• 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.

Two examples are especially noteworthy. Yamaha supports the Minnesota International e-Competition, in which contestants gather in several cities and play Disklavier concert grands. Their performances are recorded using Video Sync, then sent to judges in another location, who, rather than listen to recordings, watch and listen to the music reproduced perfectly on other Disklavier pianos.

A similar concept is a technology called Remote Lesson, which debuted in spring 2010 after years of development and testing. A student takes a lesson on one Disklavier while a teacher located far away teaches and critiques on a second Disklavier connected via the Internet, student and teacher communicating with each other in real time via videoconferencing. Initially, this feature will be made available only to selected universities and at additional cost. Details and timing regarding availability of this feature to individuals is still under discussion.

Yamaha's latest Disklavier offering is Disklavier TV, which uses RemoteLive technology. Disklavier TV makes it possible for Mark IV or E3 Disklavier owners to receive video, audio, and piano data in perfect sync, so they can receive concerts in their home with their Disklavier playing the piano part in sync with the rest of the concert. During the 2013 NAMM trade show, Yamaha used this technology to hold a major concert in which Elton John was broadcast live, playing Disklavier pianos in many different countries simultaneously, in perfect sync with program audio and video.

Yamaha maintains a large and growing library of music for the Disklavier, including piano solo, piano with recorded "live" accompaniment, piano with digital instrumental accompaniment, and PianoSmart arrangements. The system will also play standard MIDI files types 0 and 1.


Mike Kemper, a Los Angeles-based piano technician and expert on electronic player-piano systems, contributed to this article.

The Definitive Piano Buying Guide for

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

Spring 2014    Page 156

Spring 2014    Page 156

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