In a time where modern advertising, social media, personal views and forums rule, it is sometimes hard to know where to turn for a high-end gear purchase. Every piece of equipment has a league of people who love what it does, and then there is an equal and opposite league of people who think that the same piece of equipment is the worst thing since sliced bread.
We are fortunate to have companies that will allow us to test some items before purchase, but that is not always possible, so we begin the search online for videos, reviews and forum help. Usually, that ends up with buying a product somewhat blind and simultaneously informed. The hardest part of spending large amounts of overworked money on a blind piece of gear is that you already have an opinion before it has even been plugged in.
When asked to review a piece of equipment I always try to be cynical, usually, the review periods are short, and I barely get a chance to get out of what I call the “Honeymoon” period. You know what I am talking about, the moment you get a new plugin, and somehow it finds its way on multiple tracks, doing everything you ever wanted and more. Two weeks later, you find out what you actually like it for, and then it only comes out when you need it. The same thing happens to me with equipment, good microphones are addictive, mic pre’s feel unbelievable when they do something you have been searching for, but after a couple months, you realize what you enjoy, and begin the hunt for next piece of equipment. The circle begins again.
The Neumann U67 is rather a mythical piece of equipment for me, I have lusted after one for about 5 years, every time I get close, I shy away. Buying something vintage is exhilarating and terrifying. You have no idea how long it will last before maintenance, you have no idea how much has been modified before you get your hands on it, also you have no idea how to justify spending the frankly, insane amount of money.
When I heard that Neumann was going to re-issue the ‘67 my nerdy/gearlusty mind got excited. I knew it was gonna be pricey, I knew the build quality was gonna be amazing, I knew I would love the way it sounds. I had never heard a ‘67 by this point, but somehow knew everything about it.
I decided to rent one for a project that was coming up. Due to my relationship with the rental company, I managed to get an old one as well as the new one to do a ‘good ol fashioned shootout’. I was excited, nervous and clearly needed to get a life. But they arrived on the day of the order, and I opened both cases. Physically, they look identical, with the exception of the cardioid pattern being upside down on the vintage one, they are the same. The cable that connects the new ‘67 to the power supply is rather thin, not that it effects the sonics of the mic in any way, but I tend to enjoy a thicker cable, for some reason it makes me feel that the cable is more robust.The power supply on the new one is stunning, the shock mount is typical Neumann Valve shock mount style. The case that is shipped with the microphone screams quality and class.
Onto the part that actually matters.
I set up the two mics side by side, put them straight into the Focusrite Red 8Pre mic preamps, level matched them and began recording. The country duo I was recording had both a Female and Male vocalist, so this made the shootout far easier. First up was the male singer. He sang two passes of the first verse into the Vintage ‘67 and then two passes of the song into the Re-Issue ‘67.
We took a little break, came back and blind tested them. It was easy to pick out the vintage one as it had a slightly darker tone. On his voice, we ended up with the Vintage ‘67.
Next up, we lined up the Female singer and did the same exercise. Took a break, came back and picked the re-issue ‘67. This made me scratch my head and look questioningly at my computer screen.
We tracked vocals extensively for two full days, and both mics performed excellently. Self-noise was not an issue, neither was proximity or flexibility(the flexibility to eq or compress a vocal). These mics are truly fantastic workhorses.
The part you actually want to read:
They sound different, is one better than the other? Absolutely not. If they were two contrasting brands, we would not even blink an eyelid or try to pick our ‘favourite’ because we would understand that they were two different mics. Age of a microphone plays large a part in how it sounds. What life has the capsule had? How much has it been maintained, or not maintained? Where was it stored? Smoking studio or not? The factors are quite extensive, and in the end, it largely does not matter. Will this stunning re-issue of the ‘67 sound like its tubey ancestor in 40 years? Quite possibly. Is the new ‘67 more reliable and easier to repair? Does it have a warranty? Yes to both of those questions. Would I rather buy two of the new ones for the price of one of the old ones? I believe I would not hesitate to purchase one of the new ones, they will hold their value and the quality is typically Neumann (Which is to say, it won't let you down, at least not in the first 20 years or so).
Let's not forget this mic is in some serious company within the price bracket. With options from Chandler, Manley, Bock, Telefunken, and Geffel, it is not an easy market to shift large quantities. But the brand loyalty with this particular company should see all of them sold quite soon I suspect. Will I pick one up for my facility? I am looking over at my mic locker wondering which of my pieces are about to meet their online fate…Credit - The Cabin by Brakeline Music
Below are audio files of the track, these are uncompressed .wav files so may take a short while to buffer.
Neumann U67 Vintage
Neumann U67 Reissue
View the new Neumann U67 Reissue on our web store.