Grand Piano Mic Model Comparison | Sphere Sounds

What does the Sphere L22 sound like on a grand piano? Townsend Labs product expert Julian David recorded this piano performance by Christian Li with a spaced pair of Sphere L22s. Hear and compare select mic models from our included Core collection of more than 20 mics with Christian's improvisation titled "Patriot Peace". Check it out:

Mic Models

The grand piano mic model comparison starts with the unprocessed sound of the L22 in cardioid. We then switch to the SD-451 model, which has a reduced bass response and a slightly scooped top end. Up next is the LD-251 model giving you that rich tube microphone sound with a wonderful round bass response and expansive sounding highs. This mic model is followed by the LD-87 featuring a more mid-range focused sound. For maximum contrast, we're then switching to the RB-4038 in figure-8. This emulation of an iconic British ribbon microphone sounds beautifully warm and dark. Lastly, the set concludes with Sphere Direct, which again showcases the appealing sound of the L22 without any modeling.

While this list of microphone models is far from complete, it should give you a pretty good idea of the range of sounds you can expect from the Core Collection included with Sphere. Every instrument, every performer, and every song is different. With Sphere, you have the ability to tailor the microphone characteristics to each individual recording situation - both while tracking and after. In other words, you never have to regret a particular mic choice in hindsight.


For this grand piano mic model comparison, Julian positioned a spaced pair of L22s right at the edge of the piano about 1m (3 feet) apart. The lid of the fantastic sounding Steingraeber & Soehne grand piano was on full stick to achieve a pure, unadulterated capture. You can see a third Sphere L22 in 180 mode (rotated by 90 degrees) in the photo below. This was just for comparison and we didn't use it in the audio examples. The pair of L22s were recorded with an Apollo interface by Universal Audio using the onboard preamps. Most importantly, no additional processing was applied to these audio examples.

Have a more in-depth listen to range of mic models below. This time, we engaged our unique Off-Axis Correction™ feature to give you a more ideal cardioid polar pattern. As a result, the stereo image doesn't change so much from one mic to the next: 

The setup for this grand piano mic model comparison is identical to a performance by Christian Li and Matthew Halpin. If you'd like to hear more from them and learn all about the setup for the duo, check out this blog post.

The Artist

Christian Li is a pianist, composer, and arranger based in New York City. Born in Montreal, Quebec and raised in the small town of Horseheads, NY, he began performing regularly at the age of twelve. He has since been mentored by a colorful cast of musicians, including Danilo Perez, Ben Street, Greg Osby, Hal Crook, Joe Lovano, Joanne Brackeen, John Patitucci, and Alain Mallet. Christian has appeared in such notable venues as The Newport Jazz Festival, The Panama Jazz Festival, Jazz En Comminges, The Monterey Jazz Festival, The Blue Note, Birdland, and the Detroit Jazz Festival. He has performed with several renowned artists, including Greg Osby, Dave Liebman, Chris Cheek, Rich Perry, Adam Cruz, and many more.

Learn more about his piano and saxophone duo project with Matthew Halpin here

With Sphere, you can audition and change the microphone model both while you're recording but also long after tracking. This makes comparing microphones really easy and means that you don't have to commit right away. We have ready-to-go session files available for you with several acoustic guitar examples so you can experiment on your own. You are invited to install the free, fully-featured Sphere plug-in for all major platforms and DAWs. Try it now and reimagine our library of pre-recorded tracks.