Tuesday, December 20, 2011

REVIEW - Yamaha YDP135R & YDP141 Digital Pianos - Very Nice with good piano tone & touch

UPDATED REVIEW - February 10, 2013 RECOMMENDED - The Yamaha YDP141 is now discontinued and the new 2013 model Yamaha YDP142 has taken its place. The YDP142 has significant new upgrades and you can read about this new model on my blog review here: Yamaha YDP142 Review.

YDP135R & YDP141 Review: Yamaha has a series of furniture style cabinet digital pianos priced under $2000 called Arius and they have been on the market for awhile. There is the Arius YDP135R, 141, 161 (now replaced by the YDP162), 181, and V240. However, Yamaha has not had an Arius furniture style piano selling for under $1000 in its current lineup of home digital pianos until now and those models are called the YDP135R (left pic - internet priced at $999) and the older YDP141 with a newly reduced internet price of $999. These two pianos are essentially the same instrument except the recording and data storage capacity on the 135R is smaller, but they are otherwise the same pianos including having half-damper gradual sustain pedaling. Half damper simply means that when you press the sustain pedal down, you get partial graduated sustain instead of just an on & off sustain like the off-brands such as Williams, Suzuki, Adagio, etc (which I do not recommend). On & off sustain is OK in many playing situations but not as desirable because regular acoustic pianos have half-damper ability and it's important to try to duplicate an acoustic piano touch & tone as closely as possible.

The YDP135R has the same audio power and speaker system as the YDP141 (2 speakers & 12 watts total power), the same sounds (six), same key polyphony memory (64-note), the same key action (GHS) which is nice, the same cabinet, the same control panel and basically the same features.

The biggest advantage that I see in the YDP141 is that is has two tracks for recording instead of one which is nice to have. That means you can record a left hand part and then play it back while playing the right hand part live along with it or record right hand part and play it back while playing left hand along with it. Or you can record and playback both parts. That can be useful when practicing with two hands and wanting separate parts. The newer YDP135R (upper left pic with cover closed and with bench) just records on one track for both hands at once or you can record one hand part and play it back while playing the other hand live. But you cannot record both hands independently and play them back together or store that song either. So as far as recording goes, the YDP141 is better. Both instruments sound good as a pianos but only have a total of 6 instrument sounds (which is not many), plays good (although the audio power at just 12 watts total could be better), and they come with a matching padded bench. The piano finish is attractive in a darker brown rosewood.


Casio PX750
Another very good digital piano option in this price range that I recommend is the brand new Casio Privia PX750 piano (left pic). Go here for my review of that model: Casio PX750 Review. This piano has 18 instrument sounds with a front facing control panel (Yamaha is on the left side of the keyboard), 16 watts of total stereo power as opposed to 12 watts in the Yamaha's, comes in an attractive compact satin black, satin brown, or satin white cabinet (brown & white available in January) with new front speaker projection for a very impressive overall volume, has the upgraded ivory & ebony feel keytops that simulates real ivory & ebony piano keys for a better finger touch along with a high quality graded hammer action movement (similar but even better than the Yamaha YDP181 at $1699), a two track song recorder like the Yamaha YDP141, and the ability to "split the keyboard" into two parts and assign one instrument sound on the left hand and a different sound on the right hand and play them at the same time (very cool). The Casio PX750 is also 128-note polyphonic which means it has twice the piano polyphony memory of the Yamaha 135R & 141 (they are 64-note polyphony). More polyphony translates to a smoother, bigger, more realistic piano sound when playing more complex music or layering two sounds together at one time. And finally, the Casio PX750 has the new high speed USB to iPad/computer output which neither Yamaha has...a very important feature for proper connectivity to expand piano training/practice and have a good interactive playing experience useful for people of all ages and playing skill levels.

Casio PX750
The realism of the Casio's brand new stereo acoustic piano sound is really amazing because it utilizes a 4-level stereo sample as opposed to a 3-level on the Yamaha YDP141 and YDP135. Also, the new Casio acoustic piano sound has much better dynamic range than the Yamaha's (it is very noticeable) with longer natural sustain/decay time. This translates to the things that piano teachers and musicians want which is the ability to have full dynamic expression in your music. That kind of digital piano technology is usually reserved for models priced at $1500 minimum. If you compare all of the specifications of both the Casio PX750 and the Yamaha YDP135R/YDP141, it would appear that the Casio wins out...and at just $799 internet discount price, it's $200 less than the Yamaha YDP135R or YDP141. I think the Casio should be a definite consideration and it comes with a 3 year parts & labor factory warranty. Not only does the Casio PX750 easily beat out the YDP135R &YDP141 in my opinion, except for the more powerful speaker system, it also beats out the the higher priced YDP161 ($1499 internet price) with the Casio having a distinctly more realistic upright piano key action movement along with its new ivory & ebony feel keys not found on the Arius series. When it comes to the furniture cabinet color, my favorite color is satin black and Casio is offering that color in the PX750. Yamaha also offers the satin black color on its YDP161 but not on the lower priced models.If you want to hear what the Casio PX750 sounds like, Casio also has a new piano that will be coming out this April called the PX780 which has the identical acoustic piano sound as the PX750 cabinet model but with a larger internal speaker system and many more educational and fun features. The internet discount price on that new model is $999 and you can read my review of the Casio PX780 here: Casio PX780 review



In the final analysis, the new YDP135R & Yamaha YDP141 are solid contenders and much better digital pianos in their price range than most other brands and I do like and recommend them. But $1000 is still a lot of money, so before you plunk down all that hard earned cash, do your research and be sure you are getting the most for your money based on what you need and want. Yamaha is a great brand and I use Yamaha pianos in my studio, but these YDP141 & YDP161 Arius models are old in technology & playability compared to some of the new stuff out right now as I mentioned above. You can no doubt be very happy with any of these Yamaha pianos especially if you do not play and are starting from scratch, so my advice is to get out there and get a good digital piano in your life because you'll be glad you did.

If you want more piano info and LOWER PRICES than internet or store discounts, please email me at tim@azpianowholesale.com or call direct at 602-571-1864.

3 comments:

  1. I bought the yamaha Arius 141 recently, I started having piano lessons about 6 months ago so I am very much the learner, altho I played drums for about 20 years which has proved helpfull, the 141 for me at least has proven to be a very good investment, I love the tone which is similar to my teachers acoustic Yamaha, I am just sorting out the recording possibilities, so I have that to look forward to. This piano is a sturdy well put together instument, I would recomend this Yamaha to some one who is a beginner or a more experienced player.

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  2. thank ... this is a complete review for the pianos. buy 1 of these next week.

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  3. Thanks... We're looking at a used Yamaha YDP S31 (2010) as an extra studio teaching unit. Asking price is $500 CAD. Currently listed at Costco for $979.00. We're also toying with other new units at Costco, Casio Privia PX-735 for $570 or a clearout Celviano AP 620 for $1000.? (but will really stretch the budget!)
    Thoughts? Thanks again

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