Yamaha is one of the biggest names in the world in musical instruments. No matter if we’re talking about acoustic musical instruments or electronic ones, they consistently create high quality products. The YDP line from Yamaha, also called the Arius line, is designed for beginner and intermediate musicians who are looking for high quality, robust digital pianos at competitive prices. In this comparison review we’re taking a look at the Yamaha YDP-144 vs Yamaha YDP-164 digital pianos to see what similarities and differences they have.
I tested both of these digital pianos and checked fellow pianists’ opinions so that I can offer the most objective comparison review of the Yamaha YDP-144 vs YDP-164 that you can find online. In this article I present my findings, so you can easily decide for yourself, after seeing how they compare, which one of these two suits your needs best. Let’s start by taking a look at the comparison chart below:
Yamaha YDP-144 vs Yamaha YDP-164 Comparison Chart
|Model||Yamaha YDP-144||Yamaha YDP-164|
|Key Action||Graded Hammer Standard||Graded Hammer Action 3|
|Key touch/weight||Matte finish, 4 levels||Ebony/Ivory feel, 4 levels|
|Check Price||Check Price|
There’s actually no design difference between the YDP-164 and the YDP-144. Both digital pianos are console digital pianos meant for use in a home environment or otherwise a fixed location. You could uninstall them and reinstall at another location but they’re not designed to be transported.
With an 88 key keyboard and an included 3 pedal unit and built-in speakers the package is all you need to start practicing at home. The two pianos have almost the same dimensions, with the YDP-164 slightly deeper, but the main difference is concerning the weight. With 92.6 pounds total weight, the YDP-164 is approximately 9 pounds heavier than the YDP-144. It should’t make much a difference, though because they are meant to be installed in a fixed position. So, you wouldn’t have to move it around anyway.
Of course, there are slimmer, less heavy digital pianos on the market, but they are designed to be portable, whereas these two I’m comparing here as designed as cabinet style pianos for home use. If you don’t necessarily need to transport your digital piano, I must say that a cabinet digital piano will nicely complement any room of your home. You will have no problems fitting either of them even in the smallest apartments. Their dimensions are: 53.4 in. wide, 16.6 in. deep and 33.4 in./ 32 in. high.
Two of the main advantages of digital pianos compared to acoustic pianos is that you will never have to tune them, and they are more affordable. There’s also a third advantage, the number of functions and controls that you have with digital pianos. This is not necessarily a big strength of these two digital pianos. Other than a volume knob and some elementary controls on the left and right side of the keyboard you don’t have anything else. From an aesthetic point of view, it’s not that bad, because they look a lot less cluttered than other models with more complex control panels.
Because of the lack of control buttons, you’ll have to use different key combinations to access some functions and voices. But on a positive note, because there are not that many functions and voices you’ll learn these combinations by heart sooner than you think. This is not an uncommon aspect with affordable digital pianos, but I would have liked it if this wasn’t the case with these two. It seems like you can’t have them all.
Both digital pianos have lids that cover the keys, preventing dust from entering them, and also music rests.
The main reason why Yamaha musical instruments have gotten such a great reputation over the years is because of their commitment to only the highest quality standards. They first started with these standards with their acoustic pianos and they kept them since their first line of digital pianos came out in the ’80s. Since then things have evolved on an ascending path.
Because we’re at the ‘Sound’ chapter I’m going to refer to the technology that Yamaha uses. From the first line forward, Yamaha used the sampling method for their digital pianos. This implies recording (sampling) one of their acoustic pianos at different levels in order for their digital pianos to render a sound that is as realistic as possible.
In the precedent line of Arius digital pianos, the YDP-163 and 143, they used the Pure CF sound engine, which was very good a few years ago, but has been surpassed by competitors such as Roland with their modeling/sampling sound engines, since.
It looks like they wanted to stay competitive, so they implemented their CFX sound sampling, which used to be found only on the digital pianos of their CLP line. In plain English, they raised the value of the ‘lower end’ YDP line, making this generation an even better ‘value for money’ deal.
The sound implemented with this generation is sampled from a 9′ CFX concert grand piano, which is considered by many pianists and professional musicians one of the best grand pianos in contemporary times. They also did a great job sampling the sound, by capturing slightest nuances, which were translated into electronic form for you to enjoy when playing your Yamaha YDP-164 or 144. From this point of view there’s not much difference between the Yamaha YDP-144 vs Yamaha YDP-164, only a minor aspect. The sound is a bit more sensitive on the YDP-164 when you slowly release the key. It’s a small difference, a difference of nuance that probably doesn’t amount to a deciding factor for most beginner or hobby pianists. This difference is called “smooth release”.
In order to keep the line in its prior price range, Yamaha excluded some features such as sound shaping. You’re practically limited with the way the sound is configured from the factory. But, on the other hand, the entire line is designed for people who don’t want any complications and prefer to enjoy a great sound in a ‘turn-key’ fashion.
There’s a clear difference between the Yamaha YDP-164 vs YDP-144 when comparing their speakers. The YDP-164 has two 20W amplified speakers. The YDP-144 has only 8W speakers. The difference is huge.
And it’s not only volume about the 164’s speakers, they also sound very clear at high volume levels, which is even more important than loudness. The speakers are installed in a downward position, but in spite of this, the sound fills the room really well and the crispness is making me think about the CLP line.
The speaker grills that go from one side to the other, across the entire length of the keyboard, just above the keys lets the sound come out upwards as well. This contributes to a more realistic sound.
The YDP-164 is great for larger spaces as well, because you can turn the volume up and the sound will keep its clean and crisp line, filling a large location easily. If you have neighbors nearby, refrain from turning the volume too high up, because it can get so loud that it will probably disturb anyone around you.
Besides sound, the other important factor to consider when looking at digital pianos is the keyboard, especially the key action.
This is another category where the Yamaha YDP-144 vs Yamaha YDP-164 comparison is pretty unequal. The YDP-144 has a basic key action, the GHS (Graded Hammer Standard). It’s not bad, but having a term of comparison we know you can find something better. The YDP-164, on the other hand has the more evolved GH3 key action. Considering that the YDP-164 is situated somewhere in the medium section price-wise, I must say that its key action is well above medium. It’s the same key action the 163 had. No evolution here. But where they made a difference is with the surface of the keys. The new model has artificial ebony keys compared to the matte finish of the predecessor.
Because the key action is a very important aspect of the piano playing experience, I recommend you to seriously consider the YDP-164 over the YDP-144, despite of the price difference. The size, sensitivity an surface of the YDP-164’s keys is similar enough to that of an acoustic piano’s, for you to be able to play any one of the two without feeling too much difference.
The graded hammer means that its touch is heavier in the low end and lighter in the high end, just like on an acoustic piano. This is a characteristic of the YDP-144’s keyboard too. Another common characteristic of both models’ keyboards is the number of key sensitivity levels. You can choose one of the 4 levels, according to your personal taste: soft, medium, hard or off.
A touch of expressiveness is achieved by the key action of the YDP-164 because of its 3 sensors that sense even the slightest variations in the way you push the keys. Unfortunately, this feature is not part of the key action on the YDP-144.
Apart from the better sound the current generation of YDP has compared to its predecessor, there are not many differences as far as functions and modes are concerned.
You can layer two voices creating new interesting sounds or use the duet mode if you want to split the keyboard into two identical halves. Keeping in mind that the YDP-144 is designed mostly for beginners and the 164 for beginner and intermediate pianists, the duet mode is very useful for practicing with a piano teacher.
The big absence in matters of modes is the split mode, that enables you to play two different instruments on either half of the keyboard.
There are six further functions that you can adjust according to your specific needs: damper resonance, metronome, transpose, master tuning, speaker on/off and auto power off.
Besides all of these aforementioned functions, you have the ability to connect your digital piano to the Smart Pianist App. This allows you a fun and easy interaction with your digital piano through the use of a mobile device. For the time being, you can use this capability only if you have an Apple device. But I’m sure Yamaha is working on an Android version that they’ll be rolling out soon.
From a connectivity point of view the comparison between the Yamaha YDP-144 vs Yamaha YDP-164 is even as well. They both have reduced connectivity options. But they don’t lack the essentials that you would expect from a contemporary digital piano. This is not such a big issue, because they are designed for home use rather than stage use anyway.
You’ll find two quarter inch headphone jacks that can be used for external amplifiers as well, so they function as line outs.
You also have a USB to Host port that you can use to connect the digital piano to your computer and save recordings or use it as a MIDI controller.
We finally reached the end of our comparison review. It’s time to make a quick summary of the facts that I presented above and reach a conclusion on which digital piano is the winner between the Yamaha YDP-144 vs Yamaha YDP-164, and my recommendation for you.
The thing that I think is important to remember are the differences between these two pianos. The main differences concern the speakers and key action/surface categories.
There’s a striking difference between the YDP-164’s 20W speakers and the YDP-144’s 8W speakers. If you plan on playing in larger locations, you can rest assured that the YDP-164 is capable of rendering a beautiful clear and crisp sound even when you turn the volume up. If you only plan on using the digital piano at home in an average sized room, the YDP-144 should be able to satisfy your needs.
The biggest difference is in the keyboard category. The superior key action of the YDP-164 clearly sets it apart from its little brother. The superior sensitivity with 3 sensors that determine the exact pressure you put on the keys, plus the simulated ebony surfaces make up a big difference.
In my opinion, after thoroughly reviewing both of these pianos, I declare the Yamaha YDP-164 the clear winner among the two. But that was kind of expected. The more important question is whether the price difference is justified and whether you should choose the YDP-164 over the YDP-144. At the price ranges they sell for, both are great digital pianos and very high value for money, but I think if it comes down to a choice between these two models, you should definitely go with the YDP-164. The better keyboard is reason enough to choose it and I’m sure you will be really happy you did so in the future.