Welcome to our Yamaha YDP-164 review. In this article we’re going to analyze the successor of the very popular and high quality digital piano that is the Yamaha YDP-163.
The Yamaha YDP-164 is part of the Arius line of Yamaha’s digital pianos. The Arius line has gotten a great reputation over the years, and not without merit. The main reason they succeeded in gaining this good reputation is because the digital pianos making up the Arius line provide high quality sound and key action at a relatively affordable price. In fact, I would say that they represent an advantageous value for money ratio.
They are great choices for people who are beginning to learn playing the piano because they provide an authentic experience. They are also high quality enough not to need replacing after you surpassed the beginner stage. In other words, a digital piano from the Yamaha Arius line is a companion for years to come.
But how does the Yamaha YDP-164 fit into this landscape? With this Yamaha YDP-164 review we’re going to try and offer a comprehensive answer to that question by presenting the advantages and possible weaknesses of this new addition to the Arius line. We’re also going to compare it to other alternatives that you would consider.
Yamaha YDP-164 vs Yamaha YDP-163
The Yamaha YDP-163 was by all means a very high quality digital piano. Yamaha has set the bar pretty high up with that model. You probably wonder how and if Yamaha manages to upgrade an already great digital piano, especially in its price range.
The answer is that the difference between the two is not so big that you couldn’t find common ground between the two. But there are some differences in certain key aspects. Is it worth the price difference? That is exactly what we’re going to find out in though this Yamaha YDP-164 review.
There are two ways to see the subtlety in the difference between the former model and its successor. On one hand, the fact that we can’t say that it’s a completely different product is good, because the YDP-163 already was a very good quality product. On the other hand, the small differences in those key aspects we’re talking about are exactly those that make some of the biggest impact in digital pianos.
The biggest difference, that is worth mentioning at this point, is the upgrade Yamaha made to the sound of the YDP-164. And sound is one of the most important characteristics of digital pianos.
The sound engine of the YDP-163 is the Yamaha CF Grand Piano. It sounds really well, offering a very realistic experience. At the time it came out, we really couldn’t imagine how much better it could get. Well, on the new Yamaha YDP-164 the manufacturer added the Yamaha CFX Grand Piano sound engine. It has a richer, more vibrant sound compared to the CF Grand Piano.
Sounds and Key Action
One of the most important aspects of digital pianos are the sounds that are they come with. This is also one of the greatest advantages of digital pianos over acoustic pianos. The other great advantage is the lack of the need to be tuned professionally from time to time. But let’s get back to the sounds.
The Yamaha YDP-164 doesn’t excel at the number of voices it offers. 10 voices might not seem too many, but they all of them are great quality.
Besides the CFX Grand Piano sound, the YDP-164 has the following voices: Jazz Organ, Harpsichord, Vibraphone, Pipe Organ, Strings, Classic DX, 80’s Electric Piano, Pop Grand Piano Sound and Mellow Grand Piano sound.
Pop Grand Piano sound is really helpful for people who like a certain jazzy sound to their classic piano, whereas Mellow Grand Piano sound is, as its name implies a more sensitive version of the grand piano sound.
In order to obtain more complex sounds, you can layer any two of these voices. You can do this in two ways. You either layer the sounds manually, ot use the Smart Pianist App from Yamaha. I will develop the relation to the Smart Pianist App a bit further down the page.
To layer two sounds manually, what you need to do is press the Voice button and then select certain keys in the second octave. Because each one of the keys will produce a different sound, layering two sounds is done by pressing two keys down at the same time. It just depends on your imagination or better said, on your ear, as to what combinations you’re able to make.
As for the key action on the Yamaha YDP-164, it hasn’t changed, compared to its predecessor. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Of course, there’s always room for improvement, but you have to put that into perspective. The hammer action wasn’t bad at all, and at the price range this model trades for, there’s not much more to be expected anyway, in terms of key action technology.
The key action on the YDP-164, as that on the YDP-163 is the Graded Hammer Action 3, or short GH3. The technology is more than fit for pianists from beginner stage up to advanced. For those of you that don’t know exactly what weighted keys mean, the keys feel heavier on the lower end, and get progressively lighter towards to higher end. It’s what you would encounter on an acoustic piano’s keyboard. The YDP-164, besides the weighted keys, has a 3 sensor configuration in the keys, which allow for an even more realistic piano playing experience.
As for the surface of the keys, the Yamaha YDP-164 has simulated Ebony and Ivory keys. Besides feeling nice, the material on the surface of the keys allow for extended piano playing sessions. There’s no risk of your fingers slipping during performance, like with other keyboards that lack this feature.
Can you use the Smart Pianist App with the Yamaha YDP-164?
You can use the Yamaha YDP-164 with the Smart Pianist App, but only if you have an Apple device. To do so, you first need a camera adapter kit, in order to be able to connect your mobile device to the piano.
After connecting the app, a world of possibilities is at your fingertips. By this, I mean you can control all of your pianos settings and features through your mobile device. You can layer, split, create recordings and do other stuff.
One of the most interesting features of the Smart Pianist App is the ability to analyze songs that are already on your mobile device and display symbols so that you can play along your favorite songs. This feature is called Chord Chart. This is pretty helpful if you learn to play the piano and would like to make your journey more fun.
There’s a lot of fun features and interactive ways to play around with this app and your YDP-164. For example you can use the Split feature on your app to record your right hand playing the chords of the song of your choice, listen to the recording and then try to do the same with your left hand.
Like with anything else in the world, you usually can’t have it all. So, in the case of the Smart Pianist App, although its features are fun and interactive, the Chord Chart is not able to analyze any song that you want. If the piece is more complex, then the feature will have some problems figuring out the chords. I’m sure that Yamaha will work on this and refine its app in the future more and more. Another aspect where Yamaha will probably innovate in the future is the possibility for the App to work with Android devices too.
Yamaha YDP-164 vs Yamaha YDP-144
At first glance, the main difference between the Yamaha YDP-164 and the Yamaha YDP-144 is the price; the first being around $300 more expensive than the latter. A common tendency is to think that more expensive means automatically superior, but it’s not necessarily true in many cases. The YDP-164 and the YDP-163 share more features than you might first think by judging the price difference.
The 3 main similarities between these two new models from Yamaha are polyphony, number and type of voices and the ability to be used in connection with the Smart Pianist App.
As far as differences are concerned, there are 2 main ones that are worth mentioning.
The most noticeable difference is concerning the speakers. The Yamaha YDP-164 has two speakers of 20 Watts each. This means that the total output of the speakers is 40 Watts.
In contrast, the YDP-144’s speakers have a combined power of only 16 Watts, meaning 8 Watts each. It’s quite the difference for anyone I think. Although the quality of sound is on par, if power of the sound is important to you, then you need to take this into consideration when making your choice.
The other notable difference is in key action. The YDP-144 has Graded Hammer Standard. This is very good quality key action, but still the most basic technology found in this sector on Yamaha digital pianos. The YDP-164, on the other hand, has Graded Hammer Action 3. This implies not only weighted keys, but a 3 sensor configuration that offers a noticeably superior experience when you play the piano. The key action is more expressive and closer to an acoustic keyboard. The surface of the keys, artificial ebony and ivory also provide for a superior feeling especially when during long piano playing sessions, absorbing any sweat and offering more grip exactly when needed the most.
If you want you can read our full Yamaha YDP-144 review.
Yamaha YDP-164 vs Roland F-140
The first difference between the two is the price. This time it’s in favor of the competition. The Roland F-140 is somewhat cheaper than the Yamaha YDP-164.
The key action on the Roland F-140 is pretty advanced. It’s called PHA-4 and it’s quite sensitive. The similarity between the two concerning the keys are the key tops which are synthetic ivory, with simulated let-off effect on the effect on the F-140.
As much as the overall experience is concerned, there are advantaged and disadvantages on both sides.
The speaker system of the Yamaha is superior compared to that of the Roland. And by superior I mean more powerful. The Yamaha has a total power output of 40 Watts whereas the Roland only reaches 24 Watts. The CFX sound engine on the Yamaha provides for a more vibrant sound as well, in comparison.
The chapter where the Roland is king is definitely the number and complexity of features. Over 300 voices, USB to device port, Bluetooth and more internal recording capability.
For a complete picture read our Roland F-140 review.
Is the Yamaha YDP-164 a good choice for beginners?
The Yamaha Arius line is in my opinion the perfect package. The pianos that are part of it are classy looking, high quality digital pianos, packed with features, that have a reasonable price. With products like digital musical instruments, reaching this sweet spot is pretty difficult. The concept of being reasonably priced is, I think, very important for beginners who don’t want, and shouldn’t spend an enormous sum of money on a musical instrument that they’re just getting to know.
Besides having all these advantages, the fact that it can be used in conjunction with the Smart Pianist App that helps you learn how to play the piano in different interactive ways is a point worth considering. It’s also complex enough not to be outgrown once you make some progress and attain an intermediate level. So it’s an investment that you will be reaping benefits from for an extended amount of time.
If you do attain a more advanced level, you will probably need, and want, to look for a more sophisticated digital piano, that is one step closer to acoustic pianos. For example, you will probably want real wooden keys, and other features.
Until you reach that point, though, the Yamaha YDP-164 will prove to be a good companion, definitely worth every penny.
With all the useful features like weighted keys and the ability to be used in connection with smart apps that will make practicing more interesting, the Yamaha YDP-164 is a great choice for any beginning pianist. I’m sure the affordable price, or better said the advantageous value for money ratio, is also an aspect that underlines the conclusion.