Phillips e-roll MIDI files - Q and A
For quality piano music
1. I've heard MIDI files of piano rolls but was not impressed.
The quality of reproduction of a MIDI file of a piano roll depends on many things. Obviously the original roll recording is a factor, as are the means of converting it to a MIDI file suitable for playing on a modern MIDI instrument. This process has two stages, the first to obtain a MIDI file of the roll, as explained below, the second to convert the expression coding on the roll to MIDI velocity values. If both these processes are done well, the deciding factor is the piano the file is being played on. We use a Disklavier Pro in a C5 grand piano, chosen because this high-end instrument has the best MIDI player mechanism. It is able to bring out fast repetitions, delicate soft playing without note drop out and it will faithfully reproduce the note dynamics.

2. Why a roll reader and not photo imaging or scanning?
Optical or photo imaging scans are done by stepping a piano roll past a fixed camera or optical scanning element. When done well, this process produces an accurate MIDI file of the piano roll data which can be used to operate a MIDI-controlled perforator to produce duplicate rolls. However, this process does not provide MIDI files that can be played on a piano. The download page has a document (About the MIDI files) that explains this in greater detail. It also gives more reasons for using a roll reader.

3. What is meant by "optimised for mechanical pianos"?

The internet offers a lot of free MIDI music (including scans of piano rolls) that is often best suited for a MIDI sound generator or computer. Our MIDI files of piano rolls were developed from the outset for use on a mechanical piano. Each file was monitored during recording on a mechanical piano and the volume range is set to suit a typical Disklavier or PianoDisc. They sound fine when played "electronically", but are at their best on a real piano. See
sample files page for sample files to try on your piano.

4. Piano rolls! Surely this is old fashioned music?
The classical works are timeless as are many of the popular songs. As well, pianists of the time 'interpreted' music, giving a refreshing look at well-known pieces. Some of the roll recordings were made in 1905, by legendary artists. Anyone wanting to explore the piano repertoire will find piano roll recordings an ideal way, as there is a wealth of material, along with interpretations that can give a whole new view of a well-known work.

5. I only want a few files. Can this be arranged?
Please email us. We can usually make some arrangements to suit you.

6. What support do you offer?
We've been selling e-roll files since 1980. We guarantee our products, we're committed to answering all emails daily, and have a history of providing full support for our products.

7. What plans are there for more MIDI files?
We intend offering more MIDI files as they are produced. The collection is now of such as size that finding rolls we have not recorded is becoming difficult. Be assured however that the recording process will continue.
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Roll reader