Neumann U 67 Collector's Edition by Darren_F
Having parted with a much loved vintage U67 in November 2017 with a view to buying a boring, tedious, and totally unnecessary fire escape for the studio, I was amazed to see in January that Neumann were actually reissuing the mic after so many years!
So, throwing caution (and boring fire escapes) to the wind, I decided I actually couldn't live/work without one of these tools and ordered the new reissue.
Well it finally arrived so I though I'd share my thoughts about the sound of the mic. There are far greater experts than me who will discuss the changes to the power supply or the sourcing of the capacitors and transformers etc, so I'll just stick to how it sounds.
My old U67 had a kind of 3D quality to the sound, a vocal would jump out of the monitors like the singer was just in front of you. It had an amazingly smooth rolled off top end that responded to EQ brilliantly. It also had more low end than I needed for most voices and was obviously quite pronounced at 1000 Hz, but it was an 'eventful' mic that made everything in front of it sound better and seemed to have a way of conveying the emotion of the music unlike anything else.
All very esoteric stuff and a lot for a new microphone to live up to!
So following this tough act, I put the reissue up on the stand and did some tests. My first impressions were these;
It sounded a bit like my old 67 but more 'tame', like the frequency response was smoother, less characterful, dare I say a bit more boring..
The bass was thinner and there was a hardness to the upper mids that was a concern. Yes the top end was quite similar to the vintage mic, pleasingly rolled-off, non-sibilant and obligingly responsive to EQ, but where was that ethereal 3D quality?
When after a long burn-in of a couple of days the new mic hadn't decided to sound different, I decided to try a different tube..
The U67 reissue comes with a 'selected' gold pinned Russian? valve, which was jammed in VERY tightly and dangerously close to important wires. So to avoid whacking the wires I teased the stock tube out with a small thin screwdriver as a lever.
I had 3 NOS tubes in the studio that I could try, a Telefunken EF86 'silver plate' another Tele with a grey plate, and a Tesla.
The Telefunken silver plate went in easily and after only 10 mins of warming up - bingo! - there was that sound I had been missing.
The bass was more full, though not as full - but I'm O.K with that. The hardness in the upper mids had gone but most importantly for me some of that hard-to-define 3D quality was there!
O.K. so the new capsule is obviously better behaved than the old one, it doesn't get caught smoking behind the bike sheds, it's response is obviously smoother, there's no 1K push and it's less 'eventful' - but this is fine with me. It's still a flattering charmer.
I've not tried the other tubes yet, I'm going to let the Tele silver plate have a good burn in and if it stays stable I'll leave it in there.
So in summing up - theres nothing wrong with the mic, even though the connectors could be better, the cable is pretty thin and I'd like to see a Tuchel style stand-mount available..
- but it does need a good NOS tube!