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What Type of Microphone is the Neumann U87? Uncovering a Studio Legend

What type of microphone is the Neumann U87? A microphone known for its exceptional sound quality and versatility.Step into the world of sound engineering, and you’ll hear whispers of a legendary microphone that has stood the test of time. Meet the Neumann U87, a true master of the craft, with a friendly nod to its prestigious German origins and a history that dates back to the swinging ’60s.

This microphone isn’t just about technical prowess; it’s a storyteller, a keeper of secrets for every note and nuance it has ever captured. If you’ve ever wondered, “What type of microphone is the Neumann U87?” you’re in for a treat. It’s the kind that wraps its electronic arms around every word and melody, delivering them with a warmth and clarity that can only be described as audio gold.

Imagine a microphone that feels like an old friend, ready to bring out the best in your sound whether you’re laying down vocals or recording the rich tones of an acoustic instrument. The U87 is that friend, known for its versatility and the way it can adapt to just about any recording scenario with its three selectable polar patterns—cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8.

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It’s the go-to for professionals who want a reliable, consistent sound that’s as clear as a bell. With the U87, you’re not just recording; you’re creating moments that will resonate with listeners for years to come.

Choosing the Neumann U87 is like choosing a fine wine—it’s an investment in quality that promises to elevate your work and delight your auditory palate. While it may come with a price tag that reflects its premium status, those who have experienced its sonic embrace will tell you it’s worth every penny.

Neumann microphone and mixing desk setup

This microphone is more than just a piece of equipment; it’s a symbol of dedication to your craft. So, as you consider making the U87 a part of your studio family, remember that you’re not just buying a microphone; you’re investing in a legacy of sound that will continue to inspire and captivate all who listen.

Key Takeaways

  • The Neumann U87 is a versatile, high-quality studio microphone with a notable history.
  • It features three polar patterns and is celebrated for its sound quality.
  • Microphone care and maintenance are critical for preserving the Neumann U87’s integrity.

Understanding Microphones

When you’re diving into the world of audio recording, understanding the different types of microphones and their polar patterns is crucial.

Types of Microphones

Dynamic Microphones:

  • Ideal for high-volume environments
  • Durable and not as sensitive to moisture

Condenser Microphones:

  • Sensitive and ideal for capturing subtle nuances
  • Require phantom power

Ribbon Microphones:

  • Velvety sound profile
  • Fragile and more expensive

The Neumann U87 belongs to the condenser microphones, known for their precision and wide frequency response, which is why you’ll find them in professional recording environments.

Polar Patterns Explained


  • Captures sound from the front
  • Minimizes noise from sides and rear
  • Commonly used for vocals and instruments



  • Picks up sound from the front and back
  • Rejects sound from the sides
  • Ideal for side rejection or recording in a duet configuration

The Neumann U87 offers you the flexibility of switching between these polar patterns, allowing tailored recording according to the sound source and environment.

Neumann U 87 Ai

The Neumann U 87 Ai is an iconic large diaphragm condenser microphone that sets a gold standard in the audio recording industry with its versatile switchable polar patterns and full frequency response.

Historical Significance

The Neumann U 87 Ai carries a legacy that revolutionized recording technology. Since its introduction in the 1960s, it has remained a top choice for audio professionals. Its acclaim lies largely in its consistent performance and adaptability to various recording situations.

Over the years, the Neumann U 87 has been a staple in world-class studios, an emblem of excellence in sound capturing.

Technical Specifications

The Neumann U 87 Ai excels in technical sophistication:

  • Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Figure-8
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: Rated at 200 Ohms

The microphone’s large diaphragm and selectable polar patterns offer you versatility whether you’re recording vocals, instruments, or even room ambience. The detailed specifications signify its capacity to deliver high-quality recordings across various applications.

Recording Techniques

When approaching the Neumann U87, it’s essential to recognize its versatile nature in capturing both vocals and a variety of instruments with clarity and detail.

Capturing Vocals

The U87 is renowned for its warmth and precision with vocal recordings. Employing a cardioid pattern reduces room noise and isolates your vocals, which is crucial for strong, clear takes. For a larger room sound, you can opt for the omnidirectional pattern:

  • Cardioid: Ideal for solo vocals, minimizing background noise.
  • Omni-directional: Captures the ambience; useful for choir vocals.

Instrument Recording

With instruments, the U87 demonstrates flexibility and finesse. For acoustic guitars, positioning the mic close to the 12th fret balances brightness and body. With pianos, try a pair of U87s as overheads to blend hammer attacks with the resonance of the instrument’s body:

  • Acoustic Guitar: Aim the U87 at the 12th fret from about 6-12 inches away.
  • Piano: Two U87s placed over the strings catch a full stereo image.

Employing U87s as overheads for drums captures the cymbal’s shimmer and the overall kit’s dynamic range. It’s about finding the sweet spot that embraces both the feel of the room and the direct sound of your instrument.

Studio Equipment

Neumann microphone, mixing desk, and monitors setup

Selecting the right studio equipment is crucial to ensure high-quality recordings. The cornerstone of any great recording space is not just the microphone but the entirety of the signal chain and the accessories that support it.

Preamps and Signal Chain

A quality preamp is essential when using a microphone like the Neumann U87, enhancing its clarity and detail. This studio microphone requires 48V phantom power, which most preamps can provide. Here’s how you should structure your signal chain:

  • Microphone: Connect your Neumann U87 using an XLR cable.
  • Preamp: Ensures the signal from the mic is strong and clear before it hits the mixer or audio interface.
  • Mixer/Audio Interface: This is where you can apply EQ and additional processing before the signal is sent to your computer.

Remember, a clean and uninterrupted signal path makes a significant difference in the recording studio environment.

The Right Accessories

Accompanying accessories are not just add-ons; they are necessities for capturing pristine audio. Here’s what you need:

  • Shock Mount: To minimize unwanted vibrations and handling noise for your Neumann U87.
  • XLR Cables: High-quality cables are non-negotiable for lossless audio transmission.
  • Stand: Durable and adjustable, to position your microphone perfectly in the recording space.

An excellent microphone in conjunction with the proper preamp, power, cables, and accessories can transform your recording space into a professional recording studio.

Sound Engineering

Neumann microphone in a studio

In sound engineering, the focus is on capturing the essence of the sound with precision and clarity. Your choice of microphone, such as the Neumann U 87 Ai, can greatly influence the outcome of your audio projects.

Optimizing Recording Space

To maximize sound quality, you must first understand the recording space’s acoustics.

  • Position microphones to take advantage of the room’s natural sound characteristics.
  • Consider using diffusers or absorbers to manage reflections and prevent unwanted echo.
  • Be mindful of the proximity effect; placing the Neumann U 87 Ai closer to the sound source can boost low-frequency response and warmth, which might suit certain recording needs.

Technician Best Practices

As a technician, your technique is paramount for superior audio capture.

  • Regularly calibrate equipment to ensure consistent and accurate sound reproduction.
  • Utilize the multiple polar patterns of the Neumann U 87 Ai to match the microphone setup with the specific demands of each session.
  • When recording, subtly adjust the microphone position to capture the best tonal balance; even slight changes can have a significant impact.

Always remember that your technical skill in managing sound and utilizing high-quality equipment like the Neumann U 87 Ai will significantly contribute to the professional outcome of any recording studio project.

Microphone Selection

Selecting the right microphone can elevate your recording quality significantly. Consider the Neumann U87, known for its versatility and excellence in various recording situations.

What to Look for in a Microphone

When assessing a microphone, focus on typepolar patterns, and frequency response:

  • Type: Determine whether you need a large diaphragm condenser microphone like the U87 or a more focused option such as the FET condenser microphone TLM103.
  • Polar Patterns: Options such as cardioidomnidirectional, and figure-8 offer flexibility in capturing sound from different directions.
  • Frequency Response: A range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz ensures that you capture a full spectrum of sound.

Comparing Models

Compare different microphone models to find the one that suits your needs best. For instance:

  • The Neumann U87 stands out as a large diaphragm condenser with multiple polar patterns, making it a staple in professional studios.

    FeatureNeumann U87TLM103
    Polar PatternsCardioid, Omni, Figure-8Cardioid
    Frequency Response20 Hz – 20 kHz20 Hz – 20 kHz
    Sensitivity20/28/22 mV/Pa (Omni/Cardioid/Figure-8)High sensitivity
    Self-Noise12 dB (A)Low self-noise
  • On the other hand, TLM103 is a FET condenser microphone with a cardioid pattern, renowned for its high sensitivity and low self-noise, ideal for intimate vocal recordings.

Pros and Cons of Neumann U 87


  • Versatility: Your Neumann U 87 is a multi-pattern microphone, offering omnidirectional, cardioid, and figure-of-eight polar patterns. This makes it suitable for a broad range of recording tasks, from vocals to orchestras.
  • Sound Quality: Known for its warm, rich sound and detailed accuracy, it has been a staple in professional recording environments for decades.
  • Durability: It has a solid build quality, contributing to its reliability in various studio settings.


  • Investment: The Neumann U 87 comes with a high price tag, making it a significant investment for your studio.
  • Price Difference: While its performance is top-notch, some argue that there are more affordable options that can deliver comparable results, making you question the price difference.

The Neumann U 87’s reputation as a professional recording instrument is unquestioned, yet its cost makes it a decision that requires careful consideration regarding your budget and needs. 

Microphone Care and Maintenance

Taking care of your Neumann U87 microphone is crucial to maintain its exceptional build quality and ensure long-term use. Here’s how you can keep your microphone in top condition:

Handling and Storage

  • Always handle the U87 with care to avoid damage to its handcrafted components.
  • Store your microphone in a sturdy case when not in use to protect from dust and moisture.


  • Use a soft, dry cloth to gently wipe the body of the microphone.
  • Avoid using any harsh chemicals that might damage the microphone’s finish or circuitry.

Environmental Conditions

  • Keep the microphone away from extreme temperatures and humidity levels to protect its solid-state components.
  • Minimize exposure to smoke and dust, which can affect microphone performance over time.

Regular Check-Ups

  • Periodically inspect the microphone for any signs of wear or damage.
  • Check the connection cables and replace them if they show signs of deterioration.

By following these maintenance guidelines, your Neumann U87 microphone will continue to capture sound with the same clarity and precision that you’ve come to expect from this renowned piece of equipment. Remember, caring for your microphone is an investment in its longevity and performance.

What Type of Microphone is the Neumann U87? Top Takeaways


The Neumann U87 is widely recognized for its exceptional audio quality and versatility, thereby holding the title as a legendary and classic microphone. Esteemed by audiophiles and professionals across the recording industry, its reputation as a studio standard is well-earned.

Here’s why the U87 stands out:

  • Recording Clarity: Its capacity to capture sound with incredible accuracy makes it a favorite.
  • Durability: Trusted for its robustness through time.
  • Multipattern Design: Offers cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8 polar patterns for flexibility.

Your work in the studio or in broadcasting scenarios demands a tool that you can rely on for consistency and quality. The U87 could be the professional companion to meet your stringent requirements.

In your search for a microphone that elevates your audio work to the next level, consider the Neumann U87 not just as equipment but as an investment in your craft.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dive into the specifics of the renowned Neumann U87 to satisfy your curiosity and inform your understanding of this classic studio microphone.

What are the differences between the Neumann U87 and U67 microphones?

  • Neumann U87 is a versatile large diaphragm condenser mic with multiple polar patterns. It excels across a broad range of applications with its modern sound.
  • Neumann U67 is a tube microphone, revered for its warm vintage tone, often preferred in applications where a particular character of sound is desired.

How does the Neumann U87 compare to the TLM 103 in terms of sound character and applications?

  • The Neumann U87 offers a more complex sound with three polar patterns, adding versatility to its use in various recording scenarios.
  • The TLM 103 is known for its detailed, direct sound with a fixed cardioid pattern, making it a go-to for focused applications like voice-overs or single instrument recordings.

What makes the Neumann U87 suitable for studio recording environments?

  • Its three selectable polar patterns (cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8) provide adaptability for different recording settings.
  • The U87’s consistent performance and durability make it a reliable tool for professional studio recordings.

In which recording situations is the Neumann U87 considered the best choice?

  • Vocal sessions: Its clear and balanced sound captures nuances of the voice, making it a first choice for many.
  • Various ensembles: The multiple polar patterns perform exceptionally in capturing the depth and space in group recordings.

How does the self-noise of the Neumann U87 impact recording quality?

  • With a self-noise level of 12 dB(A), the U87 is quiet enough for most sensitive recording situations, ensuring a clean capture of sound without unwelcome hiss.

What are the key features that differentiate the Neumann U87 from other condenser microphones?

  • Distinctive sound character: Recognized for its warm, yet precise sound, it stands out in a mix naturally.
  • Build quality: Robust construction paired with meticulous German engineering contributes to its status as an industry standard.

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