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Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299737
01/02/09 12:42 AM
01/02/09 12:42 AM
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Los Angeles, California
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SteveJacobson Offline OP
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From researching other postings it looks like the Disklavier Mark IV (standard – not the pro) appears to add between 12K and 15k to the cost of the base Yamaha. I used posting about the costs of the CG1 and DCG1M4 to come up with this figure. While the functionality and quality differ, other systems appear to offer similar functionality at a much lower price (5K to 8K). I understand that with the Mark IV you get everything (there is no modularization, you have no choice): recording, playback, computer, hard disk, synthesizer, speakers, internet music, etc.

Do the other systems offer most of these functions I think that some of them do, such as Pianodisk; I have yet to see a side by side function, quality, and cost comparison between the different systems.

I have read that the Mark IV allows for software upgrades but not hardware. I was told, for example, that I cannot upgrade from a Mark III to a Mark IV, I have to trade in or sell the piano and buy a new piano and system will this be true when the Mark V comes out in the future. This means that I not only have to take a hit on the player but on the piano also. With the other systems I can replace them with a new one if there is significant hardware upgrades and keep the piano. With the price difference, I have the ability to replace an entire system x number of years in the future and still break even on costs.

I am looking at this from a cost / benefit perspective but am having trouble getting a good picture. Can anyone add some insight or correct me if am wrong on any of my assumptions.

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Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299738
01/02/09 07:11 AM
01/02/09 07:11 AM
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Zichron Yaacov, Israel
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Steve Jackson Offline
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Zichron Yaacov, Israel
Hi Steve:

I believe all of the systems on the market have a common initial inventor and there is in reality not a huge difference with them. The Yamaha offers integration and other Yamaha technology they have from their electronic pro equipment. That's a good thing. Factory install is nice too. The QRS Pianomation, Pianodisk and some of the other newer systems offer different variations. I believe the QRS PNOscan is the best MIDI sensor out there using ballistic velocity sensors. It has evolved from the earliest Gulbransen MIDI sensor over the past 15 years or so. If you want a system on something other than a Yamaha, then go with something else. If you want a Yamaha, get the Disklavier. Integration and a single warranty are worth the extra cost in that case.

Take care,

Steve

Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299739
01/02/09 07:35 AM
01/02/09 07:35 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,252
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Rich Galassini Offline
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Quote
I have to trade in or sell the piano and buy a new piano and system will this be true when the Mark V comes out in the future.
Steve,

This alone is a big deal. I have clients who initially chose a PianoCD system by PianoDisc who have recently upgraded to the IQ system. They could go from there easily to a Syncavision.

Just for fun, here is a video we recently made of the IQ system:

Ipod on a Cunningham

Recording capabilities exist with both PianoDisc and QRS. You have the freedom to choose what capabilities appeal to you as well. In other words, you do not pay for something yu will not use. Installation is key for the system to serve you well in either case.

One other thought - the Yamaha system is very good, but I personally would not choose a Yamaha piano. My taste brings me elsewhere. There are lots of great pianos out there. With an installed system you are free to choose what truly inspires you as a pianist.

I hope that helps,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for great content every week:
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Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299740
01/02/09 02:56 PM
01/02/09 02:56 PM
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Posts: 55
S. Jersey
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KevinG Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by SteveJacobson:
From researching other postings it looks like the Disklavier Mark IV (standard – not the pro) appears to add between 12K and 15k to the cost of the base Yamaha. I used posting about the costs of the CG1 and DCG1M4 to come up with this figure.
I think you are talking about MSRP? After negotiations, I think the price difference might be closer to what you quoted for non-Disklavier player systems...


Yamaha DC3M4
Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299741
01/02/09 07:09 PM
01/02/09 07:09 PM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 49
Los Angeles, California
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SteveJacobson Offline OP
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Based on what I have seen on this Web site the price of a GC1 is between 13K and 16K. With this as the base, adding 8k to that price would put the DGC1M4 at between 21K and 24K is this a reasonable range for a new DGC1M4?

Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299742
01/02/09 07:58 PM
01/02/09 07:58 PM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 416
Southern United States
Pianomadam Offline
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FROM RICH:

"One other thought - the Yamaha system is very good, but I personally would not choose a Yamaha piano. My taste brings me elsewhere. There are lots of great pianos out there"

---No bias in that comment!


PianoMadam

Family of Steinway-Designed Pianos (Steinway & Sons, Boston, Essex) Dealer
Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299743
01/03/09 12:58 AM
01/03/09 12:58 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,252
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Rich Galassini Offline
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Joined: May 2001
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Philadelphia/South Jersey
I wrote:
Quote
the Yamaha system is very good, but I personally would not choose a Yamaha piano. My taste brings me elsewhere.
Then Pianomadam commented:
Quote
---No bias in that comment!
Pianomadam,

Guilty as charged. Louis Armstrong may have said it best:

There are two kinds of music - good and bad. I play the good kind.

Just like Louis Armstrong, I have personal preference. We all do, Pianomadam. If you prefer a Yamaha piano, you are free to choose it and I will support that choice. This is what makes the spice of life. Wouldn't it be a shame if we all had the same musical taste?


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for great content every week:
https://www.youtube.com/user/CunninghamPiano
Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299744
01/03/09 02:41 PM
01/03/09 02:41 PM
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 2,604
Marty Flinn Offline
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Marty Flinn  Offline
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YES!


Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.
Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299745
01/03/09 02:57 PM
01/03/09 02:57 PM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 49
Los Angeles, California
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SteveJacobson Offline OP
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Marty

Yes to Rich’s statement or to is between 21k and 24k a reasonable range for a DGC1M4 or both.

Thanks,
Steve

Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299746
01/03/09 03:56 PM
01/03/09 03:56 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,726
Portland, Oregon
Grandpianoman Offline
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Steve, another possibility....if you are not set on a Yamaha piano, is the "LX" system from Wayne Stahnke. www.live-performance.com It is definitely the best retro-fit system on the market. The playback quality is superb, and it can be installed in any piano. Live Performance is collaborating now with www.zenph.com to produce their high-resolution files exclusively for the LX....I have the very first LX installed in my 7ft M&Hamlin BB, and the first Zenph/LX disc, Glenn Gould's 1955 Goldberg Variations sounds incredible, as does all of the material from Live-Performance. Art Tatums's Jazz disc is now out as well, with more to come. In addition to the Live-Performance material, the LX can also playback other companies discs, except for certain encoded discs. If you want to record though, you would have to install the Midi9 recording strip. www.midi9.com This recording strip is the same device as the PNOscan from QRS. In fact, Midi9 is the manufacturer for it, so either one would be fine.

Just a few weeks ago, a fellow here at PWorld messaged me asking about the LX system and what I thought about it. I basically told him about my experience with it, and how happy I was, and pointed him to both websites, and some very good recorded material for the LX.

http://www.grandpianohaus.com/iklavier.asp

He eventually decided to have the LX installed in his very expensive new German Grand Piano, replacing the playback system that was installed by his dealer! PM me for more info on that.

One other point, cost. The LX is much less expensive then it's competition.

If you are looking for the best playback on a solenoid system, the LX is the one, and would certainly be worth looking into. smile

Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299747
01/03/09 07:23 PM
01/03/09 07:23 PM
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Los Angeles, California
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SteveJacobson Offline OP
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I am not set on any one system and I am familiar with the LS and its high quality and superior reproducing capabilities (high definition capability). What I am looking for is a price / value (both functions and quality) comparison between the different systems. What am I getting for the cost and does the extra cost of the Mark IV give me equivalent extra value.

I picked the Mark IV (not the pro) because it appears to be the most popular, has all the possible functionality (except high definition capability) (even if you do not need or want them), by all accounts is a high quality system, and the most expensive. However, as of yet I have been unable to get a good fair and reasonable cost for the Mark IV to base this comparison on.

What is strange is that for almost every other product that I have looked to purchase from real estate to electronic equipment I can easily find comparison information without having to physically go from store to store wasting everyone’s time. Even if I take price out of the equation I cannot find this comparison in an easy to understand format with an explanation of what each function means and a relative ranking of the different systems in each area.

Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299748
01/04/09 02:33 AM
01/04/09 02:33 AM
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Posts: 199
Minneapolis, MN
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Mark Fontana Offline
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The market for player piano systems is so much smaller than the markets for cars, TVs, etc. It's difficult to shop around, and Yamaha in particular doesn't help the situation by granting dealers territorial protection. (There is only one Yamaha dealer serving all of Minnesota, for example.)

The Mark IV is an excellent reproducing piano, but if I were in the market, I'd carefully consider how much I really need all of the features beyond accurate playback. I'd also be concerned about how quickly some components (such as the Linux computer, hard drive, wireless network, tablet/PDA remote, USB interface, CD player, etc.) will become obsolete or fail.

Yamaha has never offered full upgrades from one model of player system to the next while keeping the same piano. While that's not surprising, they do seem to have discontinued some of the more useful upgrade accessories that added functionality to the Mark II and Mark III models (such as the DCD1 CD player).

Although they lack many features of the Mark IV, a key advantage of systems like the Live Performance LX and PianoDisc iQ is that they are headless (i.e. they don't include a user interface); they're compatible with any device that can supply a properly-encoded signal to their analog audio inputs. Such systems will work today with MP3 players, CD players, laptops, whole-house audio systems etc. In the future, they'll continue to work with whatever audio playback technology is popular 5, 10 or even 25+ years from now. By substantially reducing the number of components in these player systems, the number of potential failure points is reduced as well.

The Mark IV's "analog MIDI" inputs would give it similar flexibility, in theory, but I'm skeptical that this much more complicated system (with full Linux computer) will realistically last longer than 15 years unless Yamaha opens the system up for third party development once they stop supporting it themselves. That could happen, but it seems unlikely.

Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299749
01/04/09 06:21 AM
01/04/09 06:21 AM
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Posts: 8
Seattle, WA
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Peter Shank Offline
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Grandpianoman, you said about LX, "It is definitely the best retro-fit system on the market."

Please give some details about how you came to that opinion! Like SteveJacobsen, I can't find anybody saying "LX does such and such very nicely, especially the way they blah blah. On the other hand, PianoDisc does it such and though, which I don't like because it trades away too much foo, without gaining as much baz.

Thanks!

Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299750
01/04/09 12:10 PM
01/04/09 12:10 PM
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S. Jersey
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KevinG Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Mark Fontana:
The Mark IV is an excellent reproducing piano, but if I were in the market, I'd carefully consider how much I really need all of the features beyond accurate playback. I'd also be concerned about how quickly some components (such as the Linux computer, hard drive, wireless network, tablet/PDA remote, USB interface, CD player, etc.) will become obsolete or fail.

The Mark IV's "analog MIDI" inputs would give it similar flexibility, in theory, but I'm skeptical that this much more complicated system (with full Linux computer) will realistically last longer than 15 years unless Yamaha opens the system up for third party development once they stop supporting it themselves. That could happen, but it seems unlikely.
Just to defend the Mark IV a little (and partially to defend my own sensibilities since I bought one!) I wanted to respond to this...

I don't think there should be *much* concern over parts failing. All player systems incorporate parts that may fail. The Yamaha system may, in fact, have more parts, but more on that later. There have been very few instances of failures, and in the rare cases where they have happened, Yamaha has gone above and beyond to cause near immediate replacement. As far as obsolescence, I think the same argument holds true. (Although, of course, with other systems you get to keep your piano... I wonder if someone could take a Disklavier Mark II and retrofit an LX system if they felt like upgrading...why not?) Will parts become obsolete? Sure. Especially the floppy disk. But the networking component (ethernet) will be will us for a long long time.

So, let's say your PDA remote breaks. Then, your tablet controller breaks. What do you do? Well, you use your computer to run the virtual PDA, or my DKVBrowser software to control the piano. That brings me to the next point about Yamaha opening the system to third party development. While they have not opened the server side up, and one could argue that that is what is important, DKVBrowser demonstrates that if Yamaha were to completely abandon the product (and no longer replace PDAs or Tablets) that it isn't the end of the world. While they don't actually support my development, they also haven't interfered.

I think its pretty unlikely that they will completely abandon the product of course, and, in fact, the Linux computer has some expandability which hasn't been tapped yet...

-Kevin


Yamaha DC3M4
Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299751
01/04/09 04:48 PM
01/04/09 04:48 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,726
Portland, Oregon
Grandpianoman Offline
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Portland, Oregon
Hi Peter,

A bit of history is in order here....My enthusiasm comes from my personal experience with the LX system. Wayne Stahnke is known in the player piano world as one of the best, if not the best, inventor/engineer for the player piano system. It is also known that he spent many years as a consultant for Yamaha-Disklavier, and was responsible for many of the systems that make up the the Disklavier you see today. He was also the inventor of the Bosendorfer "SE" player piano system in the 1980's. It was an excellent playback and record system, that has now been re-designed with modern electronics and is once again being sold. In fact, www.zenph.com has purchased a rebuilt older Steinway D that has this newly designed "SE" playback/record system, and will be using that to record some of their work in the future. Perhaps someone who is more familiar with that can comment further.

"A Window in Time" featuring Rachmaninoff's original Ampico Piano rolls transcribed by Mr. Stahnke for the SE, is a wonderful CD if you want to listen to Mr. Stahnke's work for the original SE system. Incidentally, I believe that most all of the high-resolution files/music that were for the original "SE" system, are now available for the LX.

Given all that information, when I found out he was working on a retro-fit system that was going to be very close to the playback quality of the SE system, and it was going to be relatively affordable, I jumped on it. The release of this LX system also happened to coincide with the rebuilding of my 1925 M&Hamlin RBB, which btw, has a complete rebuilt Ampico roll playing system in it as well.

I have heard all of the playback systems out there, and none of them can match the quality and expression capabilities of the LX system. Proportional pedaling is another one of the LX's strength over the competition.

When you hear and see a demostration of the LX, you will understand my enthusiasm! smile

I refer again to the website that has some very well recorded LX material on a Shigeru-Kawai S6, as well as some video. Scroll down to the bottom of the webpage for the links. This is an excellent representation of how well the LX plays.

http://www.grandpianohaus.com/iklavier.asp

Another fact to consider, www.Zenph.com chose www.live-performance.com and the LX system as their exclusive vehicle for the release of their high-resolution files...plus the fact that they are going to use the newly designed "SE" system in a Steinway Grand..that says a lot.

I am hoping the fellow that messaged me a few weeks ago here on PianoWorld, will post some mp3's of the newly installed LX on his new German Grand Piano. He was so disenchanted with the playback system that was installed originally, after hearing the LX and doing some research on it, he decided to replace it with the LX.

I am sure some of the long time readers here at PWorld, and perhaps dealers of other competing systems, are tired of me always praising the LX, and going on and on about it. I make no apologies though because the LX is simply, fantastic, so it's easy to praise it! smile

Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299752
01/05/09 01:38 AM
01/05/09 01:38 AM
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Seattle, WA
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Peter Shank Offline
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Grandpianoman, thanks very much..
In order to hear the superior expressiveness I suppose the ultimate comparison would be to have two pianos side by side, one with LX and the other with Pianodisc et al, and then play back the same file on each. I'm just starting the research on what system to add to the 1979 Knabe 5'7" which will be gracing my living room in a week or two. I will certainly take a CD or two to the local (Seattle) dealers of at least Pianodisc and LX, hoping to make the best comparison possible.
I need recording as well as playback, and I understand the LX system to be a playback system only. Any comments on installing LX as well as a QRS PianoScan or other recorder?

Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299753
01/05/09 08:52 AM
01/05/09 08:52 AM
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CTPianotech Offline
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At this time, I do not believe you can record your playing directly into the LX system for immediate playback.

You should be able to connect your PNOscan to a computer, to create your own MIDI file of your playing. Then you could use Mark Fontana's Mid-2-Piano-CD program to convert that into a format the LX will recognize.

I'm not quite sure how the expression curves from different systems will wind up matching up, so you may have to experiment with some editing there.

That is one of the primary benefits of to having the same system for both functions, whether it be a Disklavier, CEUS, PianoDisc w/TFT, or Pianomation w/PNOscan. They each have their own particular formula for converting a piece of velocity data, into specific volume level that you hear. (this happens with digital pianos also--a recording on one mode/brand, can come out sounding quite different on another without some editing)


To Steve--Yes, PianoDisc and QRS offer the other features you mentioned, in their own ways... You can read more about them at

www.pianodisc.com

or

www.qrsmusic.com

Even after reading through the websites, you'll still have some questions about just what they mean by XYZ.. so feel free to ask.


Rich Lindahl
Piano Restorations in Central CT
www.rivervalleypiano.com
Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299754
01/05/09 02:13 PM
01/05/09 02:13 PM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 49
Los Angeles, California
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SteveJacobson Offline OP
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Thanks for all the input so far,

I was looking at a price comparison for equivalent functionality. It appears that it will be very difficult to look at anything but MSRP because of the differing discounts and the understandable unwillingness to list discount prices.

Using Yamaha Disclavier Mark IV (not the pro and not the tablet) as the base for functionality as a entertainment center (Playback, Record, high level synthesizer, speakers, internet access, storage, wireless personal assistant style remote control, integration of all systems, etc – whatever else) what would it cost, based on MSRP, for the other systems to provide this same functionality. Note: I am using the Mark IV because it appears to be the standard for this type of entertainment center, not because it is necessarily the best.

If possible, a quality comparison for each of these areas of functionality would also be very helpful with the most significant being the quality of playback or reproduction.

I have not found this style of comparison anywhere. I can look at each Web site and understand what each system does but not being an expert it is difficult to build a comparison especially if some of the functions are different and/or need to be customized. Also prices are not listed on the Web sites.

I understand that some of the systems do not provide all the functionality of the Mark IV and that is ok since all the functionality is not required or even wanted, but I would still like to understand what do they provide and what does it cost (MSRP).

I think that this discussion and whatever level of detail provided will be helpful, as a reference or starting point, for everyone looking for these systems. The discussion so far has been very informative.

Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299755
01/05/09 05:21 PM
01/05/09 05:21 PM
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Seattle, WA
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Peter Shank Offline
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Rich, that's an excellent point about mix-n-matching recording and playback files from disparate systems.

Steve, you and I are at the same stage, looking for the same comparisons.
pianodisc.com does a very poor job of explaining the differences between their products and options. At least QRS has http://www.qrsmusic.com/pianomation_compare.html to tell you something substantive about their players. Apparently you can add the (optical) PNOscan recorder to any of the QRS playback systems.
From what I can tell, Pianodisc's answer to the MK IV is their Opus7 product. Their other products have less functionality. Note that their recording mechanism looks to be mechanical (it's called Touch Film Technology)


I'm not yet clear on what QRS products and options you would have to put together to rival the MK IV in functionality. However, note that the QRS record mechanism (PNOscan) is optical; there's no physical contact with the keys, which seems an obvious advantage.

I think the only reliable way to learn the details is to spend a lot of time finding a live knowledgeable dealer and then darken his or door.

Re: Is the Disklavier Mark IV worth almost 2x the cost of some of the other systems #299756
01/05/09 05:23 PM
01/05/09 05:23 PM
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S. Jersey
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KevinG Offline
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Steve,

I appreciate what you are trying to do, but IMHO, sticking to MSRP won't really help in the end...

Since the real price for these systems will be at (potentially) drastic percentage differences from MSRP, your table won't have much value (aside from nicely pointing out the feature differences).

In other words (and I'm making this up...) if a Disklavier Mark IV is MSRP at 12K, but really available at 8K, and an LX system is MSRP at 8K and it isn't available at a discount anywhere, what have we learned by comparing MSRP?

I think what you need to do is figure out what features you need, find the systems that offer those features and negotiate prices until you feel that you have found out all that you can...only then can you make a choice. I'm happy to tell you what I paid for my DC3M4, but since I don't know what a C3 would cost after negotiations, I don't know if it would help...

-Kevin


Yamaha DC3M4
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