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Yamaha’s fantastical self-playing pianos add a whole new dimension: multiroom audio

Yamaha’s self-playing Disklavier pianos have been thrilling music lovers for decades. Offering realistic playback of virtually any piece imaginable, the Disklaviers are less like player pianos and more like the instrumental embodiment of the ghosts of pianists past. With the new Enspire line, however, the instruments will set out to conquer a whole new echelon in the musical world: multiroom audio.

You heard us right. Announced Thursday at IFA in Berlin, the Enspire pianos will be the first of their kind to join Yamaha’s MusicCast multiroom audio network, allowing listeners to experience music in whole new ways.

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“With the significant rise in popularity of whole home audio, it was only a matter of time that the piano would join the complement of entertainment services available to homeowners,” said Roger Eaton, chief marketing director of Yamaha Corporation of America, in a statement. “Yamaha MusicCast significantly enhances the value proposition for the Disklavier Enspire, enabling our customers to experience great piano performances anywhere in their homes, and control them right from their mobile device.”

A direct competitor to systems like Sonos and DTS’ Play-Fi, MusicCast was rolled out by the veteran music company in August 2015, launching with more than 20 pieces, including stand-alone wireless speakers, receivers, and even audiophile-grade shelf speakers in the NX-N500. Since then, the Wi-Fi based system has expanded to more than 30 devices, allowing users to stream hi-res music throughout the home to a wide variety of devices.

While the Disklavier series might not strike most listeners as part of MusicCast’s natural evolution, the addition certainly offers some intriguing ways to take advantage of Yamaha’s multiroom system. With services like Yamaha’s Disklavier library, users can stream thousands of tracks from a wide variety of artists and, using the MusicCast app, the music can also be streamed to MusicCast-compatible wireless speakers throughout the home.

In addition, Yamaha’s reps told us that users could potentially add the WXC-50 preamplifier or WXA-50 amplifier to power a pair of traditional speakers, allowing owners to stream musical accompaniments in the background, while the piano takes center stage as a solo instrument. It’s a novel way to use a Disklavier, but one that could make for some real fun for those that have the dough. And if you can afford a Disklavier — which start at around $30,000  — you probably do.

Along with the MusicCast upgrade, of course, the Enspire has all sorts of tricks up its sleeve, including USB audio recording, self-calibration, and a controller app that has access to more than 500 songs and over 6,000 performances. There’s also Disklavier TV, which allows users to connect the system to live performances like the Monterey Jazz Fest, for a live re-creation of the performances right in your living room. And with the silent mode, players can strap on headphones and practice without disturbing others at the touch of a button.

Out now, the Enspire’s MusicCast firmware upgrade is expected to be added in late 2016. You can find out more about the Disklavier Enspire pianos here.