In 2016, Steinway officially launched the Spirio electronic player-piano system. Spirio is directly installed in a Steinway piano at the time of manufacture, ensuring no alteration in the exterior appearance of the instrument. Except for the power cord, Spirio requires no visible hardware on the piano. At the present time, Spirio is available on only three Steinway models, all in high-polish polyester finish: model B (available worldwide), model M (available in the U.S. and Canada), and model O (available in select European and Asian markets). The system adds about $15,000 to the list price of the instrument. At present, a recording option is not available.
This high-resolution system uses proprietary software to measure hammer velocity up to 800 times per second at up to 1,020 dynamic levels, as well as proportional pedaling for the damper and soft pedals at up to 100 times per second for as many as 256 pedal positions. As a result of this high-resolution sampling, delicate damper and keyshift pedaling, subtle phrasing, and soft trills are reproduced with great accuracy. Steinway says that the system’s superior playback is a result of a combination of numerous patented developments, including closed-loop proportional pedaling, immunity to varying line voltages, sophisticated thermal compensation, and proprietary high-resolution drive techniques.
While many older player-piano systems use compressed, low-resolution MIDI data files, Steinway says that the Spirio catalogue is recorded at the highest resolution possible from any system available today. The library contains thousands of tracks—including classical, jazz, and contemporary—all recorded live by accomplished Steinway Artists in Steinway’s master recording studio, and new music is continually being added. Playlists, themes, and genres are curated by Steinway & Sons, drawing on the company’s extensive musical expertise. In a first for the player-piano industry, Steinway’s entire catalog of performances is provided to Spirio owners at no additional charge. Spirio users access the library through the Steinway & Sons App on their iOS device—an iPad is included in the Spirio purchase price.