Neumann U 87 Ai Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone - Nickel

Large-diaphragm FET Condenser Microphone with 3 Switchable Polar Patterns, Highpass Filter, and 10dB Pad - Nickel
Neumann U 87 Ai Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone - Nickel image 1
Neumann U 87 Ai Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone - Nickel image 1
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Neumann U 87 Ai Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone - Nickel
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The Industry-standard Large-diaphragm Condenser

The Neumann U 87 Ai is the modern incarnation of a classic microphone. Introduced in 1967, the U 87 gained instant favor with engineers, producers, and their clients; by the mid '70s it was a staple in every world-class recording studio. And it still is. Walk into a session, and you'll see 87s everywhere. On piano, vocals, toms, overheads, guitar cabs, brass, strings, congas — you name it. The mic's popularity is easy to understand: it ushered in a new era of audio fidelity and reliability, and with three selectable polar patterns (cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8), plus a switchable highpass filter and 10dB pre-attenuation pad, the mic is incredibly versatile, and an ideal choice for a broad range of recording techniques. The Neumann U 87 Ai is the industry-standard large-diaphragm condenser mic. Read on to find out what it can do for you.

A great choice for most any source

When you're striving for fidelity, clarity, and authoritative presence, the U 87 Ai — with its ruler-flat midrange and gentle presence boost — is your go-to mic. We all need vocals to shine in the mix, and the 87 was born for this. It's not right for every vocalist, but you will find it the vocal microphone of choice on innumerable iconic recordings. Piano? Grand or upright, when you need an acoustic piano to sit pretty in a thick track, a couple of 87s will get the job done.

Switchable polar patterns

Offering a choice of three switchable polar patterns (omnidirectional, cardioid, and figure-8), the U 87 Ai gives you impressive flexibility when it comes to exploring different recording techniques. With two 87s, you can implement stereo techniques such as spaced pair (A/B), X-Y (including Blumlein), ORTF array, and mid-side (M-S). For full orchestra, add a third 87 for the minimalist — and highly effective — Mercury Living Presence technique: three spaced omni 87s across the orchestral soundstage, centered above the conductor's podium.

Updated with modern circuitry

Neumann produced the original U 87 from 1967 to 1986, when it was replaced by the current version, the U 87 Ai. The U 87 Ai features upgraded electronic components; however, the capsule design remains unchanged. The modern circuitry increases the mic's operational headroom by reducing the resistance through which the capsule bias voltage is supplied. This gives you 10dB higher sensitivity for identical sound pressure levels and improves the signal-to-noise ratio by 3dB.

Filter and attenuation

If you're using the U 87 Ai to capture a loud source, the microphone's switchable 10dB pre-attenuation pad comes in handy. With the pad activated, the mic accepts sound pressure levels up to 127dB — perfect for miking tom toms or a dimed guitar amp stack.

An additional switch engages the mic's low-frequency cutoff, which reduces undesirable mud and rumble at the input of the microphone amplifier. This setting also compensates for proximity effect, the bass boost that all pressure gradient transducers exhibit when placed very close to a source.

Neumann mics are not assembly-line products

In 1928, Georg Neumann founded the company that bears his name and introduced the first mass-produced condenser microphone, the CMV 3, a.k.a. the Neumann Bottle. Ever since, the Neumann badge has stood for unwavering quality. Neumann's instantly recognizable diamond is more than a corporate logo — it is a quality seal. Every microphone that bears it is testimony to this proud tradition. This level of excellence requires rigorous quality control to maintain Neumann's status as a leading manufacturer of studio microphones. Neumanns are not assembly-line products; they're handcrafted in Germany by highly skilled technicians.

Precision crafted for world-class performance

The distance between membrane and electrode of a mic capsule is 35 microns — less than the width of a human hair. The layer of gold applied to a U 87 Ai capsule diaphragm is just 0.03 microns thick, equivalent to 208 atoms of gold. Even minute levels of contamination can adversely affect sonic characteristics, which is why Neumann mics are assembled in a state-of-the-art clean room with monitored dust levels under 100 particles per cubic foot — suitable conditions for the production of semiconductor chips and heart catheters.

At Sweetwater, we know what it takes to become a world-class manufacturer. It's not enough to build one great mic; the real trick is to be able to supply the pro audio industry — year after year — with units that all sound identical. To this end, Neumann sets the tolerances of each microphone to the minimum possible variance as compared with an equivalent Neumann product. This is what some mic manufacturers do with matched pairs — but Neumann does it for all their microphones. So when you use two 87s to capture an accurate stereo image, you can do so with confidence.

Neumann U 87 Ai Features:

  • Large-diaphragm FET condenser 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 10dB pre-attenuation
  • Ideal as main and support microphone in practically all recording situations
  • Requires +48-volt phantom power

Additional Media

Product Info Sheet
Studio Microphone Buying Guide
Best Mics for Recording Rap Vocals
The Legendary Neumann U 87
How To Mic Drums for Recording, Part 3 — Multiple Microphones
How To Mic Drums for Recording Part 2 — Four Microphones
Want to hear this mic in action? Listen to high quality samples in our vocal mic shootout!

Tech Specs

Microphone Type Condenser
Polar Pattern Cardioid, Omni, Figure-8
Diaphragm Size 1" (25.4mm)
Frequency Response 20Hz-20kHz
Max SPL 117dB (Cardioid) (127dB w/10dB Pre-attenuation)
Output Impedance 200 ohms
Signal to Noise Ratio 82dB (Cardioid); 79dB (Omni), 80dB (Figure-8)
Self Noise 12dB (Cardioid), 15dB (Omni), 14dB (Figure-8)
Low Cut Filter Yes
Pads -10dB
Color Nickel
Connector XLR
Weight 1.1 lbs.
Included Accessories Wooden Box
Manufacturer Part Number 007022

Customer Reviews


Still the best utility mic in the studio

Ive owned a U87AI since 2010 and I wouldn't sell it for twice the price. It sounds good on anything you put in front of it. Vocals and room are where it really shines for me. Lots of hate comes up when this microphone gets brought up but I believe it's because of its price tag . It has a vintage record smokey 3D vibe to it and will make your recording sound like a record. EQ is really easy to manipulate to get a good sound afterwards, not too harsh or too boomy. The midrange is rich and the top end is subtle. It can get boxy but that is easy to fix with EQ
Music background: Recording engineer, music producer, recording artist

The best condenser i have ever used!

I got the chance to use this microphone during a weekend recording session about a year ago! i have to say it did not disappoint at all. I used it for both vocals and guitar and defiantly had 5 star results, the price tag is pretty big but as the old saying goes, if you want want quality then you have to pay for it and this mic defiantly doesn't let you down. The 10 dB attenuation switch has enabled me to put up with some pretty intense sound pressure levels, and the low-frequency response can be reduced to compensate for proximity effect. It's features are pretty bang on the money (which i have listed below) Pressure gradient transducer with double membrane capsule 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 Advanced Output Circuitry So if your thinking of making serious studio investment, this little gem wont let you down. I go more into depth and run down my time with it in my review on my site head over to your local musician dot com and have a read. Enjoy! :)
Music background: Music Producer, Guitarist and Pianist

Worth The $$$$

Some of the high-end gear I've bought sounds a little better than the mid-priced counterparts I've owned. This mic really does sound much better than anything in the mid-priced market. I stepped up from a Neumann TLM103. I used to spend a bunch of time eq-ing and compressing trying to make vocals tracks sound good. With the U87, it already sounds great. It's a chunk of change but worth it.
Music background: Composer/Producer

Great Microphone

I've owned this mic for nearly a year at this point and use it primarily in my home studio. I originally shot it out against a host of other mics on my voice and this was the clear winner. I have a soft baritone voice and primarily play folk/rock music, usually playing guitar live while singing. What separates this mic from the pack is the way it grabs the meat out of a source and leaves the unwanted stuff behind. It's not bright or harsh and it's not tubby- it excels at providing great midrange detail and depth with just a touch of air on top for definition. I've found the optimal working distance on most vocals is somewhere around 8-12" in cardioid. It truly plays nice with every preamp I've tried it with, from clean to colored- although it's particularly great through an Avedis MA5 for a classic smooth vocal sound. I should mention it's also great on acoustic guitar, drum OH's, and really anything I've tried it on at this point.So, if you're looking for an immediate and noticeable improvement in your recordings, buy a great mic such as this. Don't waste your money on fancy hardware or plugins until you have a microphone (and a good sounding room) that captures music in a very pleasing way.
Music background: recording engineer, musician, songwriter

An amazing microphone

I had a cheaper mic that was still a very good mic around the $500 range. There is no comparison. This mic sounds just perfect. It doesn't pick up back ground noises like other mics, it's like it has it's own built in noise gate. Every other mic I've ever used sound too hissy on the high ends. This mic has such a perfect EQ spectrum. Through an SSL channel strip it just sounds unbelievable! I've always wanted this mic but price wise couldn't pull the trigger. I finally did and you certainly get what you pay for! - Thanks Paul Allen for your continued support !
Music background: Music composer
See also: Condenser Mics, Neumann, Neumann Condenser Microphones