Yamaha is one of the most famous, high quality manufacturers of digital pianos on the market. They produce a range of instruments, destined for everyone from beginners up to professionals. Depending on your stage of expertise and particular needs, there are high chances there’s a Yamaha out there perfect for you. In this Yamaha YDP-145 review I’m going to take everything apart in order to identify whether this is a good investment or not. Only once you see the honest strengths and weaknesses of this digital piano, will you be able to make a well informed decision.
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The YDP-145, together with the more expensive YDP-165 variant, is the next generation in the Arius line of digital pianos from Yamaha. The Yamaha Arius line consists of cabinet style, compact digital pianos, which are designed to uplift any interior decor with its elegant looks, and serve the needs of most pianists due to its high quality technical features. They have been notorious for offering a premium acoustic piano sound combined with the size benefits of digital pianos. There are also two compact versions, the S-35, respectively the S-55. The “S” in this case stays for slim. They’re basically alike, the slim and the normal version, with minor differences, that are concentrated around the cabinet.
Yamaha YDP-145 Specifications
|Dimensions||53.4 x 32 x 16.6 inches|
|Keyboard||88-keys with matte keytops and fully weighted|
|Key Action||Graded Hammer Standard (GHS)|
|Touch Sensitivity||4 settings: fixed, soft, medium and hard|
|Sounds||10 instrument sounds of which 3 piano|
|Sound effects||Virtual resonance, key off samples|
|Modes||Duo, Dual (Layers)|
|Preset songs/recordings||50 piano, 10 demo and 303 lessons|
|Recording capabilities||MIDI 2-track|
|Speakers||2 x 8 W|
|Connectivity||2 Headphone jacks, USB to Host and USB to Audio Interface|
One of the things I like about the YDP-145 is that it kept the classic cabinet style looks of the YDP-144. Basically it looks like the front part of an acoustic grand piano. The simple, clean lines give off a timeless elegance, and will uplift any type of interior decor. It also makes the piano playing experience so much more authentic. Compared to portable digital pianos, the cabinet style, with its wooden looks and massive built, gives off a feeling of a higher quality instrument, even when technical features are comparable.
The Yamaha YDP-145 functions as you would want such a digital piano to function, namely similar to an acoustic grand. It also has those elements that you can find on an acoustic piano like the lid that covers the keys and the music sheet rest. These only complete that experience I mentioned above.
You can get it in four different finishes: white, white ash, dark rosewood and black.
The slimmer version, the S-35, has reduced dimensions, especially the depth, and has a smaller weight, hence you can move it easier. If you live in a small apartment, I see why you would prefer the S-35. The piano playing experience is not necessarily the same as with the YDP-145, but still, it feels like playing an upright. So, even though the feeling is not exactly like a grand piano, it’s still similar to an acoustic type. One thing that they did design wise to cut space was combining the lid and the music rest into one movable piece. You can find the S-35 in black or white.
Continuing the authentic experience, the Yamaha YDP-145 also has the 3 pedals, that you can find on acoustic pianos, attached to the cabinet. The pedals correspond to the sustain, sostenuto and soft pedals that you can find on acoustic versions. A very good decision by the designers, going with a metal built greatly enhances the feeling conveyed by the instrument. I also like that they provided the possibility of half pedaling. This corresponds to a reduced sustain effect, that is very helpful, especially for pianists at and above an intermediate level.
By now, you might wrongly think that I like everything about it. That wouldn’t be totally accurate. There are aspects that I think, it’s safe to say, are definitely weaknesses.
One of the aspects that I find to be somewhat of an inconvenience is the limited number of control buttons and knobs for the number of functions and settings that can be accessed. The quality of the buttons and knobs is fine, my problem is with the buttons and key combinations you have to use in order to activate, de-activate or apply effects. And it gets complicated pretty fast if you want to go through a series of steps.
Naturally, there will be a learning curve involved, which will be pretty unpleasant in the beginning. But, there’s a way around it. Thanks to an app that Yamaha developed, that you can download on a mobile device, you can control the functions of the YDP-145 remote, in a much easier, more user friendly manner. That’s if you’re into customizing sounds. If you only play classical piano then this entire functions chapter doesn’t affect you at all. Anyway, the fact that you have the connected app, I’d consider this controls aspect rather an inconvenience than a weakness.
Overall, looking at the big picture, the Yamaha YDP-145 is a really well designed digital piano, that looks great and feels right.
One of the most important aspects of a digital piano is the sound. Above design and keyboard, sound can make or break a musical instrument. And it’s the same with any musical instrument, not just pianos. Well, sound is the very department where Yamaha excels. It’s not one of the best piano manufacturers worldwide for no reason.
CFX Sound Engine
The Yamaha YDP-145 comes with the signature CFX sound engine. It derives its name from the Yamaha CFX grand piano, which is known to be a high quality concert piano. You can find this piano in serious institutions of music all over the world. Modeling the sound engine after this acoustic piano is a great decision. Not so long ago, you could find this sound engine only on Yamaha’s higher end line, the Clavinova. I like that they fitted a more affordable model with this level of quality. This way more people will be able to have a digital piano of this level in their homes.
The strengths of this sound engine are the ability to render clear and smooth sounds, and be appropriate for any type of musical genre from classical to the more modern styles. These characteristics are well retained from the concert grand.
The CFX grand preset sounds so authentic because of the degree of sampling, using multiple samples for different dynamic ranges. That is, there’s a different recorded sample playing according to the way you push the key. It really sounds well, even more so when compared to alternative digital pianos from competing brands. They really went into details with these samples, installing multiple mics at different points of the room.
Refining the sound further, the so called VRM Lite (which stands for Virtual Resonance Modeling), adds an entire layer of complexity to the sound, mimicking the way elements of an acoustic piano resonate when a string is struck. It happens like this: when you play a note, not only the strings corresponding to that key vibrate, but also (in a more reduced intensity) the strings next to it. And it goes further: the damper, the aliquot and the body of the piano vibrate to a certain degree as well. All the before mentioned are parts of the construction of an acoustic piano. All the vibrations of all these elements put together, lend the sound of a piano an extra dimension of depth. And you can distinguish all of this when playing the YDP-145 too, because of the enhanced version of the sound engine.
This resonance effect is not something you’d be able to put your finger on. It’s a very light effect, but definitively contributing to the realism of the sound. And it’s something you can notice when comparing with the former model. So, an objective step forward from the YDP-144.
I’d be hard pressed to identify a weakness when it comes to the sound of the YDP-145, especially the CFX sound engine. If I have to name something, I think I’d go with the fact that you can’t adjust it, like you can on other digital pianos from different manufacturers. So, you get it kind of factory tuned, which in this particular case, is a positive thing. Everything is really well balanced and if you are not an advanced pianist, there’s not many things you could do better about it, than they’re already done.
The Yamaha YDP-145 has 10 different sounds in total. There are: three grand piano sounds (normal, pop and mellow), two organs, two electric pianos, a vibraphone, a harpsichord and one string ensemble.
One thing is obvious as I reviewed these sounds. They are not at the same level of quality as the grand piano sounds. And when I say this, I mean that the manufacturer hasn’t been so diligent with details, as with the piano sounds. It’s easy to conclude that this digital piano is primarily designed as a digital version of an acoustic grand. By this I don’t mean that the extra sounds are not good at all, but they are not the primary focus in this instrument.
The two organ sounds are pretty good, especially the jazz organ which has a greater complexity because of the simulated rotary speaker. There’s only one downside here, that it’s not adjustable.
I also find the electric piano sounds to be surprisingly good. The Fender-Rhodes is smooth and nicely articulated. The other electric piano voice is a Yamaha DX7 which has good sounding samples. They can be an interesting way to mix it up, if you need a break from classic piano.
The harpsichord and vibraphone are particularly useful if you want to play certain musical pieces. The string ensemble is also a nice sound you can play with. I wouldn’t recommend using them alone, as they’re not adjustable, but they can sound pretty well when played together with one of the acoustic piano sounds.
I just want you to remember, that because of the primary focus of this digital piano, the extra sounds were put on the back burner, all the focus and energy going into developing top notch acoustic piano sounds. But, nevertheless, they are nice extra features that enrich the entertainment possibilities.
The number of notes that can be played by a digital piano at the same time, is called polyphony. It’s a combination word that stands “many sounds”. You’ll see that modern digital pianos have a polyphony starting from 64 notes and going up to 256, generally. The YDP-145 has 192, which means that many notes can be played at the same time.
Most people would wonder, how it is possible to play so many notes at the same time, especially as there are a maximum of eighty-eight keys on a piano keyboard. Well, it is, and I’m going to explain exactly how.
When you play a not on a keyboard, there are multiple sounds that activate, more so, when you use the sustain pedals, effects, and other functions notes only get added. With some musical pieces, you can reach and max out 64 or even 128 note polyphony. When polyphony maxes out, what happens is that the instrument starts dropping the first played notes, which can lead to a limitation of the complexity.
So, that being said, you probably see now that a 192-note polyphony can, in most cases, be more than enough to play songs of any genre.
These are the effects that you can count on: reverb, volume limiter, stereophonic optimizer and intelligent acoustic control.
There are four further settings of the reverb, that mimic the placement of the piano in a certain kind of location: concert hall, recital hall, club reverb and chamber reverb. All of them are well designed, and really contribute to an authentic experience.
With the help of the volume limiter, which is a new feature on this generation, you’ll be able, as its name implies to set a definite limit for how loud you can play the piano. I don’t necessarily see a big advantage for adults, but if a child is playing the piano, you can make sure that he will not damage his hearing from some of the higher notes played too loud.
The intelligent acoustic control’s role is to even out the volume across the board. I’d say this is something for a fine tuned ear, and most of us will not really see, or better said hear, its effects.
If you turn on the stereophonic optimizer, you’ll have the impression of hearing the sound of the piano just as you would hear it when playing an acoustic piano, while sitting in front of it. You can only use this function while having headphones plugged in.
There’s nothing new when it comes to the speaker system of the YDP-145. It features the exact same setup as on the previous generation. The two 8W speakers, positioned under the piano on either side are capable of delivering a rich and full sound, although you wouldn’t expect that from speakers with this output. Even the sound seems clearer, but that’s probably due to the superior sound engine.
What I really like about these speakers is that they can deliver a clear sound even at higher volumes. Although I don’t recommend maxing out the volume. I see how you could use this piano for smaller performances without the necessity of hooking it up to amplifiers.
Besides sound, the keyboard is the most important part of a digital piano. They’re equally important, in my opinion. Because no matter how qualitative the sound is, if you have a mediocre keyboard, it can ruin the realistic experience.
Yamaha has two types of key action: plastic and wood. The plastic key actions are GHS, GH and GH3. The wooden key actions are NWX and GrandTouch. The YDP-145 has the GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) Key action, just like the previous model. The GHS is Yamaha’s standard choice for beginner to intermediate level digital pianos.
Although this is the entry key action from this brand, it’s good quality, and, more important, good enough for non professional pianists, that aren’t used to high end, more expensive keyboards. In fact, if you haven’t owned a much better piano, you will find this to be fulfilling your expectations.
The Graded Hammer Standard is fully weighted and the keys are full size. The keys on the higher end seem lighter and progressively get heavier towards the low end of the keyboard, just like with acoustic pianos. The key tops are made of plastic and have a smooth surface. What I particularly like about them, are the black key tops which have a matte surface.
It would have been nice if Yamaha had updated their key action for the YDP 145, compared to the former model, just like they did with the sound engine. But, they didn’t, which is a bit disappointing for me. Considering that there are more modern key actions available today, this one might seem a bit old for someone used to newer technology.
My problem with this key action is that the keys don’t bounce back up realistically enough. On acoustic pianos, when you press down a key, the hammer hitting the strings will have an effect of returning the key to the original position with a certain amount of vigor. Which is not the case with the GHS. And then there’s pivot length. This refers to the distance between the front of the keys and the point where they are hinged. This is shorter on the GHS, which might result in experiencing difficulties when you press them down towards their inner part.
But, rest assured that these aspects that I chose to point out, are not major issues. They are more minor nuances, that, if you are a beginner, will probably not even notice. The GHS, by all means, is a big step forward from the non-weighted keys that you would find on most beginner keyboards.
Because it’s a digital model of an acoustic piano, there are minimal connectivity capabilities. But, if you really need them, there are a number of fundamental connections you can use.
In order to use your headphones, Yamaha fitted this digital piano with two headphone jacks. Please note that if you use standard headphones you might need an adapter, because the jacks are half inch ones. You can also use these jacks to hook up external amplification, if the need arises. But as I already mentioned in the Sound section of this Yamaha YDP-145 review, the speaker system is powerful enough for a small venue, so that need for external amplifiers will most likely be on rare occasions.
There’s a type B, USB to Host jack under the keyboard that gives you the chance to connect the piano to a smart device, or a computer. With the help of specialized programs, you will be able to make MIDI recordings of your performances. Once you install the necessary drivers on your computer you can start recording.
Apart from these, there’s only one more connection jack, which you will use to connect the pedals to the keyboard.
Smart Pianist App
The Smart Pianist App by Yamaha is a feature that I presented briefly in the beginning of this review. All of the digital pianos in the Arius line of Yamaha can benefit from the technical enhancements brought by this app.
If you want to use it, you first have to download it on your smart device, and then pair it with your instrument. Once this step is performed, you can control all the settings and functionalities of the piano through your touchscreen. It makes things a lot easier, because without it, due to the minimal control buttons and knobs, you’d be forced to use button and key combinations which are not marked in a user friendly fashion. You would have to refer to the instructions manual frequently. The App, essentially, eliminates all the hassle in using the YDP-145 to its fullest.
But, because there’s no Bluetooth connectivity option, you have to connect your smart device to the piano through the USB port, which is a minor inconvenience to say the truth. An its so not because it doesn’t work well, but rather because of the position of the USB port, which is under the piano.
The features of the YDP-145 are another chapter where we can’t talk about improvements, compared to the previous generation.
Although the characteristic trait of this piano, feature wise is that you can’t tweak too much, there are some basic functions that are present here as well.
There’s a master tuning option, that allows the pitch of the instrument to be changed in increments of 0.2 HZ.
If you look to change the tonality of the keys, you can do that through the transpose function. You can go in steps of one semitone anywhere between minus six to plus six.
And, of course, there’s also a metronome function. This is helpful, especially if you are a beginner and have a hard time keeping the right rhythm. You can adjust volume, as well as the time signature and the tempo of the metronome.
The YDP-145, lacks the split mode, but includes the duo and dual modes. The main difference between these two, is that the duo mode is great for piano teaching, because it splits the keyboard in two identical halves, so that the tutor and student can play at the same time; whereas the dual mode lets you layer two different sounds, like piano and strings (a classical combination), so that you can play them at the same time, creating a harmonious new sound. This classic combo, is a great base if you want to lay voice over it, too.
If you want to record your performance you can do so, by the push of a button. The system lets you record the right and left hand on their own, and layers them afterward. The fact that the recording is MIDI, gives you the chance to tamper with it afterward. Because of technical limitations, you will only be able to record one song at a time. If you want to record multiple songs, you have to use some find of additional storage. As I have already mentioned in the Connectivity section, there are further aspects of the recording facility that you can make use of.
Apart from this there are fifty classical songs that are pre-recorded, apart from the demonstrative songs for each of the sounds.
If you are a beginner, you will probably find the more than three hundred lessons very useful.
There are a number of accessories that come together with the Yamaha YDP-145. These are: an AC adapter, a sheet music book with 50 classical pieces, an owner’s manual and operation guide. Apart from these, there might or might not be a bench included. This is something that you will have to check.
Apart from these included accessories, you can buy a pair of good quality headphones separately. They will come in handy in case you want to practice and not disturb the people you live together with. It’s also an immersive experience that helps you better focus on playing the piano.
Yamaha YDP-145 vs Casio PX-870
A comparable category of digital pianos, the Privia line from Casio, is, like Yamaha’s Arius line, made up of cabinet style pianos at a very good value to money ratio.
There are many similarities between these two models, but some differences that can weight more or less according to your expectations. I want to point out two differences, concerning the sound engine and key action of these two pianos.
The two sound engines, the AiR Sound Source of Casio, and the CFX of Yamaha are very similar, but there are certain details that, in my opinion, make the CFX better. With certain musical pieces, the Yamaha’s resonance modelling adds depth to the sound of the CFX grand, making the sound slightly more realistic.
If you want more sounds, though, the Casio has nineteen, compared to Yamaha’s ten.
On the other hand, Casio wins when it comes to the keyboard. First, it’s the only one in its price category with simulated ivory and ebony key tops. This also contributes the the authenticity of the piano playing experience. The key action, called the Tri-sensor Scaled Hammer Action, is better than Yamaha’s GHS. Casio’s just behaves closer to what you’d expect from an acoustic piano’s keys, in other words, closer to the real thing.
If you want more info, read my full Casio PX-870 review.
- High quality body;
- Very realistic grand piano sound;
- Clean design;
- USB connectivity.
- Medium level key action;
- Lack of Bluetooth connectivity.
One of the biggest weaknesses of the Yamaha YDP-145 is the outdated key action. It’s somewhat disappointing that they didn’t upgrade this aspect from the previous generation. But, on other hand the sound is great, the superior sound engine, formerly found only on higher priced pianos makes up for the medium grade key action.
Don’t get me wrong, the key action is not bad, but lags behind certain competitors in the price range. If they had upgraded the key action, any competition would have been blown out of the water. But, in spite of this, it still feels good when playing, and is by far better than most other options for beginners or intermediate pianists. And, it will look great wherever you choose to place it. It will definitely elevate the space.