Dachman Audio is a New York-based company that began by importing and selecting mic capsules for upgrading, replacing, and DIY, and has now added additional premium capsules using American-made 6-micron gold-sputtered mylar. Dachman’s premier product, the DA 87i DIY Kit, is based on the highly-revered, original version of the Neumann U 87 i. I’ve built two of these kits. I purchased the first one the day they were announced, and ordered the second on the day I completed the first build and heard how the mic sounded in my studio. That should give you a good idea of what I think of the DA 87i DIY Kit!

The kit includes a flight case and shock mount, along with the mic body, capsule, plus all the components beautifully organized into numbered bags that match the steps in Dachman’s build guide. The current kits have a redesigned PCB to make for even easier construction than the original, and a slightly smaller mic body (even closer to the size of the original U 87 i). I have an updated kit for this review. Building these mics only takes a few hours if you are organized in your parts sorting and have capable soldering abilities.

All of the included components are high-quality: Wima and Panasonic capacitors, 1% Vishay resistors, and a hand-selected Fairchild JFET. The output transformer is a Dachman Audio stock T13, but this can be substituted with a Cinemag CM-13113 for an additional $99.

As far as DIY builds go, I would categorize the DA 87i DIY Kit as an advanced beginner, or intermediate build – there’s nothing too difficult, but the silver wire included for connecting between the three PCBs is quite delicate, and has a tendency to break at the solder pad, requiring re-stripping and additional soldering.

The kits originally shipped with Dachman’s RK-87 capsules, but they have since added an option to swap for their premium DA-K87 (for $99 extra). I ordered a pair of these and replaced the RK-87s on both my mics and was immediately impressed by the closer tolerance and matching between capsules – they were identical in level and frequency response within 1 dB.

How do they sound? Fantastic! I’ve used the original U 87 i, and the more recent U 87 Ai, multiple times over the years, and always preferred the earlier model for its smoother frequency response. Older models are harder to come by, and as they are all at least 35 years old now their condition is always questionable. Vintage prices are always an issue too. These Dachman mics are the closest reproduction of the original U 87 model I have experienced – the pair are incredible on acoustic guitars, vocals, drum overheads or room mics, and guitar amps – honestly, there isn’t a source I’ve tried them on that I didn’t find them to be the perfect choice. The lows are deep, but even and not exaggerated. The mids have the presence and perfect amount of poke to let the source sit up and stand out in a mix. The highs are smooth and never harsh. I don’t have to fight sibilance on vocals with these mics, nor are cymbals hashy or too bright. They are the perfect picture of an "all-around" microphone.

Given the cost of the original mics and even the current price for a U 87 Ai, you would think that there’s no way that a $549 mic kit could come close to measuring up, but that’s absolutely not the case with the DA 87i. Even adding the two premium additions of the upgraded capsule and transformer still keeps the kit under $800 – that’s a hell of a lot of quality if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and build the kit yourself. If you aren’t comfortable wielding a soldering iron, a fully built DA 87i can be purchased for a $200 up-charge – still an incredible value. I can’t recommend this kit highly enough. Check it out!

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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