The 5 Best U87 Alternatives (2024)

The Neumann U87 is one of the most sought-after microphones for its rich sound and versatility but it comes at a cost! However, there have been serious attempts at recreating this highly successful classic large-diaphragm condenser microphone by other brands in a more affordable product.

For those who can’t afford to pay thousands of dollars for a recording microphone, there are suitable alternatives that come close.

My top recommended alternative is the Warm Audio WA87 R2, which makes the best effort at cloning the classic.

My second recommended alternative is the Stellar X2, which is affordable and of decent quality.

Note: When buying a large-diaphragm condenser microphone, it’s important to make sure you have good acoustic treatment in your room, as these mics can pick up a lot of background noise. Make sure to put a good deal of your budget towards room treatment rather than spending it all on your microphone!

The 5 Best U87 Alternatives (2024)

1. Warm Audio WA87
Top Pick - A very good U87 alternative at a more accessible price that delivers a clear sound.
2. Stellar X2
Budget Pick - A decent-quality, large-diaphragm unidirectional condenser microphone.
3. Mojave Audio MA-200
Pro Pick - A high-quality alternative with great reproduction capabilities and a full, warm sound.
4. Lauten Audio LA-220
Budget-friendly, FET condenser mic that's great for vocals and acoustic instruments.
5. sE Electronics sE2200
Affordable clone with a nice design and full-spectrum frequency response.

Let’s compare these in more detail.

1. Warm Audio WA87

Top Pick
A very good U87 alternative at a more accessible price that delivers a clear sound.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Not many manufacturers have launched a switchable large-diaphragm condenser microphone with “87” in the product code as Warm Audio has done! But there’s more to this clone than the name!

Pros

  • Performs well for vocals
  • A good microphone for stringed instruments
  • Full-spectrum frequency response
  • Good-quality overall professional sound
  • Great price point

Cons

  • Although it’s far more affordable than the original U87, it still can’t be classed as “cheap” in comparison!

To reduce transmission from the microphone stand, the WA87 is mounted in a handsome spider. This is also based on the “EA” design (elastic suspension) from Neumann. As with the original: omnidirectional, cardioid, and figure-eight polar patterns are available.

Even though the original Warm Audio WA87 didn’t have the same frequency response as the U87, the R2 model has brought that spec up to par. The clone now also features a full-spectrum frequency response for detailed sound reproduction capabilities.

TypeFET Condenser
Polar patternCardioid, Omnidirectional, Figure-8
Frequency range 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Sensitivity/sound pressure level125 dB

The WA-87 R2 is recommended for aspiring engineers and professional voice actors. It’s also most recommended for those looking for a scaled-down Neumann U87, not necessarily in performance, but mostly in price!

2. Stellar X2

Budget Pick
A decent-quality, large-diaphragm unidirectional condenser microphone.
View Price at Amazon

The Stellar X2 isn’t directly designed based on the famous U87 as much as the Warm Audio WA-87 is. This is a unidirectional microphone. However, the Stellar X2 is an alternative that offers many similar qualities as the original U87, but for a way more affordable price.

Pros

  • Lighter than the U87
  • Low distortion and self-noise
  • Balanced sound needing less editing
  • Good for voice-overs
  • Good build quality
  • Hand-tuned capsule

Cons

  • It doesn’t match the quality of the U87
  • Not good for big transients like percussion sound sources

The TZ Audio Stellar X2 is a high-quality condenser microphone sold at a very affordable price. The technology and excellent materials make it one of the best low-budget home studio microphones for vocals.

The resulting sound is very decent from this, though not with the same quality and level of detail you would expect from the U87 or the previously mentioned WA87.

TypeCondenser microphone
Polar patternUnidirectional
Frequency range 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Sensitivity/sound pressure level130 dB

In conclusion, the Stellar 2 can’t compete at the level of quality of the U87. That said, you probably wouldn’t expect it to be at a tiny fraction of the price of the original U87. However, it’s a decent low-budget microphone to record vocals in a home studio.

3. Mojave Audio MA-200

Pro Pick
A high-quality alternative with great reproduction capabilities and a full, warm sound.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

The Mojave Audio MA-200 is a high-quality U87 alternative that has quality components and offers a pristine audio performance with a full and warm tone. It is great for vocals and especially good for instrument recordings.

Pros

  • Full, warm, and detailed sound
  • High-quality design
  • Great for vocals and instruments
  • Great shock mount

Cons

  • Pricey

This microphone comes with high-quality components that include 3-micron gold-sputtered capsules, Jensen audio transformers, and JAN 5840 vacuum tubes. It brings a lot of character to the table while providing warm low-end sounds and dreamy highs.

It is a suitable alternative but also comes at a price. The shock mount design is superb. It is no secret that the company is well-known for investing in its design and shock mount quality.

TypeTube Condenser microphone
Polar patternCardioid
Frequency range 30 Hz to 18 kHz
Sensitivity/sound pressure level120 dB

When it comes to durability, versatility, and high-quality sound detail, the Mojave Audio MA-200 is a great option to consider for vocals and instrument recordings. It brings well-roundedness and value to the table.

4. Lauten Audio LA-220

Budget-friendly
Budget-friendly, Pressure Gradient condenser mic that's great for vocals and acoustic instruments.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

The Lauten Audio LA-220 V2 is a decent U87 alternative with a very affordable price tag that delivers a warm and clear sound. It is great for recording vocals and instruments with a full-spectrum frequency range and Cardioid polar pattern.

Pros

  • Superb value for money
  • Sounds amazing (especially for the price)
  • Warm, smooth, and detailed delivery

Cons

  • Falls short in sound detail when compared to pricier options

For the given price, the Lauten Audio LA-220 V2 is an incredibly good microphone with a balanced and smooth sound detail. The lows, mids, and highs are on par, especially with the use of the 120Hz high-pass and 12kHz low-pass filters to even out the sound.

As far as alternatives go, this is a great mic to consider if you’re after a well-balanced sound for vocals or instruments.

TypePressure Gradient Condenser
Polar patternCardioid
Frequency range 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Sensitivity/sound pressure level130 dB

The Lauten Audio LA-220 V2 is an affordable, versatile, and durable microphone that delivers a warm and balanced sound and includes high-pass and low-pass filters to even out your sound.

5. sE Electronics sE2200

Value For Money
Affordable clone with a nice design and full-spectrum frequency response.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

The sE Electronics sE2200 is another budget-friendly U87 clone that offers so much for a substantially lower price than the original. It’s a solid choice for recording vocals and instruments and as far as specs go, it does not disappoint.

Pros

  • Balanced sound
  • Very affordable clone
  • Low-cut filter

Cons

  • Only a Cardioid polar pattern
  • Does not measure up to high-end options in terms of sound detail

The sE2200 brings a lot of value to the table, especially for the given price. Even though it features only one polar pattern (Cardioid), it does have a handcrafted 1″ gold-sputtered condenser capsule for consistency in sound.

Additionally, the sE2200 does have an 80/160Hz highpass filter and a 10/20dB pad so you can fine-tune the sound from the onboard options. The best thing about this mic is the low noise design and has high SPL rating so, all in all, it checks all the boxes quite well.

TypeCondenser
Polar patternCardioid
Frequency range 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Sensitivity/sound pressure level125 dB, 145dB (with pad)

Overall, if you’re in the market for a decent U87 clone at a great price range, the sE2200 should suffice. Also, included in the package you will receive a shockmount, a pop filter, and a thread adapter. Talk about value for money!

What To Expect from U87 Clones

Here’s the part you have to be frank with yourself. You need to set your expectations a little bit lower when getting a U87 clone. Some of the key things to note about them are:

They Vary Greatly

Yes, they are clones, but the audio manufacturers simply can’t get them to sound identical to the original. In fact, even Neumann’s U87AI microphones don’t even sound quite the same as the original!

While the Warm Audio model is a complete copycat (same finish, same polar pattern, similar sensitivity, and more). TZ Audio produced a mic with some significant differences from the U87, but it’s still a reasonable alternative.

Putting aside brand power, you can’t get the same sound quality and charm from a clone that’s a tiny fraction of the price. In essence, many of these clones will not sound exactly like the original, but if you choose the right one, you’ll still get a great recording.

Why Is the Neumann U87 So Popular?

Perhaps the main reasons why the U87 is so popular are its reliability, versatility, and overall popularity of use for famous recordings. The U87, one of the pioneers and mainstay in large diaphragm condenser technology, is a classic, and rightly so. It has been manufactured since 1967 and has only undergone moderate modifications during this time.

The microphone can be found in almost every major professional studio; it was one of the founding elements of the typical Neumann sound.

Why Is the Neumann U87 So Expensive?

Neumann microphones are expensive because of their brand reputation, and quality, as well as their relatively high manufacturing costs.

Neumann microphones are made in Germany, and they follow very high standards of production, so they can’t be sold as cheaply as mass-produced microphones in lower-wage countries.

That said, we can’t expect higher manufacturing costs to be the sole reason these mics are more expensive. Neumann microphones have become quite iconic in the recording world, and, as such, can command a much higher price.

Conclusion

To satisfy audiophiles and professionals looking for a taste of the qualities of the Neumann model, manufacturers are experimenting with clones. You’re never going to get a sound exactly like the original, but the options on this list will get you some of the qualities of the signature sound.

My top pick is the Warm Audio WA87 R2, a complete copycat of the U87 but at a more accessible price.

My budget pick is the Stellar X2, a decent microphone at an affordable price.

Featured image by: “Neumann U87 Condenser Microphone” by Fire At Will [Photography] is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Mike O'Connor
Mike O'Connor

I've been playing drums for over 18 years. I work as both a session drummer and a drum teacher, and I love to share my knowledge and tips on this site. You can also find me on the Electronic Drum Advisor YouTube channel.

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