The 44" Hallet, Davis & Co. H-111, seen at the distributor's warehouse, was not well prepped — apparently it had been only tuned — and some of the details I've noted may reflect this.
The Hallet seems to be an average entry-level console with decent all-around capabilities. At first blush, its sound was uninspiring and on the "wooden" side, with a very quick decay in both bass and treble, but further inspection revealed a more varied sound. Some groups of notes had better sustain than others, and most of the bass had a more substantial and resonant tone than the treble. In fact, the lowest notes of the piano were impressive, their pitches clear to within four notes of the bottom. The transition from tenor to bass was prominent, but in actual playing this was not a major issue.
The piano's dynamic range was potentially quite wide, and the action permitted fair control of dynamics, but not consistently or reliably. Notes sometimes wouldn't sound at all, even when played with moderate touch, and note repetition was fair at best. (These are symptoms of an action that needs regulating, something a good dealer would do when preparing the piano for sale.) These problems were especially noticeable when using the middle, "practice" pedal, but the pedals and dampers were otherwise fine and worked cleanly.
The piano's cabinet was in a continental style with a beautiful light-cherry color — a lovely instrument to look at. The absence of front legs did result in some slight instability; the piano rocked a bit to and fro when pushed, but not during playing. At slightly less than 23" from the floor, the bottom of the keybed was the lowest of the three instruments I measured, and my knees came right up against it. I found the folding fallboard quite heavy, and a bit difficult to open or close. The fallboard's thick front edge opens out to serve as a music desk. A matching vinyl-padded bench, with music storage, comes with the piano.
The 44" Hardman, Peck & Co. R110S, like the Hallet, Davis model, was seen at the distributor's warehouse and was tuned but not well prepped.
The sound of the Hardman was metallic and a little wooden. It struck me as a good entry-level console for popular music, especially rock, but probably not for classical music unless voiced less brightly. Despite the brightness, the Hardman actually had the widest dynamic range of the three pianos, with fair control of dynamics, even at the soft end of the range. Sustain was good, the transition from tenor to bass was prominent but not problematic, and the lowest notes were impressive, with clear pitches heard to within three notes of the bottom.
Generally, when it functioned properly, the action had a good feel. However, the problem with the Hardman, as with the Hallet, was that neither the tone nor the action was consistent or reliable; sometimes notes would not play, even with a moderate touch. Presumably, this problem would be cleared up by better dealer prep.
The pedals and dampers worked cleanly and reliably. The "practice" mode (middle pedal) was excellent, with a surprising range of dynamics from whisper to mezzo forte.
Unlike the other instruments I played, the Hardman was in a more traditionally styled cabinet, with front legs and toe blocks, rather than continental; the color was a lovely dark mahogany. This model had a slow-close fallboard, an elegant touch that never fails to entertain the uninitiated observer. The piano comes with a matching wood bench with music storage.
Cannon concludes by summarizing and comparing the three models:
If these pianos were cars, the Hallet, Davis might be a Toyota Corolla, the Hardman, Peck a Ford Mustang, and the Kohler & Campbell a tiny, three-cylinder Mercedes. Each was lovely in terms of cabinet design and appearance, and, when properly prepared by the dealer, a very acceptable instrument for most entry-level buyers — but I would not recommend any of them for an advanced player. The Kohler came closest, and is a remarkable piano for the price, but its lack of greater high-treble sound and its shallow-feeling key dip would likely be too limiting for such a player. A more serious pianist looking for a vertical piano in this price range should instead consider a used, higher-quality upright.