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Need a new all round high end vocal mic
Old 12th May 2018
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Need a new all round high end vocal mic

Hi Guys! I want some advice on microphones. I am getting the Neve 1073 pre amp along with a UA 1176 or Tube Tech compressor and looking for a all round high end studio microphone. I make vocal house / pop music.

I was thinking a Neumann u87ai, u47 or m147 or m149.

I also used a Sontronics Saturn and Aria once recently and got great results but thinking Neumann is the way forward.

I have been using a Rode NT1A with my UAD Apollo Quad for a few years and the results have been good but I want to step it up to get that extra 10-20%

Unfortunately I can only afford 1 mic for around £3-4K at the moment, so any insight would be great.
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Old 12th May 2018
  #2
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I would try the slate vms tbh
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Old 12th May 2018
  #3
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uptheoctave's Avatar
I would get an older U87, otherwise I'd get a couple of clones.
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Old 12th May 2018
  #4
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tkaitkai's Avatar
 

I know this may not be what you're looking for, but the best way to figure this out will be to actually test these mics for yourself. Mics can vary pretty dramatically between singers — what sounds perfect for one vocalist may be absolutely terrible for another. Find a high end pro audio shop or music studio near you and do a shootout. If that's not possible, buy and return until you find the right one.

All that said, I'll give you my (very biased) two cents. Take what I say with a grain of salt.

Of the mics listed, I own an M149 and have recorded a few songs with a U87 Ai. The U87 is a great mic, but also a complete mismatch for my voice, whereas the M149 is my favorite vocal mic period.

To my ears, the M149 is a smooth, rich, and natural sounding mic. It has a relaxed, open top end that never gets harsh, abrasive, or crispy. It's thick, but not too wooly, and mid-focused without being too forward or "hard." Definitely has a really nice sense of natural compression — vocals always sound controlled and contained, never overly-dynamic. It has a very balanced tone overall, i.e. not too exaggerated in any one particular area. Sibilance is almost never an issue, and the low end feels full and extended without being boomy or bloated. Did I mention I'm biased?

The U87, on the other hand, is a much more forward, present sound. Has a pretty significant midrange emphasis that many vocalists benefit from, usually helping to cut through dense mixes. It can get a little nasal at times, especially
with singers who have a lot of energy around 700 Hz - 1k (i.e. myself).

I have no direct experience with the M147 or U47, but I've listened to dozens of clips of each. The M147 strikes me as being slightly reminiscent of an M149, but definitely not the same sound. I'm not sure which U47 variant you're looking at, but if it's the U47 FET, most people would reach for something else for vocals (although it can work!).

A real vintage tube U47 will be out of budget, but there are some really nice high end clones out there: Flea 47, Wunder CM7, Bock 47, Nordic Labs NU-47V, etc.

Lastly, you can rest assured that any of the mics listed will likely be a pretty significant improvement over your NT1-A.

Hope that helps!
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Old 12th May 2018
  #5
If you decide to go for the U87 I too would recommend hunting down an old one if you can get one at a decent price. The AI version is a good microphone but not particularly special. You should also try the Lewitt LCT 940 variable tube/FET, it’s a great sounding and very versatile vocal mic.
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Old 12th May 2018
  #6
If you're doing vocal house/pop, then the slightly more zingy top end of the U87ai might be just the ticket. They get ragged on as not being special like a vintage U87, but for your kind of music, I don't know if the darker vintage vibe is what you're going for. The 87ai is a fantastic mic! I would look for one used, though, as they are far more expensive new.

This is the voice of experience, by the way: I was doing a modern pop record and we had time to shootout vocal mics, so I put in my vintage U87, and the artist hated it. It was by far the worst of the bunch for that guy's voice on a modern pop record - and his voice was typical of the genre. On the other hand, scruffy indie pop guys and girls love the vintage ones (as do I) but it's not appropriate for every genre and every voice.

Another mic for that style that gets a lot of love in pop circles is the Manley Reference Cardioid. It has a very bright top end that really cuts. That's worth checking out.

As for your other suggestions, the U47 is, as others have said, out of budget, but any clone worthy of the title is going to be pretty vintage sounding, so again that might not be what you're looking for. The M147 is not great for vocals, having owned a couple over the years. I like it as a kick drum mic and that's about it. (I have so little experience with the M149 that I won't comment on it.)

If I were you, I'd get the U87ai (used - save some $$!) and call it a day. Great mic for modern pop.
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Old 12th May 2018
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Put the new Bock Soundelux U195 on your shortlist.

BTW a U47 FET works great on me, so I really like (make that love), the Bock iFET too. Chris

Chris
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Old 12th May 2018 | Show parent
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
Put the new Bock Soundelux U195 on your shortlist.

Chris
Oh yeah - totally right. I forgot about that. The U195 is a U87 with a switchable fat mode for more lows. Very convenient, and sounds AWESOME.

By the way, I've always liked your handle, chessparov.
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Old 12th May 2018
  #9
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Thanks Andy.

Because my voice in full baritone (think ala Isaac Hayes!) is still pretty "bright", the U195 sounds best (set flat) if I'm at least a foot away.

In my more tenorish high/light baritone, it's VERY "bright", so the FAT switch "on"/"low cut switch on" sounds better.

Part of the reason for the "chessparov" handle is that I really am a chess master.

And I had a lot of interaction, when I was younger, with other players (Europe/Russia) -where chess might have been their only "real freedom".
Some were able to escape from Concentration Camps, during WWII. etc.

FWIW if anyone here plays chess, my "hero" was the late/great Mikhail Tal,
"the Magician from Riga". IMHO the most brilliant chess player of all time!

Chris
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Old 12th May 2018
  #10
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
i have an old U87 thats been a main work horse for 20 years plus, but recently i bought a U47 fet reissue.

for the 5k or so you cant go wrong.

hell its brand new, and sounds great, and will give no trouble for 20 years at least. just got to love that aspect.

also the Neumann U47 fet, will slowly go up in value, so if i change my circumstances, and decide to flick, then its all good.

these days i just try to buy top end gear that doesnt depreciate.

Buddha
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Old 12th May 2018
  #11
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Congrats! IMHO your 47 FET will not only give you tons of sonic enjoyment, but will appreciate too over time.

I was very surprised when I tried them, that neither a U47 Tube or original Neumann U67, was the best vocal fit for me. Within the Neumann's I've tried, my faves were the aforementioned U47 FET, vintage U87, and TLM 67.

Chris
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Old 13th May 2018 | Show parent
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
i have an old U87 thats been a main work horse for 20 years plus, but recently i bought a U47 fet reissue.

for the 5k or so you cant go wrong.

hell its brand new, and sounds great, and will give no trouble for 20 years at least. just got to love that aspect.

also the Neumann U47 fet, will slowly go up in value, so if i change my circumstances, and decide to flick, then its all good.

Buddha
Yeah I think the u47 FET may be the one!

Has anyone used the Warm Audio WA87? Was thinking about getting this too, I have seen loads of comparisons.
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Old 13th May 2018
  #13
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Rockabilly69's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simonwhitelock View Post
Hi Guys! I want some advice on microphones. I am getting the Neve 1073 pre amp along with a UA 1176 or Tube Tech compressor and looking for a all round high end studio microphone. I make vocal house / pop music.

I was thinking a Neumann u87ai, u47 or m147 or m149.

I also used a Sontronics Saturn and Aria once recently and got great results but thinking Neumann is the way forward.

I have been using a Rode NT1A with my UAD Apollo Quad for a few years and the results have been good but I want to step it up to get that extra 10-20%

Unfortunately I can only afford 1 mic for around £3-4K at the moment, so any insight would be great.
On this forum you will never see two more slagged mics than the M147 and the U87ai!

I have sang through all of these microphones and I own both the U87ai and M147 (a particularly good sounding one).

If I were you, I would rent some microphones to see what mic compliments your voice, especially when spending the kind of coin you're thinking about spending.

But to tell you the truth I would get your pre and comp set up in the room and use your NT1A to learn the other pieces of gear, and then when you are used to hearing what they are doing in the chain, and you know how to dial them in, try a few microphones.

Unlike many people here I prefer the U87Ai to the older model and I have shot them out extensively and I like what the Ai brings to the table. But there is a certain run of Ai mics that had a daughter board than were more bright and harsh than normal, and many people attribute the sound of the those mics to the Ai not even being aware it was a slightly different mic.

For fun, checkout this video for the differences between and the U87 and the U87ai, it's pretty enlightening...

Neumann Microphone Shootout, U87i vs. U87Ai | recording hacks

The M147 is a strange mic, as it has a very narrow pattern almost hyper-cardoid, and is very unforgiving when off axis, but when it works for the singer or instrument I love it. It sounds very good on my own voice. One of my favorite uses for it is on a Victoria amp that I'm playing a Wurlitzer electric piano through, and it also sounds great on bass amps, toms, and kick drums.

The M149 is a fabulous microphone with tons of flexibility.
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Old 13th May 2018
  #14
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The thing is a record so many different vocalist, usually female. I actually can’t really sing myself haha

I need something all round. If that exists!

Maybe I should be looking at the Slate VMS?

I was thinking of getting the Warm Audio clones (all of them) 😂
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Old 13th May 2018 | Show parent
  #15
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simonwhitelock View Post
Yeah I think the u47 FET may be the one!

Has anyone used the Warm Audio WA87? Was thinking about getting this too, I have seen loads of comparisons.
i have not used the warm audio 87, so cant help you with that one.

if you are project level then you can use anything you like. what ever suits your budget and tastes.

a genuine U87 (old) is allways a good investment. every studio i ever worked in has at least one, and there is a reason for that. they are the industry standard.

im not a technican but reports state that the the later 87 AI are brighter, due to different electronics, and sometimes thats good, but sometimes its not.

the U87 original had a hi frequency negative attenuation circuit, that softens the top end.

i run my old U87 into an Amek 9098 pre, and the high frequency EQ on the Amek rocks, so i have more than enough top end with this combination.

either U87 or U47 are good choices.you wont lose money on it , whatever you do.

i allready had the U87 so i added the U47 to give me options. (87 on vocals and the 47 on the double bass or trumpet) etc etc

regarding clones i think that generally a copy or a clone will depreciate, as newer cheeper copies and clones come into the market.

the original Neumann will go up in value, slowly over time.

all that being said, i suggest you need to listen to them all if possible,and get the mic that helps you to get the results your chasing.

hope that helps Buddha
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Old 13th May 2018 | Show parent
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
i have not used the warm audio 87, so cant help you with that one.

if you are project level then you can use anything you like. what ever suits your budget and tastes.

a genuine U87 (old) is allways a good investment. every studio i ever worked in has at least one, and there is a reason for that. they are the industry standard.

im not a technican but reports state that the the later 87 AI are brighter, due to different electronics, and sometimes thats good, but sometimes its not.

the U87 original had a hi frequency negative attenuation circuit, that softens the top end.

i run my old U87 into an Amek 9098 pre, and the high frequency EQ on the Amek rocks, so i have more than enough top end with this combination.

either U87 or U47 are good choices.you wont lose money on it , whatever you do.

i allready had the U87 so i added the U47 to give me options. (87 on vocals and the 47 on the double bass or trumpet) etc etc

regarding clones i think that generally a copy or a clone will depreciate, as newer cheeper copies and clones come into the market.

the original Neumann will go up in value, slowly over time.

all that being said, i suggest you need to listen to them all if possible,and get the mic that helps you to get the results your chasing.

hope that helps Buddha
Thanks for this.

Is there much difference between a u47 and u47 FET?

I need to hunt down a vintage u87!
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Old 13th May 2018 | Show parent
  #17
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simonwhitelock View Post
Thanks for this.


I need to hunt down a vintage u87!
yeah, i think your right.

i have used the U87 on countless recordings, its especially suited to male vox.

for female singers sometimes i go to other things. AKG-414.

but you can use an U87 for women without drama.

there is way too much arguement and bitching about vocal microphones here on the net, and for me it ignores the fact that the mic feeds into an EQ unit.

a good Eq in combination with almost any good mic you can achieve excellent results . you just dial in the sound you want.

hope that helps Buddha
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Old 13th May 2018
  #18
I don't know if my vintage u87 are modded. They where sent to a tech to some point to be matched but my u87s have a very good topend. Like open all the way up to 12khz and above. Sterile but very natural sounding. Compared to a u67 where you can clearly hear the rolloff. I also prefer all vintage neumanns to their updated versions.

I heard one of the tube mods on a vintage u87 a couple of weeks ago. Sounded very nice. And that will cost you what a u47fet cost.

Its always best to demo the mics you're thinking of buying if you have the chancr
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Old 13th May 2018 | Show parent
  #19
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
yeah, i think your right.

i have used the U87 on countless recordings, its especially suited to male vox.

for female singers sometimes i go to other things. AKG-414.

but you can use an U87 for women without drama.

there is way too much arguement and bitching about vocal microphones here on the net, and for me it ignores the fact that the mic feeds into an EQ unit.

a good Eq in combination with almost any good mic you can achieve excellent results . you just dial in the sound you want.

hope that helps Buddha
Amen
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Old 13th May 2018
  #20
Here for the gear
 

Ok so I have decided to go with the Neumann u47 FET with a AMS Neve 1073 SPX & Warm Audio WA-2A

Nice chain right there
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Old 13th May 2018
  #21
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Congrats! Chris
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Old 13th May 2018 | Show parent
  #22
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simonwhitelock View Post
Ok so I have decided to go with the Neumann u47 FET with a AMS Neve 1073 SPX & Warm Audio WA-2A

Nice chain right there
do you allready have an 1176? if you dont, then i would get an 1176 before the LA-2a

1176 get used everywhere, all the time. essential.

i had a blue stripe as a tracking comp and used it for over 10 years, before the noise floor and grit pissed me off enough to replace it.

so i got a black face 1176 as it was cleaner, and was happier with the results.

i also have a warm audio 1176 in the rack and its good enough for most things.

your other choices are good. the U47 will rock.

Buddha
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Old 13th May 2018
  #23
Lives for gear
My choice was this:
Advanced Audio CM67se, Locomotive Audio 286a preamp, 1176-KT and Audio Scape-La2A.

I swap out that mic w/ TLM170(purple badge), Groove tubes MD3(37A clone), Sony C-48, and Lawson-47
I sawp the preamp out to a Vipre wehn a slow slew rate fits, and to a Millennia 2A when I want the vocals to sound real close.

It all depends on the singer, song, desired feel, and the daily mood.

recently the 170 and Millennia have been getting used more with a bit of EQ. an unhyped mic is working out better in my non optimum room.
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Old 13th May 2018 | Show parent
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
do you allready have an 1176? if you dont, then i would get an 1176 before the LA-2a

1176 get used everywhere, all the time. essential.

i had a blue stripe as a tracking comp and used it for over 10 years, before the noise floor and grit pissed me off enough to replace it.

so i got a black face 1176 as it was cleaner, and was happier with the results.

i also have a warm audio 1176 in the rack and its good enough for most things.

your other choices are good. the U47 will rock.

Buddha
I second this.


I didn't like the WA la2a when i demo'ed it. Wobbly GR either to much or to little. A good 1176 is super versatile.
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Old 13th May 2018 | Show parent
  #25
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GeneHall's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simonwhitelock View Post
Ok so I have decided to go with the Neumann u47 FET

Nice chain right there
It may be of interest to you to also try the FleA Fet 47 or 48.
A fraction of the cost of the Neumann reissue uncompromisingly built and like everything FleA does, sounds absolutely stupendous. I think one of the reasons we rarely see any FleA mics on the 2nd hand market is that they are really well built great sounding microphones that are priced really well, making them a very sound investment.
For me, in addition to it's wonderful sound, part of the allure with the Neumann Fet 47 is that it looks fantastic, the FleA shares this enticing quality as well. Looks are important to me, I really do not care for the look of any painted mics.
Like most people here, please note I'm suggesting microphones I own and have experience with so I am expressing my partiality towards equipment that has served me well. I don't own many microphones anymore but the ones I have held on to I would never want to ever be with out. My FleA 49 is a peerless extraordinary creation
I am considering purchasing the Townsend Labs microphone and see what all the fuss is about..
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Old 13th May 2018 | Show parent
  #26
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GeneHall's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by crille_mannen View Post
I second this.


I didn't like the WA la2a when i demo'ed it. Wobbly GR either to much or to little. A good 1176 is super versatile.
I 3rd this.
I would be chasing a couple of 1176 flavours before headed down the WA2A path. A black face all rounder and a Blue Stripe for those vocals that want some extra grit and need it's lightening fast response.
I've used a WA2a, I would never consider buying one. Wobbly is a great way to describe it, unlike the Teletronix/UA versions, to my ears it does not have a sweet spot to finely dial in, rather it's a lumpy clumsy attempt that falls way short of replicating the potency of any original versions. The only thing the WA2a shares with the original is it's borrowed aesthetic, and even that has a look that screams cheap to me. Though it's not terrible per say, I mention this because I believe in very short order it will let you down sound and performance wise. I tend to shop with the mindset of owning forever, so perhaps my views are not in line with yours but I will echo whats already being said.
Just my opinion.
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Old 14th May 2018
  #27
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antichef's Avatar
If i was going into a situation where I needed to record house/pop with a bunch of female (or male) vocalists I had not worked with and could bring only only one of my mics, it would be a pretty easy choice: the Josephson C716. But I would also try to bring more than one haha.

You'll get a chance to try some of these out?

I confess that i have ordered a bunch of mics without trying them first and i like the way that approach worked out for me - i did wind up with a bunch of mics, though.
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Old 14th May 2018 | Show parent
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by andyfreeman View Post
Oh yeah - totally right. I forgot about that. The U195 is a U87 with a switchable fat mode for more lows. Very convenient, and sounds AWESOME.

By the way, I've always liked your handle, chessparov.
It is not a U87, it's not mid forward in the way a U87 is and is has a much more extended top and bottom with the Fat switch in. It's a very nice mic, and a good recommendation but it doesn't sound like a U87. I own both. Here the mics that get the most vocal use are a Pearlman TM1 which is has a nice upper mid range presence, and a heavily modded Telefunken AR51 with a Tim Campbell capsule and mods by JJ Audio
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Old 14th May 2018 | Show parent
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
do you allready have an 1176? if you dont, then i would get an 1176 before the LA-2a

1176 get used everywhere, all the time. essential.

Buddha
why? and an La2a doesn't? I have 2 1176's and I still use my CL1b for tracking before anything. Here's a recent purchase that I'm really liking, I picked up a Grove Hill Liverpool, what a cool compressor it and presence and power to vocals. BTW to the op you might want to check out the Audioscape LA2a clone, I picked up their SSL clone to use for some parallel drum compression and it's very impressive.
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Old 14th May 2018 | Show parent
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musiclab View Post
why? and an La2a doesn't? I have 2 1176's and I still use my CL1b for tracking before anything. Here's a recent purchase that I'm really liking, I picked up a Grove Hill Liverpool, what a cool compressor it and presence and power to vocals. BTW to the op you might want to check out the Audioscape LA2a clone, I picked up their SSL clone to use for some parallel drum compression and it's very impressive.
Well the cl1b has attack and release a la2a can be very sluggish which im sure you know its common to have a 1176 plus la2a.

It's hard to find a more versitale comp then 1176. Works on ton of stuff!
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