No Strings on a Piano, but the Tone Is Grand

And you’d probably expect that list to include pianos.

No, not digital pianos. Not those plastic, flat appliances with 983 instrument sounds and realism that would fool nobody. I mean real pianos, the kind in concert halls, clad in glistening black lacquer, with three pedals and wooden keys that make felt-covered hammers strike taut metal strings. Those instruments have always been strictly analog. And very expensive.

A few years ago, Yamaha tried a crazy experiment. What if it produced a grand piano that was traditional in almost every respect — except that it replaced strings with sensors? What if the sound came from painstakingly recorded audio snippets, or samples, of each string from a $120,000 top-of-the-line grand piano, reproduced through a set of high-end speakers?

The result was the

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