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Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6

Posted By: jfl

Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/10/17 12:16 AM


I have a serious interest in the next gen Avantgrands.

YouTube trolling found me the following two amateur performances of the same Chopin nocturne (op 9 #2).

First on an AG N3X in a what appears to be a church (music school?) hall.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yd-UfW3_wOA

Then a home recording on a Yamaha C6.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSDcySDN3vM

Putting the relative strengths of the two pianists to the side and concentrating on the piano sounds, I have to say that I did prefer the acoustic sound. The AG sound is quite clear and rings out nicely, but it seemed a bit unrealistically bold in the base and much brighter overall than the acoustic recording.

Is this a fair comparison? Obviously the first recording is going through a miked PA system and that affects the tone. Does anyone actually own an N3X who can comment on the tone quality?

I've played this piece on a Yamaha conservatory grand (in a smaller studio room). I'm not sure but I think I recall the sound being closer to the acoustic recording than the N3X above. I'm don't object to the N3X sound, it's just different and maybe a little less subtle? I'm wondering if part of that is just the extra amplification of the PA system.

(I'm also not trying to start a religious war on the relative general merits of digital vs acoustic here - just trying to get some feed back on the N3X specifically from anyone who's spent significant time with it, preferably in a normal sized living room),

Also if you own an N3X: why did you decide to purchase it instead of the lower priced N3?
Posted By: toddy

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/10/17 12:29 AM

To me there's no doubt that the acoustic piano sounds more pleasant and more engaging that the digital one. This might have to do with 're-miking' the already sampled and amplified sound of the N3X. But not altogether, I don't think. There's a grating sheen on the sound of the digital, while the acoustic is drier and more involving.......just better.

.....and I'm a DP fan and supporter.....oh well smile
Posted By: jfl

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/13/17 06:38 PM

Not much response on this. I'm willing to concede that comparing acoustic to digital YouTube samples probably isn't all that useful except that most of the AG YouTube videos I've heard have seemed very realistic (though I think that most of the best sounding ones have been digital output, bypassing the speaker system and often using an external sample library).

I am interested in hearing from N3X owners. Are there any on this forum? I'm hoping to get feedback from them on personal experiences, including what made them choose the N3X over the N3 and their opinion of the N3X sound vs a Yamaha acoustic grand. I'm personally waiting to try the next gen N2 when it comes out in 2018. I was prepared to purchase an N2, but there were a few things I didn't like about it when I tried it in person. I'm assuming that comparisons of N3X to N3 would be relevant to N2X vs N2 comparisons.
Posted By: Osho

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/13/17 09:07 PM

I would be interested in hearing from N3X owners as well - but there does not seem to be a lot of them around.

My local Yamaha dealer has only N3 and is not even getting N3X right now (I don't know why - maybe trying to sell off existing N3??).

I did play with N3 and Yamaha C3/C7 in the same room in the dealer shop for 15-30 minutes each. I can definitely say that there is a huge difference in sound quality - it is hard to fool oneself that N3 is a real acoustic sound.

Osho
Posted By: peterws

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/13/17 11:03 PM

Originally Posted by Osho
I would be interested in hearing from N3X owners as well - but there does not seem to be a lot of them around.

My local Yamaha dealer has only N3 and is not even getting N3X right now (I don't know why - maybe trying to sell off existing N3??).

I did play with N3 and Yamaha C3/C7 in the same room in the dealer shop for 15-30 minutes each. I can definitely say that there is a huge difference in sound quality - it is hard to fool oneself that N3 is a real acoustic sound.

Osho


That is sad, considering the price o' the thing . . . .I did hear, on YT, a silent Yamaha grand recorded acoustically, and also digitally from it's on board digital piano. It was impossible for me to tell the difference.
Posted By: Osho

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/13/17 11:16 PM

Originally Posted by peterws
Originally Posted by Osho
I would be interested in hearing from N3X owners as well - but there does not seem to be a lot of them around.

My local Yamaha dealer has only N3 and is not even getting N3X right now (I don't know why - maybe trying to sell off existing N3??).

I did play with N3 and Yamaha C3/C7 in the same room in the dealer shop for 15-30 minutes each. I can definitely say that there is a huge difference in sound quality - it is hard to fool oneself that N3 is a real acoustic sound.

Osho


That is sad, considering the price o' the thing . . . .I did hear, on YT, a silent Yamaha grand recorded acoustically, and also digitally from it's on board digital piano. It was impossible for me to tell the difference.


If an acoustic piano is recorded and played through speakers and compare that to the same piano sound directly - I think there will still be significant difference between the 2 sounds - just because of the limitations of recording and sound reproduction. I haven't done this myself but would be interested in knowing if there have been A/B tests of this nature.

Osho
Posted By: ElmerJFudd

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/14/17 02:46 AM

I have played the N3 very often. It fools me pretty readily after sitting at it for a bit. The sound is right under you from a robust speaker system. The action feels very much like a Yamaha acoustic grand's action and the rumble under your fingers feels right. But it is still a digital, and you can be lulled into thinking if you work harder on the action you'll get more out of the instrument. Of any digital out there right now short of the new Kawai Novus 10, it's the only one I would consider a real "replacement" or "substitute" for a 5'10" baby grand.

You can't really compare an AvantGrand to a C6 or C7.
The N3/N3X is more comparable to Boston (by Steinway) GP-178, Kawai RX2, Yamaha GC2 or C2X.

That said, for recording purposes - the N3 can be MIDI'd up to a Mac/PC with any of the amazing sounding software pianos out there with great results.

Have you heard what Phillip Johnston does with an N3 and Garritan CFX piano library?



His YouTube Channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzp0erAOXXpY6O40hMx1xLg
Posted By: Osho

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/14/17 04:56 AM

Originally Posted by ElmerJFudd

Have you heard what Phillip Johnston does with an N3 and Garritan CFX piano library?


Yes, I have and it is quite impressive. Certainly N2/N3/N3X are the best DPs in the market right now - and I am hoping that NV10 will be in the same league as well.

What I meant to say is that suppose a person hears 2 sounds:
  • A: Listening to a quality acoustic piano directly
  • B: Recording the *same* acoustic piano, playing it back via speaker systems found in high end DPs such as N2/N3X and then listening to it

And then this person is asked to pick out which is the 'direct' and which is 'played-back' sound. I think most listeners will be able to differentiate between A and B and identifying which is which.

If there are recording/playback systems that can fool most people in such A/B listening test - I would be very curious to learn about it.

Osho
Posted By: jfl

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/14/17 02:36 PM

Originally Posted by ElmerJFudd
Have you heard what Phillip Johnston does with an N3 and Garritan CFX piano library?



His YouTube Channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzp0erAOXXpY6O40hMx1xLg


I've listened to all of Philip's YT recordings. The sound he brings out of the AG N3 easily fools me into thinking I'm listening to a quality acoustic grand. He doesn't go into his setup beyond saying he uses the Garritan CFX plugin. I have the Garritan CFX and the sounds I get from it are not as good as Phillip's (I'm also not a tenth the player he is). This sound, with a decent acoustic grand action (not expecting a concert grand here), would be my ideal target in a digital hybrid. It would also be great if it wasn't necessary to use an external sample library to get it, though interoperability with a MIDI host would be an important consideration (I believe that the TRS is disabled when not using the AGs internal sound engine. I'm not sure what else functions differently when using a MIDI host).
Posted By: Gombessa

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/14/17 04:41 PM

Originally Posted by jfl

I've listened to all of Philip's YT recordings. The sound he brings out of the AG N3 easily fools me into thinking I'm listening to a quality acoustic grand. He doesn't go into his setup beyond saying he uses the Garritan CFX plugin. I have the Garritan CFX and the sounds I get from it are not as good as Phillip's (I'm also not a tenth the player he is). This sound, with a decent acoustic grand action (not expecting a concert grand here), would be my ideal target in a digital hybrid. It would also be great if it wasn't necessary to use an external sample library to get it, though interoperability with a MIDI host would be an important consideration (I believe that the TRS is disabled when not using the AGs internal sound engine. I'm not sure what else functions differently when using a MIDI host).


I don't have immediate access to them, but Philip has gone into more detail about the settings he uses, they're here in this forum so it may be worth a quick search.

Regarding TRS, I think he's stated that he plays the pieces while monitoring through the N3's native sound engine, so everything should be active--the MIDI is output in real-time to CFX Grand, which renders it with a high buffer setting (though I don't think this affects the quality) unsuitable for real-time play.
Posted By: ElmerJFudd

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/14/17 10:47 PM

I can't find it right now either, but I believe he uses a pair of PA speakers/wedges for monitoring while he plays.
Posted By: jfl

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/14/17 11:15 PM

Originally Posted by ElmerJFudd
I can't find it right now either, but I believe he uses a pair of PA speakers/wedges for monitoring while he plays.


Here it is: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2364639/1.html

I hadn't read it previously. His comments are a bit distressing for those of us who are interested from a 'performance' (not recording) perspective and don't want to use external monitors (I'm currently using Yamaha HS7/HS8S monitors for my 'off in a corner' midi setup which sounds great, but am hoping to get away from that with a hybrid purchase.)

From Philip's original post:

*****"The question I have for you is how does it feel to play this...like a 9ft grand?"

The combination of the Garritan CFX samples streaming through headphones, with the grand-piano action and key vibrations of the N3, I genuinely do forget that I'm not playing an acoustic 9 foot grand. There's no way my old Yamaha acoustic grand ever sounded this good.

*****"How does the Garritan CFX sound (fidelity wise) over the on-board speakers?"

Not great. Those speakers really seem to be designed for the Avant Grand's own inbuilt sample library (which is vastly inferior to the Garritan). You can't see them in the shot, but I'm using stage monitor speakers to listen to the CFX samples.

There's no substitute though for headphones - the only reason I don't use them is because they look odd in videos, and visually destroy the illusion of an acoustic piano recording. I may yet end up working with them though for future videos.
Posted By: EssBrace

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/14/17 11:59 PM

Originally Posted by jfl

I have a serious interest in the next gen Avantgrands.

YouTube trolling found me the following two amateur performances of the same Chopin nocturne (op 9 #2).

First on an AG N3X in a what appears to be a church (music school?) hall.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yd-UfW3_wOA


Rather surprisingly no one has pointed out that this is a line out recording from the AG. This is NOT an ambient hall recording or from a mic'd PA system. there's no ambient/room/audience/coughing/chair creaking audible at all. The AG's sound has a stereo spread that you would never get with mic'ing a PA system. They've just mixed in or overdubbed the applause at the end.

So that is why it sounds a bit bold and sterile in equal measure.
Posted By: jfl

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/15/17 02:49 AM

Really!?! I guess I made an assumption it was not a direct signal based on all the microphones. That actually makes me feel a lot better about it.

When I played an N3 for more than an hour at a dealer showroom earlier this year, I was primarily assessing the action. I made the mistake of not asking someone else to play it so I could stand back and just listen to the sound. I will make a point of doing that on any future tryouts. Hopefully there will be someone there who can accommodate.
Posted By: ElmerJFudd

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/15/17 04:17 AM

Digitals generally sound total rubbish in a room without additional amplification, and that frequently ruins the realism or acoustic sound when compared with an instrument like a 9' grand, that's for sure. The N3 has as good a sound system as you're going to find on current digitals and it still does not have the timbre of a giant harp with 230 strings in a big resonant wooden box (it fairs ok if the room is forgiving or even adds desirable ambience). Digitals are great for practice, recording direct, doing amplified gigs, but [censored] for ambient recording/micing. And definitely the wrong instrument for live classical performance (solo or accompanying). Even acoustic jazz sounds better on the real deal - but that's because the music was written for a "real" piano. Phillips videos work because they are direct from the sample library - no he's not micing the N3 's speakers.
Posted By: augustm

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/15/17 09:18 AM

There is also the question of who you are playing for. I have tried N2 and N3. As a player the N2 is far better, you feel rather convinced that you are in front of something real.
The N3 throws the sound out to the room, but is less impressive to the player... It is made for a small concert hall, not home use. If you want to work seriously in a constrained space
then N2 seems the obvious choice.
Posted By: EssBrace

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/15/17 09:20 AM

Originally Posted by jfl
Really!?! I guess I made an assumption it was not a direct signal based on all the microphones. That actually makes me feel a lot better about it.

When I played an N3 for more than an hour at a dealer showroom earlier this year, I was primarily assessing the action. I made the mistake of not asking someone else to play it so I could stand back and just listen to the sound. I will make a point of doing that on any future tryouts. Hopefully there will be someone there who can accommodate.


Yes, I can assure you that is line out. The mics are clearly there for singers or other performers who are not on stage.

I had an N3. If someone else played it and I stood across the room to my ears it was extremely convincing. In fact, that was when it was at its absolute best. For the player I think the N2 is slightly superior. I assume this is to do with speaker placement. I have no experience of the N3X but the natural order of things would suggest it should be better than N3.
Posted By: jfl

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/15/17 01:10 PM

Originally Posted by EssBrace

I had an N3. If someone else played it and I stood across the room to my ears it was extremely convincing. In fact, that was when it was at its absolute best. For the player I think the N2 is slightly superior. I assume this is to do with speaker placement. I have no experience of the N3X but the natural order of things would suggest it should be better than N3.


Did you find the N3 unsatisfactory after purchasing it? Was it replaced with an accoustic?
Posted By: EssBrace

Re: Comparing the Avantgrand N3X sound to Yamaha C6 - 11/15/17 07:02 PM

Originally Posted by jfl
Originally Posted by EssBrace

I had an N3. If someone else played it and I stood across the room to my ears it was extremely convincing. In fact, that was when it was at its absolute best. For the player I think the N2 is slightly superior. I assume this is to do with speaker placement. I have no experience of the N3X but the natural order of things would suggest it should be better than N3.


Did you find the N3 unsatisfactory after purchasing it? Was it replaced with an accoustic?


Not unsatisfactory as such. A bit bland sounding perhaps through headphones. The main reason I sold it was the room in which it lived was being repurposed. I replaced it with an acoustic upright (Kawai K3). That was a mistake. There may or may not be an acoustic in my future but it would be a grand. I had a Yamaha grand before the N3 which was far too loud for the space. I'm building a house at the moment so am weighing up what to do piano-wise.
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