The MPiano from Austria's Alpha Pianos is an elegant, futuristic concept study that's actually heading for production. The 88-key digital controller was developed in partnership with the Porsche Design Studio and features adjustable keyboard action so that musicians can choose precisely how the device feels to play, from the solid, weighty keys of a concert grand to a light and springy tabletop synth.
The "M" in the product name is for mechatronic, which refers to a system of adjustable electronic actuators beneath each of the keys that allow the playing character of the keyboard to be altered. By setting key resistance, the feel of instruments like a grand piano, a church organ or a modern synth can be reproduced.
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The keys are also touch-sensitive to allow for MIDI expression or control, meaning that musicians don't need to take a playing hand away from the keyboard to activate or tweak modulation and parameter settings, such things can be achieved by sliding a finger up or down the key.
Despite its name, the MPiano is not a digital piano, but a keyboard controller that influences music creation software running on connected hardware. The dedicated iPad stand on the instrument reinforces this idea, and all controls and parameters for the controller are adjusted using an iOS mobile app interface over Wi-Fi. Polyphonic aftertouch, pedal commands, keyboard splits, pitch adjustment, MIDI channels and more can be set using the app.
Recently receiving a Red Dot Award for product design, Alpha Pianos demonstrated the first prototype at Frankfurt's Musikmesse in March and told us that series production is due to start in late summer (Northern Hemisphere). Though no pricing information has been revealed, we're betting this is not going to be a wallet-friendly instrument.
Source: Alpha PianoView gallery - 12 images