The Steinway that plays without you

The Steinway that plays without you


norman lebrecht

April 01, 2015

They are calling it the biggest piano innovation in 70 years. From here, it looks like a souped-up player piano for people with more loft space than sekhel*. Starting price: $110,000.

Read the press release for yourselves.




Steinway Spirio to Feature All-New Music Catalog of High-Resolution Performances by Steinway Artists

Steinway & Sons, manufacturer of the world’s finest pianos, today announced the company’s most significant product innovation in over 70 years: Steinway Spirio, the world’s finest player piano system, available exclusively on select Steinway grand pianos. A masterpiece of engineering, Steinway Spirio provides the unrivaled musical experience that Steinway’s customers expect, producing the most accurate reproduction of live performances ever achieved on a Steinway & Sons piano. Delicate pedaling, subtle phrasing, soft trills, and thundering fortissimos present no difficulty for Steinway Spirio. Damper and keyshift pedaling are replicated with unparalleled accuracy, following the pianist’s depressions and releases smoothly and precisely over the entire range of motion.

Steinway Spirio is the product of Steinway & Sons’ partnership with Wayne Stahnke, building upon his decades of work as the world’s foremost innovator in the field of modern player pianos. The system’s superior playback results from the combination of numerous patented developments, including closed-loop proportional pedaling, immunity to varying line voltage, sophisticated thermal compensation, and proprietary high-resolution drive techniques.

To take full advantage of Steinway Spirio’s unique capabilities, Steinway & Sons is recording an entirely new catalog of music for the system, featuring the roster of over 1,700 Steinway Artists performing a wide range of genres, from classical to jazz, standards to contemporary. All pieces in the catalog are recorded, edited and released in high-resolution, using a proprietary data format that captures the finest details from each artist’s performance. Steinway’s entire catalog of performances will be provided to Steinway Spirio owners at no additional charge – a first for the player piano industry.

According to Michael Sweeney, CEO of Steinway & Sons, “Since the founding of Steinway & Sons over 160 years ago, innovation and craftsmanship have served as the core tenets of the company. In today’s marketplace, brands like ours must continue to innovate in order to remain relevant to the world around us, but that doesn’t mean that quality and craftsmanship can suffer.” Sweeney added, “After years of exploration, Steinway & Sons has created in the Steinway Spirio, a high-resolution player piano that is rich with emotion and depth. Even the Steinway Artists that have recorded on the instrument agree that the Steinway Spirio captures the true essence, nuance, and soulfulness of a live performance, allowing us to bring artists and their audiences closer than ever before.”

The Steinway Spirio player system is integrated with the piano at Steinway’s New York and Hamburg factories during manufacturing. Completely hidden from view, its components do not affect the touch, sound or outward appearance of the piano in any way. Steinway Spirio’s modular design isolates the core player system from rapidly-changing user interface technologies, ensuring many decades of enjoyment. With routine maintenance and occasional updates, the Steinway Spirio player piano system is expected to last the full lifetime of the piano.

To control the system today, Steinway & Sons will provide a complimentary iPad to wirelessly connect with each Steinway Spirio. The attractive and easy-to-use Steinway Spirio app puts the company’s growing library of world-class performances at the owner’s fingertips, all recorded live on Steinway & Sons’ master recording pianos.

As new music files become available, they are automatically added to the in-app listings, ready to enjoy. Playlists, themes and genres curated by Steinway & Sons draw upon the company’s renowned musical expertise to create the perfect mood for any occasion. An integrated volume control permits fine adjustment of the piano’s playback intensity from brilliant, concert-level dynamics to subdued, background-level playing, taking advantage of Steinway Spirio’s whisper-soft playback capabilities.

“Steinway Spirio connects the listener and the artist as only the world’s finest piano can,” said Darren Marshall, Chief Marketing Officer for Steinway & Sons. “Steinway Spirio technology has been engineered to meet our highest standards while creating a truly unique listening experience for all music enthusiasts, regardless of their own piano playing skills.”

Steinway & Sons will offer the Steinway Spirio system in three existing piano models: Model B (Music Room Grand, available worldwide), Model M (Medium Grand, available in select U.S. and Canadian markets), and Model O (Living Room Grand, available in select European and Asian markets). Pricing is available upon request through local Steinway & Sons dealers and Steinway & Sons retail locations.

Further details and video demonstrations will be available at www.steinwayspirio.comstarting April 1, 2015. Steinway Spirio will be introduced in select markets globally beginning in March of 2015 and widely available in 2016.


* sekhel = Yiddish for commonsense


  • hyprocritesgalore says:

    This reads and sounds like an April Fools joke…

    • WomenBeChopin says:

      Right? How is buying out another company’s system and putting it into their product innovative? I’m sure it reproduces just as well as the LX system but why all the hype BS? All it is is a Steinway with an LX retrofit that’s ridiculously overpriced.

  • Pedro says:

    But can you actually play it yourself?

  • Michael B. says:

    This definitely looks like an April Fools joke, but it apparently is not. According to records from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Steinway, Inc. filed a trademark application for “Spirio” as of December 5, 2014. The description of the goods in the trademark application sounds exactly like what is referred to in the ads. That would be going awfully far to back up an April Fools joke. This is legitimate.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    I was one of the first artists asked to participate in the recording process, and, as a result of the quality of the playback, I recorded an extensive amount of various repertoire for Spirio. I personally find this playback to be the finest sound reproduction of any I have heard and seen. Of course, it is a very personal effect on each and every listener and performer, and others may agree to disagree. But for me, every nuance, every color, every singing note, fast passage-work as well as pedaling, repeats exactly as I played. What is most important, imho, is that it can immortalize living pianists’ performances in the here and now, and, if it is still working in 100 years, can provide listeners in the future with these performances, much as we are able to enjoy playing of artists from the last century–from piano rolls through the technological advances over time.

  • Giovanni says:

    I fully appreciate Jeffrey’s comments above. He is a amazing artist with amazing talent, and if he found his home with Spirio, then so be it. Premium pianos are like fine wine, and I hope he gets an opportunity to play a Yamaha Disklavier someday, so he can experience a reproducing piano that has aged for a much longer period of time.

  • Bill Wallis says:

    As a past installer, but now denied access to the Model LX due to Steinway’s takeover, control and taking credit by patenting it after a name change, all I can say is some things never change with some companies!