Today I’m going to discuss one of the best-buy digital pianos on the market, the Yamaha CLP 625. The Yamaha CLP digital piano line includes pianos from the low range of prices to the mid-to-high-range of prices.
I’m going to stay on the low end in this article, as I compare the Yamaha CLP 625 to its sister piano, the CLP 635. I will also compare these pianos to two of the Yamaha Arius line of pianos: the Yamaha YDP 164 and the Yamaha YDP 184.
Before we dive into this Yamaha CLP-625 review, we encourage you to take a quick look at the interactive guide below, where you can compare the CLP-625 to other popular digital pianos.
Yamaha CLP 625: What It Offers
When I went to a local piano dealer to check out the Yamaha CLP 625, I noticed that it was sitting directly next to the Yamaha YDP-144. I learned that this positioning was done deliberately so potential buyers could compare the two pianos directly.
The salesperson involved, Dave, explained that their store wanted to help potential buyers find the very best piano for their money. The two pianos were priced similarly, although the CLP 625 was about $500 more MSRP. However, when I played the two pianos, the notable differences surprised me.
Dave explained that the keys on the Arius piano were ‘semi-weighted,’ a term that indicates that the keys aren’t quite spring-loaded as in a smaller and/or less expensive portable keyboard, but that they weren’t the fully weighted keys of the CLP line of digital pianos. In essence, the Arius keys are ‘lightly weighted,’ so they don’t have the firm and more realistic acoustic touch of the CLP 625. The difference in touch was significant and would be significant even to a beginner.
The cabinets appeared quite similar, although the CLP 625 cabinet seemed sturdier to the touch, perhaps because the piano is a bit heavier.
Dave explained to me that my response to the two pianos was typical. When I returned to the store to take photographs of the sole Arius piano next to the CLP 625, both pianos had been sold.
He told me that the store will typically reduce the price of the CLP 625 to that of the Arius so that customers will be able to get the best piano for their money (as I explained earlier). Since the CLP 625 sold first, the Arius YDP 144 was the only digital piano option available in the price range, so both pianos had sold within just a few days of one another.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best selling digital pianos on Amazon, and see how well they compare to the Yamaha CLP-625.
Yamaha CLP 635 vs Yamaha CLP 625
The 625 and the 635 have virtually the same cabinetry and control panels. However, the functions of the CLP 635 offer some greater flexibility over the 625, especially in pedal functions.
Both pianos have integrated three-pedal mechanisms. They also offer half-pedaling capability. The CLP 625 pedals offer three functions: damper, sostenuto (a grand piano function), and una corda, or soft pedal.
The CLP 635, however, offers these three pedal functions, as well as these additional functions: Sustain Continuously, Expression, Pitch Bend Up, Pitch Bend Down, Rotary Speed, Vibe Rotor, Song Play/Pause. To learn the scope of these functions, a musician must either study the owner’s manual or conduct some serious (and fun!) experimentation.
I didn’t have time to do either, but I know that pitch bend up or down is a way to adjust pitch of a single key either upward or downward by just using the pedals. I also know that song play/pause allows the musician to stop or start a piece of music without touching any buttons.
The CLP 625 offers 10 preset voices, while the CLP 635 offers 36 preset voices. These additional voices greatly increase the versatility of the instrument for purposes of composing or arranging.
The CLP 635 offers lesson material songs, a feature not present in the CLP 625. The 635 also has greater recording capability, both in number/size of songs and track capability. This is a significant difference for a composer or arranger, as well.
The CLP 635 offers 20 accompaniment styles as background for any material recorded by a composer or arranger. To get the full measure of a piece of music, it is extremely helpful to get some idea of the type of accompaniment a composer or arranger envisions for their piece(s). Accompaniment styles allow a musician to experiment with different accompaniments to discover which style suits their piece best.
The CLP 635 also features a USB external drive so a musician can record their music and take it with them easily. This allows a musician to plug into any other compatible CLP or other Clavinova line and access the music they have recorded. The CLP 625 does not offer this feature.
Yamaha YDP 164 vs Yamaha CLP 625
The Yamaha YDP 164 is a decent low-to-mid-range priced piano from the Yamaha Arius line of pianos. From what I can ascertain, it is a decent quality digital piano with good reviews. It offers Yamaha’s GH3 (Graded Hammer 3) technology—a method by which the keys in the upper range of pitches have a lighter touch than the keys in the low range of pitches. This action imitates the action of a high-quality acoustic grand piano.
The GH3 touch resembles the feel of a concert grand piano much more than the Graded Hammer Standard of the YDP 144. For any pianist, beginner to highly advanced, this improved touch allows the musician to acquaint themselves with the approximate feel of an acoustic grand piano. If at some point the pianist wishes to upgrade to a grand piano, this will allow them to do so without any major adjustment to the piano’s touch.
Below, check out this comparison view that shows the differences between the Yamaha CLP 625 and the YDP-164’s predecessor, the Yamaha YDP-163:
The YDP 164 also features a re-sampled version of the Yamaha CFX concert grand piano. This sampling gives the YDP 164 a beautiful, rich tone. The keys are simulated wood and ivory, creating a comfortable touch for the fingers allowing prolonged play.
The YDP 164 also is compatible with Yamaha’s Smart Pianist 2.0 app that allows full access to all of the features of this affordable digital piano. Smart Pianist offers a Chord Chart feature that allows a pianist to input their favorite music from a iOS Smart device and the app will chart the song with chord symbols so the pianist can play along.
Yamaha YDP 184 vs Yamaha CLP 625
The Yamaha YDP 184 is the top of the Arius line of digital pianos. It is the only piano in the standard Arius line that offers VRM (Virtual Resonance Modeling), a sound feature that imitates the resonance of strings, damper pedal, wooden body and Aliquot strings in a grand piano. This VRM allows the YDP 184 to sound more like a Yamaha CFX concert grand piano than any others in the Arius line.
As all of the Yamaha digital pianos do, the YDP 184 features integrated 3-pedal mechanisms that offer sustain, sostenuto, and una corda (soft) effects. However, the YDP 184 also features a variety of other pedal options as listed above in the CLP 635 information. These additional pedal features create options for playing and recording that are not offered in the YDP 164.
The YDP 184 also offers 256-voice polyphony as opposed to 192-voice polyphony in the YDP 164. Polyphony indicates the number of sounds that may be played at the same time without any interruption or cutting off of any sounds.
You may think that 192-voice polyphony is more than enough voices to use at the same time. But if you wish to compose or arrange music through overdubbing, you might find yourself running out of available voicings before you run out of ideas.
The YDP 164 offers 10 preset voices, yet the YDP 184 offers 24 voices. Using various voices can be fun during practice or while ‘noodling around’ with a digital piano. Composing and arranging, however, may require many more voices than just a handful.
One of the most important differences between these two Arius models may be the recording capacity. The YDP 164 can record one song; the YDP 184 can record up to 250 songs. The YDP 164 offers 2-track recording; the YDP 184 is capable of 16-track recording. The YDP 184 also has 20 accompaniment tracks that are accessible for recording. The YDP 164 offers none.
Price and Feature Comparisons
So, let’s break it down into this table:
As you can see from the table, the CLP 625 and the YDP 164 have similar features, with the main differences being the keyboard touch and the polyphony. The prices are also similar, with only $300 difference between the MSRP’s. I give the CLP 625 the edge over the YDP 164 because of the keyboard and polyphony differences: CLP 625 receives 4 out of 5 stars, and the YDP 164 receives 3.75 out of 5 stars.
Either of these pianos would be suitable for a beginning student. The CLP 625 has the edge over the YDP 164 for intermediate/advanced students or for musicians wishing to compose or arrange.
It’s also clear that the CLP 635 and the YDP 184 share similar features. There is only a $200 difference between MSRP’s on these two pianos, yet the CLP 635 has the GH3X upgraded keyboard touch and 36 preset voices vs. the GH3 keyboard touch and 24 preset voices on the YDP 184. The CLP 635 seems to have the clear edge over the YDP 184 in these regards. The YDP 184 receives 4 out of 5 stars, and the CLP 635 receives 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Either piano would be suitable for a beginning to intermediate student. The CLP 635 would offer a bit more to choose from for the intermediate to advanced student or the composer/arranger musician.
Yamaha digital pianos are the best in the business, in my opinion. There are certainly Yamahas with higher price tags, and in some cases much higher price tags. But for the buyer who wants to keep their expenditures on a digital piano fairly low, the CLP series models 625 and 635 would be worth looking into for a beginning or intermediate beginning student.
This article was written by Digital Piano Review Guide contributor Anita Elliott.
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