Hybrid Moments

 

Fasten your safety belts kids because we just got our hands on the be all and end all of digital pianos; the Casio Celviano GP500 Grand Hybrid.


Where do I start with this? There are so many amazing features and sounds on this instrument that if I were to go into detail with them all, we`d be here for quite some time. So what I`d like to do is take you through some of the stand out additions to this digital piano from Casio and Bechstein.

Let`s start with big news; hammers.

Casio has developed a new keyboard system called the 'Natural Grand Hammer Action Keyboard'. It`s  made with full-length, wooden concert grand piano keys and hammers that follow the same motion as an acoustic grand. When a piano key is pressed a real hammer rises and using precise measurements along with the wooden keys, it delivers the exact response you would expect playing an acoustic grand piano. After having spent quite some time with the GP500, I can honestly say I have never played a digital piano with the response and feel that this model brings. That combined with the three main piano settings is an experience in itself.


The Berlin Grand -  An iconic piano noted for its balanced, elegant sound. Ideal for playing  impressionistic music thanks to its clear, ringing tone across the range. That paired with the incredible theatre and concert hall settings (which I will get to later) makes for one doozey of performance.


The Hamburg Grand - A brilliant, rich sounding piano. Loved by pianists worldwide for its wide range of expression, perfectly suited for various playing styles and genres.


The Vienna Grand - I love the Vienna Grand. It has such an impressive low range which is perfect for both soft and vigorous playing. Its warm tone is an ideal choice for music from the classical period.


All three of these pianos, and of course the many other settings on offer (honky tonk, strings, harpsichord, jazz and rock pianos, electric pianos, vibraphones and synth pads) genuinely feel as good as the real thing. This is something you definitely need to try out for yourself.

 

 

All of these settings are accessed by the control pad on the left of the keyboard. Having played around on quite a few digital pianos and keyboards, I have to credit Casio on this one. So many times I`ve played fantastic instruments but the sheer amount of buttons or poorly designed navigation can make switching and customizing your sounds more time consuming than it needs to be. The GP500 is a different story. With clearly marked buttons, an easy to navigate menu and a screen that won`t keep you guessing where you are, switching and editing sounds has never been so quick and easy.


There are quite a few different models out there that do offer some similar settings to the GP500, but what really makes this one stand apart from the others is its 'Grand Acoustic System'. Using an exclusive six-speaker system, this new feature reproduces the three-dimensional sound field generated on an acoustic grand. The speakers located on the top of the piano present sounds that are normally heard rising upwards, whereas the downward facing speakers present sounds heard from below the soundboard. Together, this simulation fills the room with rich, complex sounds reaching both the performer and the audience.

 

 

Have you ever sat behind the piano and wished you could hear what it would sound like sitting amongst the audience in various different positions? Well wish no longer because that is exactly what you can do on this piano. Accessed through the control panel, you can change the listening position of any sound with the press of a button. The default setting is the player`s position (as seen on the image above this paragraph marked in blue). This recreates the sounds you`d expect to hear sitting behind a piano. The next listening position is the first row and when I first switched over it blew me away. Along with the second and third listening positions, Casio have absolutely nailed the differences in tone and attack. It genuinely sounds like you are seated either in the first, middle or back rows of a concert hall and it`s something that you definitely need to hear for yourself. Pair this with the different reverb/concert hall settings and you have one of the most realistic sounding piano experiences to date.  It adds that authentic performance sound without you ever having to leave your home.