At the top end of piano manufacturing, each instrument should have a high level of design, parts, materials, execution, workmanship, and attention to detail. However, it is personal preference--the buyer's response to the various manufacturers' interpretations of the "perfect sound"--that determines the answer to the question of "But which is the best piano?" The answer is different for every customer.
But which piano is the "best" is also a matter of other factors. Some high-end instruments might be considered the "best" in one setting, but not quite the best in another. A piano that sounds its best in a large concert hall with hundreds of people may not necessarily be the right fit for the typical living room.
"The best instrument," I replied to the couple, "is the one that you'll most enjoy listening to as your children--and perhaps, before you know it, your grandchildren--play and develop their musical skills. The 'best' piano is the one you'll be happy with over the many years it will live in your home, and that one day, when you have the time, perhaps may tempt you to take lessons yourself. The best piano is the one that will deliver to you and your family the joy of music, now and over the long run."
Ori Bukai owns and operates Allegro Pianos in Stamford, Connecticut, which specializes in the sale of new and restored high-end pianos. Visit his website at www.allegropianos.com.