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NAMM 2009: Yamaha Reveals The Revolutionary AvantGrand Piano

Published: Mon January 19, 2009  News Feed

Yamaha Keyboard Division announces the Winter NAMM 2009 launch of the AvantGrand Piano. 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.

Avant Grand

The Yamaha AvantGrand Hybrid Piano

"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 two Soundboard Resonators create 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.

"The advent of the digital camera radically changed the nature of photography, ushering in a new era that made quality photography more fun, accessible, affordable, and exciting, thereby letting more people enjoy - and share - than ever before," added Anderson. "Today, we see digitals and SLRs, but in addition, there are hybrid cameras that take the best of SLRs, like special lenses, and incorporate these features onto a digital camera. The AvantGrand concept likewise stands to revolutionize how we play, enjoy and share acoustic piano music, bringing the best of digital and the best of acoustic into one instrument."

Two of the world's leading concert pianists are also singing the instrument's praises.

"This piano is a miracle of technology and artistry," according to renowned French-Cypriot pianist and composer Cyprien Katsaris. "The action is remarkable and the sound simply wonderful! Both are very close to the acoustic piano. When I play this instrument I feel transported. I strongly recommend this instrument to all professional and amateur pianists."

Twelfth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Winner Alexander Kobrin concurs. "I believe that the AvantGrand holds new promise as a piano for the future," he says. "To be specific, this is an instrument that feels closer to a grand piano, allowing the player to create a certain level of expression. Expanding the possibilities of the piano means that you are expanding the possibilities of the pianist. The arrival of the AvantGrand means that more people than ever will be blessed with the chance to interact with a piano correctly."

The AvantGrand is slated to ship in July 2009. A matching padded bench is included.

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