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U87 flavored mic isn't the best on my brighter baritone vocals, suggestions? Condenser Microphones
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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U87 flavored mic isn't the best on my brighter baritone vocals, suggestions?

I recently got a U87 flavored mic, a Black CM1 by 3U Audio. I was immediately impressed with how clear and airy it sounded. I spent the weekend recording some vocals with a soprano friend of mine and the mic really worked with her voice, it just immediately sounded right to me. I used it a bit off axis (both tilted back and rotated slightly) and the recordings sounded great! I've been using it with UAD's Neve 1073 Unison plugin via my Apollo Twin.

I'm iffy about how it sounds on my own voice, however. I'm a brighter sounding baritone with a fondness for higher notes and my falsetto range. I like singing along with Paul McCartney (the non-falsetto notes in Hey Jude really push the highest notes I can hit without switching to falsetto, around F#4, G on a good day). Tone wise I think I'm the the same ballpark as Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT or Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, bright with some nasal-y tendencies.

While the CM1 obviously sounds very clear and airy compared to my SM7B, it ends up being super sibilant and kind of thin with much sharper transients that have been hard to control. The SM7B lacks the nice clarity but sounds far smoother and has a bit of extra oomph even though I use the high pass filter on the mic itself and like to highpass my vocals ~125-175Hz anyway. The CM1 doesn't sound like total crap when I'm the one being recorded, but I think it would take a lot of processing to fit the recording in a mix.

I've tried the CM1 in a variety of positions, using the pencil + pop filter trick, etc. Maybe I'm just one of those people that don't sound awesome on U87 flavored mics. I have never used a real U87, however.

I've done a lot of research and read many threads/comments that say that the U87 isn't the best for everyone, but these posts don't go into details about situations where a U87 didn't work.

I have two questions:
  1. If a U87 didn't work for a certain vocalist you were recording, what about it sounded bad?
  2. Is there a certain mic/flavor of condenser mic you would recommend I try out?

Thanks for the help!
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
Sorry, but you can’t conclude that a U87 or even “U87 type mics” don’t work on your voice based on the use of a $130 clone. A real U87 is a great choice on most baritone vocals in my experience. “Airy” is not what I’d use to describe a U87.

What you can conclude is that you don’t like the way your voice sounds through the 3U CM1. To draw any further conclusions is both silly and eroneous. To really ascertain wheyher a certain mic works on a particular voice is a case-by-case and by trial process.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
U87’s are standards because they work well on a wide variety of sounds. I wouldn’t make any judgements about that particular mic until you have personally tried it. 3u, on the other hand, has many models, some which might suite your voice better than others. I have a kind of bright baritone voice and the gz251 works well. You might try something in that category, such as the cm1 teal, warbler iv, or gz251 get (in order of cheapest to most expensive).
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate View Post
A real U87 is a great choice on most baritone vocals in my experience. “Airy” is not what I’d use to describe a U87.
Have you had a situation where the u87 was not a good choice for brighter male vocals? I’m not in a situation where I can compare a ton of mics with my voice unfortunately, but I’d like to gain some insight into situations where it didn’t work beyond the typical saying that some mics don’t work for some people.

Maybe airy wasn’t the right word, but considering the other mics I own are all dynamics, the CM1 is very airy in comparison.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

I have a buddy who sounds fine on an 87 but he gets kind of peaky in the 2k5 range- its sort of a thing that comes from the back of his throat... it isn’t bad and eq helps just fine, but the Lucas cs1 or the upton251 mitigate the issue at the transducer....
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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Ragan's Avatar
 

If you have pinched/nasal tendencies and EQing them out isn’t giving you what you want, try an edge terminated capsule. The Warbler IV would be a good contender.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Drumsound's Avatar
Lately if U87 or CMV 563, the general Neumann thing isn't working on a singer, I go to an sE T2, which is worlds different. The midrange bump in the singer I was tracking tonight is accentuated in a bad way by the Neumann thing. He sounds great on the titanium, quick and more "even" sounding T2.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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edva's Avatar
Sennheiser 441 might be what you need.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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bgood's Avatar
I find that folks that poop all over themselves talking about how a real U87 can handle any voice probably own only one mic... a u87

The shot their load on it and it hurts to admit when that square peg won’t fit in the round hole... I have a great ol’ 70s 87 staring at me... it took me a long long time to admit that I just don’t sound great through an 87 lol.

Back to the OP... I don’t think the answer is him willy milky cycle through one 3u audio mic model after another until he finds nirvana... that sounds expensive

Is their a good pro supplier in your town (ala vintage king) that can set up a bank of mics for you to audition? Whether or not you can afford those particular mics it may give you an idea of a direction to shoot for on the budget end... also, maybe take a look at a modeling tech like slate or Townsend?

My gut tells me a decent 47 vibe... but, I’m just super into 47s since I’ve discovered that it’s my personal spirit mic
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
Sennheiser 441 might be what you need.
Or even the sm7 he’s got with a big ol 10k boost with a pultec (even a plugin)... ain’t nothing wrong with that
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Sony c37a is great for this. Also I have had good luck with an re20
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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avare's Avatar
 

Have you tried modifying your mic technique?
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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The U87 is hyped in the 5K range. Use a ribbon or a non hyped mic like the 89 or 170 if you like Neumann.

The U87 is a great mic. However it was designed when we used tape and tube preamps. Now that we no longer use tape, the updated voicing of the U89 can be a better choice.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Aston Starlight, vintage (flat) setting. It isn’t marketed as a vocal mic, but it is magic on a lot of vocalists.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
Gear Addict
 
ABBA's Avatar
 

Sold my U87ai for AKG 414b ULS. Much happier with these.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Thin, sibilant is usually how most cheap condenser sound like on vocals. Might be impressive when you first firing it up but ends up adding all sorts of trouble when you start to tweak it.

A sm7b is probably the most bullet proof mic you can buy for vocals if you don't spend 3k+. Pair it with a good preamp and you are set for life. It won't do that luxurious thing a 251 would or any quality tube condenser but it will always work.

Good luck!
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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toledo3's Avatar
 

Given the way you say you’re finding different mics sound on you, if you were in front of me I’d at least TRY an RE20.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
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Lots of excellent options mentioned already.

IMHO when a U87ai or a 87-ish LDC doesn't sound "right", for amateur recordists (like me or the OP)...

It's usually more a reflection of our relative skill level.

I can't speak directly of the CM-1's, but U87's are renowned for how well they take EQing.

Also, although I don't have experience with the 3U's, there is a general perception that Chinese capsules "don't EQ" as well as a German or American made capsule.
Chris
Old 1 week ago
  #19
On cheaper mics, I had these problems with my vocals:
- Sibilance
- croakiness
- nail-on-chalkboard in some high frequency

No mic tames the sibilance that I purchased under $1250 (which was the Neumann TLM103) so I was quite po'd I couldn't solve this.
Then I learned of the Neve 1073 and it smoothed out that upper nail/chalkboard frequency I hated.
Then I bit the bullet and bought a U87ai and paired it with a BAE 73 and OMG, the sibilance disappeared with the U87 altogether. GONE. And the BAE sounded even smoother than the UAD2 plugin. I added a WA2A and the vocal sounded like a buttery radio announcer. Quite happy.

Recently, I got a cheap pulteq cone, the EQP-WA. It's NOT a Pulteq, but it's EQ does soften that croakiness factor in my vocals (think: morning voice)
and NOW I have no excuses to singing.

So...
1) no microphone sounds or acts like a U87 except a U87. Which, btw, also has polar patterns. In my newly treated room, the Figure-8 really makes the vocal hang in the mix nicely. I still add reverb, but it start off as a very mix-ready vocal.
2) I think what your bright baritone voice might like are "vintage" plugins (think LA2A, Fairchild 660, Pultec) and hardware is ever better at this, even the cheaper seats clones.
3) You might think of demo'ing a tube microphone. They are much better at making things smoother. Even a cheap tube mic is something you can experiment with NOS tubes in and get very different sounds out of.

It's a journey, but as you solve each problem, you'll be proud and happy that you made significant progress.

There is only ONE warning: This journey is such that you may forget to make music and become a gear slut. You were warned!
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Lives for gear
 

Sone of the best low cost LDC's, are my previously mentioned Oktava 219's/319's...
As far as reducing/eliminating sibilance.

I'm lucky that they sound quite U47-ish on me!
Chris
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ABBA View Post
Sold my U87ai for AKG 414b ULS. Much happier with these.
Used to be the classic smaller studio kit, an 87 and a 414. Whatever singer doesn't work on one will very likely work on the other.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
Sone of the best low cost LDC's, are my previously mentioned Oktava 219's/319's...
As far as reducing/eliminating sibilance.

I'm lucky that they sound quite U47-ish on me!
Chris
That 319 is a great mic...
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Lives for gear
 
bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by db9091 View Post
On cheaper mics, I had these problems with my vocals:
- Sibilance
- croakiness
- nail-on-chalkboard in some high frequency

No mic tames the sibilance that I purchased under $1250 (which was the Neumann TLM103) so I was quite po'd I couldn't solve this.
Then I learned of the Neve 1073 and it smoothed out that upper nail/chalkboard frequency I hated.
Then I bit the bullet and bought a U87ai and paired it with a BAE 73 and OMG, the sibilance disappeared with the U87 altogether. GONE. And the BAE sounded even smoother than the UAD2 plugin. I added a WA2A and the vocal sounded like a buttery radio announcer. Quite happy.

Recently, I got a cheap pulteq cone, the EQP-WA. It's NOT a Pulteq, but it's EQ does soften that croakiness factor in my vocals (think: morning voice)
and NOW I have no excuses to singing.

So...
1) no microphone sounds or acts like a U87 except a U87. Which, btw, also has polar patterns. In my newly treated room, the Figure-8 really makes the vocal hang in the mix nicely. I still add reverb, but it start off as a very mix-ready vocal.
2) I think what your bright baritone voice might like are "vintage" plugins (think LA2A, Fairchild 660, Pultec) and hardware is ever better at this, even the cheaper seats clones.
3) You might think of demo'ing a tube microphone. They are much better at making things smoother. Even a cheap tube mic is something you can experiment with NOS tubes in and get very different sounds out of.

It's a journey, but as you solve each problem, you'll be proud and happy that you made significant progress.

There is only ONE warning: This journey is such that you may forget to make music and become a gear slut. You were warned!
Yeah... like he said... get rid of the 250 mic and go out and spend a few thousand bucks on a bunch of new stuff and treat your room. We’ll wait.

Get off gearslutz and go audition some mics
Old 1 week ago
  #24
Lives for gear
I’m a “lower tenor” with some baritone range and I am prone to sibilance. On a few “u87 like” mics I sound good but the sibilance is there. My Bock/Soundelux 195 is a good example of a u87ish mic that is great, but my esses still poke out.

I was pretty amazed the first time I was able to use a real u87 in my home studio, at how much my esses and sibilance got tucked in and reduced. It has a nice presence but somehow still softens my esses. I guess for $3k it better do something impressive, right?! It’s a big, upfront, and pro sound. There’s a good reason it’s an industry standard.
Old 1 week ago
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by shvffle View Post

I'm a brighter sounding baritone with a fondness for higher notes and my falsetto range. I like singing along with Paul McCartney (the non-falsetto notes in Hey Jude really push the highest notes I can hit without switching to falsetto, around F#4, G on a good day).

Tone wise I think I'm the the same ballpark as Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT or Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, bright with some nasal-y tendencies.

While the CM1 obviously sounds very clear and airy compared to my SM7B, it ends up being super sibilant and kind of thin with much sharper transients that have been hard to control.

The SM7B lacks the nice clarity but sounds far smoother and has a bit of extra oomph even though I use the high pass filter on the mic itself and like to highpass my vocals ~125-175Hz anyway.


[*]Is there a certain mic/flavor of condenser mic you would recommend I try out?[/LIST][/B]
!
Ive been through a bunch of mics and recently a Rode NTV seems to have a nice clarity and yet not the sibilance distortion some LDC's get with me. For me the NTV worked, maybe some Rode Tube mic?

I also had the SM7b going etc..etc.. it sounded muddy compared to the LDC's but in a mix and in a crap room the SM7b is a great tool. Also some say the RE20 is a better match for them than a SM7b. Have you tried that?

Have you tried the LA2A -comp family ? might help smooth things out too while giving things a bit of tone love. Comps can really change everything about a mic.

we're so sorry uncl albert.. hey jude… michelle… long and winding road... ebony/ivory... mellower Paul.... er...until he starts screaming
Old 1 week ago
  #26
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by halcyo View Post
I was pretty amazed the first time I was able to use a real u87 in my home studio, at how much my esses and sibilance got tucked in and reduced.
There’s a good reason it’s an industry standard.
Bingo. The key word is REAL. The real 87 is not a sibilant mic. I haven’t searched through the “87-type” clones, but clones seem to differ from the target German mics in three ways: a rising response above 5k, lack of a transformer (and whatever that contributes to the sound), and a very different polarity vs frequency plot.
In the microphone world, the word “clone” has no definition or meaning. Experiences with a clone don’t tell you anything reliable about the target mic.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
Gear Maniac
Not to mention, the 3u cm1 is not a clone. Different circuit, different capsule. “Voiced” like a u87.
Old 1 week ago
  #28
Lives for gear
 

But every U87ai I meet, I have to eventually tell her-ahem it... Look it's not you, it's me. (sibilance)

BTW big "47 style love" here too!

Other faves, U47 FET reissue/Bock iFet/Heiserman H47 FET. Fortunately the U47 FET-ish versions, work as well on my voice-Compared to their Tube relatives!
Chris
Old 1 week ago
  #29
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microwave's Avatar
If you have a chance of trying it, test the Lewitt LCT 940. It’s super versatile with the valve/FET blend system and supremely clear without being sibilant. I find I can accommodate most voices with minimal adjustments needed.
Old 1 week ago
  #30
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by adampaulson1217 View Post
“Voiced” like a u87.
You’re right, in a way. That claim has even less meaning than “clone”. I’m probably “voiced like” you in a number of ways.
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