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Joined: Jan 2019
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I know the acoustic vs digital was probably done to death here, but here goes:


In search for a good piano mainly for my very musical son we rented a Yamaha Avant Grand N2 which was an instant improvement over our previous digital piano. During the lockdown we couldn't really test any pianos in store and I felt that it was a good compromise. I also very much like the ability to play with headphones but perhaps it isn't the most important thing for me.

Now we had a chance to go to a store and play several acoustics. Among the ones we tried (and can afford) several Yamaha U3 models are the ones we liked the most.

The thing is though I feel that our rental Avant Grand action is closer to that of a grand piano than any of those U3's. It feels really nice. But its sound feels to me perhaps a bit uninspiring. Like there is no depth to it. Unfortunately I don't 100% trust myself on this issue because my musical abilities are pretty basic, I play perhaps at an intermediate level and haven't played consistently since I was a child, so cannot actually test any complicated pieces on all these pianos. Neither was I exposed to any variety pianos, and really playing this N2 is first time in my life playing on a "grand", except briefly in a store. I do see a lot of people on these forums who feel it is close to a real piano and who are no doubt more experienced than me. But perhaps they look at this from a different perspective, ie performing or recording rather than learning.

So essentially I am interested to hear if people who actually tried to play one of the avant grands feel it is an adequate replacement of a real instrument for someone who hopefully will one day play advanced pieces. The important thing for me is how it helps one to develop as a pianist, not the way the piano sounds to others. Or will we be better off with a U3?

Both instruments would have to be used btw, and hence will cost roughly the same.

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Your analysis of the positives and negatives of each instrument is perfectly logical. The possible touch advantage of the N2, assuming that's one of the models with the grand action, may not be that important until the pianist reaches an advanced level.
One of the biggest advantages of the Avantgrand is the ability to play it with headphones, but that seems not so important to you. As excellent as the sound of the AG is, non acoustic pianos don"t yet sound as real as acoustic pianos. There are other advantages of the AG including record and all the different voices.

Does your son have a preference? I think you can"t go wrong with either choice.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 04/13/21 07:03 PM.
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If this is intended primarily for your son I'll just throw one other factor in. My wife had a beautiful Bosendorfer semi-concert grand when living with her parents but when we were married there were some painful choices to be made as accommodating that piano in any house we could afford was impossible and she had to change down to an, admittedly very nice, upright. So, in the end, having a fine grand to learn on proved no advantage at all.

But, really, the N2 and an acoustic are very different instruments. I would be very surprised if you don't actually have a preference and would suggest you simply get the one that inspires you to play the most.

Last edited by gwing; 04/14/21 11:06 AM.
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I had a Clavinova CLP 645 which was a good digital piano to start with but I eventually decided to upgrade to Avant Grand N2. I can vouch that the N2 touch and sound was way better than my Clavinova having more speakers and grand piano touch.

However, I must caution that N2 is already out in the market for so long and the sound samples are quite old already. I bought the N2 for the acoustic touch response mechanism but I also knew that the sound samples and multimedia connectivity are not at par with the newer digital pianos. If you really want an Avantgrand N2, I suggest to just get a used one. This is a sophisticated instrument that should allow anyone to advance especially serious student pianists and performers.

Getting an upright will give you the nice acoustic sound but trade off will be the touch since the hammers are positioned differently.

Go and play other pianos- don't rush the buying process. I'm sure you and your son will eventually arrive to a conclusion that would be best favorable in your situation. Let us know what you've decided later on.


Yamaha C3X SH <=Yamaha C3 PE <= Yamaha AvantGrand N2 <= Yamaha CLP-645 <= Yamaha P-140s
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If your son has a teacher, what does he/she suggest? What piano does his teacher have in his studio? I would lean towards not having to adjust dramatically between his teacher's piano and your own piano.

Is an acoustic grand piano in your consideration?

Last edited by Harpuia; 04/14/21 03:09 PM.

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Originally Posted by Harpuia
If your son has a teacher, what does he/she suggest? What piano does his teacher have in his studio? I would lean towards not having to adjust dramatically between his teacher's piano and your own piano.
I think choosing a piano based on the teacher's piano to avoid adjusting should be very low on the list of criteria. Far lower than what the OP listed as what he sees and the positives and negatives of each choice. In fact, I can't remember this ever coming up in the thousands of posts on PW about choosing a piano. Neither piano should cause a problem no matter what kind of piano the teacher has, and the student might have a different teacher in a year or two. I do agree that the teacher's input might be relevant as long as the teacher is familiar with the Avantgrand.

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Thanks for all your responses.

Both my son's former and current teachers strongly suggest the acoustic. I value their opinion a lot, but I would admit I was just slightly suspicious that this might be due to some bias on their part, due to lumping all digitals under the same category. I do after all see on these forums some professional pianists happily practicing on Avant Grands. Also some of the acoustics I tried were definitely inferior - for example a new Kawai K300 that people seem to think is good I definitely didn't like, and some used U3s we tried weren't impressive sounding either. I guess what mostly attracts me in the N2 aside from the headphones is that they are all the same, so you know exactly what you are buying even if you buy used - whereas with the acoustic you can buy a lemon easily - very similar to buying a used car and I hate it smile

I went to a piano shop today to try a new U3 and YUS5, and I do prefer them to N2 overall. They have by the way none of this annoying brightness of some old U3s, nice balanced sound and nice action although lighter than the N2 (but not sure if this is even an issue). But they are too expensive. So I would need to find a good sounding used one.

He plays on a grand piano in school and to get a grand we would first have to get a new house laugh

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So basically if the choice was between a new U3 and Avant Grand I would choose U3.

But between a used U3 and a used N2 (which is the same as new) - I am still not sure.

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I suggest asking his prior and present teacher exactly why they prefer the acoustic and how strongly they feel about it.

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Hmm...... Choosing a piano is very personal but if I were in this situation I would choose the N2. I like the grand piano action and if your son practices on a grand at school he might have some preference.

I do think that AvantGrand could be used for advanced level practicing. It has longer keys and wider dynamic range than an upright, as long as the volume is set on the correct level. Since you are mostly playing with speakers, the N2 has one of the best speaker systems in all digital pianos (along with N3X).

Now, my complaint on N2 is the pedal. I own an acoustic grand and an AvantGrand. Both the right pedal and left pedal feel quite different on these two pianos so that I have to adjust whenever I switch the instrument. It actually taught me how to adapt to different pedals. The pedals on each acoustic pianos are also different but digital pianos are different animals when we are talking the pedal.

Obviously, a good acoustic piano will always have a better tone quality. Whether this is important for you learning, really depends on what stage you are at. For me, I can “imagine” a good tone when practicing on a digital piano so I don’t feel a large gap. But ymmv. I do have more motivate to practice after having an acoustic piano. A good acoustic piano can inspire your musical creativity.

I had an experience at a piano showroom. After trying several used grand pianos in a bad shape and I tried an N2. It’s such a relief. The N2 has an even touch and sound while a lot of used acoustic in the bad shape that don’t have. In the meantime, I tried an N3X after trying out new Bosendorfer. The N3X really can’t hold a candle.

So the condition of the U3 really makes a difference.

Last edited by Harpuia; 04/15/21 01:54 AM.

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Originally Posted by Eggplanted
So basically if the choice was between a new U3 and Avant Grand I would choose U3.

But between a used U3 and a used N2 (which is the same as new) - I am still not sure.

If a new U3 is out of budget have you tried a K500? Here in the UK they are quite a bit cheaper than the U3 and I think you'll be impressed with the difference between these and the K300 you have had a look at. To be a bit radical - I notice that Chiltern Pianos, not so very far away from you, have a Bechstein Model 8 they have restored which might be a bit special.

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I can happily recommend the AvantGrand line of pianos having played an NU1X daily for the best part of 18 months. I appreciate however that the NU1X has an upright action as opposed to a grand action inside so they are quite different. I briefly played an N2 years ago but it was too long ago (and too brief a moment sat at the piano) to recall what it was like.

Forgetting the acoustic route for the time being, is it worth considering the N1X, Eggplanted? I'll confess that I don't know loads about the N1X/N2 but if memory serves me correct, they both have grand piano actions but the N1X has the newer, better sound engine with the CFX (and it's binaural sampling when headphones are plugged in) and Bösendorfer concert grand piano sounds. I'm not sure what the speaker setup is like but I'm lead to believe that it may be marginally better on the N2 over the N1X.

Just some food for thought... good luck in your search!


Current: Yamaha AvantGrand NU1X
Previous: Venables & Son Academy-168, Kawai K-15 E and Yamaha Clavinova CVP-208

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From the other side. I tried an N2 a few years back and it was nice for a hybrid. Even though the sound was good, it’s unmistakably digital and to me, not nearly as rich as the lower line of Yamaha grands. Between the N2 and a GC1, I’d get the GC1.

It’s been awhile since I tried a U3 but it’s great for an upright. You could also check out the more advanced YUS series, which offer even better sound and action.

You might also check out Kawai hybrids and uprights. Kawai and Yamaha have been competitors forever which benefits players giving us great selection.

Best Wishes!


J & J
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