Aftermarket v.s. Manufactured Player Piano Systems
Updated: May 12
QRS PNOmation, PianoDisc, Disklavier, and Spirio are some of the most recognized names in the player piano market. Typically these systems fall into two categories, an aftermarket system installed on the piano after leaving the manufacture and manufacture installed systems where the piano was actually designed with the system in mind. Both aftermarket and manufacture installed player piano systems are great for different reasons.
Aftermarket systems like PNOmation and PianoDisc are an especially good and cost effective way for someone to enjoy entertainment from a piano they already own. It is important to note that the performance of the aftermarket system will depend on the condition of the piano and quality of the installation. The piano is normally transported to the shop of a qualified technician or installer. They modify the piano to install the hardware and setup the software for good performance. The main difference in these two system is in the app interface and music libraries. For instance, QRS music is locally stored in the processor of the system while PianoDisc is streamed by sending the audio from your device. If you're looking for an aftermarket system I would suggest looking at both websites to see what music is included and what music you may want to purchase in the future.
Manufacture Installed player piano systems in general have the advantage of planning ahead as the piano is designed to include the player system from the beginning. For example, Disklavier has the best silent practice feature because of a patented action design they made specifically for that system. Manufacture installations also have the highest control over the piano action long term, they even control the release of the key to reproduce the exact performance given at the time of recording. If you like the idea of having additional audio of a band or singer along with your piano than Disklavier would be a better choice. However, if you are a fan of Steinway and it's artists simply bringing solo piano concert into your home than you should consider a Spirio. Looking at the music library, user interface, and functions of both systems at your local piano retailer will give you a good idea of which you will prefer.
Joseph Raville, RPT
Dallas Piano Tuner
Up to Pitch LLC