Yamaha P45 review
The P-45 is Yamaha’s brand new digital piano, which replaces the previous P-35 model as the new entry-level product in the huge catalog of the Japanese manufacturer. First announced at NAMM 2015, the 88-key weighted action digital piano is now available worldwide at the MSRP price of $499 and currently represents one of the most affordable solutions on the market. It shares all the core-functions with the older Yamaha P-35, adding some new interesting features like the USB connector, which allows you to use the piano as a MIDI controller, and the doubled polyphony, which returns more expression and a richer piano sound.
Let’s take a deeper look at the main features of this new product in the popular P-Series.
Below, please enjoy using the interactive table below to compare the Yamaha P45 to other great digital pianos available on the market:
|Casio PX-S1100||192-note polyphony; 18 built-in tones|
|Yamaha P-125||GHS Weighted Action|
|Alesis Prestige Artist||30 voices, 256 polyphony|
|Casio CDP-S360||128 Notes of Polyphony|
|Yamaha P-515||40 Voices, 18 Drum/FX Kits, 480 XG Voices|
|Casio PX-870||Redesigned Cabinet, Speaker System|
|Korg LP-180||Natural Weighted Hammer Action|
|Casio PX-770||128 Note Polyphony|
Unboxing the Yamaha P45
The Yamaha P-45 digital piano comes with the following:
- P-45 digital piano (only available in Black finish)
- PA-150B AC adaptor
- FC-5 footswitch-style sustain pedal
- Music rest
- User manual
Before we move on, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling digital pianos currently available online (and see well they compare to the P-45 as you continue through this review):
|1) Casio PX-S3100|
|2) Casio PX-870|
|3) Roland RP-102|
|4) Yamaha P-515|
|5) Roland FP-90X|
Now, let’s take a closer look at how the Yamaha P45 compares to other popular (and portable) digital pianos.
Yamaha P45 vs Yamaha P115
So, the Yamaha P45 and P-115 replaced the Yamaha P-35 and P-105 a few years ago. And because these pianos are so similarly priced, it’s very understandable that you might want to learn about any notable differences between these two instruments.
The P-115 is roughly about $100 more than the P-45. You can get the P-115 for roughly $570, while the P-45 can be had for about $449.
Now in terms of specs, these pianos are nearly identical. The P-115 has a bit more height, but the width is the same and they both feature 88 keys.
Another similarity is that they both feature the Graded Hammer Standard keybed. This is a key action by Yamaha that’s ideal for beginners (a GH or Graded Hammer keybed, for example would be mores aimed at intermediate digital piano players).
If we want to be a bit nitpicky, I would say that the P-115 has a matte finish on the black keytops, which the P-45 doesn’t have. Again, this isn’t a big deal, but is worth noting if that’s something that, for whatever reason, you care about.
The matte finish will feel a little bit smoother when you touch the keys though, so, I suppose to some degree, this adds an extra layer of authenticity to the P-115 that the P-45 doesn’t have.
But again, this is not a huge deal, in my opinion.
In terms of sounds, the P-115 has 14 voices, while the P-45 only has ten.
The polyphony count is probably where you’ll notice the biggest difference, as the P-115 has 192 notes of polyphony, compared to the P-45, which only has 64.
That’s a pretty stark difference. This means that you’ll be much more capable of playing complex and expressive pieces using the P-115 than you would be able to while playing on the P-45. You’ll especially notice that the bass notes don’t disappear as quickly as the do on the P-45, thanks to a higher polyphony count.
Now, let’s talk about sound, as there is a difference here between these two pianos. A lot of times, people like to talk about sound in terms of how the music sounds coming out of the speakers. I want to talk about sampling, however.
The Yamaha P-115 uses Pure CF Sound Engine (and Pure CF piano samples). You also get the sound of Yamaha’s CFIIIS 9′ concert grand piano here with the P-115.
The P-45 on the other hand doesn’t have this. Instead, it uses AWM Stereo Sampling.
In the end, these are both good digital pianos, especially if you’re a relative beginner. But the P-115 probably provides the better long-term value.
Yamaha P45 vs Yamaha P71
Now, you may have noticed that there is a new digital piano on the scene called the Yamaha P71. But there’s not necessarily a ton of information on it.
For example, it’s not featured on Yamaha’s P-series lineup page. And the piano only seems to be featured on Amazon’s website.
Well, there’s a reason for that, as the Yamaha P71 is exclusive to Amazon.
So, what’s the difference between the Yamaha P45 and Yamaha P71? Well…to be honest…nothing.
Nothing at all.
That might sound a bit shocking, but it’s quite true. These digital pianos are identical to one another, and Yamaha has even stated as much on their own website when they were asked this very question.
So, if you’ve been struggling with whether or not to buy the Yamaha P-45 or P71—struggle no more. They are the exact same digital piano.
Yamaha P-45 vs Yamaha P-125
Now, what I like about the Yamaha P-125’s is it’s unique ability to integrate with technology. With the Yamaha P-125, you can use the Smart Pianist app. This is an app that can used with either an iPad or an iPhone, and is particularly great since the P-125 doesn’t have an LCD screen.
So now, you can use the app to enable dual or split modes, as well as recording and saving any musical pieces you create directly to the app itself. And you get the visual feedback of your choices right on the phone or tablet screen.
You also have the ability to use a feature called Chord Chart, which allows you to play along with your favorite songs. Chord Chart actually analyzes songs and then displays the chord symbols on the screen, allowing you to literally play alongside your favorite tunes.
And just like the P-115, which used Pure CF Sampling, so does the P-125. By contrast, the P-45 uses AWM Stereo Sampling.
Both of these sampling “techniques” are essentially ways in which Yamaha transfers the sounds from the traditional piano into the digital piano.
And in this case, Pure CF Sampling is newer and better technology than AWM Stereo Sampling.
Another benefit of the Yamaha P-125 to the P-45 is the polyphony count. The P-125 has an incredible 192 notes of polyphony, while the P-45 only has 64 notes of polyphony. If you’re just a beginner, you probably won’t care about this and will be happy with the P-45.
But, if you’re starting to grow as a pianist, and you care about note decay and desire to play more expressive pieces that feature many, many notes playing at one time, the P-125 is pretty much a no brainer.
Yamaha P-45 vs Casio PX-160
These two digital pianos are almost identical in price (both are under $500). Both are weighted digital pianos, and both are highly portable instruments, as well.
The one big difference between these two that’s absolutely worth noting is polyphony. Now, the Casio PX-160 does NOT have 192-notes of polyphony like the P-125 or even the P-115. But, it does have 128 notes of polyphony.
And while that doesn’t blow the P-45 out of the water like the P-125 and P-115 does, it’s till much, much better than the P-45.
So, while I hate harping on this point, I want to reiterate it here again one more time. If you feel you’re going to eventually play more complicated pieces on your digital piano, you’re absolutely are going to want an instrument like the Casio PX-160 that has a higher polyphony count.
Right after the unboxing, it’s easy to notice the similarities between the new P-45 it’s predecessor: the P-45 is built on the design of the P-35 and shares the same compact, lightweight chassis (only 25 pounds) which lies the renowned Yamaha’s GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) keyboard.
Thanks to its heavier touch in the low-end and lighter touch in the high-end, this weighted action keyboard is the perfect choice for beginners who want to learn the basics and for intermediate musicians who want to practice and strengthen their technique with the same touch and feel of a real piano.
Also from the P-35 is the same AWM (Advanced Wave Memory) sound engine, which offers two great, clear, and realistic acoustic piano tones, two electric piano sounds, two organ models, two harpsichord variations, a strings patch and the Yamaha’s classic vibraphone tone.
Also returning in the same location of the previous model are the main controls (Power Switch, Master Volume and the multi-use Function button), and the two-6W integrated speakers, while on the rear side we find the new USB-to-host connector replacing the older MIDI I/O, which is a modern way to play and record your music using a computer.
Unfortunately, the available controls are not enough to turn the P-45 into a real master keyboard, but at least the built-in USB port allows you to save money for an external USB/MIDI interface and compensate for the ordinary lack of a built-in audio recorder, which is surely a shame for a 2015 product.
88 SHADES OF A GRAND PIANO
Under the fingers, the new P-45 sounds just as good as you might expect: the feeling returned by the classic AWM engine from Yamaha is always pleasing and the piano tone is really beautiful thanks to the new 64-note polyphony, which guarantees a much expressive and deeper piano experience by holding double the amount of notes while pressing the sustain pedal, or when using the “Dual” layer mode.
The GHS keyboard provides a heavier touch on the lower keys and more responsiveness on the higher zone, and it’s perfect for students who can’t afford to buy a real piano but still want to have a convincing and realistic weighted keyboard to practice with.
While you can choose from four different sensitivity levels for matching your playing style, the keyboard itself is still a bit too noisy if played at a lower volume or using headphones, especially in the medium/lower-end. This is something that appears to affect some of Yamaha’s entry-level products, so choosing between one of company’s cheaper models won’t help resolve the problem.
Though the other integrated voices are not shining for their extreme tone quality, they are still a good bonus that make the P-45 an optimal choice for musicians who want a lightweight and affordable solution for gigs or rehearsals, especially the Rhodes-like electric piano sound and the strings tone, which blends well when used in layer mode with the acoustic piano.
OLD VS. NEW
Evolving from its previous entry-level model, Yamaha has successfully managed to create a new, compact solution that fits both students and on-the-go musicians, but of course the audience P-45 tries to reach is much wider than that.
If you love playing for fun with friends at home (unless you want to use the piano as an arranger keyboard or a media player, features available on the DGX-Series), adding the optional $80 L-85 Stand can transform the Yamaha P-45 into an attractive piece of furniture that would easily find a place in your home, just like a real upright piano.
Thanks to the returning Duo Mode, which splits the keyboard in two specular parts and allows two people to play simultaneously, the P-45 digital piano may also be very useful for teachers during lessons with their students.
Of course, these are basic features that you can find in almost any other entry-level product, even on the old good P-35. So, ultimately, is it worth buying the new model instead of the previous one?
The answer to the latter is, well, no–despite the new USB-to-host port and 2x amount of polyphony, the two products are basically the same. That’s not to say that you will be disappointed in the P-45, nor is it to say that it’s not a worthy piano to own. It’s simply that, if you’re on the fence between the P45 vs P35, you should strongly consider the P35 assuming you can get it at a very affordable price.
Now, if you are looking for your very first digital piano, choosing the new P-45 instead of the older model may be the best approach, but before you buy, it’s really important to consider the final cost of both products: for the same price, it’s obviously better to buy the newer P-45 and get a much natural and surrounding piano tone thanks to the higher polyphony.
But, despite a MSRP price of $499 for both P-35 and P-45, the release of the new model from Yamaha may force several retailers to cut the P-35’s price in order to quickly sell the remaining units in stock. While you can already buy the P-45 for $449, some retailers have started selling discounted P-35 at the tempting price of $369, which would allow you to add some optional accessories (like the L-85 Stand and the FC-3A piano-style sustain pedal, which supports half-pedal functionality) and therefore get more value at the same price of the newer model.
While it is not necessarily recommended that you upgrade from a Yamaha P-35 to the new P-45 digital piano, evaluating a more performing and richer product like the classic P-105 or the recently announced P-115 is definitely worth investigating.
Of course, we are talking about two completely different kinds of products: in fact, while the P-35 and P-45 models are designed for beginners with an entry-level price in mind, both the P-105 and the P-115 are two of Yamaha’s intermediate solutions with a much wider array of built-in features.
This is particularly true as it pertains to the brand new P-115, which is designed for a semi-professional audience and has evolved from the P-105 thanks to the latest itineration of the Pure CF Sound Engine. Here, you can count on an extraordinary piano sample based on renowned CFIIIS 9′ concert grand piano, which sounds even better with the new maximum 192-note polyphony. And, Yamaha has improved the position of the integrated speakers in the chassis, now in a true-circle shape that helps tweeters vibrate in a more natural way to achieve a crystal and clear piano tone.
The fourteen different available voices, along with a new Effects section (four different types of Reverb to improve your sounds: Recital hall, Concert hall, Salon and Club), Rhythm and Pianist Style modes, are great additions to the set of features included in this revamped model, which offers more variety to the final user.
Even if the P-45 and the P-115 share the same GHS 88-note keyboard, the new CFIIIS piano tone sounds just amazing and really makes the noisy keyboard–with a new-matte finish on the black keys–an acceptable compromise for a digital piano which, it’s worth reminding, ships at the MSRP price of $999.
So, of course, if you’re looking to upgrade from your old P-35 or you can afford a similar investment for your first digital piano, don’t hesitate and buy the P-115: you’ll get a superior product that is still lightweight and portable just like the P-45, but one that offers more connectivity options (thanks to the direct line-out and the Speaker On/Off mode) and the interaction with all the iOS apps from Yamaha, like the Digital Piano Controller free software which allows you to control the main functions of your piano directly from an iPad or iPhone.
With the P-45, Yamaha has made another step towards the creation of the perfect entry-level digital piano. This new product in the P-Series shares many common features with its predecessor and ships with a 64-note maximum polyphony, which offers a better-sounding piano tone in the same lightweight chassis of only 25 pounds, that allows beginners and on-the-go musicians to easily carry it over to their gigs and rehearsals. The 88-key GHS keyboard is still a great choice for aspiring pianists and offers the same feelings of a traditional acoustic piano, making the P-45 one of the best digital pianos for beginners.
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