As part of C. Bechstein’s less expensive line, the Academy series pianos operate with a different philosophy than that of the ultra-premium, more expensive Concert instruments. The Academy series features pianos with a softer and rounder tone, yet still complex. While these instruments were not built to dominate an orchestra, they’re absolutely intended for professional use. The Academy series pianos are still powerful enough for performances in conservatories, and small to medium sized venues. The built quality is robust enough to withstand the rigorous demands of music institutions and teaching studios. Some folks even prefer the slightly warmer tonal character of the Academy series to their more expensive brethren.
The smallest grand piano by this German piano manufacturer, the Academy A160 provides a premium option for those seeking a compact, high-end hand made instrument that does not venture into 6 figure price territory. Recently re-designed by the C. Bechstein R&D department located in Seifhennersdorf, Saxony, the A160 is a high-value musical knockout that was built with discerning pianists with space limitations in mind.
With a construction time of over 1 year and 250 man-hours, the A160 is perfect for those seeking a baby grand of premium German quality that performs like many other 6 foot grands, available at a fraction of the price of other premium German grands.
The A160 features Bechstein’s Silver Line action, completely made by Bechstein in Germany. This action design echoes that of the Renner actions featured in most European grands, achieving a similar level of smoothness and response, if albeit more refined than the actions found in similar sized European instruments. These actions are designed in strict accordance with C. Bechstein’s Keyboard and Action Engineering and Geometry standards.
Bechstein says the excellent weighting of this action is owed to their proprietary Friction Control System. Whatever this control system may entail, what you need to know is that this is simply a wonderfully responsive and enjoyable piano action to play on.
The tone of the A160 is colourful, warm and clear. The entire range is rich with over-tones, and the clarity far exceeds what you’ll typically hear in a baby grand, especially when playing denser chords. The treble is strong, and the mid-range is full and the bass is powerful, easy to mistake for the bass of a 6 foot grand. The A160 also boasts very impressive sustain.
All in all the A160 has a tonal profile that is distinctly European in nature with a broad range of colors, which is owed in large part to the bridge design; the bridges in every A160 are made of German red beech utilizing the latest CNC technology. This combination of design and quality of wood guarantees excellent transmission of sound and maximum frequencies to the soundboard.
While the vast majority of modern piano manufacturers outsource their hammer manufacturing, Bechstein has refused to follow suit, and in fact produce all the hammers for their grand and upright pianos themselves at an adjoining production site. This allows Bechstein a much deeper level of control as compared to what all other European piano manufacturers can offer and even extends to the Zimmermann and W. Hoffmann pianos.
Featuring a mahogany core covered with wool from New Zealand, the A160’s hammers are painstakingly hand-voiced to ensure a wonderful musical experience right out of the box.
The soundboards featured in the A160 are highly responsive. Each A160 features a soundboard of European Alpine mountain spruce grown slowly at elevations between 800 and 1,000 meters. The slow growth at high elevation ensures a highly favourable pulp to grain ratio, allowing for excellent sound generating and resonance properties.
The A160 grand piano uses hardwood Beech rims that are noticeably thick for a baby grand. Hardwood rims ensure longevity, so you can rest assured your piano will last decades, and beyond that, actually contributes to the projection and sustain of the instrument.