The excellent Disklavier ENSPIRE PRO system is now available for both Yamaha’s SX and Bösendorfer’s VC series of grand pianos. Bösendorfer became a wholly owned subsidiary of Yamaha in 2008.
Yamaha’s SX Series was introduced in 2017 and three ENSPIRE PRO equipped models are available: the S3X ENSPIRE PRO (6’1″); the S5X ENSPIRE PRO (6’7″); and the S7X ENSPIRE PRO (7’6″). Bösendorfer’s VC (Vienna Concert) pianos launched in 2015. Both the 214VC and 280VC can now be supplied with the ENSPIRE PRO system.
This is the latest generation of Yamaha’s reproducing technology. The company has been continuously refining their acoustic piano automation product since its introduction in 1987. The ENSPIRE PRO is, in essence, a very sophisticated player piano system, or more accurately a reproducing piano. Today, Yamaha claim the ENSPIRE PRO can recreate musical performances with greater resolution than any other reproducing piano currently on the market. Yamaha’s AccuPlay technology monitors the keys, hammers, pedals, and solenoids, in real time. This ensures that every dynamic and nuance of the original performance is captured with perfect accuracy.
Ampico Piano Rolls
The system includes several hundred preloaded songs, but here there is a difference between the instruments. Bösendorfer’s 214 VC and 280 VC ENSPIRE PROs feature 464 classically focused “recordings” by many legendary pianists. These include Vladimir Horowitz, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Artur Rubinstein, Camille Saint-Seans, Liberace, and even George Gershwin. Some original performances are actually from the 1920s, and are transcriptions from the original Ampico piano rolls. These were the most advanced of the time, and even captured the dynamics of the players’ renditions.
Piano Radio / Disklavier TV
Take this one stage further and you have Piano Radio. Yamaha currently offer (subscription required) 30 stations featuring many different artists and styles of music. Performance information is streamed wirelessly to the ENSPIRE PRO equipped piano—it’s as if you have a professional pianist in your home (or bar/restaurant etc.).
And then there is Disklavier TV. This streams live concerts from around the world. It sends both audio (data for the ENSPIRE PRO) and a video feed so the equipped piano will play in sync with an artist’s live performance. Check out a previous post which discusses Elton John’s “show” at Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel. Yamaha have previously streamed live content from the Monterey Jazz Festival, and performances by artists such as Sarah McLachlan, Bob James, and Jamie Cullum. Again this is a very attractive proposition for “live” music venues.
iOS and Android Apps
Gone is the ugly control box of previous versions of the Disklavier system. A new slimline unit sits unobtrusively way back beneath the keyboard. The piano is, however, usually controlled either by a mobile app, any HTML-compatible browser or by voice control via an Amazon Alexa equipped device. It is now quite hard to instantly tell if a piano has an ENSPIRE PRO system fitted.
The system will also, of course, perfectly capture the performance of anyone using the piano. This is both a compositional aid and a useful teaching tool for analysis.
A high quality digital sound module is also incorporated. This features a binaurally sampled Yamaha CFX grand piano amongst many other acoustic, electronic and abstract voices. When the piano is set to silent mode, the hammers are prevented from striking the strings. The performance data from the keyboard is then used to trigger the sound module’s samples, and so the piano can be played with headphones without disturbing anyone.
Pricing and Availability
Yamaha S3X ENSPIRE PRO $117,999; S5X ENSPIRE PRO $124,999; S7X ENSPIRE PRO $144,999. Availability: to be confirmed.
The Bösendorfer 214VC ENSPIRE PRO $194,998(US); 280VC ENSPIRE PRO $264,998(US). Availability: now.
Prices (MSRP) and availability are for US only. Other territories to be confirmed.