The Neumann U 87 Ai is a dual-diaphragm, multi-pattern, large-diaphragm condenser with three polar patterns, high-pass filter, and 10dB pad—Nickel finish.
Voted by Sound On Sound magazine readers as the best microphone, the Neumann U 87 Ai is perhaps the world’s most famous large-diaphragm condenser mic—setting the standard for by which all others are judged. There’s a reason why the Neumann U87 established itself as studio royalty. It fits all the requirements of “legendary” studio tool status: it’s straightforward, reliable, and gets great results on any sound source. In point of fact, equipment such as the U87 is one of the secrets of being known as a great engineer (or at least being on first-call). In the heat of a session, pulling great sounds fast is the hallmark of a great (or at least steadily working) engineer. The microphone that makes that happen was, and still is, is the Neumann U87.
Neumann U 87 Ai—Just the Facts:
- Variable-pattern, large-diaphragm condenser microphone
- Pressure-gradient transducer with double-membrane capsule
- Three directional characteristics: omni, cardioid, figure-8
- Switchable low-frequency roll-off
- Switchable 10dB pre-attenuation
- Ideal for recording studios, broadcasting, film, and television
The classic studio microphone
Neumann U 87 Ai—Behind the Grille
The U87 is a front-address condenser, with a dual large-diaphragm capsule that’s elastically mounted. It offers engineers three polar pickup patterns: omnidirectional, cardioid, and figure-8, which are selected by a sliding switch on the front of the mic. On the rear of the mic-housing are two switches; one for a 10dB pad, which enables the U87 to handle up to 127dB SPL without distortion, and a low-frequency roll-off to compensate for low-end rumble, sub-sonic frequencies, and proximity effect.
The U87’s cardioid and figure-8 patterns have a flat frequency response throughout the spectrum, well into the upper-frequency range. It can be used very close to a sound source without the sound becoming unnaturally harsh.
A descendant of the U87 i microphones built from 1967 to 1986, the “A” indicates the latest generation of U87s, which feature modifications to the electronic components of the microphone only; the capsule remains unchanged. The present-day circuitry increases the operational headroom of the U87 Ai by supplying the bias voltages for the capsule through reduced resistance. The result is a higher sensitivity of 10dB for identical sound pressure levels and an improved signal-to-noise ratio of 3dB.
Filter and attenuation
A switch located at the rear attenuates the sensitivity by 10dB. 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 you 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 used for close miking (proximity effect). The U87’s cardioid characteristic maintains a smooth frequency response at a distance of 12" to 16" (30 to 40 cm), while the figure-8 remains even at a distance of 6" to 8" (15 to 20 cm).
Why the Neumann U87 became a go-to studio mic
One of the secrets of getting great performances is working fast. Musicians, and singers, in particular, come to a session warmed up and excited—and nothing kills a session like an engineer putting up mic after mic in combination with various preamps as the muse departs. That’s why the Neumann U87 became a standard studio thoroughbred (we don’t like to make horses work). Put up a U87 in front of any singer, male or female, and you’ll get hit-record-quality vocals every time. Of course, vocals alone didn’t make the Neumann U87 a studio legend. It was the fact that you could use it for ensemble recording, drum overheads, guitar cabinets, winds, and strings. It particularly brings out the depth and resonance of cello, double bass, and floor toms. Thanks to is fullness in the mids, it also makes a great broadcast mic.
Neumann U87 applications:
- For universal use
- The classical studio mic for vocalists (soloists and background vocalists)
- Announcer's mic for broadcasting, dubbing, voice-over
- Drum overheads and floor toms
- Spot mic for wind instruments, strings (especially cello and double bass), piano, and percussion
It’s not a question of whether or not you should get a Neumann U87 Ai, but rather when you are getting yours. For more information, call or chat online with your PAD Studio Specialist today.
- Acoustical operating principle: Pressure gradient transducer
- Directional pattern: Omnidirectional, cardioid, figure-8
- Frequency range: 20Hz-20kHz
- Sensitivity at 1kHz into 1kohm: 20/28/22 mV/Pa1)
- Rated impedance: 200 ohm
- Rated load impedance: 1k ohm
- Equivalent noise level, CCIR2): 26/23/25dB1)
- Equivalent noise level, A-weighted2): 15/12/14dB-A1)
- Signal-to-noise ratio, CCIR2) (rel. 94 dB SPL): 68/71/69 dB1)
- Signal-to-noise ratio, A-weighted2) (rel. 94 dB SPL): 79/82/80dB1)
- Maximum SPL for THD 0.5%3): 117dB (cardioid)
- Maximum SPL for THD 0.5% with preattenuation3): 127dB
- Maximum output voltage: 390mV
- Supply voltage (P48, IEC 61938): 48V ± 4V
- Current consumption (P48, IEC 61938): 0.8mA
- Matching connectors: XLR3F
- Finish: Nickel
- Weight: 1.1 lb. (500 g)
- Diameter: 2-13/64" (56 mm)
- Length: 7-7/8" (200 mm)
1) Omnidirectional / cardioid / figure-8
2) according to IEC 60268-1; CCIR-weighting according to CCIR 468-3, quasi peak; A-weighting according to IEC 61672-1, RMS
3) measured as equivalent el. input signal