sound differently than the older vintage models. As long as you get one with the serial number below 100000 or above 124000 you’ll be fine because they don’t have the daughter boards in them. I have an AI with the serial 125*** and it’s amazing!
Old 16th January 2019
  #77
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Motherpeople View Post
So where da reviews at my boys
My precious fingers are too tired to type "U87ai review" in the search box...... So tired.

Sorry. I barely mustered the energy for this reply.
Old 17th January 2019
  #78
People like to throw shade on the U87ai, but I love mine. No regrets whatsoever. It sounds fantastic on just about everything. I'm not a professional studio owner, but I've been doing this for 20 years. Sometimes I blend the 87 with other mics, such as with an R84 or a 57 on guitar cabinets. Blending mics gives me a huge thrill, for whatever reason. But the Neumann just sounds great to my ears on everything I record: drums, vocals, guitars, bass. Even percussion. It takes EQ better than any of my other mics. The versatility to quality ratio is excellent. Is it possible to get as good or maybe even a better sound at times with other, less-expensive mics? Certainly. Getting different sounds with different mics is half the fun of recording. And I would concede that pro sound engineers would be likely to have more discretionary tastes after working all day every day in professional studios with mic closets full of all kinds of mics. But for my home studio purposes, recording my band, my friends and my own musical projects, I don't hope to capture a take that sounds as good or better than a U87ai. I can get the Neumann sound whenever I want it. That's why I bought it. It's frickin' awesome. This year, I intend to spring for a C12. Why not? I'd love to work with my own C12. It's all just rock 'n roll. And I like it.
Old 17th January 2019
  #79
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Motherpeople View Post
So you're telling me that you could not find a 3200 dollar mic useful for vocals at all until you let someone modify it? Wtf, is this just Neumann being idiots and changing their beloved mic just to piss off buyers, and get a modification? Or have they cheaped up and are using subpar parts? or have they improved the mic?
I would venture to say they did both, and ended up with about the same quality mic, but it's not really the same mic.

I have the same thought about mic's and cost. So I ended up with:
Advanced Audio CM67/47/12
Groove tubes MD1a/MD3/MD6
Lawson 47
Soundelux U95S
all my tube LDC's

Each was $1K to $2K
Old 22nd January 2019
  #80
I've had the 87ai for a handful of years now. I got it for 2k as a shelf model. I wouldn't hazard a comment as to how good it is...yet. Not enough experience with mics or sound in general. I did record my voice with it across 20 odd songs last year and found some sounded quite pleasing to me...and others sounded pretty bad. You put a good source in front of the ai...and you'll be happy. I guess.
Old 7th February 2019
  #81
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by hello people View Post
I've had the 87ai for a handful of years now. I got it for 2k as a shelf model. I wouldn't hazard a comment as to how good it is...yet. Not enough experience with mics or sound in general. I did record my voice with it across 20 odd songs last year and found some sounded quite pleasing to me...and others sounded pretty bad. You put a good source in front of the ai...and you'll be happy. I guess.
Could be that the songs that sounded “good” were good days and you were in the pocket of the song and had a good register. No mic will make someone who is awful, sound good!
Old 7th February 2019
  #82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nevbone1674 View Post
Could be that the songs that sounded “good” were good days and you were in the pocket of the song and had a good register. No mic will make someone who is awful, sound good!
Yeah for sure. But I was thinking that perhaps some of my gain settings may have played a part too. I do recall experimenting a lot with my UA LA 610 mkii. It has -10, -5, 0, +5, +10 gain settings to alter the warmth or clarity etc. Also I sang in a couple of different spaces/ rooms. Also, similar to what you said it could be that some of the song keys were more friendly with my voice than others. And on top of all that, I had no stock way of mixing. Lots of variables. It'd pay to keep detailed notes about preamp settings etc as I go.

Old 7th February 2019
  #83
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathedral Guitar View Post
My explanation for this is that transformer-based 70s/80s mics were designed for the impedance of the consoles / preamps available at that time -- which was around 200 ohms. Yet now the impedance of new preamps is often more than 10x higher than that, and the impedance difference is very audible in the direction of shrill / peaky. i.e., C451 also has lots of very different opinions, and for me they also sound great through preamps that come from the same era, like 1073s.

I would even go so far to say that the vintage craze is in part due to the fact that vintage mics will sound best through vintage preamps -- by design.
Bingo. An Audient is too bright of a preamp for a u87. The U87 was designed when things were Tube or colored transformers and tape....the highs would roll off. I like Klause's explination. I take away from that the transients were improved with the AI, this typically results in more clarity in the high freq, result...sounds brighter.

With the fantastic converters out there, and more high freq in both the capture and playback, darker mic's are becoming more popular....Tubes and Ribbons. It all balances out with the right chain.
Old 11th February 2019
  #84
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Salty James's Avatar
I’ve had 2 u87ai mics over the years. And about 5 vintage ones.
I now currently have 2 original 87’s. One from 1983 another from the 60’s.
There is really no comparing these mics. The old ones:
Can take any signal evenly and sound full frequency without any harshness or unnecessary boom.
Can be eq’d; in tracking or in a mix very easily, top/bottom up/down. It doesn’t matter.
Always works on every singer. And is only maybe less than ideal on singers that have exceedingly dark muffled voices.
Can be gained up using a pre amp for a little bit of drive if I like.
Records a rocking guitar amp beautifully.
The new ai model has real difficulty doing all of these things well IMO.

And regarding plugging into nice preamps. I plugged the newer 87ai's into Neve/BAE 1073’s, 312’s, 610 (actually a lot more tolerable on these), and other sweet units.

The new ones are just brighter, zingier, they get harsh quicker, and are a lot more singer / source dependent. They also have a hotter output. Putting old vs new on a loud guitar amp is so night and day different it is easier to say it’s not even the same mic. One sounds like a record one sounds broken (even if you pad the new ai down to the proper levels). Absolutely zero similarity.

When I sold both my newer ai’s I told both the buyers (just to be honest) that they don’t compare to the older 87’s.

Last edited by Salty James; 21st February 2019 at 02:44 PM..
Old 15th February 2019
  #85
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Cathedral Guitar's Avatar
I had a couple of early production u87s from the 1960s that actually sounded pretty close to an M269!! The entire development of the U87 though the years has been a slow progression away from that sound, for whatever design reason. It makes sense that back in the 1960s they were just trying to recreate the U67 without using tubes.

I still like the sound of the new U87s on acoustic guitars, when used with vintage preamps. I have never had the chance to put a new capsule on an old U87 and see if the difference was in the sound was from the fresh capsule or the different amp, but I do have a feeling that a lot of older U87s floating around have capsules that are in need of a professional cleaning and are a little out of spec from decades of workhorse use.
Old 1st March 2019
  #86
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Salty James View Post
I’ve had 2 u87ai mics over the years. And about 5 vintage ones.
I now currently have 2 original 87’s. One from 1983 another from the 60’s.
There is really no comparing these mics. The old ones:
Can take any signal evenly and sound full frequency without any harshness or unnecessary boom.
Can be eq’d; in tracking or in a mix very easily, top/bottom up/down. It doesn’t matter.
Always works on every singer. And is only maybe less than ideal on singers that have exceedingly dark muffled voices.
Can be gained up using a pre amp for a little bit of drive if I like.
Records a rocking guitar amp beautifully.
The new ai model has real difficulty doing all of these things well IMO.

And regarding plugging into nice preamps. I plugged the newer 87ai's into Neve/BAE 1073’s, 312’s, 610 (actually a lot more tolerable on these), and other sweet units.

The new ones are just brighter, zingier, they get harsh quicker, and are a lot more singer / source dependent. They also have a hotter output. Putting old vs new on a loud guitar amp is so night and day different it is easier to say it’s not even the same mic. One sounds like a record one sounds broken (even if you pad the new ai down to the proper levels). Absolutely zero similarity.

When I sold both my newer ai’s I told both the buyers (just to be honest) that they don’t compare to the older 87’s.

What serial numbers were the AIs? That plays a huge part!
Old 1st March 2019
  #87
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Salty James's Avatar
One was an early 90's the other was from a 96-2000.

I was bummed cause I had only known / worked with vintage ones and had no idea why the ones I had were so different.
Old 2nd March 2019
  #88
Lives for gear
I have a U87ai and it is a good mic for lead vox and for my vocals especially, the best I found for my voice mafter about 10 years of searching and comparing LDC’s, dynamics and ribbons. Worth the $2k I paid to get it used. However, I never had the chance to try it against a vintage 87. So for the past 3 years it was my go to mic for vocals.

Last month I got a Stam Audio SA-87 and SA-47, clones of a 87 (vintage, not ai) and U47.

After A/B’ing the U87ai with the SA-87, there is no comparison. The SA-87 is fantastic, responds much better to EQ, and makes the U87ai sound bad by comparison (a bit harsh in the upper miss and much worse in its response to EQ). Plus it was $800. The SA-47 is also a gorgeous mic but less suited to rock vocals—doesn’t quite sit in the mix with the same intensity and presence.

Anyway, going to put my U87ai up for sale now. It served me well though.
Old 3rd March 2019
  #89
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robert82's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snail View Post
After A/B’ing the U87ai with the SA-87, there is no comparison. The SA-87 is fantastic, responds much better to EQ, and makes the U87ai sound bad by comparison (a bit harsh in the upper miss and much worse in its response to EQ).
Is this for your particular voice, or did you A/B with other vocalists and instruments as well?
Old 3rd March 2019
  #90
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
Is this for your particular voice, or did you A/B with other vocalists and instruments as well?
I only did the A/B testing on my own voice, but after that I didn’t feel the need to do such tests with others. However if you disliked the U87ai so much, I don’t know how much you’d like the SA-87. It is clearly better but it’s in the same character of mic. Completely different to something like the SM7b you’re using, for example.

The other LDC’s I’ve tried and have are the Miktek C4, Pearlman TM1 (an early, dark one), AT 4060 and Mojave MA-200 (which I like on acoustic guitar).

I have used the SA-47 for some female vocals, and really liked it. Very classy mic IMHO. That and the SA-87 are now my go to’s for vocals.
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