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I can't really see why a Neumann u87ai is worth the money after seeing this video
Old 2nd September 2016
  #1
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I can't really see why a Neumann u87ai is worth the money after seeing this video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmSnzG7lxyQ

seriously, I was going to buy one but not going to anymore

I also did sound clip checks on Thomann and the Rode is not at all poorer quality that the Neumann u87ai.

I had 1700 to spend on microphones but now am going to buy several microphones instead of splashing on just one like the u87ai. I really think it is overated.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #2
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oceantracks's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmSnzG7lxyQ

seriously, I was going to buy one but not going to anymore

I also did sound clip checks on Thomann and the Rode is not at all poorer quality that the Neumann u87ai.

I had 1700 to spend on microphones but now am going to buy several microphones instead of splashing on just one like the u87ai. I really think it is overated.
If you listen to preamp shootouts up here...as I did....you would think the same thing about buying say, an API pre, it didn't sound like that big of a deal. But I ended up going ahead and getting a lunchbox with one, and WOW....forget about online auditions, it was amazing in real life, day to day use.

TH
Old 2nd September 2016
  #3
Have you ever used one?

Have you ever used a U87?

Have you ever used a U87 clone? The sheer selection of microphones out there right now have rendered the U87 to be a second or third choice for most professional vocal applications. I've built 5 microphones now, all that have destroyed U87s in certain blind tests on certain vocalists.

The U87 still has its place. Its still worth something to someone - its arguably Neumanns flagship mic. It sounds great on a variety of sources.

The issue I have with this bs video you posted is what preamp is the guy using? That makes a huge difference. Is it through a cheap interface mic input? Or is it through a "real" mic pre? This video doesnt prove anything to anyone except this vocalist might sound better with other microphones. So many factors come into play with mic selection other than cost or name recognition.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
If you listen to preamp shootouts up here...as I did....you would think the same thing about buying say, an API pre, it didn't sound like that big of a deal. But I ended up going ahead and getting a lunchbox with one, and WOW....forget about online auditions, it was amazing in real life, day to day use.

TH
Certain things you can have preference over and nobody can take that away from you but blind tests like these prove that iconic microphones are over-rated & over-priced. If you read the comments this is overwhelmingly clear.

People with high-end gear obviously need to believe that theirs is worth every cent else they wouldn't own it but you can't say "forget about online auditions" when they boldly prove such an important point. At the end of the day the music and the room are what count nowadays and so is the engineer that records and mixes. I bet you take any famous song that was recorded with a Neumann and replace it with the same take of the rode and nobody in the whole world would know the difference, not the best ears in the business.

That is what I believe. IOW this is purely my opinion after hearing this shootout. I am literally blown away by it. I am shocked.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lostwars View Post
Have you ever used a U87?

Have you ever used a U87 clone? The sheer selection of microphones out there right now have rendered the U87 to be a second or third choice for most professional vocal applications. I've built 5 microphones now, all that have destroyed U87s in certain blind tests on certain vocalists.

The U87 still has its place. Its still worth something to someone - its arguably Neumanns flagship mic. It sounds great on a variety of sources.

The issue I have with this bs video you posted is what preamp is the guy using? That makes a huge difference. Is it through a cheap interface mic input? Or is it through a "real" mic pre? This video doesnt prove anything to anyone except this vocalist might sound better with other microphones. So many factors come into play with mic selection other than cost or name recognition.
Nah sorry mate, don't buy that at all. Doesn't matter what preamp. The signal chain was the same for all takes
Old 2nd September 2016
  #6
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oceantracks's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
Certain things you can have preference over and nobody can take that away from you but blind tests like these prove that iconic microphones are over-rated & over-priced. If you read the comments this is overwhelmingly clear.

People with high-end gear obviously need to believe that theirs is worth every cent else they wouldn't own it but you can't say "forget about online auditions" when they boldly prove such an important point. At the end of the day the music and the room are what count nowadays and so is the engineer that records and mixes. I bet you take any famous song that was recorded with a Neumann and replace it with the same take of the rode and nobody in the whole world would know the difference, not the best ears in the business.

That is what I believe. IOW this is purely my opinion after hearing this shootout. I am literally blown away by it. I am shocked.
I'm quite sure no one could listen to a given record on the radio and tell me which one was cut with high end converters and which was cut with an 003 either. So save thousands and pick one up off eBay.

"Ears....now they're real important too".......James Caan, "Rollerball"

TH
Old 2nd September 2016
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
Nah sorry mate, don't buy that at all. Doesn't matter what preamp. The signal chain was the same for all takes
For a high quality precision made microphone like the U87 - you better believe that the right preamp matters. High Voltage preamp, preferably with tubes, at least 65db of clean gain available.

Doesn't matter if you buy it or not, its a scientifically proven fact gear runs better at high voltage levels.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #8
Of course, you should buy better monitors and treat your room first, after that, you'll hear the difference and be able to justify the cost
Old 2nd September 2016
  #9
I love cheap gear. Some of it is really surprisingly good. I have an original Rode NT1 and I quite like it on my voice. (Not that it was that cheap when I bought it; the NT1a's were the ones with the price drop, IIRC.) And it's always worth remembering that different mics suit different tasks to varying degrees. I like my Rode on my own voice -- but though I tried it with a number of singers, I tended to prefer other mics I owned in those cases.


But I have to agree with others here -- such 'shootouts' all but inevitably fail to fully explore a given mic's character. And, from long experience, I would say that it often takes some living with a given mic to really come to an understanding of its strengths and weakness, its best and worst case use scenarios with different sources and in different situations.

And, of course, as noted, there can be a unique dynamic interplay between a given mic and and a given preamp across those use scenarios.

Such shoot-outs, by their nature, can only reveal certain facets and perspectives of a given mic and preamp's combined performance.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #10
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bgood's Avatar
My first instrument is voice... Some singers can spend an inordinate amoint of time searching for their soulmate of a mic....

But, that's not a thing, really.

That holy grail mic that sounded perfect on my voice in one room on a certain take of a certain tune can easily sound like sweaty balls in another room on another tune.

Early -- like decades ago -- I got hired to do a session in a holy grail room with a holy grail mic... I was convinced it was the mic for quite awhile... Spoiler alert: it wasn't.

1700 bucks can buy you all the various mics you'll ever need... Buy one of every flavor. If you find one that usually works, stick with it! Maybe later buy the "real" version of the mic yours was modeled on. But, don't be surprised if once you do that -- after the honeymoon is over -- you don't realize, "meh, the cheapy sounds fine"... Also, mic mods like those from Mr Jolly? That is a great way to turn a cheap floozy into a classy gal.

The big part of this whole game -- I'm convinced after 30 years -- is curating a selection of nicely flavored preamps AND mics. My thoughts on preamps are pretty much the same as mics.... Get great quality "knock offs" first to see if you vibe and try your new mic collection in each pre.

Warm Audio, Chameleon Labs, GAP...

So, buy an MXL ribbon mic, an SM7, SM57/58, a rode, a 3unit.. Grab a couple of decent preamps... Maybe a compressor or two... Warm Audio LA2, WA76... ART VLA 2...

With 1700 bucks you can cobble together a signal chain that will last you a lifetime and work in any genre. AND you'll have a bunch of cool outboard to run stems, VIs, etc through for some secrect vibe sauce.

Blow it all on one mic and, well, you got one mic.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyjanopan View Post
Of course, you should buy better monitors and treat your room first, after that, you'll hear the difference and be able to justify the cost
Of course, you could probably ask me before assuming that I am not in a treated room listening on perfectly acceptable monitors to draw the conclusion I did...
Old 2nd September 2016
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
My first instrument is voice... Some singers can spend an inordinate amoint of time searching for their soulmate of a mic....

But, that's not a thing, really.

That holy grail mic that sounded perfect on my voice in one room on a certain take of a certain tune can easily sound like sweaty balls in another room on another tune.

Early -- like decades ago -- I got hired to do a session in a holy grail room with a holy grail mic... I was convinced it was the mic for quite awhile... Spoiler alert: it wasn't.

1700 bucks can buy you all the various mics you'll ever need... Buy one of every flavor. If you find one that usually works, stick with it! Maybe later buy the "real" version of the mic yours was modeled on. But, don't be surprised if once you do that -- after the honeymoon is over -- you don't realize, "meh, the cheapy sounds fine"... Also, mic mods like those from Mr Jolly? That is a great way to turn a cheap floozy into a classy gal.

The big part of this whole game -- I'm convinced after 30 years -- is curating a selection of nicely flavored preamps AND mics. My thoughts on preamps are pretty much the same as mics.... Get great quality "knock offs" first to see if you vibe and try your new mic collection in each pre.

Warm Audio, Chameleon Labs, GAP...

So, buy an MXL ribbon mic, an SM7, SM57/58, a rode, a 3unit.. Grab a couple of decent preamps... Maybe a compressor or two... Warm Audio LA2, WA76... ART VLA 2...

With 1700 bucks you can cobble together a signal chain that will last you a lifetime and work in any genre. AND you'll have a bunch of cool outboard to run stems, VIs, etc through for some secrect vibe sauce.

Blow it all on one mic and, well, you got one mic.
amen brother, I like your thinking
Old 2nd September 2016
  #13
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
amen brother, I like your thinking
Oh... And Oktava mics... 319, also their SDCs too

Have fun collecting and trading that stuff man... Most importantly, use it all to make music that people will listen to and never, ever in a zillion years say to themselves... "Ah, I bet that's a U87 into a real neve into a real Fairchild"
Old 2nd September 2016
  #14
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
I love cheap gear. Some of it is really surprisingly good. I have an original Rode NT1 and I quite like it on my voice. (Not that it was that cheap when I bought it; the NT1a's were the ones with the price drop, IIRC.) And it's always worth remembering that different mics suit different tasks to varying degrees. I like my Rode on my own voice -- but though I tried it with a number of singers, I tended to prefer other mics I owned in those cases.


But I have to agree with others here -- such 'shootouts' all but inevitably fail to fully explore a given mic's character. And, from long experience, I would say that it often takes some living with a given mic to really come to an understanding of its strengths and weakness, its best and worst case use scenarios with different sources and in different situations.

And, of course, as noted, there can be a unique dynamic interplay between a given mic and and a given preamp across those use scenarios.

Such shoot-outs, by their nature, can only reveal certain facets and perspectives of a given mic and preamp's combined performance.
I have an nt2 (pre lawsuit) that I bought brand new for like 700 bucks in 1990's dollars... Set up properly (distance plus a bit off axis) and through a nice preamp that mic sounds amazing!
Old 2nd September 2016
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
I love cheap gear. Some of it is really surprisingly good. I have an original Rode NT1 and I quite like it on my voice. (Not that it was that cheap when I bought it; the NT1a's were the ones with the price drop, IIRC.) And it's always worth remembering that different mics suit different tasks to varying degrees. I like my Rode on my own voice -- but though I tried it with a number of singers, I tended to prefer other mics I owned in those cases.


But I have to agree with others here -- such 'shootouts' all but inevitably fail to fully explore a given mic's character. And, from long experience, I would say that it often takes some living with a given mic to really come to an understanding of its strengths and weakness, its best and worst case use scenarios with different sources and in different situations.

And, of course, as noted, there can be a unique dynamic interplay between a given mic and and a given preamp across those use scenarios.

Such shoot-outs, by their nature, can only reveal certain facets and perspectives of a given mic and preamp's combined performance.
If I was going to pay 5 times more for something, I would have to perceive value. I would not be able to justify spending the money any other way. I also can't buy a mic and try 5 different preamps to find this value. I also don't believe you should have to. I also checked sound clips on Thomann which pretty much reinforce the conclusion I reached albeit differently because it wasn't a blind test. Again, these are my own views and I totally respect your view too.

Bottom line is, I have the cash, I almost spent it but just can't now.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
I have an nt2 (pre lawsuit) that I bought brand new for like 700 bucks in 1990's dollars... Set up properly (distance plus a bit off axis) and through a nice preamp that mic sounds amazing!
haha, I like how you name the microphone: "pre lawsuit"

didn't they only change the outside of the microphone though? Shouldn't it sound same?
Old 2nd September 2016
  #17
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Lance Lawson's Avatar
 

When the only game in town was expensive microphones you either shelled out for them or you were a second rate outfit. It is vastly different now. In terms of pure sound there are many mics that can go toe to toe with those big name mics of old. I'd rather invest in 3 say Rode quality mics vs 1 current U-87. The old standard bearers are almost a luxury reserved for established studios with budgets for them.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lostwars View Post
For a high quality precision made microphone like the U87 - you better believe that the right preamp matters. High Voltage preamp, preferably with tubes, at least 65db of clean gain available.

Doesn't matter if you buy it or not, its a scientifically proven fact gear runs better at high voltage levels.
ok so read that this take in the shootout was on an m-audio which means that if you are using high-end converters and pres then they will all sound better!
Old 2nd September 2016
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
If I was going to pay 5 times more for something, I would have to perceive value. I would not be able to justify spending the money any other way. I also can't buy a mic and try 5 different preamps to find this value. I also don't believe you should have to. I also checked sound clips on Thomann which pretty much reinforce the conclusion I reached albeit differently because it wasn't a blind test. Again, these are my own views and I totally respect your view too.

Bottom line is, I have the cash, I almost spent it but just can't now.
[bold added]

Ah, to live in that perfect world of should...

My observation was based on both experience with a bunch of mics and preamps as well as experience listening to various shootouts.

I WISH it didn't take 'living with' a mic for me to more fully understand its strengths and weaknesses, but the complexities of mic performance across a range of sources and use scenarios is simply so broad that that is the only way I can really get a grip on a given mic's character.


But I'd LOVE to hear some practical approaches to quickly sussing out a given mic's characteristics from a handful of 'snapshot' comparisons. I think that would be... interesting.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
ok so read that this take in the shootout was on an m-audio which means that if you are using high-end converters and pres then they will all sound better!



Ah... if it were really so simple.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #21
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brockorama's Avatar
 

Anyone raise an eyebrow for Slate VMS?

I have a lot of workhorses, but this has me curious.

I am keeping my eye on the reviews, which are hard to qualify sometimes. Greg Wells gave his blessing I see. It is an interesting bit of kit.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #22
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chrischoir's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmSnzG7lxyQ

seriously, I was going to buy one but not going to anymore

I also did sound clip checks on Thomann and the Rode is not at all poorer quality that the Neumann u87ai.

I had 1700 to spend on microphones but now am going to buy several microphones instead of splashing on just one like the u87ai. I really think it is overated.
ai is more like a $700 mic
Old 2nd September 2016
  #23
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
haha, I like how you name the microphone: "pre lawsuit"

didn't they only change the outside of the microphone though? Shouldn't it sound same?
That's what they say...

I worked in two mid-level facilities that had boxes of these mics that had Neumann badges affixed to them. They were used as Neumann stunt doubles for artists that called ahead to inquire as to whether the studio had neumanns and proved to be too handsy with the mic... Ya know, because they saw a rap video where the artists grabbed and held the mic as they spit the hot fire.

I'm pretty sure they only did that number on demos, unsigned or self funded projects and only after the talent grabbed onto the real thing after being admonished not to.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #24
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oceantracks's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
Oh... And Oktava mics... 319, also their SDCs too

Have fun collecting and trading that stuff man... Most importantly, use it all to make music that people will listen to and never, ever in a zillion years say to themselves... "Ah, I bet that's a U87 into a real neve into a real Fairchild"
Using that thinking, no one will ever say "Ah I'll be that's an Apogee converter on that song, and a real vintage AC30 and probably a 64 Telecaster" either.

So we should never aspire toward great gear, just stuff that works.

Time to shut down GS now, no longer needed! lol
Old 2nd September 2016
  #25
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DougS's Avatar
 

Due to a million variables online shootouts are a very bad way to pick gear. Get several mics you are interested in (rent or buy with 30 day return policy, etc.) an try them in your own environment and then decide which you want to keep.

Partial List of Variables
  • quality of conversion
  • processing to video
  • mic placement
  • room the tracking is done in
  • post tracking processing done in shoot out
  • quality and type of preamp
  • settings on preamp
  • different voices will be right or wrong for a given mic (and vocal chain)
  • style of music
  • type and style of singer
  • singer's mic technique
  • how you want the vocals to sit in the mix
  • how you eq and otherwise process your vocals
  • lack of familiarity with the source material

You wont get the best out of any given mic unless you work with it for a while and learn how it reacts to different variables.

Just one simplified example - If mic A is best when the singer sings 12 inches away directly on axis and Mic B is best when the singer sings 20 inches away slightly off axis and the shootout is done 12 inches away on axis (for both mics) do you really have a good comparison?
Old 2nd September 2016
  #26
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Squawk's Avatar
U87 AI's are not generally my favorite mics, but they are almost always workable and sound good. But definitely preamp matching matters.

A U87 can sound pretty underwhelming with certain preamps, glorious with others. First time I tried my U87ai through a Sonic Farm Creamer+ for example, it really brought the mic to life. Try it through a ISA One or your interface preamp, and generally not so much.

All of this is a match game with the source, mic, and preamp. Everthing is interdependent. To ignore that fact is just a lack of experience. Once you get the chance to try out different combinations on different sources in different spaces, you'll understand this more, and have that "aha!" moment.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #27
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmSnzG7lxyQ

seriously, I was going to buy one but not going to anymore

I also did sound clip checks on Thomann and the Rode is not at all poorer quality that the Neumann u87ai.

I had 1700 to spend on microphones but now am going to buy several microphones instead of splashing on just one like the u87ai. I really think it is overated.
The U87ai is over priced when you consider manufacturing costs and the bargain that Neumann is able to make these at, compared to how mics used to be made. Neumann could pass that savings along. But they can charge more because nobody can exactly copy their sound and sell it for under $200. It's probably the capsule that makes them special. Or some kind of procedure during assembly, like maybe they check and adjust voicing of each mic using calibrated components? Things that most people may never consider, and small affordable builders maybe don't have the budgets to sort thousands of components into different tolerance piles and choose the correct recipe using extremely tight tolerances. It's a possibilty anyway.

U87 does have a character that is unique to them, it seems to be a pretty safe choice. Especially if you are renting your services to someone else.

Starbucks isn't better than all no-name coffees out there. But if you see the starbucks logo at your hotel, at least you know it isn't Yuban.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #28
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kennybro's Avatar
Most modern gear, even pretty cheap stuff, sounds quite good these days. Computer designed capsules, super high tolerance manufacturing, accurate clones of famous designs... yeah, it's all good.

That said, I have some 87's (though I have no ai's, so can't talk to that), and they are useful on a very wide variety of sources. I also have a few cheap Chinese mics, and they can sound good on some sources, but not as wide an application. Some sound better than my 87's on some sources. But the 87 is a "grab-and-go" where you know it's going to work. No weird honking tones, no shrill high end, no funky sounding woofy low end. That, plain and simple, is why it's popular. Not because it's the absolute best mic for every source.

Just like I can snap a landscape with a Yongnuo lens ($70) and a Lieca ($2500) and get shots that look very similar, it's really easy to wire up some piece of cheap new gear, and make an expensive pro piece appear average. But the true, long-term quality goes way deeper than one shot of one voice.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #29
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
Using that thinking, no one will ever say "Ah I'll be that's an Apogee converter on that song, and a real vintage AC30 and probably a 64 Telecaster" either.

So we should never aspire toward great gear, just stuff that works.

Time to shut down GS now, no longer needed! lol
The best of GS is when good, useful advice is presented... The worst of GS is represented when we slut shame youngsters into buying gear they can't afford before they learn how to play, prepare a room for tracking, record or mix....

Newbie: "I'm brand new at this and live and record in a noisy street facing apartment and I lots of sound that leaks into my space...what mic should I buy?"

GS: "Oh, you need to buy a vintage Neumann... You'll tell the difference when it's time to mix... It's more 3d/warm/hi fi/mojo-ish"

"Great" is subjective, my friend. My gtr player's beat up ESP tele sounds way better than his vintage fender. Plenty of cats make amazing music/art with cheap stuff. Plenty more make awful stuff with amazing gear and in 192k $2000 a channel converters inside multi million dollar facilities under the direction of the industry's biggest producers. And here's the part that the worst instincts of GS conveniently overlooks: listeners don't know the difference.

Sounds good is good... If one finds himself buying or using stuff that doesn't fulfill that maxim then he is a sucker... They're born every minute.

Learn how to use the gear you have and can easily afford... That way, when you have experience/success you may be able to discern a difference when using a $3000 mic.
Old 2nd September 2016
  #30
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oceantracks's Avatar
 

"Newbie: "I'm brand new at this and live and record in a noisy street facing apartment and I lots of sound that leaks into my space...what mic should I buy?"

GS: "Oh, you need to buy a vintage Neumann... You'll tell the difference when it's time to mix... It's more 3d/warm/hi fi/mojo-ish""

I don't know anyone up here that would ever advise a "newbie" like that. Can you post some examples?

""Great" is subjective, my friend. My gtr player's beat up ESP tele sounds way better than his vintage fender."

Well, that's your SUBJECTIVE opinion, isn't it?
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