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#3154164 09/07/21 01:07 PM
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I'm facing an age-old conundrum. I've been the happy owner of a 7' Bechstein grand for over 30 years, but for various reasons, I must downgrade to a digital/hybrid piano. I'm looking for advice on which brand/model to adopt (I am in California). Several years ago, I tried Yamaha AvantGrands (N1 and N3, if I recall) and found them less than enjoyable. The Kawai Novus NV-10 looks interesting, but I haven't tried it. I need an instrument that has headphone output, as the speakers will not be used much

Here are my criteria for generally Romantic classical music (Beethoven through Scriabin):

1. Action is a top priority. Something that feels and responds (with all the subtleties) as closely to a true grand I've been using.
2. Reproduced sound. Despite my age, my hearing is still pretty good (too good in one ear, as it turns out). It may be the media on the computer, but all YouTube demonstrations of the target pianos all sound horribly fake and electronic to me. This was also true of the Yamahas I tried many years ago. I'm sure my emphasis on headphone listening isn't helping the situation. Even so, I want a piano, not an overt synthesizer. Perhaps technology has caught up.
3. Dynamic Range. The AvantGrands were frustrating to play fortissimo, because it felt as though they "topped out" in volume, regardless of force used on the keys. On an analog piano, one always has the feeling that things can be turned up one more notch.
4. Size/Form Factor. First, the instrument should be stringless. No more tuning! Second, although I'll prefer styles that resemble uprights for space reasons, I can accommodate those micro-grand styles if the piano in that form brings something special to the table other than more speakers (which, again, won't be used much).

If you have first-hand/ear comparative experience with AvantGrands, high-end Clavinovas, and Kawai Novus models, I welcome your advice and comments. Ascend to the pulpits and deliver your best sermons.

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There’s not much of a choice. You have the N1X and the NV10S. Seems like the Kawai may have a slight edge with its keyboard action. The N1X is cheaper though and has binaural sound that is specifically made for headphone use.

You will have to test these both and decide. Nobody can predict what you would like.


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There's one more choice ... the N3X. I tried it last year and found it wonderful. It's expensive, but it's worth a try.

Good like finding any of these in stock anywhere.

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I feel the same way listening to digital pianos on Youtube. I would suggest getting the action that feels the best to your fingers (difficult to separate that from what you are actively hearing, I know). Then, connect that piano to a computer using whichever sampled pianos you like. There are hundreds of different sampled pianos so there are bound to be a few that you like. There are also sampled Bechstein concert grands! (google Kontakt). As far as setting this up, I am a novice. But I have seen plenty of folks posting about it, including one lady that used an Apple Mini which she velcroed to the bottom of her piano so she still had a nice instrument setup without a lot of cable mess.

I just ordered a Yamaha CLP-795, mainly for the appearance in my home music room as I am not a concert pianist (mostly keyboard playing chords for live worship at my church). You will want to try the latest Yamaha AvantGrands and Kawai Novus models. I haven't heard of any other hybrid key actions on the market.


Yamaha CLP-795 / Ordered 6 Sep 2021, Arrived 4 Nov 2021
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Instruments at Home or Office | Pianos: Yamaha Clavinova CLP-795, Wurlitzer baby grand, Winter & Co. baby grand, Everett studio | Keyboards: Roland Fantom, Yamaha PSR-275 | Organ: Lowrey Prestige
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The N3X is the size of a baby grand and its advantage over the N1X is the speaker system that’s not important to the OP as far as I understand it.


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I have some general comments. I would probably pick the one with the action I liked best. Someday, the sound engine will be obsolete, and I might find I was using a tablet or laptop with VST. Replacing the action is buying a new piano.

All else equal, the Kawai Millenium III action likely will need less regulation maintenance over time. But I still would not choose it if I preferred the Yamaha action.

I think the Yamaha has a USB host function where you can run midi to a tablet or laptop, while simultaneously using piano's DAC to render the sound coming from the tablet or laptop, all over a single USB cable. This will be very convenient if you eventually use a VST.

I believe Kawai implemented the change in downweight on keys when the sustain pedal is activated on an acoustic piano. When that is the case, you do not need the extra force on the keys to lift the associated damper.

The top Kawai and Yamaha piano sounds are both very good for a digital piano. I might prefer one or the other, but probably would not put that high on my list because both are very good for a digital piano.

Dynamic range compression is probably from setting the volume too low on a DP, so you are limited to the volume of that gain level. You want to find the highest setting that is not uncomfortable when you play ff. For me, this is lower with headphones than monitors, so I don't like playing with headphones. I only use headphones for repetitive practice of phrases. Thus, binaural samples are irrelevant for my usage pattern.

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I bought the N3X back in Feb. and after some initial apprehension about it, I can now say I'm glad to own it, and it sees a fair amount of use everyday.

It's nice to have a piano back in the house again after 20 years (my D is in a detached studio from the house) and my wife really enjoys hearing it. I never use phones with it, just keep the volume at low to moderate level.

It head and shoulders above any Clavinova models I've played. I never connected with the Kawai Novus model but haven't played the new one.

The N3X I hear as an improvement over the N3 , so I'm glad I waited in that regard. It is not my main practice instrument obviously but for what I use it for, it's great.

If all things go according to plan, I will be trading the AG in on probably a Fazioli 212 sometime later next year when their manufacturing hopefully gets back in full swing and the supply chain gets caught up. Right now I'd have to pay for it upfront and take whatever one they send Pierre without ever playing it. And even with that I'm looking at next May. I'm still on the fence between it and a new NY Steinway B, so I have to be able to play both before making a big decision like that.

But I can highly recommend the N3X.


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Originally Posted by CyberGene
The N3X is the size of a baby grand and its advantage over the N1X is the speaker system that’s not important to the OP as far as I understand it.

Not exactly.
N3X action feels slightly more natural than N1X IMHO, it has TRS and better key tops.
And N3X is only 120 cm deep, less than usual baby grand. But the premium over N1X or NV10 might be too much if there is no use for its speakers.


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If the OP likes a better sound engine, then you can purchase one of the hybrid modles, connect it to a laptop and buy one of those Synchron Piano libraries from VSL, or some other sample library that you like. It looks like that the Kawai Novus NV10S would be a good choice, but so is the Yamaha N3X and N1X.
Good luck!

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Have you considered a silent piano instead?
That way, you can still play acoustic piano but switch to digital when needed!


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All demos on YouTube will sound poor because the people making the videos are really quite stupid, they are recording from the line out of the piano directly which is NEVER going to sound authentic due to the samples inside these digital pianos being so tiny.

Now if you watch/listen to line out recordings of good vsts like VSL or garritan then you'll immediately notice the difference, which is really like night and day. The authenticity is much more there and detail is much higher, you'll actually start to hear what a grand piano sounds like.

Personally, I think the N1X is absolutely stunning with headphones, through the speakers it's a disappointment, they are overly muffled. The action i think is really lovely to play on, but if i was playing mainly virtuosic classical music i'd avoid any of the avantgrands like the plague. I'd recommend only the NV10 for that as it has a more capable action that allows faster repetition and smoother playing... Its just more playable in general.

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Having a bad day?
Originally Posted by mwf
All demos on YouTube will sound poor because the people making the videos are really quite stupid ...

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Nothing is close to your Bechstein but want to suggest trying the Roland LX708. I played one 2-weeks ago and was impressed. Your big frustration is a severe shortage of inventory due to the pandemic. I bought a NV5 last week and felt lucky one was available. Happy hunting and try not to be frustrated.


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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Having a bad day?
Originally Posted by mwf
All demos on YouTube will sound poor because the people making the videos are really quite stupid ...

I relied on much of the information that I got here in making a decision. Even the most sincere salesman start at point of complete honesty and openness then bang, the sales pitch starts. I not blaming them, but you feel the change when it happens.


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I don’t think you can go wrong with either an N1X/N3X or NV10. They are wonderful instruments.

You may enjoy connecting them to a computer and using a VST. The possibilities there are almost limitless with the different configurations you can customize. You can adjust the velocity curves so that playing forte won’t be an issue.


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Originally Posted by JJHLH
I don’t think you can go wrong with either an N1X/N3X or NV10. They are wonderful instruments.

You may enjoy connecting them to a computer and using a VST. The possibilities there are almost limitless with the different configurations you can customize. You can adjust the velocity curves so that playing forte won’t be an issue.

+1.

Completely unrelated....is that 7' Bechstein going on sale anytime soon?


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Oh, and by the way, welcome to the forum!


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Quote
All demos on YouTube will sound poor because the people making the videos are really quite stupid, they are recording from the line out of the piano directly which is NEVER going to sound authentic due to the samples inside these digital pianos being so tiny.

What should they record instead of lineout to fix the purported problem of the samples being too small?

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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Quote
All demos on YouTube will sound poor because the people making the videos are really quite stupid, they are recording from the line out of the piano directly which is NEVER going to sound authentic due to the samples inside these digital pianos being so tiny.

What should they record instead of lineout to fix the purported problem of the samples being too small?

I'm just explaining why they sound bad, most people don't really care or can tell the difference between a poor piano sample and a high quality one anyway. It just amazes me these salesmen making these YouTube videos with bad line out recordings, they sound awful and overly digitised.

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Rubbish. Lots of us can distinguish one sample from another. I can't imagine why you'd think otherwise.
Originally Posted by mwf
... most people don't really care or can tell the difference between a poor piano sample and a high quality one anyway. It just amazes me these salesmen making these YouTube videos with bad line out recordings, they sound awful and overly digitised.
And if line out recording doesn't satisfy you, how would it sound if they used microphones instead?
Same piano, but now you have all the problems from the room environment and the mics ... the usual suspects.

And you think the recordings sound digitized? Well ... they're called digital pianos for a reason, eh?

Also, what exactly does it mean "overly digitised"?

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