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if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

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if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby parkie » Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:55 pm

I'm looking to purchase a condenser mic for recording vocals, i currently have an SE2200A and want something better. I've been using a U87 recently and like the results, is there anything cheaper that would do a similar job? my budget is £4-500 and i may do second hand.

what d'you suggest

cheers

p
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby Ted Kendall » Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:40 pm

I think you've answered your own question there - second hand U87, or U89 if one comes up. The ubiquity of these mics is for a very good reason, which you have discovered for yourself - they work.
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby Aural Reject » Sat Mar 27, 2010 8:10 pm

How often do you envisage using it? They're cheap enough to hire if it's not that frequent....
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby Jack Ruston » Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:03 am

The brauner phantera is (despite its silly name) a better mic (IMO) than the 87ai. The basics version sells for 900 so in theory you might find one used within
your budget. The problem is that they're brilliant, so nobody ever sells them.

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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby Steve Hill » Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:27 am

I've never even seen a used U87 for much less than abut £750. Your budget is an "awkward" price point where I'm not sure you'll get anything radically better than say a £300 LDC mic (of which there are many), whereas if you save up a bit more you're getting into the quality end of the market.

You'd get a new AKG C414, but that's a very personal decision as to whether it suits your voice. They are multi-pattern and useful for lots of other things though.
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:45 am

Groove Tubes Gt67.

lovely.


but a bar-steward to get hold of.

multi pattern tube mic.... with a definitely classy sound, several leagues above it's price point.

*note, it aint cheap , but it's cheaper than the U87*
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby Jack Ruston » Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:53 pm

Yeah...GT67...good mic indeed. Different to an 87 but a good classy sounding vocal mic certainly.

I think Steve's right in that you are in a slightly funny area price-wise. I dont think a 414 is going to do what you want. Dont fall into the trap of buying a TLM103 as a 'poor man's 87'.

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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby Original Jambo » Sun Mar 28, 2010 4:49 pm

Is the AKG Solidtube not a solid performer?
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby parkie » Sun Mar 28, 2010 6:44 pm

any thoughts on the TLM 102, SOS gives it the thumbs up in the january edition.

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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby Grantsos » Sun Mar 28, 2010 7:37 pm

Original Jambo wrote:Is the AKG Solidtube not a solid performer?


I've used 'em a few times...
They're "OK", but twitchy as to what they work well on, IME.

I too like the Brauners, but on a budget my inclination is towards the AT LDC's, with the right pre.

I must say the TLM102 "looks" promising on paper... As far as it being worth putting on the audition-list goes.
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby Steve Hill » Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:38 pm

Don't think the GT67 is still made... the Groove Tubes range seems to be all over the place at the moment. If you can get a used one, go for it.

I have an AKG SolidTube. It's a very "characterful" mic... you'll love it or hate it, probably. I would not want it as my main lead vocal mic. But I've used it as one of the mics three backing singers use (the other two being U87s!) to good effect to give that voice a different character and help it sit in the final mix.

It's improvable with a couple of well known mods (check the web), but it still oozes character thereafter.
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby The Elf » Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:38 pm

parkie wrote:if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?
In my case, nothing. Until I could afford a U87. Some things are simply worth waiting for...
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby Guest » Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:08 pm

Secondhand Beyerdynamic MC740.
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:34 am

Recently put a second hand U87 up against my armory of mics, 1969 model, fully reconditioned by a professional a few years back and I wasn't as impressed as my expectations had led me to believe! I can understand how they are used to 'cut through' a rock mix but this mic was particularly lacking in bottom end. I could achieve a very similar sound with my CAD M9 with the low cut filter in (U87 LC out) and a surprisingly similar sound from the SM7 LC in and HF lift in.

Maybe it was compromised by age?

Bob

Oh I wouldn't go near an AKG Solidtube, very coloured and low-fi
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby The Elf » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:41 am

It could well have been a duffer, Bob. There's certainly no lack of bottom end in a normal U87.

It’s a fairly ordinary sounding mic in isolation. I also wondered what the fuss was about when I first used one. Initially I appreciated its ability to get an intimate, breathy, up-front vocal sound.

It was when I began working with the mix that I truly started to appreciate its worth.

You’re right about rock vocals - dance vocals quite often, too. Sometimes you have to deliberately bury a lead vocal into the mix to create the right sense of energy around it. In this context a U87 (assuming a good recording) still sounds balanced and classy. Heavy compression and bright EQ are no problem – as long as you can hear the sound you captured you can still hear every nuance of the performance.

It’s really hard to explain, but it makes sense when you hear it.

The effect is also cumulative. If I know there are going to be many layered vocal parts in a song then I’ll put up the U87 to record all of them, since I know I’m going to have less of a fight on my hands later – again, especially with heavy compression and/or EQ.

It’s still my ‘safe’ option mic. I’ve had great results with other mic’s, but nothing that sounds so consistently ‘right’. If it has a failing, for me it is with some female vocals, where it can sound a bit shrill if they are really belting it out.
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby James Perrett » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:01 am

The Elf wrote:
It was when I began working with the mix that I truly started to appreciate its worth.

I'd strongly agree with that. It isn't always impressive at first hearing but it gets the job done better than most.

Cheers

James.
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Mar 29, 2010 10:30 am

I suspect the old U87 I had in recently may have had issues. I had another in the studio sometime ago and remember it being different, but didn't have the opportunity to compare it to other mics at the time.

I'm a bit of a skeptic regarding 'industry standards' and like to try things for myself, so perhaps I should keep an open mind on the 87, given my recent experience may have been tainted!

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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby John Willett » Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:34 pm

parkie wrote:I'm looking to purchase a condenser mic for recording vocals, i currently have an SE2200A and want something better. I've been using a U87 recently and like the results, is there anything cheaper that would do a similar job? my budget is £4-500 and i may do second hand.

what d'you suggest



That price is what the new Neumann TLM 102 sells for.


Image Image

Paul White's review is HERE.
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby narcoman » Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:04 pm

In that price range for a large diaphragm condenser I'd look at:

Bock 195 (about £600 in the UK, but you'll have a job finding one. The best condesner bar none under £1000)
Shure KSM44
Shure KSM32


I like the none TLM Neumann stuff - but I'm not keen on the TLM stuff at all. I THINK Microtech G do a decent condenser at not much more than this price point.
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby narcoman » Sun Apr 04, 2010 9:27 pm

....charter oak make some nice low priced stuff too
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby jazzmoose » Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:31 pm

Jack - why do you advise against the TLM103 as a poor man's U87?

The SOS review compares it pretty well in terms of performance so on face value it would seem to be the obvious choice (if the 2nd hand market isn't throwing any bones)?

Thanks.

https://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jun98/ ... umann.html
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby narcoman » Mon Apr 05, 2010 3:10 pm

I'll throw an answer:

All of the current Neumann stock is pretty good BUT ALL of it overpriced compared to rival products. There seems to be a certain amount of "trading on the name". Good example - the U87ai for me is basically a £1200 mic sold at £1800 or thereabouts.....

The TLM stuff is NOT up to par with the upper range gear within Neumann and is still overpriced at their market place. I've got quite a lot of Neumann mics - and many others (although Steves got better !! ) - and when comparing within price points the Neumanns lose IMO. Since that review was written (many years now) a number of manufacturers have come along and made much better mic's at similar or cheaper price points. Bock being one of them!
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Apr 05, 2010 3:41 pm

narcoman wrote:All of the current Neumann stock is pretty good BUT ALL of it overpriced compared to rival products.

I can see why that argument is often made, but with the greatest respect I think it is an overly simplistic and shortsighted claim to make.

I'm certainly not going to argue that Neumann products aren't expensive -- they generally are and in some cases even I think some accessories (in particular) are ludicrously over-priced beyond all reason.

However, companies like Neumann, Schoeps, AKG, Audio Technica, SoundField, Microtech Gefell and others are all re-investing significant proportions of their profits back into R&D in a way which few if any of their lower cost rivlas are doing.

Essentially what is happening is that those newer, low cost companies are using existing and therefore relatively low cost technologies and components to produce perfectly decent and affordable mics. And that initially looks very attractive to the consumer and end user.

But they haven't eveloped those technologies over five decades. They just buy up existing bits anbd plug them together to make something that sounds okay and can sell at a low(ish) price. And with some clever marketing they can actually still make very healthy shareholder profits too... But they don't generally reinvest those profits in the technology.

What this approach actually does is starve the more R&D-focussed and engineering-led companies from generating the funds through well established products to reinvest in R&D. SO the new, cheap companies aren't doing it, and increasingly the old engineering-led companies can't afford to.

The outcome doesn't look great for improving the technical standing of the industry, and the end result is an inevitable spiral downwards into adequate but ever cheaper products rather than technologically advanced products.

We all end up eating at McDonalds because no one can afford to pay for decent chefs in decent restaurants anymore! Okay -- extreme example, but hopefully you get my drift.

That perspective obviously won't bother the bedroom studio producer who only wants a nice sounding cheap mic to record their amateur strumming and crooning for their metoob tweeter web pages. But it concerns me and all those who still believe in improving quality through technological advancement.

As an example of how the microphone industry is still developing (and to deny those frequently heard claims that microphones became a mature technology in the 1970s!), consider this fantastic new shotgun mic from Schoeps.

It combines the latest interference tube advancements (of which there have been several in the last five years or so) with multiple capsules and sophisticated digital signal processing.

Audio Technica worked on something broadly similar a decade ago before the technology really worked sufficiently well, but they did the early trail-blazing. The Trinnov SRP takes the smae basic ideas much further and I'm sure this will be the basis of many future stereo and surround microphone systems.

The outcome of Schoeps' R&D is a mic which is leagues better than anything previously on offer in this genre of microphone in terms of its directionality and precise broadband off-axis frequency response.

http://digital.schoeps.de/en/products/supercmit


Neumann, Sennheiser, Schoeps (and others) are all investing heavily in developing digital microphones. All investing in reducing microphone capsule distortion mechanisms and improving bandwidth, signal to noise and other technically challenging aspects of microphone performance.

If no one had invested in R&D when the music industry started at the turn of the last century we'd still be using windup gramophones and thorn needles....

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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby oggyb » Mon Apr 05, 2010 3:48 pm

What is it about the Bock mic that sets it apart from the Neumanns? What about Elf's "it sits in the mix" argument?

Edit: Hugh, that Schoeps CMIT mic sounds a lot like some of the esoteric audiophile gear we scoff at. Luckily the audio demos speak for themselves!
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby Steve Hill » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:57 pm

narcoman - I think the UK perspective of Neumann's "overpricing" is more than slightly coloured by the pound's pathetic crash in value against the euro in the last couple of years!

I was not unhappy, about five years ago, to pick up a new pair of KM184s for about £600. They're about a grand now...
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby RegressiveRock » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:12 pm

oggyb wrote:What is it about the Bock mic that sets it apart from the Neumanns? What about Elf's "it sits in the mix" argument?

The Bock's selling point is its flexibility.
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby narcoman » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:16 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
narcoman wrote:All of the current Neumann stock is pretty good BUT ALL of it overpriced compared to rival products.


I can see why that argument is often made, but with the greatest respect I think it is an overly simplistic and shortsighted claim to make.

Hugh


I actually exclusively point this at Neumann alone. Not the other mic manufacturers {even the ones under the same company wing}. The U87ai just isn't a £1800 mic' even though it fiscally is!!! Even with falling pound prices - there are other mics of much lower price but similar capabilities. The Microtech Gefell stuff being a great example. There have been so many corners cut in Neumanns R&D.... witness the KM184. A supposed replacement for the KM84...... but it's just not in the league. It's a cheap sounding mic' trading on the name of it's forefather. Schoeps? Every mic' they make is worth every penny they sell for.

The D series stuff - interesting and good. Well priced as well.... but not for me.

The M150 and M14 - excellent mics. Price rather not relevant since all of the rival stuff is of a similar price point too.

But the U87, TLM range and KM stuff are overpriced for what they are. There are better options...... KM184? I'd rather go for Mercenarys KM 6nine {nine key is dead here!!} or the Josephson 42 mic. Cheaper AND better.

TLM? Honestly - go for a Rode over them. Or one of the Se range......
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby narcoman » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:18 pm

Steve Hill wrote:narcoman - I think the UK perspective of Neumann's "overpricing" is more than slightly coloured by the pound's pathetic crash in value against the euro in the last couple of years!

I was not unhappy, about five years ago, to pick up a new pair of KM184s for about £600. They're about a grand now...


True - but put your 84s up against the 184s..... Which do you love ?

Neumann still make good mics' but they've hiked the price because they can. I say again - the U87ai is not an £1800 mic'!!
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby RegressiveRock » Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:20 pm

narcoman wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:
narcoman wrote:All of the current Neumann stock is pretty good BUT ALL of it overpriced compared to rival products.

I can see why that argument is often made, but with the greatest respect I think it is an overly simplistic and shortsighted claim to make.

Hugh

I actually exclusively point this at Neumann alone. Not the other mic manufacturers {even the ones under the same company wing}. The U87ai just isn't a £1800 mic' even though it fiscally is!!! Even with falling pound prices - there are other mics of much lower price but similar capabilities. The Microtech Gefell stuff being a great example. There have been so many corners cut in Neumanns R&D.... witness the KM184. A supposed replacement for the KM84...... but it's just not in the league. It's a cheap sounding mic' trading on the name of it's forefather. Schoeps? Every mic' they make is worth every penny they sell for.

The D series stuff - interesting and good. Well priced as well.... but not for me.

The M150 and M14 - excellent mics. Price rather not relevant since all of the rival stuff is of a similar price point too.

But the U87, TLM range and KM stuff are overpriced for what they are. There are better options...... KM184? I'd rather go for Mercenarys KM 6nine {nine key is dead here!!} or the Josephson 42 mic. Cheaper AND better.

TLM? Honestly - go for a Rode over them. Or one of the Se range......

and

narcoman wrote:
Steve Hill wrote:narcoman - I think the UK perspective of Neumann's "overpricing" is more than slightly coloured by the pound's pathetic crash in value against the euro in the last couple of years!

I was not unhappy, about five years ago, to pick up a new pair of KM184s for about £600. They're about a grand now...

Sorry Hugh before you (quite rightly) come back on this, a few points not just to stir the pot but a little experience (including from my second-hand dealing operations of a few years back):

1) I'd not wholly agree with this: the TLM 170 and 193 are both useful mikes, in my view; and
2) I've owned 2 KM184s at various times and have not liked the experience either time. I've had several pass through my hand whilst... (sniff)... "dealing" and people want them because of the name, but they are just too toppy. The Beyerdynamic MC930 in that type of sound is both much cheaper and much classier: a mike we both like is the Gefell M300 which retains the class and subtle top end of the KM84 and in my view knocks the KM184 into the long grass; and
3) I know I'm a Gefell fan so I'll give it a rest on that subject ; and
4) I've never lusted after the U87Ai, the TLM103 or the TLM127 and I tested them all before buying my matched pair of Gefell M930s. The off axis rejection is great but they still have a hype I find unpleasant!

Just me - just my taste: but I don't really like 'em and there are other manufacturers out there doing a better job. Furthermore, I don't think anybody can accuse people like Gefell of not putting the long term investment in. Their valve mikes are sublime and they even make some of 'em P48 and hence more immediate for the enthusiast with deep pockets. I just wish I had the budget right now to be able to buy (and hold on to) them.

As for the "copiers": they all have to start somewhere. I don't want Neumann to go away, but I do want them to do better when they want my hard-earned cash.

Reg
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Re: if you can't afford a U87 what do you buy?

Postby oggyb » Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:35 pm

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/apr06/a ... mgm300.htm

Reg, I concur that the M300 sounds very snazzy in comparison to the KMs. I will remember this.
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