Yamaha CLP 635 review: Better Than the Yamaha CSP-150?

In this article, I’m going to review the Yamaha CLP 635, a popular higher end digital piano that’s part of the respected Clavinova line by Yamaha.  In addition to breaking down what the CLP 635 offers, I’ll also be comparing it to other notable digital pianos, like the Yamaha CSP-150, the Roland HP-601 and the Kawai CA 48.

By the way, please take a brief moment to use our interactive guide below, where you can directly compare the Yamaha CLP 635 against other popular digital pianos on the market.

Yamaha CLP 735
Yamaha YDP 144
Casio PX-770
Yamaha YDP-165
Casio PX-870
Roland RP-102

Yamaha CLP 635: What It Offers

The Yamaha CLP 635 is one of the many of Yamaha’s Clavinova digital pianos.  Clavinovas are my favorite of all the digital pianos I’ve had the privilege to play.  This nice piano, the CLP 635, is a great piano for a beginner.  From its relatively low price to its features to its attractive appearance, this model of the famous Clavinova line represents Yamaha well.

I really like the grand piano feel of this keyboard.  Yamaha prides itself on their weighted key systems.  The CLP 635 features the Graded Hammer 3X (GH3X) that responds to your touch as a grand piano would.  The GH3X offers a natural-feeling key rebound and a spring-less mechanism that allows the musician to attack the key with confidence that the instrument will respond to the force applied by the musician.  

The GH3X keyboard also mimics the feel of the grand piano as the musician moves up and down the keyboard, providing a lighter touch in the treble end of the keys and gradually increasing heaviness as the musician moves down the keys toward the bass end.

All of the Clavinovas manufactured by Yamaha offer the digital sampling of their flagship acoustic grand, the magnificent CFX concert grand.  With their enhanced Virtual Resonance Modeling system, the CLP 635 includes the resonation of the grand piano’s strings, pedals, and cabinetry for a fuller, richer sound.

The CLP offers an attractive cabinet that will easily blend into any décor, as well.  Its control panel is on the left-hand side and is easily accessible, as well.

Another exciting feature of the Clavinova pianos is Smart Pianist, Yamaha’s app designed for iOS Smart devices.  Through use of the Smart Pianist app, many more options are possible in the CLP 635.  Smart Pianist allows a musician to chart the chords for their favorite songs, as well as to access the options of dubbing, transposing, and many other cool features of the app.

The CLP 635 offers 36 preset voices, including multiple piano settings.  You can record up to 250 songs and up to 16 tracks on each song, offering great versatility to any musician wishing to compose or arrange music.  The CLP 635 also provides 20 preset rhythms to enhance the playing and recording experiences.

Below, please take a moment to view some of the best selling digital pianos online, and see how they compare to the Yamaha CLP 635.

1) Casio PX-770
2) Yamaha YDP-145
3) Roland RP-701
4) Yamaha YDP-165
5) Casio PX-870

Yamaha CLP 635 vs Kawai CA48

Kawai is my second favorite manufacturer of digital pianos.  The Kawai CA 48 is a sweet digital piano also with clean lines and a beautiful rosewood cabinet.  According to Kevin at my local Summerhays Piano Source (in Murray, Utah), the rosewood cabinet is less expensive than the black.  I looked at both, pianos and I liked the look of the rosewood cabinet better than the black.

I also liked the sound of this piano, with the exception of the bass.  It was just a bit muffled, in my opinion—not as clear as the Yamaha CLP 635.  The treble notes sang beautifully, however.  (Funny side note:  Kevin’s boss Roger came running into the showroom while I played and informed me that he knew exactly whose music I was playing [Dan Fogelberg] and even had the album at home!  I was playing “Paris Nocturne” from his album with Tim Weisberg, Twin Sons of Different Mothers.  Great album!).

Kevin also told me that the CA48 was one of Kawai’s best-selling digital pianos because of its reasonable price, authentic touch, and beautiful appearance.

Isn’t this a pretty piano?  I like how wide the music stand is, and I think the legs are an interesting design.  This piano uses the Kawai Grand Feel Compact wooden key action to simulate the touch of a grand piano.  This action uses wooden keys and moving parts with weighting on the keys to imitate the weight of a grand piano’s wooden keys.  

Kevin showed me a model of the key action and informed me that the Grand Piano Compact key action was just like this example, but the keys were just a bit shorter due to the smaller size of the CA48.  

You can see the Grand Piano action below:

Yamaha CLP 635 vs Roland HP-601

I found the Roland HP-601 at Riverton Music in Sandy, Utah.  I was originally asked to review the HP-603, but the store had sold their floor model the day before I arrived.  However, the manager of the piano section of the store told me that the HP-601 and HP-603 were essentially the same.

The Roland HP-601 and HP-603 differ in the height of the cabinet, according to the piano manager.  The HP-605 is a bit taller than both of them.  However, I could discern no other visible differences in these pianos.  Even the control panels and displays were identical.

I played both the HP-601 and the HP-605.  The HP-601 seemed to have a little different sound than the 605; both pianos demonstrated nice tones and touches—especially in the treble end of the keyboard–but the bass did not really sound like a piano.  To my ear, the 601 bass end had an almost ‘synthesizer’ sound. 

 All of the Roland digital pianos on the showroom floor looked very attractive; the HP-601 is also a pretty piano.  (Isn’t it interesting how digital piano manufacturers are aiming for the acoustic piano ‘look’ in their digitals?) 

Here is a photograph of the HP-601 on the showroom floor:

You can see that the display is in the center just above the keyboard.  The control panel for this piano encompasses almost the entire length of the keyboard as well.  

Roland offers an app to use with iOS or Android smart devices that allow for further utilization of this piano’s capabilities.  Piano Partner 2 displays digital notation for the piano’s integrated songs, offers several accompaniment possibilities, and even allows the musician to turn digital pages with a pedal control.

The HP-601 includes Roland’s PHA-50 keyboard technology which brings authentic touch to the digital keyboard.  The keys have wooden sides and a molded internal core that gives the musician a comfortable acoustic touch but yet assures that the piano will last for decades.  I liked the touch of the HP-601 and noticed that the treble end had a lighter feel than the heavier bass end. I noticed, however, that the keys had a less realistic feel than the Kawai or the CLP 635.

Here is the display of the PHA-50 model:

Yamaha CLP 635 vs Yamaha CSP 150

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: of all the various brands and models of purely digital pianos that I’ve played over the last six months, this piano is my absolute favorite.  The Yamaha CSP 150 (CSP stands for Clavinova Smart Piano) is a beautiful and highly functional Clavinova digital piano that—to quote my late mama—“does everything but cook dinner”!

The CSP 150 looks like your typical spinet piano.  This piano has very few visible controls on a small section of the left-hand side panel.  Looking at it through a novice’s eyes, it could easily ‘pass’ for an acoustic piano.

However, when attached to your favorite iOS or Android smart device, this piano transforms into a virtual symphony orchestra, jazz combo, concert grand piano, or just about anything else you could imagine.  Using Yamaha’s Smart Pianist app with your smart device allows you to experiment with hundreds of preset voices and accompaniment styles.  

You want to follow along with your favorite songs?  Smart Pianist lets you do so.  Want to play in a jazz combo?  With Smart Pianist, you can.  Want to arrange choir music for SATB voices?  With Smart Pianist, it’s a piece of cake!

Above you see my photo of the CSP 150 attached to a large iPad.  Notice the microphone on the left side of the cabinet?  With Smart Pianist you can sing along with your favorite songs, as well as hear your voice through the speakers of the piano.

Above you see the home page of the Smart Pianist app I just opened on this iPad.  Almost all of the Yamaha Clavinovas use the beautiful Yamaha CFX Grand concert piano as the sample for a grand piano.  

This instrument also samples an incredible Bosendorfer grand piano, as well.  Touching the menu grid in the upper left-hand corner of the iPad allows you to access a full menu of sounds, accompaniments, and other possibilities.

Prices and Features Comparisons

So let’s look at the nitty gritty—actually comparing some relative facts and features about the four pianos I’ve discussed in this article.  In the interest of simplicity, I am not going to compare ALL of the features and specifications for each one of these pianos.  

I will compare the following categories:  MSRP price, the type of keyboard mechanism (even though they don’t all translate equally), the polyphony (number of notes that can be played at the same time either live or dubbed), the number of preset voices and accompaniment styles offered by each model, recording capability and external storage possible.

You can see that for the first three pianos in the table, there isn’t much of a difference in pricing.  The most expensive of these three pianos, the CLP 635, also offers 20 accompaniment styles and significantly more recording capability than the Kawai CA48 or the Roland HP-601.  

However, if your budget is the most important aspect of this purchase, I would probably recommend the Kawai CA48 over the Roland HP-601.  I feel that the Kawai has a much better sound than the Roland, and I liked the touch of the Kawai over that of the Roland.

For a beginner, I give the Kawai 4.25 out of 5 stars for its reputation, its affordability, and for the great sound.  I give the Roland 3.75 out of 5 stars.  I didn’t care much for its sound or its touch, and the fact that it is a few hundred dollars more expensive doesn’t make much sense to me.

I really liked the Yamaha CLP 635 for a beginner or intermediate student.  Check with your local Yamaha dealer; I think they would probably give you a good deal for buying from them, should you decide to purchase either of these Yamaha pianos.  I give the CLP 635 4.5 stars out of 5.

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or professional pianist, or if you are a piano teacher, you cannot go wrong with the Yamaha CSP 150.  I give this wonderful Clavinova 5 out of 5 stars.

This article was written by Digital Piano Review Guide contributor Anita Elliott.

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