It’s time to look back at those pianos that have won awards over the past 12 months. These awards are mostly handed out by magazines and design institutes, and are often heralded with elaborate ceremonies at various exhibitions or conventions. This year there seems to be a little less innovation to celebrate.
MMR Dealers’ Choice Awards
Musical Merchandise Review (MMR) is a long-established American trade publication. The magazine first appeared in August 1879. Its Dealers’ Choice Awards, instigated in 1992, are chosen by musical instrument store owners and managers from across the U.S.
• Award: Acoustic Piano Line of the Year. The award this year again went to Kawai. MMR remarked, “2023 retailer-voters applauded the brand’s stellar reputation, value, build quality, and Kawai’s unrivalled customer service.” (2022 winner: Kawai).
• Award: Home Digital Keyboard of the Year. The stylish Casio Privia PX-S7000, promoted primarily as a home digital piano, was the run-away winner of this year’s award. The instrument won not only for its mid-century modern styling but also for its superb sound and performance characteristics. (2022 winner: the entire Casio Privia PX-S series).
Red Dot Design Awards
The German-based Red Dot Design Award has now been running for over 60 years. It is widely recognised internationally as an extremely important and authoritative accolade.
This year the Roland F107 / Roland Piano App combination won an award for its minimalistic design, functionality, and ability to enhance the playing and learning experience. The F107 previously won a Red Dot Design Award in 2021, now with the addition of the Roland Piano App it has been cited again.
NAMM Tec Awards
The NAMM TEC Awards date back to 1985 when they were presented during the Audio Engineering Society conventions. In 2011 NAMM (the National Association of Music Merchants) took over the awards. They are vested in recognition of achievements in the fields of audio technology and music production.
The 2023 prize for Technical Achievement in the Musical Instrument Hardware category went to the Nord Piano 5. This exceptional digital piano features dual piano engines and a premium triple sensor keybed with grand weighted action. It has been lauded by professional musicians for both live and studio work.
Music Inc Awards
The Yamaha U1SH3 Silent Piano was a winner of a Music Inc. Product Excellence Award this year. This upright acoustic piano has proved extremely popular with both the domestic and college markets. The “silent” function prevents the hammers from striking the strings, and instead, a digital sound module is triggered. This lets the pianist hear what they are playing on headphones without disturbing others.
Earlier in the year the Kawai GX-2 BLAK 60th Anniversary Edition won the Music Inc. Editor’s Choice – NAMM 2023 Award.
This limited-edition grand piano was built to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Kawai’s arrival in North America. Just 60 of the GX-2 and its upright counterpart – the K-500 have been built. Both feature special hand-painted accents produced using the ancient Japanese arts of “urushi” (a type of lacquering made from tree sap) and “maki-e” (the placing of gold flakes onto wet lacquer to create a design or image).
iF Design Awards
The iF Design Award is another longstanding competition focussing on design excellence. It is awarded by iF International Forum Design GmbH. This German-based organization has been rewarding outstanding design since 1953.
In 2023 the Casio Privia PX-S7000 digital piano won a prestigious Gold Award. The Gold Award is only given to 75 designs across all disciplines (product, packaging, communications, service, architecture, professional concept, user experience, and user interface), so this is quite some accolade.
KVR Readers’ Choice Awards
• Award: Favorite Keyboard Virtual Instrument. This was won yet again by Pianoteq. This is the fifth time in a row the award has been won by Modartt’s music software package.
Pianoteq uses a unique physical modelling engine to simulate the sound and dynamics of a wide range of acoustic pianos, and cleverly manages to capture all the subtleties and idiosyncrasies of the originals.
A’ Design Award 2023
The A’Design Awards and Competition is judged by an extensive group of academics, trade press, and industrial designers. Like the Red Dot and iF Awards, these address a wide range of diverse categories.
This year no piano won an award, but there was an honour for one piano-related product…
The Petervary Smart Piano Bench (Pro) won an Iron A’ Design Award. This stylish bench is truly state-of-the-art. Its main two features are: programmable height adjustment – down to 0.1mm accuracy; and a sliding mechanism that negates the need to twist the body to reach lower or higher sections of the keyboard.
Other design features include a digital display showing height settings, a separate cushion, a detachable backrest, a replaceable top cover, a storage pocket which includes wireless phone charging, a USB port, and a vibrating metronome in the cushion (optional).
The bench has also won two Gold Awards (Conceptual Design – Smart Technologies, and Conceptual Design – Media & Music) at the London Design Awards 2023.
Other Award-Winning Pianos
Awards shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Many consider them to be a meaningless popularity contest, but for manufacturers and music retailers, they can be a marketing goldmine. And occasionally they’re a treasure map to hidden gems that might never have been otherwise discovered.
If you feel we have missed any other important awards featuring pianos, please let us know in the Comments box below…