The Future Of The Piano – Tim Topham Hybrid Piano Review


Music education expert Tim Topham shares his thoughts and insights on the hybrid piano.

Tim Topham: Director of Top Music Co

Just as hybrid cars offer drivers the best of both worlds… 

  • Fuel for internal combustion 

  • Electric power from battery generation, energy reabsorption and regeneration from braking, etc. 

  • Cheaper running costs from not burning gas all the time 

…so too hybrid pianos bridge the divide between acoustic and digital, offering the best aspects of an acoustic piano (namely the touch and feel of the action), with all the benefits of a digital instrument (see below). 

The price range of some of the newer hybrids such as Kawai’s Novus offers stiff competition to even acoustic upright manufacturers by offering a similar price point and a superior action. 

If you’re a teacher who requests that all students purchase an acoustic piano before starting lessons, or if you’re a teacher for whom the thought of teaching or playing a digital instrument is anathema, then I’d like you to reconsider the landscape. 

Technology, as you know, is impacting on every aspect of our lives, and while you might want to keep pianos out of it, the time has come to consider what hybrid instruments can offer you and your students. 


A hybrid piano is simply a digital instrument with some kind of acoustic piano action inside. 

Depending on the make and model, hybrid pianos feature either an upright or grand piano action that has been only slightly modified from the original acoustic construction. 

Unlike digital pianos and synthesizers, hybrid pianos don’t generally feature extensive rhythm and sound banks or on-board multi-track recording. This is left to digital and stage pianos and synthesizers which are designed more for recording studios. 

That said, with superior playing actions and a range of the latest digital capabilities, the Novus and Aures Kawai pianos do capture the best of both worlds. 



Different types of hybrids

The Aures can be considered as an acoustic piano with a digital brain. You are able to play it as a ‘normal’ piano, but then switch to digital mode, utilising volume, tuning, transposing, metronome, song recorder and playback functions, as well as accessing a built-in piano music library. Dual headphone sockets allow for quiet work in the classroom too. .

The Novus is largely a sophisticated digital piano, with an acoustic skeletonFusing an acoustic piano action with digital technologies, the hammers are carbon fibre and the strings are paths of lightThe Novus never needs tuning and offers a suite of sound design, practice and recording tools, and sound by one of the world’s premium audio technology companies. 

I made my main studio and YouTube recording instrument the Novus NV10 a few years ago and I’ve never looked back. It plays just like an acoustic grand, sounds like a Shigeru Kawai (!) and allows me to record and practice with headphones on.

Advantages and disadvantages 

There are many advantages to hybrid pianos: 

  • Smaller size and weight can mean you don’t need piano movers to relocate them 

  • You can practice with headphones 

  • Never require tuning 

  • Easily connect to recording/MIDI/laptops/iPads 

  • Variety of sounds available to explore for composition 

  • Many include play-along options so that students can enjoy playing with orchestras 

  • Many hybrid grand piano actions can be regulated, just like an acoustic 

  • Nearly impervious to humidity or movement 


Possible disadvantages (I struggled a bit here)! 

  • They use (some) electricity 

  • The electronic elements won’t work in a power outage 

  • Some of them can be really quite expensive 

  • Some will say their actions and the sound produced are inferior, but I strongly disagree on both accounts. 


I’m more than convinced of the merits of hybrid pianos and hope that you’ll consider how digital instruments could positively impact your studio or classroom as well.


Learn more about Tim Topham & Top Music Co, or connect with them on social media.


Explore Kawai’s Hybrid Piano Range including the: K-300 AURES2 Upright, GX-2 Aures2 Grand, GL-30 Aures2 Grand, Novus NV5S, and Novus NV10S.

Want to play a hybrid piano? Visit our Hybrid Piano Retailers to try a hybrid in store.


Written by Tim Topham. Prepared by Hugh Raine.

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