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vintage u87 vs modern u87 Condenser Microphones
Old 1st April 2008
vintage u87 vs modern u87

Hello all, i recently had the oppertunity to use a nuemann u87 (vintage not Ai or whatever) on vocals, through a LA 610 preamp. sounds great and better than my shure ksm 27. It seemed less honky and more airy, i guess. It also seemed to have a natural compression characteristic to it as well, which made it easier to use unlike the ksm27 that would easily spike the input and overdrive the pre. Can't buy a vintage one real easily so i thought that a new one might work as good. However i do know that some so-called circuit "improvements" can change the sound of something. Would a modern u87 sound as good as a vintage u87 or would it just be a super-expensive shure ksm27? Go easy on me!
Old 1st April 2008
Lives for gear
Dirty Halo's Avatar

At this point in your building phase of recording, the new U87 will be perfectly fine for you... no need to fall into the hype of "vintage."

There are small differences, but for all you know, you may prefer new over old!

Go for it.

Old 2nd April 2008
Gear Addict

The new U87 is a great microphone. The bump in the highs is a little bigger than the old ones, but nothing significant. It is said that the old ones have some more 'mojo' than the new ones. But keep in mind that a microphone that's been build 20 years ago, must have been maintained properly. I think a lot of the second hand ones around, aren't in the condition they should be in order to be 'that great vintage U87'.

A new one would be just fine.
Old 2nd April 2008
Lives for gear
HudHudson's Avatar

The amplifier section of the U87ai distorts at much lower levels than the "vintage" U87, so it is not appropriate for some louder applications. This topic has been discussed at length on Klaus Heyne's forum at ProSoundWeb, so go do a search there for more details. I have both versions at the studio I work out of and never, repeat, never use the U87ai, finding it too harsh on top for my taste.
Old 2nd April 2008
Lives for gear
doorknocker's Avatar
H+E in Germany offers a Mod for the U87Ai that might be what you need.

From their website:

'Because of the big demand for original SERIES ONE U87 MICS we offer a Retro Modding for Neumann U87ai microphones. This unique modifications brings back the desired sound performance similiar to the level behaviour of vintage U87s or U67s.

-Amplifier has 14dBu more headroom similiar to U67
-max. input level +4dbu similiar to U67
-internal Low cout modified/linear up to 40Hz instead of roll off at 100Hz
-High cut modified,+2dBu at 10khz
-lower noise floor

Neumann U87ai Modding: 275,00 Euro'
Old 2nd April 2008
Gear Head

I just posted this in the other thread and it may be a bit of help. I have no idea what the actual dates are on the mics:

We've got one from the late 60s and another from the late 90s. They sound completely opposite from each other.

The one from the 60s is very warm and thick, and doesn't have much gain, the 90s one cuts right through in the upper mid range, and has a pile of gain.
Old 2nd April 2008
Lives for gear
vernier's Avatar
Years ago I rented an ai to record a female and it sounded good.
Old 2nd April 2008
Lives for gear
dan p's Avatar

Vintage u87 are ones built before 1986 and after are the newer ones.I have an ai and it sounds good.I know they are dif but the quality is still there.I go with either the 87 or a pearlman tm1 which sounds great and is half the price,maybe a bit warmer sounding too.

Dan P
Old 2nd April 2008
Lives for gear

sorry, but a different opinion here... i think a "vintage" 87 in good condition is far superior to a new one... i really dislike the top end of the new ones, and i like the somewhat creamier, more full bodied sound of the old ones (in good condition!)... i also think you can by vintage for less than a new one...
Old 2nd April 2008
Lives for gear
dan p's Avatar

Like said above old is better if it has been kept in superior condition or been refurbished.My engineer showed me his u87 and when he opened it up it was a u89 unit!Unscrew the capsule and take a look for yourself!LOL!

Dan P
Old 3rd April 2008
Lives for gear
jmikeperkins's Avatar
I think the circuit board on the newer U87ai mics is like the circuit board on the U89 (and it might even say U89 somewhere on the board) but the U89 is a totally different mic with a smaller capsule without a center contact and I don't think you are going to buy a U87ai, open it up and find its a U89.

I currently own 2 original U87 mics (one late 60's, one mid-late 1970's) and I did a shoot out with 2 new U87ai mics to compare them. One thing to understand up front about the U87, especially the older ones, NO TWO OF THEM SOUND THE SAME. Its basically a hand made mic, so there are small differences from one to the next not to mention the difference that age makes. The biggest difference in sound from one to the next will involve the age and condition of the capsule. The new ones will always have new capsules so they always tend to sound a little brighter than the older ones with older capsules that have a lost a little over the years. Having said all of that, I DO tend to GENERALLY prefer the older ones (as long as the capsule is in decent shape) but there is NO RULE here. Both the old ones and the new ones are great mics and sometimes you can get lucky and find a really outstanding one for vocals. While the new one will be new, I don't think they are worth the extra $1,000 over a used one in good condition.

J. Mike Perkins
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