Acoustic pianos in grand and upright forms have been around for centuries. Not so much as an alternative but as a convenient solution for practicing, digital pianos emerged over 30 years ago and have since revolutionized this family of instruments.
Yet, players used to an acoustic don't always think fondly of digital pianos: for years, the action never felt quite natural, and the dynamic range could be stunted. Because performing on a piano involves the motion of the hammers and dampers hitting the strings and the response they give, hybrid pianos presented a new experience and solution: harnessing traditional acoustic motion and combining it with digital technology advancements.
Understanding the Hybrid Piano
Unlike acoustic and digital designs, a single format isn't utilized for a hybrid piano. Rather, with a grand or upright body, the instrument may begin with a primarily acoustic foundation enhanced with digital components, or start from a primarily digital place and add acoustic action.
This last part is of particular importance. As one of the features defining the hybrid piano, the instrument still offers acoustic action - the sensation of a hammer hitting a set of strings and feeling one or more notes vibrate once your fingers press the keys.
Within this arrangement, hybrid pianos encompass models:
- With fully acoustic action but the digital technology to practice with headphones, like Yamaha's series of Silent pianos.
- That generate tones from digital sources but utilize an acoustic mechanism.
- That let the user switch between digital and string-based sound sources, with an action that feels acoustic in each mode. Hitting the strings will often trigger a sound sample.
- That add speakers to an acoustic piano body to amplify the strings, instead of the traditional soundboard.
As well, while hybrid pianos blend both models' features, key differences set it apart from a fully digital instrument. Specifically, hybrid pianos rarely have - or are equipped with a simplified form of - sound banks, recording qualities and playback features. Generally, the instrument bridges authenticity and convenience without compromising the experience.
As another asset, you're more likely to get a hybrid piano with wooden keys, which enhance the playing experience and allow for greater touch sensitivity. In turn, players have an easier time handling faster repetitions and can create a larger range of articulations and dynamics.
Popular Hybrid Piano Models
As the market and demand for hybrid pianos continues to grow, popular models include:
- Yamaha AvantGrand hybrid piano: Yamaha crafts each AvantGrand out of 5,000 parts to mimic the touch and responsiveness of its acoustic models. Sampling technology pulls from its concert grands, and beyond the tone, the vibrations and overtones feel as if you're playing on one of these top-tier instruments. Digital technology brings out these nuances, including Yamaha's Optical Sensor System to observe and record your movements and articulations, and Virtual Resonance Modeling (VRM) and the Tactile Response System (TRS) to replicate the resistance an acoustic instrument provides.
- Kawai NV5: Part of the NOVUS series of hybrid pianos, the NV5 brings together acoustic playing with digital technology through Millennium III Hybrid upright piano action with an authentic damper, MIDI and Bluetooth capabilities, and a sound based on the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX.
- Kawai NV10: If the NV5 delivers an upright hybrid piano experience, the NV10 presents its baby grand counterpart. Combining sound, space-saving and digital technologies, this instrument was developed through a partnership with Onkyo to provide the quality of a Shigeru Kawai with Bluetooth and MIDI technologies, the authentic feel of a damper pedal, and weighted Millennium III Hybrid Action.
- Roland Hybrid Pianos: After lengthy success with its keyboards, Roland has entered the hybrid piano market with its LX series, designed as a maintenance-free instrument. LX pianos sound like a grand through their PureAcoustic sound modeling while delivering the compactness of an upright.
Find a Hybrid Piano at Alamo Music Center
The premier piano dealer in the San Antonio area, Alamo Music Center carries a range of hybrid models offering a choice of actions, plus grand and upright designs. Along with checking out our models online, you can come by our locations in San Antonio or one of our Kawai showrooms:
Hybrid Pianos in Austin, TX
Unsure if a hybrid is for you, especially if you're used to playing on either a fully acoustic or digital instrument? Make an appointment with our Austin Kawai showroom to experience the sound and responsiveness and see the technology for yourself.
Hybrid Pianos in St. Louis
We've been in business for over 90s years. During that time, we've expanded our product offerings and our locations, including a Kawai showroom in St. Louis. Schedule a time to explore the technologies and capabilities of a Kawai hybrid piano to see if this innovative instrument is for you.
Browse hybrid pianos from Kawai, Yamaha and other manufacturers today, and get an extended warranty, plus multiple financing and layaway solutions, including 12- to 48-month, no-interest options at times.