Sennheiser 416 vs. Neumann U87

General MicrOPHONE Comparison Information

Microphones are not all the same, and choosing one can be daunting. While microphone price is an indicator of quality, that's not always the case. More importantly, It's crucial to find the voice over microphone that works best with your voice.

To aid in your quest, we've made several videos comparing different sets of voice over microphones. These videos provide a quick reference to the tonal characteristics you can expect from each and in comparison to one another.

Listening to high-quality headphones or speakers is recommended. Avoid listening on devices such as earbuds, phones, and laptop speakers as they lack proper fidelity.

About this Voice Over Microphone Comparison

We put the Sennheiser MKH 416 shotgun microphone up against the Neumann U87 Ai to hear the difference on both male and female voice-over.

These are industry standard voiceover microphones, used on many major voiceover productions all over the world.

If you've ever heard any professional voice over or voice acting on video games, in films, on TV, or in commercials, there is a pretty good chance that it was recorded with either a Neumann U87 or a Sennheiser 416.

Talents: Greg Johnson and Laura Young

Microphone Specs

  • Microphone Name: Sennheiser MKH-416
    Microphone Type: Condenser
    Polar Pattern: Supercardioid (shotgun)
    Diaphragm Size: Small
    Connection: XLR
    Frequency Response: 40Hz-20kHz
    Output Impedance: 800 ohms
    Self-Noise: 13dBa
    Filters: None

  • Microphone Name: Neumann U87
    Microphone Type: Condenser
    Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omni, Figure-8
    Diaphragm Size: Large - 1"
    Connection: XLR
    Frequency Response: 40Hz-20kHz
    Output Impedance: 200 ohms
    Self-Noise: 12dBa (cardioid), 15dBa (omni), 14dBa (figure-8)
    Filters: 10dB Pad, Low Cut

Microphone Cost

Neumann U87 = $3500
Sennheiser 416 = $1100

Our Experience

We regularly use both the Neumann U87 and Sennheiser MKH 416.

The Sennheiser 416

While we can't say there's a clear "winner" we find the 416's shotgun polar pattern to be very useful for capturing talent that don't work the mic close. When they do, we get a nice tone that cuts through with some intimacy but you also have to be cautious of excessive sizzle.

Because of the high-frequency "brightness", the 416 tends to work better on men than women. A de-esser and high frequency roll-off during the edit can counter this affect. 

When used close on either, it offers a nice low midrange compression and punch that is very pleasing. This is somewhat the magic of the 416.

It's an excellent microphone that is worth the cost.  

The Neumann U87 is no slouch. If you're reading this you likely know it's well used for music recording and voice over alike. We of course like the U87 but find that it either works really well on a person or just lays flat. 

Thankfully it works really well on a lot of people!

One beautiful thing of the U87 is that it takes EQ quite well which is good because it does have a little midrange honk on some voices. 

The Neumann U87

The dynamics hold true to the source and the balance relative to frequency response is very good across the spectrum. This is likely why it's easy to eq. We can't say the same for some '87 clones.  

One thing for certain is that the cost of the U87 is rather expensive. Other great mics exist that rival it at a similar cost or cheaper. 

The "Winner"

While we reach for the U87 more often, over all the Sennheiser 416 offers the better value.


Microphones, Neumann U87, Sennheiser 416

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