This Astonishing Digital Piano Uses “Flying Drones” as Speakers

Speakers for any modern devices are typically built right in to the device, but Roland is thinking outside the box—or piano—for their 50th anniversary.

The fabled electronic musical instrument company debuted its ambitious digital piano concept piano at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The piano features a sleek body made of Japanese oak with a touch panel in the lid, and it hides a 14-speaker, 360° system, per Engadget.

But the unit's standout feature is its innovative flying drone speakers, which "hover over the piano" and "bathe the player in a sound shower." The speakers are said to float around and change positions, communicating with the piano on a low-latency channel developed in-house by Roland.

Roland's 50th anniversary digital piano concept.

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But how feasible are drones when implemented as speakers? After all, the drones do have to fly, which means they'll emit wind and propeller noise as they hover around any given player's head. Roland says they're still a bit loud, but they'll be upgraded as quiet drone technology becomes available. 

"In this 50th Anniversary Concept Model, we've developed and installed cutting-edge sound field realization technology," said Yoshiyasu Kitagawam, head of Roland's Piano Development Division. "Beginning with the EP-10, we installed sounds from 1973, the RD-1000, JD-800, V-Piano, SuperNATURAL, and other historical sounds. This allows you to relive the evolution of technology since the introduction of the digital piano in 1973."

Watch the digital piano in action below. 

Tagsterms:RolandPianosGearBy Lennon Cihak

Lennon is a music journalist who has contributed to for over five years. A seasoned music business reporter, his writings bridge the gap between education and technology through a musical lens. He is also the host of the music business podcast When Life Hands You Lennons and founder of his own electronic music website, EDM In A Soda.

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