Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Do you think you can hear the difference between a Steinway and a Chinese piano? Many of you probably think it would be no problem. But it may be surprising to you what you hear. There have been studies on wines. When people think a bottle of wine is expensive, they’re always going to choose that as being a better wine. There’s a subjective nature to the taste and the bouquet of wines. Well, the same is true of pianos! Now, I’m not suggesting one is better than the other. I’m going to leave it up to you to decide. I’m going to provide you with a blind listening test!
We will be comparing a Steinway to a Chinese piano in our blind listening test!
I went through the archives of Living Pianos, because we have hundreds of piano videos, and I found two grand pianos of about the same size, both in brand new condition. One is a Steinway and one is a Chinese piano. The Chinese brand shall remain nameless for right now. At the end I will reveal which is which. But don’t cheat! Don’t go forward on this because I want you to really critically listen. If you’ve got good speakers or headphones, use them so you can really hear the instruments. Then I want you to write down your answer. Write it down on a piece of paper. I’m serious about this! Because it’s easy to change your mind once you know the answer. But if you commit it to paper, then you can’t argue that you thought something different. It’s harder to tell than you might think!
I found recordings of the beginning of the second movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10, No. 3. It’s the same exact piece of music you’re going to hear on both of these instruments. Remember, don’t cheat! I want you to really write down which one you think is the Steinway and which one is the Chinese piano so you get the most out of this. Here we go!
That was an interesting listening experience. I bet many of you have very definite ideas and some of you may be wondering which one is which. Well first of all let me tell you what these pianos are and then I’ll tell you which one was first and which one was second. The Steinway is a 2010 Model O which is right around 5′ 10″ in brand new condition. The Chinese piano is the 2017 Hailun Model 178, also 5′ 10″.
So which one was which? Have you written it down on paper? I’m serious about this because it’s easy to cheat yourself. You don’t want to be wrong here, do you? Because there’s a drastic price difference. You could buy several of those Hailuns for the price of a Steinway. So which one is which?
The first performance you heard was the Steinway and the second performance was the Hailun.
I don’t know how many of you are shocked and how many of you got it right. But there’s no right or wrong answer because every piano has something to offer. Every piano is unique. If you play several brand new Steinway model O’s in the showroom, each one will have a unique character of sound, as do the Hailuns. All pianos are made of wood and other organic materials and are highly crafted.
Now, I should tell you that there was a slight difference in these two performances. The first one was made later in my studio where I had much higher end microphones. I had a pair of Neumanns recording the Steinway and I only had a pair of Audio-Technica 4033s, which are relatively inexpensive large diaphragm condensers on the Hailun. So they were recorded in different rooms with different microphones. So this wasn’t totally scientific. The Hailun didn’t have the benefit of expensive, high-end microphones. But nevertheless you can get some idea of the different characteristics of the sound of these pianos. It was an interesting playing experience. I can hear what I went for and what came out on these performances. But I’m more interested in what you heard! Be honest in the comments. I’m very interested in how everybody responds to this! Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
Steinway 2010 Model O Grand Piano – Living Pianos Online Piano Store
New Hailun Model 178 Grand Piano – Living Pianos Online Piano Store
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