Top 10 PianoDisc Highlights from NAMM 2013!

At the 2013 Winter NAMM Show this year, PianoDisc, the cutting-edge manufacturer of digital player piano technology, celebrated its 25th Year Anniversary.  Here’s the Top 10 highlights from the world of PianoDisc — useful information for both current PianoDisc owners and prospective owners!

1.  The new website www.pianodisc.com was launched a couple weeks ago and is a major improvement, especially concerning the process of acquiring PianoDisc music.  All PianoDisc music has now been converted to the MP3 format which eliminates the need for their MusiConnect software (a utility program that used to be needed to convert their proprietary format into one that iTunes can read).  You can now simply purchase the album and download the MP3 files to a folder on your computer instantly without waiting.  Now you can open that folder in iTunes and easily sync up your device!

Note: MusiConnect is still available for those who wish to still import MIDI Files (0 & 1) from the web and add these files to iTunes and your library.  Please remember MusiConnect still contains the important patented technology of “Always Play” which will assign the lead instrument (i.e. Guitar, Flute, Organ, etc.) as an Acoustic Piano to play the keys part on your instrument.  Essentially, you have an unlimited amount of music available to you on the web as a result.

2. Due to changing PianoDisc’s music files to the MP3 format they were able to reduce the price of their music significantly; Vintage selections being only $19.95 rather than $33.95 for example.

3.  New “PianoTube LIVE!” is launched!  This groundbreaking exclusive YouTube channel plays the PianoDisc enabled piano live at the viewer’s location when they watch one of the channel’s YouTube videos or live streaming events. Any PianoDisc customer having their acoustic piano equipped with the iQ “Intelligent Player System” is able to literally see and hear the artist perform on their piano, at the their location — all from simply playing a YouTube video.  http://www.youtube.com/user/PianoTubeLive  Another first from PianoDisc!

4.  The iQ iPad Mini Air has been introduced for sale through PianoDisc and PianoDisc dealers, which is a less expensive alternative to the very popular iQ iPad Air system.  It will come with preloaded music, making it a much better deal for PianoDisc customers than simply purchasing it from Apple or an Apple reseller.

5.  Due to the incredible success of the Apple iDevices and how they can be married with their innovative iQ techology (which features the patented “One-Touch Volume Control” where they can use the native controls on any device) they are able to tap into hundreds of different Apps.  One incredible App showcased at NAMM was the new CMP Piano App which has a great Grand Piano sampling, permitting the user to perform QuietTime or Record themselves if the user has the Mobile Performance Package and Piano MuteRail installed on their piano.

6.  Apple introduced the latest OS6 Update which now provides PianoDisc users with built-in Audio Balance Control.  Manual control using a Balance Control Box is longer required if you are using your iTouch, iPhone or iPad to play your piano.  Simple go into “Settings” on your iDevice and adjust the balance between the Piano and Audio under “Accessability” in the “General” settings category.  It is that easy!

7.  PianoDisc’s “Classical & More” Streaming Radio Station will be expanded in the upcoming year.  They received such a positive response when they recently offered the free “Christmas Station” during the holiday season that PianoDisc is going to offer a greater variety for customers that like to use this feature.  The new stations will be divided into “Classical, Ragtime & Stride, Spa, Vintage, Chinese and Christmas (seasonally)” for the free stations and later including a subscription service for more contemporary music stations like “Popular and Jazz.”  The free “TuneIn Radio” App can currently play their streaming radio station if you add PianoDisc’s address to the “Custom URL” setting under “Favorites.”  Simply type in http://pianodisc.streamguys.tv/listen.pls and start enjoying endless playback.

8.  The latest update of the PianoDisc Remote App (pictured below) has been released making it even easier to use.  Offering more than audio balance control and direct streaming of their PianoDisc Radio Station, it also permits the customer “Scheduling” start and stop times, three times a day, seven days a week and also create Playlists on the fly and store them in a “Music Chest.”  It is a great tool for every PianoDisc owner.

9.  New Software Releases for 2013 will include performances by their newest artist, Jarrod Radnich, as well as several new PianoSync Creator albums such as: Amy Grant: Legacy … Hymns & Faith, Celine Dion: All The Way – A Decade of Song, Andrea Bocelli: Amore, Andrea Bocelli: Toscana, Santana: Ultimate Santana, Travis Tritt: T-r-o-u-b-l-e, Sheryl Crow: The Very Best Of, Eva Cassidy: Songbird, Il Divo: Siempre, LeAnn Rimes: This Woman, Norah Jones: Feels Like Home, Frank Sinatra: The Capitol Years, Lady Gaga: Fame, Michael Jackson: Thriller, Whitney Houston: The Ultimate Collection, Justin Bieber: My World, and many more.

All of us here at chicagopianos.com and Cordogan’s congratulate the PianoDisc family as they celebrate 25 years at the forefront of digital player piano technology!  For more information on PianoDisc or PianoDisc products, please call us at 630-584-5000 or email us @ info@chicagopianos.com!

The best player piano system?

At chicagopianos.com, we often get calls from customers across the country asking us which player piano system is the best.  These inquiries stem from the fact that we are in the unique position of being an authorized dealer for all three major player piano systems — the Yamaha Disklavier, QRS player piano systems and the full line of PianoDisc iQ player systems.   We have been told by many customers that they can’t find any dealer who truly represents all three.  The reasons for this could be the subject of another blog…a lengthy blog, so we won’t address that here but the important thing here is that you’re reading a blog entry about player pianos written by a piano dealer who A) is speaking from a distinctly unbiased position and B) has been carrying digital player systems for almost 25 years.

The notion of chicagopianos.com being a dealer for all three major player systems is indeed so unique that we had a “player piano summit” are our store where we invited representatives from each manufacturer to give a presentation to the press about “the latest and greatest”.  It was the first and only time this has ever been done.

The impetus for this particular blog is account of because of the newest player piano system from QRS.  We simply HAD to blog about it.  The below video shows the incredible ease of use the new QRS Pianomation2 player piano offers.  It’s truly amazing.  You can walk in our store, take your smartphone and within one minute you will have QRS’ entire library at your fingertips, controlling the piano from your phone.  There is no control box on the piano so there is no visual indication the piano is even a player piano.  Best of all, the most popular songs and recording artists in the world are represented in the QRS library and available for playback.  To clarify further, we mean the original recording artist’s versions play from cyberspace, so you hear, say, Billy Joel actually singing Just the Way You Are (as in the video) or Alicia Keys singing Fallin’ while the piano accompanies that original artist’s performance.

While all three player piano manufacturers offer the ability to hear original artist’s recordings, the new QRS Pianomation 2 system is hands down the easiest way to hear such music.  Please contact us for specific information about how the other systems differ.

The ease of use with the new Pianomation 2 system does not mean that this system is for everyone.  It just happens to be a breakthrough in the area of easily accessing a huge library of original artist recordings.  The features of other player systems may be of equal or greater importance to your particular needs so if you’re in the market for a player piano, please contact us to discuss this.

So long Bohemia pianos — we will miss you.

The Bohemia Piano company is the latest victim in the piano industry of the challenging global economy.  You can read more about the history of Bohemia pianos here.  This blog however, is to inform you that we recently received word from the factory representative that Bohemia pianos will no longer be produced.  This is quite a blow to an already shrinking, yet important segment of the piano industry — the handmade European piano market.

Most piano manufacturers — Bohemia included — made drastic changes in order to survive the recession, with various levels of success.  Some chose to shed inventory, facilities and/or employees…some chose to source materials or production in China…others gave themselves up to the highest bidder.  Even the prestigious Bosendorfer piano company in Vienna was recently sold to Yamaha in an effort to remain stable and continue their legacy.

Bohemia was sold several years ago to the Bechstein piano company — a move that we dealers were excited about since it stood to improve the quality level of the product even more.  And it did.  However, the economic presses and rising costs continued to demand price increases that have recently proven to be much more than the market can bear.

An ultimatum of sorts was recently imposed whereby if the US distributor wasn’t willing to purchase a very large order of Bohemia pianos at the new, higher prices, the brand would unfortunately cease to exist.  This isn’t intended to sound like a strong-arm tactic by Bohemia’s parent company, Bechstein.  It’s simply the cruel reality of what it takes to continue to operate in these times.  Without such a commitment from their US distributor, Bechstein is better off focusing on their remaining lines of pianos.  It is also understandable that Bohemia’s US distributor would be reluctant to place such a large order in these continued uncertain times — especially at new, unprecedented prices — when Bohemia pianos had already been met with much resistance in the market at the older prices.

As a Bohemia piano dealer for over a decade, we have seen the tremendous value of the Bohemia piano line and the important gap that they filled for us.  After the exit of Kemble piano company from London in 2009, Bohemia represented the last bastion of mid-priced, handmade pianos from Europe.  They, like Kemble, were the only companies to offer an interesting, higher-performance alternative to Yamaha and Kawai, without doubling or tripling the price to get to Steinway or other, even more desirable premium European brands.  They also offered unique styling, finishes and veneer options that  Yamaha and Kawai don’t offer.

So in the wake of Bohemia pianos, there will indeed be a void in the industry that won’t likely be filled for quite some time.  At the time of this writing, the only Bohemia pianos that have not completely sold out are the studio models 114 & 121 and the 160 grand model. We have sold out of all other models and they are no longer available.  Bechstein will honor full warranties on any remaining pianos.  If you have any interest in a Bohemia piano, please contact us soon because when they are gone, they.  are.  gone.  😦

Pictured here is a Bohemia 121 Rhapsody in polished walnut that is currently available for sale.  One of the unique features of Bohemia that will be most missed is their careful selection of veneers for their cabinets.  This piano’s walnut veneers have beautiful grain that Bohemia meticulously bookmatched on the sides and on the front panels.  Such detail is rarely taken into consideration in today’s pianos.

The increases are coming! The increases are coming!

Some of you who pay attention to the markets may have noticed the dollar is at 81.4 this evening against the yen. This is not helping Japanese piano prices and digital pianos in the market. Most of our manufacturers (even those outside Japan) have either already raised their prices or have indicated they’re about to do so. Those increases most often do NOT affect in-store pianos or those that are already in the pipeline to us, so if you’re in the market for a piano, we would like to give you another valid reason to pull the trigger sooner than later. Additionally, you should know that historically, piano manufacturers do not LOWER prices when the markets level out. They see this as the opportunity to continue to get paid back for the months or years that they held off on the increases in the first place.

“Does this affect used piano prices too?” Absolutely. It doesn’t happen overnight like how manufacturer price increases go into effect, but the used market plays catch up pretty quickly. The price of a used piano usually starts with the owner (dealer or private individual) consulting new piano prices to help determine the value of the used one in question. For instance if a new 48″ Yamaha U1 professional upright goes up 5%, used ones pretty much go up accordingly because the value of used ones is related to the prices of new ones.

At this time we have a great selection of used Yamaha pianos and used Kawai pianos. Please click here to see our new Yamaha piano inventory and click here to view our used piano inventory. If you have any additional questions, please call us at 773.383.1734.

PianoDisc introduces SilentDrive HD!

PianoDisc introduces Silent Drive HD
Small chip brings Hi-Res to player systems

July 02, 2010

THE ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE SILENT DRIVE HD


Increased internal memory retains all settings and improves reliability and compatibility on all control units
-124 levels of expression
-Faster processor
-Streamlined architecture
-Boosted velocity and timing accuracy

PianoDisc has set a mid-July 2010 release for its new Hi-Resolution player technology.  Called SilentDrive HD, it is designed to improve the playback capabilities of its player systems, all of whichcan be added to virtually any make or model of piano, new or previously owned, heirloom instruments, grands or verticals.

The Technology

SilentDrive HD features a faster processor and streamlined architecture that boost both velocity and timing accuracy.  Improved timing means that trills, for example, play back with much more accuracy than was possible before. SilentDrive HD also offers better low-volume performance.  SilentDrive HD’s increased internal memory capacity retains all settings and improves reliability and compatibility regardless of what control unit is used.  The new design features 1024 levels of individual note expression, so SilentDrive HD gives PianoDisc systems the ultimate in playback authenticity.  SilentDrive HD works equally well no matter which type of control unit plays the piano.

In addition to being standard on all new PianoDisc systems, it will be also be available as an upgrade to existing systems.  Customers who upgrade to SilentDrive HD will be eligible for PianoDisc’s Legacy Music Exchange program and additional free music.


An Important Endorsement

Award-winning composer for films and television, Danny Elfman (“Batman”, “Spider Man”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Desperate Housewives”, “The Simpsons”), recently beta tested SilentDrive HD and gave it his endorsement:

“When I purchased a wonderful Bösendorfer grand piano for my new studio, I knew that I wanted to outfit it with the best MIDI playback system I could find, so the piano could be used for both arrangements and recording. The SilentDrive HD system quickly became the top choice and I’ve been very pleased with its performance.”

“The difference SilentDrive HD makes in playback performance must be experienced in person to be appreciated, but it can certainly be compared to the difference between Standard and High Definition television”, says PianoDisc’s executive vice president, Tom Lagomarsino.  “An SD television image looks fine, but HD is a whole new world.”

For more information about SilentDrive HD you can call us at (630) 584-5000 or email info@chicagopianos.com.