The P-45 is Yamaha’s brand new digital piano, which replaces the previous P-35 model as the new entry-level product in the huge catalog of the Japanese manufacturer. First announced at NAMM 2015, the 88-key weighted action digital piano is now available worldwide at the MSRP price of $499 and currently represents one of the most affordable solutions on the market. It shares all the core-functions with the older Yamaha P-35, adding some new interesting features like the USB connector, which allows you to use the piano as a MIDI controller, and the doubled polyphony, which returns more expression and a richer piano sound.
Let’s take a deeper look at the main features of this new product in the popular P-Series.
Below, please enjoy using the interactive table below to compare the Yamaha P45 to other great digital pianos available on the market:
$ = $500 or less | $$ = $500 – $1,000 | $$$ = $1,000 and up
|Yamaha P-45||88||25 lbs.||$||4.8/5|
|Yamaha DGX-660||88||46 lbs.||$$||5.0/5|
|Yamaha P-115||88||26 lbs.||$$||4.7/5|
|Korg SP170s||88||26 lbs.||$||4.6/5|
|Casio PX-160||88||25.5 lbs.||$||4.7/5|
Unboxing the Yamaha P45
The Yamaha P-45 digital piano comes with the following:
- P-45 digital piano (only available in Black finish)
- PA-150B AC adaptor
- FC-5 footswitch-style sustain pedal
- Music rest
- User manual
Before we move on, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling digital pianos currently available on Amazon (and see well they compare to the P-45 as you continue through this review):
Right after the unboxing, it’s easy to notice the similarities between the new P-45 it’s predecessor: the P-45 is built on the design of the P-35 and shares the same compact, lightweight chassis (only 25 pounds) which lies the renowned Yamaha’s GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) keyboard.
Thanks to its heavier touch in the low-end and lighter touch in the high-end, this weighted action keyboard is the perfect choice for beginners who want to learn the basics and for intermediate musicians who want to practice and strengthen their technique with the same touch and feel of a real piano.
Also from the P-35 is the same AWM (Advanced Wave Memory) sound engine, which offers two great, clear, and realistic acoustic piano tones, two electric piano sounds, two organ models, two harpsichord variations, a strings patch and the Yamaha’s classic vibraphone tone.
Also returning in the same location of the previous model are the main controls (Power Switch, Master Volume and the multi-use Function button), and the two-6W integrated speakers, while on the rear side we find the new USB-to-host connector replacing the older MIDI I/O, which is a modern way to play and record your music using a computer.
Unfortunately, the available controls are not enough to turn the P-45 into a real master keyboard, but at least the built-in USB port allows you to save money for an external USB/MIDI interface and compensate for the ordinary lack of a built-in audio recorder, which is surely a shame for a 2015 product.
88 SHADES OF A GRAND PIANO
Under the fingers, the new P-45 sounds just as good as you might expect: the feeling returned by the classic AWM engine from Yamaha is always pleasing and the piano tone is really beautiful thanks to the new 64-note polyphony, which guarantees a much expressive and deeper piano experience by holding double the amount of notes while pressing the sustain pedal, or when using the “Dual” layer mode.
The GHS keyboard provides a heavier touch on the lower keys and more responsiveness on the higher zone, and it’s perfect for students who can’t afford to buy a real piano but still want to have a convincing and realistic weighted keyboard to practice with.
While you can choose from four different sensitivity levels for matching your playing style, the keyboard itself is still a bit too noisy if played at a lower volume or using headphones, especially in the medium/lower-end. This is something that appears to affect some of Yamaha’s entry-level products, so choosing between one of company’s cheaper models won’t help resolve the problem.
Though the other integrated voices are not shining for their extreme tone quality, they are still a good bonus that make the P-45 an optimal choice for musicians who want a lightweight and affordable solution for gigs or rehearsals, especially the Rhodes-like electric piano sound and the strings tone, which blends well when used in layer mode with the acoustic piano.
OLD VS. NEW
Evolving from its previous entry-level model, Yamaha has successfully managed to create a new, compact solution that fits both students and on-the-go musicians, but of course the audience P-45 tries to reach is much wider than that.
If you love playing for fun with friends at home (unless you want to use the piano as an arranger keyboard or a media player, features available on the DGX-Series), adding the optional $80 L-85 Stand can transform the Yamaha P-45 into an attractive piece of furniture that would easily find a place in your home, just like a real upright piano.
Thanks to the returning Duo Mode, which splits the keyboard in two specular parts and allows two people to play simultaneously, the P-45 digital piano may also be very useful for teachers during lessons with their students.
Of course, these are basic features that you can find in almost any other entry-level product, even on the old good P-35. So, ultimately, is it worth buying the new model instead of the previous one?
The answer to the latter is, well, no–despite the new USB-to-host port and 2x amount of polyphony, the two products are basically the same. That’s not to say that you will be disappointed in the P-45, nor is it to say that it’s not a worthy piano to own. It’s simply that, if you’re on the fence between the P45 vs P35, you should strongly consider the P35 assuming you can get it at a very affordable price.
Now, if you are looking for your very first digital piano, choosing the new P-45 instead of the older model may be the best approach, but before you buy, it’s really important to consider the final cost of both products: for the same price, it’s obviously better to buy the newer P-45 and get a much natural and surrounding piano tone thanks to the higher polyphony.
But, despite a MSRP price of $499 for both P-35 and P-45, the release of the new model from Yamaha may force several retailers to cut the P-35’s price in order to quickly sell the remaining units in stock. While you can already buy the P-45 for $449, some retailers have started selling discounted P-35 at the tempting price of $369, which would allow you to add some optional accessories (like the L-85 Stand and the FC-3A piano-style sustain pedal, which supports half-pedal functionality) and therefore get more value at the same price of the newer model.
While it is not necessarily recommended that you upgrade from a Yamaha P-35 to the new P-45 digital piano, evaluating a more performing and richer product like the classic P-105 or the recently announced P-115 is definitely worth investigating.
Of course, we are talking about two completely different kinds of products: in fact, while the P-35 and P-45 models are designed for beginners with an entry-level price in mind, both the P-105 and the P-115 are two of Yamaha’s intermediate solutions with a much wider array of built-in features.
This is particularly true as it pertains to the brand new P-115, which is designed for a semi-professional audience and has evolved from the P-105 thanks to the latest itineration of the Pure CF Sound Engine. Here, you can count on an extraordinary piano sample based on renowned CFIIIS 9′ concert grand piano, which sounds even better with the new maximum 192-note polyphony. And, Yamaha has improved the position of the integrated speakers in the chassis, now in a true-circle shape that helps tweeters vibrate in a more natural way to achieve a crystal and clear piano tone.
The fourteen different available voices, along with a new Effects section (four different types of Reverb to improve your sounds: Recital hall, Concert hall, Salon and Club), Rhythm and Pianist Style modes, are great additions to the set of features included in this revamped model, which offers more variety to the final user.
Even if the P-45 and the P-115 share the same GHS 88-note keyboard, the new CFIIIS piano tone sounds just amazing and really makes the noisy keyboard–with a new-matte finish on the black keys–an acceptable compromise for a digital piano which, it’s worth reminding, ships at the MSRP price of $999.
So, of course, if you’re looking to upgrade from your old P-35 or you can afford a similar investment for your first digital piano, don’t hesitate and buy the P-115: you’ll get a superior product that is still lightweight and portable just like the P-45, but one that offers more connectivity options (thanks to the direct line-out and the Speaker On/Off mode) and the interaction with all the iOS apps from Yamaha, like the Digital Piano Controller free software which allows you to control the main functions of your piano directly from an iPad or iPhone.
With the P-45, Yamaha has made another step towards the creation of the perfect entry-level digital piano. This new product in the P-Series shares many common features with its predecessor and ships with a 64-note maximum polyphony, which offers a better-sounding piano tone in the same lightweight chassis of only 25 pounds, that allows beginners and on-the-go musicians to easily carry it over to their gigs and rehearsals. The 88-key GHS keyboard is still a great choice for aspiring pianists and offers the same feelings of a traditional acoustic piano, making the P-45 one of the best digital pianos for beginners.
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