Yamaha US has started shipping the NU1 piano, an acoustic upright with the digital heart of a grand. The latest addition to its hybrid product category, which includes 2009's AvantGrand, the new family member is being pitched to serious musicians who are short on space, but still want to experience the feel and sound of a high-end – and therefore much more expensive – concert grand. It features the same piano action used in acoustic pianos, while the sonic mimicry comes courtesy of digital samples of the company's hand-built CFX Concert Grand.

The 59 x 40 x 18-in (150 x 102 x 46-cm), 240-lb (109-kg) NU1 digital/acoustic hybrid piano is reported to sport the authentic upright piano action found in Yamaha's higher-end instruments, such as Yamaha's most popular acoustic upright, the U1. In fact, the company says that it's so good as to be almost indistinguishable from a traditional acoustic. The sound booming out from the compact polished ebony cabinet, however, is furnished by four 40 W amplifiers driving two 6-inch (16-cm) woofers and two 0.75-inch (1.9-cm) tweeters.

Players can also opt to practice quietly in the corner thanks to a pair of included headphone jacks, something that's simply not possible on a traditional acoustic piano. The user is offered a selection of five piano voices, including the CFX, 50 preset songs and five demos, and an included reverb effect. There's a metronome with tempo control, and a USB audio recorder port under the keyboard that allows musicians to take their best performances with them via an optional thumbdrive.

The keyboard benefits from 88 natural wood keys with variable touch sensitivity that run from A1 to C7, though the user does get the opportunity to select from seven different scales and alternate tunings. The white keys are coated in acrylic resin, while the black keys get phenolic resin.

Down below are three pedals. There's a damper (regular piano sustain) with half pedal effect, a sostenuto (for sustaining pressed notes, such as chords, while other notes are played staccato), and a soft pedal (for knocking the volume down a tad, while also slightly altering the timbre of the notes).

The NU1 is shipping now for a recommended retail of US$5,499.

Product page: Yamaha NU1

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