You can have that U87 sound for a quarter of the price thanks to BeesNeez. With the BeesNeez BU87i C, we did a shoot-out with this clone against a real one in the studio.
At a quarter of the price of an original Neumann U87, Aussie company BeesNeez offers up a clone built to the exact specs: BeesNeez BU87i C. While not featuring all the bells and whistles — cardioid polar pattern only, no pad or filter — it clones the more revered of the U87s, the U87i not the newer U87i A.
We borrowed a Neumann U87 from Hercules Street Studios in Surry Hills, NSW, to shoot out this microphone on acoustic guitar and piano. Placing the microphone in the exact same spot — and using the same XLR (microphone) lead and preamp — the results were very interesting. Check out what we found.
BeesNeez aims for a no-compromise, best-in-class approach with their microphones, and they have become known the world over for their depth, richness and ability to capture that special something supposedly reserved only for their vintage counterparts. The BU87i C is not their first clone, they have a whole suite of clone microphones — in fact, they recently released a U67 clone, maybe we’ll shoot one of those out one day.
If you don’t know the story of the original, the Neumann U87 used new technology at the time of production — the transistor — which replaced the need for tube power with phantom power — also known as 48-volt power. By the mid-70s it was an industry standard and still is — but they don’t come cheap.
“Original Sound, Clone Price” is what BeesNeez say, so here we have it. Let’s get clear on what’s different first. The BU87i C has just one polar pattern — cardioid. There’s no -10dB pad or low-cut filter. However, The BU87i C is as classic looking as the original U87 and feels like a solid build. The wooden box and shock mount that currently comes shipped at no extra cost are world-class.
BeesNeez sourced a supply of original NOS (New Old Stock) 2N3819 Fets to maintain the sound of the U87i. In this clone, everything is considered. The capsule, body, and transformer are exactly of the U87i and it shows.
Recording the Neumann U87 on acoustic guitar first, it gave me a benchmark to work from. Carefully swapping it out with the BU87i C my first impression was “Excellent, I can get a U87 at a great price”. Seriously. I found that same rich full sound and acoustic guitar sparkle that I heard in the real U87.
Moving over to the piano, I again started with the Neumann U87. Obviously, recording piano in mono, I focused my ears on the mid-range of the piano. I wanted to hear the full chord on both microphones. I actually feel like the BU87i C was clearer on the piano — did I move the microphone a millimetre? I don’t know, but we were very careful to keep the mics in the same exact spot.
Curiosities aside, I would grab the BU87i C for a mono piano over the real U87 next time! I was impressed, I am eager to hear it on a vocal and also as a mono overhead on drums.
Wanting more polar patterns than just the cardioid I soon realised — How often do I really change the polar patterns? And how much more would that cost? BeesNeez made the cardioid-only version to keep the signal chain as short as possible, and I’m sure that saved in production costs as well.
Find out more about the BeesNeez BU87i C or buy one over at Beesneezproaudio.com