The Definitive Piano Buying Guide for

Buying New, Used, and Restored Acoustic Pianos and Digital Pianos

Spring 2017 Edition

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Electronic Player-Piano Systems

QRS PNOmation

QRS Music Technologies, Inc.
269 Quaker Drive
Seneca, Pennsylvania 16346

PNOmation is an electronic player-piano system that can be installed in virtually any piano, grand or vertical, new or used. Most manufacturers endorse the PNOmation system, and will install it, at a dealer’s request, at one of their manufacturing or distribution points. QRS installs the system in many major brands of piano at its own U.S. factory, and it can also be installed at a dealer location by a QRS-trained technician.

Traditionally, electronic player pianos have been defined by the type of control box at the front of the piano, or by the controller’s capabilities. PNOmation differs in integrating the core features of every controller, including the music, into the PNOmation engine, thereby eliminating confusing options as well as the need to have a box hanging under the piano or on the lyre. Instead of offering a modular approach to the equipment required for various features, PNOmation offers all features standard, and a modular approach to their use. For example, the user can log in to the PNOmation system through any web-enabled device, pull up the system’s embedded web-app user interface, and begin to play the piano; or, for those who are more comfortable with inserting their music selections into the device, music can be delivered via a USB thumb key; then you need only push Play on the system’s remote control, or the Play button on the unit itself

Key to PNOmation’s flexibility is the fact that it is delivered in a standalone-network mode, with its own network serving its own user interface, or web app. The big advantage of this approach is that a web app gives the user full control of all parameters of the system and how music is played. Some customers are concerned only with whether a song is a solo performance or a performance with background music, which they can determine from the web-app screen. Other customers may want to manipulate a MIDI file to change the tempo or tuning, and some may want to upload a recorded performance to view or change. None of this is possible with an off-the-shelf MP3 playback engine, but all of it is easily done with QRS’s PNOmation App

The web app also offers the customer several new control capabilities over the PNOmation engine, including controlled release of the sustain pedal, to give it a soft landing and eliminate the potential thump heard with the release of the damper tray. The same controlled-release technology has also been applied to the keys, improving the PNOmation’s already quiet playback while adding much more lifelike fingering. Other features include trill timing compensation, delay compensation, pitch correction, and MIDI-output curve maps. While most customers will use the default settings, those who want to dial in the perfect performance will be able to do so.

All of the data that control the movements of the piano keys and pedals are in a non-compressed MIDI format (a high-definition MIDI format will soon be released). All music available for the new PNOmation—soon to number more than 7,000 tracks—can be purchased one song at a time or by the album—or users can purchase an Access Plan that provides access to the entire QRS music library, and also extends the warranty.

While not required, connecting PNOmation to a home network is easy to do. As a device on a home network, a PNOmation-equipped piano can be updated and/or controlled remotely via the Internet by accessing the web-app user interface via iPhone, iPad, iTouch, Android, Mac, Google Chrome browser, Kindle Fire, or any other similar technology. A networked piano with an Access Plan also has access to QRS’s HD video and radio features, which are very easy to set up and use.

PNOmation can also be integrated with the PNOscan optical sensor strip, a leading technology for recording performances on an acoustic piano that is standard on all Story & Clark pianos. The PNOscan strip doesn’t touch the keys—it uses only reflected light to continuously measure key and pedal movements. By integrating PNOscan with PNOmation in a one-time setup operation, one need only play the piano and the piece is recorded—no login, no need to push Record or Stop. Just pull up a bench and play, and your performance is saved both locally (named according to your preset preferences) and uploaded to your personal QRS PNOcloud account. The file can also be sent to your favorite editing program or e-mailed to a friend—all without boxes or wires. Purchase of PNOscan also entitles the buyer to one year’s worth of free piano lessons from the piano-teaching software Piano Marvel.