The W. Hoffmann V158 is a baby grand for all. With pricing very much in the same range as a similarly sized Japanese grand piano, it’s affordable, performs extremely well, and makes for an elegant appointment to any home.
The W. Hoffmann Vision Series is entirely designed and manufactured by Bechstein Europe and utilizes the highest quality CNC machinery, top-grade woods, the latest design trends, and hand-craftsmanship right from Europe. They offer excellent value and provide a welcomed alternative to the Japanese-dominated mid-range.
The factory where Bechstein produces all of the W. Hoffmann pianos began as the Bohemia piano factory and was purchased by Bechstein after having already achieved a reputation for being one of the top Eastern European piano makers.
Following a ~50 Million Euro investment in the factory, it now makes three lines of pianos under the Hoffmann name: the Professional, Tradition, and Vision series. The V158 being reviewed here is part of the Vision series (hence the ‘v’).
The W.Hoffmann brand more than holds its own among its Asian competitors. Simply because C. Bechstein Europe draws upon its longstanding experience to produce quality instruments. The W.Hoffmann Vision V 158 is a sturdy, powerful and affordable baby grand that owes its singing European voice not only to the excellent facilities run by C. Bechstein Europe, but also the expertise of the highly qualified Czech staff, who turns every instrument into a unique musical gem.
The action in the V158 is a Bechstein-design and made action, labeled their “Silver Action”, the same action that finds its way into all of the Hoffmanns as well as the Bechstein Academy line of pianos. Their Zimmermann pianos have a Hailun-manufactured action that they call their ‘Bronze’ action, and the Concert-level C. Bechstein’s use their ‘Gold’ Action.
The action definitely has some similarities to the Renner actions that are ubiquitous in European piano making; there are differences though. For one, the action gives the sense of a slightly deeper key depth, and feels designed and regulated to give added control in the lower dynamic ranges. You might expect this to come at the expense of upper dynamic output, but the Hoffmann rims are so well made and fitted to the soundboards that there’s plenty of response at every volume level.
It’s a medium-weight action, so someone transitioning from an upright piano will certainly feel the extra work being done by their fingers and arms, but nothing so drastic that a few weeks of playing won’t iron it out.
The V158 is an extremely colourful piano, with all ranges putting out ample overtones, and for such a reasonably-priced piano, a remarkable level of structure to the tone. While it’s obvious that the Vision Series lacks the level of refinement and uber-control of the higher Bechstein’s or even the Academy Grands, the v158 isn’t far off the Hoffmann Tradition series, and compared with other instruments in its under 30k price range, is very impressive for its even-ness (especially for a baby grand) and versatility. For instance, we’d challenge anyone to play the v158 and then either a Kawai GX1 or Yamaha C1X and be seriously compelled to take the European route.
Every W. Hoffmann features hammers built by C. Bechstein in Germany. The v158 features A or AA grade, high-quality English felt that meets or exceeds Bechstein’s stringent quality control standards. These are double felted hammers that are voiced by hand by experts at the Czech factory before the pianos are deemed ready for shipping.
While comparable Japanese instruments use Sitka spruce for their soundboards, the v158 features a soundboard of premium European Alpine solid spruce, which is one of the primary reasons for the noticeable difference in tone. The soundboards are specially processed for use in any climate.
The v158 features an inner hardwood rim of pinewood and medium-density fibreboard
Overall, the W. Hoffmann V158 is an intriguing option for people seeking piano options up to $30,000 USD, and yearning for a non-Japanese option to compare, without having to get into Stencil options, or OEM product at the very least. And if you can work with a dealer that has the entire Bechstein line, this may be a great starting point towards a possible C. Bechstein upgrade down the road.
About W. Hoffmann (Made by C. Bechstein)
Bechstein has long been considered the most exacting piano maker in the world, with immaculate quality control, beautifully clear tone, and industry-leading durability.
With the independence of the Czech Republic came an opening: the Bohemia piano factory was purchased by Bechstein and converted into easily the most modern piano factory in Eastern Europe. And out of this factory now comes the W. Hoffmann pianos.
These hand-crafted instruments form a perfect bridge between the mass-produced Japanese pianos from Kawai & Yamaha, and the high-end masterpieces from the likes of Bosendorfer, Steinway, or of course C. Bechstein. The pianos exude tradition from the moment they’re played, and we’re incredibly honoured to have been chosen Ontario’s only outlet for sale.
|Length||5’2” (158 cm)
|Width||5'1" (152 cm)
|Height||3'4" (102 cm)
|Weight||683 lbs. (310 kg)
|Warranty||5 Parts & Labour Manufacturer’s Warranty