In this review I’m going to compare two cabinet style digital pianos that have many similarities but also a few differences, Casio PX-870 vs Yamaha YDP-164. The two digital pianos, are in slightly different categories, but they still are similar enough to make your choice somewhat confusing. What they both are, is a very good value for money option, as they offer many features for beginners and intermediate piano players. Don’t be deterred by my classification though, if you are a more advanced piano player, as they have certain qualities that even more advanced musicians will find attractive.
I tested the PX-870 and the YDP-164 out a while ago, when they first appeared, and I’m happy I took notes so that I can share my impressions with you now. I hope my comparison review will bring more light upon these great musical instruments and will make your choice easier and better documented. Let’s dive right into it by taking a look at the comparison table below to get a first impression about how the two compare to each other.
Casio PX-870 vs Yamaha YDP-164 Comparison Chart
|Model||Casio PX-870||Yamaha YDP-164|
|Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon|
|Sound Engine||AiR Sound Source (Sampled)||Sampled|
|Key Action||Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II||Graded Hammer Action 3|
|Key Touch/Weight||Ebony/Ivory feel, 3 Levels + Off||Ebony/Ivory feel, 3 Levels + Off|
|Speakers||2 x 20W||2 x 20W|
The main design feature that you can notice a mile away is that both digital pianos are console style digital pianos. This type is meant for home use, or otherwise in a fixed location, like a school or church. You could disassemble and reassemble them in a different location, but why go through all the hassle when you could buy a portable digital piano instead, if you know you need to move it around a lot. The Casio PX-870 and the Yamaha YDP-164 are very nice looking cabinet style digital pianos that will fit into most living rooms.
Although bigger than its portable alternatives, they are compact enough to find their place in the smallest of apartments. The total dimensions don’t differ that much, the Casio Px-870 is 54.61″ x 31.54″ x 31.54″ and the Yamaha YDP-164 is 53.4″ x 16.6″ x 33.4″. As you can see, there is a slight difference but they will use up more or less the same space in a room. There’s a notable difference in weight between the two, though. The PX-870 weighs 72.9 pounds and the YDP-164 weighs 92.6 pounds. So, as you can clearly see, there’s a 20 pounds difference, which is not to be overlooked. But, keeping in mind that they both are destined to be used in a fixed location, the weight difference doesn’t really matter that much.
Some people are afraid of the complexity of the installation process. You shouldn’t be, at least not in the case of these two models. You can find everything you need in the box, together with an easy to understand installation manual. Actually they are so easy to install that you wouldn’t even need an installation manual, but, it’s there if you need it.
The main design advantage of digital pianos, compared to their acoustic counterparts is that they don’t need periodic tuning. They also have a bunch of functions that acoustic pianos don’t, due to obvious reasons. And yes, they are cheaper, on average, than acoustic pianos.
The control panel packed with buttons are a characteristic of digital pianos. But, in this department, there’s not a big difference between the Casio PX-870 vs Yamaha YDP-144. Both have a relatively clean design, with controls on either side of the keyboard. This is good and bad. It’s good, because you get a sleek appearance, very much resembling that of an acoustic piano, which visually at least offers a more authentic experience. But, it’s bad because you will have to access many features through a button and key combination. You will find these combinations in the instruction manual. This means, that at least in the beginning, you will always have to keep the instruction manual nearby. But, sooner or later you will learn these combinations by heart, so that you will not need the instructions any more. The downside here, can be summarized to the learning curve you will have to go through. But, on the other hand, in my opinion, you buy one of these two digital pianos for the realistic piano playing experience, so the slimmed down control panel is an advantage.
In my opinion, and it’s shared among pianists, the most important parts of a digital piano are sound and keyboard. Let’s start with sound.
Digital pianos produce sound in two different ways. The first method is the sampling method. This uses samples recorded from a grand piano. What they do is record every key of a grand piano in different velocities and attribute those recordings to the corresponding keys on a digital piano. The other way is the modeling method. This method creates the sound the moment you press a key, according to the way you press it.
There’s no difference in sound technology between the YDP-164 vs PX-870. Both use the sampling method. As a matter of fact both digital piano’s sound engines are based on samples of 9′ concert grand pianos. The most big news here concerns the Yamaha YDP-164, which has the CFX sound engine, a sound engine formerly available only on the Clavinova series from Yamaha. This generation of Arius digital pianos benefit from the same more advanced sound engine, which translates into a superior quality, ultimately meaning a higher value for money compared to the former generation. And this is true across the entire line.
They did limit, though, the adjusting capabilities in order to maintain the same price range for the Arius line as before. You’re basically stuck with the factory settings. But they are very well calibrated, so there’s not much need to tinker around with them anyway.
The sound on either of the two Is really high quality, especially the grand piano sounds. And that’s exactly why you would buy one of these two digital pianos, because they’re really good at offering a realistic piano playing experience.
In terms of polyphony there’s a difference between the two. The Casio PX-870 has a maximum polyphony of 256 notes and the Yamaha YDP-164, 192. Although the first one has a higher level of polyphony, you would be hard pressed to even reach that maximum level while playing the piano, even on the latter. Polyphony represents the maximum number of notes that a digital piano can render at the same time. You should be playing some really intricate musical pieces to max out the level of either of the two.
This is a chapter where the comparison between the Casio PX-870 vs Yamaha YDP-164 looks pretty even. Both digital pianos have a speaker system that sums up 40W of power. This is a lot of power for a home musical instrument. It’s enough power to fill even bigger spaces like a school or church. But power is not everything concerning the speaker system.
Another similarity between the two speaker systems is that both are capable of rendering a clear and crisp sound even at higher volumes. You will most likely never need to use maximum volume but it’s an indicator of quality of the speaker system. Not being able to render the same quality of sound at higher volumes is a common problem of speakers.
But that’s not all. There is a difference between the two speaker systems. And this difference refers to the immersive aspect of the sound. Because where not talking here about a detached speaker system, but about that of a digital piano, this aspect is very important. To be able to recreate that authentic acoustic piano experience the speakers have to be able to create a certain sensation, especially for the piano player.
The YDP-164 has 2 speakers on either side of the piano, each of a 20W power output. They are oriented downwards. The piano also has a speaker grill that runs along the entire keyboard so that the sound is able to come out upwards as well. This way it creates the effect of an immersive sound experience. The PX-870 has a slightly different approach. The manufacturer decided to part the 40W power output into 4. Two speakers oriented upwards and two downwards. This way the sound is physically directed in every direction, creating a very realistic experience. I find both approaches to be good, but I tend towards Casio’s speaker system. I think parting a pretty large power output into 4 speakers is a better decision.
The keyboard, besides sound, is the other most important part of a digital piano. These two parts of a digital piano make or break the realism of the piano playing experience. A wonderful sound can’t by itself deliver that authentic piano experience, it needs a keyboard that rises to the expectations. The comparison between the Casio PX-870 vs Yamaha YDP-164, keyboard-wise is pretty even.
Why am I saying this? There are a number of characteristics which make both keyboards very similar. For example, both keyboards have 88 fully weighted keys. Both keyboards benefit from a good hammer action technology. The PX-870 has Casio’s Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II. The YDP-164 has Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Action 3. Both key actions are very pleasing, delivering a very authentic feel to the way the keys behave.
Another important similarity between the YDP-164 vs PX-870 is the surface of the keys. I appreciate the decision of both manufacturers to bless the keys of these two models with artificial ivory and ebony key tops. It’s one of those details that rounds the product up nicely. This way all your senses that are involved get those realistic stimuli, combining to offer that experience we all look for when buying a digital piano. The sound is right, the way the keys respond to being pressed is right, and even the feeling when you touch the keys is the right one. And this is true in both cases.
So, which are the differences between the two keyboards? Or, better yet, are there any? Well, when comparing two keyboards that have many of the major characteristics in place, you have to look more in depth to find the differences. But when looking more in depth, I found that they employ similar technologies. Both keyboards use 3 sensors for every key that recognize even the smallest variations in the velocity they’re played with. This technology gives you the ability to play even musical pieces where fast repetitions of the same note are involved.
The difference, then may be a subjective one. And it’s not easy to pinpoint. But, I tend to prefer the keyboard of the PX-870. But, I like the keyboard of the YDP-164 a lot, as well. I would probably not base my final choice solely on the keyboard of the two digital pianos.
One of the major inconveniences, that most pianists point out, when it comes to cabinet style digital pianos, is that you have to access many functions through button and key combinations. This is true in the case of both these digital pianos, because they have a reduced control panel that is parted on the two sides of the keyboard. Sure, it’s very attractive, design-wise, but it’s for some people a functional nightmare at the beginning. The inconvenience consists in the fact that you will have to refer a lot to the user manual, in the beginning, until you learn by heart the most accessed combinations. But, as with most things in life, you can’t have it all.
The two manufacturers, have accomplished to solve this problem, though, by developing certain apps that can be downloaded on either iOs or Android and can be used to easily navigate the functionalities of the two digital pianos. But I will get into more details on this in the next section of the review.
Function wise, both digital pianos have the basic functions package you’d expect from a modern digital piano these days, like metronome and tuning capabilities. They also have duet mode and dual mode which give you the ability to play the piano with a tutor, or mix two different voices to create a new harmonic sound. The Casio PX-870 also has the split mode, which lets you split the keyboard in two parts of your choice and attribute a certain sound to each part. The YDP-164 lacks this mode.
An attractive feature of the PX-870, is the Concert Play. This feature gives you 10 different full orchestra concerts that you can play the piano part of. You can practice the piano part separately first, and then play it together with the rest of the orchestra. The only weakness of this feature is the limited number of ten concerts.
A difference that can be seen pretty easily is the number of voices of the two. The Casio has 19 of them, whereas the Yamaha only has 10. This aspect isn’t a deciding factor in my opinion. Different voices may be fun, but the main motivation for buying one of these two cabinet style digital pianos is the acoustic piano playing experience, and that’s where both of them are powerful.
Connectivity is not where these digital pianos excel, as I said before, they excel at offering a realistic piano playing experience. But like most modern digital pianos, they have certain connectivity features that you can’t imagine a digital piano not having these days.
There are two quarter inch headphone jacks on both, which you can use as line out jacks as well. This way you can connect external amplifiers if the it’s the case.
Both pianos have a USB to Host port. The PX-870 has an additional USB type A port that you can use to plug a flash drive in. This way you can easily transfer files from the memory stick to the piano and the other way around.
But the most interesting part of the connectivity aspect of these two models is the ability to use certain apps that transform the user experience. As I mentioned before, it doesn’t matter if you have an iOs device or an Android one, there are versions of the apps for either operating system. Once connected to these apps, Smart Pianist for Yamaha and Chordana for Casio, the usability of the two musical instruments is greatly enhanced. Apart from being able to control all of the piano’s functions, the apps bring further fun features that you will be able to explore in your free time.
We finally reached the conclusion part of my comparison review. It’s time to decide on a winner, or better said on the best choice between the Casio PX-870 vs Yamaha YDP-163.
As I’ve pointed out along every section of the review, these two pianos are very similar in matters of design, sound, keyboard and functionalities. Even in matters of connectivity the YDP-164 and PX-870 aren’t that different either. But, I cannot ignore the little differences that just make the Casio PX-870 somewhat of a better option. So, you would probably be very pleased by either of the two, because they have strong qualities that together deliver a realistic piano playing experience. But if I were to buy one today, I would probably go for the Casio PX-870.