Live-Performance model LX
Wayne Stahnke - Scientist and Inventor
While visiting Disneyland at the age of 13, Wayne Stahnke stood mesmerized as he witnessed a player piano in action. He thought to himself, “They had a player piano – and it was playing all these notes, with perfect accuracy, and amazing rapidity!” Right at that moment something clicked in his brain. That click was the beginning of his fascination for building an ingenious piano reproducing system.
After earning a degree in electrical engineering from U.C. Berkeley and enjoying a successful career as a software engineer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Stahnke returned to his dream of designing and building a reproducing piano system. “I wanted to build one that recorded and played in a way that would satisfy the finest musicians,” he said. It took more than a decade for his designs to evolve into the state-of-the-art Bösendorfer SE reproducing concert grand piano. After nearly 25 years it is still the best of all reproducing piano systems. Pianist Earl Wild said of the SE, “The reproduction is wonderful. It reigns supreme over any reproducing piano I’ve ever played, and I’ve played every kind over the last 50 years.”
After the Bösendorfer SE, Stahnke turned his attention to creating a new method of transferring historic piano roll performances to high-resolution digital data. After perfecting his results, Mr. Stahnke has captured hundreds of performances with superior quality; the best-known of his translations is the Telarc recording, "A Window in Time: Sergei Rachmaninoff". This solo piano recording is considered by many to be one of the 10 best solo piano recordings ever made.
Stahnke’s latest endeavor, the LX by Live Performance, is by far the most extraordinary piano reproducing system of its time. This system heralds as one of the most exciting developments in the reproducing piano industry in the past 30 years. There are absolutely no words to describe the extraordinary musicality of this Live Performance LX. Never before was it possible to reproduce ALL the nuances of a concert performance. From the delicate pianissimo to the thunderous fortissimo, all the dynamics are reproduced in high-resolution format. Proportional pedaling reproduces the fine pedal shadings that are so important to piano music.
The LX uses the latest in digital electronics technology that as of a few years ago would have been impossible to implement. This makes it possible for the first time to build a high-resolution reproducing piano system at an affordable price. Unique Features only found on the LX by Live Performance retrofit reproducing piano system: High Resolution:The new LX system has 1024 dynamic levels with a keyboard sample rate of 800 samples/second, far more than the 127 levels or even 15 levels used in other piano playing kits.
Stahnke is the inventor of proportional pedaling, which he developed originally for use on the Bösendorfer SE, and he uses a similar high-bandwidth closed-loop solenoid design to reproduce the subtlest and most delicate of pedaling effects. The LX has 256 pedal positions, which are updated at a rate of 100 samples/second. Competing systems use simple on-off pedaling.Hidden Mechanism:The LX playing mechanism is completely hidden from view. The note solenoids and their associated electronics reside within a cutout in the keybed. Only the solenoid mounting rail is visible under the keybed.
The LX’s hidden mechanism allows the use of conventional trapwork in a reproducing piano for the first time. Grand pianos retrofitted with the LX system exhibit the same “look and feel” underneath as conventional grand pianos, making use of the level arrangement that has been universal in piano construction for well over 100 years. Such trapwork is extremely robust and is free from problems that arise from the unusual trapwork required by other playing mechanisms, such as loss of the sostenuto pedal function and the need for frequent service to keep the sustaining pedal in adjustments.
The LX system solves the problem of keybed integrity that comes about from the need to cut the keybed to allow the note solenoids access to the keys. Conventional playing mechanisms do not attempt to remedy the loss of support that ensues, with consequences that the regulation of the piano action can come and go with changes in atmospheric temperature and humidity. The solenoid rail on the LX system is a rigid steel structure that is attached to the keybed across its width, thereby restoring the structural integrity that was present before installation.
The LX system can play back every CD ever made for reproducing pianos, except for encrypted CDs (which by law cannot be played). Five different data formats are supported:LX (Live Performance’s proprietary high-resolution format)Disklavier (Yamaha)PianoDisc (except for encrypted CDs)Pianomation (Q.R.S.)Pianocorder (available on cassette tape or CD)The LX system was designed over the past 10 years and thus utilizes advances in high-tech digital electronics, yielding a compact and robust design. The LX will give many years of pleasure without need for service or calibration. With the combination of proportional sustain pedaling and hi-resolution note solenoids, the LX yields superb musicality that is above and beyond any other conventional reproducing piano system. You’ll have to hear it for yourself.