Looking for a high quality digital piano is no easy task, especially when there are a variety of great options at your disposal. And that’s exactly the case when you’re selecting between the Yamaha P-515 and the Yamaha CP4—two great digital pianos that have countless positives and very few negatives.
So how do you decide which one is the better choice for your needs? Well, in this article, we’re going to help you answer this exact question. And to start, feel free to view the interactive guide below, which will allow you to directly compare the Yamaha P515 to not only the Yamaha CP4, but other notable pianos that are on the market.
|Yamaha P-515||88||$$$||256 Note Polyphony|
|Yamaha CP4||88||$$$||128 Note Polyphony|
|Kawai MP11SE||88||$$$||SK-EX, SK-5, and EX acoustic grand piano sounds|
|Yamaha CP40||88||$$$||128 Note Polyphony|
|Korg B1||88||$||Onboard Reverb and Chorus effects|
|Kawai ES-8||88||$$$||RHIII Graded-Hammer Action|
|Casio PX-5S||88||$$||Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II Keyboard|
|Yamaha YDP-184||88||$$$||Graded Hammer 3 Action (GH3)|
|Kawai KDP-110||88||$$$||Integrated Bluetooth connectivity|
|Casio PX-870||88||$$$||Redesigned Cabinet, Speaker System|
|Yamaha YDP-184||88||$$$||Graded Hammer 3 Action (GH3)|
|Yamaha DGX-660||88||$$||Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) Keyboard|
The Sounds of the Yamaha P-515
Both of these Yamaha digital pianos sample some pretty impressive acoustic grand pianos. Let’s first start with the P-515.
The P-515 has sounds that feature samples of the Yamaha CFX concert grand piano. You’ll also be able to enjoy the Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano sound on the P-515, as well.
If you’re interested how the samples were obtained, the Yamaha CFX was sampled using binaural sampling. The Bösendorfer, on the other hand, uses standard sampling.
When you compare the actual sounds of these grand piano samples, they both sound wonderful but are actually quite different. The Yamaha CFX piano sound comes across being quite bold and rich to the ears. It has a very lush and inviting texture to the sound, which is very pleasant to listen to.
The Bösendorfer piano, on the other hand, does sound a bit “softer” to the ear, but also brings a very comforting warmth to the sound. You might even notice that the piano sounds a bit deeper compared to the CFX sample.
Below, please take a moment to view the some of the best selling digital pianos on Amazon, and see how well they stack up to the two digital pianos we discuss in depth in today’s article.
The Sounds of the Yamaha CP4
Let’s now discuss the piano sounds of the Yamaha CP4. First up is the Yamaha CFX, which is the same exact grand piano sample you’ll find in the P-515. The Yamaha CFX is a 9 feet acoustic grand piano.
Next up with the Yamaha CFIIIS, which is a full concert grand piano. This is also a 9 foot tall grand piano.
Not to be outdone, you also get an S6 sample. This is a Yamaha grand piano, but isn’t quite as tall, topping off at 7 feet. But you’ll notice that the piano sound has a rich texture to it. This piano sound, in particular, would be great to play to back up a great vocalist that you’re working with.
You of course get electric pianos here, such as the Rhodes. In fact, you get some nice “time pianos” here—ones made famous in certain years or eras. For example, you’ll get a 1971 Rhodes piano sound, along with 1973, 1975, 1978, etc.
The difference between these different pianos goes beyond just their years—they are differentiated based on the hammers and pre-amps that were being used inside these instruments during their heyday.
In all, the CP4 offers you 433 voices—fifteen of which are CFX, fifteen are CF, fifteen are S6, fifteen are Rhodes, and six are Wurlitzers. Yamaha even provides you with eight Yamaha CP80 sounds, as well. You’ll also be able to enjoy Clarinet sounds—both in mono and stereo.
How Are the Key Actions?
Now, you may already be familiar with some of Yamaha’s key actions, but if not, here’s a quick recap.
Yamaha essentially has five hammer action types: GHS, GH, GH3, NW-GH and NWX.
Now GHS or Graded Hammer Standard is the most basic of all Yamaha’s hammer action. You’ll find it on instruments like the Yamaha P-45 all the way up to the Yamaha DGX-660 and the Yamaha YDP-143.
Next up is the Graded Hammer or GH action. This is a little bit better than GHS, and you’ll find this action on the Yamaha YDP-181 and Yamaha P255 (which is, surpassingly enough, the predecessor of the Yamaha P255.
Next is the Yamaga GH3 with synthetic ivory keytops. You’ll find this action on the Yamaha YDP-163 and even the Yamaga CLP-525.
Now, what’s interesting here is that both the Yamaha P515 and the Yamaha CP4 both incorporate two of the best hammer actions made by Yamaha.
The Yamaha CP4 features NW or Natural Wood action. And the Yamaha P-515 is rocking the NWX or Natural Wood X action.
Both feature wood key, just as you’d find on an acoustic piano. But one notable difference pertains to escapement. The NWX action is the one that features an escapement mechanism that will ultimately reproduce the touch and feel of an acoustic piano. Specifically, what you get here is the feel of the keyboard going through the let-off and the drop of the hammer whenever a key is played.
The escapement is really only noticeable on the lightest of keystrokes, just as you’d get if you were playing on a grand piano.
This escapement feature is not able on the NW action that’s found on the Yamaha CP4.
So, while the actions on both the P-515 and CP4 are quite similar, there is one noteworthy difference to be aware of.
The Yamaha P 515 and Yamaha CP4 are two portable stage pianos that cost over $1,000, so you can expect them to come with many features you’d expect to get on a quality digital piano.
Both, for example, provide the pianist with split and layer functions. You won’t have any problem playing, for example, a piano sound on the left side of the keyboard and an organ or drum or strings sound on the right.
Along with that, these pianos give you the flexibility to layer your sounds. So if you’d like to blend the sound of an electric piano with that of orchestra strings, you’ll be able to do just that on bot the P-515 and CP4.
Both digital pianos offer a Master Equalizer, which puts the control into your hands by allowing you to tailor the sound to the room you’re playing in. This allows you to always feel comfortable that your sound will sound as accurate as you want it to. The CP4 has a 5-Band EQ—Low, Low Mid, Mid, High Mid, and High.
Smart Pianist App Integration
We can compare specs and I can describe sound quality and how close these pianos come to the feel of a grand piano, but the truth is that these are all subjective and, at the end of the day, I question how overall effective they are for the reader.
I can mention that the Yamaha P-515 has 256 notes of polyphony, and the Yamaha CP4 only has 128 notes of polyphony. But, depending on what you plan to play and how complex the musical piece is, that might not even matter to you.
What I do think is important, however, is whether or not these pianos integrate with the Smart Pianist app. This app does two things:
It allows your iPhone or iPad to serve as a larger display screen for all the controls that are built into the digital piano
And secondly, the app allows you to set up, change, and save settings to the app, giving you not only limitless control over your instrument and your practice sessions, but literally saving you time (rather than cycling through the settings on the piano’s front panel).
But, at least for now, the Smart Pianist is not available for the Yamaha CP4. It is, however, available to be used with the Yamaha P-515 (along with a few other digital pianos that you can see listed here).
This app makes going through the settings of the P-515 a joy, because you get bright colorful images of instruments, words and notes that showcase what you’re doing at all times.
Want to select an organ sound rather than an acoustic piano sound? That can be done through the app.
Want to split the keyboard and play one instrument on one side and another on the other? That can be done through the app.
Want to layer sounds, or configure pedal or tuning or transpose settings? All can be done through the app.
The Smart Pianist app also has a feature called Chord Chart, which lets you select a popular song. Once selected, the app analyzes the track and then provides chord symbols on the screen, enabling you to play right alongside your favorite track.
While only a limited number of songs (several thousand) can be used with the Chord Chart feature, it should be noted that tunes that are more complex (from a harmony stand point) will unfortunately not work with this feature.
Perhaps in the future, that will change.
Overall, I really think this is a great app to use with the P-515. And if you’re a fan of the app and would like to use it with your new digital piano purchase, this might be something that pushes you over the edge towards the P-515.
At the end of the day, the Yamaha P-515 and Yamaha CP4 are great digital pianos. But when you factor in the fact that the Yamaha P-515 is a newer release, has better hammer action (NWX with escapement over NW), the Bösendorfer Imperial piano sound sample, higher polyphony count, and the ability to work with the Smart Pianist app, it would be hard to fault anyone with selecting the P-515 over the CP4 for their next digital piano purchase.
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