Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

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Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby slavco.atanasovski » Sun Jan 17, 2016 1:34 am

Hi Turtlerockers

I'm still deciding which way I want to go with the U87....VINTAGE or Ai. I thought I would see if anyone had any tips if I was to go with the vintage u87 is there anything in particular I should check or watch out for ?

Any help or feedback is greatly appreciated in advance ;)

Cheers
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby walding » Sun Jan 17, 2016 10:51 am

I have a vintage modded 87 (1976) that I love.

I find the vintage one's sound softer to my ears.

If you are looking to buy one, get the serial number and email it to neumann and they'll date it for you, pretty quickly too may I add.

I'd get a reputable person to check it over for you, Gunter or rob squire.

Ps the ones to get and that are sought after are the battery compartment ones, which from memory that
Stopped making in the late 70's.
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby Chinagraf » Fri Jan 22, 2016 4:26 pm

Check the diaphragm. Some of the older ones are a little flaky looking due to moisture and spittle.
I had mine (75) modded by Ross Giles in Melbourne to remove the top end rolloff that Neumann put in due to not being able to interfere radio pilot tone. Sounds great, but as I say the diaphragm is worth checking, I've seen some where the gold sputtering is wrinkly or even missing in spots.
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby original_min » Wed Jan 27, 2016 1:24 pm

Ours we got from the US and as it turns out it sports a completely new replacement body, an Ai body I guess. Inside it's an i model with the battery compartment and all, but Neumann couldn't tell me much more than that, the number on the bottom of the mic head wasn't something they kept records of either.
Still not sure how I feel about all of that... Might have to get it checked for the capsule now too...

I heard someone mention they'd sent their mic to Neumann for repair and it come back a different colour, with the body sleeve replaced. They considered it too denty I guess, hehe.

They made the old ones until 1986 apparently, batteries are available on eBay.
:)
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby rick » Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:46 pm

I used the original ones for 10 years amongst 2 u47 and 4 u67
We always used the 87 before the 67 but the 47 first on vocals
I dont remember them being special

Them I bought a u87 ai which was my only mic for a while before i learnt how to find old neumanns
It was incredable but it suffered from loose tension so it was super sensitive and blew out
And shut down on loud sources , i have now seen a number like that
Great great mics but faulty
And recently i had a u67 like that same magic but shut down on loud sources so actually faulty
I correct working u67 and u 87 of any kind never sounded so good .

The factory standard working u87 ai is louder airier and probably could be descibed as harsher then a u87 with the battery ..

So long story short a few years back i started to wonder about all the internet talk about the " old" ones being the great ones , i found two of exactly the same revision which without paying
stupid money is really hard
Then Had gunter totally rebuild them reskin recapp recalibrate
They are the closest match set of u87 he has ever held .
And my feeling towards them is

Meh .. I'll keep them but they are just nothing special

My faulty u87ai was so much more sensitive to everything
It held a delicate magical response .

Stop paying big dollars for old u87 that arent even restored is my advice to the world
There is nothing magical about them
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby Chinagraf » Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:45 pm

Jeepers those grills are in good nick Rick.
Did ya get him to open up the top end on them? I think they sound really good when that's done, it still has the mid thing going on but a bit more air in your hair. I know the shutdown thing you mean, guy I was apprentice to had one.
Sounded great but would only shut off on the best takes.
I think the other thing people might overlook is the transformer strapping and the output padding Gotham Audio had added at the factory for US orders. If an 87 has the 50 Ohm strapping and the resistors connected it's a pretty different beast.The Gotham modded ones had a red dot next to the serial number (changed to light blue in some time round the early 80's I think?)
Are people paying stupid prices for the old ones? A new Ai is around 3K, I've seen a bunch of old ones around there.
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby rob » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:51 am

I'm confused Rick, you say a U87 isn't magical, but you also say

"My faulty u87ai was so much more sensitive to everything
It held a delicate magical response"

maybe it wasn't faulty?
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby rick » Tue Mar 29, 2016 9:42 am

Nah , faulty .

I see it alot , the capsule looses just enough tension to sound incredible on soft to med things
And polarises on med to loud things and shuts down for a sec
The quality of the proximity effect gets more in the u47 line of things
Lovely bloom , then suddenly in the middle of a vocal it cuts out
Which is such a major bummer it just kills the session
Lots of people are hanging on to their magic 67 or 87 despite it being frustratingly
Unreliable because they are afraid a reskin will make it sound different
And it will , reskin it get over it is my thought
Its not THaT magical

Everytime somebody tells me they have an incredible 67 or 87
I always ask does it shut down sometimes When you dont want it to ?
the answer is always yes .

Faulty ,
But most of us like a bit of myth n legend in our studio stuff .

I am 10 years past dealing with faulty stuff .. I just cant anymore.

a new stock capsule or mic just doesnt do that thing so yep faulty
and doesnt sound as delicate .
A totally spec u67 or u 87 could be descibed as robest sounding
Not delicate

The u87a1 airer and louder the a u87

Fwiw i would / keep any u 87 ai i stumble across , i will sell all the old battery u87 i find
From here on out .

There is a whole world of thin diaphragm capsules and magic voodo mods to get u87 to sound
Magical but still be reliable but then they arent u87 they are something else / maybe better maybe worse .
Ill pass and buy different mics .
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby Wiz » Tue Mar 29, 2016 12:59 pm

I absolutely LOVE my old U87...

If I hit it without a pop screen it will shut down.

So, I use a pop screen


:D


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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby rob » Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:51 pm

exactly!
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby rick » Tue Mar 29, 2016 9:14 pm

You know after 30 years and hundreds of microphones
either I understand exactly what a neumann microphone can do and should do or I don't
I am pretty sure I will take the bet .

I wouldnt cut a vocal without a pop shield and of coarse there are different grades of them

But nah .. Really
Faulty .. Its a cancer that just gets worse
Its like living in a share house with a front door lock that
Has to be jiggled just "right " to get in the door every day

Your new flat mate moves in and says .."really you put up with that ? "
"f@#$ it call a locksmith . "

Huge difference between servicing a microphone and using it , and thats why I service my own mics as best I can
I have restored ALOT of neumanns I own ALOT of neumanns , Ii still have ALOT of not quite right ( faulty) neumanns in the drawer waiting till I can afford to fix them and I let gunter do the mission critical stuff when Ii am curious if he can do it better .


The amount of times I hear ", I sent it back to (...not rob..) he said its fine totally within spec
But I got it back and it still cuts out , its really frustrating . "
I speak to the tech for them who envitably said they dont want to spend the money on a capsule so I just cleaned it , and it seemed fine .

I say .. "christ spend some money on it buy a new capsule "
Put the old one in a drawer .
Next time I check its still the same capsule
( andy ? )

Having a faulty multi thousand dollar mic you can't trust makes none sense
Spend $750 !
Some capsules just dont last 60 years some dont last 5 years.


But really .guys ... ..nah faulty .

Neumann new capsules are as good as you can hope for .
They are not faulty ,theirst reskins are as good as you can hope for
They are not faulty .

I do get the message rob there can be magic in the fault ! It could be design ( not)

But stuffk that ..am making records for a living not doing magic tricks .
Why are old beat up u87 fetching 4k ?
I have none idea !
But i am happy to tell people to buy a cmv 563 and reskin it and take your girl away with the spare change ! and some guys who mod old u87s for $2000 on top of what you paid ( kh) will tell you something different .
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby Wiz » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:27 am

You have me curious...

geeze... are old u87s getting 4K?? man... thats gone up a lot in the last 2 years...


I would like to try an AI version...never have...

I am only doing my own stuff... so I understand when you are on the clock and someone is paying you, different things push on you...

But, still,... I just love the sound of mine... so.. you know... until it dies.. then back to gunter it goes... 8)

someone send me an AI to try

:D
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby rick » Sun Apr 03, 2016 12:23 pm

I don't know if they are getting 4k but they are listing on eBay disappearing as sold
and so its looking like they are getting that..
why buy a brand new one for a thousand less when you can buy a magic beat up faulty vintage one for a thousand more ?
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby walding » Sun Apr 03, 2016 5:14 pm

I have a 1978 87i, Modded by Ross giles, that sounds pretty amazing, Did a shoot out with a couple of similar 87's and a fet47 a few years ago, and it was unanimously picked as the best sounding..

Is it great for everything, no... but as someone once said, 87's good for most things, great for some...

The most recorded LDC in history I'm told...

If I could afford a 67, I would as its my ultimate mic..

Like the man said, if you can't make an album will a pair of 57's and 87, its not the mics

my soon to be 10cents
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby Chris H » Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:11 pm

........yep, I just put some new strings on my old guitar ;)
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby Ben M » Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:40 am

slavco.atanasovski wrote:Hi Turtlerockers

I'm still deciding which way I want to go with the U87....VINTAGE or Ai. I thought I would see if anyone had any tips if I was to go with the vintage u87 is there anything in particular I should check or watch out for ?

Any help or feedback is greatly appreciated in advance ;)

Cheers


Hi Slavco,
Something to check on a vintage u87 - inside the mic on the transformer is a sticker/label. On the label is a set of numbers reading 930-??. If the number is 930-19, 930-20, 930-21 then the u87 circuit board is optimised for frequency response, lowest self noise and highest headroom.
If the number is 930-18 or lower then the circuit can be updated to achieve optimal performance.
My 1977 u87 is 930-20 so no need for me to update the circuit.
Gunter can do this update easily.

Also Gunter does a mod for u87ai. The mod slightly reduces the overall gain, but increases the headroom by 7dB, so after the mod it has the same headroom as the older U87.
Compared to the older U87, the U87Ai has a much higher output gain, but also drastically reduced headroom, because it overloads the input of the internal amp quickly at high SPL.
This is one of the reasons why most people prefer the sound of the old U87 over the U87Ai - especially for vocals when it is very easy to overload the gain stage of the U87Ai with a relatively strong voice.

Having said this, if you're intending to use a u87 for vocals or higher spl signals I'd grab an older u87 with a label that reads 930-19,20,21 for best results.

Good luck!
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby Paul Maybury » Fri Apr 08, 2016 4:45 pm

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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby Chinagraf » Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:33 pm

On the topic of vintage 87's all my mics had been in storage cause I took 12 months off to do some other stuff, and I started building a new room in Jan of this year. About halfway thought building the booth we had a chance to do a bit of test recording with 2 people to see how it was sounding. The guy who owns the building has a studio on the ground floor and has some modern Blue mic, the kinda one where you go "Is that a mic, or a bluetooth speaker or a sextant or something, whaaat ?" so we set them up and my 87 was waaay low and thin sounding compared to the blue. I started wondering did I drop it in the move, did something fall on it in storage? I went home depressed and spent the night waking up every hour wondering about transformer strapping, weren't the output resistors bypassed, what's going on... it sounded great before I stored it. I woke up every hour...2am - what about the transformer strapping...3am - I'm sure I bypassed the output pad...4am - jeez maybe the diaphragm took a hit....5.30am - aah ^&%$ it , I'm gonna drive in and take it apart.. at least the traffic was light.
Spent an hour with a magnifying glass and a multimeter going over the whole circuit. Couldn't find a fault. Bugger it, I'll put it back together and have to send it to Ross to look at. And as I was screwing the body tube back on....I noticed the bass rolloff switch was engaged.
This doesn't help with buying a vintage 87, but my wife doesn't understand so I can't tell her..
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby walding » Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:19 pm

Chinagraf wrote:On the topic of vintage 87's all my mics had been in storage cause I took 12 months off to do some other stuff, and I started building a new room in Jan of this year. About halfway thought building the booth we had a chance to do a bit of test recording with 2 people to see how it was sounding. The guy who owns the building has a studio on the ground floor and has some modern Blue mic, the kinda one where you go "Is that a mic, or a bluetooth speaker or a sextant or something, whaaat ?" so we set them up and my 87 was waaay low and thin sounding compared to the blue. I started wondering did I drop it in the move, did something fall on it in storage? I went home depressed and spent the night waking up every hour wondering about transformer strapping, weren't the output resistors bypassed, what's going on... it sounded great before I stored it. I woke up every hour...2am - what about the transformer strapping...3am - I'm sure I bypassed the output pad...4am - jeez maybe the diaphragm took a hit....5.30am - aah ^&%$ it , I'm gonna drive in and take it apart.. at least the traffic was light.
Spent an hour with a magnifying glass and a multimeter going over the whole circuit. Couldn't find a fault. Bugger it, I'll put it back together and have to send it to Ross to look at. And as I was screwing the body tube back on....I noticed the bass rolloff switch was engaged.
This doesn't help with buying a vintage 87, but my wife doesn't understand so I can't tell her..


Yup... 2 main rules, never use the pad switch, never use the HPF switch...

Glad it was only that...

whats interesting about 87's, is you record on them and think, it sounds really good, but not much better than say a rode or some other cheapish mic, then you AB them and its night and day...Also they sit so well in a mix.
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby Ben M » Sat Apr 09, 2016 12:39 pm

Chinagraf wrote:This doesn't help with buying a vintage 87, but my wife doesn't understand so I can't tell her..

Haha :ymhug: We're all here for you Andy. Get some sleep now.
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby mylesgm » Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:30 am

Ben M wrote:
Chinagraf wrote:This doesn't help with buying a vintage 87, but my wife doesn't understand so I can't tell her..

Haha :ymhug: We're all here for you Andy. Get some sleep now.


Know that "voice in the head" well...
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Re: Buying VINTAGE Neumann U87's?

Postby berkfinger » Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:55 pm

Love my 1972 u87 on vocals and especially as a drum room mic. Ask Nick Launay about that.

Rick are you sure the sound cutting out momentarily isn't something to do with moisture combining with dirt on the capsule and causing a momentary short? When Gunter fixed this problem with mine that is how he described it and a capsule clean solved the problem. He said the u87 suffers from this problem the most. When I tried to describe the problem as "whenever the singer gets close to the mic and sings loud it cuts out for a second", he instructed me to do a "breath test" and there it was...
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