THE HISTORY OF QRS MUSIC TECHNOLOGY
QRS was founded in 1900 by Melville Clark (of Story & Clark piano fame) who developed the player piano as we know it today. QRS supplied music rolls to the player piano market, with production peaking in 1927, when QRS Music Company sold 10 million rolls.
The player piano’s heyday lasted from 1900 until the Great Depression in the 1930s. The poverty of the Great Depression, along with the development of affordable radios (which started becoming commonplace around 1927) effectively ended player piano production. However, the demand for rolls continued and was reinvigorated in the 1950s when people began restoring old player pianos. QRS remains the only manufacturer of piano rolls in the world today.
In 1986, QRS began focusing on new technologies, and in 1989 released its first digital retrofit player piano kit under the Pianomation™ name. Today QRS is an industry leader in introducing fun innovations in home musical entertainment. QRS Music Technologies became a public company in 1996.
All of QRS’s PNOmation Player Piano Systems are designed to complement the life of your piano. Since you will more than likely own the piano for a long time or want to sell it at a reasonable value you’ll want to know that the player inside compliments its life. There are three things to look at in that respect – the components – are they built to tolerances and with materials that can handle the various climates and conditions while being played over a long period of time, the manufacturers history of offering an upgrade path to the latest technology without an expensive replacement, the manufactures history in the business and the music library. QRS’s PNOmation is the only system that since its introduction has been offering a migration path to the latest technology. Its use of the finest components allows the customer the confidence to move forward with an upgrade with knowledge that the rest of the system remains solid. QRS’s use of longer fully encased solenoids with Teflon impregnated solenoid plungers delivers much more accurate control over the range of motion. They also resist corrosion and are self-lubricating. A lost motion cap on the bottom insures proper throw that without can never guarantee you are delivering the dynamic called for. Next is dynamics – a longer plunger and solenoid delivers more accurately the dynamic called out for in the music. This dynamic can be of the new standard HD MIDI or the old MIDI. QRS supports both.
Controller technology traditionally has referred to the Box that hangs on the piano where you insert your media. The problem is the only people that love those boxes are the people who design them. After all who wants a box hanging under their grand piano? QRS has seen the writing on the wall for some time now and completely migrated to an embedded web app system. While our competitors are selling CDs and Floppies or falsely relying on an internet connection to stream music, we have taken the bold step to include all of our content on board. No hiccups in playback, easy to navigate, easy to control all aspects of your player system -with a simple touch screen user interface. No reliance on a network connection to the outside world and instant purchases of your content. Don’t be fooled by competitors who also sell Apple products as an interface have the following issues we do not. They force the use of ITunes – so now a PC or Mac is required – your player music is mixed with your regular music – another thing to think about and plan around, the music has to be transmitted from the device (iPad or iPhone) to the piano – it’s not on the piano – so you have to be in range – on the same network … and the stream cannot be interrupted. Then of course you want to be able to control all aspects of your pianos performance – which is simply not doable with the built in media player; we mean all aspects not just a speaker and piano adjustment – from record to solenoid alignments. And last but not least we do not lock you into one brand of product – any Wi-Fi enabled device will control your piano. Really it’s that simple.
The PNOmation Playback Bundle
• Includes all you need to have your piano play itself.
• PNOmation Playback Engine, Controller and Processor.
• Speaker for background music.
• WiFi interface for network integration or stand alone mode.
• Pin Light Port Extension (PLx) – Status, I/O Ports, USB, Headphones, Mic or Laptop.
• Voice Prompt feedback.
• IR Remote.
The best record technologies sense the movement of the keys continuously. This means they see the entire movement of the key up and down. That data can then be used to set trigger points and assign controller values. Leaving the most accurate recording possible. The sensors also need to be non-evasive, in other words nothing effects the touch of the key, there is no mechanical link to cause potential noise or breakage. Adding weight to the key is a way to add sensors but they modify the touch of the action and action repairs become a problem. There are several types of recording technologies currently used are hall effect, flag, tft, optic – flag being the most popular and cheapest is used by the Japanese and some Korean knock offs of an early Gulbransen strip. TFT has a mechanical element to it and has been shown to be inaccurate. The only real solution is an optical sensor – but even these have issues unless you are able to filter out the noise from lights, smoke, radios and adjoining sensors. QRS’s patents speak to this capability – without it the setup of an optic sensor is much too delicate a procedure and prone to hot notes, false triggers and erroneous events. PNOscan is by far the best product ever produced for recording a performance on an acoustic piano. Recently long distance learning has been pushed. Off the shelf products accessories make it happen. These products are available to QRS. QRS’s systems are compatible if this is the direction you want to go.
PNOscanTM MIDI record strip is designed to be a valuable high-performance solution for discerning musicians and composers yet is reasonably priced enough and practical for everyday use by piano students, music teachers or anyone who wants to save their piano performances or recitals. Recordings can be output as standard MIDI files or on the QRS PNOmation® player piano system for more dynamic playback.
The music library should be a huge factor in your buying decision. It is not only the quantity of music but most importantly the quality, artists and variety. QRS has been in the player piano content business for over 112 years. In the days of the old roll player pianos QRS was the largest and most recognized music company in the world analogous to today’s Sony’s and BMI’s. QRS has the largest and most famous player piano music library in the world. Many of the greatest artists of the 20th century recorded for the QRS Music Roll Company. We still make rolls today. The best of these recordings are available to you today on PNOmation IIs player systems. QRS does not stop there, it has patented music technologies that ensure their leadership well into the next 20 years. Their QRS SyncAlong technologies allow your piano to play along with the popular music you love today in audio or video form. Nobody else has the SyncAlong capabilities that QRS does, QRS’s competitors answers to our offerings are at best convoluted and of questionable quality requiring the end user -you – to do most of the work. QRS has 4 times as much SyncAlong type content than its competitors. The competitors treat it as more of a “me too” sales item than serious content for the consumer. Our competitors solution is a CD and a 3.5 inch floppy, and others require you to download several files, use ITunes, merge the two with an app… the others simply do not have an answer. All that said QRS still pursues artists for recording and continues to produce solo and performance content that is relevant to today’s music consumer.