Here is an article that I wrote recently about an amazing new reproducing piano, the CEUS computer grand piano. I thought this article would interest quite a few of you at this particular forum. I will also post it at other appropriate forums.
The new (2006) CEUS computer grand piano from Bosendorfer can record and playback the full gamut of expressiveness that the best pianists are capable of playing at the keyboard. It is an amazing and very desirable accomplishment. Consequently, I have decided to praise Bosendorfer’s new CEUS computer grand piano despite the fact that I have no connection at all, financial or else, with Bosendorfer.
I also put this article on two separate web pages but they do not show yet when I do a search with different search engines because these two separate web pages are too recent.
I have praised without restraint this new (2006) CEUS computer grand piano in this article below. A few people (who probably have an agenda) have doubted that I am impartial because I have praised (justly I believe) this new (2006) CEUS computer grand piano.
I praised this new (2006) CEUS computer grand piano only based on facts. Among these facts, I have the indispensable knowledge on reproducing pianos and I compare it to the specification details that Bosendorfer gave on their web site. From this simple comparison (among other facts), I have been forced to conclude that this new (2006) CEUS computer grand piano can indeed record and playback the full gamut of expressiveness that the best pianists are capable of playing at the keyboard.
It is not at all a bold statement when you read the specification details given by Bosendorfer on their web site and when you compare them with the data given in past articles on reproducing pianos.
Having said that, in the coming months and years, piano experts and virtuosi at the piano will surely do rigorous tests on this new CEUS computer grand piano to assess it fully and I am sure that they will confirm this statement that I have made above.
For the time being, I will keep sending my article to as many places as I can on the Internet! Why that?
Only for the sake of promoting a healthy competition among the makers of reproducing pianos and of reproducing piano systems! So that they wake up and make available (to as many people as possible and especially at the cheapest price possible) as a basic feature of the other reproducing pianos and of the other reproducing piano systems the unique and highly desirable feature of this new CEUS computer grand piano of being able to record and playback accurately the full gamut of expressiveness that the best pianists are capable of playing at the keyboard. With such a behavior, I surely cannot be accused of favoring Bosendorfer in any way!!!!
The lover of reproducing pianos and the lover of pianos!
THE CEUS COMPUTER GRAND PIANO - THE NEW (2006) BÖSENDORFER REPRODUCING GRAND PIANO
During the past recent decades, a reproducing piano (also sometimes called a computer piano or a player piano) has been defined as being first an acoustic piano that is not diminished in any way in its ability to play piano pieces. The touch at the keyboard and the sound produced by a reproducing piano are not changed in any way compared to a normal acoustic piano.
However, a reproducing piano has an unobtrusive computer interface that allows the pianist to record and playback the piano pieces that are performed on it.
Usually, it also has a silent mechanism that stops the hammers from striking the strings and that allows the pianist to play silently at the keyboard, at any time during the day or the night without disturbing others, and with the option of using headphones to hear digital sounds while playing silently at the keyboard (many digital sounds are available: piano, harpsichord, organ, strings, etc.).
It provides a MIDI interface that allows the pianist to play back many pieces that are available on this particular MIDI format. What does it means in practice? It means that such a reproducing piano is capable of playing by itself without the listener or the pianist having to touch the keys on the keyboard! The listener inserts a floppy disk into the computer interface provided with this reproducing piano or he selects from a monitor a song on his hard disk and then the piano plays by itself.
The capability of a reproducing piano to convey (more or less accurately) the full expressiveness of the pianist at the keyboard is directly related to its ability to record and playback (more or less accurately) the velocity of the hammers that are moved when the pianist presses the keys at the keyboard.
However, the MIDI format allows the recording and playback of the velocity of the hammers of the piano only at a level of accuracy of 127 scales (or 127 steps if you prefer). The problem is that most of the pianistic techniques move the hammers at an incredibly high speed, making these 127 scales completely insufficient to be able to record and playback accurately the very high velocity of the hammers. Consequently, a reproducing piano usually also has a much more accurate proprietary format that enables it to record and playback piano pieces at a much higher level of accuracy than with the MIDI format.
In summary, a reproducing piano is a very flexible musical instrument that combines the old (an acoustic piano) with the new (a MIDI format but especially the recording and playing back of the piano) at the same time. It allows the pianist to play the numerous MIDI piano pieces available but, more importantly, to record and playback piano pieces at a higher level of accuracy than it is possible to do with the MIDI format.
This new (2006) Bösendorfer CEUS Computer Grand Piano begins a new era in the history of modern reproducing pianos because it is the first modern reproducing piano that has the following unique feature: IT HAS THE ABILITY TO RECORD AND PLAY BACK ACCURATELY THE FULL GAMUT OF EXPRESSIVENESS THAT THE BEST PIANISTS ARE CAPABLE OF PLAYING AT THE KEYBOARD.
Before the arrival of this CEUS Computer Grand Piano in 2006, several scientific studies showed that the previous generations of modern reproducing pianos were simply not up to this extremely challenging task.
The latest Yamaha Mark IV Disklavier piano is also a reproducing piano with several outstanding features but it was never designed with such a challenging goal of having this unique feature that I have mentioned above at the beginning implemented. Consequently, the Yamaha Mark IV Disklavier piano has not yet accomplished, by a very significant margin, this very challenging goal that the new Bösendorfer CEUS Computer Grand Piano, for the first time in the history of reproducing pianos, finally managed to accomplish by providing this unique feature that I have mentioned above at the beginning.
The high quality of the Bösendorfer pianos and especially their very distinctive and compelling sound are the result of a long and old tradition of excellence at piano making.
However, Bösendorfer has also kept abreast of modernity first with their SE 290 computer piano that was made in collaboration with Wayne Stahnke. It was the best reproducing piano of its time, better than any other reproducing pianos available (Yamaha included).
Before the arrival of the Bösendorfer CEUS Computer Grand Piano, several scientific studies were made that had for main goal to assess if the latest reproducing pianos available were as faithful to the expressiveness of the best performers at the piano as they should be. These studies concluded that the best reproducing pianos (including the SE 290 computer piano) were not as faithful at recording and playing back accurately the performances of the best pianists as they should have been (see in particular: W. Goebl and R. Bresin, "Measurement and reproduction accuracy of computer-controlled grand pianos," Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol. 114, no. 4, pp. 2273--2283, 2003. This article is available [but there is no guaranty that it will stay available later on] at http://www.ofai.at/cgi-bin/get-tr?paper=oefai-tr-2003-16.pdf
Taking this conclusion as an incentive to raise the accuracy of the best reproducing piano that was available (the SE 290 computer piano), Bösendorfer set themselves to create an even more accurate reproducing piano that would achieve the very challenging goal of being able to record and playback accurately the full gamut of expressiveness that is achievable by the best performers at the piano.
In 2006, after several years of hard work, they finally managed to present the result of their efforts and dedication by introducing this new Bösendorfer CEUS Computer Grand Piano that has this unique feature that I have mentioned above at the beginning.
Here are only a few of the amazing features of this new Bösendorfer CEUS computer piano:
—The dynamic scales of the key movements are rendered absolutely authentically in all ranges from pianissimo to fortissimo. For the first time, the release of the key and consequently the setting of the damper has become perfectly recordable and reproduceable; all pedal movements are now able to be seen as they were originally performed.
—At the moment, THE CEUS COMPUTER PIANO IS THE ONLY COMPUTER CONTROLLED GRAND PIANO WORLDWIDE CAPABLE OF EMOTIONALLY AUTHENTIC RECORDING AND REPRODUCTION OF PIANO PIECES, ALL THAT WITH AN EXCEEDINGLY HIGHER ACCURACY THAN COMPARABLE SYSTEMS.
This is a unique and amazing feature.
—VARIATIONS IN TEMPERATURE OR HUMIDITY DO NOT HAVE ANY INFLUENCE ON THE INSTRUMENT. BY MEANS OF AUTOMATIC CALIBRATION, CEUS LEVELS OUT ALL VARIATIONS IMMEDIATELY AND EFFORTLESSLY.
This is a unique and amazing feature.
—MAINTENANCE OF REGULATION, TUNING AND INTONATION REMAINS UNCHANGED.
This is a unique and amazing feature.
—THE CURRENT OWNERS OF BÖSENDORFER GRAND PIANOS (MODELS 170 TO 290) WILL BE ABLE TO HAVE THIS NEW CEUS REPRODUCING SYSTEM CUSTOM-FITTED INTO THEIR PIANOS AND, ACCORDING TO BÖSENDORFER, IT WILL NOT MODIFY, IN ANY WAY, THE QUALITY OF THE SOUND OF THEIR PIANOS.
(For the full list and details of the features of this new CEUS Computer Grand Piano, go to the Bösendorfer web site at http://www.boesendorfer.com/_english_version/index.html
Click at the top left the link Products, then on the left click the link Computer Grand Piano and you will get the full details of this amazing new CEUS computer piano).
The quest for the Holy Grail of the reproducing pianos that started with Wayne Stahnke’s outstanding contribution to the Bösendorfer SE 290 computer piano has now been found with the Bösendorfer CEUS computer grand piano! In the history of reproducing pianos, it is indeed the first piano capable of recording and playing back accurately the full gamut of expressiveness that the best pianists are capable of playing at the keyboard.
Bösendorfer pianos are sometimes qualified by many expert pianists as being the Rolls-Royce of pianos for the high quality of their pianos and especially for the distinctive and compelling sound that they produce.
Their new CEUS computer grand piano can now also be qualified by experts on reproducing pianos and by skilled pianists as being the Rolls-Royce of reproducing pianos if it was only for its unique and highly desirable feature of being able to record and play back accurately the full gamut of expressiveness that the best pianists are capable of playing at the keyboard.
Both claims are based on facts, not on unrestrained praises. When praises are deserved, we must give credit to those who deserve them.
With this new CEUS computer grand piano, Bösendorfer enters its name as a landmark in the history of reproducing pianos by being the first piano manufacturer to have created a reproducing piano with such a unique feature that I have mentioned above at the beginning. For such an outstanding and compelling accomplishment, Bösendorfer fully deserves to be praised highly and unreservedly.
In the coming decades, other piano companies will surely strive to make this outstanding accomplishment their own by creating other reproducing pianos that include this unique feature that I have mentioned above at the beginning. Most of these piano companies are likely to add this unique and exceptional feature as a basic feature of their new reproducing pianos. However, for the time being, the Bösendorfer CEUS computer grand piano reigns supreme as being the first and the only reproducing piano to have reached such a pinnacle.
Considering the fact that it took Bösendorfer more than a decade of hard work and ingenuity to accomplish such a feat, it is very likely that other piano makers will take at least more than a decade before very few of them will be in the position of claiming to have accomplished this same very challenging feat! And it will take even a much longer time to see such a unique and desirable feature being added as a basic feature to most of the reproducing pianos being made.
—For the full list and details of the features of this new CEUS Computer Grand Piano, go to the Bösendorfer web site at http://www.boesendorfer.com/_english_version/index.html
Click at the top left the link Products, then on the left click the link Computer Grand Piano and you will get the full details of this amazing new CEUS computer piano.
—This CEUS computer grand piano is so recent (2006) that there are not yet articles available that describe it nor other Internet sources of information on it. They surely will appear in the coming years.
About the author of this article
My name is not important. What is important (to me at least) is what I wrote about: reproducing pianos.
This article is not an advertisement. I have no interest, financial or else, in praising Bösendorfer’s pianos and I am not linked to Bösendorfer in any way.
If another company than Bösendorfer would have created a piano with such a unique and outstanding feature that I have mentioned above at the beginning, then I would have written the same article for this other company!
To understand why Bösendorfer managed, with this new CEUS computer grand piano, to include such a unique and desirable feature, you must have read for several years articles on reproducing pianos and compare their information with the details given by Bösendorfer on their web site and you will then be forced to acknowledge that there is no doubt, to a knowledgeable person, that they managed to succeed at implementing such a unique and highly desirable feature.
For those who would still remain doubtful of Bösendorfer's accomplishment, here are several additional reasons that support Bösendorfer's details given on their web site: Bösendorfer has a reputation of excellence at manufacturing high quality pianos; German-speaking countries such as Austria have a tradition of excellence at anything related to engineering; Austria is in Europe and advertisements in Europe are regulated by strict government regulations (contrary to the USA!) that force companies to be honest on the claims they make about their products.
I wrote this article on the Bösendorfer CEUS computer grand piano because, using Google, I simply could not find articles on it except from the Bösendorfer web site and this Bösendorfer web site did not even show up when I did a search with Google using several keywords (in particular using the keywords: Bosendorfer CEUS computer grand piano).
The other motivation for me to write this article is that I have been following for more than two decades the challenge that Yamaha and Bösendorfer tried to overcome of creating a reproducing piano that would incorporate this unique feature that I have mentioned above at the beginning. This challenge presented many difficulties to overcome and Bösendorfer is the first company to have overcome them.
Therefore, in the article above, all the praises that I made about this new Bösendorfer CEUS computer grand piano are based on thorough knowledge of reproducing pianos and are therefore fully justified, irrespective of the fact that these praises benefit Bösendorfer.
It might seem strange to the reader but Bösendorfer does deserve the praises for being the first company to have achieved the Holy Grail of reproducing pianos: to be able to record and playback accurately the full gamut of expressiveness that the best pianists are capable of playing at the keyboard.
In the coming decades, I hope such a feat will be accomplished by many other piano companies (I think of Yamaha especially) so that it will become a basic feature of the reproducing pianos that they make (at a cost, hopefully, that most people will be able to afford!). When we will have reached this era, the consumer will be the winner. For the time being, only the richest can afford buying Bösendorfer pianos or Bösendorfer reproducing pianos!
I also hope that this article will spark a healthy competition among piano makers that will force them to make this unique and outstanding feature (that I have mentioned above at the beginning) affordable to many more people than the very few rich people who currently can afford buying Bösendorfer reproducing pianos.
The criticism that I could make about the Bösendorfer pianos is that their pianos are indeed expensive! However, Bösendorfer pianos are sometimes called the Rolls-Royce of pianos simply because they use the best materials to make them, they take the long time it takes to build pianos of high quality and they also produce pianos with a distinctive sound that is often compelling to those who praise the quality of these Bösendorfer pianos. It is therefore no surprise that these Bösendorfer pianos are also very expensive!
The motto that “you get what you pay for” is not always true for everything but for pianos it is unfortunately, more often than not, still quite true.