Steinway & Sons has been a leader in making handmade pianos since 1853, and it is a stickler for tradition and quality. The market is changing though, and with the rise of tech gadgets and music streaming the company has entered the arena with its first major invention in over 70 years: the self-playing Spirio grand piano.
Steinway CEO Michael Sweeney said in a recent press release, “In today’s marketplace, brands like ours must continue to innovate in order to remain relevant to the world around us.”
New owner, John Paulson also announced bold plans for the company to expand into “underpenetrated markets in Asia, eastern Europe and South America” in the hopes of boosting the company’s sales. Steinway sold only 2,000 pianos in 2012, the New Yorker reported.
Steinway’s player pianos were discontinued in the 1940s, but for this incarnation, the New York-based company is aiming to harness the latest computer-based developments to finesse the form, sound and technology of its new self-playing piano model.
So much so that Steinway bought a company called Live Performance, a company founded by music engineer Wayne Stahnke. Hailed as the creator of the first mass market computer-controlled piano player able to simulate the nuances of a human performer (the Bosendorfer 290 SE), the former NASA engineer opened Live Performance in 1992 to commercialize his four decades worth of experimentations in “high resolution” electronic reproducing pianos.
For purists, the new Steinway Spirio piano can also be played manually. However, the technology has the added benefit to “accompany” a singer in the absence of a pianist. This makes it perfect for not only live events but also should the event not have a pianist, then you’re covered, and perhaps the pianist wants to take a break.
The Spirio piano comes paired an iPad that includes the Spirio app, which comes preloaded with a catalogue of over 1,700 Steinway-sponsored artists. At the press of a button you can have Sergei Rachmaninoff, Cole Porter, Diana Krall, Billy Joel or any other of the virtuoso performances in the room.
The new Steinway Spirio comes in three sizes, and with a price tag of around $110,000 it is initially aimed at consumers who love their high-end stereos, audiophile equipment and super expensive tech toys.
Check out the Steinway Spirio in action below: