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U87ai is it really that bad??
Old 16th January 2013
  #1
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Kyleseglin's Avatar
U87ai is it really that bad??

I keep reading over and over how bad u87ai mics are. I used to have an older u87 before it was "ai" and I thought it sounded fantastic-- rich and detailed for vox and I liked it for acoustic guitar too. I was looking to get one again, and I have had so many bad experiences with used gear (some good ones too) but its always nice to get something brand new. So my question is.. Are the new u87ai mics as bad as people say? And if so, why??
Old 16th January 2013
  #2
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Sonic Sweets's Avatar
 

the more i listen, the worse they get
Old 16th January 2013
  #3
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Kyleseglin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic Sweets View Post
the more i listen, the worse they get
Can you elaborate? What do you prefer instead?
Old 16th January 2013
  #4
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No, they are not bad at all. In fact, they are still some of the most useful large diaphragm condensers around.

I use the ai model as well as vintage ones all the time - on vocals the vintage one always wins (they sound very similar but the ai sounds to me like it has one little peak in the top end that the vintage ones don't - if I didn't have a vintage one in the same room then I'd happily use the ai. I do, however, use the ai's for overheads, piano, acoustic guitar and anywhere else where you might desire a LDC or 2. I once did as blind a shoot out as I could with a vintage 87, 87ai, Peluso 2247 and a Bock 195 on vocals). The vintage was my favorite followed by the ai - in comparison to the other mics the two U87 versions were clearly the same mic but with just a subtle difference in the top end. The Bock held up quite well considering the $2k+ price difference and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone based on that factor but the ai still had it beat to my ears.

They really are just solid, workhorse mics that have been proving themselves in every application under the sun for decades so fear not - (they are like the SM57 of condenser mics -no one has ever gotten fired for using one).

I think that they get a bad rap on here at times for a few reasons - 1. They don't sound quite as good as a well maintained vintage one. 2. They are a bit overpriced when purchased new (especially because most desire pairs of condensor mics and 3. It's gotten to be cool to dis them in the same way that some guitar players love to point out that Jimmy Page was a sloppy guitar player (and therefore imply that they are better than Jimmy Page) - some think that it's cool to dis what is popular as if what's good enough for everyone else isn't good enough for them.

Now, all of that being said, for the new price of $3000 or a little more there are plenty used mics on the market that are, IMO, superior. I spent $3k on my used Blue Bottle and couldn't be happier with it. All the same, for aggressive rock music there's nothing like a U87 through an 1176 for aggressive vocals that sit in the mix with ease.
Old 16th January 2013
  #5
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Kyleseglin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllBread View Post
No, they are not bad at all. In fact, they are still some of the most useful large diaphragm condensers around.

I use the ai model as well as vintage ones all the time - on vocals the vintage one always wins (they sound very similar but the ai sounds to me like it has one little peak in the top end that the vintage ones don't - if I didn't have a vintage one in the same room then I'd happily use the ai. I do, however, use the ai's for overheads, piano, acoustic guitar and anywhere else where you might desire a LDC or 2. I once did as blind a shoot out as I could with a vintage 87, 87ai, Peluso 2247 and a Bock 195. The vintage was my favorite followed by the ai - in comparison to the other mics the two U87 versions were clearly the same mic but with just a subtle difference in the top end.

They really are just solid, workhorse mics that have been proving themselves in every application under the sun for decades so fear not - (they are like the SM57 of condenser mics -no one has ever gotten fired for using one).

I think that they get a bad rap on here at times for a few reasons - 1. They don't sound quite as good as a well maintained vintage one. 2. They are a bit overpriced when purchased new (especially because most desire pairs of condensor mics and 3. It's gotten to be cool to dis them in the same way that some guitar players love to point out that Jimmy Page was a sloppy guitar player (and therefore imply that they are better than Jimmy Page) - some think that it's cool to dis what is popular as if what's good enough for everyone else isn't god enough for them.
I mean, that sounds a bit more reasonable than people saying ai's are awful or that they would rather record vocals with a 57 than an ai. I haven't had the chance to really try one yet I'm going to try and get my hands on one everyone I know has a vintage one but I really am curious about the ai. Thanks for the input.
Old 16th January 2013
  #6
Gear Nut
 
Sonic Sweets's Avatar
 

Okay, let me back up a little bit.. I hate them on vocals. Honky in the mids, loose and floppy in the low end, annoying on the top. Lots of other great vocal mics out there for the price. They are useful and versatile for a lot of applications, but I've never heard it kill on any application. I like to throw one up when shooting out mics because it is predictable and easy to reference against. Haven't used vintage ones more than a couple times, so I don't have any comparison to the ai.
Old 16th January 2013
  #7
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Kyleseglin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic Sweets View Post
Okay, let me back up a little bit.. I hate them on vocals. Honky in the mids, loose and floppy in the low end, annoying on the top. Lots of other great vocal mics out there for the price. They are useful and versatile for a lot of applications, but I've never heard it kill on any application. I like to throw one up when shooting out mics because it is predictable and easy to reference against. Haven't used vintage ones more than a couple times, so I don't have any comparison to the ai.
Cool gotcha. What do you like instead?
Old 16th January 2013
  #8
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Kyleseglin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllBread View Post
No, they are not bad at all. In fact, they are still some of the most useful large diaphragm condensers around.

I use the ai model as well as vintage ones all the time - on vocals the vintage one always wins (they sound very similar but the ai sounds to me like it has one little peak in the top end that the vintage ones don't - if I didn't have a vintage one in the same room then I'd happily use the ai. I do, however, use the ai's for overheads, piano, acoustic guitar and anywhere else where you might desire a LDC or 2. I once did as blind a shoot out as I could with a vintage 87, 87ai, Peluso 2247 and a Bock 195 on vocals). The vintage was my favorite followed by the ai - in comparison to the other mics the two U87 versions were clearly the same mic but with just a subtle difference in the top end. The Bock held up quite well considering the $2k+ price difference and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone based on that factor but the ai still had it beat to my ears.

They really are just solid, workhorse mics that have been proving themselves in every application under the sun for decades so fear not - (they are like the SM57 of condenser mics -no one has ever gotten fired for using one).

I think that they get a bad rap on here at times for a few reasons - 1. They don't sound quite as good as a well maintained vintage one. 2. They are a bit overpriced when purchased new (especially because most desire pairs of condensor mics and 3. It's gotten to be cool to dis them in the same way that some guitar players love to point out that Jimmy Page was a sloppy guitar player (and therefore imply that they are better than Jimmy Page) - some think that it's cool to dis what is popular as if what's good enough for everyone else isn't good enough for them.

Now, all of that being said, for the new price of $3000 or a little more there are plenty used mics on the market that are, IMO, superior. I spent $3k on my used Blue Bottle and couldn't be happier with it. All the same, for aggressive rock music there's nothing like a U87 through an 1176 for aggressive vocals that sit in the mix with ease.
I have a pair of blue dragonfly mics I like on overheads. That's my only experience with blue mics. I suppose I can't judge them overall on one model, but I don't care for the flys on vox or guitars really they're so thin sounding to me. I'm sure the bottle is great though
Old 16th January 2013
  #9
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AllBread's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic Sweets View Post
Okay, let me back up a little bit.. I hate them on vocals. Honky in the mids, loose and floppy in the low end, annoying on the top. Lots of other great vocal mics out there for the price. They are useful and versatile for a lot of applications, but I've never heard it kill on any application. I like to throw one up when shooting out mics because it is predictable and easy to reference against. Haven't used vintage ones more than a couple times, so I don't have any comparison to the ai.
I'll agree that an ai on the wrong voice can come across as harsh and/or sibilant on the top end (it's not the mic for thin or strident voices) but I am curious to know what non-tube condensor mics you prefer. For the money spent I get a ton of mileage out of my KSM-32s and, like I said the Bock 195 is a great mic for $1000. Obviously there are plenty of great tube mics for vocals but I'm wondering what FET condensors you prefer to the U87 as far as having a stereo pair that work well on most any source.
Old 16th January 2013
  #10
Gear Nut
 
Sonic Sweets's Avatar
 

I'm about to pick up the manley reference for about the same price. Really cool on vocals, not sure of its usefulness on other applications. I like the blue stuff quite a bit having used the baby bottle extensively (a really good cheap option with a lot of uses- vocals, guitars, room, takes EQ really well), bottle rocket 1 & 2, and Kiwi. I liked them all, but they have a bit of a sonic "stamp". Recently tried out the peluso 251 and p12 and liked the p12. Tried out the mojave 300 and really liked that too.. probably my second choice out of all of these for a straight ahead vocal mic.
Old 16th January 2013
  #11
I think the U87ai sounds fine, in the right context.

But it has a certain sound engineered into it's design. If you are willing to compensate for that sound, the mic can be considered versatile. Many users are willing to approach the situation that way too. And so, like the SM57, it's a widely accepted microphone. Though by no means is it right for all, or in my case, even most circumstances.

I love talking about gear. But I truly hate mythologizing it.
Old 16th January 2013
  #12
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There is nothing wrong with the U87ai..been using it for 10+ years with great results. Not a wow mic like u47, but a solid workhorse that can be used for almost everything, and it handles eq very well, unlike the cheap condensers that sounds horrible and hyped.
Old 16th January 2013
  #13
Gear Head
 

I use one (Ai) and I can confirm it's a great mic. I've done a quick comparison once with a vintage one and despite the output level (Ai is hotter) there wasn't much a difference to my ears. There must be some, but you'll certainly get more differences moving the mic a few centimeters.
I've recorded lots of vocals with it, thru an Avalon 737 and a tubetech CL1b and it works well. I agree that it can sometimes be a bit thin and sibilant with some singers. That was before I received my SM7b tho…
Old 16th January 2013
  #14
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Kyleseglin's Avatar
I'm looking for a mic, either tube or fet, $2500 or less. This mic will be for my own personal use. I will be recording mostly one singer who has a soulful, almost amy whinehouse like voice. She tends to be a bit sibilant. It's just how her voice is-- she is a professionally trained singer it's not her mic technique it's just the frequencies her voice seems to hit. Loved her on a vintage u87 I tried at a friends studio though there quite a few sibilance issues that were hard to tame even with mic placement and eq. I would ideally like to have something I can use for her voice and my acoustic guitar. Sounds like an AI might accentuate the sssssss based on what I'm hearing, but I'm still trying to track down someone who has one that I can just try out.
Old 16th January 2013
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyleseglin View Post
I keep reading
use em instead,
Lots of hearsay everywhere about subjective stuff here.
end users have different opinions, experiences.
Trust me, I am losing zero sleep over posters like "shaggy2345", saying stuff that makes no sense
Old 16th January 2013
  #16
Gear Nut
 
Sonic Sweets's Avatar
 

ya gotta try some stuff.. the boards won't get you too far in terms of choosing the right mic for a particular singer. Try out the mojave 300 if you can, and you might like the blue stuff as well- try a kiwi or the bottle rocket.. they are sure are fun to put up!
Old 16th January 2013
  #17
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Try using the pad on the mic. Helps a bit. Not a bad mic just not like the oldies.
Old 16th January 2013
  #18
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Kyleseglin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic Sweets View Post
ya gotta try some stuff.. the boards won't get you too far in terms of choosing the right mic for a particular singer. Try out the mojave 300 if you can, and you might like the blue stuff as well- try a kiwi or the bottle rocket.. they are sure are fun to put up!
Totally. I like to use the boards as a place to start, you know? Find out what people like and why, and take it from there. I learn things I didn't know, like about beesneez mics for example. No idea they even existed til I hit the boards. And yeah, blue mics do look fun to use ha.
Old 16th January 2013
  #19
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Kyleseglin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
use em instead,
Lots of hearsay everywhere about subjective stuff here.
end users have different opinions, experiences.
Trust me, I am losing zero sleep over posters like "shaggy2345", saying stuff that makes no sense
Agreed. I enjoy the subjectivity of the boards to some extent.. People's experiences and opinions. I think it's a useful to a point-- especially insight from experienced guys such as yourself. But you are all dead on in that it's all subjective and ultimately I will try them for myself before buying anything, but this is a nice place to start
Old 16th January 2013
  #20
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I think it's a workhorse that is priced to high (1500 would be a good price). The main difference between the old and new (in my experience) is that the new lack headroom and give a hotter signal to the pre. Soundwise it's the same if you can compensate for that by recording more silent sources (wich is not always the case).

They are good at everything, but not stellar at anything. They sound a bit bland, but are very easy to mix and therefor very popular. It's the kind of mic that i would use if i don't know wich mic i would use.

But for that purpose, i prefer a Gefell UMT70S, wich is way cheaper and better sounding. It's made by Gefell, the east german part of the original Neumann firm, and still runned by the Neumann family as far as i know
Old 16th January 2013
  #21
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Kyleseglin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by waxx View Post
I think it's a workhorse that is priced to high (1500 would be a good price). The main difference between the old and new (in my experience) is that the new lack headroom and give a hotter signal to the pre. Soundwise it's the same if you can compensate for that by recording more silent sources (wich is not always the case).

They are good at everything, but not stellar at anything. They sound a bit bland, but are very easy to mix and therefor very popular. It's the kind of mic that i would use if i don't know wich mic i would use.

But for that purpose, i prefer a Gefell UMT70S, wich is way cheaper and better sounding. It's made by Gefell, the east german part of the original Neumann firm, and still runned by the Neumann family as far as i know
How do you like the umt70 on acoustic guitar or guitar cabs? Happen to have anything on hand you've recorded with it that I could hear?

Btw my main chain is a Manley tube pre and a distressor into a ua apollo.
Old 16th January 2013
  #22
Gear Nut
 
Sonic Sweets's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by waxx View Post
I think it's a workhorse that is priced to high (1500 would be a good price). The main difference between the old and new (in my experience) is that the new lack headroom and give a hotter signal to the pre. Soundwise it's the same if you can compensate for that by recording more silent sources (wich is not always the case).
u87ai is awesome on silent sources!!!
Old 16th January 2013
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyleseglin View Post
How do you like the umt70 on acoustic guitar or guitar cabs? Happen to have anything on hand you've recorded with it that I could hear?

Btw my main chain is a Manley tube pre and a distressor into a ua apollo.
I hardly record electric guitars (more world, jazzy stuff and urban is what i do as part time freelancer) and i prefer ribbons (royer, fatheads, ...) or coil dynamics (shure, senheiser, EV) on them.

acoustic guitars i do almost always with sdc's (gefell's are very good for that, just schoeps, old akg c460's or even oktava's). I have to say i never had old km84's in the studio when this was needed, but they are also very popular for that i hear...
Old 16th January 2013
  #24
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They are made by a different company using different parts = different.

They kept the name of the old company and the name of the mic. Oh, and it looks the same.

I'm not all that bothered by the original even though it was superior. Always in my mind, the flawed mic that replaced the great 67.

Gefell, a company with a much truer relationship to the old Neumann name and try their mics. They rarely disappoint.
Old 16th January 2013
  #25
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Kyleseglin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by waxx View Post
I hardly record electric guitars (more world, jazzy stuff and urban is what i do as part time freelancer) and i prefer ribbons (royer, fatheads, ...) or coil dynamics (shure, senheiser, EV) on them.

acoustic guitars i do almost always with sdc's (gefell's are very good for that, just schoeps, old akg c460's or even oktava's). I have to say i never had old km84's in the studio when this was needed, but they are also very popular for that i hear...
I like LDCs on acoustics which is why I was curious if you'd ever tried your umt70
Old 16th January 2013
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by automatom View Post
They are made by a different company using different parts = different.

They kept the name of the old company and the name of the mic. Oh, and it looks the same.

I'm not all that bothered by the original even though it was superior. Always in my mind, the flawed mic that replaced the great 67.

Gefell, a company with a much truer relationship to the old Neumann name and try their mics. They rarely disappoint.
I want to try them but the only people who seem to use them are on this forum so it's hard to get my hands on one
Old 16th January 2013
  #27
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chrisdee's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic Sweets View Post
u87ai is awesome on silent sources!!!
Hehe. Maby not completly silent, but nicer on soft sources.
I found mine got harsh when pushed a little bit.
But after the mod the harshness is gone
Old 16th January 2013
  #28
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Kyleseglin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisdee View Post
Hehe. Maby not completly silent, but nicer on soft sources.
I found mine got harsh when pushed a little bit.
But after the mod the harshness is gone
What mod?

I'm primarily looking to record female vox that are soulful/folky and acoustic guitar with this mox
Old 16th January 2013
  #29
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I can't find a single studio in NYC that has gefell mics anyone know of anything or any way to demo one? I'm interested but obviously don't want to buy something I haven't tried..
Old 16th January 2013
  #30
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FireMoon's Avatar
It's about context...

If you're a seasoned pro with a locker full of mics it's a great "go to" for so many applications though probably not the "best" on anything specific. It will always produce what can be deemed as an "acceptable" sound. In relative terms at 2K, it's, by top pro standards almost a "bargain one size fits all mic".

To the middle range, making a name for yourself, it's probably your first "aspirational mic purchase" and you really want to love it and you forgive it, its' so many foibles for so long, as 2K was actually a sizeable lump to fork out on it so you're determined to see it in its' best light. Eventually, you notice, if you're using digital, that slight whispiness and upper mid range dip, are actually, in the context of dropping 2K on it, not actually the boon they were with analogue tape.

If it's your big purchase for you own home studio. I can't honestly say I'd could counsel dropping 2K on one unless it's the perfect fit for your voice.
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