Pianocorder controlled from an iPad Pianocorder controlled from a netbook computer
Pianocorder Upgrade Kits

Has your Pianocorder player piano system seen better days? The PLAY button won't stay down? Notes stutter, tapes squeal? As you've discovered, the cassette deck and tapes are the weak link in this 40+ year old system, and they've reached the end of their useful life.

Now it's possible to completely eliminate the cassette player and tapes and control your Pianocorder using your computer, tablet, MP3 player or smartphone. You'll be able to play all of the same music you have on Pianocorder cassettes plus new music available on the Internet in MIDI format (much of it FREE).

How is this possible? The Pianocorder operates from a special audio signal containing a stream of digital data, similar to the sound of a FAX machine. Instead of having the Pianocorder read this control signal from cassette tapes, you can stream the signal to the piano from a modern audio source, such as an iPad. By storing the cassettes electronically, you'll have instant access to any song in your collection. And by translating MIDI files into Pianocorder format, you can play new music on the Pianocorder that was never available on cassettes, vastly expanding the library of available music.


The Pianocorder Upgrade Kit modernizes your Marantz Pianocorder to work with 21st century technology, replacing the outdated cassette deck and tapes with a simple audio connection to the headphone jack of a computer, MP3 player or smartphone located near the piano.

Pianocorder Audio Interface product photo
Logitech Bluetooth Receiver

Connect the interface cable to the optional Logitech Bluetooth receiver, and you can operate your Pianocorder wirelessly from any Bluetooth-equipped portable audio device!

Works perfectly with Apple's iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, as well as many netbooks, laptops and smartphones.


Features

  • Easy installation - Connects to the Pianocorder using a single cable with a push-on connector - no soldering required. Most Pianocorder owners successfully install the kit themselves using the provided instructions. Assistance is available by phone if needed.
  • Better reliability - Plays Pianocorder tapes more reliably than the cassette deck. Plus, many glitches and inconsistencies present in the original cassettes have been corrected for superior playback.
  • No permanent modifications required - The cassette deck can be stored away and re-installed at any time.
  • Accompaniment support - A second 3.5mm stereo jack on the interface box permits connecting powered speakers near the piano for ensemble playback (music in which the piano is accompanied by other instruments).
  • A cleaner look for your piano - No more bulky, obsolete cassette deck hanging under your piano's keyboard.
  • Future-proof - Can be connected to any audio source equipped with a mini headphone jack. The modular design of this kit makes it easy to integrate the Pianocorder with a wide variety of audio products, including audio distribution systems and wireless receivers. When an audio source becomes obsolete, just plug the interface cable into whatever technology is current!
Pianocorder Audio Interface Cable connected to Pianocorder playback board

The Standard Pianocorder Upgrade Kit

The Standard version of the kit includes everything you need to control your Pianocorder from a wired audio connection:


The Wireless Pianocorder Upgrade Kit

The Wireless version of the kit includes everything in the Standard kit but also includes the Logitech Bluetooth receiver. If your computer or mobile device can stream audio via Bluetooth (most can), going wireless provides these benefits:

The receiver is compatible with most Bluetooth audio sources, including Apple's iPad/iPhone/iPod touch, tablet computers, smartphones, and Bluetooth-equipped laptops and netbooks. As the Logitech Bluetooth receiver available on this site ships with a North American (dual blade 120 Volt) power adapter, in other regions of the world, it may be easiest to purchase the Bluetooth receiver locally so that it comes with the appropriate style of plug.

Your computer or mobile device must have Bluetooth capability to transmit to this receiver. It is usually easiest to set up devices that have built-in Bluetooth support, such as Apple's iPad. You can add Bluetooth to most desktop and laptop computers using an inexpensive USB device (not included), but the ease of use varies among these products.


Downloads


Purchase

Availability: In stock for immediate shipping

Order online by credit card using the PayPal links below, or take $10 off the prices below by sending the funds to me by email address (using Zelle, a free online banking feature of major U.S. banks) or by check or money order (contact me for the payment address), as a thank-you for reducing my payment processing expenses. Demonstrations and local pickup are available in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area.

Standard Pianocorder Upgrade Kit

Includes Pianocorder Audio Interface Cable, illustrated installation and usage instructions, Pianocorder cassette library backup files, and installation/usage support by phone and email. Shipping is free!

Select your location:
Select the device you plan to use with your Pianocorder system:

Wireless Pianocorder Upgrade Kit

Includes everything the Standard kit does plus the Logitech Bluetooth adapter for wireless streaming to the Pianocorder. Ensure that your computer or mobile device is equipped with Bluetooth before ordering. Shipping is free!

Select your location:
Select the device you plan to use with your Pianocorder system:

If you are purchasing a Wireless Kit outside North America, I recommend that you purchase the Standard kit here, then follow the appropriate link below to purchase the Logitech Bluetooth Receiver locally from Amazon or a similar local retailer. This will ensure that you receive a unit with the appropriate power adapter for your country.

Australia      France      Germany      Japan      The Netherlands      United Kingdom

 

Questions and Answers

Q: My Pianocorder is currently broken. How can I be sure that this kit will fix it?
A: Most Pianocorder systems fail due to mechanical problems with the cassette player (e.g. PLAY button won't stay down) or the tapes. If you can get the Pianocorder to play even a little bit by messing with the cassette player during playback, holding the PLAY button down, etc. then this kit will likely solve your problems. Keep in mind that once the system is playing again, other components of the Pianocorder may require adjustment or repair. The Pianocorder service documentation I've placed online in PDF format will be a useful resource to you or your technician in troubleshooting the system. I also maintain a list of Pianocorder technicians who can repair your system.

Q: Can I install the kit myself?
A: Installation is quick and easy using the illustrated instructions included with the kit. Most Pianocorder owners install the kit themselves, since it involves only push-on connectors (no soldering) and is perfectly safe as long as you ensure the Pianocorder is unplugged. If you doubt your abilities, a tech-savvy friend or family member can help, or you can hire a local technical assistance contractor such as the Geek Squad. A piano tuner or technician is generally not needed unless the piano itself requires regulation work or other maintenance.

Q: How can I play my Pianocorder tapes once the cassette deck has been removed?
A: I'll provide you with equivalent digital files for the cassettes you own, giving you easy access to any song in your entire collection.

Q: Will I still be able to use the recording feature of my Pianocorder?
A: No. The Pianocorder's recording feature, present only on some installations, was never a strongpoint of the product. It was implemented with delicate wire switches and employed a simple microphone to measure expression. Most Pianocorder owners rarely used the recording feature. To keep the upgrade kit affordable, the hardware supports only one-way communication to the piano. If you're interested in upgrading the recording feature to a more flexible MIDI-based system, check out the kits available from MIDI 9.

Q: Can I use a CD or DVD player to run the Pianocorder instead of a computer or MP3 player?
A: Yes, this will work fine, but no material is available for purchase on CDs, so you'll have to burn your own. I can explain the steps to convert MIDI files and Pianocorder cassettes to CDs, but you will need to do the work yourself. Keep in mind you will get only 74 minutes of playing time per CD, so it would take many CDs to hold a significant collection of music; using an MP3 player or computer to manage playback is generally much more convenient. A possible compromise might be to burn Pianocorder-encoded MP3 files to a data CD or DVD and play them in a device that supports discs containing MP3 files.

Q: Can I play CDs or downloadable audio streams designed for newer player piano systems, such as Disklavier, PianoDisc, or Pianomation?
A: Not currently. The material would need to be converted first, and some of these companies refuse to permit such interoperability.

Q: Will this kit let me play songs from regular audio CDs or streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify on my Pianocorder?
A: No. Converting a regular audio recording of a musical performance into commands to control a player piano is actually a difficult artificial intelligence problem. It's basically asking the piano to automatically "play by ear". There probably won't be any satisfactory solutions to this problem for at least 15-20 years. Until then, player pianos like the Pianocorder can only play material specifically designed for playback on electronic musical instruments.

Q: Where can I buy albums with piano and synchronized audio accompaniment to play on this system?
A: There are two sources: This eBay seller, and company WebOnlyPiano.com. Both can supply their content in the form of Pianocorder-format MP3 files upon request.

Q: Can I use a different Bluetooth receiver with the interface cable?
A: Possibly, but several commonly-available Bluetooth receivers from companies like Belkin were tested and found to contain flaws that prevent the Pianocorder from playing reliably (or even at all). The Logitech Bluetooth receiver has proven itself to be the most reliable solution on the market.

Q: What sort of warranty or guarantee is offered?
A: The kit is tested thoroughly before shipment. If the hardware is dead on arrival, I will replace it if there is no evidence of misuse. I will also accept returns on working units for the first 30 days after receipt if you discover that the piano needs other work to operate properly and do not want to proceed with those repairs. In addition, I will repair or replace any unit that fails within the first year after receipt. Repair or replacement beyond the first year will be offered for a reasonable fee, subject to availability of parts. The purchaser is responsible for shipping on all returns.

Q: How can I be sure this product will fix my Pianocorder?
A: If you can get your Pianocorder to play a little bit by adjusting the cassette player, this kit is what you need; it will eliminate any problems you've been having with the cassettes and tape deck. However, once the Pianocorder is playing again, you may find that additional components require adjustment, repair or replacement for optimal results. If you cannot get the Pianocorder to play a little bit, please contact me at the email address below before ordering a kit and I will help you troubleshoot.

Q: Is there an iOS/Android app to control the Pianocorder?
A: An iPad app is in the planning stages; details will be posted on this page when available. In the meantime, you can still operate a Pianocorder directly from any mobile device by playing the specially-encoded MP3 files I supply.

Q: Can I use this kit with an external ("Vorsetzer") Pianocorder system?
A: Yes. The kit is compatible with all models of internal and external Pianocorder systems.

Q: Is the kit compatible with the Superscan Display Console accessory for displaying lyrics?
A: Yes. Text and graphics will be displayed the same as always. In fact, if using WINAMP to control the Pianocorder, the Superscan will display information and graphics even when playing songs that did not originally contain this material. It will also display the lyrics embedded in karaoke MIDI files.

Q: The kit seems kind of expensive...
A: Because this is a low-volume, niche market product, these kits cannot be mass-produced in China and supported by an overseas call center. Each unit is made and tested by hand in the United States. A portion of the cost supports the development of software such as the Pianocorder plug-in for WINAMP. Also, keep in mind that replacing the Pianocorder with a newer electronic player system would typically cost at least $5000.


Contact

If you have any questions, you can reach me by email at
Image of email address mfontana at pianocorder.info

Thanks for visiting,
Mark Fontana