Yamaha Corporation of America
P.O. Box 6600
Buena Park, California 90622
Disklaviers are Yamaha (and now Bösendorfer) pianos that have been outfitted with an electronic player-piano system. These mechanisms are installed only in new Yamahas and the Bösendorfer model 200, and only at the Yamaha and Bösendorfer factories. 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 are what you get (although software upgrades are possible). The sophistication of the key, hammer, and pedal sensing also varies, depending on which Disklavier version is associated with that particular piano model. For a number of years, the Mark IV was the standard Disklavier version in the U.S. It has now been replaced by the E3.
Some of the highlights of the E3 Disklavier include:
- CD drive (floppy drive optional)
- flash memory
- infrared remote control
- built-in Ethernet for connecting to your network and downloading MIDI files
- grayscale (continuous) hammershank sensors for more sensitive recording capabilities (except models DU1E3, DGB1KE3, and DGB1KE3C)
- XG tone generator with hundreds of synthesized and sampled sounds
- built-in speaker system (except model DU1E3)
- two-track recording capabilities
- Silent System (except models DU1E3, DGB1KE3, and DGB1KE3C): consists of 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), headphones, and a dedicated digital-piano sound chip.
- 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
- Video Sync: videotape a piano performance and the Disklavier will play the performance perfectly on the piano whenever you play the video of the performance
- Disklavier Radio: a group of streaming MIDI music stations, available by subscription
- Disklavier TV: streaming performances (both live and on-demand) that include video, audio, and MIDI, all perfectly synchronized, available by subscription
- can be controlled via any Apple iDevice
- can play more softly than previous Disklavier systems without missing notes
The E3 Disklavier is available on the 48" U1 upright, and on all Yamaha grands except models CF4 and CF6. The version available for grands 6' 1" and larger is the E3PRO, which has higher internal recording resolution and a greater dynamic range than the regular E3.
As noted above, the version available on the U1 and on 5' grand model DGB1K has limited functionality — key sensors only, and no Silent System (and no speakers on the U1). In addition, a lower-cost, Classic version of the E3 is available only on the model GB1K. Although this model provides the same range of damper effects as a standard Disklavier, they are accomplished by acting directly on the damper action inside the piano, without physically moving the piano’s pedals. This model also has only one MSP3 speaker (most other Disklavier models have two), and comes with a lower-cost bench.
(Note: No longer made, but still on dealers’ showroom floors, the models DGC1ME3, DGC2E3, DC1E3, and DC2E3 have no hammer sensors and no Silent System.)
Owners of Mark IIXG and Mark III systems can access many of the advanced features found in the E3 system by purchasing replacement control unit DKC-850.
For simple playback, most player-piano systems now on the market are probably equally recommended. The Disklavier, however, has a slight edge in reliability, and its recording system is more sophisticated than most of the others, especially in the larger grands. For this reason, it is often the system of choice for professional applications such as performance and teaching, and much of Yamaha’s marketing efforts are directed at that audience.