Pianoforce is a relatively new entrant in the player-piano market under its own name, but the company that makes it—formerly Ncode Ltd., now Pianoforce EU, of Bratislava, Slovakia—has been developing and manufacturing front-end controllers for the player-piano systems of other companies, such as Baldwin and QRS, since 1995. In 2005, Pianoforce was first offered as a complete system in the pianos of selected piano makers. In 2006, it was introduced as a kit retrofittable to any piano, new or old. Designed and built by Pianoforce in Europe, the kit is ordered through a piano dealer, and is typically installed in a new piano at a distribution point or at the dealer location.
Pianoforce says that its system differs from those of its competitors in that the main rail component also contains all the controlling electronics, eliminating the need for a lot of complicated wiring and making for a neater, simpler installation. Also, a technician using the remote handset can customize the system to the piano and to the customer’s preferences through the adjustment of many playing parameters, such as solenoid force, note release, and pedal release. These custom settings can then be saved in the controller. With the help of a small sensor mounted on the soundboard, the system automatically calibrates itself to the piano’s sound. The combination of automatic calibration and manual setup ensures the best playback performance for each individual piano.
In 2007 Pianoforce introduced its latest controller, the Performance. Expanding on the company’s past experience in supplying control components for other manufacturers, the new controller contains some of the newest, most advanced features available in a player piano, such as the ability to read the softwares of other systems—including Yamaha Disklavier, QRS (except SyncAlong), and Web Only Piano—plus standard MIDI files; and onboard connections to the Internet via an Ethernet or wireless hookup. There are three USB ports for greater versatility, such as plugging in flash drives or an external hard drive. There is an optical digital stereo output and a dedicated subwoofer output line. The system can now be controlled remotely, via WiFi, with the user’s Android or Apple device, and Internet streaming radio is available 24/7 with piano accompanied by original audio tracks.
More recently, Pianoforce has introduced the Stealth Performer controller, which allows the controller to be hidden away, out of sight. With WiFi remote control, all of the functionality of the original Performance controller is available, but no hardware is visible on the front of the piano.
The system comes with 2GB of internal memory (expandable to 8GB), preloaded with approximately 20 hours of piano music.
KEESCAN, an optional recording feature, uses optical sensors to record key and sustain-pedal movements. Also available is the AMI box, which facilitates connection of a microphone, iPod, and other USB devices. In addition to the system’s ability to play other makers’ softwares, Pianoforce is building its own library of CDs.
SilentPlay, Pianoforce’s newest feature, combines KEESCAN, the new SP1 sound module, and a special muting rail to permit silent play of the customer’s vertical piano, while giving the performer unparalleled digital sound through headphones or speakers. Connection to a computer gives a composer complete control over his or her compositions, from editing individual notes to saving new music for later replay.
Pianoforce has offices in Europe (Pianoforce Europe) and the U.S. (Pianoforce Inc., U.S.A.); branches in Austria, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K.; and is represented in Australia, China, Hong Kong, and Macao.