"The bass section on both instruments sounded full, round, and complete. I felt that the tone was excellent all the way down to C4 on the Young Chang, and down to B3 on the Weber. Perhaps the lowest two or three notes didn't sound all that great, but isn't that most often the case, even with longer grands? The actions on both pianos felt even and extremely controllable, and I had no trouble playing any kind of music, including some Bach inventions played at a fast clip. Both instruments also had admirable sustain properties across their entire range, and if I had any criticism at all about tonal balance, it might be that I had to work a bit harder to get the treble to ‘sing' melodies above the volume of the midrange and bass. Yet this is also a bit of a compliment, in that the bass and tenor sections are capable of putting out serious amounts of tone, volume, and sustain. However, this is where the similarities between these two pianos ended.
"Scale design involves the engineering of certain specifications for the plate, bridges, and strings, and the Y150 and W150 share the same specs for their plates and bridges. However, their string-tension properties were engineered differently; thicker plain-wire diameters were incorporated into the Young Chang's stringing scale, resulting in higher tension for that model. This difference, along with the use of contrasting styles of hammers, has resulted in two unique-sounding pianos that I found fascinating to compare. The Young Chang's tone seemed lighter, brighter, and possibly a little thinner, yet pleasant and certainly musical. The Weber had a much darker and ‘bloomier' sound that I found quite appealing, and I felt like I could extract more shades of color within a slightly larger dynamic range. I also felt that the treble in the Weber held its own against the bass/midrange a little better than it did in the Young Chang, especially when playing melodies against left-hand accompaniment. But, as piano tone is very subjective, I urge the reader to try both instruments; some pianists might well prefer the brighter sound of the Young Chang."
Next for Carney were three Chinese-made models by Pearl River and one by Hailun:
"I didn't care much for the 4' 7" Pearl River GP-142, due to its thin sound, noticeable break, and an action that felt strange (I suspect short keys as the culprit), but the 4' 11" Pearl River GP-150 was basically the opposite: an excellent action, combined with an appealing tone that was especially effective in the treble section from middle C up. The overall quality of the bass sound was slightly less impressive than what I'd heard from the Young Chang and Weber, with clear-pitched bass notes beginning only at D6. I also felt that the break between bass and tenor was not as refined as on the Young Chang and Weber. Still, I was attracted to this model's sound and playability, and found the balance between registers to be possibly more evenly matched than on any of the other instruments. Another notable feature of the Pearl River GP-150 is the presence of both front and rear duplex scales from C#53 up, which may contribute to the nice qualities of the treble sound in this piano.
"Pearl River also makes pianos under the Ritmüller label, the company's upper-level brand, whose models were recently redesigned by renowned German piano designer Lothar Thomma. I tested the 4' 10" Ritmüller GH-148R, which I found lovely overall. The keyboard and action on this piano, complete with real ebony-wood sharps, was my favorite of all the instruments I played, with a refined feel and excellent controllability. The top three octaves of the GH-148R have a front and rear duplex scale, and the workmanship of the plate finishing, bridges, tuning pins, and stringing resembles that found on much more expensive instruments. The very high quality of the bass tone extended all the way down to note A1, a trait I rarely encounter on pianos of any length. The amount of fundamental tone present in the lowest bass notes was really surprising and admirable, although the overall bass sound throughout the entire range of wrapped strings was just slightly less impressive than that found on the Weber and Young Chang. The break on the Ritmüller was also perhaps a bit more noticeable than on those two pianos, but this comparison shows just how difficult it is to get everything perfect in a single instrument. I really loved the way this piano sounded and performed; it was easy to forget that I was playing a short grand.