A new member of the very popular Arius line of digital pianos, the Yamaha YDP-144 comes as a replacement to the beloved Yamaha YDP-143. The purpose of this new model is to upgrade the former one and offer an even more attractive digital piano to all of you out there looking to buy one. The question remains though, does it live up to these huge expectations? This is exactly the premises of this Yamaha YDP-144 review.
This article is meant to explore the new Yamaha YDP-144, offering you every information that you need to know about, before deciding whether it’s a good investment for you or not. We’ll look at it from different angles, so that you have the complete picture.
Yamaha YDP-144 vs Yamaha YDP-143
Does the new model sound better?
There are a number of debating points when looking at a new digital piano model. One of the main aspects that arouse the interest of most people is if the new model has a superior sound compared to the former.
At this chapter, the Yamaha YDP-144 is better than expected.
Yamaha did a complete upgrade of the sound engine. The older model had a Pure CF sound engine with sounds recorded from Yamaha’s CFIIIS Concert Grand Piano. This was, by all means a great quality sound. But, the new model has been equipped with the Yamaha CFX Grand Piano sound, a clear upgrade. If you like the sound of an acoustic piano, then you will surely appreciate the rich sound of the Yamaha YDP-144.
Although sounds are not necessarily the main advantage of the YDP-144, as in it doesn’t have a very large number of sounds, the ones that are included are very high quality.
Besides the Yamaha CFX Grand Piano sound, the manufacturers installed a Mellow Grand Piano sound. This sound is perfect for playing classical tunes. So, if you find yourself in this category, this constitutes a clear advantage of this model.
The third piano acoustic piano sound, is the Pop Grand Piano sound. This setting is great for all of you who love playing songs of the likes of Elton John and other pop artists that use piano heavily in their music. It has a slight jazzy vibe to it, and it’s a lot of fun.
Besides these three main acoustic piano sounds, the Yamaha YDP-144 also has seven further sounds or voices, as follows: String Organ, Jazz Organ, Pipe Organ, Harpsichord, Vibraphone, DX Electric Piano and Electric Stage Piano.
As you can see, there are a total of 10 different sounds on this digital piano. As said, the number is not that impressive, but the quality surely is.
Yamaha P-144 Key Action
The Yamaha P-144 has 88 keys, so a full keyboard. A great advantage is the matte finish on the black keys, because it makes sure that your fingers don’t slip while playing. Many people encounter this issue because of the heat in the room, or simply because of the nerves. So, it’s nice not having to think about this problem.
As for key action, the Yamaha P-144 has Graded Hammer Standard. This is not the latest quality key action from Yamaha. But, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that it’s of low quality. It just means that they didn’t go with the best technology they currently have on other models.
The feel of the keys is what you would expect at this level of quality. The keys will feel lighter on the high end, and progressively heavier towards the lower end. This mimics the feeling of an acoustic piano’s keyboard very well.
In matters of polyphony, the Yamaha YDP-144 has the same number as its predecessor, namely 192 notes. You would think, hey why didn’t they upgrade this as well, as you can find on other new models from Yamaha, for example, the Yamaha YDP-184. But truth be told, it’s way enough to offer a complete and complex piano playing experience. You will most likely not feel the lack of more notes.
What about the speakers? Did they get an upgrade?
The short answer is yes, they did. The longer answer needs a few explanations, as follows.
We can talk about a clear upgrade from the former YDP-143. The older model had two speakers of 6 watts each, combining to a total power of 12 watts. The new model, has still two speakers, but of 8 watts each, offering a total power of 16 watts. It’s not a huge difference, but it’s a clear upgrade in speaker power.
Further Sound Related Features
A very interesting feature, that might be considered by some a matter of finesse, is the Stereophonic Optimizer.
Well, a finesse to some, may very well be a very helpful feature for others. This is especially true if you practice a lot with headphones on.
Many people who play the piano, practice with headphones on, in order to avoid disturbing other family members, or people around the house. This is very thoughtful of them, but this thoughtfulness used to come at a cost in many cases. The cost, usually would be a lesser sound quality, implying a lower all around piano playing experience.
With the Yamaha YDP-144 and this useful feature, the Stereophonic Optimizer, this weakness seems to be a matter of the past. This technology enables you to play the piano with headphones on, and have a similar sound experience as you would when not using headphones. To be clearer, the sound you hear doesn’t seem to be in your ear, but rather coming from the piano, a surround sound, if you will. The experience is supposed to be as authentic and immersive as possible.
Another feature that can be included in the finesse category is the Key Off Sampling. This is a feature that enables you to hear a fine difference in sound, as with acoustic pianos, while you release a certain key.
Does the Yamaha YDP-144 work with the Smart Pianist App?
The Smart Pianist App from Yamaha is an easy and straightforward way to control all the functions of your Yamaha digital piano through your tablet or phone.
Can you use it with the Yamaha YDP-144? Of course you can. This is a great advantage because it makes everything a more fun. You also get a number of extra features that you may or may not utilize. But how does it work?
First of all, you need to have an iPhone or iPad. It only works with Apple devices, at this point. You have to connect your mobile device to your digital piano through a camera adapter kit. After succeeding with this initial step, you can configure and save settings, select voices and create recordings all through your mobile device.
Of course, as you might have expected this already, you can split and layer through this app. But, you can layer two sounds on one another without using the app too. So, you don’t really need to have an Apple device in order to perform more basic things like this. You simply activate the Voice button, then hit two keys at the same time in order to layer the sounds one over the other.
A more interesting feature though, for those who can use the Smart Pianist app is the Chord Chart. This feature analyzes any song that you would like to play along on the piano and displays chord symbols on the screen. A great way to make practicing piano even more fun.
Yamaha YDP-144 vs Yamaha YDP-164
There are some differences that set these two new models from Yamaha apart. The differences are not enormous, but in key aspects of these two digital pianos such as: keyboard, power and sound. And of course, there’s a difference in price. But do these technical differences justify the price difference? And more important, do they justify a buying decision for the YDP-164 instead of the YDP-144?
For starters, the Yamaha YDP-144, has a total speaker power of 16 Watts, like mentioned earlier (two speakers of 8 Watts each). The Yamaha YDP-164, has a total speaker power of 40 Watts (two speakers of 20 Watts each). So, as you can see, in this aspect there’s quite the difference. How important this difference is, or better said necessary, that’s for you to decide. But, it’s by all means a notable difference.
Another big difference between the two models is the keyboard, from two points of view.
First, as you can remember, the YDP-144 has matte black keys. The YDP-164, on other hand has simulated Ebony and Ivory keys. And this is not the only difference between the two digital pianos’ keyboards. There’s a pretty big difference in key action as well.
The YDP-144 has Graded Hammer Standard, which is the basic technology used by Yamaha. Whereas the YDP-164 has Graded Hammer Action 3, which is superior to the other technology. It also has a 3 sensor configuration that offers a far more authentic key action. Together with the surface differences mentioned above, overall, it’s safe to say that the keys of the Yamaha YDP-164 offer an experience that is reasonably closer to an acoustic piano’s wooden keys.
Read my full comparison review between the Yamaha YDP-144 vs Yamaha YDP-164.
If you want to see how it compares to a portable alternative, check out my Yamaha YDP-144 vs P125 comparison review.
Is the Yamaha YDP-144 the best digital piano for beginners?
At this point, you might ask yourself if the Yamaha YDP-144 is the best digital piano for beginners. To answer this question there are some aspects that need to be pointed out before putting a verdict on it.
If price is the greatest factor in your choice, then the above mentioned options are viable. If looks are a factor too, as in you want it to beautifully complement the rest of the furniture in the room you plan on placing it into, then I advise you to seriously consider the YDP-144 as an option. It comes in three finishes: black, white and rosewood. In the rosewood finish you can see the wood grain, which is a nice aspect to have.
Looking at the price, I would say the YDP-144 is towards the middle of the range, coming in at slightly over the $1000 mark. It’s not cheap, but it certainly isn’t expensive. I would say it’s suitable for beginners, because it’s not a big investment but it’s high enough quality for entry level pianists. Actually, it’s a good fit for pianists that are a bit more advanced too, because it’s packed with good enough technology. The two main technological aspects that are an advantage in my opinion, are the key action and the sound quality. All in all, this digital piano delivers a very good value for money rapport.
Of course, you can find a great deal of better equipped digital pianos on the market. But, taking your choice characteristics into account, those may or may not be necessary, if you’re not that advanced. There’s always the possibility to progress to a higher level, if you feel you already master the skills needed to play the piano.
Looking upwards, there are digital pianos that have natural wooden keys installed, similar to the keyboard of acoustic pianos. You can usually find this feature on the digital piano models of the Clavinova line from Yamaha. Yes, the price is notably higher on those, but ultimately in most cases you get what you pay for. For example, the Yamaha CLP-545 is a digital piano model that fits into this category.
Now, after reading our Yamaha YDP-144 review, you have all the information that you need to make a good buying decision. We’ve seen how it compares to the older model as well as to other models in different price ranges. We’ve analyzed the important features and how they contribute to the overall piano playing experience. All in all, it’s safe to say that the Yamaha YDP-144 is a very good value for money option for beginners and intermediates alike.