CES 2023: Piano with hovering surround sound

Roland Corporation celebrates its 50th anniversary by creating a wild concept piano with built-in 14-channel sound - and four flying speakers!

By / 6 January 2023 - 11:00 am
CES 2023: Piano with hovering surround sound

Although we love music, we don’t often write about musical instruments at L&B Tech Reviews. But we couldn’t resist the digital piano showcased by Japan’s Roland at CES 2023.

Roland Corporation was founded in April 1972, and they’re marking their anniversary with the 50th Anniversary Concept Piano, which is currently on display in Las Vegas. The piano is built from bonded together wooden staves and looks exceptionally organic and stylish.

Most interesting for a technology magazine like us, though, is the sound system. There are a whopping 14 sound channels built into the wooden cabinet itself, which, with the help of DSP, makes it possible to create a “sound bubble” around the piano player – much like we’re familiar with the 3D sound of the best soundbars.

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The built-in speakers transmit sound in all directions, giving the experience of sitting in a "bubble" of sound. (Photo: Roland Corporation)

But that’s not all. To add to the concert hall feel – and probably also a little bit to impress the audience – the 50th anniversary piano has four hovering surround speakers mounted in drones that fly close to the pianist when playing softly – and float out into the room when playing forte.

We’re used to seeing drone speakers, but it’s usually in the sense of passive bass units. In Roland’s case, the term suddenly takes on a whole new meaning!

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Four speaker drones hover around the extreme concept piano. (Photo: Roland Corporation)

To make it all work together, Roland had to invent their own wireless audio protocol for the flying speakers. And a patent has been filed for the system that automatically adjusts the drones’ flight distance according to sound levels and room acoustics.

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