I recently tried out the Yamaha NP-12, and just like the NP-11, this is a 61 key digital piano. However, there are some noticeable differences worth noting between these two instruments. And in this article, I’ll review the NP-12 based on its features, sound quality, portability, and price. Then, I’ll compare it to other popular keyboards like the NP-11, the NP-32, and the PSR-E353 in order to help you make the most informed purchasing decision.
Keyboard Buying Guide
Below, please take a look at our interactive table and see how well the Yamaha NP-12 compares to its big brother (the NP-32), as well as its predecessor (the NP-11) and other popular keyboards.
$ = $500 or less | $$ = $500 – $1,000 | $$$ = $1,000 and up
|Yamaha NP 12||61||$||Uses Six AA Batteries|
|Casio PX-160||88||$||Dual Headphone Outputs on Front|
|Alesis Recital||88||$||Semi-Weighted Keys|
|Casio PX-S1000||88||$$||18 Sounds, Bluetooth Capability|
|Donner DEP-20||88||$$||Fully-Weighted Keys|
|Casio WK6600||76||$||700 Tones|
|Yamaha P-45||88||$||64 Note Polyphony|
|Yamaha P-125||88||$$||GHS Weighted Action|
|Yamaha P-515||88||$$$||Natural Wood X Key Action|
How is the NP-12 Built?
You can tell right away that the NP-12 is built quite well—especially for a fairly inexpensive keyboard. It’s clean, minimalistic design proves that the manufacturer set out on a very specific mission with this keyboard: create a simple user interface that allows players to immediately sit down and start playing.
There are only ten buttons on the face of the keyboard, whereas some other keyboards and synthesizers might intimidate the user with its vast array of buttons, knobs, sliders, and wheels. The power button is easily identifiable for a quick power-up. This keyboard does not take very long to turn on, too, which is certainly a bonus (especially in this “instant-everything” age we live in).
At 61 keys, this keyboard is much more portable than a full range (88 keys), which can be a plus for beginners and mobile players because of its smaller size, but might be a hindrance for classical players who need all of those keys.
And below, please take a look at some of the best selling digital keyboards on Amazon:
|1) Alesis Recital|
|3) Yamaha P-121|
|4) Roland GO:KEYS|
|5) Yamaha PSR-E363|
Now, the keys on the NP-12 themselves feel great (well, at least when you factor in the fairly cheap price of the NP-12), although it’s important to note that these keys are not full-weighted. While they’re a little lighter, they’re built with touch sensitivity to attempt to simulate a more realistic piano. The use of lighter keys brings down the weight of the keyboard to around nine lbs., which is relatively light for a keyboard. Still, it feels sturdy enough to withstand portability, and I think it would take a lot of stress testing to break this thing.
This keyboard comes with a standard 12V power adapter, but can also run on 6 AA batteries. I always prefer to plug pianos and keyboards into the wall, but the battery option is always a nice bonus.
The NP-12 does not come built with a stand. However, it does fit on all standard performance “X” stands and should fit on other styles. If you do not own a keyboard stand, you might want to purchase one separately. If you want to place this keyboard on a tabletop or desk, there are little rubber feet on the bottom that prevent sliding.
How Does It Sound?
On the NP-12, the Grand Piano sound is sampled from a Yamaha Grand Piano. It’s very bright, which is not surprising, as the Yamaha Grand as always been pretty boisterous. There are two types of organ sounds: the first is a kind of smaller, reed organ sound, while the second sounds more “churchy,” almost like a pipe organ.
The Electric Piano sounds (there are two of them) here are both very well done. The first sound is a blend between a Rhodes, a Mk I, and a Wurlitzer. For those of you who don’t know, think of it as a vintage, warm electric piano sound heard in 60s and 70s music.
The second electric piano sound is a glittery, 80s kind of bell-synth. It’s extremely bright, but it’s sampled well, and it allows for clean playing across the octaves. Each hit is initiated by a charming bell plink, followed by a warm muted tone that mellows out the first strikes. Using the sustain pedal warms this sound up quite a bit, as the clinks of the bell tone are very short, and the lower tone is longer and catches with the sustain.
The Strings sound is very balanced. It’s a large chamber orchestra sound, and while it sounds very digital, the velocity sensitive keys can be played in a way that convinces the listener that the dynamics of a real orchestra are there.
The great thing about this keyboard is that you can layer two sounds simultaneously, so placing the strings underneath a piano or electric piano sound really beefs up the thickness of the individual tones. There is a Mozart-esque Harpsichord sound that plucks along nicely, giving the listener a Baroque-era type of pomp and frill.
And lastly, there is a button called “Vibes” which is short for Vibraphone, a stunning mallet sound that takes you away from the plucks and stringed instruments. It’s very clean, and unlike a lot of vibraphone sounds, it stays in tune all throughout the octaves, which is very useful if you’re playing along with a singer or other type of performer.
Overall, the sounds are clean, well made, and varied enough to have a lot of fun.
Other Key Features
Along with the sound buttons, there is a Metronome button, which sends out a clicked tempo of your choosing that can be set faster or slower, depending on your practice preference. You can set the meter of the metronome to different count-rates too, such as ¾ where the measure repeats itself after three clicks or beats, instead of four as used in 4/4.
The recording function allows you to record your part with or without the use of a metronome, and you can actually play an accompaniment over your initial recording. It’s always fun to hear yourself played back on a recording, so this is a great feature to have. There are also ten demo songs that come preset on this keyboard for enjoyment or learning.
The NP-12 is compatible with a sustain pedal. This is standard for nearly all keyboards, and isn’t a big surprise, but it’s still important to mention. The speakers are loud enough for home and studio practice. However, you’ll need an amplifier to perform with this keyboard on stage; the onboard speakers will not be enough to compete with louder electric instruments.
Fortunately, there is an audio output. It’s a ¼ inch headphone jack, which can also run mono out to an amp, if needed. This keyboard comes with a USB MIDI port, which will allow you to connect this keyboard to a computer, if desired. This is where more advanced users might take advantage of this keyboard. The fact that this keyboard can be used with everything from iPad apps, to educational computer programs, to professional Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) is a huge advantage over keyboards in its category.
Here are just a few specs of the NP-12 that are worth noting:
- Touch sensitive semi-weighted keys (61)
- Ten buttons, plus a volume wheel and power button
- USB MIDI to computer
- 12V Power Adapter for Yamaha Keyboards
- Battery Powered (6 AAs) up to 16 hours of battery life
- 64 note polyphony
- 10 voices
- Three tuning options: 414.8Hz – 440.0Hz – 466.8Hz
- (12cm x 6cm) x 2 Speakers
How it Compares to Similar Keyboards
Yamaha is one of the digital keyboard brands that is constantly updating and refining its products. It’s no surprise then that the NP-12 is the successor to the popular NP-11, and that it debuts alongside other keyboards in the series like the NP-32.
One of the main differences between the NP-11, NP-12, and NP-32, is that the NP-11 does not have a recording function, whereas the other two do. For those looking to upgrade from the NP-11 to the NP-12 or NP-32, this is a good reason to do so.
Another difference worth mentioning is that the NP-11 only has a 32 voice polyphony, while the other two have 64. This is an added benefit for players who need that extra room for notes played at the same time. While the NP-11’s polyphony is enough for beginners, it may not be enough for intermediate and expert level players.
While the NP-12 and the NP-32 both have USB to Host, the NP-11 does not. Instead, it has a MIDI IN/OUT which is not easily connected to a computer, and will have a lot of difficulty connecting to apps and other computer software that requires a USB connection.
The NP-32 is a little more expensive since it is a 76-key keyboard, while the other two are only 61-keys. If you’re the kind of player that needs closer to a full 88-key range, you’re going to have to spend a little more to get the extra keys.
Because of the extra power needed, the NP-32 takes 18W instead of the NP-12’s standard 8W (regarding power consumption). However, all three keyboards are battery powered in addition to the power supply option. But because of the NP-12’s lower wattage consumption, its battery life is the longest of the three at 16 hours, versus 8 hours for the NP-32 and 6 hours for the NP-11.
The PSR-E353 by Yamaha is around the same price as the NP-12, but it has some differences. The first and most distinguishable characteristic is its number of voices, songs, and its play-along feature. The PSR-E353 has a few hundred voice and sound options, ranging from ones similar to that of the NP-12’s, all the way to drums, synthesizers, and sound effects. The play-along feature allows the user to play along to various song styles, beats, and tempos, and can even follow along on the small LCD screen that shows the player which notes to hit.
The PSR-E353 is excellent for beginners and has more features to help players who are just starting out than the NP-12’s. However, there are still a few downsides. Its keys don’t feel quite as solid as the NP-12’s, and the design is a little more plastic-looking than the solid black or white options available in the NP-12.
But at a similar price, this keyboard certainly has more options than the NP-12.
Is it Worth my Budget?
The NP-12 retails at around $179. While this keyboard is affordable, it’s still an investment. Ultimately, it depends on what your needs are.
This keyboard is wonderful for beginners, although the PSR-E353 has more options at a similar price. However, if you are looking for better design, high-quality sound, and comfort of playing, the NP-12 is a better fit for you.
Although there are less functions for beginners, it’s still a great keyboard to learn on (as long as you understand what you’re not getting with this keyboard—namely weighted keys). Aesthetically, I prefer the look of the NP-12 over the PSR-E353.
If you feel like you absolutely need more that 61 keys, go for the NP-32. Otherwise, the NP-12 performs just as well as the NP-32, if not a little better because of its portability.
Nobody goes to watch “Transformers” expecting to get a “Citizens Kane” experience. And no one should purchase the Yamaha NP-12 expecting it to perform like a Yamaha Clavinova instrument.
But, at a low price, and a fairly good design, you’re getting good value. The Yamaha NP-12 has enough features for a beginner to get started. You may find yourself needing a more in-depth keyboard down the line (especially since there are only 61 keys on this keyboard), but this is a wonderful place to start.
Although there are limitations, such as lack of sound options and no weighted keys, the pros definitely outweigh the cons at this price.
- Rating: 4/5 stars
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