With its highly advanced sound reproduction and sampling technology, the AvantGrand is the first piano ever crafted to truly capture the sound, touch, action and physical resonance of a concert-quality grand piano without the tuning, cost or footprint of a comparable stringed instrument.

 "Instruments that can digitally approximate the sound of an acoustic piano are hardly a new concept," says Paul Calvin, Vice President/General Manager, Yamaha Keyboard Division. "But with the AvantGrand, exceptional sound is just the beginning. It uses unsurpassed music technology to offer the complete acoustic playing and listening experience of a concert grand piano in a 4-foot cabinet."

The AvantGrand represents the first product in the 'Total Piano Strategy,' an initiative developed by Yamaha to show customers the depth of its piano offering and to market and distribute a more comprehensive portion of these products to a wider range of prospective buyers.

"AvantGrand, a new identity for the piano, was born of the fusion of 21st century technology and more than 100 years of piano-crafting experience," continued Calvin. "The target buyer of the AvantGrand is the serious player who dreams of owning a grand piano. Yamaha developed this remarkable technology to meet their needs of superior sound, touch and functionality."

One of the greatest challenges in creating a true acoustic piano experience electronically is to accurately re-create the vibrations integral to the playing experience. According to Calvin, the AvantGrand is the first piano to actualize the physical connection with their instrument that pianists could only experience – until now – with an acoustic grand.

Its innovative Tactile Response System transmits "string" vibrations through the keys to player's hands. Even the foot pedal action became subject to Yamaha's demanding criteria. In traditional pianos, resistance is created in proportion to how deep the pedal is depressed. To replicate this, Yamaha created a new, specialized grand piano pedal for AvantGrand that reproduces the finesse of acoustic pedals, duplicating the spring, friction and inertia of traditional pedals.

The placement of the four-channel, three-way Spatial Acoustic Speaker System mimics the points where the original grand piano samples were taken, while a Soundboard Resonator creates a non-directional sound dispersion directly in front of the player, duplicating the subtle reproduction of the buildup of sound felt by concert pianists. These technologies combine to authentically re-create the depth of tone of the Yamaha nine-foot CFIIIS grand piano, the choice instrument of many of the world's top musicians and performance venues.

"Even with our remarkable heritage and expertise of outstanding acoustic and digital piano craftsmanship, the creation of the AvantGrand called upon all that we at Yamaha knew how to accomplish,"says Mark Anderson, Yamaha Keyboard Division Marketing Director. "The AvantGrand is a crystallization of our hopes for the piano. As such, it defies categorization as a hybrid, digital or acoustic instrument."

Beyond the AvantGrand's striking design, retailers will appreciate the highly competitive price point compared to concert acoustic pianos, its quick production time as opposed to traditional acoustics, and the fact that the instrument requires no tuning. Yamaha expects strong demand among home piano enthusiasts, teaching studios and churches, as well as the interior design, hospitality and institutional markets.

According to Anderson, the concept of the AvantGrand was inspired by discussions on the evolution of digital photography, where traditional cameras morphed into inexpensive digital cameras and then into hybrid photographic devices of exceptional quality.

New to the Nord fold for 2010 is the extraordinarily lightweight (18kg) Nord Piano, an 88 key stage piano with weighted hammer action. Needless to say, the build quality follows the normal Nord high standards and the piano can be used with the new Nord piano pedal that provides the functionality of all three pedals found on an acoustic grand piano. The standard panel to the top of the instrument provides a well designed user interface, which allows the player to store settings for later use or alternatively to use the sounds and effects as they go along. Velocity response can be adjusted as can key transposition. There is also the Nord Resonance Ready pianos feature that can be activated from the panel, creating a wonderfully realistic acoustic vibe to the Nord sound. Although the piano comes equipped with its own sound set of acoustic and electric pianos and harpischords, other piano sounds are available as free downloads from Nord’s website. If you wish, you can even discard all the loaded sounds (not that you’d want to!) and replace them with a downloaded set. The Piano also comes with an effects bank, which includes tremolo, auto-wah, a phaser, a flanger and a lush chorus. And there’s even a choice of various speaker models and if you’re into extreme sounds, a Drive knob for powerful Tube amplifier distortion. Currently the market is awash with good stage pianos and it will be interesting to see how the Nord Piano squares up to the competition – particularly the new Korg SV1.

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