Hey gang, Valkor here. Growing up, I was always considered “different” amongst my peers because I liked things outside of what was considered the norm. From music, food, drinks, movies, and beyond, I’ve always enjoyed variety in just about everything this planet has to offer and still do to this day. Keeping in line with my latest event coverage, I got the chance to hang out with the gang over at Steinway & Sons, piano makers extraordinaire, who were unveiling their latest piece, which incorporates current technology. Check it out it’s the Spirio, which takes the idea of a player piano to a whole new level.
So what is a "player piano? From the pages of wikipedia - a self-playing piano, containing a pneumatic or electro-mechanical mechanism that operates the piano action via pre-programmed music recorded on perforated paper, or in rare instances, metallic rolls, with more modern implementations using MIDI encoded music stored on floppy disks or CDs.
Walking into the Steinway & Sons showroom, guests were treated to a wide open, main area with wall to wall pianos of a wide variety that you could toy with – if you have some experience playing piano, which I have no skills what so ever. And while my fingers don’t possess the capabilities to pull off even the simplest of songs, my ears work perfectly and it was fun listening to others play/test some of Steinway & Sons finest pieces. Once everyone was settled in, we move on to the main event of unveiling the Spirio. And taken from the company’s press release, they tell you exactly what Spirio is all about:
STEINWAY & SONS, manufacturer of the world’s finest pianos, today announced the company’s most significant product innovation in over 70 years: STEINWAY Spirio, the world's finest player piano system, available exclusively on select STEINWAY grand pianos. A masterpiece of engineering, STEINWAY Spirio provides the unrivaled musical experience that STEINWAY’s customers expect, producing the most accurate reproduction of live performances ever achieved on a STEINWAY & SONS piano. Delicate pedaling, subtle phrasing, soft trills, and thundering fortissimos present no difficulty for STEINWAY Spirio. Damper and keyshift pedaling are replicated with unparalleled accuracy, following the pianist’s depressions and releases smoothly and precisely over the entire range of motion.
STEINWAY Spirio is the product of STEINWAY & SONS’ partnership with Wayne Stahnke, building upon his decades of work as the world’s foremost innovator in the field of modern player pianos. The system’s superior playback results from the combination of numerous patented developments, including closed-loop proportional pedaling, immunity to varying line voltage, sophisticated thermal compensation, and proprietary high-resolution drive techniques.
To take full advantage of STEINWAY Spirio’s unique capabilities, STEINWAY & SONS is recording an entirely new catalog of music for the system, featuring the roster of over 1,700 STEINWAY ARTISTS performing a wide range of genres, from classical to jazz, standards to contemporary. All pieces in the catalog are recorded, edited and released in high-resolution, using a proprietary data format that captures the finest details from each artist’s performance. STEINWAY’s entire catalog of performances will be provided to STEINWAY Spirio owners at no additional charge — a first for the player piano industry.
Guests were treated to an unveiling and of course a brief presentation of what Steinway and Spirio are all about. But having someone explain what Spiro is and actually seeing it in action is two different things, because “seeing is believing”. On hand, Steinway & Sons invited famous pianist and Steinway artist Simon Mulligan to play a couple of tunes – the first showcasing his talents and the second showing off exactly how the tech works. The video below is not mine, but that of “That Girl at the Party”, definitely subscribe if you like what you see.
So the Spirio works in conjunction with a tablet and app, which connects to the piano and allows you to playback some of the finest pieces in existence. The process appears to be simple enough, plus you get a wide range of artist to choose from. To put Spirio into perspective, one of my favorite musicians is Harry Connick Jr. and the brother is FIRE when he's on piano. Now imagine owning this piano, queuing up one of his solos, kicking back and listening to him play through this device as if he’s performing right in front of you, with the device capturing any and all of the little touches he might toss in to complete the experience. It would be like your own concert that's happening right in front of you. To watch it in action gives it a certain kind of chill, but in a good way. Because the device is hitting all the right notes, spot on. The overall presentation was stunning and to peep this quick vid I pieced together of the event, one of the Spirio as a standalone and the second captures an actual performance that’s played back through Spirio – alongside the performance.
If Spirio is something you’d be interested in and you’d like to learn more about it, then go ahead and click that logo to the right to discover what Steinway & Sons have to offer, not only with Spirio, but with their wide selection of grand pianos. It was a pleasure getting the opportunity to experience Spiro in action and I look forward to seeing the tech in action once again because it’s a thing of beauty.