When Steinway & Sons launched their 2015 Spirio R piano, a high-resolution player piano with capture and playback capabilities, they stretched the boundaries of music technology. Now, their latest edition, SpirioCast (which includes a technology that will activate in all Spirio pianos worldwide later this month, with other models available for upgrades in 2022), pushes the limits of piano capabilities to unprecedented heights. Impressively revolutionizing the future of the piano industry, Steinway masterfully combines classic craftsmanship, coding and digital innovations to build a player piano that can broadcast live performances to hundreds of other SpirioCast pianos in real time.
As with the Spirio R—and all of Steinway’s historic instruments for that matter—sound quality is top priority and SpirioCast innovates this completely. The aliveness of songs—that comes only from ones performed in-person—is identically translated through the casted version as the piano plays itself. Capturing the subtle gradations of hitting velocity, the SpirioCast matches each note’s vibrancy and each pedal’s complexity, delivering a live performance from any home with Spirio. Hearing the concerts of celebrated artists in a radically more intimate setting—and watching the piano play without a performer—is truly an otherworldly listening experience. Without a doubt, the SpirioCast is at the forefront of remote music performance.
With a SpirioCast, performers, teachers and students can cast their concerts to others. Already, collaborations between pianists and venues are underway so those with SpirioCast will have a host of live music to listen into. But in between shows, the piano offers a variety of functions to entertain both pianists and classical musical enthusiasts, too. First and foremost, it operates as a playable Steinway grand with the same range, power and handcrafted features that garnered the brand its reputation as one of the world’s finest piano-makers. Further, SpirioCast pianos come with the same features of the Spirio R: high-resolution recording and playback, flexible and intuitive editing functions through the iPad Spirio app and access to Spirio’s world class music library. This library, also on the included iPad, features music and videos that sync to the piano to play the song with the same electricity of the artist’s original recording. Every month, the library updates with more artists and music.
The detailed work of analyzing performances, translating its notes and pitches into a digital code and then manifesting that code through the piano for a live broadcast was a process that Steinway’s Chief Technology and Innovations Officer, Eric Feidner, says took about three years. “Using technology to recreate and transmit a truly musical acoustic experience only comes about from the unique development team we have at Steinway,” Feidner continues. “That includes working with the world’s finest pianists every day, making sure we can capture every nuance of their playing, and then developing software and hardware that faithfully reproduces those performances on the finest acoustic pianos in the world.”
In an industry grounded in tradition, digital technology feels adverse, almost paradoxical to the piano-making world. Finding a way to bring these classical instruments into a contemporary age in a natural way was a puzzle that Feidner and his team dutifully thought through. In creating the SpirioCast, they were able to maintain key traditions—like Steinway’s legendary piano quality and the dedication toward honing the sound and craft of grand pianos—while opening new pathways to how a piano can be played and enjoyed.
“SpirioCast exemplifies how innovative technology continues to be a key driver of our global piano business,” says Steinway CEO Ben Steiner. Indeed, the company’s patented proprietary sensor system crafts a digital piano that nods toward its industry heritage but advances into a new future of piano-making.
All images courtesy of Steinway & Sons