Neumann U 87 Ai (Nickel)
The Neumann U 87 Ai Multi-Pattern Microphone (Nickel) is THE iconic studio standard 3-position, multi-pattern, solid-state, large-diaphragm condenser microphone. Easily the Swiss-Army Knife of condenser mics, the U 87's legendary look and performance have earned it a reputation that will sell studio time for whoever owns a pair. Versatility with reliable sonic performance, style, and confidence - all hallmarks which make the U 87 Ai the legendary microphone which it is.
The U 87 was really one of the first large diaphragm, solid-state condenser microphone to offer such a wide range of features and reliable sound quality and versatility to make it still to this day one of the most coveted microphones available. The distinctive design of the U 87 Ai (a continuation of concept beginning with the U 67 family, and then the original U 87i) make it immediately recognizable by even the most novice of musicians. As a result, listing a pair of Neumann U 87 microphones on your studio's website will sell more studio time than perhaps any other microphone. Well-known for its warm and well balanced characteristics - your perfect choice as vocal microphone for all types of music and speech. The usage as main microphone for orchestra recordings or as spot mic for single instruments make it the most general-purpose microphone - in studios, for broadcasting, film and television.
The U 87 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 headgrill.
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.
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.
The dual-diaphragm capsule is elastically mounted and protected by a large headgrill. A switch below the headgrill selects the three directional patterns: Omnidirectional, Cardioid and Figure-8. A window above this switch shows the symbol of the selected characteristic.
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 U 87 Ai (Nickel) Features
- Variable large diaphragm microphone
- Pressure-gradient transducer with double membrane capsule
- The studio microphone classic
- Three directional characteristics: omni, cardioid, figure-8
- Switchable low frequency roll-off
- Switchable 10 dB pre-attenuation
- Ideal as main and as support microphone in the most differing recording situations
Neumann U 87 Ai (Nickel) Specifications
- Acoustical operating principle: Pressure gradient transducer
- Directional pattern: Omnidirectional, cardioid, figure-8 plus
- Frequency range: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
- Sensitivity at 1 kHz into 1k Ohm: 20/28/22 mV/Pa1)
- Rated impedance: 200 Ohms
- Rated load impedance: 1k Ohms
- Equivalent noise level, CCIR2): 26/23/25 dB1)
- Equivalent noise level, A-weighted2): 15/12/14 dB-A1)
- Signal-to-noise ratio, CCIR2) (rel. 94 dB SPL): 68/71/69 dB1)
- Signal-to-noise ratio, A-weighted2) (rel. 94 dB SPL): 79/82/80 dB1)
- Maximum SPL for THD 0.5%3): 117 dB (cardioid)
- Maximum SPL for THD 0.5% with preattenuation3): 127 dB
- Maximum output voltage: 390 mV
- Supply voltage (P48, IEC 61938): 48 V ± 4 V
- Current consumption (P48, IEC 61938): 0.8 mA
- Matching connectors: XLR3F
- Weight: 500 g / 1.1 lbs
- Diameter: 56 mm / 2.20 inches
- Length: 200 mm / 7.874 inches
Neumann U 87 Ai (Nickel) Includes
- U 87 Ai microphone (Nickel)
- Wooden box
- 2-Year Warranty
Neumann does not provide a mount with this basic U 87 Ai SKU - just the wooden box. However Front End Audio can provide a suitable suspension mount, pop screen, and premium microphone cable with this microphone as an added bundle. Contact us for details.
Please see the Neumann U 87 Ai Set Z for a complete microphone set including the Neumann EA 87 (mt) suspension mount.
Also available are the Neumann U 87 Ai Stereo Microphone Sets which also include a pair of EA 87 (mt) mounts together with the microphones in one handsome and durable case.
Neumann U 87 Ai (Nickel) Downloads
- Neumann U 87 Ai User Guide / Owners Manual (PDF)
- Neumann Microphone Application Matrix, June 2010 (PDF)
What We Think
After nearly 30 years, the Neumann U 87 Ai phantom-powered microphone (and from 1967 to 1986, the U 87 i before it) still represents the penultimate example of condenser microphone technology. Chances are, when a vocalist imagines singing in a studio, the U 87 is the image that they have in their mind. Why? Well, the looks of the U 87 certainly are compelling. But a pretty face alone does not a true-legend make.
The U 87 has a well earned reputation for being the, "Oh just throw up some U 87s and it'll be fine" microphone. It really does work as ubiquitously on about any source as perhaps the Shure SM57 does for the category of dynamic mics - though, admittedly, one must always be wise regarding the balance of instrument tones vs microphone characteristics and the balance of all within the context of the desired overall sonic picture. Still, for countless orchestral dates that I've been a part of, the U 87 was the standard spot mic over sections of the orchestra.
Similarly, the Neumann U 87 Ai has also solidly secured it's place as one of the required microphones to be present in the stable for voiceover talent. Depending upon the backing track bed provided to the talent, the voice must be balanced against this track for maximum intelligibility. And the tried and true best-method is to always capture the sound from the source, with the correct microphone. As a result, the U 87's frequency response characteristics have earned it the place in the hearts of voiceover talent, the world over.
So, enough about singing it's praises - here's the reality; this microphone, while it provides a solid and professional sound, has a second reason for you to own it - and that is to help sell studio time. Let's face it; the Neumann name alone sells studio time. And if you've got a few U 87s in the locker and advertised on your studio's website, then all the better! Neumanns really inspire the confidence in your operation needed to gain the clients' trust - even if you might happen to have another mic on hand that you prefer in most situations. Clients don't often have access to try microphones on their voices other than at your facility. Many will want to start on a U 87; perhaps if only because they want the experience and want to hear the sound of it. It's a great place to start as a point of reference and to go from there. If you don't have one, then you can't offer this trust-and-relationship-building service to your clients.
Lastly, the thing is built to last as are all Neumanns. However, not all Neumanns are the same. The U 87 really is the only Neumann with that sound. Nothing else offered by them even approximates it. U 87s hold their value and represent a smart long-term investment for all the reasons listed above. So, when you're ready to add this historically and sonically important microphone to your microphone locker, you should come to us here at Front End Audio. We've designed a special kit at no additional cost to you to go with this basic "microphone only" SKU from Neumann. We'll ensure that you're taken care of better than anyone.
3 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews
If one wants to set the bar high so that no one else can compete when it comes to capturing a wide range of anyone's vocals then the U87 is the way to go. Nothing comes close to it's warmth IMO. It is a beast. Highly recommended to anyone looking to compete on a professional level. You will simply love it!
I predominantly use this microphone for voice overs (because of the small bump it gets in the 4.5K range; really helps to stand out in the mix). That said, this is a strong microphone for use in several applications.
One of the big things that I really prefer about this mic is the low internal noise (IMHO, it's the main improvement with the AI), which can give you a great sound provided that you're in a good recording environment (on the flip side, it's going to show the flaws of the recorded source a lot more as well; if there's a downside to the U87, it's that the mic is uber-sensitive).
My "go-to" mic on vocals. It's big and present and smooth. Pair this with a good pre and a good performer and it really is fantastic.