Playing Yamaha's CFX Concert Grand and NU1 Hybrid Pianos

September 5, 2012
We recently paid a visit to Yamaha, and while we can't tell you (yet) about everything they showed us, we did get some hands-on quality time with their newest flagship concert grand piano, the CFX. Now, it wasn't as if the CF-III-S was any slouch, but the CFX represents a new direction for Yamaha in terms of design principles and manufacturing techniques. It inarguably belongs on any very short list of the very finest concert grands in the world, and will surely provoke passioned debate among piano aficionados as to whether it's in fact the best.
Editor Stephen Fortner's take: "The finger-to-sound connection on the CFX is phenomenal. The word that keeps coming to mind when playing it is forgiving. The action is remarkably even and not too light, but it doesn't make you work the way a Bosendorfer might, or go too quickly into harmonic overdrive like a played-in C7 might. It has all the nuance that the most complex classical piano compositions demand, yet it's not going to get 'indignant' if you bang out the opening chords to 'Minute by Minute' on it. I don't know if it's possible to make a piano that has the 'Golidlocks' feel and sonic response for everyone, but I don't think you can get much closer than this." 
Then, we went on to check out a very different beast, the NU1. Actually, it's not so different, given that it's the first Yamaha digital piano to sample the CFX (yes, including the AvantGrand line, which sampled the CF-III-S). Occupying a very compact console footprint, Yamaha identifies it as a more affordable yet in some ways more evolved extension of the AvantGrand's "hybrid" approach: Marry a real acoustic piano action to a first-rate multisample set, and design the speakers so as to take ownership of what happens to the sound once it's in the air, maximizing the sense of acoustic realism. 
Check the videos below for our look at both. Can't see them? CLICK HERE. And keep watching the pages of Keyboard for a review of the NU1, which we're hoping to get under way soon. 
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