Yamaha digital pianos review

Are you looking for a digital piano but can’t decide which one is perfect for your needs? Believe me, I feel your pain! When I first started looking for mine I discovered there are hundreds of models out there with tons of features. 

I’m glad to tell you I finally nailed it and I created this super comprehensive guide on everything you need to know before buying a Yamaha digital piano. Go ahead and discover everything you need to consider before buying a digital piano and which are the best options for all the pockets.

NOTE: This guide may feel a bit technical at first but don’t get intimidated, you can skip to the curated list of the best Yamaha digital pianos and discover which one is the best for your needs, enjoy! 


The Sounds of Yamaha Digital Pianos


Where Digital Pianos Get Their Sound: Sampling and Modeling

Yamaha digital pianos

Acoustic pianos produce sound when you depress a key on the keyboard. That key operates the mechanisms inside the piano that lift the damper off of the strings and allow a felt hammer to strike the strings. The hammer then immediately withdraws to allow the strings to vibrate. When the key is released, the damper stops the vibration of the strings.

An electric piano creates sound in the same way that a Moog synthesizer produces sound. The piano or the synthesizer produces a sound wave that is modified or modeled to duplicate the sound of a piano or some other instrument, or, in the case of the synthesizer, any sound at all, including sounds never before heard.

The sound of some digital pianos is created using physical or virtual modeling alone. For these pianos, advanced software programs combined with various sound modeling techniques recreate all of the complex resonances that occur within an acoustic piano.

Most digital pianos work like the mellotron. Notes played on high-quality pianos and other instruments in a recording studio at different volume levels are recorded, or sampled, and stored.

For the mellotron, created before digital files existed, the sounds were stored on loops of tape that played with the depression of a key, if the tape didn’t break. Ask the Moody Blues about having to repair a mellotron in the middle of a performance, or, maybe don’t.

Today, the sounds are stored as digital files, and the notes produced by hundreds of instruments can be stored in the memory of digital pianos. These digital files also can be adjusted, sometimes with modeling technology, to make complex sounds, such as the sound of a resonating piano string, as realistic as possible. Modeling is particularly useful in recreating the complex interactions of sounds created by an acoustic piano when the sustain or damper pedal is used.

The Quality of the Sound

The sound of a digital piano depends on the quality of the instruments recorded, the quality of the recording equipment, the placement of the microphones, the acoustics of the studio where the sounds were recorded, the length of the sound samples, the way the sound is processed with the studio equipment after recording, and the amount of memory available in the piano for storing sounds.

The amount of memory the piano has determined how large the sound files can be. Larger files hold more information about the sound. For example, a larger file can hold a longer recording of the note so that more information about how the sound of the note changes overtime is available.

On an acoustic piano, a note begins suddenly as a percussion when the hammer hits the strings. The percussion causes the strings to vibrate, and these vibrations cause other strings to vibrate in sympathy. The vibrations also bounce back and forth off of the sides of the piano’s cabinet.

All of this influences how you hear the sound.

Over time, the vibrations of the strings gradually diminish, causing the note to soften until it fades away, or until the key is released and the damper stops the vibration.

To accommodate the available memory in a digital piano, however, shortened recordings of the sounds are used. The less memory the piano has, the smaller the file and the shorter the sound recording.

Instead of the full natural decay of the note, a digital piano plays a loop of the note at an increasingly lower volume. This simulates the decay of the note, but it doesn’t duplicate all of the complex interactions that occur in the sound of an acoustic piano or any other acoustic instrument.

To be fair, though, manufacturers of digital pianos continue looking for ways to duplicate the sounds of acoustic instruments as closely as possible.

Polyphony: the Number of Sounds or Instruments a Digital Piano Can Produce at the Same Time

Yamaha digital pianos Buying Guide

Polyphony can affect both the number of instrument voices you can select to play on a digital piano at one time as well as the number of overtones you’ll hear when playing the piano as a piano.

When the strings of an acoustic piano vibrate, they produce the fundamental note along with the higher-pitched harmonic overtones of that note. The strings that vibrate in sympathy with the fundamental note do the same. When you are playing notes in rapid succession or inhibiting the damper by playing one of the two or three pedals on an acoustic piano, you hear more and more tones being produced at the same time.

When it comes to selecting voices, you may want to play something with the combined sounds of piano and guitar or piano and flute. You might want to select the instruments that you would hear in a jazz, rock, or reggae band, or you might want to create an orchestral sound.

The range of its polyphony dictates how many sounds, notes, or voices it can produce at the same time without suffering a loss of sound quality. You’ll find digital pianos with 32-note, 64-note, 128-note, 256-note, and 264-note polyphony.

If you’re just beginning to learn the piano, 32-note polyphony might be adequate if you’re on a budget.

If you’re an intermediate level pianist who needs to consider your budget, 64-note polyphony might be sufficient.

Whether you’re at the beginner or intermediate stage, though, keep in mind that as your skills advance, you may, sooner or later, become dissatisfied with the sound of a 32-note or 64-note keyboard and end up selling it or trading it in to purchase a higher quality keyboard.

If you are an experienced pianist or if you are used to playing an acoustic piano, invest in a digital piano with one of the higher levels of polyphony.

If you’re interested in songwriting and creating separate tracks of different instruments to combine and playback together, then you definitely need a digital piano with the highest level of polyphony available.

The Speaker System

As with the sound for your entertainment system, the size and quality of the speaker elements, as well as the overall wattage of the speakers, will affect the quality of the piano’s sound.

The wattage determines the amount of power available to your speakers to produce sound. The higher the wattage, the more power your speakers have to produce clear, distinct sounds at higher volumes.

Whether you increase the volume through the volume control or through touch as you are playing, the sound should not become muffled or fuzzy. It should remain clear at all volume levels.


Acoustic vs. Digital: the Feel of the Keys

When you are playing an acoustic piano, you definitely feel the resistance of the mechanism that lifts the damper and moves the hammer. If you play a key softly, you’ll also feel the point, about two-thirds of the way down, at which the hammer releases from the string to allow it to vibrate. This is called the escapement, and some digital piano keyboards duplicate the feel and change in the sound of this release as well as the resistance provided by acoustic piano keys.

Digital pianos have four types of keyboards – non-weighted, semi-weighted, fully weighted, and keyboards with graduated weighting.

If you are plan on using your digital piano for performing, non-weighted and semi-weighted keyboards are lighter weight and easier to transport.

If you plan on switching between an acoustic piano, digital piano, and an organ or synthesizer keyboard, then you should look for a digital piano with a semi-weighted keyboard.

If you’re mainly interested in developing your skills as a pianist, then you need either a fully weighted keyboard or one with graduated weighting.

Non-weighted Keyboards

Non-weighted keyboards have lightweight plastic keys with a spring action. The keys produce no resistance when depressed, and they return to their up position quickly. They do, however, allow you to play more quickly.

Some of these keyboards have narrower keys so that the length of the keyboard is shorter. If you want to develop the feel for the location of notes on the keyboard of an acoustic piano, though, look for a keyboard with standard-size keys.

Semi-weighted Keyboards

These keyboards use a heavier spring and may add weights under the keys to produce some resistance when the key is depressed. The keys also don’t return to the up position as quickly as the keys of a non-weighted keyboard. Still, the resistance is less than that produced by the keys of an acoustic keyboard, and then return to the up position is much quicker. Semi-weighted keyboards offer a middle ground between fully weighted and non-weighted keyboards.

Fully Weighted Keyboards

Fully weighted keyboards have hammers attached either under or at the end of the key. The keys on fully weighted keyboards also are longer from front to back, shifting the fulcrum or pivot point further back on the key. This allows you to play further up on the keys rather than only at the end.

The keys may be made of wood rather than plastic. Some may have ebony and ivory keys or synthetic ebony and ivory, but others use an ivory-feel, matte finish that absorbs perspiration. This matte finish provides better contact between your fingers and the keys and reduces the chances that your fingers will slip on the keys.

If you learn to play on a digital piano, only a fully weighted keyboard helps you to develop and maintain the finger-strength and control of touch that you’ll need if you want to switch to playing an acoustic piano.

Graduated Weight Keyboards

Digital piano keyboards with graduated weighting take into account that the lower the bass note is on an acoustic piano, the heavier the string is, and the heavier the string is, the heavier the hammer must be to cause the string to vibrate when it’s struck. Consequently, a keyboard with graduated weighting adds increasingly more weight to lower notes as they progress into the bass but reduces the weight as note progress into the treble.

Pressure and Velocity Sensitive Keyboards

Yamaha digital piano

Some digital keyboards sense the differences in the pressure you apply to the keys as you are playing as well as the speed at which you are striking the keys.

Pressure-sensitive keyboards respond not only to the differences in your touch for pianissimo, piano, mezzo-piano, mezzo-forte, forte, fortissimo, crescendos, and decrescendos but also to the differences in your touch when playing accented and unaccented beats.

Velocity-sensitive keyboards accommodate the speed of playing at different tempos, reducing the chance of dropped notes at faster tempos.

Keyboards that are both pressure and velocity-sensitive accommodate the differences between staccato notes, triplets, and notes held for a normal count for the tempo of the piece.

While this may sound like a concern only for advanced pianists, a key pressure and velocity-sensitive keyboard with fully weighted keys or keys with graduated weighting assists beginning and intermediate pianists with developing and maintaining the differences in touch that are required when playing an acoustic piano.

How Many Keys

Acoustic pianos have 88 keys with a range of over seven octaves.

Digital pianos may have 25 keys, 49 keys, 61 keys, or 88 keys.

The longer the keyboard, the heavier and more difficult it is to transport. So, if you are considering buying a digital piano to use for performances, you may want to consider how many octaves you’ll need for the type of music you play and purchase a shorter, lighter weight keyboard.

If you are just learning to play the piano and you’re on a budget, a digital piano with 61 keys, which covers five octaves, might be acceptable until your skills and music choices become more advanced. However, you may want to start with a piano with 88 keys that you won’t limit your skills or your musical choices as you develop.


The Pedals: the Most Commonly Used Pedal Your Digital Piano Should Have

Acoustic pianos, depending on when they were built, may have two or three-foot pedals. Digital pianos may have one, two, or three.

On a piano with two pedals, the soft or una corda pedal is on the left, and the sustain or damper pedal is on the right. If a piano has three pedals, then the sostenuto pedal is between the soft and sustain pedals.

If a digital piano has only one pedal, be certain that it is the sustain pedal, as this is the most commonly used pedal.

The Sustain or Damper Pedal

On an acoustic piano, the damper lifts when a key is struck, allowing the string to vibrate, but when the key is released, the damper immediately returns and stops the vibration.

The sustain pedal operates the damper, lifting it from all the piano strings, allowing not only the strings that are struck to continue to resonate after the key is released but also allowing other strings to vibrate in harmonic sympathy until the pedal is released. By depressing the pedal only partway, you can create a half sustain rather than a full sustain.

While the sustain creates an impressive wall of sound, it also makes the individual notes less clear, muddying what you’re playing. Most sheet music that calls for the sustain pedal, or either of the other two pedals, will show when to depress it and when to release it below the staff lines of the music.

When deciding for yourself when to depress and release the sustain, use it thoughtfully to enhance the piece you’re playing.

The Una Corda or Soft Pedal

The soft pedal operates differently on acoustic grand pianos and acoustic upright pianos. When a key is struck on either type of acoustic piano, the hammer actually hits three strings rather than one, creating a louder, fuller sound.

When you depress the una corda pedal on an acoustic grand piano, it moves the hammers to the right, so that only one or two strings are struck. On an upright acoustic piano, the una corda pedal moves the hammer closer to the strings so that it hits them with less force. The result, in either case, is a softer sound.

The Sostenuto Pedal

Like the sustain pedal, the sostenuto pedal lifts the damper, but only from the keys that were struck at the time the pedal was depressed. The notes played by these keys are sustained until the sostenuto pedal is released.

The notes struck following the use of the sostenuto pedal play in the normal way – they play as long as the key is depressed, but when the key is released, they are dampened. This makes the following notes sound as if they are being played as short, detached, staccato notes in comparison to the sustained notes.

While this is an interesting effect, it’s rarely used.

How the Pedals on Digital Pianos Work

Digital pianos may have hammers in the keys for weight and resistance, but they don’t have or need strings or dampers. Instead, when you use one of these pedals, the digital pianos select files from their samples that contain notes played with the appropriate effect.

However, the sostenuto pedal is so little used that some digital pianos allow you to assign various, more common tasks to it, such as changing your selection of instrument voices or turning the page of sheet music displayed on your iPad.


[BONUS] Yamaha’s Smart Pianist App for iOS

Compatible digital pianos come with Yamaha’s Smart Pianist App. The app allows you to select instruments; adjust settings; practice with a metronome; and record yourself as you play, whether you’re practicing or creating your own composition. The app also lets you load MIDI songs to the app and scan the songs you’ve added to the piano’s Music Library. The app analyzes the chord progressions of these songs and displays them on your tablet so that you can play along while hearing your playing combined with the song through the piano’s sound system.

Best Yamaha Digital Pianos to buy

#1

The Yamaha Arius YDP-S54 console digital piano features an 88 key keyboard with Graded Hammer 3 (GH3) weighting. Three sensors within the keys recognize changes in pressure and velocity allowing pianists at all levels to develop and maintain the touch required to play accented and staccato notes, triplets, rapidly repeated notes, crescendos, decrescendos, and all the gradations in volume ranging from pianissimo to fortissimo. When using a light touch, the keys duplicate the feel of the hammer of lifting from the strings after striking them.

The Arius YDP-S54 offers all three pedals -- the sustain, the una corda, and the sostenuto. The sustain pedal also recognizes the half-damper position. In addition, Yamaha equips this piano with Damper Resonance DSP, which enables the damper pedal to recreate the full, rich, complex sound created inside of a grand piano when played with the damper lifted from the strings.

The recordings sampled for the piano voice of the Yamaha Arius YDP-S54 come from CFX Stereo Sampling of the flagship of Yamaha’s entire piano line -- the 9 foot CFX Full Concert Grand Piano. These samplings provide the Arius YDP-S54 with powerful, resonating bass notes and sparkling, crystal clear high notes produced by the CFX Full Concert Grand Piano.

The Arius YDP-S54 has a total of 10 preset voices with four reverb settings and 192 voice polyphony. Ten of the songs stored on the Arius YDP-S54 are demos for the preset voices.

The built-in metronome can be set to tempos from 5 to 280.

When you need to play more quietly, Yamaha’s Intelligent Acoustic Control balances the sound accordingly. When you need to listen to yourself play while wearing headphones, the Stereophonic Optimizer still lets you enjoy the piano’s acoustic sound with the perception that the sound is coming from within the piano and not the headphones.

With the Arius YDP-S54 you can record one song at a time with two tracks in MIDI format. The memory allows 100 KB per song (approximately 11,000 notes).

You can use the USB TO HOST port on the Yamaha Arius YDP-S54 to connect it to your computer or smart device, which gives you access to a wide range of musical applications The Yamaha Arius is compatible with Yamaha’s Smart Pianist app. The Arius YDP-S54 includes 50 classic songs to start off your Music Library.

The sleek, Yamaha Arius YDP-S54 console measures 53.26” long x 15.9” wide x 31.18” high and weighs 88 pounds. It’s available in either black or white with synthetic ivory and ebony keys. The Arius comes with a black piano bench, the Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD and Fast Track music book, headphones, a polishing cloth, and two months of free online lessons.

Pros

  • Keyboard has keys with graduated weighting and three sensors that register touch pressure and velocity.
  • Three pedals – sustain, una corda, and sustenuto; sustain pedal supports half sustain while Damper Resonance DSP allows recreation of a grand piano played with damper lifted.
  • Samples recorded from Yamaha’s 9 foot CFX Full Concert Grand Piano.
  • USB TO HOST port connects Arius to your computer or smart device for access to music apps.
  • Yamaha’s Smart Pianist allows you to control piano settings through the app and display chord progressions of songs stored in the Music Library on a tablet so you can play along.
  • Piano comes with a bench, instructional DVD and book, polishing cloth, and two months of free online lessons.

Cons

  • Several purchasers report that the piano was damaged during shipping.
  • Some purchasers report that the treble keys (the keys on the right-hand side) were stuck or did not play.
#2

The Yamaha P-515 digital piano has an 88 key portable keyboard. The weighted, touch and velocity-sensitive keys of the Natural Wood X (NWX) keyboard include the feel and change in the sound of that you would experience during escapement when the hammer releases after striking the strings on an acoustic piano. NWX keyboards are made from specifically selected woods that are then dried and given synthetic ivory and ebony caps in a process designed to create the feel and responsiveness of a grand piano keyboard.

The samples for the Yamaha P-515 were recorded from Yamaha’s flagship CFX Full Concert Grand Piano and the Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand Piano. The addition of Virtual Resonance Modeling (VRM) recreates the complex factors that interact to create the rich, varied and vividly expressive sounds of a concert grand as it is played under differing acoustic conditions.

The Piano Room setting on the P-515 lets you take advantage of this combination of modeling and sampling. You can choose the acoustics of different types of rooms and select the sounds of a variety of pianos. You can even adjust the position of the lid, the resonance of the strings and the damper, and the touch response on the piano you’ve chosen from this setting.

The sampling, Virtual Resonance Modeling, and the selections offered by the Piano Room make the P-515 the flagship of Yamaha’s P-line of digital pianos.

Those P-515 offers over 500 different voices and 40 different rhythms suited to a range of music genres. You can further customize those voices by turning them into a chorus, adding one of six reverbs, and other effects to any of them. You can even split the keyboard so that you can play one instrument voice with your right hand and one with your left. The P-515 offers 256-voice polyphony to handle all of your experimentation.

A total of 21 songs are included to demonstrate the sound of the various voices.

If you’re learning to play, the split keyboard allows you to play along with your teacher so that you can improve your command of tempo and expressive techniques. A built-in metronome can be set for tempos from 5 to 500.

The P-515 comes with a built-in 2-way speaker system that projects sound both upward and downward. It also has 5-watt and 15-watt amps and Yamaha’s Twisted Flare Port. The port has a gently twisted, flared shape that evenly diffuses the airflow, reducing the noise from air turbulence for clear, precise reproduction of low-frequency bass sounds.

When you are playing while wearing
headphones, Binaural Sampling works together with the Stereophonic Optimizer to create a three-dimensional sound and adjust its distribution so that you’ll hear it as if it is coming from the piano.

You can record up to 250 songs, with up to 80 minutes or 500 KB per song. Songs are recorded in WAV format.

The Yamaha P-515 is compatible with the Smart Pianist app, and it can connect to music players and iOS devices via Bluetooth or Yamaha’s USB TO HOST port. It also has accessory ports in the back for adding pedals. The P-515 starts off your Music Library with 50 classic songs.

The P-515 is a white portable piano keyboard for home or stage use that comes with an adjustable, double-braced, black, X-style stand; a black, X-style bench; a keyboard cover with drawstring closure; the Austin Bazaar instructional DVD and Fast Track Music Book; and two months of free online lessons. The keyboard measures 53.27” long x 1.16” wide x 31.12” high when placed on its stand, and it weighs 88 pounds including the stand.

Pros

  • Samples were recorded from Yamaha’s flagship CFX Full Concert Grand Piano and the Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand Piano.
  • Virtual Resonance Modeling (VRM) recreates the complex factors that interact to create the sounds produced by concert pianos under a variety of acoustic situations.
  • Piano Room setting lets players create the acoustics of various types of rooms and pianos.
  • P-515 includes over 500 different voices that can be adjusted with varying effects such as chorus or reverb.
  • Keyboard has a built-in 2-way speaker system, built-in 5-watt and 15-watt amps, and Yamaha’s Twisted Flare Port.
  • Keyboard comes with an adjustable X-style stand, an X-style bench, a keyboard cover with drawstring closure; the Austin Bazaar instructional DVD and music book; and two months of free online lessons.
  • The keyboard has accessory ports for pedals, a USB TO HOST port, and Bluetooth connectivity to MIDI devices.

Cons

  • The keyboard does not come with accessories, such as a sustain pedal.
#3

This is the same Yamaha P-515 portable keyboard described above but in black rather than white.

For those who prefer the look of a traditional spinet piano, this P-515 comes with a black, furniture style stand and a matching padded black piano bench. The hinged seat of the bench lifts up to reveal a storage space for your sheet music.

Yamaha’s LP-1 Triple Pedal Unit in black metal attaches to the back of the keyboard, and it also would fit the white Yamaha P-515 above. The Triple Pedal Unit includes the sustain, una corda, and sostenuto pedals, allowing you to take further advantage of the P-515’s Virtual Resonance Modeling.

This P-515 bundle also comes with Audio-Technica ATH-T22 stereo headphones, an 8 GB Kraft Music flash drive for storing songs, files, or your own sound samples, and the DIY keyboard book with online video lessons that you can download or stream. The keyboard measures 52.6” x 14.8” wide x 5.7” high and weighs 48.5 pounds.

Pros

  • The same pros apply to this Yamaha P-515 portable keyboard as were listed for the previous one.
  • For those who prefer the look of a spinet piano, this P-515 comes with a black furniture style stand and a matching black piano bench with a padded, hinged seat and storage for sheet music.
  • This P-515 also includes Yamaha’s Triple Pedal Unit that includes the sustain, una corda, and sostenuto pedals.
  • The bundle also comes with Audio-Technica ATH-T22 stereo headphones, an 8 GB Kraft Music flash drive for storing songs, files, or your own sound samples, and the DIY keyboard book with online video lessons that you can download or stream.

Cons

  • While this bundle includes an instruction book, it lacks the DVD included with the previous bundle.
#4

The Yamaha P-125 digital piano offers a portable 88-key keyboard that has touch-sensitive keys with Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) graduated weighting.

The P-125 allows you to split the keyboard between any two of the piano’s instrument voices or split the keyboard between two players. For example, a teacher can play the same piece at the same time as the student to help the student learn tempo or to let the student hear how a technique or an overall piece should sound. In addition, the P-125 has a built-in metronome with tempos ranging from 5 to 280.

The samples for the P-125’s piano voice were recorded from Yamaha’s 9-foot CFIIS concert grand piano. The P-125 uses Yamaha’s Pure CF Sound Engine to reproduce it’s sampled tones. The P-125 also includes 24 other preset instrument voices, four reverb settings, 22 different preset rhythms, and the ability to produce 192-voice polyphony. A selection of 22 songs let you hear the different instrument voices.

A two-way speaker system directs the sound in two directions, both up and down, creating a stereo sound experience for the pianist that duplicates hearing the sound as if it were coming from an acoustic piano.

When you need to lower the volume, Intelligent Acoustic Control balances the sound.

While this P-125 bundle comes with a keyboard stand, the keyboard also is equipped with Table EQ. Table EQ optimizes acoustics so that even if you leave the stand behind and play the keyboard while it’s sitting on a hard, flat surface, like a table or desk, you still hear the best possible sound.

The P-125 can record a single song with two tracks. It allows 100 KB of memory per song, which equals approximately 11,000 notes.

The USB TO HOST port lets you connect the P-125 to MIDI devices as well as to your computer or tablet, giving you access to music-making software.

The bundle includes the Kraft Music KSX2 X-Frame keyboard stand, Audio-Technica ATH-T22 Dynamic Stereo headphones, the On-Stage KDA7088B keyboard dust cover, the On-Stage KSP-100 piano-style sustain pedal, and the DIY Keyboard Book. The P-125 starts your Music Library with 50 songs. The keyboard measures 52.2” long x 11.6” wide x 6.5” high and weighs 26 pounds.

Pros

  • Keys have graduated weighting.
  • Piano voice sampled from the 9 foot Yamaha’s CFIIS concert grand and reproduced with Yamaha’s Pure CF Sound Engine.
  • Keyboard can be split for playing two instrument voices -- one with the left hand and one with right – or to allow teacher and student to play simultaneously.
  • P-125 has 192 voice polyphony with 24 preset instrument voices, four reverb settings, and 22 preset rhythms.
  • Can record a single song with two tracks, allowing 100 KB per song (approximately 11,000 notes).
  • USB TO HOST port connect to MIDI devices as well as computers and tablets for access to music-making software.
  • Table EQ produces the best sound possible even if you set the P-125 on a table while playing.

Cons

  • Lacks online music lessons.
#5

The 88-key Yamaha Clavinova CLP675 Digital Piano comes with keys with graduated weighting. GrandTouch Keyboard Action provides a long key-to-fulcrum distance creating a balanced feel whether the keys are played at the tip or at the back. GrandTouch Keyboard Action also introduces additional friction near the bottom of the lightest keystrokes to duplicate the feel of escapement. The white keys are made of wood with synthetic ivory tops while the black keys are made of synthetic ebony.

The piano voices of the Yamaha Clavinova are sampled from Yamaha’s flagship 9-foot CFX Full Concert Grand Piano and the Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand Piano. The samplings include key off samples of the changes in the sounds of these pianos as the pianist releases the key and the damper returns to contact with the strings.

Virtual Resonance Modeling enriches the samples by calculating and duplicating all the complex interactions of the strings that have been played, the strings that resonate in sympathetic harmony (the aliquot resonance), the action of the hammer and damper, and the resonance of the soundboard and body of the piano to recreate the most realistic acoustic piano sound possible. The three-way speaker system further enhances the realism of the sound.

Yamaha’s Smooth Release allows the Clavinova to respond to the differences in the velocity of a pianist’s touch between notes that are struck and released rapidly, such as staccato notes or notes played at fast tempos, and notes played at slower tempos.

The keys of the Clavinova also are sensitive to the differences in the pressure applied when playing accented notes, crescendos and decrescendos, and when playing pieces in pianissimo, piano, mezzo-piano, mezzo-forte, forte, and fortissimo.

The Clavinova includes the sustain, una corda, and sostenuto pedal.

The Clavinova’s Grand Piano (GP) Response Damper Pedal not only changes the resonance and sound level of the notes being played, but it also changes the level of resistance you’ll feel as you depress the damper or sustain pedal to different depths, just as would occur when playing a grand piano. When depressed at more shallow levels, the pedal offers less resistance, but when depressed further, it provides further resistance, duplicating the feel of lifting the damper further from above the strings.

When you choose one of the piano voices while listening to yourself playing through headphones, the Stereophonic Optimizer creates the perception that you are still hearing the sound as if it were coming from the body of an acoustic piano rather than the headphones. The binaural sampling used for the voice of the CFX Full Grand Piano enhances the effect.

The Multitrack Sound Recorder lets you record up to 16 tracks with the touch of one button. You can use this feature to improve your skills by recording each hand separately to analyze your playing, but you also can create your own arrangements by overdubbing instrument voices. Recordings are made in MIDI format, but you also can create sound files in WAV format.

The Clavinova can connect wirelessly to Bluetooth devices. It also has two USB ports – the USB TO HOST port and the USB TO DEVICE port.

The Yamaha Clavinova CLP-675 comes with a bench, power chord, music book, owner’s manual, and online member registration number. The Clavinova CLP-675 is compatible with Yamaha’s Smart Pianist app. It measures 57.7 “ long x 18.3” wide x 38.2” high, and it weighs 156.5 pounds.

Pros

  • The 88 key GrandTouch Keyboard Action includes graduated weighing on keys with long fulcrum distances that are touch and velocity-sensitive and that duplicate escapement.
  • Clavinova includes the sustain, una corda, and sustenuto pedal.
  • The GP Response Damper Pedal recreates the feel and differences in sound created by depressing the sustain pedal to different depths.
  • Piano voices are sampled from Yamaha’s CFX Full Concert Grand Piano and the Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand Piano.
  • Virtual Resonance Modeling duplicates the complex interactions of sound within a grand piano for further realism.
  • Can record up to 16 tracks in MIDI or WAV formats.
  • Includes Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

Cons

  • Top of the line pricing may be prohibitive for beginning and intermediate players, but the Clavinova is a top of the line digital piano.
#6

The Yamaha YDP-144 Arius digital piano has 88 touch-sensitive keys with Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) weighting. The matte finish on the black keys absorbs moisture, preventing the keys from becoming slippery and allowing you to play for extended periods. The piano features a spinet style console with a rosewood finish.

The CFX Premium Grand Piano Voice of the YDP-144 Arius was sampled from Yamaha’s 9-foot CFX Full Concert Grand Piano. The sampling includes the subtle key-off change in tone as the damper returns to the string when the key is released.

The YDP-144 Arius has a total of 10 preset voices and four reverb settings. It produces 192-voice polyphony. The piano includes 10 songs that allow you to hear each of the voices.

The YDP-144 Arius includes all three pedals – the sustain, una corda, and sostenuto. Half-damper control on the sustain pedal increases and decreases the amounts of sustain as you depress and hold the pedal to varying heights. Damper Resonance DSP recreates the complex interactions of sounds from within a grand piano played with the damper raised.

The Intelligent Acoustic Control balances the sound of the piano when you play at lower volumes.

When you play while listening to yourself through the headphones, the Stereophonic Optimizer creates the perception that you’re hearing the sound from the piano rather than the headphones.

You can record one song with two tracks in MIDI format with 100 KB or approximately 11,000 notes per song.

The YDP-144 Arius is compatible with the Smart Pianist app, and it starts your Music Library off with 50 classic songs. The piano has a built-in metronome that can be set for tempos from 5 to 280.

This Yamaha YDP-144 Arius bundle comes with a piano bench, headphones, the Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, the Fast Track Music Book, keyboard stickers, online music lessons, and a polishing cloth. You can connect the piano to your computer through the USB TO HOST port. The piano measures 53.4” long x 16.6” wide x 33.4” tall and weighs 83.77 pounds.

Pros

  • Keyboard has 88 touch-sensitive keys with graded weighting.
  • Piano voice sampled from Yamaha’s CFX Full Concert Grand Piano and includes key off sampling.
  • Includes all three pedals – sustain, una corda, and sostenuto with half-damper control and Damper Resonance DSP.
  • Intelligence Acoustic Control balances sound when playing at low volume.
  • When listening through headphones, Stereophonic Optimizer creates the perception that sound comes from the piano.
  • Compatible with Smart Pianist app and comes with a bench, headphones, instructional DVD, music book, online lessons, keyboard stickers, and polishing cloth.

Cons

  • Lacks sensitivity to velocity.

Our favourite Yamaha Digital Piano

Our favourite Yamaha digital piano is the Yamaha P-515 white digital piano with the adjustable x-frame stand and x-frame seat.

The piano voices of the P-515 are sampled from both the Yamaha CFX Full Concert Grand Piano and the Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand Piano, and Virtual Resonance Modeling further adds to the realistic sound of a concert grand piano.

The keys are weighted and sensitive to both pressure and velocity, and, when played softly, they offer the feel of the escapement.

In addition, the P-515 has over 500 instrument voices with 40 different rhythms for different genres of music and six reverbs, the ability to create a chorus with the voices, and the ability to split the keyboard and play two different voices at the same time, making this a versatile piano that lets you play any musical genre. With 256-voice polyphony, the P-515 won’t lose any of the notes, and with Yamaha’s Twisted Flare Port, bass notes are certain to be clear, precise, and undistorted.

The keyboard, stand, and seat are all portable, so you can take your piano wherever you want. Performers can transport whatever they need for their performance, whether they’ll be standing or sitting while playing, but non-performers who want to entertain at a family gathering might want to transport this piano as well.

Students can take the keyboard to their lessons, and with the split keyboard they can play along with their teacher. A built-in metronome helps develop a command of tempos from 5 to 500.

About the Author David Lahav

Hi, David Lahav Here. I'm Sound Out Media Founder and a BIG music gadgets geek. I love everything from futuristic music instruments to the silliest pig-shaped headphones. Welcome to my world!

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