Player Piano Power Roll
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As it looks when set up in the piano


The "Poweroll" or e-roll, short for electronic roll is the latest and greatest welding together of old and new as I see it. Only in March 2000 did I receive my "Poweroll" as you see on this page and in the short time that I have had it I would say it is the greatest thing I have seen so far in the field of computer technolgy, being able to play the Reproducing piano, or any player piano for that matter. In a nutshell it's simply "Amazing". Let me explain my experience with it so far. 10/6/2000


The poweroll is quite easy to install and in all it's entirety is very simple to use, below you will see an image of the underside of the unit which shows the row of holes and gasket matching the trackerbar holes on pianos with nine holes per inch, which is the standard for most players.

As you can see there is provision for the Duo-Art Reproducing piano expression as well. There is 100 holes in total. The unit is self contained with all it's working's within itself of which I find quite amazing. Congratulations to Larry Broadmore for his development of this wonderful device. Larry can be contacted at the Broadmore Research Co. and he is very helpful in answering anymore questions that you may have in regard to the Poweroll. I am guess that the other set of holes that you see above the gasket are for fitting the Poweroll in the drawer of a Grand Piano ie: Ampico, Welte or Duo-Art.

You can also see where the unit is able to be adjusted to each type of piano, as every spool box is different. Once this has been done (which can take a little while and a bit fiddly) but once done it would only take me about one minute to convert the piano back to playing paper rolls, it's that easy! Once the unit is in place it is then only a matter of plugging it into the power supply and computer and "bingo" it's going.

The image you see above is the list of titles you choose from in the windows enviroment of an IBM. The program is called "Windplay" and written specifically for the Poweroll by Richard Brandle. It is then just a matter of clicking with the mouse the title you wish to play, upon which the file is loaded, the piano starts up and plays. New files can be added by clicking the add button.

This image shows the actual roll playing on the monitor in realtime, just like the paper version. The info below the roll tells us what the vacuum levels are in the bass & treble, midi levels, sustain/soft pedal on or off, and even how far we are through the roll. You can adjust the tempo, you can pause the music, stop the roll, keep a track of where you are in the roll, etc. If you look to the right of the roll you will see that we are half way through this roll. At anytime you can drag the button up and down to any place in the roll that you desire.

 

This is part of the midi interface which connects the Computer to the Poweroll. The black midi cable is going to the poweroll while the Roland interface comes from the computer.

 

 

 

 

This is the piano that I have the Poweroll playing at present, it is a 1924 "Marshall & Wendell" Upright model A Ampico. That I totally rebuilt 3 years ago, and only this year has had more piano work done to it (it sounds superb).

 

 

I also have the editing version called "Wind" where I can create my own piano rolls and has proven to be a lot of fun so far, although I haven't had enough time to devot to it as yet. Creating your own rolls is no 5 minute job....... Although you can import midi files in and create rolls straight from them, and if their the right midi type & format they come out just fine. It really is amazing to hear music on the piano when a roll hasn't even been made of it. For instance I have down loaded a lot of compositions of a young 11 year old Japanese girl and now have them playing on my piano, in fact one of them is playing in the background.

This is the editing window of "Wind" (above)

This is a roll of the midi file you hear playing in the background that I have put expression coding to for the "Ampico"

The mind is blown away with the potential of all this technology and musical compositions that can now be played on the "Ampico". You see any of this music I create I can also put expression coding into the roll (and even take it out, ever heard of a punch that takes out holes!!!, this one can) I have already done a portion of one piece of music and I am astounded at the results, and I'm having fun to boot. My 11 year old son has even created his own piece with this editing program, Although it is quite simple it goes to show who can use this technolgy!!

It should be noted that the Poweroll can be played on any pneumatic player regardless of it's shape or size or hole spacing, it can be ordered to fit whatever you want, not bad hey! It is well set up for all the major reproducing piano's, Ampico, DuoArt, Welte, Recordo, and there is already a wealth of music out there for these instuments. I bought a CD of some 540 rolls off Wayne Stanke with 320 Ampico, balance in Welte, DuoArt & 88 note rolls. It all came on one CD and took up about 12 meg of space, not much when a CD can hold 650 meg. Can you imagine how much space 540 rolls would take up?? Also there is many rare pieces amounst them, and the price is very reasonable, especially considering the price of paper rolls.

To sum up, I hardly ever play a paper roll now and I doubt that I'll bother unless I want to listen to a roll that I don't have on the computer. After listening to both I believe the poweroll plays the music better than the paper version.

  1. For one you don't have the roll turning so there is less noise in softer passages.
  2. Because the roll isn't turning, about 30% less suction is needed so I have adjusted my zero's down even further on the Ampico than I would for paper rolls hence the dynamic range has been stretched, if you like.

The results I am getting from this piano simply amaze me. I thought when I first got it going about 3 years ago I couldn't get much better, but I have to report, it's got heaps better. I have to admit it was in need of a little adjustment prior to putting the Poweroll on it, and the arrival of it prompted me to get it spot on.

I really like being able to make a selection of music and have it contiually play for my family while we have tea or are just sitting back relaxing, there is no need to get up to change a roll, the music just lingers on. Yes it sounds just like a CD player doesn't it, well it will play songs at random or sequentially until it runs out of selections. "It's great". I find myself listening to it a lot more now because I don't have to get up to chance a roll. In fact I just about have to kick the kids off to get ago. I have seen my 6 year old go to the computer play a section of a roll, stop the roll then go over to the piano and play a portion of what he just heard (I think it was the start of Chopins Waltz in E Flat) simply amazing. My kids love classical music, probably just as well! One popular roll that stands out in my mind is one played by Adam Carroll "Theres a Small Hotel" #215791 I have heard it on paper roll, although I don't have it myself. But I don't remember it sounding quite like the Poweroll plays it, or maybe it was the piano I heard it on? I don't know. Anyway if you get a chance to hear the reproducing piano via this midi interface, don't pass it up it's well worth going out of your way to hear one.


Now playing: "You And Me" by Yuko Ohigashi 11 year old Japanase piano student playing her own composition. I have this playing on the Ampico and have coded it for expression.

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