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I've blasphemed; I bought a U87ai

Hi folks
I took delivery of a U87ai today, and I must say I absolutely love it. I got it very cheaply, and I decided to take a shot. This mic has had so much bad stuff written about it, and I was really surprised by how good it is. My impression is that, while it doesn't paint the most accurate picture, it paints a very convincing one. I REALLY like this mic. It has much less noise than I expected, although there is a little bit of hum, I think I can fix that.

Having said all that, my beloved AT4060 need not feel jealous, although I do have to send it back to AT as it has developed a noise problem.

Anyone here have a favourite use for an 87, apart from as a doorstop? I haven't used one of these for years, and I thought I might be disappointed, given the number of nice mics I've heard since then.

John

Comments

alexaudio Thu, 04/28/2005 - 22:52

Sonarerec wrote: Congrats on your acquisition! When you have a bit of cash consider sending your 87 to Klaus Heyne at German Masterworks-- it will return sounding so much like a tube 67 you almost won't believe it.

Rich

Klaus can do some amazing things with the 87. In my mind, Klaus's mods basically take the 87 and turn it into a totally different microphone. If this is something you don't desire, but desire a similar sound with a bit more openness, I have had one of my 87s modded (for much less) by Bill Bradley at the Mic Shop (http://www.micshop.com).

Enjoy!

DavidSpearritt Fri, 04/29/2005 - 00:17

Without being crass, what sort of budget is required for Klaus's mods? I have an older U87, with the 7pin tuchel, but its in excellent condition. I have always found the sound to be slightly constricted and an opening up or rebore would do the trick.

I was thinking of selling it and buying a Coles 4040, but if Klaus can do some magic, it maybe worth hanging on to it.

Comments or similar experiences very welcome. 8-)

Exsultavit Fri, 04/29/2005 - 01:47

I cannot quote Klaus' prices, but I can vouch for his work.

I have had him mod a pair of U67s, a pair of KM86's and a pair of M269. I have heard and used several of his modded 87s. His work has never been cheap, but he is a real perfectionist who will not send your mic back to you until HE is pleased.

The sound of his mods on my tube mics are a major centerpiece of the work I do. If you have him mod your 87, you will have a world-class mic.

does this help?

Exsultavit

GuitarTim Fri, 04/29/2005 - 04:35

DavidSpearritt wrote: Without being crass, what sort of budget is required for Klaus's mods? I have an older U87...

Dunno about Neumann, but I had my inner definition of "high-end" redefined for me last evening...

Found a link to the BraunerUSA site, and saw a mic there called the "Brauner VM-1 Klaus Heine Edition"... it'll set you back a cool $10,000. EACH!

Considering that, spending $4000 on a Neumann doesn't seem so outlandish... :wink:

Profile picture for user maintiger

maintiger Tue, 04/26/2005 - 11:19

yep, congratulations are in order- despite the badmouthers the U87 just has a sheen and a silkiness that is special and unique. pair it with the right voice and you have sheer magic, despite what the doubters say.

John Stafford Wed, 04/27/2005 - 18:56

Thanks again guys! I must confess to being a big ABBA fan, and if the U87 is good enough for them...!

Seriously though, I'm still enjoying my new toy and look forward to using it in many different situations.

I'm having a slight problem with background noise (hum), although this is not very high. I must say I'm very impressed with the way Neumann are assisting me with this. They've given me several options to try, one of which has lessened the problem considerably. Strangely enough, the background hiss is much lower than the published specs. would indicate.

John

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Cucco Tue, 04/26/2005 - 11:50

Hey John -

Nice work. I don't know that I've ever trashed the 87 (There are somethings that I don't like about it, but very few and it's certainly a great and very usable mic). There are a lot of Neumann mics that I'm not a fan of (TLM 103, 184 and a few others) but the 87 is a very good mic for many applications.

Try it on brass - you'll love it.

J.

John Stafford Fri, 04/29/2005 - 10:35

Klaus Heine quoted me $1,600 to work on a U87. I've always been interested in his mods on the 414EB and these cost $2500, although I'm assuming that this is only for a 414 that is in exceptionally good condition, and probably with the brass capsule(?). I suppose with the sort of 414 EB that one is likely to come across in the real world, the price would rise significantly.

I have to admit that I'm surprised by some of these prices. I certainly expected the 414 mods to cost an awful lot more.

There's something fascinating about the extravagance of the the VM-1 KHE. Given that this comes with a new power supply, and some very extensive work, it's hardly surprising that the package costs $10,000. Fletcher can supply one for a mere $9000 :wink:

To put all of this into perspective, when a battered old Telefunken can go for $20,000 as well as restoration costs, the VM1 KHE doesn't seem to be that expensive.

It's time to come back down to the real world for me I'm afraid, as I still don't have a decent main pair :cry:

John

GuitarTim Fri, 04/29/2005 - 11:19

John Stafford wrote: It's time to come back down to the real world for me I'm afraid, as I still don't have a decent main pair :cry:

John

Not to mention those of us (such as myself) who struggle to find $140 for a Chinese condenser mic (i.e. Apex 415), and consider ourselves lucky to have THAT! :roll:

John Stafford Tue, 04/26/2005 - 15:52

Thank you gentlemen!
There's something wonderful about it that I can't describe. With other mics that I own and love I can describe what I love about them, but this one isn't really like that. It's absolutely amazing on speech, and has a wonderful sense of clarity.

Looking forward to lots of fun in the future!

Now it's preamp time. I'm thinking of a Great River NV, and a DAV BG1 for classical stuff.

Now it's time to check out those Microtech Gefells!

John

DavidSpearritt Fri, 04/29/2005 - 14:23

Thanks for these comments guys. I think this shows that I would be better off spending the money on a new Coles and getting the old U87 onto eBay. We will probably sell our M149 as well, because we simply hardly ever use it. I guess, because most of our work uses stereo mics. The main pair is certainly the basis of our work.

Sonarerec Tue, 04/26/2005 - 17:14

Congrats on your acquisition! When you have a bit of cash consider sending your 87 to Klaus Heyne at German Masterworks-- it will return sounding so much like a tube 67 you almost won't believe it.

Rich

Exsultavit Sat, 04/30/2005 - 00:33

David-

You mention that your main pair is the basis of your work. Could you remind me what you are using?

A Coles ribbon is a totally different animal than an 87-- modded or no, as I'm sure you are aware.

As said, Klaus' work isn't cheap, and I guess his rates (as noted by John Stafford here) have risen since I have worked with him last. One of the great mic workmen, though. I'd love a Brauner KHE (or a pair!) myself!

Exsultavit

Profile picture for user nehpyh

nehpyh Thu, 04/28/2005 - 09:40

John Stafford wrote: Hi folks
I took delivery of a U87ai today, and I must say I absolutely love it. I got it very cheaply, and I decided to take a shot. This mic has had so much bad stuff written about it, and I was really surprised by how good it is. My impression is that, while it doesn't paint the most accurate picture, it paints a very convincing one. I REALLY like this mic. It has much less noise than I expected, although there is a little bit of hum, I think I can fix that.

Having said all that, my beloved AT4060 need not feel jealous, although I do have to send it back to AT as it has developed a noise problem.

Anyone here have a favourite use for an 87, apart from as a doorstop? I haven't used one of these for years, and I thought I might be disappointed, given the number of nice mics I've heard since then.

John

Congrats,

Have you got the chance to compare the U87 with a Soundelux U195?

btw, where did you get it and how cheap?

nehpyh

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JoeH Sat, 04/30/2005 - 10:57

David, you bring up an excellent point....'hardly ever use it". That's been a concern of mine for many of these wonderful, lovely, esoteric mics. WHEN will I use them, and what kind of return would I get on my investment? (As much as I wish it were otherwise, NOT enough to justify such an indulgence. YET :wink: )

I wish I could afford a Klaus Heine modifcation, really. Most certainly, I'd love to have a dozen or so truly world-class mics in my collection. But since I primarily do remote work, and considering how and where they would be used (many in stereo pairs, and 90% of the time out on location), I'd get the willies letting anyone else touch them, and I'd never be able to let them out of my sight (and certinaly NEVER leave them set up on a remote overnight, etc.)

I have two mic road cases now (one for each live rig) and they are almost handcuffed to us now as it is. (Not unlike the blues-brothers black leather bag for their harmonicas.... 8) ) Whenever we leave a system setup overnight (or even later in the day), the mic cases & contents come WITH us; they're frankly worth more than the rest of the rig combined. (I did a guick quess one day of the value of the contents my little 19" x 12" x 5" mic case, and figured $10k, easily.

If I were to start adding to that with $4k to $10k mics that would be only rarely used, it begins to feel like I'm hauling around the equivalent of a safety deposit box to every gig. Of course, in-house stuff and studio work certainly helps justfify one or two really exotic "keeper" microphones....

But, the collector & geek in me STILL says: If you're ever considering selling any of those mics, contact any of us privately before you go to ebay. 8-)

DavidSpearritt Sat, 04/30/2005 - 14:48

Exsultavit, we have quite a few "main pairs", KM130, B&K4003, Schoeps MK2, for omnis, KM184's for ORTF, Schoeps MS pair, Schoeps MK8 pair, AKG C426, Royers SF24 and SF12 for bumlein pairs, but I was thinking about buying two of the Coles 4040's for use as both spots and as another "pair" used in a Faulkner array or as pure Blumlein.

I borrowed a Coles 4040 from the supplier last year and had it as a spot on a gig for a school choir. We miked a glockenspiel and a young female vocalist, it was one of the most breathtaking sounds I have heard from a spot mic, warm, detailed, and air, but also because it was a fig8, it had room in the sound as well, ie wasn't dry like a cardioid spot.

JoeH, you touch on a very important point for us, is it worth buying bits of gear that you never use. This is definitely the case with the M149, we purchased it, new, after listening to it, but could only afford one of them, but it was an unbelievable sound. This was about 7 years ago, just when they came out. But we have used it only about 5 times and often don't take it to gigs, due to worry about it getting damaged and most of the time it is simply not the best choice.

I would probably not use it as one half of a main pair, as its too big, heavy for high stands etc, small diaphram is better for coincident arrays etc. As spots go, since we only ever seem to have very little of spots in the mix, having a 6.5 grand mic do that seems overkill.

If we have a female soloist, we would lower the SF24 main pair and balance her through that etc.

So it is with some significant regret that we sell the M149, but we need pairs more than we need such animals, and if the pairs are good enough they can be split and used as spots.

We are looking at getting some other flavoured "pairs" (pears!) like the MKH Sennheisers, the Coles 4040, the new little active Schoeps fig 8's etc.

So I think I'll leave Klaus's mods for another time and place and mic. If I was running a voice over studio, (thankfully not), then the M149 and one of Klaus's Brauners might seem attractive.

We are tending to rent any gear now that we do not use often, and only buying stuff we use all the time, and this is not just restricted to mikes. But I reckon you can never have enough "main pairs" for an acoustic recording kit.

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maintiger Wed, 04/27/2005 - 08:43

John Stafford wrote: Thank you gentlemen!
There's something wonderful about it that I can't describe. With other mics that I own and love I can describe what I love about them, but this one isn't really like that. It's absolutely amazing on speech, and has a wonderful sense of clarity.
John

yes, there is definitely something magical an unique about the U87-
It just does something for vox that is truly special. The fact that it is an universally recognized landmark for recording (especially vocals) attest to that. Every studio worth its salt has an u87 (as well as a sm57, of course) there aren't too many more mics like that, if at all. 8) Of course the u87 has other uses too, like Oh, brass, guitar, piano, etc- but the fact that it makes the Voice sound so special its what has given it its well deserved reputation

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