Recording - December 2010 - 57

What it is The sounds of the AvantGrand have been sampled from the top-of-the-line Yamaha CFIIIS full concert grand piano through a technique called Spatial Acoustic Sampling. Four mics were used (three on the left, right and center and one in the rear of the piano) and what these mics picked up is reproduced in the N3 via four speakers placed in the exact position of the microphones originally used for sampling the sound. In the N3 the three top speakers are placed on a flat-panel soundboard resonator which contributes to the natural buildup of the sound felt when playing a real piano. The subwoofer speaker faces down and is mounted on the bottom of the N3. All four speakers are individually amplified to reduce pitch-range interference. The AvantGrand contains actual hammers which strike a hammer sensor and a non-contact key sensor. This construction is obviously the closest thing that exists to the action of a real piano. All of these innovations (real action, soundboard resonator, real wood construction, swift white keys in proprietary New Ivory II), along with the newly developed Tactile Response System (TRS) which focuses on reproducing reverberation (via two transducers in the soundboard), and everything down to the pressure response in the three pedals, makes for the most authentic experience you will ever have on a piano that you have to plug in and power up. What I heard I listened to the piano in the ensemble from the back of the room and my first impression was that it was lacking some body in the lower range. During intermission I had a chance to listen to the N3 close up and to briefly play the N2 as well, and although the authenticity of the sound is impressive, I still thought that it didn’t capture the fullness of a real acoustic piano in the lower octaves. The upper range, on the other hand, is stunning. You can even hear the overtones and the natural reverberation that occurs inside a real piano. What are the advantages? First of all, cost: With a retail price tag of around $20,000 and street price hopefully lower, it costs one fifth of the grand piano whose sound it samples. Flexibility: It comes with a metronome, you can alter tuning and scales (7 types), transpose and record a performance to a hard drive (unfortunately no multitracking support), and you can also choose to play harpsichord or electric piano patches. It

also has USB, MIDI In and Out, an Aux input and an Aux output—although plugging in the output mutes the speakers, which is not great if you want to record something you are playing. Control: If you already have a grand piano and you wish you could practice in your apartment at 2 AM, now you can turn down the volume knob (or plug in headphones) and still “feel” the piano; in addition you can control the amount of reverb. Is it right for you and your studio? In my own humble opinion, having the ability to turn down the volume (which appears to be the main angle of the Yamaha marketing team on this) is not a good enough reason to compromise the authenticity of your piano playing experience. The AvantGrand is a great instrument but it is not a real piano, and if you are a professional pianist chances are you will still miss the “real” thing when you play this instrument. If you are serious about your playing but you can’t afford the $120,000 top-of-the-line concert grand, I would recommend putting your $20,000 towards a good used name-brand grand piano, and unless physical dimensions or volume are an issue, I think you will be happier in the long run. Nevertheless, I see the AvantGrand as a great addition for professionals who already have a real grand piano and want the best digital piano money can buy so they can practice at low volumes without compromising the feel too much. I think it could also be great for schools and those who might have a need to exchange performances with another AvantGrand owner. If you are a first-time buyer in the market for a piano purchase, the decision is hard. If you think you can buy this and still afford a real piano down the line, then go for it. But if you are pouring all your savings into this purchase and there is no turning back, I would still recommend a used real grand piano over the AvantGrand. All in all the AvantGrand is an exceptional instrument that further reduces the gap between real and reproduced. Yamaha is definitely leading the race for perfection. In the future these technologies will most likely become more affordable, and maybe with a trickle-down effect Yamaha’s AvantGrand will be priced so that it will really make sense to buy this rather than a real piano. Prices: N3, $19,999; N2, $14,999 More from: Yamaha, www.yamaha.com, www.avant-grand.com.
RECORDING DECEMBER 2010

57


http://www.primacoustic.com http://www.yamaha.com http://www.primacoustic.com http://www.avant-grand.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - December 2010

Recording - December 2010
Fade In
Contents
Talkback
Recording’s 2010 Holiday Gift Guide
Theme Music for TV—A Production Report
Royer Labs R-101 Ribbon Microphone
Recording SFX—A Career Option?
Primacoustic IsoTools
Avenson Audio IsoDI
Getting Your Music Heard In Today’sCommercial Culture
Preview: Yamaha AvantGrand
It’s Your Music—Know Your Rights.Chapter 9: Trademark Basics
Sonoma Wire Works GuitarJack Model 1and FourTrack 4.0.1
Readers' Tapes
Advertiser Index
Fade Out
Recording - December 2010 - Recording - December 2010
Recording - December 2010 - Cover2
Recording - December 2010 - 1
Recording - December 2010 - Fade In
Recording - December 2010 - 3
Recording - December 2010 - Contents
Recording - December 2010 - 5
Recording - December 2010 - Talkback
Recording - December 2010 - 7
Recording - December 2010 - Recording’s 2010 Holiday Gift Guide
Recording - December 2010 - 9
Recording - December 2010 - 10
Recording - December 2010 - 11
Recording - December 2010 - 12
Recording - December 2010 - 13
Recording - December 2010 - 14
Recording - December 2010 - 15
Recording - December 2010 - 16
Recording - December 2010 - 17
Recording - December 2010 - 18
Recording - December 2010 - 19
Recording - December 2010 - 20
Recording - December 2010 - 21
Recording - December 2010 - 22
Recording - December 2010 - 23
Recording - December 2010 - 24
Recording - December 2010 - 25
Recording - December 2010 - 26
Recording - December 2010 - 27
Recording - December 2010 - 28
Recording - December 2010 - 29
Recording - December 2010 - 30
Recording - December 2010 - 31
Recording - December 2010 - 32
Recording - December 2010 - 33
Recording - December 2010 - Theme Music for TV—A Production Report
Recording - December 2010 - 35
Recording - December 2010 - 36
Recording - December 2010 - 37
Recording - December 2010 - 38
Recording - December 2010 - 39
Recording - December 2010 - Royer Labs R-101 Ribbon Microphone
Recording - December 2010 - 41
Recording - December 2010 - Recording SFX—A Career Option?
Recording - December 2010 - 43
Recording - December 2010 - Primacoustic IsoTools
Recording - December 2010 - 45
Recording - December 2010 - Avenson Audio IsoDI
Recording - December 2010 - 47
Recording - December 2010 - Getting Your Music Heard In Today’sCommercial Culture
Recording - December 2010 - 49
Recording - December 2010 - 50
Recording - December 2010 - 51
Recording - December 2010 - 52
Recording - December 2010 - 53
Recording - December 2010 - 54
Recording - December 2010 - 55
Recording - December 2010 - Preview: Yamaha AvantGrand
Recording - December 2010 - 57
Recording - December 2010 - It’s Your Music—Know Your Rights.Chapter 9: Trademark Basics
Recording - December 2010 - 59
Recording - December 2010 - 60
Recording - December 2010 - 61
Recording - December 2010 - Sonoma Wire Works GuitarJack Model 1and FourTrack 4.0.1
Recording - December 2010 - 63
Recording - December 2010 - Readers' Tapes
Recording - December 2010 - Advertiser Index
Recording - December 2010 - 66
Recording - December 2010 - 67
Recording - December 2010 - 68
Recording - December 2010 - 69
Recording - December 2010 - 70
Recording - December 2010 - 71
Recording - December 2010 - Fade Out
Recording - December 2010 - Cover3
Recording - December 2010 - Cover4
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