Yamaha’s experience making acoustic grand and upright digital pianos gives them a leg up on the competition when it comes to the sound quality of their samples. They have a large assortment of acoustic pianos that they record and sample for their digital pianos, such as the CFIII 9’ grand.
And it is these samples that make Yamaha digital pianos so highly regarded. That, and their Graded Hammer Action. And so, in this article, we’re going to dive deep to examine five of our favorite Yamaha digital pianos with weighted keys—just in case you’re in the market for a brand new piano.
And if you are, please use our interactive table below to compare some of the digital pianos we will be discussing in today’s article:
|Yamaha P-115||88||$$||GHS Weighted Key Action|
|Yamaha P255||88||$$$||256 Note Polyphony|
|Yamaha YDP-143||88||$$$||GHS Weighted Action|
|Yamaha P-45||88||$||64 Note Polyphony|
|Yamaha YDP-163||88||$$$||GH3 Weighted Action|
|Yamaha YDP-181||88||$$$||128 Note Polyphony|
|Yamaha CP40||88||$$$||128 Note Polyphony|
|Yamaha CLP 635||88||$$$||Yamaha’s NWX (Natural Wood X)|
|Yamaha DGX-660||88||$$||Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) Keyboard|
One of Yamaha’s most inexpensive digital pianos with weighted keys is the P-45. With an MSRP of only $499, this is a great piano for the aspiring pianist or beginner on a budget. While many of the features have been trimmed down on this keyboard, the necessities that remain are concise and well made.
If portability is a concern, the P -45’s depth (12”) and its weight (25lbs) will be an attractive feature. The P -45 uses Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) action, which functions like an acoustic piano’s keys would; the lower the notes, the more pressure needed to press down. The higher keys, by contrast, don’t require as much force. This simulates the feel of an acoustic piano and is extremely important for a natural feeling keyboard.
The P- 45, as well as many other Yamaha keyboards, has a feature called Advanced Wave Memory Stereo Sampling. Known as AWM, this proprietary Yamaha sampling system uses digital recording techniques to shape the sound of the samples. Yamaha has also recorded several samples of each key at various dynamic levels. This kind of detail highlights your expressive playing and adds an impressive realism to any performance.
One of the negative aspects of the P -45 is its relatively low polyphony of only 64. Polyphony is what allows players to hold down several notes at a time and layer voices without hearing notes “drop out.” For younger players and beginners that wouldn’t be playing complex pieces, a polyphony of 64 might not be an issue. But any intermediate or advance pianists would be better off upgrading to a keyboard with a higher polyphony, such as the Yamaha P-115.
- You can read our review of the Yamaha P-45 right here.
Before we move on, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling digital pianos currently on sale at Amazon (and see how some of them compare to the Yamaha pianos we’ve mentioned in this article):
With a list price that is only $100 more, the Yamaha P -115 is a major step up from the P- 45 in terms of quality and extra features. Both pianos use the same GHS weighted key bed, but the P -115 uses the upgraded CF Sound Engine. This keyboard has a few more bells and whistles, such as on board drum rhythms, and the ability to layer, split, and use the duo mode, which allows the keyboard to be split and replicated (often useful for duets or teaching situations where both the teacher and student play in the same octave.).
The P -115 is more suited to professional gigs and shows than the P -45. The P-115 has two quarter inch auxiliary outs so players can plug into an amp or sound system. This digital piano also has a polyphony of 192, which allows players a lot more freedom when it comes to layering, playing along with drums, and playing complex, sustained songs. With a total weight of only 26 lbs., the P -115 is just as portable as the P -45.
Yamaha moved the placement of the P- 115’s tweeters to put them more in line with the pianist’s ears. This improved speaker location makes sure that players can better hear the P- 115’s impressive tones.
Yamaha has a line of digital pianos called Arius. These higher end pianos aren’t portable like the P-Series, but they resemble an upright piano and would look right at home in a living room or home studio.
The YDP -143 is the most basic model in the Arius line. Its list price is $1499. This keyboard is housed in a sturdy wooden frame with a sliding key cover. The YDP -143 has the same hammer action as the previously mentioned P-Series Keyboard: the Graded Hammer Standard.
The YDP 143 offers a few impressive features that contribute to the keyboard’s great sound and tone. One of these is called Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC). When most conventional digital pianos are played at a low volume, they tend to lose some of the richness of their tone, especially in the treble and bass. With the help of the IAC, you can play at any volume and still maintain a great tone with definition in the high and low registers.
Another great feature of the Yamaha YDP -143 digital piano is its Stereophonic Optimizer. When wearing headphones, this setting adjusts the sonic placement of the sound in your ears. This makes it seem like the piano sounds are coming from the actual body of the piano and not the headphones.
- You can read our review of the Yamaha YDP-143 right here.
The next step up in the Arius line is the YDP -163. This digital piano’s list price is $1,999, and comes with a lot of upgraded features. Yamaha gives you two different finish options for the wooden stand: classic black or a dark walnut.
A more advanced weighted hammer action is used in this keyboard. The Graded Hammer 3 features synthetic ivory key tops and includes three separate sensors in each key. This allows players to have even more responsive keys and a more nuanced touch.
The YDP 163 comes with Yamaha’s standard set of ten voices:
- Grand Piano 1
- Grand Piano 2
- Grand Piano 3
- Electric Piano 1
- Electric Piano 2
- Pipe Organ
- Jazz Organ
- You can read our review of the Yamaha YDP-163 right here.
- You can ALSO read our brand new review of the Yamaha YDP-184 here!
The Yamaha CLP 625 has a polyphony of 256; the highest polyphony of the pianos reviewed so far. This would be a good choice for a pianist that plans on utilizing lots of functions that quickly use up polyphony like stereo patches, rhythms, and layering.
This piano’s keys feel really authentic and realistic, thanks to a feature called escapement. This is what causes acoustic pianos to have a faint “click” at the bottom of the key stroke and allows players to rapidly play repeating notes on the same key.
A really unique feature of the Yamaha CLP digital piano is that it uses different sampling when headphones are plugged into it. Yamaha sampled its CFX pianos for these sounds, but used binaural recording methods specifically for the samples that are used with headphones.
This recording method tries to replicate the placement of the human ears for an experience that makes the listener feel like they’re actually in the room. The binaural samples go a step beyond stereo; they give the player a kind of 3D listening environment.
Yamaha took a lot of care to make sure samples in this digital piano sound realistic and detailed. Even “key off” samples are implemented to replicate the nuanced sound that occurs when a key is released on an acoustic piano.
The main differences in these Yamaha digital pianos boil down to portability and budget. If you are not looking to spend a lot of money on a piano and require the ability to easily move it, the P- Series keyboards may be your best bet.
There’s only $100 between the Yamaha P- 45 and the P- 115, but the differences between the two pianos are worth much more. Even beginner pianists and students may quickly grow out of the P- 45’s somewhat limited features. Most would find the P- 115 to have the right amount of bells and whistles for a very small price upgrade.
If you have a bit more money to spend and portability is not a concern, the Arius line might be the best choice. The differences between the two Arius keyboards are not drastic, but the price points are.
The main upgrade of the Yamaha YDP- 163 is the Graded Hammer 3 key action compared to the Graded Hammer Standard of the YDP- 143. Both pianos in the Arius line are excellent instruments; for many pianists, the decision comes down to their budgets.
Seasoned pianists and professionals may be intrigued by the Yamaha CLP-625: one of the more inexpensive pianos in Yamaha’s Clavinova line. However, if their budget allows, piano pros may be happier looking into the higher end Clavinovas. Although the price does increase, so does the quality and the features. The majority of intermediate pianists can find everything they need in an Arius.
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