QRS has developed for use with its systems an extensive library of CDs comprising over 3,000 selections in every imaginable genre. Rather than synthesized music, this library is made up almost entirely of live performance recordings, including solo piano, piano with orchestral accompaniment, and piano with background music and vocals.
[As this issue of Piano Buyer goes to press, QRS has just introduced PNOmation II. In this version of the system, the control box is hidden underneath the piano, and it's no longer necessary to load actual CDs into a CD player to play songs. The system can be controlled, and music can be sampled, purchased, and downloaded, via the remote, or with any web-enabled device, such as an iPad, laptop, or smart phone. QRS offers owners of previous versions a way to update their systems affordably.]
Yamaha Corporation of America
P.O. Box 6600
Buena Park, California 90622
Disklaviers are Yamaha pianos that have been outfitted with an electronic player-piano system. These mechanisms are installed only in new Yamahas, and only at the Yamaha factory. They cannot be retrofitted into older Yamahas or any other brand.
Disklavier differs from most aftermarket systems in that Disklavier is not modular. Whatever Disklavier features come with a particular model of piano is what you get (although software upgrades are possible). The sophistication of the key, hammer, and pedal sensing also varies, depending on which Disklavier (E3 or Mark IV) is associated with that particular piano model.
Some of the highlights of the Mark IV Disklavier include:
- 80 Gigabyte hard drive capable of holding all Disklavier software ever written (and then some)
- CD drive
- floppy drive
- pocket remote control to communicate wirelessly with the Disklavier
- built-in Ethernet for connecting to your network and downloading MIDI files
- grayscale (continuous) hammershank sensors (on 6' 1" and larger models) for more sensitive recording capabilities
- XG tone generator with hundreds of synthesized and sampled sounds
- dedicated digital piano sound chip
- Articulation Element Modeling (AEM) voices for greater realism in orchestrated backgrounds
- built-in speaker system
- karaoke capability
- 16-track recording capabilities
- Silent Mode: silences the acoustic piano for listening through headphones
- Quiet Mode: silences the acoustic piano and directs the sound to speakers
- Quick Escape Action: maintains correct action regulation when using Silent Mode or Quiet Mode
- SmartKey: a teaching device
- CueTime: a smart accompaniment feature
- PianoSmart Audio Synchronization: the ability to link a piano track in MIDI format with selected popular CDs on the general market for synchronized playback
- PianoSmart Video Synchronization: videotape a piano performance and the Disklavier will play the performance back perfectly on the piano whenever you play back the video of the performance
- Disklavier Radio: a group of streaming MIDI music stations, available on a subscription basis
The Version 3.0 operating system for the Mark IV includes the ability to make audio recordings of the piano and anything coming into the mic input, and enables control of the Mark IV via a PC or Macintosh computer through the use of a Web browser.
The current Mark IV Version 4.0 operating system provides Disklavier owners with the ability to control their system with an iPhone or iPod Touch, and the potential to take part in the new Remote Lesson feature (piano-to-piano connection via the Internet), described later in this article. Yamaha has also, for the first time, released its code to software developers so they can develop third-party Disklavier controllers.