Ah, yes. We all know about the holy grail of vocal microphones: the Neumann U87ai. This microphone can be heard on thousands of recordings and is in every large studio in the world. It absolutely is standard when it comes to recording vocals. While not everyone can afford a U87, there are many companies making amazing clones of this exact vocal microphone. Today we will dive in and find the best U87 alternative.
Best U87 Alternative – Here’s The Clones
A Brief History of the Neumann U87
Neumann is easily one of the most recognizable microphone manufacturers around today: both for incredible quality and price. Around 1950, Neumann released the pinnacle of condenser microphones: the U47. The tonal quality and detail was stunning. It is by far the most musical sounding vocal microphone ever made.
Neumann made another microphone, the U67. Both the 47 and 67 required an external power source: something the main microphone of this discussion does not require. The U87 was released at a time when phantom power was being used in microphone design and manufacturing. Since 1967, the Neumann U87 has been one of the most popular vocal microphones available.
Why is the Neumann U87 Such a Popular Microphone for Tracking Vocals?
I guarantee you can find thousands of records that used this microphone during the tracking process. The U87 just sounds so great. It is not harsh at all and just sounds expensive. This microphone takes very well to compression and EQ.
It’s definitely an “industry standard.”
The Neumann U87 is also extremely versatile. In addition to recording vocals, you can use this microphone on drum overheads, rooms, toms, secondary kicks, amps, etc. It’s an amazing all-around microphone.
That being said, everyone’s voice is different. You may find that one singer sounds way better on a Shure SM7b than your $3,000 condenser microphone.
Alright, let’s dive in the best U87 alternatives.
Warm Audio WA-87 – Most Affordable U87 Clone
- Audio Analog or digital: Analog Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz Max SPL: 125 dB Connectivity: XLR Pattern and type Capsule: Condenser Polar pattern: Multi-pattern Type: Mounted Applications: Studio Diaphragm size: Large Switches: High-pass, -10 dB pad Phantom power required: Yes Size and weight Width: Info not available Height: Info not available Weight: Info not available Included access
- The classic '87 is arguably the most widely-used large diaphragm condenser microphone in pop recording history
- Rather than base our WA-87 circuit on current incarnations of this mic, we decided to closely follow the early circuit designs that date back nearly half a century
- As is true with many classic microphones, engineers who have worked with different versions of these microphones often prefer the warmer, more forgiving nature of the earlier commercially available models
- The desire to re-introduce the warm tone of this classic mic at an affordable price to an all new generation of recording artists was the inspiration behind the WA-87
I’ve been reading more and more positive press on Warm Audio each and every day. Their whole mantra is focused on affordable, yet quality audio gear. They’ve tackled many different classic preamps, EQs, and compressors already and now they have moved on the U87.
The Warm Audio WA-87 is not based on the modern Neumann U87ai, rather it’s based on its vintage counterpart. The original vintage model had a bit more of a crunchy high-end and isn’t as bright as the modern U87ai. Since the WA-87 also takes very well to EQ and compression, brightening it up is no problem.
What’s Included in the Box? – Warm Audio WA-87 Review
The Warm Audio WA-87 comes in a very nice wooden box. Included is a shock mount (with spare elastic bands), as well as a smaller microphone clip for those super-tight recording situations.
Stam Audio SA-87 – Best Sounding U87 Alternative
- Heiserman Audio HK- 87 handmade capsule based on a 1960's vintage set of original back plates which offers a vintage tone compared to current offerings
- Vishay and Polystyrene Capacitors and Sowter output transformer.
- 100% faithful to the original vintage circuit and schematic makIng each microphone to the highest standards with only the best quality components such as Vishay, Polystyrene and WIMA capacitors and Sowter transformers.
- Free Shipping
- 1 year warranty & 30 day money-back guarantee
I was most unfamiliar with the Stam Audio SA-87, particularity since this company is located in Chile. I had been seeing more and more people talking about Stam, so I had to check it out.
This SA-87 is a replica of a Rev16 1979 Neumann U87. This is considered to be the pinnacle of the U87. I really enjoy this microphone. This is my favorite U87 alternative!
Peluso P-87 – Most Expensive and Most Disappointing U87 Clone
- Unknown Binding
I originally heard about Peluso in college when my audio teacher pulled out a P-12 microphone. Needless to say, I was blown away when I heard it. Peluso is a boutique microphone company that does make a lot of wonderful mics! The P-87 was a bit disappointing, however.
The P-87 sounds very thin and almost tiny when comparing back to a real U87. The high end is very brittle. You need a lot of parametric EQ to smoothen out the high end. It’s not exactly harsh, but definitely fragile and weak sounding around 10k.
What’s Included in the Box? – Peluso P-87 Review
This microphone comes with a velvet bag, a shock mount, hard mount, a foam wind screen, and a flight case. I wish it was presented with a wooden box like the WA-87, considering the price point. The flight case is nice.
Mojave MA-200 – Excellent U87 Alternative
- Protective Case and professional grade shockmount &cables included
- Hand-selected 3-micron 1" capsule
- Jensen audio transformer and ultraclean signal path
- Military grade JAN 5840 NOS vacuum tube
- Internal switchable power supply voltage
If you’re not looking for a clone, I suggest checking out the Mojave MA-200. This is a tube condenser microphone, so it’s a little different from the U87, but is very similar to the U67. Mojave Audio is company owned by world-renowned microphone makers Royer. It’s a solid choice for versatile recording applications.
Some Things to Consider When Buying a U87 Clone
These microphones are not going to be perfect recreations.
It’s pretty obvious, but don’t expect one of this clones to sound identical. Old vintage microphones, like the U67, U47 or U87, had a unique character to them. Not one mic sounded the exact same. They were built by hand and weren’t manufactured with 100% accurate precision. There’s going to be unique characteristics among each one. Don’t get hung up if your U87 alternative doesn’t sound exactly like a real Neumann U87.
You can’t go wrong with any microphone on this list.
No matter which U87 clone one you pick, you will get an amazing result. These four microphones are all very high quality and I promise you can deliver a quality recording to a client using any of these.
Save money on the microphone, invest in another piece of gear instead!
Rather than buying one $3,000 microphone, you might consider picking up a compressor (like the Warm Audio WA76), studio monitors, a desk, you name it, along with your U87 clone. Deck out your studio instead of blowing it all on one mic!
Use this microphone on many different sources!
Don’t just use your U87 alternative on vocals! Try it as a mono drum room. You could even purchase two U87 clones and use them as drum overheads!