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Steinway Spirio R - Testing US vs Hamburg #2849053 05/16/19 10:40 PM
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astrotoy Offline OP
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We spent part of last Monday afternoon at our local Steinway dealer (Walnut Creek, CA) listening, playing and recording on their Hamburg and NY Model B Spirio R's. My wife has always preferred the Hamburg Steinways (although this was a Model B and her experience is with Model D's). She did play the NY Model B for a little while, but went back to the Hamburg Model B. We were a bit surprised that the store had one of each. I had thought that US stores did not carry Hamburg Steinways. And both of these were brand new, with the Spirio R for Model Bs just having been released. (BTW, the NY and Hamburg Steinways are getting much harder to tell apart from appearance - part of Steinway's move to narrow the differences. The dealer pointed out the differences.)

Here was the explanation - the Hamburg B Spirio R was the new Black Diamond with case designed by Dakota Jackson and Lang Lang's autograph. However, according to our salesperson, the regular Hamburg B was identical in sound, with the case design having no sonic effect (though a significant effect on the price tag).

My wife was both very impressed by the sonics of the piano (Hamburg over NY) and the demonstration of the Spirio playback (seeing and hearing Josef Hoffman from 1945 - restored by Zenph technology) as well as more contemporary pianists like Yuja Wang - mostly audio only, but some video also.

We tried the recording technology and the editing with the included ipad Pro and the software. It had a pretty easy learning curve to correct wrong notes, change dynamics, length of notes, pedalling, etc. all with a very straight forward graphic interface. The resolution of the key velocity and pedal is much higher than our Disklavier from 1992 and the editing is much simpler. Not sure whether there would be any audible benefit from an increase in resolution beyond what they have.

I didn't ask how much of the Spirio recording technology came from Zenph, which Steinway bought a few years ago.

We talked about NY vs Hamburg and whether it was a problem. The salesman said, no, it was really a matter of availability since sales were quite strong in these early stages of availability. He already had a customer who was interested in a Hamburg B Spirio R, which he could purchase through this dealership.

Steinway is continuing to release about 4-5 hours of newly recorded music for the Spirio (both regular and R) each month from their vast list of Steinway artists. If the recording is done with video, then one can see the performance on the ipad or large screen TV as well as hear it on the piano. They also plan to do live concerts which will both be shown live (with the piano playing in your living room) and captured for later replay.

The Spirio R has the advantage that you can download the files to the built in hard drive, instead of just streaming. You can also play Midi files loaded onto a jump drive inserted into the R's usb port.

We liked what we saw and heard and experienced very much. We have to see whether it makes sense for us to trade our Yamaha S400E Disklavier for a Spirio Hamburg B.


Boesendorfer 225 (1985)
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Re: Steinway Spirio R - Testing US vs Hamburg [Re: astrotoy] #2849069 05/16/19 11:30 PM
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I think you should buy mostly the piano and not the recording/playback
system unless Spirio has certain features you like that are not found in other systems. From everything I've read, Spirio is not as advanced as the latest Yamaha system despite what Steinway claims.

Re: Steinway Spirio R - Testing US vs Hamburg [Re: astrotoy] #2849074 05/17/19 12:03 AM
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Thanks for the story astrotoy.

Originally Posted by astrotoy
My wife was both very impressed by the sonics of the piano (Hamburg over NY) and the demonstration of the Spirio playback (seeing and hearing Josef Hoffman from 1945 - restored by Zenph technology) as well as more contemporary pianists like Yuja Wang - mostly audio only, but some video also.

We tried the recording technology and the editing with the included ipad Pro and the software. It had a pretty easy learning curve to correct wrong notes, change dynamics, length of notes, pedalling, etc. all with a very straight forward graphic interface. The resolution of the key velocity and pedal is much higher than our Disklavier from 1992 and the editing is much simpler. Not sure whether there would be any audible benefit from an increase in resolution beyond what they have.

I didn't ask how much of the Spirio recording technology came from Zenph, which Steinway bought a few years ago.


See Zenph YouTube videos below for a view of what the software did 7 years ago with Yamaha Disklavier (particularly the videos "introducing reperform..." and "setting up reperform...").

https://www.youtube.com/user/ZenphVideos

I am with pianoloversrus and would buy my favourite piano, then consider adding the Spiro if that has some features you find useful.

As Zenph went bankrupt after just a few years and not many software revisions, I would go back to the dealer and stress-test the Spiro under your envisioned use cases for a few hours to make sure it fits your needs. There was a Zenph forum with bugs and requested features threads but I can't read the posts. Below is the Zenph 1.0 user's guide from 2011 that might be of use.

https://web.archive.org/web/20130226080942/http://www.zenph.com/media/1.0_UserGuide_Aug_17_2011.pdf

Last edited by newer player; 05/17/19 12:05 AM. Reason: Fixed user's guide link
Re: Steinway Spirio R - Testing US vs Hamburg [Re: astrotoy] #2849101 05/17/19 02:58 AM
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Maybe I’ve lost track, but I don’t believe the Spiro is available for after-market add-on. It was available only on new pianos from the factory and only B’s and D’s

Re: Steinway Spirio R - Testing US vs Hamburg [Re: astrotoy] #2849135 05/17/19 06:34 AM
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astrotoy,

A good Hamburg B is a beautiful instrument, no question. However, the Spirio is for all intents and purposes the same system that Wayne Stahnke was selling as the LX 7 years ago. Before you jump into this expense, I recommend taking a look at the Yamaha Enspire that comes on any model of Yamaha you enjoy.

Their new CX, SX, and CF series offer tremendous pianos that are a departure from their predecessors. Here is the S7x being auditioned by the new President of Eastern University. At 7:45 Ron Matthews and Hugh Sung discuss the piano: https://youtu.be/b8-JAXH6pz8

The new Disklavier Enspire Pro is in every way a more advanced system than the Spirio. MIDI editing has been available on Disklavier for many years.

Good luck in your choice and please keep us posted.

Full Disclosure - I sell Yamaha


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
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Re: Steinway Spirio R - Testing US vs Hamburg [Re: astrotoy] #2849185 05/17/19 09:15 AM
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The Spirio is only available on new pianos. There is no aftermarket installation. That is because there is a big difference between the earlier after market version. The case is designed to receive the Spirio in many small ways not the least of which is to compensate for the removal of a portion of the key bed to make room for the system. These are not Steinways that are retrofitted in the factory. They are manufactured at the same time into the piano, with significant beefing up of the frame.

The ones I have sold are very solid to tune and play by a performer as well as having the subtleties of the performance when the Spirio is in use. There are also action additions to eliminate a lot of the key return noise that can happen on the after market units.


Sally Phillips
Owner/ Technician
Piano Perfect, LLC
Steinway & Sons Pianos
Columbus, GA
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Re: Steinway Spirio R - Testing US vs Hamburg [Re: Rich Galassini] #2849198 05/17/19 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
the Spirio is for all intents and purposes the same system that Wayne Stahnke was selling as the LX 7 years ago


That was true of the playback-only Spirio system sold from 2014-2019. But it is easily seen on inspection that Spirio | r is a total redesign from the ground up, keeping nothing about the LX system except some aspects of the solenoid design. The control system, recording hardware, and app/editor are all new. Spirio | r has capabilities like USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, and onboard storage that the LX never had. Wayne Stahnke was not involved in this major revision, so it was either developed internally or outsourced to someone else. It will be interesting to see some detailed performance comparisons between the Enspire PRO, Bösendorfer CEUS, and legacy SE systems in challenging areas like consistency, repetition, soft playback, etc.

Re: Steinway Spirio R - Testing US vs Hamburg [Re: astrotoy] #2849387 05/17/19 06:21 PM
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I think the allure of high end player/record systems would be, if I bought a Steinway D or a big Bösendorfer I could have signature artists playing my Steinway or Bosie rather than just my own mediocre practice. The reality for me is that those pianos deserve someone like Valentina Lisitsa giving life and breath to Chopin.
OTOH - it might be extremely disheartening practicing after listening to signature artist play my piano.


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Re: Steinway Spirio R - Testing US vs Hamburg [Re: j&j] #2849460 05/18/19 01:39 AM
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astrotoy Offline OP
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Originally Posted by j&j
I think the allure of high end player/record systems would be, if I bought a Steinway D or a big Bösendorfer I could have signature artists playing my Steinway or Bosie rather than just my own mediocre practice. The reality for me is that those pianos deserve someone like Valentina Lisitsa giving life and breath to Chopin.
OTOH - it might be extremely disheartening practicing after listening to signature artist play my piano.


For us it was not disheartening to have Jon Nakamatsu play our Bosie 225 last month. It was an incredible experience. The expression and dynamic range of Jon playing the Rach 2 in our home was beyond any possible expectation. We realize that we were very fortunate to have that kind of experience on our home pianos.


Last edited by astrotoy; 05/18/19 01:40 AM.

Boesendorfer 225 (1985)
Yamaha S400E (predecessor to CF4) Disklavier (1992)
Re: Steinway Spirio R - Testing US vs Hamburg [Re: Mark Fontana] #2849461 05/18/19 01:42 AM
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astrotoy Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Mark Fontana
Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
the Spirio is for all intents and purposes the same system that Wayne Stahnke was selling as the LX 7 years ago


That was true of the playback-only Spirio system sold from 2014-2019. But it is easily seen on inspection that Spirio | r is a total redesign from the ground up, keeping nothing about the LX system except some aspects of the solenoid design. The control system, recording hardware, and app/editor are all new. Spirio | r has capabilities like USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, and onboard storage that the LX never had. Wayne Stahnke was not involved in this major revision, so it was either developed internally or outsourced to someone else. It will be interesting to see some detailed performance comparisons between the Enspire PRO, Bösendorfer CEUS, and legacy SE systems in challenging areas like consistency, repetition, soft playback, etc.


Thanks for the clarifications and explanations. I certainly do not know enough to even know what questions to ask about the Spirio R.


Boesendorfer 225 (1985)
Yamaha S400E (predecessor to CF4) Disklavier (1992)
Re: Steinway Spirio R - Testing US vs Hamburg [Re: Mark Fontana] #2849470 05/18/19 02:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Mark Fontana
Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
the Spirio is for all intents and purposes the same system that Wayne Stahnke was selling as the LX 7 years ago


That was true of the playback-only Spirio system sold from 2014-2019. But it is easily seen on inspection that Spirio | r is a total redesign from the ground up, keeping nothing about the LX system except some aspects of the solenoid design. The control system, recording hardware, and app/editor are all new. Spirio | r has capabilities like USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, and onboard storage that the LX never had. Wayne Stahnke was not involved in this major revision, so it was either developed internally or outsourced to someone else. It will be interesting to see some detailed performance comparisons between the Enspire PRO, Bösendorfer CEUS, and legacy SE systems in challenging areas like consistency, repetition, soft playback, etc.


Thanks for the comment, Mark. I have always respected your posts, particularly when it comes to this technology.

At least this new system does not use serial ports anymore. smile It has actually arrived in the 21st century.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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