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-   -   Neumann U87 vs Rode NT1-A Comparison (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/high-end/1100965-neumann-u87-vs-rode-nt1-comparison.html)

misskah 6th July 2016 10:55 AM

Neumann U87 vs Rode NT1-A Comparison
 
This is a pure blind test over the renowned Neumann U87 vs the Rode NT1-A.
Both microphones were plugged with equal cables to the pres of a Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56. All setting were the same and the performance was captured simultaneously.
Katie Quinton beautifully sang "My Way" on her own way over Rui Santos piano version of the song played in "B".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpU6...be&app=desktop

adammonroe 8th July 2016 08:52 PM

Not sure about the NT1-A, but I listened to a blind vocal mic shootout a few months back with dozens of mics and ended up picking a Neumann U87, TLM 103, and Rhode NT1 as the "best" sounding mics in that particular application. ;)

Jason rocks 9th July 2016 12:25 AM

I had the NT1-A, it is bright, crispy, and lacks the character of a Neumann U87.No comparrison, the NT1-A is a cheap mic that sounds cheap. An AT 4033 blows it away

Vesta 19th August 2016 03:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason rocks (Post 12006109)
No comparrison, the NT1-A is a cheap mic that sounds cheap. An AT 4033 blows it away

Could that be a well-reasoned statement based on an honest evaluation of this blind test?

KevWind 19th August 2016 04:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vesta (Post 12083515)
Could that be a well-reasoned statement based on an honest evaluation of this blind test?

Yes it could be. Even on my crappy lap top speakers it was clearly evident in the RAW examples ( the only ones that are actually valid) that B was better balanced cleaner (even with the rise in the upper mids of the U 87) The NT1 was unnaturally hyped in the upper mids and highs which at first sounds like presence but unfortunately in a mix adds presence robbing distortion.
The processed examples are totally useless for valid comparison evaluation and a waste of time.

DomiBabi 19th August 2016 04:52 PM

Some great vocal performances have been recorded with both mics.

I like the u87 more, but not by a huge enough margin that I would find the take un-mixable.

Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Vesta 19th August 2016 05:22 PM

I recently saw a thread here where someone set up a blind test with a u87 and some $150 AKG condenser on which he made a small eq cut in the highs. Everyone incorrectly pointed to the cheap AKG as being the u87. So if a small eq cut in the highs can make a cheap ldc mic sound better than the stcok Neumann, I am not impressed.

I dare anyone having both to try and set up a similar blind test with a gentle eq applied on the NT1-A and then let's see if you can tell them apart.

That would be a blind test that would embarrass the "NT1-A has a cheap sound" folks quite mercilessly.

Jazz Noise 19th August 2016 06:03 PM

With some aggressive high shelving, you could make the two sound the similar. Unless you're going to run that as an inline de-Rode-ifier I don't see how it's relevant. It means during recording your making decisions based on parts of the mics sound that you don't necessarily like.

Just get a mic that doesn't have such hyped top end. I love my Oktava MK220. JM47's and SCT800's are also good single diaphragm LDC alternatives that don't have a large high shelf boost.

Vesta 19th August 2016 06:25 PM

No, no... We're not talking about any aggressive processing. We're talking about a very simple, gentle eq cut in the high frequencies. Just enough to tame the forward highs the Rode is known for. What is left is, I'd argue, a recording every bit as high quality as the Neumann sound. A far cry from the "cheap mic sound" Jason was referring to above.

Dot 19th August 2016 06:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vesta (Post 12083775)
No, no... We're not talking about any aggressive processing. We're talking about a very simple, gentle eq cut in the high frequencies. Just enough to tame the forward highs the Rode is known for. What is left is, I'd argue, a recording every bit as high quality as the Neumann sound. A far cry from the "cheap mic sound" Jason was referring to above.

What gives the 87 away over the NT1 is not so much in the high end, but more in the low mids and overall fullness over the NT1. Yes, you can hear the less than stellar 3-7K boost on the NT1, and you can dial it back. That's still not going to put you in the same ballpark with an 87.

And I think the 87Ai is another example of an overly-hyped mic, both in terms of marketing and sonics.

Vesta 19th August 2016 07:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dot (Post 12083801)
What gives the 87 away over the NT1 is not so much in the high end, but more in the low mids and overall fullness over the NT1. Yes, you can hear the less than stellar 3-7K boost on the NT1, and you can dial it back. That's still not going to put you in the same ballpark with an 87.

For this to have any real-world bearing, it must be supported by blind tests. The blind test is my ultimate standard. And yours, too, I'd be willing to assume.

The Listener 19th August 2016 07:16 PM

Start using good mics regularly and you'll hear that it is not that simple... In the video it is evident that the B mic is more balanced, fuller in a nice way, especially nicer in loud moments... I am not sure I would use either mic for her voice though... I also think the recording could be done better, maybe that vocal booth is too bright or the preamp doesn't compliment those mics well... I don't use anything fancy, but my DAV BG1U makes most mics sound good and smooth.
I don't know - when I test mics here - the differences are big and obvious... and when you start using certain mics regularly for different sources - instruments, voices, it is clear that some mics are good and even great most of the time when some others only surprise on occasion... and certain sources.

Can you do an album with Rode NT-1A? Of course... but would some rock vocals sound better on dynamic mics like Sennheiser MD421N or MD441N or Shure SM7 than NT-1A (approximately the same price)? I did that test and the answer is - yes, a lot better - less "flat" and boring and "glassy" and more "vibey" and "like a record". Or do some female ballad voices sound much better on my vintage Gefell UM70? Of course they do... But NT1 is a usable mic, I just don't see a particular use for myself when I can use something that is great most of the time (Gefell UM70) and is not completely insanely priced - you can get it for around 700 EUR on ebay here - at least you could in the past years, I don't check now...

Use what you have, don't think the mic will save you - but something like Gefell UM70 (or U87 or even better - U89 - smoother) takes a lot of your doubts and troubles away, also something like MD441 or SM7 - properly used and gain taged and with a nice enough preamp (that "opens" them up) will just simply WORK - you don't need to do mic comparison tests then - you just record music...

I don't think cheap condensers are of much use... I prefer good dynamics, ribbons and smoother condensers that don't need to be very expensive either...

Dot 19th August 2016 07:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vesta (Post 12083832)
For this to have any real-world bearing, it must be supported by blind tests. The blind test is my ultimate standard. And yours, too, I'd be willing to assume.

The video provided a blind test. The 87 was obvious.

Vesta 19th August 2016 07:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dot (Post 12083854)
The video provided a blind test. The 87 was obvious.

You must have missed the point I was making about the eq cut on a cheap AKG mic, etc... Wish I could find that thread and link it here.

The Listener 19th August 2016 07:35 PM

This test here can show you what I mean when I say "like a record" - NT1-A is ok on her very beautiful voice, she could sing into anything and sound OK, but it doesn't have any "charm" in midrange, even that simple AKG C214 has nice enough balance that it sounds "like a record"... If you don't hear it yet - that subtle difference that will make your final product more "fancy" without anything you need to do - just having a better source to work with, you should train you perception more...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyM6CX2DWAw

And here - he sounds good on aynthing - but SM7 is just more "a record": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crNoqPdKNMk

Again - on some sources NT1-A can be completely cool and OK, but overall, don't make judgement only on some superficial test and one voice... And especially when it comes to complex and really good singers - you will hear a lot of nuances between the mics... and on instruments too...

KevWind 19th August 2016 10:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vesta (Post 12083863)
You must have missed the point I was making about the eq cut on a cheap AKG mic, etc... Wish I could find that thread and link it here.

You must have missed the point that if the test is not unprocessed (as in the first A/B on that video) then you are no longer comparing the performance of the mics

That is like saying "if you just put a high density foam pad under the the accelerator pedal of a Porsche you will get similar 0 to 60 performance to a Hyundai "

Vesta 19th August 2016 11:19 PM

All right, let's understand something in rational way, with as little emotion as possible. (I understand some people must really love their Neumann mics.)

We have two mics on the table. One is over ten times more expensive than the other. But when we record the same source and drag and drop a very simple high frequency eq dip into the file of the cheaper mic, the two files become extremely hard, if ever possible, to tell apart.

If this is correct -- and I have seen sufficient evidence that it is -- then, by perfect logic, the expensive microphone is overpriced and hardly necessary for most working musicians or engineers to even consider as an option. Unless the convenience of not having to make that extra eq move is worth it to them...

P.S. Couldn't find the thread, unfortunately. Apparently it's been deleted. Anyone owning the two mics can recreate that with the NT1-A. You'll be in for a shock.

przemak 19th August 2016 11:48 PM

I always wonder, how can cheap mics be so popular. After recording some native english and american I know... I'm from Poland, and maybe some of you know, polish language has mane shsh cshcsh fff and other "swishy" sounds. There is no way to record polish VO or vocal with cheap mic - sibilants are distorted and "homogenized" making it sounds bad and lisp. So - maybe cheap mic can, in special cases, sound similiar after subtle treating, but it cannot deal with sibilants at all. If you can live with it, you are happy ;)

Clockwise 19th August 2016 11:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by przemak (Post 12084253)
I always wonder, how can cheap mics be so popular. After recording some native english and american I know... I'm from Poland, and maybe some of you know, polish language has mane shsh cshcsh fff and other "swishy" sounds. There is no way to record polish VO or vocal with cheap mic - sibilants are distorted and "homogenized" making it sounds bad and lisp. So - maybe cheap mic can, in special cases, sound similiar after subtle treating, but it cannot deal with sibilants at all. If you can live with it, you are happy ;)

I think this is something very common with Rode mics. They initially sound bright and crisp, but the harshness/nastiness in high frequency start to appear after a couple of listen back. It's not easy to tame with EQ or de-esser and quite different from other bright mics such as AKG C451 or Oktava mics. These sound bright but no as harsh.

oceantracks 20th August 2016 12:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vesta (Post 12084206)
All right, let's understand something in rational way, with as little emotion as possible. (I understand some people must really love their Neumann mics.)

We have two mics on the table. One is over ten times more expensive than the other. But when we record the same source and drag and drop a very simple high frequency eq dip into the file of the cheaper mic, the two files become extremely hard, if ever possible, to tell apart.

If this is correct -- and I have seen sufficient evidence that it is -- then, by perfect logic, the expensive microphone is overpriced and hardly necessary for most working musicians or engineers to even consider as an option. Unless the convenience of not having to make that extra eq move is worth it to them...

P.S. Couldn't find the thread, unfortunately. Apparently it's been deleted. Anyone owning the two mics can recreate that with the NT1-A. You'll be in for a shock.

If you set a Rolex next to a Timex and they are both set correctly, it will be 12 Noon on both watches. Therefore, a Rolex is no better than a Timex.

TH

KevWind 20th August 2016 12:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vesta (Post 12084206)
All right, let's understand something in rational way, with as little emotion as possible. (I understand some people must really love their Neumann mics.)

We have two mics on the table. One is over ten times more expensive than the other. But when we record the same source and drag and drop a very simple high frequency eq dip into the file of the cheaper mic, the two files become extremely hard, if ever possible, to tell apart.

If this is correct -- and I have seen sufficient evidence that it is -- then, by perfect logic, the expensive microphone is overpriced and hardly necessary for most working musicians or engineers to even consider as an option. Unless the convenience of not having to make that extra eq move is worth it to them...

P.S. Couldn't find the thread, unfortunately. Apparently it's been deleted. Anyone owning the two mics can recreate that with the NT1-A. You'll be in for a shock.

Good idea in rational, common sense, logical terms then, if you EQ one you are no longer comparing the mics .. Forget the emotional allure of attempting to rationalize and justify getting by for less, spending much less and getting the same performance, "if you just inject this or that variable" . The emotional pull of beating the odds and ignoring the rational adage "You get what you pay for " and desperately hoping in this case it somehow magically doesn't apply, is strong but usually wrong.


If that is what you desire to do then by all means do so. No one is saying you can't get decent sounds that way. And of course no one but you can decide if you will be satisfied with the results.......But quit trying to justify it with comparing an apple to an apple+a lime, in plain old common sense it is simply not a valid comparison.

And BTW I do not own any Neumann mics, for my use I personally don't particularly care for the sound compared to some alternatives. But I reached that conclusion based on comparing them un processed. Attempting to dismiss as emotional, disagreement with your skewed personal perspective is hypocrisy at it's finest.kfhkh

przemak 20th August 2016 12:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Clockwise (Post 12084273)
I think this is something very common with Rode mics. They initially sound bright and crisp, but the harshness/nastiness in high frequency start to appear after a couple of listen back. It's not easy to tame with EQ or de-esser and quite different from other bright mics such as AKG C451 or Oktava mics. These sound bright but no as harsh.

This is not brightness which can be corrected with EQ, but distortion, which is unrecoverable

Dot 20th August 2016 12:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vesta (Post 12084206)
All right, let's understand something in rational way, with as little emotion as possible. (I understand some people must really love their Neumann mics.)

We have two mics on the table. One is over ten times more expensive than the other. But when we record the same source and drag and drop a very simple high frequency eq dip into the file of the cheaper mic, the two files become extremely hard, if ever possible, to tell apart.

If this is correct -- and I have seen sufficient evidence that it is -- then, by perfect logic, the expensive microphone is overpriced and hardly necessary for most working musicians to even consider as an option.

Yes, but you putting the price into the equation is actually emotional. And you're making a judgement call on what "most working musicians" could ever consider as an option.

What you're doing is buying into the marketing put forth by these companies who make inexpensive microphones, and comparing themselves with companies like Neumann, older Telefunken, and AKG. Those are the main big dogs.

By your logic, if a more expensive mic and a cheap mic are "extremely hard, if ever possible, to tell apart," — that makes expensive mics "overpriced."

Overpriced only means that a specific product is priced higher. A $5K U87Ai would be "overpriced." A $3K U87Ai is a fair market price. "Expensive" is relative.

Understanding all this in a "rational way," a working musician/engineer has a level of service they provide to a market. The tools, and their costs, would be calculated into the overall operation costs of the service within that market.

Ya' gotta do what you gotta do. There are very real reasons why working musicians and engineers invest in professional tools.

Now, a very cool thing is that even very high-end working professionals have found DAWs and software to give them as good if not better results than a huge console and a big rack of outboard gear. But people are still investing the lion's share of their studio budgets into the analog products that can't be emulated in a DAW—mics preamps, mics, AD/DA converters, monitors, headphones, room acoustics...

Some day we won't need any of that, and will just work in an all-inclusive VR cloud-based field of some kind of atmospheric energy blob. But until then there's a place for serious professional analog equipment.

Hearing one mic or preamp against another one on one source gives only a very small snapshot of a much larger moving picture of using them on multiple sources, and multiple people, in multiple rooms, over multiple sessions, and over multiple tracks—and the cumulative effects.

There are blogs and personalities in the recording world that love to appeal to the emotional level of their audience, and get everyone jumping up and down about how all they need is a laptop and a $100 mic to make "great recordings." (Quotes are theirs, not mine.) And people eat it up. Their conclusions are not logical. They are highly emotional, and highly uninformed.

cazdell 20th August 2016 06:54 AM

I would be interested to hear the off axis response of each mic.

miscend 20th August 2016 12:50 PM

You should have used the new black Rode NT1. That's a much better mic and has done really well against the 87. To the extent whereby you can no longer blame budget mics if you cannot get a good quality recording of a vocal.

miscend 20th August 2016 12:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jazz Noise (Post 12083746)
With some aggressive high shelving, you could make the two sound the similar. Unless you're going to run that as an inline de-Rode-ifier I don't see how it's relevant. It means during recording your making decisions based on parts of the mics sound that you don't necessarily like.

Well thats not how it works. You match a mic to the vocalist or the source. So a 'part' (characteristic) of a mic that you don't like on a particular source will work better on a different source. And certainly there have been shoot outs in studios where cheaper mics have won out over more expensive premium options. And to be honest the 87 is rarely the best on any one source but is more of a utility mic.

Vesta 20th August 2016 01:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KevWind (Post 12084307)
Good idea in rational, common sense, logical terms then, if you EQ one you are no longer comparing the mics .. Forget the emotional allure of attempting to rationalize and justify getting by for less, spending much less and getting the same performance, "if you just inject this or that variable" . The emotional pull of beating the odds and ignoring the rational adage "You get what you pay for" and desperately hoping in this case it somehow magically doesn't apply, is strong but usually wrong.


If that is what you desire to do then by all means do so. No one is saying you can't get decent sounds that way. And of course no one but you can decide if you will be satisfied with the results.......But quit trying to justify it with comparing an apple to an apple+a lime, in plain old common sense it is simply not a valid comparison.

And BTW I do not own any Neumann mics, for my use I personally don't particularly care for the sound compared to some alternatives. But I reached that conclusion based on comparing them un processed. Attempting to dismiss as emotional, disagreement with your skewed personal perspective is hypocrisy at it's finest.kfhkh

I hope you'd take a moment to think about whether you really believe the "You get what you pay for" is a rational adage. I, for one, think it's a lazy rule of thumb.

Is it possible that the Neumann microphones are just good quality microphones, just like many others from Rode, Oktava, AKG etc, and the only real difference is that they have a big name and reputation and so they charge a lot more for their products, hoping (correctly) that the buyers will be impressed by the high price and think they are getting a superior value for their investment?

Having a basic understanding of human nature and knowing how business and marketing usually work, I expect this to be the case. If this perspective is skewed, then I'd really want to know why so I can learn something new.

Vesta 20th August 2016 01:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by oceantracks (Post 12084286)
If you set a Rolex next to a Timex and they are both set correctly, it will be 12 Noon on both watches. Therefore, a Rolex is no better than a Timex.

TH

Thanks for making my point. That's exactly what I'm saying. If what you'd like to argue for is the brand name and bragging rights, then fine. I just want you to make that clear, and we won't have to debate.

legato 20th August 2016 02:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cazdell (Post 12084632)
I would be interested to hear the off axis response of each mic.

^^^

Vesta 20th August 2016 02:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dot (Post 12084339)

By your logic, if a more expensive mic and a cheap mic are "extremely hard, if ever possible, to tell apart," — that makes expensive mics "overpriced."

Overpriced only means that a specific product is priced higher. A $5K U87Ai would be "overpriced." A $3K U87Ai is a fair market price. "Expensive" is relative.

You're presenting my point clearly enough. But let me restate it and I hope you can tell me why exactly it's wrong.

Now, I do say, if we have an expensive microphone which performs no better or worse than dozens of other microphones made by other manufacturers at over 10 times less the cost, then I call that an "overpriced" microphone. And with this judgement, I will decide if it is worth buying that gear or not.

Are you saying the word "overpriced" can't be used here accurately?

You, of course, wrote a lot more, and on some of it we're in agreement. But for the same of brevity, let's focus our attention on our disagreement and get to the bottom of it. If I can see why I'm wrong, I will honestly be happy to admit it and will thank you.