Grado HMP-1 Recording Instrument aka microphone

Sounds so natural it’s almost creepy
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Sounds so natural it’s almost creepy

Back in the early 1980s, I got a call from Joe Grado telling me about a new headphone he was working on, which turned into a commercial product and became a most important tool in my recording toolbox.

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Recently, I got a similar call from Joe, but this time it was about a microphone. Since the recording pipeline has improved so much over the past several years, Joe figured the transducers on either end could use some improvement, and I couldn’t agree more.

As with the development of the headphones, Joe listens to every single step of the design process, and he also has great ears. Looking for more resolution while working on his new microphone, Joe made a series of improvements to the original Grado HP headphones. [This upgrade is available via Joe Grado at Joseph Grado Signature Products— Ed.].

The HMP-1 Recording Instrument (two "super-matched" units are $5,000) looks as different as it sounds: It consists of an omnidirectional capsule mounted at the end of a half-inch diameter, 10-inch long probe, which mounts on a rectangular aluminum chassis with an XLR connector on the other end. A solid aluminum block with standard microphone threading can slide up and down the probe, affecting low frequency attenuation to taste — flat response being all the way down, which is the way I have been using it during my evaluations.

The HMP-1 has a wide bandwidth, low-distortion buffer amplifier with an ultrasmooth extended frequency response and sounds so natural it’s almost creepy. External 48V phantom power is re-regulated inside what Joe calls the “48V Purifier,” then filtered and re-filtered to energize the capsule and power the output buffer. Depending on cable quality, the no-feedback, 100-ohm balanced output can drive distances in excess of 300 feet. Output level is quite high while noise is very low when you consider it only has an effective, 2mm-diameter diaphragm.

If I could only use one word to describe the HMP-1, it would be “natural.” Never have I heard a microphone capture sound moving in air with this degree of precision. During a recent classical piano recording project, the pianist said, “It sounds exactly like it does while I’m playing the piano.”

I have been using the HMP-1 with an Earthworks 1024 microphone preamp feeding a Korg MR-2000S DSD recorder; the results have been more than satisfying. Tonal balance is as perfect as I’ve heard, with distortion so low you forget you are listening to a recording.

If you are looking for a big, fat bottom or a sizzly top end, this probably is not the mic for you. Now, if you are looking towards gaining total accuracy, you owe it to yourself to check out the Grado HMP-1 Recording Instrument.

Contact: Grado Labs | 803-324-9768 |

Tom Jung is a multi-Grammy-winning engineer, an original innovator of digital recording technology, and a longstanding contributor to PAR.