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Beginning in 2009, Yamaha enthralled serious pianists with AvantGrand, the world’s first digital acoustic “hybrid” instruments that successfully captured the sound, touch, action and physical resonance of a concert-quality grand piano without the tuning, cost or footprint of a comparable stringed instrument.
Each of the original models—NU1, N1, N2 and the flagship N3—has stood at the pinnacle of combining a genuine grand or upright piano action with a stunningly realistic concert grand piano digital sound, drawing on over a century of Yamaha innovation in both acoustic and electronic instrument building.
The newest model to join the lineup is AvantGrand N1X, a highly-affordable, second-generation instrument that, like its predecessor, N1, features a space-saving, vertical-style modern cabinet friendly to any physical environment.
N1X boasts painstaking samples of two of the world’s finest concert grand pianos: the CFX, the crowning glory of Yamaha pianos, able to project over the sound of a symphony orchestra while still pristinely interpreting the subtlest nuances of performance; and the Bösendorfer Imperial, renowned for its deep bass, singing sonority, and seemingly endless sustain.
Whether playing or listening, the results are an immersive concert grand experience on every level imaginable, with all the expected digital conveniences such as tuning never being required.
The Yamaha CFX and Bösendorfer samples have been recorded at many velocity layers with seamless transitions, offering dynamic and harmonic range suitable across all genres of music.
A binaurally sampled version of the Yamaha CFX Piano is optimized for listening through headphones. Binaural sampling records via special microphones that duplicate the geometry and hearing conditions of the human head, resulting in a natural and immersive sound field that helps players who need to practice quietly forget they are wearing headphones at all.
The AvantGrand N1X also makes use of Yamaha Spatial Acoustic Sampling (SAS) and a four-channel speaker system. This sends subtly different frequency information to each channel’s speaker such that the sound “blooms” from the instrument in the same manner as from a concert grand piano. Furthermore, speaker placement is optimized such that notes and overtones blend in the air as they follow an immediate path to the player’s ears. In taking ownership of this “last mile” of the sound’s journey once it leaves the speakers, the AvantGrand N1X truly stands apart.
Virtual Resonance Modeling (VRM) captures every detail of how the internal components of an acoustic piano vibrate in response to struck notes. This includes sympathetic string resonance, damper pedal resonance, natural resonance of the soundboard, and more. All of these respond flawlessly to the player’s touch and dynamics, producing harmonic overtones exactly like that of the acoustic grand pianos that were sampled.
Employing real wooden keys and hammers, the action of the AvantGrand N1X is not like a grand piano — it is that of a grand piano. The hammers strike the “strings” (sensors) from below, allowing for precise weighting and adjustments to the hammers and escapement note by note. This provides touch that will please even the most demanding pianists. Then, non-contact optical key sensors detect every nuance of the player’s timing, velocity, legato, and other musical techniques. The end result is a playing experience virtually indistinguishable from that of sitting at a top-notch concert grand. Listeners will barely need to close their eyes to be convinced they are listening to a Yamaha CFX or Bösendorfer Imperial while sitting in an acoustically ideal hall.
Via Bluetooth, songs from a computer or mobile device can be wirelessly streamed through the speaker system of the AvantGrand N1X. What’s more, the Yamaha Smart Pianist app allows Voice selection and complete control of the N1X using iOS® and select Android™️ devices. This revolutionary app can also analyze the music library residing on the device and generate chord charts, helping players learn the songs they already own and love. The AvantGrand N1X also features onboard audio recording and can play back song files downloaded from the vast Yamaha MusicSoft ecosystem. For these, Smart Pianist supports full score display. All these features add up to a music teacher that can live on the AvantGrand’s music rack in the form of your tablet.
“Melding acoustic elements with digital technology, the AvantGrand N1X provides discerning pianists with everything they expect from an acoustic piano, as well as everything the need from a digital piano,” says Russ Hirota, Disklavier and AvantGrand product manager, Yamaha Corporation of America. “The combination of tradition and technology creates the ultimate grand piano experience in a modern, space-saving design and lets pianists enjoy their instrument whenever the moment calls.”
In his review of the original AvantGrand in Keyboard magazine, editor-in-chief Stephen Fortner called it “a virtual piano for people for whom nothing but a real piano will do.” With the AvantGrand N1X, that vision is realized more fully than ever, and the authenticity and musicality that can be achieved in a compact format rises to unprecedented new heights.
Pricing and Availability
The Yamaha AvantGrand N1X is expected to ship to authorized Yamaha piano dealers in February 2019, at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $10,999.
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