Last year, I bought a grand piano. Here's a short summary of my journey to it.
I first set myself a limit of 15.000 € and baby grand size. My living room is 24m² big, so I thought a small piano would be ok.
I also have neighbors, so a silent system was a requirement.
Since Yamaha is the most experienced piano maker with silent systems, and almost all piano dealers consider the Yamaha Silent System to be the best, I was biased towards Yamaha from the beginning. Add to that that I had excellent experiences with their after-sales service, when they repaired my six-year old Clavinova free of charge, I said to myself: If I am going to buy another piano than a Yamaha, it has to be significantly better than a Yamaha.
But I still checked the Internet for all piano brands that offer built-in silent systems. I found only five piano manufacturers that offer their grand pianos with built-in silent systems: Yamaha, Kawai, Young Chang/Weber, Bechstein/Hoffmann, and Irmler.
I'm a bit skeptical about silent systems build in afterwards. I had the opportunity to test a pre-owned Schimmel C182 with silent system; and the silent system was in a terrible shape. So a piano with built-in silent system was my first choice.
About the size: On the Internet, writers like Larry Fine do not recommend baby grands; sometimes calling them "Piano-shaped objects". And there seems to be a consensus that a minimum length of 1m70 is the limit for grand pianos as serious music instruments.
After trying out a few baby grands, I concluded: The baby-grand-bashers were right. Most baby grands sounded strained. Notable exceptions were the Kawai GE30, and to a point also a Samick SIG50, which unfortunately does not come with a built-in silent system.
But I still took the two following steps:
1) I moved furniture in my living room, so it would be big enough to hold a 1m80 piano,
2) I raised my price limit to 25.000 €.
This still ruled out Bechstein, but the five other affordable brands were still options.
Here are my observations.
Action: Very good for Yamaha and Kawai, not too bad for Weber, Hoffmann and Irmler.
Sound: mostly good, except for Irmler which terribly disappointed me. Surprisingly, I liked the sound of the Kawai GE30 better than of the RX-2. Bigger is not always better...
Feeling of key tops: Great for Yamaha (Ivorite), quite good for Kawai (Neotex), only average for the three others (Acryl).
Silent system: Only testable for Yamaha and Kawai. Kawai was good, Yamaha was very good.
During my testing and trying process, another instrument also became an option: The Yamaha N3 AvantGrand, which has a very nice action. But I would only have bought it if no acoustic instrument had been to my liking.
So, I finally narrowed my choice down to three options:
In my hometown, not one piano dealer carries Kawai pianos. One dealer who carries Yamaha, Bechstein and Hoffmann, said: Kawai ist not good. Considering I liked the Kawai pianos better than the Hoffmanns, I thought this to be a bit unfair.
I found a dealer about 300 km from my hometown where I could compare the Yamaha C2 and the Kawai GE30. And the Yamaha C2 won.
About three months later, on my birthday (June 21st), it was delivered. There were little problems with the silent system at first; but the piano dealer fixed it as soon as possible (which was 4 days after the delivery), and it has been working fine since then.
Here's a link to a picture of it.
EDIT: This picture also contains a poster that some people might not consider appropriate for a family oriented forum. Only click if you can handle Victoria Frances' art. Picture with Yamaha C2 SG