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U87 V £200 condenser

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U87 V £200 condenser

Postby WiredUp » Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:55 am

I'm well aware of the Classic U87 but I can't justify spending nearly two grand on a mic.
I'm amazed at the quality of condensers to be had for £200 so for those of you who do use U87's and similar, one might assume, based on pricing that something like a Rode NT1 would be about 10% as good as a U87 but in reality wouldn't the difference be much more subtle, maybe 70-80%?

Surely a 60's designed mic can be duplicated at a fraction of the price today just like every other product on the market? I'm trying to convince myself that I don't need to spend mega bucks.
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby Bob Bickerton » Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:16 am

There are £200 mics that are 100% as good as a U87 on a particular source, but they might only be 10% on other sources. Apparently a U87 might get you within 80% on most voices, which is where its strength lies. In other words it's to do with flexibility. Percentages are meaningless anyway, you can either use the mic to gain satisfactory results or not.

The recent vocal mic comparison tests in an SOS article demonstrate this very well. No single mic was the ultimate solution. My approach is to have a range of mics and match to the voice or instrument accordingly. For the price of a U87 you could buy a TLM103, TLM193, SM7 or RE20 and an MK4 - guess what I'd rather have. (obviously all cardioid as opposed to multi-pattern like the U87)

NT1 is a poor example by the way. I'd rate the Sennheiser MK4 way better.

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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby The Elf » Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:18 am

A Ferrari and a Skoda can both get you to the shops.

My advice is to look for a mic that will do the job for the budget you've set and relax about how it compares to a U87 - it's a fairly pointless comparison.

The U87 is what it is and costs what it costs. It's a classy, consistent and reliable mic, and if your income depends on it then it's cost is justifiable, even if its value for money is questionable.

I use a great many mic's of all prices. An MD441 is nothing like a U87, but it gets almost as much use as a vocal mic by me, and my 50 quid EV635A is close on both their heels in the number of times it sees action. Neither mic sounds like a U87, but it doesn't stop me producing records with them.
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:31 am

if you have just 1 mic, then make it a U87... in the long run you'll have far less work to do while mixing.... and get consistently better results.

you could consider it to be the high end studio equivalent of the Live sound engineer's SM58

solid workhorse, sounds good enough on the vast majority of sources, and a known quantity in terms of it's sound, requiring less frantic work with EQ ....


but i wouldn't ever CHOOSE TO HAVE JUST 1 MIC....


nor would i say you can replace such a good all rounder with a £200 mic and expect to get similar results.. you cannot... they do not ,......


and pray tell me why you think it should be possible to reproduce a high quality world class professional item from the 60's for the equivalent of 1/6 the price today??? (or less) given that the vast majority of materials are more expensive today, and labour costs are definitely higher.... ???? and some people are not willing to farm out manufacture to less strictly controlled quality levels....



the NT1A has one strength however, that keeps it in the list of "good to have around" mics.... although i'm not a fan of it's tonality , finding it a bit hard an bright, almost brittle (but not as much as many other cheap condensers) , it IS extremely quiet..... and comes in handy when you need to record a very low level source.... as cleanly as possible....

but frankly that's about the only time i use it.
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby narcoman » Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:39 am

What has changed over the years is you can get mics (and other equipment) for moderate price that sounds good....... initially. That's all good - but unfortunately - the top quality still costs. There are no cheap mics that perform as well as the high end mics. Sound good? Yeah they DO sound quite good - but as I've constantly found, there is nothing but disappointment in the cheap end if you are looking for sublime quality. Good enough for making records? Of course. But good enough to get "THAT" sound?.... dunno man.... cheap doesn't cut it at that end. The perception of depth, the spectral euphony, all the subtle stuff that suddenly doesn't seem so subtle when you're trying to mix (but again, this is only apparent in the world of high end mixing).....

The only way to see is to try for yourself..... you'll get a lot of people claiming the opposite - but take it from someone who's used just about everything from big and little budgets...... money does tend to correlate with quality; not 100% though!! The flip side being - there is still good stuff at the low end.

in short.... try for yourself. If you can't hear the difference then choose the cheapest option. The differences only become apparent when you start chasing that special something - sonically. That still doesn't preclude finding a great song and great musicians and rooms to work in AND addressing your own sonic tail chasing (the thing we all do!!).
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby Jabba1 » Thu Dec 29, 2011 6:00 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:

NT1 is a poor example by the way. I'd rate the Sennheiser MK4 way better.

Bob

Managed to pick one of these up from Amazon UK just before Xmas for 199. Very very pleased with it.
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby RegressiveRock » Thu Dec 29, 2011 6:57 pm

WiredUp wrote:I'm well aware of the Classic U87 but I can't justify spending nearly two grand on a mic.
I'm amazed at the quality of condensers to be had for £200 so for those of you who do use U87's and similar, one might assume, based on pricing that something like a Rode NT1 would be about 10% as good as a U87 but in reality wouldn't the difference be much more subtle, maybe 70-80%?

Surely a 60's designed mic can be duplicated at a fraction of the price today just like every other product on the market? I'm trying to convince myself that I don't need to spend mega bucks.


Everything above is true: including the happiness of the guy with his Rode.

However, everything above is true. I carry few mikes and do a lot with them and I buy only quality having spunked piles of cash chasing unrealistic dreams of ubiquity. The swiss army mike is never the cheapest in the barrel (but also not necessarily the most expensive).

I am a fan of the Gefell UMT70S which streets at half the price of a U8Ai and is multi pattern and sounds great IN THE MIX rather than IN THE SHOP.

UMT70S review

You will find, I believe, that narcoman is a big fan of the Bock 251, another mike that offers a great deal of application for the budget.

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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby James Perrett » Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:30 pm

Personally I probably wouldn't go for a mid price U87 lookalike - there are good reasons for going for the real thing but there are also useful under £100 quid mics that are equally as useful as many £200-£600 quid mics. I have a few really good mics (including a U87) in my collection but also quite a few cheapies. The really good mics get used on most sessions but sometimes a cheap one gives exactly the sound required.

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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby RegressiveRock » Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:18 pm

James Perrett wrote:Personally I probably wouldn't go for a mid price U87 lookalike - there are good reasons for going for the real thing but there are also useful under £100 quid mics that are equally as useful as many £200-£600 quid mics. I have a few really good mics (including a U87) in my collection but also quite a few cheapies. The really good mics get used on most sessions but sometimes a cheap one gives exactly the sound required.

James.


Oh come on James, easy answer.

Lots of ubiquitous and unspecified niceness in the 2 - 6 C range.

I'd like to hear more, or do the elves deliver the mikes on demand? ;)

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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby christianmurphy » Sat Dec 31, 2011 1:28 am

The Elf wrote:
The U87 is what it is and costs what it costs.

Exactly. Big records have had vox recorded through an sm58. Just as loads of huge hits have guitars recorded on sm57s. £100. It is what it is, and costs what it costs!

Yes, there's plenty of good, cheap mics out there. No, they don't sound identical to a u87. IMO, a good £200 mic with the rest of the chain being high end gear and used properly, will sound barely different to the majority of listeners. The same way a U87 used with cheap gear won't sound too different to a £200 mic.

The question is, does the fact YOU will notice a difference, along with some tech guys bother you enough to spend that much?

Of course this isn't factoring in artists that INSIST on 'THAT' mic (u87 or not). If you don't give them one, they may not get even close to the vibe they would have.
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby Mixedup » Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:15 am

If I had £2k available to spend on a single mic at the moment, I can pretty much guarantee that I wouldn't be spending it on a U87. Great mic in so many ways, but even without going for the cheapo stuff, you could get a more versatile setup for that cash (eg C414 of some sort, a decent SDC and an RE20) or, in all probability, a far more appealing mic for a given vocalist. Also, think how many days (or sessions) of U87 hire from eg Richmond Film Services or FX you could get for the £2k you're talking about. I do like Neumann's mics, but a big chunk of what you pay for is the name, both in second hand (Microtech Gefell seem to go slightly cheaper) and new models.

£200 condenser... there are some corkers out there, but there's some crap as well. Most will give reasonable results with a bit of EQ, but that can be a pain in the arse. The speed and convenience is worth thinking about. Shame there wasn't a U87 on the SOS vocal mic shootout, but the AT2020 performed consistently well in loftier company than the U87, and AT do some more versatile variations on that within your budget.
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby narcoman » Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:30 am

Mixedup wrote:The speed and convenience is worth thinking about. Shame there wasn't a U87 on the SOS vocal mic shootout, but the AT2020 performed consistently well in loftier company than the U87, and AT do some more versatile variations on that within your budget.

.... but as is so often pointed out - testing mic's in isolation is next to useless..... it's what happens in the whole picture that matters.
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:32 am

I think the arguments about sound character and 'guaranteed good sound' have been well made -- although I would also stress the importance of the track sounding good in the mix rather than being impressive in isolation! However, there are other more business-related aspects in favour of the U87 and its peers too. Retention of value and long term servicability are important factors if you view your £2k as a business investment.

If you bought a U87 last year you'd be able to sell it again for virtually as much, and if you bought it a decade or two ago you'd be able to sell it for more than you paid for it. And one of the reasons for that is that the new purchaser knows he/she can get it serviced if needed easily and reliably, and for decades to come!

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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby The Elf » Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:41 am

One of the most magical aspects of the U87 for me is when you have many overdubs recorded with it. Using some cheap mic's you find that the weaknesses multiply, becoming more obvious the more tracks you have - the U87 sounds more and more 'right'. It's hard to put into words, but those that know what I'm on about will understand. I've never seen this aspect covered in a mic shoot-out.

narcoman wrote:.... but as is so often pointed out - testing mic's in isolation is next to useless..... it's what happens in the whole picture that matters.


Narco hits that nail squarely on its cranium.

If had 2k to spend on a mic I'd go for the U87Ai (the Ai - sounds ever so slightly nicer to me) again in a heartbeat - that mic has paid me back many fold and will continue to do so. It may not be worth the asking price as a piece of hardware, but it certainly is in the work it generates for me.
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby WiredUp » Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:18 pm

Well thanks for the advice guys. I'm certainly not in a position to buy a U87 but I had been wondering if you were simply paying for the name.
Manufacturing today has got pretty good for a lot less financial outlay. Take a copy of a Stratocaster for example, many Guitar brands now make copies and I would argue many are as good as the real thing but because it doesn't say Fender on the head its much much cheaper. My thinking was that the same must be true of Microphones but I take onboard all the points raised and see your reasons for thinking otherwise.

I guess for me the real problem is I don't know what the difference is between a U87 and a £200 condenser. I'm a musician and recording is something I do because I like working alone and can't afford studio time. I've never used a U87 so apart from its legendary status I really have no clue.
I am however looking to invest in some mics next year. Ultimately I want to capture a good sound at source and not be too concerned with fixing it in the mix.
What puzzles me is recently I got a fantastic recording of myself using a Rode NT5 on my Acoustic Guitar, and an original Rode NT1 on the voice. The recording was completely live and I have to say I think its as perfect a recording of myself as I could ever wish for.
Yesterday, I started recording a new song and the only difference was I had a capo at the 4th fret. Do you think I could get a decent sound out of the NT5. I recently purchased some beyerdynamic 880 pro headphones to help me with my mixing but also to help me with my mic placement. I tried for 3 hours to get a Guitar sound but nothing came close to the sound I got before. In the end I went to the corner of my room and faced a Bass trap and double tracked the Guitar. The result was ok but what a faff. At the end of the day I don't want to be an engineer, I'll leave that to you guys but I can only do what I can do and when it comes to microhpones I guess I am assuming I can get a better result with a different mic which I know maybe cods wallop.

I have a theory that weather/dampness affects sound which would explain why identical setups can differ in sound on different days. Sounds like a good excuse anyway :headbang:

Happy New year!
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby The Elf » Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:37 pm

From what you're saying it might be an idea to save the money you might spend on mic's, headphones, et al (given that you don't want to be an engineer) and use it to hire a bit of time in a pro studio on the occasions you need it?
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Dec 31, 2011 6:48 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:If you bought a U87 last year you'd be able to sell it again for virtually as much, and if you bought it a decade or two ago you'd be able to sell it for more than you paid for it. And one of the reasons for that is that the new purchaser knows he/she can get it serviced if needed easily and reliably, and for decades to come!


Very much the point I wanted to make as I read this thread. If you buy a decent one second hand then you'll have no problem selling for what you paid (including inflation) and you'll have had the use of it for free in the meantime. Obviously you have to be careful and certain when buying second hand, but I sort of get the impression few people maltreat U87s ...

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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby Mixedup » Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:49 pm

narcoman wrote:
Mixedup wrote:The speed and convenience is worth thinking about. Shame there wasn't a U87 on the SOS vocal mic shootout, but the AT2020 performed consistently well in loftier company than the U87, and AT do some more versatile variations on that within your budget.

.... but as is so often pointed out - testing mic's in isolation is next to useless..... it's what happens in the whole picture that matters.

Oh come on... matching a mic to the vocalist and then building a track around that is a valid approach in the 99% of tracks in which the vocal is the most important feature. I was merely pointing out that the AT2020 performed consistently well in those tests, and some of those tests *were* in the context of a track. It's simply an example of surprisingly good and versarile performance from a budget mic. There are plenty of poor cheap mics (and pricey ones too). There are plenty of mics that work well on some sources but lack versatility. That's not always a bad thing, of course.

Also, in terms of retaining value the U87 isn't out there on its own. A C414, C451, SM7, RE20, TLM103, M201 and many many more will hold their price. As will anything by MG, Schoeps, AEA etc etc. Not all mics do: a second hand Violet or SE mic (even RNR1) loses a lot of value if you buy new. But they do some very nice mics, and if you baga second hand bargain they'll hold their price too. U87 is a great, professional mic, and it has earned its reputation. But it's simply wrong to suggest that there are no viable alternatives which offer better value for money while retaining their value every bit as much as a U87.

Happy NY all, by the way :) :lol:
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby RegressiveRock » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:04 pm

Mixedup wrote:
narcoman wrote:
Mixedup wrote:The speed and convenience is worth thinking about. Shame there wasn't a U87 on the SOS vocal mic shootout, but the AT2020 performed consistently well in loftier company than the U87, and AT do some more versatile variations on that within your budget.

.... but as is so often pointed out - testing mic's in isolation is next to useless..... it's what happens in the whole picture that matters.

Oh come on... matching a mic to the vocalist and then building a track around that is a valid approach in the 99% of tracks in which the vocal is the most important feature. I was merely pointing out that the AT2020 performed consistently well in those tests, and some of those tests *were* in the context of a track. It's simply an example of surprisingly good and versarile performance from a budget mic. There are plenty of poor cheap mics (and pricey ones too). There are plenty of mics that work well on some sources but lack versatility. That's not always a bad thing, of course.

Also, in terms of retaining value the U87 isn't out there on its own. A C414, C451, SM7, RE20, TLM103, M201 and many many more will hold their price. As will anything by MG, Schoeps, AEA etc etc. Not all mics do: a second hand Violet or SE mic (even RNR1) loses a lot of value if you buy new. But they do some very nice mics, and if you baga second hand bargain they'll hold their price too. U87 is a great, professional mic, and it has earned its reputation. But it's simply wrong to suggest that there are no viable alternatives which offer better value for money while retaining their value every bit as much as a U87.

Happy NY all, by the way :) :lol:

I don't think anybody was suggesting the U87 is the ultimate mike or the only mike that will retain its price. ;) I think the point is that for day in, day out performance the multi-pattern LDCs that will fit the bill on the majority of occasions (and the other types of mikes that will typically always do a good if unassuming job) are limited in number and typically not the cheapest, (but also not the most expensive). It is their ability to fit the bill and do many jobs pretty well that supports their price at point of sale and at resale.

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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby Mixedup » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:02 am

I'd say that those things support the U87's reputation as a good, versatile and dependable workhorse mic - which it undoubtedly is. But I'd still argue that they don't justify the asking price, when compared with several other mics of similar quality and versatility, new or used. A lot of good things in this world are overpriced and this is one, IMHO. If you're happy to pay that then great - though I think you'd be mad not to get more for that money. If you're not, then there are perfectly good alternatives that cost half the price. Only trying to help OP and others looking for advice to get a balanced picture...
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby RegressiveRock » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:52 am

Mixedup wrote:Only trying to help OP and others looking for advice to get a balanced picture...

Of course MU!!! ;)

Equally, as I observed before, we all have our favourites. The Gefell I mentioned above streets at under £1,000 and has a lovely understated sound that works very well and benefits from a Neumann heritage and rights to Neumann heritage capsule designs. In fact, I think, leaving bang-for-buck to one side entirely, it is a better mike with a slightly better sound balance than modern U87Ais.

However, let's be frank, by the time you have gotten all of that sentence out of one's mouth, 80% of the buying public will be concerned about the lack of a diamond logo. I am lucky only to have to suit myself for some time now! :lol: Anyway, enough of my Gefell fetish.

The daft thing is that some of the Beyer MC range tend to lose their value whereas others amongst their M range standards do not. Yet select MC range mikes can hold their head up in very distinguished company.

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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby narcoman » Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:39 pm

Well - you get what you pay for. There are few mics under £1k that compares to the U87. Do many sound good? Certainly very useable.

Having said that - the U87 is far from my fave mic in it's price range. Going even higher I'm a Josephson C700 fan. Lot more than a U87 and worth every penny. there are certain things that mic brings (particularly in omni) that a U87 could NEVER bring. It's all about what you wnt to do and what you expect. The U87 is a quality piece - yes apparently over priced when people see what you can get for £500..... but used in earnest the differences in cost become apparent, for most mics (there are some great bargains out there but on the whole, price follow performance).

Of course - one needs to remember that you may not experience night/day differences when just using one mic on a vocal against an electronic pop track. But remember - that isn't all recording! What about Jack White drum sounds? Or QOTSA guitar sounds? OR Kronos Quartet string recordings? .... that "smoothness" that many recordings have unfortunately DOES come from high end equipment - and that's all we're really discussing here isn't it? Mic choice is one of our tonal choices in making recordings.... and some just cost money! The U87 is far from the best or most expensive mic in my tool box. But it's also far from the cheapest and far from the most used.

Is a U87 worth the money? As much as any other mid to high end piece, although I'm sure there is a couple of hundred quid on the name itself. Only the individual can say!! I wouldn't recommend getting a U87 for the home user if he/she doesn't have the rest of the package to support it.... would be a bit pointless! Even more so if the goal is a vocal on an electronic pop song.... the advantages just don't present themselves under those uses.....


and pound for pound against Neumann ? - Gefell every time.
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby Mixedup » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:37 pm

narcoman wrote:the U87 is far from my fave mic in it's price range...

Which is what I, albeit in a wordy, round about way, was trying to say.

pound for pound against Neumann ? - Gefell every time.

As is that.

And do the 80% of buyers mentioned above *really* give a **** about the logo? If the alternatives are known and trusted brands and models that hold their price just as well, I'm not convinced they do. Well... not that many, at any rate ;)
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby RegressiveRock » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:45 pm

Mixedup wrote:
narcoman wrote:the U87 is far from my fave mic in it's price range...

Which is what I, albeit in a wordy, round about way, was trying to say.

pound for pound against Neumann ? - Gefell every time.

As is that.

And do the 80% of buyers mentioned above *really* give a **** about the logo? If the alternatives are known and trusted brands and models that hold their price just as well, I'm not convinced they do. Well... not that many, at any rate ;)

I am very proud of the fact I make up all my statistics on he spot. More pertinently, if you can hand on heart tell me that you didn't go through a phase where you found yourself tempted by Neumann's reputation when buying mikes over your own ears then you are genuinely a better man than me and I doff my virtual hat to you: I might even use the term, "Sirrah!" if required.

Nice to see Gefell getting the big love in any case. ;)

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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby Mixedup » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:06 pm

RegressiveRock wrote: if you can hand on heart tell me that you didn't go through a phase where you found yourself tempted by Neumann's reputation when buying mikes over your own ears

I did it once... and within 2 months had swapped it for something else ;)

Nice to see Gefell getting the big love in any case. ;)

Plenty of love for many Neumanns too... it's just that for the same money I love other things, including MG, rather more!
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby narcoman » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:10 pm

all groovey - my point would be, though, you can't get a U87 equivalent for £200. Not to say you can't get useable stuff..... I read an interview a couple of months ago with one of the current pop crowd - proudly proclaiming the cheap mic.

...and that's exactly what it sounded like. :D
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby jaminem » Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:31 pm

Been waiting to come in on this thread. Really until I had something to offer. So come on big guns, you keep saying there are some great sub £200 mics and some shonky £500 plus ones, well what are they? I think that may be more use to the OP than discussing the relative merits of Neumann, MG et all...

Or is that just boring?
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby Mixedup » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:45 pm

narcoman wrote:all groovey - my point would be, though, you can't get a U87 equivalent for £200. Not to say you can't get useable stuff..... I read an interview a couple of months ago with one of the current pop crowd - proudly proclaiming the cheap mic.

...and that's exactly what it sounded like. :D

100% with you on that. There is no £200 substitute.

My point is that there are nonetheless substitutes that cost rather less than the U87, and that if you gave me £2000 to spend sorting a versatile, high-quality mic for a small project setup, I reckon I could quite easily get several mics that together would cover the U87 thing *and* offer things the U87 can't. And they wouldn't sound cheap :tongue:
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:28 pm

RegressiveRock wrote:

Oh come on James, easy answer.

Lots of ubiquitous and unspecified niceness in the 2 - 6 C range.

I'd like to hear more, or do the elves deliver the mikes on demand? ;)


I've had plenty of magic recordings from an SM58 or Beyer M300. I've also had great sounds from C1000's which many may find hard to believe. I may be out of touch but I feel that many of the mics in the 200-600 range are just slightly tweaked versions of their cheaper brethren available in the Thomann T.Bone range or other straight rebrands of the Chinese OEM ranges. I'd rather not pay for the marketing thanks very much. I would probably then chat to a friendly mic expert that I know for ideas on a few budget tweaks to make the cheap mic sound better ;).

In my case, I spent years running a small commercial studio where clients were on tight budgets and just couldn't afford the time for an engineer to do a mic shootout. I had to choose a mic that I knew would work and hence the U87 came out fairly often.

James.
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Re: U87 V £200 condenser

Postby uphillbothways » Tue Jan 03, 2012 6:37 pm

It's useful to consider a more fundamental question - what do we mean when we say a microphone sounds good?

If we were simply looking for a precise, neutral reproduction of the source, we'd all be using measurement microphones. Rather than thinking of microphones as simple transducers, it's more useful to think of them as sound-shaping tools. We're exploiting the particular quirks of a microphone's sound for creative effect.

Viewed in this light, it's easier to understand the role the U87 fills. Regardless of it's inherent merits, it's likely to sound good simply because of ubiquity. Like an 1176 or an LA2A, the sound is familiar and comfortable, both for the listener and for the engineer. The U87 may be inherently versatile, or it may be that we simply perceive it as versatile because we're used to hearing it on a variety of sources. Regardless of the reason, the U87 is more generally usable than most budget mics.

It's a similar phenomenon to vintage guitar amps - an emulation can sound bad not because of any inherent merits, but simply by sounding like an emulation. Sounds that are familiar but not quite right are unnerving, like a photo in a magazine that's been photoshopped a bit too far.
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