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Is this video, James Shawcross gives the Yamaha S7X an absolutely glowing review.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FSCZCqWe-Y

He says it reminds him of a Fazioli, and in the comments section someone comments that it is "on par" with Steinway, and he comments that actually it is "better".

Are they really that good? In Australia, the S7X is about 70% more expensive than the C7X, but dramatically cheaper than a Steinway B which is also a smaller piano.

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For high level pianos, it's not possible to say in any precise way that one piano is better than another. IMO the views on his videos are just his personal opinion and not backed up by any in depth knowledge about pianos or high level piano skill.

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Maybe you could PM Rich Galassini to get our resident Yamaha dealer to give you S7X to CX7 specifications difference and his opinion on how those two pianos compare. I don’t know how you would get a completely unbiased opinion about which is better, a S7X or a Steinway B. Besides that, the only opinion that matters is your own. Play both and tell us what your experience is. Best Wishes.


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
For high level pianos, it's not possible to say in any precise way that one piano is better than another. IMO the views on his videos are just his personal opinion and not backed up by any in depth knowledge about pianos or high level piano skill.

And the choir said ‘Amen’ — take these videos and conclusion with a very large grain of rice (maybe a 5 lb. bag)


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I played a S7X recently when I was shopping for my new piano (ended up getting the Seiler SE-208). It could've been just the way this piano was prepped but it didn't really impress me a lot. The tone felt too "dry" with not enough resonance or full body, if that makes any sense. The Seiler SE-208 really made it sound inferior with it being next to it.

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Maybe my perspective will help. Since you're in Australia, you would most likely be comparing an S7X to a newer Hamburg Steinway B, which is quite different from the 1981 NY Steinway B I own which is a lovely piano. It's lush and I do like the "American" sound. Since I purchased my Steinway B used, I paid much, much less for it. I happened on to a consignment sale situation in which the owners were highly motivated to sell. It is extremely rare to purchase a nice Steinway this affordably. Since then, I've had the occasion to play a few Yamaha S7X pianos. I don't know that I would say that the S7X is superior to a Steinway B. That is purely subjective. But I will say, that I am a fan of the S7X, although I like the Shigeru Kawai SK7 better. Since I don't have unlimited resources, so if I were buying a new piano, I think I would purchases an S7X or an SK7 over a Steinway B to save the money. BUT, again, that's just my opinion. Just search our past threads here on PW. Steinway's position in the tier rankings of pianos is highly contested, but not as much with the Hamburg instruments. Having played them side by side, I can say that the S7X pianos are much more refined than the C7X's.

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As others have said, your choice is a personal one.

What I have personally experienced is that the Sx series has satisfied clients who have very high demands. I have had clients choose them over Steinway pianos, but in the end my best advice is to buy what YOU love. You would not be making a mistake to choose the Sx7 over a new Steinway B, IMHO. (However, a Hamburg built Steinway B is a really nice piano as well.)

Good luck in your decision and please keep us posted,


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I owned a handmade precursor to the SX/CF line, the S6. The same size as a B. It was a Very nice piano with great detail, especially after it was freshly voiced down. The Yamaha hammers at that period in time -it was a NAMM piano from 1997- seemed to need more voicing otherwise the piano would be extremely overly bright.

In the time elapsed between then and now, I don't think it would be a stretch to say Yamaha has probably made major refinements in that area. In fact the SX line was developed in tandem with Bosendorfer from what I understand.

I've played the SX7 once, last year, and was very impressed. I don't feel you or Anyone could go wrong with it. That said, my tonal preference still remains with an American Steinway. No matter how much prep or voicing given a Yamaha - last year I played a highly tweaked CFX which was great but next to it was a relatively, in comparison, inexpensive, older rebuilt model L five feet away. The Steinway was nothing overly magical and obviously dwarfed by the size difference but when I came off the flagship piano and sat down at the rebuild, I instantly started smiling, nodding and saying to myself....Yes thumb. The Huge difference in the tonal quality between the two was striking. I was home.

Fwiw I've owned two Yamaha grands (the other was a C7e) for a combined total of 22 years. Wonderful pianos but not Steinways. I would say it took a solid three years to change over from highly embedded "Yamaha ears" to the "Steinway sound" of...ah ok, I now "get it". wink

One guy's opinion on the Internet. smile


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I think same model and age pianos are not the same, rather individual pianos form a normal distribution. You have good examples and then bad ones (my dealer just told about Yamaha C6X that went back to Yamaha and was dismantled and destroyed, there was sidetone that even Yamaha tech could not get rid of). If you have a good tech, you can possibly move your piano up, or even to the top end of the distribution. When we say that Yamaha S7X is this good, and Steinway B that good, we are most likely talking about median pianos of corresponding distribution (if you have tried many examples). However, these distributions overlap, so it is easy to find S7X that is better than Steiway B, and vice versa. Not sure if you get my point. You might also think your piano as blank canvas, what can your tech do it with? If the canvas is yellow, you can not turn it blue. How does it age, does it keep it qualities after 10 or 50 years? I wish it would be easier to decide...

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Purely a matter of preference. I would personally choose an S7X over a Steinway because I prefer the clean sound, but if I found the right B it might blow the S7X out of the water. Or it might not.

Really it’s difficult to say is one model better than the other because it comes down to individual pianos and the technicians preparation of the instrument.

In the USA, the preference is generally for the grittier Steinway tone which they say is more colourful and fuller, but often Europeans find it aggressive and bombastic, while Americans might find European and Japanese instruments a bit lifeless.

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There are a lot of good observations here in this thread, especially Rich, Dave, and Joseph. While they don't exactly agree or disagree, they all offer very important things to be considered. It depends on who you identify with.

I'll add this to the pot. It also depends on they type of music you play and what you want from the playing experience. Most of the music I play live is pop/jazz/inspirational/religious in a band. I find that when I'm playing in a band, I prefer a clearer sound that will cut thru the mix. In those cases, I prefer something along the lines of a Yamaha. But when I'm playing at home solo, I really enjoy the grittier, fuller, American sound (as Joseph Fleetwood put it ;)).

Just another aspect to consider.

Last edited by GC13; 02/02/21 09:03 AM.
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Right I mean honestly sometimes I prefer a Roland RD1000 but not for Rachmaninoff!

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
IMO the views on his videos are just his personal opinion and not backed up by any in depth knowledge about pianos or high level piano skill.

I very much agree with this, pianoloverus. Not to speak out of term but I'm not a massive fan of his videos and likewise get the impression that he does not have any real granular, in depth knowledge of pianos nor any high level of skill as a pianist. That said, he attacks the videos with a lot of enthusiasm and has a lot of content which is positive.

I sure thought that S7X sounded silky. That bass...! I just really wish he'd stop playing Bach chorales and that cheesy original composition (which has a very basic harmonic progression by the way) as test pieces and pick something that showcases the pianos better!


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Originally Posted by williambonard
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
IMO the views on his videos are just his personal opinion and not backed up by any in depth knowledge about pianos or high level piano skill.

I very much agree with this, pianoloverus. Not to speak out of term but I'm not a massive fan of his videos and likewise get the impression that he does not have any real granular, in depth knowledge of pianos nor any high level of skill as a pianist. That said, he attacks the videos with a lot of enthusiasm and has a lot of content which is positive.

I sure thought that S7X sounded silky. That bass...! I just really wish he'd stop playing Bach chorales and that cheesy original composition (which has a very basic harmonic progression by the way) as test pieces and pick something that showcases the pianos better!

One thing you can say for him is that he has a lot of experience playing and comparing expensive pianos from all the major manufacturers. So, I'd say his opinion carries some weight for that reason.

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Originally Posted by Sonepica
Originally Posted by williambonard
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
IMO the views on his videos are just his personal opinion and not backed up by any in depth knowledge about pianos or high level piano skill.

I very much agree with this, pianoloverus. Not to speak out of term but I'm not a massive fan of his videos and likewise get the impression that he does not have any real granular, in depth knowledge of pianos nor any high level of skill as a pianist. That said, he attacks the videos with a lot of enthusiasm and has a lot of content which is positive.

I sure thought that S7X sounded silky. That bass...! I just really wish he'd stop playing Bach chorales and that cheesy original composition (which has a very basic harmonic progression by the way) as test pieces and pick something that showcases the pianos better!

One thing you can say for him is that he has a lot of experience playing and comparing expensive pianos from all the major manufacturers. So, I'd say his opinion carries some weight for that reason.
I think his comments reveal little understanding of pianos or how to talk about them in a meaningful way, and he plays at what I would call an advanced intermediate level. In the video on this thread he called the piano's tone "icy" which is essentially meaningless.

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Well, this might be correct, but still I find his videos helpful. And most people won’t ever reach his “advanced intermediate level”. I think this is a misunderstanding. You don’t have to be an expert in playing the piano to judge its sound qualities.
Jürgen Klopp has never been a really good football player, but he knows football better than almost anyone else.

As I said, I like his “intermediate” ways: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2Lp4vQt_o4


It’s entertaining and also helpful in a way. Of course one must play the instrument oneself to get the full picture. But more or less everything comes down to personal taste in the end.

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I had an urge to discuss James‘s video in my last post, but I resisted.

Since it has come up, I will add that I appreciate his enthusiasm and I hope that he continues to do these videos. Let’s face it, he is reaching a much larger audience than I would personally, or piano world does. He is good for piano and I like that.

I have messaged him a couple of times to correct mistakes that he has made in his videos, but I include something positive as well and encouragement to continue. I imagine that he gets plenty of negative feedback from “experts” like us already.

Yes, he gets things wrong sometimes, his playing could be more professional, he could do more research so I would enjoy his videos more, but he is not making his videos for me - or for many of us here. He is making his videos for someone who has never played a Bösendorfer, a Johannus organ, an Sx series Yamaha, etc. In fact, his audience may be learning about these instruments for the very first time from his videos.

In my business I feel it is important to find out from all of my customers how they first learned of Cunningham Piano company and about whatever product they purchased. I am waiting for the day that I ask this of a very high end customer and their answer is James. I am certain it will happen.

My 2 cents,


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IMO, he might not have the knowledge or expertise to compare them from a build, material, craftsmanship point of view. Also the video is not a side by side comparison video.

I think these two pianos have very different sounds. So, it might be a personal preference, rather than a which is better debate.

Personally I would prefer a Steinway B over a Yamaha S7X.

https://youtu.be/XSnvCXPefig

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Originally Posted by williambonard
I just really wish he'd stop playing Bach chorales and that cheesy original composition (which has a very basic harmonic progression by the way) as test pieces and pick something that showcases the pianos better!
+100!

I find the videos hard to watch because I subjectively can’t stand that piece. I appreciate the quality of his recording equipment - which renders the instrument sound more accurately than the videos of many better qualified reviewers do. And he really does well with sound rendition in environments that aren’t acoustically great (like extremely packed showrooms) where other videos just give off poor sound and background noise/chatter.

His comments I ignore entirely. They are momentous conclusions drawn from seemingly little time spent with the instrument. It’s as if he’s reviewing persons he’s spent 5 minutes of smalltalk with for their long term marital potential.

"This here is Monica, whom I barely know, and she’ll have a fantastic temper in old age and strong health in retirement.“

Last edited by Windjammer; 02/03/21 08:53 AM.

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Originally Posted by Windjammer
His comments I ignore entirely. They are momentous conclusions drawn from seemingly little time spent with the instrument. It’s as if he’s reviewing persons he’s spent 5 minutes of smalltalk with for their long term marital potential.

"This here is Monica, whom I barely know, and she’ll have a fantastic temper in old age and strong health in retirement.“
Glad it's not just me. I used to watch his videos and got into too much time wasted arguing with him in his comments section. Actually, it's his DAD who runs the comments section and argues with me. More power to the kid, and I hope his future is bright for him, but he rubs me the wrong way in the most irritable way when it comes to an "authoritative voice" on acoustic piano discussions. He just repeats stuff that he reads online, and it's hardly accurate to boot. But, he's become quite popular and is invited by private owners and dealers to play some pretty amazing pianos. That's the YouTube way, I guess.


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