It’s hard to say which primo brand in this matchup elevates the other more, but a new collaboration between Apple and Steinway is taking a page from the EDM and DJ’ing world to give pianists the same recording and mixing power their pop music counterparts have long enjoyed.
Tech creeps upward into the echelons of high art with Steinway’s new Spirio | r piano, one of the venerable pianomaker’s typically high-end analog musical beasts that, for the first time, packs in an onboard recording and editing suite. With the onboard software and companion iPad app, you can immediately play back your performance — and then accompany it, edit it, or turn it into something wholly new.
When we say the piano will play back what you just performed, we don’t mean through a speaker: In a novel new twist on the old-school player piano idea, the Spirio | r will physically recreate every nuance of your playthrough, right down to how hard or lightly you pressed each key. In other words, you can get up and walk away from the piano, and it’ll play itself as though a ghost performer were still sitting at the bench.
Check out Steinway’s explanation to get a full sense of what we’re talking about here:
The Spirio line has been out since 2015, and until now, it’s been able to let players select from a curated list of titles for the pianos to play on their own. What’s new with the Spirio | r are the full-scale recording features that not only take any performance you can throw at it, but also let you dig into your recording, via the iPad app, to essentially mix your creation into any type of sonic tableau you can dream up.
Via C|net, the Spirio | r is getting mad respect from the pro musician world. Jon Batiste, pianist for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, took the instrument for a spin at a recent launch event and, according to the report, came away convinced. “Batiste first played and recorded a Sam Cooke piece to see if the piano can ‘capture the soulfulness.’ The piano played it back just how Batiste performed it, while he played a melodica along with the piano,” the report sings.
While pricing hasn’t been revealed yet, this is a real Steinway piano to start with, so expect to drop real estate money if you want to snag one of these ghost-playing music maestros. Existing Spirio models already range from $99,000 to $130,000, so consider it a deep investment in refining your musical gifts. With MIDI capability and the ability to handle a wide range of cross-platform digital formats, at least you’re getting a small-scale digital studio — along with a sweet new centerpiece to add some serious gravitas to your grand ballroom.