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Has anyone recorded bluegrass vocals, guitar or banjo with a Neumann u87ai?

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Apr 9, 2020 - 7:56:03 PM
1484 posts since 3/27/2008

Hi Everyone,

Has anyone tried recording bluegrass vocals, guitar and/or banjo with a Neumann u87ai microphone?

I’m starting to get serious about trying to capture the best tone during recordings, and I recently purchased an Ear Trumpet Labs “Edwina” (which I like) as well as a Mojave MA-300 (which is being shipped to me).

I know that the quality of a mic preamp really affects the sound of a mic, so I also recently purchased a Grace Design M101 mic preamp, which is supposed to be exceptionally clean and reportedly brings out the best tone from a particular mic.

Of course, the quality of your pickin’ and singing is most important.

I am very curious about how bluegrass vocals and instruments sound on a U87ai.

I know that many classic bluegrass recordings were captured using either a C414 or a ribbon mic.

I appreciate your thoughts.

Edited by - KD Banjer on 04/09/2020 20:00:06

Apr 9, 2020 - 9:00:12 PM
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161 posts since 6/25/2016

I never have, but the U87 (not the ai) gets mentioned a lot in mixonline.com/recording/record...ts-365976. One engineer in the article says he recorded both Crowe and Scruggs with it.

I use a lower cost large diaphragm condenser, a Rode NT-2A, and like the results a lot.

Edited by - loonsailor on 04/09/2020 21:02:31

Apr 9, 2020 - 10:04:20 PM

1484 posts since 3/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by loonsailor

I never have, but the U87 (not the ai) gets mentioned a lot in mixonline.com/recording/record...ts-365976. One engineer in the article says he recorded both Crowe and Scruggs with it.

I use a lower cost large diaphragm condenser, a Rode NT-2A, and like the results a lot.


Hey LoonSailer...

Fantastic article on recording bluegrass (with great bluegrass recording anecdotes).

Thanks for the sharing the article, and for your input.

I know there is a lot to learn from getting your hands dirty in the recording studio, and experimenting with different equipment and techniques.

Apr 9, 2020 - 10:16:49 PM

1484 posts since 3/27/2008

loonsailor ... Yes... In the article you shared, one top bluegrass engineer mentioned that Crowe, Scruggs and Sonny asked to record with a U87 mic.

The article speaks about techniques in recording a number of bluegrass instruments, but mentioned that recording bluegrass vocals will be saved for another article. I wonder if that article was ever published?

Apr 9, 2020 - 10:25:07 PM

1484 posts since 3/27/2008

While looking for other articles about recording bluegrass, I found this detailed and interesting article about “Nashville recording,” a lot of which would apply to bluegrass recording:

soundonsound.com/techniques/na...rding?amp

Apr 9, 2020 - 10:46:47 PM

rcc56

USA

2744 posts since 2/20/2016

When I accompanied Norman Blake on "Flower From the Fields of Alabama", we used two smaller Neumann's that Norman had bought many years before for the instrument mics. He has used them on most, if not all his recording sessions since he bought them. No problem with getting a good sound from those mics.

We used a couple of ancient tube mics for the vocals.  The record was recorded in 2 1/2 days at Norman's home with a minimum of equipment--  the Neumann's, the tube mics, two tube preamps, a DA-88 recorder, and a small portable mixing board.  That's it.  No smoke and mirrors, and no punching in.  Just good microphones and good instruments.

Mixdown was done at the engineer's studio to an old Studer half track.  Norman did overdub a fiddle and dobro to two cuts at the mixdown session, and added a vocal harmony [sung with a mild cold] to one song

Re your article: Everybody has their own preferences and habits. But I will say this-- I would never use a J-200 on any recording session, or for that matter, for anything else!!

Edited by - rcc56 on 04/09/2020 23:04:42

Apr 10, 2020 - 4:49:15 AM

1484 posts since 3/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

When I accompanied Norman Blake on "Flower From the Fields of Alabama", we used two smaller Neumann's that Norman had bought many years before for the instrument mics. He has used them on most, if not all his recording sessions since he bought them. No problem with getting a good sound from those mics.

We used a couple of ancient tube mics for the vocals.  The record was recorded in 2 1/2 days at Norman's home with a minimum of equipment--  the Neumann's, the tube mics, two tube preamps, a DA-88 recorder, and a small portable mixing board.  That's it.  No smoke and mirrors, and no punching in.  Just good microphones and good instruments.

Mixdown was done at the engineer's studio to an old Studer half track.  Norman did overdub a fiddle and dobro to two cuts at the mixdown session, and added a vocal harmony [sung with a mild cold] to one song

Re your article: Everybody has their own preferences and habits. But I will say this-- I would never use a J-200 on any recording session, or for that matter, for anything else!!


That must have been a special experience, Bob. Thanks for sharing that.

i wonder if the smaller Neumann that Norman Blake was using were KM84s.

Those tube preamps must have sounded nice and warm.

Apr 10, 2020 - 2:13:07 PM

1484 posts since 3/27/2008

Sharing an update:

I decided that I wanted the best mic I could afford for the kind of tone I wanted, so I am returning the Mojave MA-300 and getting their flagship mic, the Mojave MA-1000 (which has been described as a "Wow" mic.

I will record and post some samples in the BHO when I receive it and record with it.

My Sweetwater rep recommended the MA-1000 over the U87 (because of how he thought the Mojave handled highs in a more ear-pleasing way).

Apr 11, 2020 - 5:33:58 AM
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beegee

USA

21610 posts since 7/6/2005

Sonny Osborne likes the U87. That's good enough a recommendation for me....

Apr 11, 2020 - 1:13:49 PM

1484 posts since 3/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by beegee

Sonny Osborne likes the U87. That's good enough a recommendation for me....


That's a great point, Bob.

And JD and Earl also recorded some of their tunes on U87s...

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