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U87 'Honk' Eq Tips
Old 18th December 2012
  #1
Gear Head
 
Music Guru's Avatar
 

U87 'Honk' Eq Tips

I love my U87s. But I would love to hear some of your tips on how you eq out the 'honk' from your vocal tracks.

All 3 of mine have a 800-1k push that I'm never really sure if I'm getting right while mixing. I'm wondering if maybe I'm missing something.

Any tips will be appreciated and tried. Thanks guys!
Old 18th December 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 

I know that sound you describe.....you need to have the diaphragms cleaned.
Old 18th December 2012
  #3
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andrew montreal's Avatar
I've had my U87 serviced and modded by Klaus Heyne. He did an excellent job turning a good mic into an excellent mic.

I have to say though that listening to my U87 next to my c414EB (CK12 cap) or my AT4047, I still notice a bit of that honkiness you're talking about... though only on voices. With acoustic guitars and such, it's pefect. I don't think it has to do with a dirty diaphragm. Not sure what it is, but it's not that. At least not in my case.

I often find myself pulling back that range. Or sometimes, let's say for voice over recordings, I'll find myself pulling out TONS of energy in the 300Hz to 500Hz range, with of course, the classic 200Hz zone.

That honkiness is definitely strange.

I'VE POSTED SOME TEST RECORDINGS IN POST #32.
Old 18th December 2012
  #4
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andrew montreal's Avatar
The other day I miked my voice off axis. I didn't turn the mic, I actually turned my head... very interesting. It mellowed out that peaky region and softened the bite that sometimes shows up in the 2000-2500Hz region.
Old 18th December 2012
  #5
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I have an older 70's 87 which I would not call honky,..... you can check the filter capacitor values of the models over the years. Try switching them to the values in the older darker models.

The u87 is a great mic, however if you want to turn it into a mic that is as good as any in the world, do yourself a favor and and check out the Innertube Audio tube 87 insert. It is amazing, the only vocal I have ever tracked that I could not add anything to. It was just perfect right out of the preamp.
Old 18th December 2012
  #6
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gainreduction's Avatar
 

Maybe I'm strange but I actually think that is one of the great qualities of the U87... gives voices good chest and authority.
Old 18th December 2012
  #7
The U87 is far from the perfect microphone for every voice, it's far from a perfect microphone anyhow... but it's universally loved and accepted because it always works to a certain degree.

As for the honkiness, if the voice you are tracking is naturally midrange heavy in the lower to center mids, then the U87 may accentuate it. You can carve this out as the U87 has the great redeeming quality of taking EQ very well.

Often times when tracking a voice with a U87 (as I have been doing all week), I will broadband scoop out 2 to 3db centered at 450 to 500 which allows the sound to breathe a bit more. And of course, a little notch around the 180 range helps if the vocal sound is too "chesty". And you can add a touch of shelving starting at around 8khz to bring out more air. Use EQ judiciously, conservatively.

These "problem" frequencies are also accentuated by any 1073 variant and you can use a quicker, cleaner preamp to improve the performance here also - before having to resort to EQ.

And if you're running into a valve/tube based comp afterwards when tracking, too much compression (any more than 3db at a time) will bring out this honk even further.

Respect the signal chain, gain stage properly, EQ when necessary and compress lightly and you can get the U87 to give you the magic you desire.

This is just my opinion, of course, and I've been known to be wrong, from time to time.
Old 18th December 2012
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gainreduction View Post
Maybe I'm strange but I actually think that is one of the great qualities of the U87... gives voices good chest and authority.
me too .... thru an API 512c I don't have to wonder if the vocal will cut thru
Old 18th December 2012
  #9
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Klaus's Avatar
 

Why the U87 sounds the way its does

Even after any type of modification of the electronics, the capsule's contribution to the U87's sound will always remain:

Some of the U87's midrange forwardness is part of Neumann's implementation of the Braunmühl-Weber capsule design, where two backplates are separated by a thin space (40µ in the case of all K67/87 capsules) and offset from each other, forming an acoustic delay path.

The smaller the holes in the backplate halves- through holes and sack holes-, the more severe the acoustic effect of the delay network, especially in the mid range. AKG, by the way, minimized that effect in its CK12 capsules- old and new- by using larger holes, larger spacing between backplate halves, additional resonator cavities, and less of an off-set. That method pushed up the peak of the presence by an octave.

The trick, then, of a good U87 modification is to mitigate undesirable acoustic consequences of the phase delay network-both in the amp and in the capsule- yet respect and retain the sonic character for which U67 and U87 are famous for.
Old 18th December 2012
  #10
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vernier's Avatar
Use a different mic entirely if you perceive the 87 as being honky.
Old 18th December 2012
  #11
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andrew montreal's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Klaus View Post
Even after any type of modification of the electronics, the capsule's contribution to the U87's sound will always remain:

Some of the U87's midrange forwardness is part of Neumann's implementation of the Braunmühl-Weber capsule design, where two backplates are separated by a thin space (40µ in the case of all K67/87 capsules) and offset from each other, forming an acoustic delay path.

The smaller the holes in the backplate halves- through holes and sack holes-, the more severe the acoustic effect of the delay network, especially in the mid range. AKG, by the way, minimized that effect in its CK12 capsules- old and new- by using larger holes, larger spacing between backplate halves, additional resonator cavities, and less of an off-set. That method pushed up the peak of the presence by an octave.

The trick, then, of a good U87 modification is to mitigate undesirable acoustic consequences of the phase delay network-both in the amp and in the capsule- yet respect and retain the sonic character for which U67 and U87 are famous for.
Does this mean that when using the cardioid-only mod, where only one side of the capsule is active, there is no longer a phasing effect caused by the double backplate seeing as the other backplate is deactivated?
Old 18th December 2012
  #12
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syra's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Music Guru View Post
I love my U87s. But I would love to hear some of your tips on how you eq out the 'honk' from your vocal tracks.
Well... considering you love U87s you must embrace the "honk". You can't love zebras but want to eliminate their stripes.
Old 18th December 2012
  #13
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andrew montreal's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by syra View Post
Well... considering you love U87s you must embrace the "honk". You can't love zebras but want to eliminate their stripes.
I love zebras and want to eliminate their stripes. Does that make me weird?
Old 19th December 2012
  #14
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syra's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew montreal View Post
I love zebras and want to eliminate their stripes. Does that make me weird?
It depends. If you remove the stripes will you have an all-white or all-black horse?
Old 19th December 2012
  #15
Gear Head
 
Music Guru's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by syra View Post
Well... considering you love U87s you must embrace the "honk". You can't love zebras but want to eliminate their stripes.
Thanks for that eq 'tip'. It was very helpful.
Old 19th December 2012
  #16
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syra's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Music Guru View Post
Thanks for that eq 'tip'. It was very helpful.
Sorry. What caught my attention was the fact that you professed your love for 87s and then asked for a solution on how to make them suck less. Albeit, love is blind.

Yes 87s are very honky which explains why my feelings for them are nowhere near yours. They are very resonant in the low-mids especially in close proximity.

1. Distance you singer from the mic and compensate the lack of low end with a medium-sized bell boost around 100Hz. This boost can easily be around 10 dB.

2. With very narrow Q boost and find the frequencies that correspond to the resonant peaks. These live around 200-800Hz. Try waves Q10 or my favorite fabfilter Pro-Q. The fabfilter has a built-in analyser so you don't have to be fishing for frequencies. You can see them. These frequencies correspond to specific notes so if you know the melody you can anticipate where they'll be.

3. You have to automate the cuts in these frequencies only when they are at their most resonant state or your vocal will lose some of its body since if you leave them in a static state they will be removing essential frequencies where needed.

4. You may end up with 10 of these automated frequencies or more and in the beginning it may take you well over 2hrs to do a single vocal. Make that 4hrs with an 87 and 6 if the singer was really close. Eventually you'll be doing this in less than an hour.

4. Yes today is my day off.
Old 19th December 2012
  #17
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Music Guru View Post
Thanks for that eq 'tip'. It was very helpful.
lol .. distance and angle with no comp or eq to start with after you are 'happy' then EQ and then comp if you want .. in that order ...

I like the sound of a inductor based EQ like the Purple Odd or altec acoustavoice... cut only and REALLY only a little ... I also want to make adjustments in a mix .. not solo'd ... it fools me

generally I end up adding those 'honk tones' to mics that don't have them ..
Old 19th December 2012
  #18
Gear Head
 
Music Guru's Avatar
 

As much as I love them (meaning everything but the honk) I'll take some mic suggestions for something less honky if you have them.

Here's what I have and prefer the U87 over so far:

Sm7
414ULS
KM84
KM86
RE15 (love this mic)
Old 19th December 2012
  #19
Lives for gear
 

I guess I have been overruled on the capsule cleaning issue.

The basis of my information is this:

I have a pair of early 1980's U87s that I have used almost everyday for 15 years, occasionally on "big stars." The only time they exhibit anything that sounds even remotely unnatural in the midrange is, every few years when they are good and dirty, there is a distinctive 700-800 "boxy sensation" that just sounds weird. After service, mics are back to normal, IE, absolutely NO EQ needed or desired for vocal recording.

BTW, these mics have never been modded in any way, although I would love for Klaus to play with them sometime when I can be without them for awhile.

I would have to agree with Vernier, use a different mic entirely if you perceive the 87 as being honky.
Old 19th December 2012
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Klaus View Post
Even after any type of modification of the electronics, the capsule's contribution to the U87's sound will always remain:

Some of the U87's midrange forwardness is part of Neumann's implementation of the Braunmühl-Weber capsule design, where two backplates are separated by a thin space (40µ in the case of all K67/87 capsules) and offset from each other, forming an acoustic delay path.

The smaller the holes in the backplate halves- through holes and sack holes-, the more severe the acoustic effect of the delay network, especially in the mid range. AKG, by the way, minimized that effect in its CK12 capsules- old and new- by using larger holes, larger spacing between backplate halves, additional resonator cavities, and less of an off-set. That method pushed up the peak of the presence by an octave.

The trick, then, of a good U87 modification is to mitigate undesirable acoustic consequences of the phase delay network-both in the amp and in the capsule- yet respect and retain the sonic character for which U67 and U87 are famous for.
Thanks for your post, Klaus. I always learn (or am reminded of) something from you.
Old 19th December 2012
  #21
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Cathedral Guitar's Avatar
From my experience the older ones seem to have less honk. I have one from 1969 with absolutely no honk to it at all -- very smooth, and it sounds more in the direction of a 67 than the later 87s.

Honk if You Love U87s!!!
Old 19th December 2012
  #22
Gear Head
 
Music Guru's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TRJanuary View Post
I guess I have been overruled on the capsule cleaning issue.
FYI, it has a brand new capsule from Neumann last month and the other 2 have recently been serviced.
Old 19th December 2012
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Music Guru View Post
FYI, it has a brand new capsule from Neumann last month and the other 2 have recently been serviced.
I guess they don't make 'em like they used to. If it was honky enough that it needed EQ to be usable, we would never use them here. Interesting to hear others' experiences. Carry on!
Old 19th December 2012
  #24
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syra's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TRJanuary View Post
I guess they don't make 'em like they used to. If it was honky enough that it needed EQ to be usable, we would never use them here. Interesting to hear others' experiences. Carry on!
I've been through mulitple 87s through out the years from every decade. Currently I have 3. One from 60s, 90s and 2000s. Your statement doesn't seem to make sense to me unless you're using them for distant recording.
Old 19th December 2012
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by TRJanuary View Post
I guess they don't make 'em like they used to. If it was honky enough that it needed EQ to be usable, we would never use them here. Interesting to hear others' experiences. Carry on!
Weird. NEVER had this problem in 15 years of using one. Is this with all singers or a particular singer's voice?
Old 19th December 2012
  #26
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Klaus's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew montreal View Post
Does this mean that when using the cardioid-only mod, where only one side of the capsule is active, there is no longer a phasing effect caused by the double backplate seeing as the other backplate is deactivated?
The "cardioid-only"- setting removed the rear half of the capsule electrically from the circuit (it's permanently attached to the circuit in the original U87 model.) "Cardioid only" improves the s/n of the mic by 4dB, and adds clarity to the mic in cardioid pattern, compared to stock.

The acoustic properties of the K87/870/67, including the acoustic delay network, which after all shapes the pattern, some of the frequency response, sonic texture and proximity behavior of the mic, remain the same- stock or modded.

By the way: Neumann implemented the 'cardioid only' setting and its advantages in its U87Ai model.
Old 20th December 2012
  #27
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I hear about this honk that people mention about the u87 but honestly I think about Bruno Mars who used a u87 for his first album and that dude is a ridiculous mid to high timbre singer but his recordings came out great.

My guess try different eq's or eq plugins.
Old 20th December 2012
  #28
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Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

Can those of us unfamiliar with "honkiness" of a U87, get an audio example of this "honkiness", please?
Old 20th December 2012
  #29
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andrew montreal's Avatar
I did a test recording with the C414 and the U87 yesterday. When I'm finished with the batch of contracts I've got on my hands right now I'll post them.
Old 20th December 2012
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Music Guru View Post
As much as I love them (meaning everything but the honk) I'll take some mic suggestions for something less honky if you have them.

Here's what I have and prefer the U87 over so far:

Sm7
414ULS
KM84
KM86
RE15 (love this mic)
1. Gefell UM70
2. Gefell M71
3. MTG UM70
4. MTG M71
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