Size Doesn’t Matter: CASIO Launches the Celviano Grand Hybrid Digital Piano
Special report from Special Contributor Phoebe Amoroso:
Far from the iconic Casiotone keyboards beloved by electronic artists specifically for their abnormal sound, CASIO has created what they believe is the closest digital approximation of a grand piano yet.
We recently braved yet another near-typhoon lashing here in Tokyo and waded our way to Zōjō-ji Temple, where CASIO presented its latest innovation: the Celviano Grand Hybrid range of digital pianos.
Incidentally, if the venue sounds familiar, we featured the temple grounds last month in our ongoing 4K Ultra-HD TokyoStreetView series. Lovely place for a concert (see photos below)!
But to the matter at hand, with the new GP-500BP, the GP-300BK, and the AP-700BK, CASIO is confident they’ve created the first digital pianos that truly emulate the sound of a grand piano, with the obvious advantage of taking up far less space.
CASIO developed what it calls the AiR (Acoustic & Intelligent Resonator) Grand Sound Source that enables the digital pianos to faithfully reproduce the sound and rich reverberation of a grand piano, including the sound profiles of three different varieties: the Berlin Grand, the Hamburg Grand, and the Vienna Grand.
Shrinking the Instrument; Keeping the Sound
Representing 35 years of electronic musical instrument technology development, the GP-500BP and GP-300BK models incorporate the Natural Grand Hammer Action Keyboard, which reproduces the same touch as a grand piano. They also emanate sound from above and below the soundboard, adding to the authenticity of the playing experience.
The Berlin Grand was developed with world-leading piano manufacturer, C. Bechstein, founded in Berlin in 1853. In a close collaboration that began in April last year, C. Bechstein worked with CASIO to recreate both the sound and feel of an actual grand piano.
“It is difficult to convey exactly what a C. Bechstein should sound like,” Mr. Werner Albrecht, Deputy Head of the Technical Department C. Bechstein, told the audience. However, through working closely with CASIO’s sound engineers, he believes the final result is a triumph of collaboration.
Furthermore, the innovative Natural Grand Hammer Action Keyboard contains the same spruce wooden key material used in C. Bechstein grand pianos, as well as a new action mechanism that delivers the appropriate hammer movement.
Speaking at the launch event, Hiroshi Nakamura, head of sales at CASIO, described his company as a brand that strives to make products that are interesting, new, have meaning, and surprise, and the GP-500BP certainly surprised Pascal Rogé, a celebrated French pianist, who performed live for the audience.
“Size doesn’t matter,” Rogé announced as a bold opening to his speech. Having played many digital pianos in a career that spans more than 50 years, he believes the GP-500BP to be the first to really feel like a grand piano. Given the relatively small space it takes up compared with a grand piano, Rogé sees the new instruments as invaluable to student pianists, who are often unable to perfect their technique on digital pianos due to the different response from the keys.
As well as replicating the grand piano playing experience, the new digital hybrid models include: a scene setting, with 15 preset types for different composers such as Chopin and Liszt, as well as musical genres such as a jazz and easy listening; concert play, with a recorded orchestra; and a hall simulator, which allows the pianist to alter the sound to reflect performing in different kinds of venues.
Established in 1957, the CASIO Computer Company is known for its continual innovation. Renowned for developing the world’s first personal, handheld calculator in 1972, the CASIO Mini, it now has four inventions registered as Essential Historical Material for Science and Technology by Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science. Along with the CASIO Mini, also on the list are the CASIO SL-800 film card, the DC-90 digital camera prototype, and the QV-10 digital camera, the world’s first consumer-grade LCD camera.
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Contributor Phoebe Amoroso is a serial Japanophile, fascinated by the intersection between society and technology. A Brit with a quintessential academic background in geography, media and communications, she divides her time between Japanese studies, journalism, and eating. Her interests include the social psychology of the Internet, technology and everyday life, urban design and planning, sustainability, cities, the Internet of things, cross-cultural studies, and food – lots of glorious food. She likes karate but secretly dreams of being a ninja or a Pokémon master. Or even a ninja Pokémon master.
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