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Neumann U87 AI vs. U89 i?
Old 8th November 2009
  #31
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DarkSky Media's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisdee View Post
You don't put a screaming, saliva spitting rock vocalist in front of a U87. It will pick up all the different sounds coming in out of the singers mouth, not just the actual tones. Neither do you put a very soft singer in front of the SM7B because it takes loud volume to drive it.
And yet... I strongly suspect there have been as many screaming, spitting rock vocals recorded on U87s as on SM7Bs. And some of them (the songs containing the vocals, though it's true of the mics also...) have sounded pretty damn good and sold very very well. So it's dangerous to generalize.

It's also wildly off topic, as you are describing someone's comparison of the U87 to a the Shure mic the OP already has, rather than to a U89i.
Old 8th November 2009
  #32
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The U89/TLM193 does not have the presence bump of most LD condensers. That gives this "dark" impression. It might sound a little dull and muddy on vocals, you will definitely need some eq to make it sit in the mix.
Cool mic though!
Old 9th November 2009
  #33
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Every human singing voice is different, so no one mic will always be best for every singer. As you can see from these responses, most people would try the U87 on the vocal before they would use the U89 as the U87 is brighter and usually sits better in the mix. The U89 is darker sounding and the frequency response is pretty flat which is why the U89 is popular recording strings and classical music. However, there are no rules and certainly there will be some singers who sound better on the U89 compared to the U87. The U87 can also be used to record strings and classical music (the U87 makes a great cello mic).

The old U87 (no A or AI) vs. the newer U87AI argument always gets Gearslutz excited! One problem in comparing an old U87 to a new U87Ai is that no two old 25-30+ year old U87 mics sound exactly the same! This is due to age/condition, repairs/service/mods, and the fact that old U87 mics (with the place inside for the battery) were largely hand made. The newer U87Ai mics are more consistent as time has not changed them yet and the manufacturing process is now more automated. When someone says their old U87 is warmer sounding than a new U87Ai, its hard to tell if that is due to the fact the old U87 needs a capsule cleaning or something like that or if the old U87 really is warmer than a newer U87Ai. I have 2 old U87 mics from the early and mid 1970's and I borrowed a pair of 5 year old U87 Ai mics and did a comarison recording a number of sources with all 4 mics. The two Ai models sounded identical to me but my 2 old U87 mics sounded slightly different from each other even though both have been serviced. However, all four of them sounded more alike than different once the levels were matched (the Ai is louder). The newer Ai models where a bit clearer and more detailed in the upper mids/high end and the older 1970's mics were a bit warmer, but these differences were not large. I do think the older U87 mics are cooler to own because they have a history and could have been used on any number of hit records from the 70's, but sound wise they are more alike than different.

One of the best qualities of both the U87 and the U89 is that they take eq very well so you can make them work most of the time even if they are not the ideal mic to use.

J. Mike Perkins
Old 6th September 2012
  #34
technical info from Neumann

I know that this thread is several years old, but in case anyone else comes looking for info on this topic (as I just did), here's some technical info from Neumann courtesy of Neumann U 87 Ai | RecordingHacks.com:

"The circuit for the … U-87Ai uses a DC-DC converter, which the original [U-87] did not. This allows for higher internal voltages to be stabilized from the 48v supply, which in turn allows for better noise figures and more dynamic range. The U-87Ai gives 6dB lower noise and 10dB more signal to noise than its predecessor.

"The “U 89” on the electronics of the U 87Ai refers to the use of the DC-DC converter circuit, which is the same as that in the U 89i. The amplifier circuits themselves, however, are different in the two mics.

"The original U 87 (1967 to 1986) used a different capsule (K87) than its predecessor, the U 67 (K67). The [K67 and K87] capsules are acoustically identical, but the two halves of the backplate of the K87 are electrically insulated from each other. So, instead of the typical three connections of a dual-diaphragm design, this one has four.
When the U 87Ai was introduced, the K67 was employed again, as there was no advantage perceived with using the split backplate."

Last edited by Dan Phillips; 6th September 2012 at 03:04 AM.. Reason: corrected URL
Old 6th September 2012
  #35
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666666's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelmossobrien View Post

...The 87 will be brighter... The 89 is smooth... flatter in frequency response....
Indeed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by didier.brest View Post

...TLM 103 is likely closer to the U87 than to the U89...
Indeed again!

If you can easily get your hands on a TLM103 and U89 for a comparison, you'll be set. The 103 will be pretty close to the overall character / response of the 87. Then you'll be able to make a general judgement by ear.

Both the 87 and 89 are great mics and either may be just right for your situation, but it really just depends on the actual response of the source and what you prefer to hear.

Like most folks already said, the 87 is going to have a bit of extra excitement in the high frequencies, a bit of an edge or sparkle, this might flatter the source wonderfully or may even possibly harm it.

The 89 is going to be smoother by comparison, no hype, very natural, a little "darker"... or, more accurately, "flatter". It may sound "boring" next to the 87 (or 103) at first, but don't discount it so fast, there can be great beauty in a very natural, unhyped recording, give it a chance.

The 87 may provide a little more "ear candy" so it can be deceiving. Then again, if this "ear candy" really works for the specific source and you really dig it, then by all means run with it. But most folks will instantly choose a brighter (or "louder") version of something before really studying the other more subtle characteristics of the recording, don't make that mistake.

One important thing to remember, you can NEVER chose a mic merely by how you THINK it's gonna sound, or by looking at the specs, or by following what people tell you, etc. You MUST actually TRY it and listen. Almost ALWAYS when I put up a few mics in front of a source, the mic that I think is gonna be the right one winds up being the worst, and often the one I think will probably not work well winds up being perfect. That's why I ALWAYS audition several mics on any source before recording. There are so many variables when recording, you really need to HEAR what's going on. Different capsules respond differently at different distances, there can be weird room issues that subtly but effectively cause certain mics to behave weirdly due to differences in polar patterns, whatever.

The 103 isn't going to truly let you know exactly how the 87 is going to work, but it'll at least give your ears an idea of the general vibe / character of the 87, at least compared to the 89. Let's put it this way, if after comparing a 103 and 89 on your source, if you love the 89 and dislike the 103, chances are you will not like the 87 in that application. If the opposite should occur, then it may be worth your while to obtain an 87.... or just use the 103!

Old 6th September 2012
  #36
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People on Gearslutz say the 103 sounds nothing even like the charcter of a U87. Your opinion is in line with SOS who said it does on their review, and got blasted for that on the forums.
Old 6th September 2012
  #37
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666666's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by miscend View Post
People on Gearslutz say the 103 sounds nothing even like the charcter of a U87. Your opinion is in line with SOS who said it does on their review, and got blasted for that on the forums.
I suggested that the 103 will be more like the 87 in general, compared to an 89. Doing a direct, careful shoot-out between a 103 and 87 is another story.

Both the 103 and 87 have a "hyped" upper frequency response, in a very Neumann kind of way. The 89 is a different animal.

So if you only have access to an 89 and 103 and wish to get a rough idea of the character and response of an 87 compared to an 89, a 103 / 89 comparison will help. Surely it would be better to actually compare an 87 to the 89, so perhaps then just get an 87.

I am not stating that a 103 is a sonic clone of an 87. I've owned and used 103s extensively in the past. I no longer have the 103s and now have a few 87s. I never did a direct 103/87 comparison myself.

But based on memory and even listening back to recordings I had done with the 103s in the past (instruments, not vocals), I would not say that the character of the 103 and 87 are "nothing alike".

But again, it depends on how finely you are comparing. In a general sense, the 103 and 87 are related. Under a microscope, they are likely very different.

But if you put a 103, 87 and 89 all up on a single source, together, the one that is going to be most different than the rest, a near polar opposite, is the 89... and that's my point. It's just about getting an idea of where these mics sit by comparison, generally. And if the OP has a 103 handy, might as well.
Old 6th September 2012
  #38
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by miscend View Post
People on Gearslutz say the 103 sounds nothing even like the charcter of a U87. Your opinion is in line with SOS who said it does on their review, and got blasted for that on the forums.
The TLM 103 has changed slightly over the years.

The original TLM 103 had the same capsule as the U87, though the electronics were different, of course.

I'm pretty sure the 103 was tweaked a bit over time and it may be that the early 103s (which SOS reviewed) were closer to the U87 than later versions.
Old 6th September 2012
  #39
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666666's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post

The TLM 103 has changed slightly over the years.

The original TLM 103 had the same capsule as the U87, though the electronics were different, of course.

I'm pretty sure the 103 was tweaked a bit over time and it may be that the early 103s (which SOS reviewed) were closer to the U87 than later versions
AHHHH! Interesting! Yes, the TLM103s I had owned were literately from the very first batch ever produced! I had gotten them almost immediately when they had just been released. It was in the late `90's.

John, you stated that the "original TLM 103 had the same capsule as the U87", does this mean that the latest TLM103s now use a different capsule?

Thanks
Old 6th September 2012
  #40
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 666666 View Post
AHHHH! Interesting! Yes, the TLM103s I had owned were literately from the very first batch ever produced! I had gotten them almost immediately when they had just been released. It was in the late `90's.

John, you stated that the "original TLM 103 had the same capsule as the U87", does this mean that the latest TLM103s now use a different capsule?

Thanks
I'm getting very rusty on this one.

I'm sure that when the 103 was launched it used the same capsule at the U89 and Neumann worked hard to give it the lowest self-noise around at the time.

I am pretty sure that now the 103's capsules are made for the 103, rather than both coming off the same production line. I am tot sure if they tension the diaphragm differently.

To get the real low-down you will really have to ask Neumann-Berlin directly.

I am no longer there and didn't closely look at all the ins and outs of the 103 when I was.
Old 6th September 2012
  #41
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According to Neumann, the K 103 capsule of the TLM 103 is a single diaphragm, cardioid-only construction based on the double diaphragm capsule K 87 of the U 87.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
I'm sure that when the 103 was launched it used the same capsule at the U89
U89 ??? Typo ?
Old 26th October 2012
  #42
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skythemusic's Avatar
The U89 was good enough for Talk Talk's vocals.
Old 26th October 2012
  #43
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I had been shopping for used 87 + 89 matched pairs for the last several years, and while both mics have same price new, there is no escaping the fact that the U89 pair is about $2,000 cheaper on the used market. For my use (classical music + all-rounder w/natural sound), the used 89 pair is a really good value. Also, if you want to add some mojo to the sound, they sound fantastic through Chandler TG2, and still have amazing detail and clarity.
Old 26th October 2012
  #44
Quote:
Originally Posted by miscend View Post
People on Gearslutz say the 103 sounds nothing even like the charcter of a U87. Your opinion is in line with SOS who said it does on their review, and got blasted for that on the forums.
When I tested my 103 against an 80s U87 I found them quite different, the 103 definitly beeing brighter and more modern and the 87 more "neutral" and full sounding to my ears. The singer who tried them preferred the 103 and for her voice I definitly agreed.

I think the 103 is a much underrated mic here on GS. I've had a pair which I just recently sold and have made them sound good on lots of different things: as room mics, drum overhead, loads of vocals, guitar, kick, piano etc etc. I love my Phanthera more but still it's not as bad sounding as many people say.

EDIT: my pair was early 00s TLM103, but I haven't read anywhere (except in this thread) that they changed the capsule and am a bit sceptic about that
Old 3rd November 2013
  #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post

Trust me look for an old UM57. Best bang for the buck that will always be worth what you paid. It's tube
but much better than any 87 new or or skool. I like the older 89s too. not sure if Ive heard and 'i' model is that the late 80's one? too many models to remember
peace man
Actually, the U89 has only been produced one way, and it has not change since it's inception.

Also, the U87, U87i, and U87ai are close enough to confuse and confound the best of engineers, when volume matched. See the recording hacks shoot out available online. I've used the i and ai models, and the differences are subtle but noticeable; however both sound great and only shades apart.

Best,

Matt
Old 4th November 2013
  #46
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MickeyMassacre's Avatar
For what it is worth. The singer in one of my bands sounds good only through the sm7b and a U89... Everything else I have tried for him doesnt seem to cut correctly.
Old 25th December 2013
  #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattcollen View Post
Actually, the U89 has only been produced one way, and it has not change since it's inception.

Also, the U87, U87i, and U87ai are close enough to confuse and confound the best of engineers, when volume matched. See the recording hacks shoot out available online. I've used the i and ai models, and the differences are subtle but noticeable; however both sound great and only shades apart.

Best,

Matt
Good point, I read a few articles claiming the same thing. Theres also a video on youtube that produced the same results during their testing.
-Clark
Old 25th December 2013
  #48
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I have used U87s and U87ais and they are not that different. They are part of the same sound family. I prefer the U87ais.
Old 22nd January 2014
  #49
Gear Maniac
89 on female vox a lot of the time
Old 23rd January 2014
  #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllAboutTone View Post
u89 is darker.
I have never used this mic but it was designed to be a more current version of the U87 with extended hi end range.
So if it sounds darker i doubt it, but thats from a person who has never used it before. Im only spouting what iv read and i do believe the tech specs will back me up on that.
Old 23rd January 2014
  #51
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by phatbeatstudio View Post
I have never used this mic but it was designed to be a more current version of the U87 with extended hi end range.
So if it sounds darker i doubt it, but thats from a person who has never used it before. Im only spouting what iv read and i do believe the tech specs will back me up on that.
It's described as "darker" because it has a flatter frequency response curve than the U87 - ie: it does not have the top-end boost that the 87 has.
Old 23rd January 2014
  #52
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
It's described as "darker" because it has a flatter frequency response curve than the U87 - ie: it does not have the top-end boost that the 87 has.
Absolutely bang-on. The U89 is less hyped in the high midrange area, but it has more "sheen" and "air". I love the U89 on tenor and femvox.
Old 23rd January 2014
  #53
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What I meant is when the U89 was introduced . It had more hi end than the U87
possibly not now but when it originated.
Old 25th January 2014
  #54
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatbeatstudio View Post
What I meant is when the U89 was introduced . It had more hi end than the U87
possibly not now but when it originated.
They haven't changed. I've been using U89s since 1989 and notice no real change over the past 25 years.
Old 4th April 2018
  #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
I have a 70 and 80's u87. Had a newer ai like a 2003 model, not even close to the real ones. Maybe the original ai was good. None that Ive used in the last ten years were good at all. If they were identical to the vintage ones why are there mods? The new ai seemed to have an higher output but a very muddy honky mic that failed the classic 'key' test everytime. 'oooh ooh half way there ooh ooh Living on a logo'

Trust me look for an old UM57. Best bang for the buck that will always be worth what you paid. It's tube
but much better than any 87 new or or skool. I like the older 89s too. not sure if Ive heard and 'i' model is that the late 80's one? too many models to remember


peace man
And Neumann CMV563 with M7 capsule is even better. UM57 has the same capsule inside though the UM57 has slighly smaller bass end...
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