This brings us to the new Yamaha C7X, which I played next. Immediately noticeable was a less percussive attack sound at all dynamic levels. The combination of chords and melody in the opening themes of Schubert's iconic Sonata in B-flat Major, D.960, had a lovely legato quality. Though both the old and new models had a decent amount of sustain, the C7X distinguished itself from the C7 in having what piano technicians often call "bloom": after the key was struck, the tone ripened instead of simply dying away. This aspect of the C7X, and its more delicate attack sound, combined to make an instrument that seemed at once more colorful, more intimate, and better suited to the romantic repertoire than the typical C7. Chopin's introspective Polonaise-Fantasie, Op.61, was a surprisingly rewarding experience on this instrument. That's not to say that the mild-mannered C7X is incapable of a wide dynamic range — when pushed, it can create an interesting after-ring — but it differs from the C7 in that brightness and explosive dynamics aren't the first things that come to mind when playing one.
Taking a moment to stretch my legs and walk around the facility, I met Yamaha's chief concert technician, Hiro Mizutani, who invited me to try the flagship CFX 9' concert grand on the stage. As this would be only my second experience of playing this model, I happily accepted his invitation and enjoyed the CFX's marvelous evenness of tone. After a few minutes, I made a beeline back to the 7' 6" C7X. The more colorful sounds of these newer Yamaha models were surprisingly similar, especially considering that the CFX costs twice as much as the C7X; still, the C7X lacked the buttery-smooth perfection of the CFX's ideally regulated action.
As my time in the Piano Salon drew to a close, I reflected in a more general way on the changes Yamaha has incorporated into its CX series. The C7X has acquired many of the positive attributes usually associated with more expensive American and European pianos. Elements of the tone have certainly undergone a transformation and matured, while the exterior design of the piano shows a subtle inventiveness. Instantly audible in a side-by-side comparison of the C7X with its predecessor model, these timbral changes could be considered a revolutionary departure from the brand's historical norms.
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