Perhaps the most versatile entry in the C. Bechstein Academy line, the C. Bechstein A 208 is an instrument built to match a huge variety of applications for both professional and amateur pianists alike.
At 6’8”, the A 208 is large enough to more than satisfy the demands of mid-sized performance venues and recording studios, but not so large as to be too prohibitive for many homes. This is an instrument with a large dynamic range, capable of the subtlest of nuances and a precise and responsive touch.
This instrument takes over 1 year and 250 man-hours to build, fresh off a recent redesign by C. Bechstein’s R&D department in Seifhennersdorf, Saxony. A serious instrument for those seeking a fine piano.
Like the other Academy series grand pianos, the A208 uses the Bechstein ‘Silver Line’ action. Unlike many European pianos which use Renner actions, Bechstein designs and builds their own actions in Germany, with parts from Renner.
After assembly, the Silver Line actions receive extensive regulating and adjustment, and play very nicely out of the box. The weighting is very well balanced, and the repetition speed is excellent.
Right off the bat, when you sit down to play the A208 it’s immediately obvious that you’re playing an instrument that sounds a lot more complex than some of the hugely popular Japanese instruments in this size range, such as the Kawai GX-5 and Yamaha C5X. Comparing the A208 to the Kawai and Yamaha offerings in the same class (SK-5 and CF6) you’ll find a similar level of complexity, but a distinctly different tonal profile. The A208 is clear, colourful, and powerful, while generally warmer and a shade darker than most German grands including the grand pianos from C. Bechstein Concert series.
The presence of agraffes in the bass and mid range, and then a capo bar for the treble ensure the strings are held perfectly in place, allowing the hammers to strike the strings in precisely the right place. This helps minimize distortion and contributes to clarity.
C. Bechstein bucks the trend of outsourcing their hammer production followed by every other European manufacturer, and instead invested to build a hammer production facility of their own in Germany. This allows Bechstein a deeper level of control over every other European manufacturer to ensure that their specific tonal philosophy is achieved.
The hammers consist of mahogany cores and special wool from New Zealand. Bechstein’s experts thoroughly hand-voice the hammers at the factory prior to departure.
As far as the rim is concerned, Bechstein has elected to go with a hardwood, Beech rim. The rims are a considerable thickness, ensuring the A208 will maintain its strong structure for decades.
The A208 features a thick, hardwood rim of Beech. These rims are built for long-term durability and overall structural integrity, and the Beech itself is carefully selected to ensure that the case remains highly stable, and perfectly frames the soundboard. The rim construction and materials also contribute to the excellent sustain and overall tonal profile of the piano.