The Neumann U 67 "Sound of Tomorrow"

Pro Audio Hall of Fame / Neumann U 67

Neumann's Next Microphone

A new look. A new sound. A new decade. These are all true of the 1960s and of the Neumann U60, which was introduced in 1960. The microphone would become known better by its eventual name - the U67. Like so many other designs, it was born out of necessity, but unlike other designs, it could hardly be improved upon. Its look and its sound have been copied endlessly, but the original stands apart as a piece of immortal gear.

The U 47 was a very hard act to follow, but Neumann succeeded in spectacular fashion.

The End is The Beginning

In 1958, Georg Neumann GmbH received word that Telefunken would no longer manufacture the VF14 steel tube that was the heart of the company's flagship microphone, the U47. Neumann placed their third and final order for a batch of tubes, and their lead engineer Dr.-Ing. Gerhart Boré began to design the successor to a microphone that is still revered as one of the top vocal mics of all time. A very hard act to follow, but Neumann succeeded in spectacular fashion, replacing one piece of classic gear with another.

Ryan McGuire, Director of Business Development and Audio Consultant

“The U67 is probably the best sounding all around studio workhorse mic ever made. Super versatile, it sounds amazing on any source. Drum overheads, rock vocals, female vocals, and acoustic guitars are standouts but really there's nothing it can't handle well. The response is full and rich with a slightly forward midrange and amazing texture and character throughout the mids.”

Ryan McGuire, Director of Business Development and Audio Consultant

A classic vintage U67 tube mic with power supply

The Evolution of The Neumann U67

Advances in technology were implemented throughout the microphone:

  • a new dual-capsule/split backplate (instead of a single backplate)
  • a new material (Mylar®) for the capsule membrane (instead of PVC)
  • a brass tension ring securing the diaphragm (instead of glue)
  • a third polar pattern (figure-eight added to omni and cardioid)
  • a new angled grille housing (instead of a cylindrical grille)
  • a new cutoff filter and pad switch (to negate proximity effect)
  • a new, smaller, glass vacuum tube (instead of a larger steel tube)
  • a new body that opened without tools (instead of using screws)
  • a new tapered body (instead of a tubular shape)

All of the improvements were part of a synthesis of elements that relied on each other; The -10dB pad helped protect the capsule, a better backplate created an accurate figure-of-eight pickup pattern; a tapered head grille helped reduce capsule resonance from both directions; an internal filter further reduced the bass-boost of proximity effect; a smaller EF86 tube allowed for a slimmer body, while new lathe technology allowed that body to be tapered.

The body shape of the U67 was so unique that Neumann patented the design of the mic. And while no one can replicate that body design, numerous imitators have tried to design a capsule similar to the K67, which was so technologically advanced that it is still produced over 50 years later. The K67 is employed in both the modern U67 and U87 microphone.

All in all, the U67 was a dramatic step forward in microphone technology and design for the new decade of the 1960s. Following their previous practice with the U47, M50, and KM53, Neumann originally named their new microphone the U60, since it was created in 1960. This was later changed to the U67 to show continuity with its parent microphone, the U47. Ironically, the successor to the U67, the FET powered U87, was released in 1967, completing a rare trifecta of incredible microphones from Neumann.

Despite being very similar to the U67, the M367 and M269 cousins have a different tone due to the unique qualities of the Telefunken tube.

Variations on the Neumann U67

Close-up of the Neumann U67 head grille All the components of a Neumann U67 vintage mic

Several variations of the U67 were also made; the M269 for Germany (1962 -1973) with a Tuchel connector, and the M367 for France (1966-1976) with a Sogie connector. Both used the AC701(k) tube in order to meet European broadcast standards, but they differ in terms of their polar pattern selection. The M367 has the same three-position switch as the U67. On the M269, however, the pattern is remotely switchable and continuously variable, just like the M49; the usual pattern selector switch has only cardioid mode and "F" for remote switching.

Both mics have a -10 dB pad and a bass rolloff switch. Despite being very similar to the U67, the M367 and M269 cousins have a different tone due to the unique qualities of the Telefunken tube. The situation is similar to the differences between the ELA-M 251 "E" and standard versions. Another similarity to the ELA-M is that the U67 and its variants could be opened up without the use of tools, to make servicing during sessions much quicker.

A stereo version of the U67, dubbed the SM69, appeared in 1964 and lasted until 1973. This is essentially two K67 capsules in a single body, with the top one able to rotate through 270 degrees. Both capsules have nine polar patterns selectable on the PSU, from figure-eight to full omni. The tapered body is nowhere to be found, replaced by a body like a pencil condenser topped by a double head grille. The SM69 used a pair Telefunken AC701(k) tubes in two separate circuits. Inevitably, the FET version followed in 1970, with virtually the same design.

By adding two amplifiers and setting all four diaphragms of the K67s to cardioid, the QM69 quadraphonic microphone was born, lasting from 1974-1985. Early versions had two mic bodies on a mounting bar from which hung the double head grille, but this was soon changed to the single body style of the SM69.

The final variant is the USM69 FET. Its pattern switching is on the mic body itself, reduced from nine pattern to the big five: omni, wide cardioid, cardioid, hypercardioid, and figure-8. Otherwise, the microphone is identical to the SM69 FET. The mic appeared in 1979 and is still manufactured today.

Examples of The Neumann U67 in Modern Recordings

A nice example of a vintage 67

Along with its cutting-edge design, the U67 delivered the most important element - a phenomenal tone. While its predecessor reigned supreme as a vocal mic, the versatile U67 with three polar positions could be used on almost any instrument, as well as vocals, with outstanding results.

Countless examples could be given, but a few should suffice; Led Zeppelin's self-titled debut with Jimmy Page on acoustic guitar and John Bonham with the Glyn Johns mic technique; David Ruffin on "My Girl," Paul McCartney on "Hey Jude" and Deep Purple's Ian Gillan on "Highway Star." All superb instruments heard through a superb microphone, the Neumann U67.

Being so good in so many applications, the U67 was a huge success, with about 10,000 of them made from 1960 to 1971 (Another four hundred or so came in 1992). By the time the decade ended and the U67 ceased production, it had become the large diaphragm tube mic of choice for audio professionals worldwide.

In 2018, Neumann announced that they would once again start producing the U67. The German microphone manufacturer has created a historically accurate replica of the U67 featuring a K67 capsule and EF86 tube. The new version of the U67 is so similar that you can actually exchange the modern parts with those from vintage versions of the mic.

Outside of Neumann made U67s, there are many brands making modern versions of the classic microphone. Based on response charts from a new U67 in the 1960s, Peluso Microphone Lab's P-67 is an accurate offering that has a sensible price tag of just over $2000. The P-67 features a capsule with dual 34mm diaphragms, a low frequency roll-off switch, a -10dB pad switch and nine different polar patterns.

Wunder Audio's take on the U67, dubbed the CM67 S, features the same classic warmth that has always been perfect for recording drums, acoustic guitar and electric guitar. The CM67 S comes outfitted with a Phillips EF86 tube and a white porcelain ringed K67 capsule that upgrades on the original design for better long-term performance.

While the Soyuz SU-017 may have a different look than other modern takes on the U67, the microphone still offers a close approximation of that classic sound at a much less expensive price. The SU-017 features a capsule based on the K67 capsule of the original U67, in addition to optional capsules with omnidirectional and figure 8 patterns.