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U87 Or Not ? Condenser Microphones
Old 28th December 2010
  #31
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If you're in a private studio (just record yourself), I'd probably go in search of something else at a better price. You should be able to get something you prefer the sound of, for less money, if you have a proper look and try a lot of things.

Having the U87 is more important if you're a commercial studio and trying to attract clients.
Old 28th December 2010
  #32
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Space Station's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BradLyons View Post
A U87 should never disappoint
Well they certainly can and will disappoint on the wrong vocalist.

Huge difference in sound between my 1968 U87 and the modern Ai. The internals are totally different..not to mention the Ai is 10db louder than it's predecessor at the same gain setting(due to the capsule being polarized with 12 more volts than the U87 which also adds to the tonal change).
Old 28th December 2010
  #33
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As everyone says, you can't go wrong with a Neumann U87. Every studio needs at least one. A U87 takes eq LIKE NO OTHER MIC (except the older Nuemann U67 and U77) SO YOU CAN ALMOST ALWAYS MAKE IT WORK and that is why its such a universal mic. Most mics start to sound harsh or exhibit strange and annoying peaks when you start to add eq, but not the U87. Through some kind of Neumann magic, the U87 remains SMOOTH and natural sounding even with large amounts of eq. I don't know how it does that. A vocal recorded with a U87 also seems to sit well in a mix and sound "like a record."

Yes, there are 2 models, the original (pre 1987) U87 and the newer U87A (or Ai model were the i just means it has a standard XLR connector). The original U87 has a battery compartment and you can run the mic off (now almost impossible to find) batteries OR phantom power. The U87A does not have a battery compartment and has changed electronics and a slightly different capsule. I think the older (pre 1987) ones have a certain "cool" factor, because you never know what studio might have owned it in the past or what famous artist might have used it, but both versions are great. The older ones tend to be slightly warmer sounding, but no two old original U87 mics sound exactly the same as they were largely hand made. The newer U87Ai mics are more consistent sounding from one to the next.

I would buy a used one. The new ones are not worth the extra money. You do need to make sure the capsule is in decent shape (or be prepared to spend about $800 to replace it) but U87 mics are actually tough and robust and there is absolutely nothing that could go wrong with one that can't be easily fixed to be as good as new.
Old 28th December 2010
  #34
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Telefunk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by therealbigd View Post
If you're in a private studio (just record yourself), I'd probably go in search of something else at a better price. You should be able to get something you prefer the sound of, for less money, if you have a proper look and try a lot of things.

Having the U87 is more important if you're a commercial studio and trying to attract clients.
I must disagree. The reason why U87 is the most used/succesful high-end studio mic ever is because it's so great/versatile. If you get a change to test it before buying, then around 1500€ for it is the best investment you can have for your recorded sound.

If something really sucks when recorded through U87, it's most probable that the reason stands in front of it. Yes, there is more "special" mics than U87 but U87 is special for sounding great for so many different purposes.

I've bought a LOT of mics in the last 20 or so years but U87 is still the most used one AND every time i use it i seem to find new positive sides from it. Gets more use than U67 and it's more than half the price.
Old 28th December 2010
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telefunk View Post
You are the only one saying that it's brittle,btw, nobody else. I said it's a great mic but i just dont like the high-end of that mic and it sounds different than the original U87.

The U87Ai I have and have had were all bought new.

If some of your vintage U87's have sounded dull it's probably because they were not working correctly anymore.

Have you ever actually compared them side by side?
I've already said this.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by RocketDaddy View Post
yeah it's not the same mic at all...and the 87 ai is not brittle...
I have also used vintage 87's and some of them actually sound dull...all depends on what shape they are in doesn't it.

If you buy a new 87ai, you'll be in great shape
And you are right...it wasn't brittle...it was this...

Quote:
Originally Posted by analogjeff View Post
get an older model 87... hate the ai model... way bright and sizzly and more expensive... doesn't make sense...
...but this is hogwash...the new 87's are great and you'll be hard pressed to find an olde one that doesn't have problems. That's all I meant.

Also you guys should serach posts by Tony Platt and see what mic pops up the most when he's answering questions about tracking Back In Black...you guessed it...U87...guitars, vox, overs ...whatever you name it, it'll do a really good job IMO anyway.
Old 28th December 2010
  #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telefunk View Post
...
If something really sucks when recorded through U87, it's most probable that the reason stands in front of it. Yes, there is more "special" mics than U87 but U87 is special for sounding great for so many different purposes.

I've bought a LOT of mics in the last 20 or so years but U87 is still the most used one AND every time i use it i seem to find new positive sides from it. Gets more use than U67 and it's more than half the price.

I couldn't agree more...nice postthumbsup
Old 28th December 2010
  #37
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jmikeperkins's Avatar
The other good thing about owning a U87, is that you already have a AKG 414 (B-ULS). I have found that if a voice does not work on a U87 (and some don't) then there is a good chance that voice WILL work on a 414. You would have your bases covered with both of these workhorse mics in your collection.
Old 28th December 2010
  #38
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It's a good mic, full stop. I think everyone should have a go at it. Sure, you might grow out of it over time but it's a great counterpart for your SM7 and will work fine on almost any source. I used it outside a kick drum the other day and was grinning at the sound. I then used it on an acoustic guitar and was also happy. I then put it in front of a vocalist an decided to go with it instead of the other mics I had. That's how much I use mine.
Old 28th December 2010
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telefunk View Post
I must disagree. The reason why U87 is the most used/succesful high-end studio mic ever is because it's so great/versatile. If you get a change to test it before buying, then around 1500€ for it is the best investment you can have for your recorded sound.
I'm not saying it's a bad mic. I'm saying it's an expensive mic. And it's become MORE expensive since it came out, because it's something you're EXPECTED to own, and Neumann know they will never struggle to sell them - so the price tag does not suffer the same commercial pressures of other microphones.

We have a U87 and I use it a lot. But I bought myself a Blue Baby Bottle. On this forum, many will tell you it sounds plasticy and horrible. And on voices that the U87 makes sound good, the Baby Bottle can do. There are however, a lot of voices the U87 would do nothing 'special' for, that the Baby Bottle can make sound great. About this time last year we recorded an album and I ended up doing all the vocals on the Baby Bottle over the U87.

I'm not suggesting that you should get a Baby Bottle. But I'm saying, if it's your voice you're doing, not lots of people's, go out and find the best sounding mic for your voice, and with the less 'commercial expectation' mics, you may well get more bang for the buck.
Old 29th December 2010
  #40
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Telefunk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by therealbigd View Post
But I'm saying, if it's your voice you're doing, not lots of people's, go out and find the best sounding mic for your voice, and with the less 'commercial expectation' mics, you may well get more bang for the buck.
Ok, now this makes much more sense to me than just saying that U87 is only needed to attract clients.thumbsup
Old 29th December 2010
  #41
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It will attract clients and I've never heard results from a U87 that I didn't like. However, I have heard experiences where the U87 will REALLY show if you are a crappy vocalist or not. But I guess that stands true with a lot of high-end mics. Not sure if anyone else has experienced anything similar. I say go for it if you have the cash, heck I want one!
Old 29th December 2010
  #42
Lives for gear
I once tested an U87 on my voice and didn't like it because it did not have as much high frequency content, compared to my Brauner VM-1, but actually it sounded very nice on my guitar which reminded me of some older Bob Dylan records, and yes, it seems it has been used by Dylan... so my feeling with Mics: each one of them has its purpose and mixing mics creates contrast and definition.
Old 29th December 2010
  #43
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Despite of all the potential benefits, am i the only one that hear a slight honkyness in U87?
Old 29th December 2010
  #44
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you're gonna do what you are gonna do. I have had a U87 for several years.. my first few usages resulted in "OMG why do people like this mic. WHAT have I done" third or fourth time it just NAILED what I was after and i learned that there really are not rules about how close or how far away.. EVERY song has a different sweet spot... it may be on the grill and may be 24" ..the more I use it the more I like it .. it will do things other mics will do .. acoustic gtrs overheads room bla bla bla... but very few mics will color a sound the way a U87 will .. i find that if you take a couple min to find the spot in the room and the right distance from the mic ... the good sound is built right in ...It will not be the last mic you buy but it is a KEEPER mic. my 87 cents worth
Old 29th December 2010
  #45
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix View Post
Despite of all the potential benefits, am i the only one that hear a slight honkyness in U87?
You can easily dial that out between 600 and 900, and as rogerbrain says, position the mic in different ways to achieve difference tones. Not everything needs to be recorded in cardioid! a U87 facing a bass trap or baffle in figure-8 can give you a whole other tonal world.
Old 29th December 2010
  #46
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feck's Avatar
I like U87's. But I just got a Gefell UM92.1s, and I think while it has some similarities to the 87, it is just a much better mic for the price. Check one out.
Old 29th December 2010
  #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix View Post
Despite of all the potential benefits, am i the only one that hear a slight honkyness in U87?
I hear it too. It's interesting that someone like Taylor Swift chooses a $400 Chinese C-12 copy for her vocals, when she has access to the best mics in the world. The U87 is indeed versatile, but it's not going to be the optimal choice for everything. You'd definitely want another mic available as an alternative, something that cuts the midrange, rather than boosting it. The old 414eb p48 is good for that.
Old 29th December 2010
  #48
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I find it's the "honkiness" that sits it in the mix so well.
I find more "natural" sounding mics need lots more eq to pull them into shape for a mix or they can get lost.
On it's own (solo-ed(however you spell it)) a U87 vocal often sounds pretty poor.
I love mine, an old one, and I could happily use it on almost any source and get a decent sound out of it.
Someone once told me (and it could be bull, but I like it) that Frank Zappa only ever used U87's for everything.
Get one, an old one.
You should be able to get one for a lot less than 3000, and spend the change on acoustic treatment or beer. or a chinese c-12 copy.....don't get me started on Taylor %$^%$* Swift!!!
Old 29th December 2010
  #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Architecht View Post
The main genres i will be record are Hip Hop & R&B

Ill get the U87 and see how it sounds, apart from that are there any other mics you would all reccomened for those applications ?

Budget is 3000$
I highly recommend the Manley Reference Cardiod - the downside is there's no switchable polar patterns like on the 87 but I've used both extensively in the past and I think the Manley blows the 87 out of the water. Much smoother sounding but still has balls - beautiful top end on the Manley

Edit: Check out Killah Priest View From Masada, the verses were recorded with the Manley - I know they overdubbed the hook so I'm not sure what mic was used on that
Old 30th December 2010
  #50
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I use U87 - GR - FMR PBC 6A - FF 800 and love it every time. If you buy new U87, look at Northern Sound & Light - NSL - Call Us 866-796-6232 and Soundpure.com | Audio Recording Equipment and Rare Boutique Guitars
Old 30th December 2010
  #51
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While the U87 is a mic everybody should at least have one of, another mic that gets no love on gearslutz is the TLM-103. Seriously, I have not heard one negative comment about this mic. Everyone who says that it's too "bright" need to clean out their ears.
Old 30th December 2010
  #52
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I have a U87 and love it!
Old 30th December 2010
  #53
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Toppermost's Avatar
 

Commercial considerations aside, if you have only a small mic collection (as seems to be the case here), then the versatility of a U87 will really come into its own. You can depend on the U87 (including the A version) in a wide range of roles, more so than many other mics. thumbsup
Old 31st December 2010
  #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clayphish View Post
There is definitely a difference between a older U87 and the ai version. To my ears at least I find the ai to have a lot more graininess that seems to be smoothed out considerably in the older version. Maybe this has something to do with how the older mics are aging, I dunno, but its noticable. I just recently used a u87ai on a few sources, including vocals, and didn't like it much at all because of this characteristic.
Obviously there is a difference. I’ve got a couple of U87AI serial numbers 63.xxx and 94.xxx. Although rather similar both have a different easily distinguishable sound. The older one is mellower and slightly hotter. I couldn’t say which one I prefer. Depends of the source.
Old 1st January 2011
  #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyage.One View Post
While the U87 is a mic everybody should at least have one of, another mic that gets no love on gearslutz is the TLM-103. Seriously, I have not heard one negative comment about this mic. Everyone who says that it's too "bright" need to clean out their ears.
Huh?
Old 11th January 2011
  #56
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Having a U87 is a bit like, you had to have a good Nikon in the 70's till mid 90's
Old 11th January 2011
  #57
I have a u87ai and love it. If it was broken or lost, it's the first mic that I'd replace.
Old 11th January 2011
  #58
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As stated in a previous post, much of this question hinges on what other mics one may have in their dungeon.

If, say, one has other high end mics, would one still value the U87ai quite as much? If compared to a higher-end Telefunken, Manley Cardiod Reference, etc., how does it fare?

Don't some say that there are other options that are less pricey that are just as desirable, and perhaps more so?

Any thoughts?
Old 12th January 2011
  #59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Kelly View Post
As stated in a previous post, much of this question hinges on what other mics one may have in their dungeon.

If, say, one has other high end mics, would one still value the U87ai quite as much? If compared to a higher-end Telefunken, Manley Cardiod Reference, etc., how does it fare?

Don't some say that there are other options that are less pricey that are just as desirable, and perhaps more so?

Any thoughts?
It's probably like comparing a handful of mint classic muscle cars and saying "which one is best?"

You should go to a dealer and try them out! (mics and the cars)

Old 12th January 2011
  #60
Gear Maniac
 

I hope I am not reading you right, because I have NEVER used my 414 for vocals since I got my U87ai like 15 years ago.

The U87ai, I always feel sounds OK on everything- and that's no small thing, not sure i can say that about any other mike I've owned.

It is true that there is probably a better mike for almost any sound.

Like maybe a U67 is better for many or most of the things that a U87 does well. Or a U47, C12, M49 etc. for what they do well.

But hey, they are all a lot more expensive, and usually not so versatile.

I'll never forget the time a seasoned female LA session singer came to my studio and saw the U87 and a 414 set up and said "I will NOT use that thing", meaning the 414- not a terrible mike by any stretch of the imagination.

That is what a Neumann, even a not perfect one like a U87ai, will give you- instant gravitas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by waxx View Post
I'm no big fan of the U87 in general, but both models are very versatile when used right. The new ai has a bit less headroom (but you got the pad on the mic), and is a bit more bright, but it's not a big difference like some descripe here. Both should deliver in most cases, and if not, the mic or your skills are broken... I just find them boring sounding.

But i like other similar fet mics like the Microtech Gefell UM70/MV692 or the newer UMT70S or MT71S variations way more, just like a AKG C414 (except the XLII model). Both sound better and are as versatile, but don't carry the client-attracting name 'Neumann' off course.
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