In many musicians’ opinions, the Yamaha Corporation would stand alone at the top of the list when it comes to producing musical instruments–especially digital pianos. While each and every person will have his or her own taste, it honestly would be hard not to give Yamaha their props when it comes to making standout pianos.
Yamaha has been doing it well for a very long time, and the Clavinova series is a big reason why most would select a yamaha digital piano over many other competitors.
There has been a lot of successes, variations, and generations that make up the massive collection of models, and the Yamaha CLP 440 is one of them. It is certainly a quality option that does its best to stand out not only among Clavinovas, but all digital pianos.
Clavinovas are mostly set up to replicate the look and feel of an acoustic grand piano, and things have certainly changed over the years. Early models had few sounds but introduced new technological and layering systems. Recent models are top of the line and have everything from multi-track recording and computer connectivity to hundreds of voices and an almost identical graded hammer system to that of a real piano.
So how does the CLP 440 stack up against its peers and competitors? Well, let’s dig a bit deeper and find out.
Piano Buying Guide
Below, we’ve put together an interactive table that we feel will better help you understand how the CLP 440 stacks up against the competition. Compared to the likes of the Roland HP 305 (which we’ll discuss in further detail below) and other pianos, you can sort the guide by the number of keys, price, rating, and weight.
$ = $500 or less | $$ = $500 – $1,000 | $$$ = $1,000 and up
|Yamaha CLP 440||88||$$$||GH3 (Graded Hammer 3) Keyboard||★★★|
|Yamaha CLP 645||88||$$$||Yamaha’s NWX (Natural Wood X) Keyboard|
|Yamaha YDP-103||88||$$$||GHS Weighted Action||★★★★|
|Yamaha YDP-143||88||$$$||GHS Weighted Action||★★★★|
|Yamaha YDP-163||88||$$$||GH3 Weighted action||★★★★|
|Yamaha YDP-181||88||$$$||128 Note Polyphony||★★★★|
|Casio PX-860||88||$$$||256 Note Polyphony||★★★★|
|Yamaha YDP-S52||88||$$$||Graded Hammer (GH) Keyboard||★★★★|
|Yamaha YDP-V240||88||$$$||6-Track Recorder w/Hands-Separate Practicing||★★★★|
|Kawai CE220||88||$$$||AWA PROII w/Counterbalancing||★★★★|
The Design of the Yamaha CLP 440
All Clavinovas are known for their exquisite craftsmanship and design, and each model is about as top of the line as you can get.
The CLP 440 comes in four amazing finishes: A beautiful, matte Black Walnut with more of a wood feel, a sleek Polished Ebony that is smooth and unblemished, a wooden Dark Rosewood, an awesome Mahogany finish. I find the Polished Ebony to be the most striking, as it brings that classical concert piano feel to the digital platform.
Just my opinion.
All in all, this Clavinova is a pretty massive piano, measuring in at 56 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and 35 inches high. The whole set weighs a whopping 145 pounds for the original version, and 156 pounds for the PE version.
Simply put, you better know where you’re putting this thing before you decide to set it up.
The piano comes with an awesome sliding panel reveal key cover, along with a three pedal system that included a soft, sostenuto, and sustain pedal. Two booming 40 watt amplifiers support the two 16 x 5 cm double speaker set, so this model has the full capability to fill up a large room with grand sound.
Below, please take a look at some of the best selling upright digital pianos on Amazon, and see how well they compare to the CLP-440:
Voices, Tones and Rhythms
The CLP 440 does a wonderful job of packaging together the main course of what it has to offer: the sounds.
There are 14 main sounds on this machine, but it can be considered 28 if you look at it in a different way, since each sound comes with a variation. There are 4 distinct and clear grand piano sounds, two electric pianos, a harpsichord, a pipe organ, jazz organ, a strings section, and a choir.
The variation for each of these sounds is different and plays with different variables, such as instrument attack, breadth, and intensity. One of the best sounds on the piano is the original grand piano sound, which Yamaha has worked extensively to master and refine to the best quality pianos they have to offer. These sounds work hand in hand with the tone generation system and the specific touch of the user to create a very realistic sound.
In addition to the voices and tones are the 14 demo songs, which showcase the awesome capability of each tone, along with 50 extra piano songs that are great instruments to practice with and help perfect any musician’s craft.
Engineering and Touch
The engineering in any Clavinova is always on another level. When dealing with the Yamaha CLP 440, there is certainly no change in that.
It is a given that the piano is fit with a full range of 88 keys, which are supported by Yamaha’s Graded Hammer 3 (GH3) key action system. There are a number of key action systems patented by Yamaha, some of them including Graded Hammer Standard (GHS), Graded Hammer (GHE), Graded Hammer 3X (GH3X), Natural Wood (NW), and Linear Natural Wood (LNW).
All of these provide a different level of touch and specific hammer action, depending on the level of the piano. The 440’s GH3 system is adequate and is made even better by the addition of synthetic ivory keytops that replicate the feel of real, classical keys.
The sound of the tones and voices are backed by the tone generation of Yamaha’s Real Grand Expression (RGE) Sound Engine. This engine builds upon the successes of Yamaha’s famous Pure CF series, which put together layered samples of Yamaha’s best CF concert grand pianos.
RGE features a new Smooth Release function that allows the player to come through with clear expressions, such as short, staccato bursts, or stretches of soft pianissimo. However, it is debatable how this sound engine compares to those of some of the other Clavinova models, such as the CFX/Bösendorfer Imperial found in the CLP 535 and CLP 545.
This sound engine is certainly the best Yamaha has to offer, as it is based on the award winning sound of two pianos: the Yamaha CFX, a 9 foot grand piano and winner of the 2010 International Chopin Piano Competition, and the Imperial from Austrian piano manufacturers Bösendorfer.
The Yamaha CLP 440 has a number of awesome features that make it much more than just a regular console digital piano.
First, there are the wonderful effects that work beautifully with the sounds, including four different reverbs, 5 brilliance effects, and an Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC) function. The IAC is great technological advancement that works hard to balance out the sound of the machine, embellishing the rich low ranges, and rounding out and making clear the high ranges of the piano.
It automatically adjusts the treble, bass, and overall EQ so that you never have to worry about any of that no matter what setting you are playing. There are also two recording functions supported by USB memory ports and a USB audio recorder.
There are a number of pianos that can be compared with the Yamaha CLP 440, but let’s start with the options that have ceased to be manufactured. Those options include CLP 430 and the CLP 470, both part of the Clavinova series.
Both of these options are very comparable in that like the CLP 440, they have a full range of 88 keys, a 3 pedal system with soft, sostenuto, and sustain, the same Real Grand Expressions (RGE) tone generation, the same number of voices and tones, and the same 40 watt amplifier and speaker system.
The CLP 470 took it a step further and implemented Yamaha’s Natural Wood (NW) hammer action key system, which has the same grade and feel of the GH3 but uses spruce wood in the manufacturing of the keys to make it like a real acoustic piano. The 440 fell behind both models in that it had 128 notes of polyphony while the other two had a complete 256 notes of polyphony.
The CLP 440 also makes a great comparison with the Yamaha 500 series, which contains other Clavinova models such as the 525, 535, and 545.
The 440, 525, and 535 all use the Graded Hammer 3 or Graded Hammer 3X system, while the 545 steps it up to the fancy Natural Wood X (NWX) hammer action system. The 535 and 545 use the aforementioned Yamaha CFX/Bösendorfer Imperial sound engine, while the 525 goes all the way back to the Pure CFIIIS engine, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at. No piano among this comparison is without 256 notes of polyphony.
The 440 also compares well with the CLP-S406B, which also has the Graded Hammer 3 system, 256 notes of polyphony, the same Real Grand Expression tone generation, and the same amplifier and speaker arrangement. In many ways, they are basically the same machine, but the S406B costs a bit more because of the design of the overall machine.
A great comparison is also made to the Roland’s HP-305, which has the same cabinet design and feel, but only 128 notes of polyphony, a comparable SuperNATURAL Piano Sound tone generation system, and a PHA II ivory feel hammer action key system. The HP-305, however, does have a much more massive tone and voice selection with 337 tones, as opposed to the 440’s 14.
The Yamaha CLP 440 is a Clavinova that just does not have a lot of flaws. Understandably, something so close to perfection will demand a pretty hefty penny. A list price pushing around $4000 might be enough to make you scream, but that shriek should be reduced to a yelp once you take a look at some of the used models on online that go for around $2900.
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