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Yamaha Avant Grand Pianos: NU1, N1, N2, N3

NU1

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Price: £3,626
Includes free delivery and installation
5 Year Warranty
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N1

Yamaha N1Add_To_Basket_Button_Large_Orange  Pay by credit card, debit card or PayPal

Price: £5,279
Includes free delivery and installation
5 Year Warranty
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N2

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Price: £9,127
Includes free delivery and installation
5 Year Warranty
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N3

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Price: £12,689
Includes free delivery and installation
5 Year Warranty
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Questions

"Avantgrand N1, N2 or CLP480?"

Hello Howard,

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I have decided on a piano (but it’s being delivered on Sat Nov 12). I do, however, want to ask your opinion about my choice (from an expert who has more experience in the whole arena of pianos). I was very undecided (and still am a bit – I have until Sat to change my mind and go with my other choice). I have decided on the Yamaha Avantgrand N1. When I played the N2 at the shop I loved the feel (which I have been told has the identical same feel and action as the N1-even though I’ve just found out that the keys are made out of different material).

Please tell me anything you know about the N1. I got quite a good price on this (I believe). Yamaha was offering a 10% discount for 1 weekend only (apparently, Yamaha doesn’t offer discounts very often but shops do). I also got 5% off from the shop. So I paid, including all taxes $7100 (canadian dollars) which is about 4385 pounds).

My very next choice which I could go back to before Saturday is the CLP480. I’m being offered that for 3100 pounds but I think the extra 1200 pounds might be worth it?

One of the main things for me is the feel (more so than the sound – even though i do want a real piano sound also). The feel of the N2 is so much closer (than the CLP480) to that of an acoustic (and especially a grand piano). I love acoustic pianos (and would love one) but I have to practice and play at night (when kids are in bed and we have a rental basement suite downstairs). I would consider the Yamaha Silent Series but I also have a concern with weight (where the piano would not be on a solid ground floor – having rooms underneath it.) We used to have an old upright piano that was probably around 750 pounds and it has slightly bowed our basement ceiling due to the weight and the fact that the piano was parallel to the joists (not adjacent). There is only 2 practical spots for a piano and they both happen to be parallel to the floor joists, so I’m concerned even with the weight of a silent series acoustic piano – hence going the digital route.

Just to let you know, I was very impressed with the feel of the Kawai ca93 (simulated escapement). I really dislike the cabinet and unfortunately Canada isn’t going to carry the Kawai CS9 which has a lovely square looking glossy cabinet (canada is going to get the CS6 but that doesn’t have the spec that I want. The CS6 is more like the ca 63 and the CS9 is like the ca93 (so I believe). I’ve tried the Roland FP4 & FP7, and the HP 307 and none of them feel like the Yamaha’s.

I would appreciate your comments about the CLP 480 and the Avant grand N1 which is the one I feel is right for me. The only other concern (which maybe you have some ideas about) is ‘how long do digitals last? If looked after, will the AvantGrand last 10-15 years? I know it’s probably an uncertainty compared to an acoustic.

Any feedback on the Avantgrand N1 before Saturday would really be appreciated.

thanks Howard,
Steven

Reply/ Hi Steven

The Yamaha Avantgrand N1 has the best touch
out of all digital pianos. This is because it has a
real Yamaha action inside.

The sound is also fuller, richer and closer to
the real thing. This is due to the size, location
and number of speakers. Also the larger cabinet.

I think you will be disappointed with the CLP480.
It just doesn’t have the richness of tone or the
same feel to the keys.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

"Yamaha N1, N2 or NU1?""

Hi Graham,

I am just about to invest in a new digital piano – my budget is approximately £5,600 and I’m after the best possible piano for the budget.

I have tried and liked very much the Yamaha N1; but I keep reading reviews about how much better the N2 is (which is out of my budget).

Yamaha have an interesting new Piano our soon the NU1 – but I am impatient and cannot wait until August to try this. It looks very attractive and the specification sounds impressive.

I see that you highly recommend the Classenti Pianos; how do you feel these compare to the Yamaha Hybrids? In terms of look, the CDP3 and the GR1 are very attractive pieces – but of course I will grow bored quickly if the sound and touch isn’t good.

That said I’m currently playing an old Yamaha that was about £500 – so I’m going from Skoda to Audi overnight!

Can you let me know your thoughts on the pianos and what may be best for my budget.

Thanks in advance.

Kind regards,

David

Reply/ Hi David

If you want the very best tone and key touch then
I advise going for a SILENT upright piano.

This is a real, upright piano with headphones
option added.

We sell these for about £3,600.

You can see the piano here:

And the silent system here:
http://www.ukpianos.co.uk/classenti-up-112-polished-ebony.html

http://www.ukpianos.co.uk/classenti-silent-piano-system.html

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

"How does the N2 compare to cheaper models?"

Hi

First, thank you for the digital piano guide – excellent summary and honest opinions across makes and brands. Extremely refreshing.

I am thinking of buying a digital or hybrid piano: I am currently thinking of an Avantgrand N1, or N2 (possibly Roland LX-15) and am having difficulty finding how the N2 compares to the cheaper models (there aren't any dealers close to where I live to try one – I'm going to have to make a special journey to London): bottom line is that I can afford an N2, but it is alot of money and I don't want to spend it if the difference is marginal. My background is that I am returning to music after 25 years of playing very little – I used to be grade 8+ and would hope to be back there in the next 6 months. I have a very old Clavinova (20+ years old) and I suspect the next one will similarly last me for 20 years.

Many thanks in anticipation.

Kathryn

Reply/ Hi Kathryn

The Yamaha Avantgrand N2 is a lovely piano.
It has a real Yamaha acoustic piano mechanism.
So the feel is better than any digital piano.

The sound is also clearer and more resonant.
This is due to its really well organised speaker
system and additional places to put more speakers.

The sound project upwards on the N2. This
adds clarity to the tone.

I think you’d be a bit disappointed with the
Roland LX-15. It just doesn’t have anywhere
near as good a sound.

I do recommend the Yamaha CLP480 though.
This is my favourite digital piano. I just love
the sound. And it’s so responsive.

If you would like a quote on the CLP480 then
please let me know. We don’t sell the N2 piano.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

"Will Yamaha avant grand hybrid pianos last as long as an acoustic piano?"

Hi Graham,

I wanted to know whether a Yamaha avant grand hybrid piano would last as long as an acoustic piano?  Whether Yamaha would provide repairs and servicing?  
Are their hybrid pianos a sound investment or should I simply purchase an acoustic?  

Thank you again.

Best wishes,

Tom

Reply/ Hi Tom

A hybrid piano won’t last as long as an acoustic piano.
The main reason is the electronics.
The components on the circuit boards have a life of
between 10 and 20 years.

A Yamaha silent piano would be a better long term
investment than a hybrid piano, for sure.
It is also a better playing experience.
For me, I would choose an acoustic piano.

Yours pianistically,
 
Graham Howard

Hi Graham
Thanks for the Digital Piano Guide – very interesting. Just a question – I'm interested in the Yamaha NU1 but I can't find much about it in the big guide. What is your opinion of it please?
thanks
Liz

Reply/ Hi Liz

I like the NU1.

It has a real Yamaha piano action, but without
the hammer heads. So the key touch feels
more solid and sensitive than other digital pianos.

The sound is good too. The speaker system
is superior to most digital pianos.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

Hi Graham,

I’m very interested in replacing my acoustic pianos for a digital one. I have a small Seiler upright (122’) plus a Kawai (special model 132’).

I actually want a grand – or as close to one as I could afford – but all the baby grands I looked at didn’t have the same quality of sound or touch as my regular uprights, and the ‘proper’ grands are way too expensive.

And I have two pianos because I can’t easily move around with one as you know. The other thing I’ve noticed (even in the top end Steinways, but usually not the Fazioli’s) is that many of the notes in the lower register have a dirty buzzing sound. I’ve spoken to piano tuners at many concert halls and many don’t even notice it, but those that do say that it’s the physics of acoustic pianos and can’t be ‘tuned’ or ‘regulated’ out.

So what would you recommend as a digital piano that has the best touch comparable if not to a grand then any of the top end upright pianos like Seilers? I never considered buying a digital before because even the best ones that I tried didn’t feel like a piano at all. However, there seems to have been a huge improvement over the last few years.

Are there any digital pianos that have an ‘acoustic’ mechanism, perhaps with the grand action or something like the Renner action in pianos like the Seiler? I’m not interested in sound effects, but obviously I need to have as ‘original’ a piano sound as possible.

Looking forward to your response.
Regards,
Gary

Reply/ Hi Gary

From reading your requirements there is only
one range of digital pianos you’d be comfortable
playing. This is the Yamaha AvantGrand.

There are three models: N1, N2 and N3.

These pianos have a real, acoustic grand piano
action installed inside. So you get the exact same
feel as one of Yamaha’s acoustic grands.

The sound quality is also superior to any digital
piano I’ve tried.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

Hi Graham,
 
Thanks so much for your eBook which I have found very helpful.
 
I have owned a Yamaha DGX620 for about six years (I just couldn't stretch to a Clavinova at the time) and it has served me well, but I am getting to a point where it is hindering my playing. I grew up playing an upright, but live in a terrace, so that is not very neighbour friendly. My current Piano teacher has a small grand and I am finding that things I can play perfectly on the DGX620 fall to pieces when I'm on an accoustic.
 
I am just about to start Grade 6 and feel that I am at a point where I need to seriously invest in something for the future.
 
I have wanted a Clavinova over the years and used to enviously play a friends CVP-309(?).
 
Now I have decided that I need to upgrade, I have been looking at the CLP-470 and form that determined that a CLP-480 would be worth the extra to ensure that I would get the best out there for around £4K.
 
However, in researching some more (I want to be sure that the feel is as close to an acoustic as possible as I progress through the remaining grades), I have started to look at the NU1 and the full action intrigues me. A lot of people seem to think that this is a leap above the CLP-480.
 
So when I start to look more into the NU1, I found a lot of people that love it, but others saying that the Roland V-Piano is superior.
 
Neither of these seem to have made your guide and so I was wondering why this was and what your opinion / Howard score was for these.
 
I have heard people saying the N2 sounds better than the NU1 (but at double the price, I would think so). The V-Piano is an unknown to me so far….
 
I welcome and appreciate any wisdom you have in this matter!

Jon

Reply/ Hi Jon

The NU1 is the next step up from the CLP480.
The main improvement is in the key touch…

Being a real piano action, the NU1 just feels
that bit more solid and mechanical. It’s
hard to explain exactly… it’s really more of
a feeling you get when playing them –
especially if you play them side-by-side.

I don’t rate the Roland V-piano. I would
go for a Yamaha NU1, CLP480 or even
CLP470 over a V-piano any day.

The Roland LX-15 is nice too. But if you
want a digital piano in the style of an
upright piano then the NU1 or CLP-S408
would be my first and second choice.

Let me know if you would like a price
quote on any of these pianos.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

Hi,

I received the Howard score thanks.

I am currently comparing the Roland HP507 and Yamaha NU1. These are on my shortlist.

What would you recommend? Is zhe NU1 sound and action much better?

It does lack lots of features compared to the 507.

Tx, Zoltan

Reply/ Hi Zoltan

The NU1 does have a better key touch. This is
because it has a real Yamaha piano action.

Also, the sound has more depth to it than the
Roland HP507. But the difference is only
marginal.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

"What are your thoughts on the NU1?"

Hello Graham,
Since receiving an answer from you regarding upgrading my Korg SP250 I have been giving a lot more thought to the idea of purchasing a Yamaha digital piano.
 
As a bit of background again: I have been learning piano for 2 years (I'm now 22). I purchased a Korg SP250 when I started and it has served me very well. However, I have just finished grade 5, and am finding I stuggle to control the pieces I am now playing. The keys are very very light, and the pedal is, for want of a better word, awful!
So, I have decided I am going to upgrade. I want a Digital piano that is going to be capable to suit me up to and beyond grade 8. So in your opinion, what would be my best option? also, I recently had a chance to play on a Yamaha NU1 hybrid piano. What are your thoughts on the NU1? is it worth the £4000 price?
 
Thank you once again.
 
Tom

Reply/ Hi Tom

The Yamaha NU1 is absolutely worth every
penny of the price. I love this piano!…

The NU1 has a real, Yamaha acoustic piano
mechanism inside it. So it feels exactly the
same as a real piano. This is a big advantage
over digital pianos.

Nearly all digital pianos, with perhaps the
exception of the Yamaha CLP480 and CVP609
have a disappointing key touch. They just don’t
feel right. Either the keys are too resistant on
part of the down stroke, or the key comes up
too quickly on the return.

The NU1 has a lovely solid, firm feel to the
keys. Because it feels so good you can easily
get lost in your playing for hour after hour.

What’s more, the speaker system is superior
to most digital pianos. The NU1 has 2 very
large speakers with a total wattage output of
80 watts. So, as you would expect, the piano
tone is deep, rich and vibrant.

If you would like to place an order then please
call me on 020 8367 2080. Our price is £3999
Including delivery. We also give you a 5 year
warranty.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

"I thought it might be helpful for others to be warned about the NU1"

Hi Graham,

Your digital piano "bible" was very helpful indeed! I'd bought a yamaha CLP430 three weeks ago (an upgrade from a very basic CLP110 I'd been playing for years). I play piano to a reasonable level, mostly for fun, but I'm a professional orchestral double bassist and I also accompany my students in lessons on the piano too.

When I initially decided to upgrade I hadn't done much research, I just saw the new clavinova range when passing a showroom and was very attracted to the appearance of the polished ebony cabinets. The dealer had a very good offer on the clp430 and I figured it would be a big upgrade on what I had. Whilst in the showroom I tried pretty much everything they had and all the Yamaha's sounded far better than any other manufacturer in my opinion (I tried various of the Kawai, Roland and Casio). But then I tried the avant grande instruments and suddenly they made even the clp480 sound disappointing. I went home and though about it all. I was only planning to spend around £1500 but after hearing the avant grands it was in my head that I'd probably always be thinking about my next upgrade if I settled for anything less. I came back the next day and was very close to buying the NU1 (The N1 was a bit too expensive to justify buying and I though looks ugly!) but after trying it for a while in the showroom I noticed that a couple of the keys weren't responding properly on it and was immediately put off. After years of bashing away on my old clavinova all of the keys still respond perfectly. I figured that the NU1 hybrid technology with the optical sensors etc was all still very new and hadn't proved itself as robust and reliable for years to come unlike the clavinova graded hammer keys.
In the end I rushed into buying the clp430pe which was on offer.

When it arrived I was delighted with how it looked, and kind of happy with the sound, but couldn't help but be disappointed with the sound, especially in the notes between middle C and the C an octave above it. They sounded very muffled, lacking clarity and definition. My old clavinova (which is still had to compare with) didn't have this problem. I thought I could try to live with it but it started to annoy me more and more. In the end I started looking at reviews online (that's how I discovered your book) to see if anyone else had noticed that too. I started thinking seriously about upgrading to the 440 or even the 470. I started looking at videos of them all on YouTube to see how they sound (I was too embarrassed to return to the shop where I bought mine). In the end I tried all the clavinova models in a different showroom and discovered that the 470 and 480 didn't have that muffled sound and so decided that I would see if I could return to the shop where I bought mine to see if I could trade up to a higher model.

At this point I downloaded your book so that I could feel I'd done my research properly. It was extremely helpful, particularly what you said regarding newer models with wooden mechanisms inside etc. I don't know if you were referring to the yamaha hybrids or not but it did confirm my fears regarding the NU1. I want to tell you all of this because I tried the NU1 again in the other show room that I visited. The display model there was really in a bad way. The keys responded very unevenly, with some notes barely sounding at all unless struck quite hard. This put me off the hybrids completely. I wanted to let you know of this experience so that you can advise others too. This experience only relates to the NU1. I didn't play the yamaha avant grands with the grand piano actions again but I have a feeling they may be more reliable.
I think the NU1 is a disaster though and I wouldn't be surprised if yamaha have to abandon it or even do a recall on the ones they've sold. They just shouldn't develop such problems in such a short period of time.

So in the end I returned to the showroom and have now upgraded my clp430 for a clp480. There wasn't a great difference in sound between the 470 and 480, certainly when you consider how big the price difference is, but after trying the two side by side the 470 sounded slightly inferior. I thought if I went for the 470 I may then go home and start to feel disappointed with the sound again and so I figured I should go for the best clavinova model safe in the knowledge that I'd bought the best in the yamaha range (with the proven reliable key mechanism). I'd also found out (after a lot of searching) that the 480 has 5 velocity sample levels, whilst the 470 only has 4. It might not be a big deal but I was irritated by the abrupt shift in sound on the 430 when playing louder. It's wasn't a seamless blend. It's only after my research that I discovered the 430 only has 3 velocity samples. Anyway although I hadn't noticed any abrupt changes in the sound on the 470 I figured again that I'd be safer to opt for the 480 which has the extra one anyway.

I hope you don't mind me mentioning this. In your guide it didn't really clearly differentiate between dynamic levels and number of velocity samples. The clp430 only has 3 velocity samples but the level of touch response on it doesn't limit the player to only three dynamic levels. I seem to be able to get about 8 or 9 dynamic levels from it. The problem for me is that when doing a crescendo on the 430 the dynamic level can be made to smoothly change but there is an abrupt change in the tonal quality when doing so because of the limited number of samples. Oddly too, yamaha no longer make the information about the number of velocity samples they use available. It took me a long time to track down but if I'd known in advance it might have made me think twice before buying the clp430.

Ok, that's enough. I just wanted to thank you for making your book available and to thank you for the help it gave me. I hope you didn't mind my feedback regarding stating the difference between the number of velocity samples and the number of dynamic levels available on the different instruments. And I thought it might be helpful for others to be warned about the NU1.
I'm now waiting for the delivery of my clp480 which will take a week to arrive, but I'm sure I will love it!

Thanks again and very best wishes,

Nicholas

Thank you, Graham, for your prompt response and very informative and helpful description of the NU1. You are a true expert and a sage.  I hope to be able to continue to reap your advice as I pursue my new- found, at age 78, love affair with the piano.
Joseph Blatchford
Washington, DC

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