R/E/P > Klaus Heyne's Mic Lab

New Neumann U87 Capsules: Finally A Turn-Around in Quality?

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"Eine Schwalbe macht noch keinen Sommer", the saying goes (one swallow does not a summer make), but what I just experienced is quite astonishing, given the sorry state of Neumann K870/K87 capsules of late:

Tonight I installed a brand-new K870 (build date late 2012), and my jaw dropped:

Both sides of the capsule are lush, reedy, frequency-balanced, with a full-figured bass, and are extraordinarily musical. Only the very best K67 from the mid 1960s (the famous 'fibre board' model) could hold a candle to this one. This capsule was so exquisite and similar on both sides (very rare, for any LD dual-membrane capsule, from any period) that I still don't know which of the two sides to make the front side for cardioid operation.

I am hoping and praying that this is a trend, and will report what the next new K870 capsule portends.

Disclaimer: the electronics of the U87Ai which I installed the capsule in are heavily modified; so while this capsule could mitigate some of the stock U87Ai's electronic compromises (which I find especially unsatisfying since circuit diagram 05), it cannot overcome them all.

Klaus, this is great news. I really appreciate your sharing of your experiences with things like this-- you see far more of these capsules than most of the rest of us do, so it's good that you keep us abreast of developments. Please let us know if you see evidence of this as a trend (as opposed to an anomaly).

Jim Williams:
Those '05 SOIC daughter pcb preamps do really sound poor. Best case is to remove that and re-populate the identical pcb with original design components, not too hard to do.

Agreed. And simple enough to do (see previous discussions about how too).

I installed a brand new K67/K87 capsule in one of our three U67s yesterday. The old one had a wrinkled rear diaphragm and severe gold loss on both sides (though the front side, interestingly, still sounded fine!)

Once we've used all three for awhile, I'll return to give my impressions of the sound of the new K67 capsule to see if my impressions are positive relative to the other, older K67s in our other two mics.


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