Piano Player Systems
This is a rather larger area, as there are many levels of options and types out there. We are certified in two main brands (QRS and Pianodisc). To be a certified installer you need to be trained by the factory (usually on site). Another interesting thing is different installers are better than others. The installer can make or break the system I always said. A lot of dealers hire out the installation, and call piano movers (installing is usually done at the shop), and a salesman maybe involved in the process. Our company offers all three services in one house. Plus, we cover the piano for the value (not 60 cents a pound like the law provides). If someone destroys your $80,000 piano you get a check for around $500 unless you add extra insurance (which most don’t). This situation has bothered me greatly over the years, as I’ve seen so much abuse leaving customers left with little to nothing if they don’t pay larger dollars to insure the piano (assuming they even were told or offered that). We charge the normal fee and are insured for 1 million dollars. We try to treat others like we want ourselves treated. In some instances we can install the piano player system in the home, especially if it has steps that no one wants to go up and down with the piano. There is an extra charge for this service due to the complexity of the install, but it can be worth it for some.
Both systems are great, but they can offer different music libraries and how to interact with that on your iPad or Samsung using a tablet/phone. IPad is usually preferred since it seems to run quicker, and we are told by the manufactures that Apple is better to interact with concerning music on a programming level. Pianodisc is less expensive then QRS, but that could be the library difference as your renting the entire library (mandatory) when you purchase the QRS System.
• QRS has Pianomation III which is American made, and the music sits under the piano inside their processor (low memory phones can operate).
• QRS has the availability to purchase individual songs instead of the entire album.
• QRS comes with 1 year of the entire library of music unlocked and then after the year is up you get to keep around 3000 songs (at the current moment).
• QRS has the ability to see if the music is the original artist (black writing on the name of the song), or someone playing the song that is not the original artist and has audio (blue), and then Piano Only (red colored song title). This is a nice feature especially when making a playlist that is all piano only. It’s easy to see if you made a mistake and put an audio song (speaker sound either instrument or singing in the background), or just a piano playing without any audio.
• QRS electronic pedal system is difficult on some pianos to get quiet enough, but they have magic fingers which doesn’t use the pedal and holds down the notes. Although you don’t hear the full harmonics it can be a huge advantage to not hear thumping up and down of the pedal if your piano action is a heavy one.
Pianodisc Prodigy is mostly Chinese made from what we’ve noticed, and the music sits on the device causing someone to have a larger memory to store the music library.
• Pianodisc also has some songs that can be purchased individually, although most have to be purchased in an album form for the moment.
• Pianodisc has an advantage for northerners who have a player up north and down here, as the android or iPad can be carried north and south because all your music is on the device and either piano can be played by it. Also, if you go to a friend’s house that has Pianodisc player system and have your phone with you, then you can play your library at their house and they can hear songs they may not have purchased themselves.
• Pianodisc does offer free included music, but it is limited.
• Pianodisc electronic pedal wasn’t enough for me as they sent a couple 2 foot long boards with a couple brackets and said “go make a pedaling system”. It was a real pet peeve of mine to have to make custom pedaling systems every single time I did and install, and each piano seemed very different having multiple sizes and brands. The goal is to have a pedal minimum noise with the lowest thump of the dampers silencing the strings. I got so frustrated that I went to a retired machine shop mechanic and engaged his services, and between the two of us we came up with an aluminum pedaling system that was quiet and light weight, plus it mimicked the real system we took off the piano. It was adjustable so you can easily change things without remaking an entire wooded piece. There were many thousands spent and a half a year to get the final version, but now that the pain is over (investment made), I’m glad I did that since my pedals are very quiet.
Some people ask me which brand of player system is in my personal piano. The answer is Pianodisc. My reason is that when I was going to install a player in my piano… QRS was having a lot of issues with the Pianomation II system (I call it growing pains), so I stopped installing them. Now QRS has solved the issues and made many advancements to the Pianomation III that I could like one of those also, but I’m not going to rip out a fully working player system to change brands.
It is possible to buy either player system and then the other ones processor to get both libraries, but most people find out that one system usually is enough and the music is acceptable with either one.
For those that want a particular song that the companies don’t offer… I know of a pianist that can play a song and then record it in the correct format so the player system can play it. If you wish this service just ask and I’ll give you the number of him. I assume he will price it according to the time it takes him. This also brings up the fact that the companies are adding songs every month it seem to the current ones so the library continually get bigger over time.