Best Neumann U87 Alternatives. 4 Affordable Choices
Posted in Recording & Audio Equipment | Last Updated on September 24, 2019
Neumann U87 was first released in 1967. Since then it has cemented its place as a legendary microphone in the recording industry. Today, the U87 is some sort of "holy grail" of mics. If anyone made a condenser microphone today, and you wanted to brag about its quality, you would be asked: " but is it as good as the U87?" That's the kind of cult following that this Neumann mic has created.
If Neumann U87 was so good, why would anyone need alternatives?
The number one reason why you would want an alternative is the price. Neumann U87 costs over $2000. That is not a price tag that is within many people's budget. While some people think it's overpriced, I believe it's worth every penny. If you believe the U87 is overpriced, you probably have never used it. Your opinion of it will change once you record vocals with this mic.
Another reason that you might consider an alternative to the U87 is the sensitivity. When a mic is very sensitive, it's usually seen as a plus, but in some cases, it can be counterproductive.
High sensitivity ratings in a mic mean that the mic is more likely to capture every little detail in the sound. This also means that when your recording room is less than ideal, the U87 will pick up reflections, which some other mics would not pick. If your studio falls in this category, you may have to go for a less sensitive mic.
Here are our Neumann U87 alternatives:
The AKG C414 was launched in 1971, and since then has carved a special place for itself among recording microphones. This mic is versatile and can be used effectively for in different recording situations. It records vocals so well, and it's equally good with guitars.
Some features make this possible. One of such is its five different polar patterns. You can choose among the cardioid, super-cardioid, hyper-cardioid, figure-8, and omnidirectional patterns.
As if that's not enough, AKG goes further to add a low-frequency roll-off to the mic. You can apply a 40Hz, 80Hz or 160Hz roll-off just by flipping the designated switch.
Guess what, there's more! The C414 has a gain attenuation switch that allows you to select the amount of padding you want, just in case you're recording a super loud source. You can choose the 0db, 6db, 12db, or 18db pad.
If you wanted the U87 because of its versatility, the AKG C414 would surely be a worthy alternative for you.
- Very versatile microphone.
- Gives warmth to vocals
- Bass buildup when the subject is very close.
The TLM 103 is another mic from Neumann. Coming in at half the price of the U87, it certainly has enough quality to be on this list. It is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone that has just the cardioid polar pattern.
Unlike the U87, you may not be able to use this mic for many different recording scenarios. This is because it has no hands-on switches that you can flip for optimal performance. There are no filter switches, no pads and surely no polar pattern switch. With the TLM103, what you see is what you get.
Since this mic is most effective with vocals, let's review it along those lines. The TLM103's frequency response is mostly flat, with a little boost from 4kHz upwards. Its sound production is a bit bright, which could be either good or not so good, depending on the source material.
However, it delivers low mids with the warmth required. If you're recording a vocalist whose voice has a "bright" natural mix, you should be careful, so you don't get harsh vocal
- Compact design
- Vocals cut through the mix easily.
- Not versatile.
Like TLM103, Peluso P87 costs about half the price of the U87, but unlike the TLM, it has a lot more in common with the U87.
Just by looking at the P87, you see the resemblance with the U87. Peluso managed to make this mic look like the U87 without looking like a knock down copy. The build material is just as solid. So, the P87 looks and feels a lot like the U87, but does it sound like it?
The P87 has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20000Hz. The response is quite flat up to 1.5kHz when it begins to lift gently. The frequency spectrum lift is quite controlled, such that you don't have to deal with harshness in the vocals.
This is where it's a little different from the U87; when cutting through the mix. Vocals recorded with the Neumann sit well and shine through among other elements.
- Maximum SPL higher than that of the U87.
- Lower self-noise.
- Doesn't cut through the mix as much.
WARM AUDIO WA87
The wa87 also looks like the U87, and offers some level of versatility. You can choose to use a low-frequency roll-off just by flipping the switch. Also, you can select one of three polar patterns; cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8.
The wa87 does well in the sound department. It has an excellent mid-range response, with audible presence boost. The only drawback I could identify when I listened, is the warmth. I can only say it's a drawback because I'm putting it up against the U87. The mid-range is not bad for an average mic, but it could do with a little more warmth and body to the sound.
The wa87 also handles loud sources quite impressively, even with the 10db pad disabled. This high maximum SPL is one reason I would recommend it as a worthy U87 alternative.
- Versatile, hands-on controls.
- Could do with more warmth.