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So my story continues.. from my current Piano, a Pleyel P124 I bought 9 years ago after extensive research
Pleyel at Home
I am now a dad of two girls, and our dog Fenix is still doing fine (he's turning 12 this year)

So my little girl (5 yr old) always finds the Pleyel inspiring and would try to play some notes of the songs she likes. Few weeks ago she said she wants to learn piano (now dad is getting real series LOL). So we are very fortunate to find her a very good teacher in our area, and she has been very encourage to practice and explore the piano on her own in addition to the practice schedule. So the dad is already planning for the future. My current play is to purchase the best grand we can afford when she pass RCM Lv5 with grade of 80 or above. (My older daughter, who just turned 9 is studying classical guitar and electrical on the side). Which I believe is necessary for serious piano study, and would benefit from having extra control and tonal palette response. So this is going to be another two or three years. The fascinating memory of searching for the right piano 9 years ago came back, and I still remember when the feeling when I strung the first note on an August Forest 190. I played pretty much everything: Steinway, Bechstein, Auguster Forest, Bluthner, Sauter, Seiler, Yamaha, Shigeru Kawai, Schimmel (and Vogel), Estonia, Bosendorfer and Fazilio, and end up with a Pleyel. The three makes inspired me the most: August Forester 190, Bechstein A190, C Bechstein M/P192, and Steinway A & B.

However I crossed August Forester off the list, since I felt while it has a singing tone that really connects me, it does not ride thunder well, and gets muddy fairly quick, while it would be the choice for me, I would get a versatile piano for my daughter. The Bechstein A190 I remembered was really close to the C. Bechstein M/P192 with half the price, I thought that could be the piano on top of my list. Schimmel was also very nice.

9 years have passed, and dealership has changed a few in Toronto. So I arranged yesterday for a showroom appointment with Robert Lowrey(now Merriam), and Steinway Gallery. I also brought two of my friends, Steven and John who can actually play- to hear the capacity of the piano.

I learnt from a friend to do a grading system, marking the tone, color, action, and overall personal connect. Each three of us is giving out a personal score, and the overall score is added in the end. - there is nothing scientific, but the conclusion should be very interesting. I thought I would share:

I have also recorded each piano on a Tascam 05 recorder (Kudos to Merriam Piano, top notch service, I was very close buying a Schimmel upright 9 years ago). If there is enough request, I'll edit them and upload a youtube video on my girls band channel.

20 marks giving to Tone 20 goes to action
Tone 10: how the piano sound, sustains, bass etc, single not per note
Color Palette & Chords Seperation 10: how the piano sounds when actually played
ppp5: how easy to play piassimo (also in contrast to fff, this test the dynamic range)
fff5: can the piano rides thunder?
Action 10: Overall control, connection to the piano.
Stability 5: based on current condition in the showroom. My theory: if the piano at this price range is out of tone in the showroom, it likely to have stability issue in the long run. Also on appeared quality of construction. - Again, nothing scientific
Overall Impression 10: does the piano impress each three of us?

So the maximum possible score for each person is 55, and overall score would be 165.

[img]https://ibb.co/Pc7hqkr[/img]
[Linked Image]


We started the piano in sequence of size (this is how the showroom is arranged).

The first impression is smaller grands have something lacking in common. The tonal transition between octaves are particular audible for the A160 model. While L162 has more interesting mids and upper treble complexity. Overall it felt have less depth and dynamics than the upright P124 I have at home. So we pretty much agreed and passed the small grands. I don't really consider this as upgrade.

C.Bechsteins A160: nice bright shimmery tone, very pure. A bit thin. The dynamics are lacking.

C.Bechstein L162: big price tag, nice mid and upper range.. Bass feels lacking, action is no better than the A175 next to it. I thought this piano can be very nice if space is an issue and you want premium recording quality out of it, would work well on small musical pieces.

A175: nice pure tone, seems nothing wrong with it. Overall a decent piano, but also nothing amazes us.

Estonia L168: after playing three C.Bechsteins, we felt the "tweeter" has been turned off. Its a very interesting and mellow sounding piano. My friend Steven seem to like it. I was not particularly impressed with the 6 footer I tried 9 years ago. While the tone is too dark for my taste, It has fair it of tonal complexity (more than Academy series). The size is an obvious limiting factor, we are tempted to try larger models unfortunately the dealer run out of stock. But I can totally see why the brand is receiving a lot of praise.

Shigeru Kawai SK2. In my opinion the most interesting piano we played that day, it changed my old perception about piano design philosophy. I wasn't familiar with the model length, since it sits next to the Estonia L168 we are expecting it is about the similar size. (its actually 180cm/5'11). The single note tone- seems very mellow, almost muddy in the upper register, which I don't like at all. But when Steven start pounding the piano (larger pieces) - wow, just wow. It has such depth in tonal colour, even more than the Steinway B I remembered 9 years ago. and dynamic range is incredible, I thought it has a sound of 7 footer. The mellow notes became bright once you pound the key. 9 years ago I played a few SK, none of them impressed me, but now, as an audience hearing my friend play, it is probably the most (or one of the most) enjoyable piano we tried yesterday. I'm hoping the upper octave can be voiced brighter, but this piano really blew my & Steven's mind. It is his favorite piano of that day. There are two models on the floor, the ones being sold is even better. (Lid closed!). I am definitely going to try the bigger model later when I decide to purchase. Now I can totally see why SK is receiving so much praise. The idea where tonal color changes from dark at ppp to bright at fff creates so much tonal possibilities to create musical & lyrical moves. Bravo!

C. Bechstein A190: this suppose to be my most anticipated model. And it did not disappoint - it sounds exactly like how I remembered 9 years ago in a different dealer ship. Pure, bright, golden sparkly sound. Each note is a joy, almost musical instantly. My friend John later commented, from this model and up is when he felt he's tempted to purchase a new piano (he owns an old 7' iBach). Action is light and very nice(almost flawless), so despite the difference sourcing of Bechsein's Silverline action with renner parts, the action on the A190 feels better than the L168 with gold action, but shorter. Bach, Mozart and Chopin sounds amazing on this piano.
It also rides thunder and lighting well, thanks to Steven, but the tone is less interesting than the SK2 next to it. It almost felt like, well, everything is bright, so its always nice and bright. When you play it softly, it sill has that nice, pure clean bright sparkly sound. I start to wonder if that's always a good thing. then we moved on

C. Bechstein A192 (M/P 192): turn out to be the star of the day. This piano just blew my mind. I was hoping that, the A190 would be very close so I'd go with A190 with half the price.. but not this time, with two friends that can play.. the concert series instantly distinguish herself from the Academy line. The notes while have the same Bechstein signature, pure golden sparkly sound that sustains, it has an additional depth of overtone, that's very noticeable and desirable. The Fimme de vel red spruce soundboard (I have the same soundboard on my Pleyel P124 and tapered design) vs German spruce & untappered design showed their differences. It cost twice as the academy line. The difference is more apparent, when Steven starts to play big pieces. It gives a much more depth and tonal color & complexity than the A190 next to it, perhaps still less dramatic than the SK2 (kudos to the SK2 costs 1/3 of the price), but still great depth and complexity! If I have the the money now i'd take her home LOL wow just speech less, everything is perfect. Bass also feels much more present than the A190. To be fair, A190 is a great piano with a bit lacking on color when played by herself. Only in comparison to the A192... So I don't think the common I've seen "some people prefer Academy over Concert series" is legit. All three of us sees the A192 is a better piano in every aspect, while A190 is also an excellent piano that sounds and plays very similar to the A192. move on next

C. Bechstein B212: unfortunately, this most expensive piano in the showroom in placed in a corner with 16 ft ceiling, the room acoustics is just... weird.. the reverbration is so bad that we couln'd hear the piano. The rep Patrick (super nice and informative guy, kudos to him!). So we couldn't mark the piano. This makes me wonder, if the bigger Academy model A208, and A228 would stands a better chance against the concert A192... No way to try. Their price tag are still very attractive compare to A192 (A228 at 3/5 price of A192!). If the A228 extra size can make up the tonal complexity, it would be an excellent contender!

next we move to the Schimmel room.I had great memory with all the schimmel pianos i have played, included the lower, formal Vogel (now Whilhem Schimmel) range, i thought i like them better than Yamaha priced similarly.

The K195 (image typo) had same room acoustic issue,too much reverbation, we couldn't hear the piano its too loud and muddy. the K219 next to it does not have this issue. Both John and Steven immediately loved and commented the action, i told them its the 9 footer action. I guess for advanced players action is so important. Tone and dynamics are nice, just as I remembered. Felt less colourful
compare to the C.Bechstein A192. It's a great piano by all means, we all give it a high mark. But I think i'd take a Bechstein Academy over Schimmel Konzert for the same size, i clearly prefer the Bechstein tone more (I also love the Schimmel tone, just below Bechstein). The we moved to the last piano we tried at that showroom,

Whilhem Schimmel W180, its a bit unfair since we just played pianos cost 4times the price of the W180. I thought the tone on the W180 is very nice and enjoyable, but the action was the worst I played in the room (PPP feels very difficult), it felt its not being preped at the same level as other pianos, and i am also not sure how much the action can improve with proper preparation. But John likes the action, and given the price its an excellent piano. (If the action can improve, I'd be happy enough to take the W180 as the final piano smile Just like the Vogel I remembered. Its a good alternative to the Yamaha C series, action is less refined but very nice tone.

------------------------

Overall we had great time at Merriam Roberts Lowrey Location. We then move to the Steinways Gallery, where I purchased my Pleyel P124. The Steinway A & Bs were the best pianos I played 9 years ago (along with C.Bechstein and Schimmel Konzert)

Unfortnatley the room were very busy (parents shopping with kids), room is pretty small, the M model is ok but toosmall just like the other small grands. and the A model is alright, the two B model (one regular,one is a special edition i did not pay too much attention) were just underwhelming. The notes are very muddy (felt like the sound board is soaked with water). I almost sound like a Steinway Basher but I'm not. My friend bought a model A i thought its one of the best piano i ever played. But certainly not the ones we tried yesterday. Then the lady introduced us to play the 9 footer model D in the music hall - that's a nice piano! Everything is perfect, if its a model B i would certainly consider it. Still I rate it as the 2nd best piano we tried yesterday (first one goes to the Bechstein A192, has so much character). And I'm not getting a 9 foot piano in my house.

I hope for those who have followed this post, can share some of your thoughts. I still have a plenty of time to consider, and try out other pianos. I will certainly return to the Steinway gallery if they have no stock (The consistency issue with Steinway is certainly real).

Again, if a few members request the recording, i will edit them (it takes a lot time).

At last, i ask some of you to subscribe to my 5 year old (Olivia, vocal, drum and pianist) and 9 year old (Charlotte, Guitar) girls band "Mad Carrot" channel, it will document their musical journey (guitar, rock, drum and piano). They would love to see a few new subscribers smile

my kid's band youtube Channel MadCarrot


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Hi,

I like your writing style.
But I don't know if it's long post syndrome or something else, but I have trouble understanding one thing. Are you shopping now for a piano that you will buy in 2-3 years?


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Originally Posted by Steven Y. A.
I have also recorded each piano on a Tascam 05 recorder...If there is enough request, I'll edit them and upload a youtube video....
I for one would love to hear this. One of my favorite amateur pianists did something similar before settling on his Steingraeber B192 (the last of 14 piano samples in this video, including 3 Bechsteins):


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Originally Posted by Rubens
Hi,

I like your writing style.
But I don't know if it's long post syndrome or something else, but I have trouble understanding one thing. Are you shopping now for a piano that you will buy in 2-3 years?

LOL you got that right. Yes, I am planning to buy a piano in 2-3 years. If I settle with a less expansive grand I may buy it sooner. If I decide to go like the Bechstein A192 I may wait a bit longer.
I did not expect to write this long.


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Hehe, it's a nice story though.
But 2-3 years seems to be an awfully long time to shop for a piano. Most people spend less time shopping for a house. Heck, it took me less than 2 years of courtship before I married my lady (still happily married now)!..
And the fact that it's for your 5-year old daughter, and not for now but for when she's 8! So much can change in that time.
My son is 6. Last year he still ate dirt and loved the great outdoors. Now his tastes have changed drastically, he's become a bit of science nerd (and thankfully stopped eating dirt).
But still, it's great that you get acquainted to so many piano models, and your system is intriguing. I may shop for a new grand soon.. so I may come back here to have a look at this rating system.


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Originally Posted by MrSh4nkly
Originally Posted by Steven Y. A.
I have also recorded each piano on a Tascam 05 recorder...If there is enough request, I'll edit them and upload a youtube video....
I for one would love to hear this. One of my favorite amateur pianists did something similar before settling on his Steingraeber B192 (the last of 14 piano samples in this video, including 3 Bechsteins):


And his name is Pleyel204! I'd love to play more Pleyel Grand if there is still any of them around... Thanks for letting me know!








Originally Posted by Rubens
Hehe, it's a nice story though.
But 2-3 years seems to be an awfully long time to shop for a piano. Most people spend less time shopping for a house. Heck, it took me less than 2 years of courtship before I married my lady (still happily married now)!..
And the fact that it's for your 5-year old daughter, and not for now but for when she's 8! So much can change in that time.
My son is 6. Last year he still ate dirt and loved the great outdoors. Now his tastes have changed drastically, he's become a bit of science nerd (and thankfully stopped eating dirt).
But still, it's great that you get acquainted to so many piano models, and your system is intriguing. I may shop for a new grand soon.. so I may come back here to have a look at this rating system.

Well one of the reason is my wife thinks our current piano is good enough for many years (I agree), getting a high-quality grand is also part of my fantasy. Who knows, I may get one sooner.

btw Polonaise-Fantaisie Op.61 is also my favourite piece of music.

Last edited by Steven Y. A.; 06/26/22 10:30 PM.

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The Bechstein A192/MP192 stands out in your spreadsheet, and, IMO, the Bechstein MP192 and B212, along with the two Grotrians, stand out in the above video. The top comment to that video points out that amateurs sampling different pianos in different showrooms with inferior equipment aren't being fair to the piano makers, which does make sense. Still, both Bechsteins sound really good in that video. It's too bad the acoustics were bad when you tried out the Bechstein B212, as it sounds wonderful in the video.

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thumbyes, I encourage you to shop for the piano for you own enjoyment as much as (if not more than) for your daughter's. But I'm pretty that's what you're doing. Unless you're telling me it's your 5-year-old who feels the Bechstein A192 has a pure golden sparkly sound that sustains, with a desirable additional depth of overtone!


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Originally Posted by Steven Y. A.
btw Polonaise-Fantaisie Op.61 is also my favourite piece of music.

Oh dear. Now when you get your faboulous grand, I'll have to drive to your place to play Op.61 on it! Btw, it's a great piece to test pianos:)


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Originally Posted by Steven Y. A.
And his name is Pleyel204! I'd love to play more Pleyel Grand if there is still any of them around... Thanks for letting me know!
You're welcome. I thought you might pick up on that. He had an old but very good Pleyel before the Steingraeber. The first few videos on his channel are of him with the Pleyel.

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Thanks for sharing, I loved reading your approach and results. I'll sure folks will have ideas on how to improve your rating scale, but this is for you and your way to quantify what you feel is important. I really liked your impressions of the SK2 and the M/P192, which were both high on my list of first to try as well.

I'll just share that I started looking when I wasn't expecting to buy for a few years. As it turns out, things can escalate quickly smile


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Originally Posted by Gombessa
Thanks for sharing, I loved reading your approach and results. I'll sure folks will have ideas on how to improve your rating scale, but this is for you and your way to quantify what you feel is important. I really liked your impressions of the SK2 and the M/P192, which were both high on my list of first to try as well.

I'll just share that I started looking when I wasn't expecting to buy for a few years. As it turns out, things can escalate quickly smile

Bosendorfer VC or used 200 on my list! No where to try LOL... no Bosendorfer dealer in Toronto now I believe. Roberts Lowrey dropped them once the picked up C.Bechstein. The last imperial 290 I tried was not impressive nothing like the recordings.


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Thank you for this detailed and exciting report! I loved reading it!

I fully understand that the Bechstein was so convincing. It's an incredible instrument. Personally, I would not ignore the Schimmel models which also rank pretty well in your list. Maybe there is the possibility to try some of them again in a decent room? The value for money at Schimmel is very, very good.

Btw. As Merriam praise the Schimmel models in their Youtube reviews a lot, it came to me as a surprise that they didn’t put them (or some of them) in a suitable room.

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Ah, I would really like to listen to your recordings. Would surely be very interesting! smile

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Always interesting how people analyse pianos and how long they spend in contemplation. Analytical people like spreadsheets and scoring attributes. It works for some things but it doesn't work for wife selection or, I suggest, piano selection.

Pianos either sound good and feel good or they don't. Go with ears and fingers.

Market may well change quite a bit in 3 years when you are ready to buy. Pearl River has owned Schimmel for about 5 years and they are in effect Chinese pianos now. We are seeing very high quality pianos coming out of China these days, well made, Renner or Renner clone actions (I believe many genuine Renner actions are now made in China under Steinway ownership but have not verified this), good quality strings, nice veneers etc....and certainly in the UK at a quarter of the price of a similar sized piano made in Europe. The Chinese seem determined to match Western quality now and the value proposition is compelling, especially if you are willing to spend a bit on prep. Feurich for example.


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Originally Posted by AJB
they are in effect Chinese pianos now.

Evidence?
Are Grotrians as well, then? Are Seilers Korean? Are Bösendorfers Japanese?


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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Originally Posted by AJB
they are in effect Chinese pianos now.

Evidence?
Are Grotrians as well, then? Are Seilers Korean? Are Bösendorfers Japanese?


There’s a little ‘Chinese’ in all things consumer-goods, whether the AmeriUros admit it or not.

Some part, if not the whole of that there expensive pianee was handled, assembled, or built by a Chinese, and if there’s a happy-ending to this approach (cheap manual labor/tax evasion), that would be the fact that the Chinese have had the opportunity to look deep into these AmeriUro pianos, and in the process reverse-engineer most, if not all of the ‘moving parts’; so yes, I’d be perfectly happy with a ‘Chinese-wannabe-Renner’ action for a fraction of the price; because, for all needs and purposes, the Chinese -knock off- Renner will play every bit as well as the AmeriUro Renner; in the same way a Chinese-made Gucci bag will hold your personal belongings as well as the Italian Gucci bag.

We are heavily influenced toward old-school European more so for the pedigree than for the outright superiority of these instruments.

Yes, BallsandDorfer is a good piano, but so is the Pearl River for a fraction of the price; and the gap that was once huge between the two (Euro-Asian) has now narrowed to a point that one is not necessarily better than the other, and, in the end, it’ll all come down to personal preferences: whilst ‘you’ might prefer the ‘darker’ Euro, I might take a liking to the ‘brighter’ Asian.

You don’t believe me? Well, then go out there (without prejudice) and try the AmeriUro, and then the Asian piano; and please do tell us why one would be objectively superior to the other!

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Originally Posted by zeitlos
Thank you for this detailed and exciting report! I loved reading it!

I fully understand that the Bechstein was so convincing. It's an incredible instrument. Personally, I would not ignore the Schimmel models which also rank pretty well in your list. Maybe there is the possibility to try some of them again in a decent room? The value for money at Schimmel is very, very good.

Btw. As Merriam praise the Schimmel models in their Youtube reviews a lot, it came to me as a surprise that they didn’t put them (or some of them) in a suitable room.

I totally to agree. To be fair all the Schimmels are placed in the "Schimmel room", it just happens to be the K195 in the center of the room somehow getting all the reverberation. It sounds so much louder than the K219. The K195, B212 and Steinway M,A,B,B are in a setting which basically "turned off" the player, which is very unfortunate.

Just found out the Yamaha dealer pianogroup now carries Bosendorfer and have two 214VC (one beethoven LTD in stock). Even more overbudget than the Bechstein A192. But will certainly give them a try, along with Yamaha S5X (I heard so much praise about this model, I have only played C seires)


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Originally Posted by zeitlos
Ah, I would really like to listen to your recordings. Would surely be very interesting! smile
ITs a 3 hour recording I'm trying to downsize to around 15 minutes. Already working on it.




Originally Posted by Pete14
Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Originally Posted by AJB
they are in effect Chinese pianos now.

Evidence?
Are Grotrians as well, then? Are Seilers Korean? Are Bösendorfers Japanese?


There’s a little ‘Chinese’ in all things consumer-goods, whether the AmeriUros admit it or not.

Some part, if not the whole of that there expensive pianee was handled, assembled, or built by a Chinese, and if there’s a happy-ending to this approach (cheap manual labor/tax evasion), that would be the fact that the Chinese have had the opportunity to look deep into these AmeriUro pianos, and in the process reverse-engineer most, if not all of the ‘moving parts’; so yes, I’d be perfectly happy with a ‘Chinese-wannabe-Renner’ action for a fraction of the price; because, for all needs and purposes, the Chinese -knock off- Renner will play every bit as well as the AmeriUro Renner; in the same way a Chinese-made Gucci bag will hold your personal belongings as well as the Italian Gucci bag.

We are heavily influenced toward old-school European more so for the pedigree than for the outright superiority of these instruments.

Yes, BallsandDorfer is a good piano, but so is the Pearl River for a fraction of the price; and the gap that was once huge between the two (Euro-Asian) has now narrowed to a point that one is not necessarily better than the other, and, in the end, it’ll all come down to personal preferences: whilst ‘you’ might prefer the ‘darker’ Euro, I might take a liking to the ‘brighter’ Asian.

You don’t believe me? Well, then go out there (without prejudice) and try the AmeriUro, and then the Asian piano; and please do tell us why one would be objectively superior to the other!


I agree with Asian pianos are closing the gap, the SK2 is already one of the best sound piano I have heard (regardless of its size). Will try Yamaha S5x series next (maybe with the CF series).
The Bechstein silverline action on the Academy series with Chinese parts is as good as they can be (literally indistinguishable with the Concert line for the models we tried). I think the real question is whether the Asian parts are specified to the best possible. The majority of production are still targeted to the mass market.

I played a Kayerburg KA121 a few years ago, I thought it's one of the best upright I have played. (Reminds me of the C.Bechstein upright). So I'm really tempted to try out the KA212, but unfortunately there are no dealers in Toronto. I think they are specified to make with the best material & skilled labour available.


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Originally Posted by Steven Y. A.
Originally Posted by zeitlos
Ah, I would really like to listen to your recordings. Would surely be very interesting! smile
ITs a 3 hour recording I'm trying to downsize to around 15 minutes. Already working on it.

I see, it obviously demands a lot of time and effort. Take your time. No hurries. If you can share it someday, I'm sure a lot of people (including me) will be very grateful smile

Btw. since you are fortunate enough to have visited Merriam Music. smile I always wonder if this Schimmel K230 recording was also made at their location? Maybe you recognize it. I'm also wondering because the guy at the back of the video seems so surprised at the beginning that the piano is being played and he's checking things out smile



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