The Neumann U87Ai is possibly the most famous and widely used vocal mic in the world, and for good reason. Not merely does it deliver a solid, well-defined (accurate?) sound with an enhanced lower mid (perfect for many voices) but the U87Ai inspires confidence in vocalists, who feel comfortable performing in front of a microphone they know, either from past use or from the countless photos and videos they’ve seen.
And this makes it the number one choice for any commercial facility. Irrespective of application, visiting engineers, artists and producers will always be happy if a Neumann U87Ai is on hand for vocals. Indeed, I often say it’s everyone’s second favourite vocal mic – everyone has their own first choice, but if that’s not available for a session, nine out of ten cats will happily settle for the Neumann U87Ai.
When Neumann first introduced the U67, they could have had little idea that its successor (the solid state Neumann U87) would go on to dominate the world of vocal recording in studios worldwide. Why has it been so succesful? Quite simply, it delivers consistent results session after session after session.
I often say that the Neumann U87Ai is everyone's second favourite mic. In that we all have a different first favourite, the Neumann is a sure bet to put a smile onto any engineer's face. For this reason, it is an absolute essential for any commercial studio or studio with commercial pretensions. Sure, you may personally prefer a Brauner, a Geffell, a Milab (thank you, fans...) or even a 1950's RCA or Reslo, but when the client walks through the door, his engineer will automatically reach for the U87 unless he's bought his own vocal mic.
I often get customers calling who are dissapointed with the results they're getting from their 87. When I ask whether they're using the mic in cardioid or omni, they invariably say...'Cardioid, of course. I'm only singing into one side...' 'Ah...' me says, 'Next session, bang it onto omni.' They do and nine times out of eleven call me back to say how much better the sound is.
I learnt the hard way (by being embarrassed in front of a much better engineer). You see, multipattern mics put both diaphragms out of phase to achieve a single sided (cardioid) pattern, and this thins out the bottom end and lower mics, giving a flat, brittle sound. The main reason you should run a multpattern mic in cardioid is if you have crosstalk or bleed problems but for the best, full bodied sound, always use the omni position. Suddenly the mic comes alive and you realise...That's why the U87 has become an industry standard.
A great mic at a decent price. ~ Eccentric
Neumann U87 Studio Set , condenser studio microphone, omnidirectional/cardioid/figure-8, 10dB attenuation switch, classic mic for vocals/overhead use, incl.shockmount EA87 and wooden box for the U87
In a word: The Neumann classic. Three directional characteristics and switchable pre-attenuation ensure suitability for a wide range of applications.
The Neumann U87Ai is probably the best known and most widely used Neumann studio microphone. It is equipped with a large dual-diaphragm capsule with three directional patterns: omnidirectional, cardioid and figure-8. These are selectable with a switch below the headgrille.
A 10 dB attenuation switch is located on the rear. It enables the microphone to handle sound pressure levels up to 127 dB without distortion.
Furthermore, the low frequency response can be reduced to compensate for proximity effect.
Neumann U87Ai Applications
The U87Ai condenser microphone is a large diaphragm microphone with three polar patterns and a unique frequency and transient response characteristic.
Users recognize the microphone immediately by its distinctive design. It is a good choice for most general purpose applications in studios, for broadcasting, film and television.
The U87Ai is used as a main microphone for orchestra recordings, as a spot mic for single instruments, and extensively as a vocal microphone for all types of music and speech.
- For universal use
- The classical studio mic for vocalists (soloists and background vocalists)
- Announcer's mic for broadcasting, dubbing, voice-over
- Spot mic for wind instruments, strings (especially cello and double bass), piano, percussion
Note: To record instruments with very high sound pressure levels we recommend our mics with TLM circuitry
These are just some of the most common applications. We recommend additional experimentation to gain maximum use from this microphone.
Acoustic features of the Neumann U87Ai
The U 87 Ai is addressed from the front, marked with the Neumann logo. The frequency response of the cardioid and figure-8 directional characteristics are very flat for frontal sound incidence, even in the upper frequency range. The microphone can be used very close to a sound source without the sound becoming unnaturally harsh. By means of a high-pass filter interferences through subsonic and low frequencies are reduced remarkably.
Polar patterns of the U87Ai
The dual-diaphragm capsule is elastically mounted and protected by a large headgrille. A switch below the headgrille selects the three directional patterns: omnidirectional, cardioid and figure-8. A window above this switch shows the symbol of the selected characteristic.
Electrical features of the Neumann U87Ai
The letter A in the name indicates a more recent generation, as compared to the U 87 i microphones that were built from 1967 to 1986. Modifications apply to the electronic components of the microphone only; the capsule remained unchanged.
The present-day circuitry increases the operational headroom of the U 87 Ai by supplying the bias voltages for the capsule through a reduced resistance. The result is a higher sensitivity of 10 dB for identical sound pressure levels, and an improved S/N ratio of 3 dB.
Filter and attenuation
A switch located at the rear attenuates the sensitivity by 10 dB. When this switch is activated, the microphone accepts sound pressure levels up to 127 dB (equivalent to a sound pressure of 45 Pa) without distortion.
An additional switch at the rear allows to change the microphone's cutoff frequency. This reduces low frequency interference directly at the input of the microphone amplifier.
This setting also compensates for the unavoidable bass boost that occurs with all pressure gradient transducers when they are used at close distance (proximity effect).
The cardioid characteristic maintains a smooth frequency response at a distance of 30 to 40 cm, the figure-8 characteristic even at a distance of 15 to 20 cm.
Neumann U87Ai Stereo Set - What's in the box.
- 2 x Microphone U 87 Ai (mt)
- 2 x Elastic suspension EA 87 (mt)
- 2 x Dust cover
- Aluminium case