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Neumann U87 AI Microphone Review

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Georg Neumann GmbH — known popularly as Neumann — is a German company that was founded in 1928. In the decades since, it’s achieved almost legendary status as one of the premier microphone manufacturers in the world. Neumann’s microphones are known for their rich sound, incredible detail, and fantastic depth, but they also come with a caveat— the price. 

In Neumann’s case, you pay for quality. The vintage Neumann U67 Tube Condenser Microphone, now out of print, is also known as the most expensive microphone in the world. It’s particularly prized for its unique, vintage sound, and secondhand versions can cost upwards of USD$ 10,000.

The original Neumann U87 mic was released in 1967, and was meant to be a successor to the famous U67. Thanks to its distinct sound signature, it’s considered by many to be the best condenser microphone of the 60s. For many professionals, the Neumann U87 microphones have the honor of being the world’s favorite large diaphragm condenser microphone. Its latest version, the U87 AI, was released in 1986, and is an essential element in studios all around the world.

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About the Neumann U87AI Microphone

 

Directional Pattern

Omnidirectional, cardioid, figure-8

Frequency Range

20 Hz … 20 kHz

Sensitivity at 1 kHz into 1 kohm

20/28/22 mV/Pa ± 1 dB (Omni/cardioid/8)

Rated Impedance

200 ohms

Rated load impedance

1 kohms

When it comes to a studio standard, there’s no mic more suited for the name than the Neuman U87. Neumann is an industry leader in terms of sound quality and depth, and manufacturers all over the world have attempted to replicate its famed condenser mics. The U87 microphone’s smooth and refined sound make it an asset for any studio, and its sound has shaped recordings for the past half-century.

The U87 AI has three directional patterns: ominidirectional, cardioid, and figure-of-eight, which allow it to be used in a variety of recording settings. While the Neumann U87 microphones are known as vocal mics, they also serve as excellent spot microphones for individual instruments. Its balanced audio response in each of its polar patterns allow it to record anything from acoustic guitars to a full orchestra with excellent detail and depth.

The U87 line has seen very few changes over the years, which just serves as a testament to how well its design has stood the test of time. Engineered as a front-address mic, it can be used to record close to the sound source without sounding unnatural. Its sensitivity to any sound allows it to construct a sound that’s as close to real and lifelike as you can get, but home studio users will need to ensure that their recording area is “clean” of any unnecessary noises.

Neumann U87 AI Microphone Pros

The Neumann U87 is a popular choice for sound engineers and recording artists all over the world thanks to a variety of factors. As a studio microphone, it’s versatile without being too gimmicky, and offers a consistent sound no matter which polar pattern you’ve selected. While its price may be off-putting to some, it’s absolutely worth the investment. Many audiophiles believe that if you were to only buy one microphone your entire life, it should be the Neumann U87 AI.

Classic Neumann Sound

Having been in use for 50 years and counting, the U87 line is known as the classic microphone line. Unlike recent offerings on the market, the U87 AI goes back to the roots of audio recording, offering a round sound with a low end that’s very smooth and present. It has a classic, warm sound that flatters practically any sound source, offering character while preserving realism. Plus, its versatility is such that the same unit can be used for anything from hard-hitting vocals to a full orchestra.

A Worldwide Standard

The Neumann U87 AI is undoubtedly one of, if not the, most famous microphones in the history of professional recording. It’s now known as the company’s flagship microphone, and its base design has been used to record legendary tracks from the 60s to the present. It’s continued to thrive because of its reliability and durability. Neumann offers quality, and when you purchase this mic you can be confident that you’re getting the same level of dependability that sound producers have relied on for decades.

What Type of Microphone is the Neumann U87?

The Neumann U87 is a large diaphragm condenser microphone, and has served as an industry standard for decades. Large diaphragm condenser microphones perform better when it comes to self-noise, and offer a lush response even if the singer moves farther or closer to the mic. They also make recordings sound more rich and vibrant, flattering most sound sources.

When Did Neumann Begin Making the U87?

George Neumann first came up with the original CMV3, also known as the Neumann Bottle, in 1928. In the 1960s, microphone manufacturers began to employ phantom power in their microphone designs and manufacturing. The U87 was introduced in 1967, and by the mid-1970s became an indispensable element in top recording studios around the world. The U87 AI was later released in 1986, and has become Neumann’s best known microphone.

What is the Difference Between the Neumann U87 and U87 Ai?

The original Neumann U87 was polarized at about 46V due to a lack of DC-DC converter. The U87 AI eventually replaced the 48V phantom power with a DC-DC converter, which led to a change in the microphone’s sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio. In some vocal recordings, the AI sounds more “open” at the top end, with a little more air when compared with the original U87. However, in most cases, the difference between the two is negligible.

The Crown Jewel of the Orchestra

The Neumann U87 AI is one of the highest quality studio microphones around, and its versatility and sound just can’t be beat. It’s been used as the main microphone for orchestra recordings, as well as a vocal microphone for music and speech. While its versatility makes it a favorite in the studio, the U87 AI truly shines when it’s recording vocals. It allows vocals to shine in the mix without getting overwhelmed, and has been the vocal microphone of choice on dozens of iconic records.

What People Are Saying

While its price can be a bit of a high ask, customers know that when they’re buying a Neumann they’re paying for quality. These microphones are hand-crafted in Germany by skilled technicians, and users all around the world can rest assured that these units can capture audio with confidence. The U87 AI provides recordings with warmth, clarity, and richness, making it the industry favorite for a reason.

Where to Buy the Neumann U87 AI Microphone

Almost anyone who’s worked with sound and audio engineering will tell you that you don’t need an expensive mic to make a quality track. However, when it comes to finding the mic to provide consistent, flattering, quality sound, the Neumann U87 AI has definitely got all bases covered. Serious producers and recording artists will tell you the same thing over and over again— this one’s a keeper. Find the best deals for the Neumann U87 AI Microphone here.

Sound Quality
10
Design
10
Features
9
Price
9

Summary

While it's certainly one of the pricier units on the market, serious artists and producers who are looking for a clear, consistent sound will love the Neumann U87 AI. It's the industry standard for a reason, and will shine in any studio set up. Period.

Total Rating

9.5
Naomi Feller

Originally from the East Coast, Naomi started singing as young as 3 years old. In her early teens Naomi made some embarrassing YouTube videos before settling on a love for Podcast editing. When she's not pouring over endless amounts of audio, she lends her expertise to us here at Shout4Music with her crystal clear and finely tuned microphone reviews.

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