Wednesday, January 22, 2014

REVIEW - Yamaha YDP142, YDP162, YDPS51 Digital Pianos - Recommended - Very nice improvments

UPDATED REVIEW - February 2, 2016 - Yamaha YDP142, Yamaha YDP162, Yamaha YDPS51 Arius Digital Pianos - RECOMMENDED - The Yamaha YDP142, YDP143, and S51 have all been discontinued and new updated Yamaha pianois have replaced them. Please go to my latest reviews on the new YDP143 & YDP163 at the following link: Yamaha YDP143 & 163 Review.

Prior Yamaha YDP142 & 162 Review: Yamaha is a great music company and has been producing acoustic & digital pianos for a very long time. Professionals, teachers, studios, churches, and families own Yamaha pianos. Yamaha makes two mainstream lines of digital pianos, one is called the Clavinova series and the other is the lower priced Arius series. The Arius models have been out for many years and are sold in music stores and internet stores for under $2000US while the Clavinova series are priced at over $2000US and beyond $10,000US. The latest Arius models are the YDP142 ($999US internet price), YDP162 ($1299US internet price), and YDPS51US ($1349 internet price). With the exception of cabinet design, internal sound system, and key action, all three new models are identical with regard to their features and digital technology and all come with a matching bench. The YDP142 and YDP162 are offered in both a satin black walnut & dark brown rosewood color on the internet and the YDPS51 is offered in satin black and satin white. All models are fairly attractive as far as color, although I don't like the style of the YDPS51 cabinet design quite as much as the others.

Yamaha YDP142 digital piano
Yamaha YDP142 dark rosewood
The YDP142 (left pic) uses the same standard GHS key action as in the previous model YDP141 as well as the same audio power (12 watts total) along with the same speakers. The YDP142 has the biggest upgrade over the other models in that the previous YDP141 had only 64-note polyphony piano memory chip and the new YDP142 has 128-note polyphony along with 10 nice, but basic instrument sounds including harpsichord, strings, organ, etc, instead of the six sounds on the previous model. At $999 that's a big improvement for Yamaha as compared with their other low priced previous models. The YDP142 volume knob & power button placement and design (as well as on the other two models) has also been changed and those things are definite improvements too.

All of theseYDP models now have 128 note polyphony, improved piano sound sample chip (called pure CF sound engine) with noticeably more realistic piano sound than before along with some cool features not previously found on YDP pianos. Some of these new features include USB connectivity to iPad & computer instead of standard midi ports (it's about time!) and duo/duet play for two people playing simultaneously. The YDP142, YDP162, and YDPS51 have the previous model ability to layer two sounds together, transpose, have half-pedal sustain control and good overall pedal feel experience, reverb, MIDI recording and playback on 2 independent tracks with storage of one song, metronome, 3 level touch sensitivity control, and key cover. So when it comes to competing with other brands, the popularity of the Yamaha name, the lower pricing, along with these upgraded features, should help these new models do well and are worth serious consideration.


Yamaha YDP142 digital piano
YDP142 w/key cover closed
Both the YDP162 and YDPS51 use the better Yamaha GH graded hammer key action (as opposed to the standard GHS action in the YDP142) which is weighted much more like an acoustic piano and is also more solid and quieter than the YDP142 standard GHS action. However, as I have mentioned in other Yamaha reviews I have done on models with the GH action, the keys are a bit stiffer/firmer to press down from a key resting position (called static touch weight) than regular acoustic pianos that I have played before. In other words it takes more finger pressure to press the keys down than it should. Although the GH key action is stable and quiet and certainly weighted more like an acoustic piano, the finger force (or pressure) in playing the keys from a key resting position is not natural in my opinion and therefore I personally prefer a more natural playing experience on digital pianos which would include other brands I have reviewed such as Roland and Kawai. Yamaha also produces a key action in their higher priced Clavinova models called GH3, but unfortunately those key actions feel the same as the GH with the exception of a third key electronic sensor under the keys..

Yamaha YDP162 digital piano
Yamaha YDP162 with bench
The speaker system in the YDP162 & YDPS51 each have 40 watts total of audio power as compared with 12 watts total on the YDP142, so the that extra power allows for a much fuller, deeper tone which is definitely a nice thing in a piano and makes a noticeable difference. The 12 watt sound system in the Yamaha YDP142 produces a smaller & thinner sound as compared to a 40 watt system, especially in the bass keyboard range. Yamaha also has a newer digital technology they call "acoustic optimizer" which is supposed to further make the piano sound better in all the new cabinet models depending on volume levels you play at. Whether or not you can personally detect this optimized sound as being better is somewhat subjective but it's always good to have more helpful technology as opposed to less. The YDP142 also has this same optimizer and is good as far as overall sound, but as I said, the 12 watt amplification in the YDP142 is definitely on the low side and the 40 watt audio power is a big upgrade on the other models and that's what I prefer. Copyright AZPianoNews.com 2014

Yamaha YDP162 digital piano
Yamaha YDP162 with bench
The YDP162 may be the most popular of the three new models because it is slightly under $1500 and has much better features in my opinion. It has a redesigned cabinet from the previous YDP161 and looks classier in its new cabinet...definite improvement there. The older YDP161 looked like the YDP141/YDP142 and now the newer YDP162 looks distinctively better then the YDP142 especially with its higher profile of more than an inch taller. Also, the YDP162 does not have the name "Arius" stamped on the music rack anymore and instead has the name "Yamaha" in 3D letters just above the keyboard...a very nice change and looks good. The YDP142 also took the
name Arius off the music rack and replaced it with the name Yamaha in the same place...not as visually appealing as the YDP162.  The YDPS51 (left pic in white, also comes in black) looks a bit top heavy (I do not personally like the small music rack and open lid configuration in this model), however the piano does look attractive and compact when the lid is closed up, but then you cannot play it when it's closed:). The YDP162 has something new that no Yamaha cabinet pianos have had under $2000 which is the "ivory feel" key tops on the white keys. The next Yamaha model up to have the ivory-feel keys is the CLP525. The ivory feel keys give the fingers a key surface that is supposed to be better for a smoother and less sticky key playing experience. However it just depends on what is important to you and if it really makes a difference because and in reality, regular white hard plastic keytops are what you will find on regular acoustic upright & grand pianos such as Yamaha, Kawai, & Steinway, and I don't hear professionals complaining about that when they play them:).

Yamaha YDP142 digital piano
Yamaha YDP142
The Arius 142/162/S51 does not use the 3-sensor key action found in the higher priced Yamaha Clavinova series but overall for its price range the Arius does have a fairly good dynamic range and repetition in its key action and 3-key sensors are mostly noticeable if you are at a more advanced skill level playing faster repeating key strokes. Key action is the #1 thing to look for in any digital piano and following that would be piano sound realism & dynamics, pedaling, functions, digital features, USB/MIDI connectivity, and cabinet design & color. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting a key action that emulates an acoustic piano as much as possible, especially if you (or your children) are a student. Even though acoustic piano key actions tend to be different from one brand to the next (and even within the same brand), there are certain fundamentals which you need to look for. As I mentioned earlier, one of the most important aspects of key action movement is static (resting) touch weight. When you first press down a black or white key when it is not moving yet, there is a certain amount of force it takes from your fingers to press the keys down. Both the Yamaha GH action and GHS (found in the YDP142) have somewhat stiffer key touch, especially when playing softly or lightly. This is referred to as static touch weight, and although you may not know what a piano key movement should feel like when pressing on the keys,  if you play on an Yamaha Arius model and then go play a nice acoustic piano or another good brand of digital piano, you may likely notice the difference.

2015 model Kawai KDP90
Casio, which is also a very good brand, is now using a 3-sensor key action technology (left pic) in all of its pianos under $2000 along with a graded hammer weighted key action. Also, there is a new model Kawai digital piano that recently came out called the KDP90 which has surprisingly realistic piano playing realism (in my opinion) as compared to the Yamaha Arius series in key action movement (including static touch weight), realistic acoustic piano tone, and smooth pedaling. I have played this model and found it to be quite impressive. It has a similar traditional cabinet design like the YDP142/162 but is priced at just $1149 internet discount price. The Kawai KDP90 would definitely be worth looking at and I have done a blog review at the following link which I encourage you to read: Kawai KDP90 Review

Casio Privia PX860
Roland and Casio each have digital pianos in the lower price range near or under $1500 that are quite nice and I recommend them. Casio has an impressive line of digital piano models called the Privia PX series (PX860 pic on left) which I like very much in this lower price range and they are quite a bit less money too. Roland has a brand new model called the RP401R (internet discount price of $1599) which in my opinion is much better than the Yamaha Arius series with regard to key action realism, pedaling ability, and a dynamic acoustic piano sound. This model comes in an attractive traditional designed cabinet with two color options, a 4-sensor ivory feel key action along with a grand piano key action feature called escapement, and the key action is smooth and responsive. This new RP401R also has a number of educational features including wireless iPad connectivity with Roland learning and piano function control apps. I would recommend you read my blog reviews on these pianos at the links below. 

When it comes to these new Yamaha Arius models, as I have already mentioned, they have very nice improvements over the older models. They look good, feel good overall (except the key action issues I mentioned earlier), sound fairly realistic as compared to an acoustic piano with their new piano sound & better pedal sustain/decay time, and have some new, useful features. Of the three new models, I recommend the YDP162, YDP142, and the YDPS51 in that order because of features, price, and cabinet design based on comments I receive from people. I really do like Yamaha pianos and recommend them and I have been playing Yamaha instruments for many years. The bottom line is that in the under $2000 price range, you can probably be happy with any of these instruments, and that's what counts... your musical happiness. But before you spend your hard earned money, I would advise you to also check out the other brands of new digital pianos under $1500 and compare them to what Yamaha has to offer. Once you do that then you'll be able to say you made the right buying decision...no matter what that decision is:). Copyright AZPianoNews.com 2014

Yamaha YDP162 digital piano
YDP162 w/closed key cover
Playing music and enjoying it as a child or adult is such incredible experience and I strongly recommend it to people no matter what your background, age, or playing skill level. It's a wonderful way to express your deepest emotions while also being a relaxing, calming experience as well. Also, when you want to take out your frustrations on something, well then a good, fast, big piece of classical music on a piano can make that happen for you too...or jazz, pop, Latin, Country, or whatever! No matter where you are in life, whether a person is 3 years old or 93 years old, it is never too early or too late to play music. Music is everywhere you go in the world and is integrated into our lives in so many ways. Be a part of it and power up a good digital piano, turn up the volume, and play as soon as possible, and make sure you do it on the best instrument you can in your price range:)

Go to the following links for important additional digital piano reviews:

Casio PX780 review
Casio PX860 Review ($1099 internet price - comparative model to Yamaha YDP162) 
Kawai KDP90 review
Roland RP401R review

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

39 comments:

  1. Just wanted to say thanks for this review. It's really helped clarify a few things in my mind before buying my first digital piano. Thanks for your clear explanations and honest opinions.

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  2. Thank you for your comprehensive review. It has helped me a lot in making a decision.

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  3. Great review, thanks a lot!

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  4. Thanks for the review Tim. Do you know when will the S51 become available in the US? Also, is it really priced at $1699, $200 above the 162? It has neither the extra cabinetry nor the ivory key top of the 162.

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  5. Thanks for very helpful review. Can you recommend any online store to buy yamaha pianos?

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  6. Very detailed and informative, and much appreciated - thanks for taking the time to really dig into this for us!

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  7. Thank you for your detailed review, helped me to decide on which piano to go for within my budget - Yamaha YDP 142, €789 in Ireland. I am new to digital pianos and haven't played in 20 years so it is great to get independent advice.

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  8. Merci beaucoup for your explanations, these will help me buy a decent piano
    Red from france

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  9. hello tim,

    I've had my eye on yamaha ydp 162 for a while, however, I had my eye on the casio px850, which piano do you say has
    the best key action and sound?

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  10. They are both good but I prefer the Casio key action as being more realistic and uses the 3-sensor key action. Both pianos have good piano sound reproduction but are different.

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  11. I've read several of your reviews which helped me decide on which DP to buy. Thank you for sharing your detailed explanation and words of encouragement.

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  12. Our church is looking for a good digital piano/keyboard - price range up to $7,000.00 We need the most realistic piano sound, capability of recording, powerful enough to be heard from the choir loft. Looks are not that important but size is. We do have a large free area to put a piano. I would appreciate some suggestions. Have done so much research - I am giddy.

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  13. Hello Dear Tim, I am John from Egypt, I read your blog and it's very useful, I am considering to buy a Digital Piano for practicing, here in Egypt we don't have much to choose from, I have only 3 models which are, Casio PX 750, Ap 220, and Yamaha Ydp 142. So which one do you recommend.

    Thanks and best Regards.

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  14. Either the Yamaha YDP142 or Casio PX750 would be a good choice. I like the key action better on the Casio but you could be happy with either one.

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  15. Dear Tim, thank you very much for taking your time for this very good and very detailed review!!! This will save me much time to choose a DP for my kids...! I myself have a Yamaha Clavinova CLP 154 S since nearly 20 years and it still works fine, maybe because I used it not very often. Best regrads from Aachen, Germany

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    Replies
    1. Hi! Quick question on the CLP 154 as I'm planning on buying one myself... does it have graded hammer keys?

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  16. Thank you for this great review Tim, it really helps us first time piano buyers.

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  17. Thanks a lot for you excellent review, Tim. We now have two options for our 7 years old boy, Yamaha YDP 162 (in our planned buget level) and CLP 535 with a higher buget level. The dealer just strongly recommanded the latter one for the reason we all know. Since we do have the chance to play the real piano in a piano school anytime, we think a YDP 162 is already good enough for us. How is your opinion?

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  18. There is no need to get the Yamaha CLP535 at this point...it is overkill in my opinion, especially for a 7 year old. The YDP162 is more than sufficient and will be for some years to come. Also, in that price range I would suggest you look at a few other options which may even be better in terms of playability and built-in educational features. Also, I can suggest where you can get any of these pianos for less money than internet, store prices, less than amazon, etc. Please email me direct and I can give you more info.

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  19. Hi, I am at a beginner level of learning the piano and currently in need of my first digital piano. After a lot of research I recently decided to buy the Casio AP 250 (Considering its in the under $1000 range and I have heard good reviews on it)
    However, I am hesitant to go for a lower priced product as it may affect the quality of sound + the key action may be inferior to higher priced models.
    Can you suggest if I should go for the AP 250 or spend a bit more on the Kawai KDP90 or yamaha YDP162?

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  20. I understand your hesitation. Please contact me by email and I will give you details on the key actions you ask about and how they compare to each other incl the Kawai, Casio, Yamaha, and the new Roland pianos.

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  21. Hello Tim, I tried YDP S51 today and was quite attracted by its "stiff" key action. I used to have an old Hoffstein upright piano, which keys felt just like that, but then decided to replace it with an accoustic one instead. I actually thought that all weighted pianos were supposed to give you this much resistent when you press the keys... Was I wrong? Is the grand piano supposed to be smoother and feel more like Kawai CN24 or Casio 850 (I've tried those two, as well)?

    Let me know what you think because I wouldn't like to continue learning in a "wrong" way...

    Thanks a lot in advance!
    Elena

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  22. Hi Tim, I've been reading your test review on the different pianos as we got an offer for the YDP-142 and YDP-162 for our daughter. She started to take lessons and we're looking for one of both pianos as we can first rent them and later decide to buy. The store told us now that the YDP-142 has a kind of lack in the keys after 3 years of playing. They also speak about a better sound on the YDP-162 than YDP-142. Now seeing that the finger pressure for the keys on YDP-162 is unnatural makes us a bit hesitate on our choice. Which one of both would you still recommend?

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  23. Thank you so much for very comprehensive review which helped a lot in making the decision on what piano/keyboard to buy when there are so many varieties available in the market.

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  24. Hello,
    for a 7 year old girl what do you recommend to us between the two pianos: Thomann DP-30 RW/C vs Yamaha YDP-142 R Arius.
    Thank you!

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  25. Yamaha YDP142, Casio PX860, or Roland F130R. I do not recommend the "off brands" also known as the dealer brands.

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  26. Thank you for this extraordinary blog and articles. It helped me a lot to determine what to buy for my son. Regards from Serbia.

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  27. Hello, YDP-162 and YDP-S51, which is the best option?
    Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. either model would be fine. Just depends what cabinet you want and the price you can afford.

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  28. I am finding a digital Piano for my son 14 years old. He is starting with piano. Yamaha YDP 142, YDP 162 and Roland 301R, which one is the best choice for him? Thanks.

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  29. Any of those pianos would be OK overall, but my recommendation would be the new Roland RP401R, not the 301R.

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  30. Hi Tim
    I am purchasing the Yamaha Arius YDP 142 for my 7 year old daughter . Do you think this is the best option for a price of £630? She's only a beginner and learner .
    Thank you and best regards
    Lucy

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  31. Hi i'm searching for a digital piano for my musician career i'm a beginner, whats the really difference between GH and GHS? what i understand is that the YDP 162 with GH isn't natural as an acoustic piano, right? what it means the YDP 142 feels more natural or am i wrong? THANKS

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  32. Hi tim, thanks for all this valuable advice. I need your recommendation on this. My son is 7 years old and his private piano teacher says he is very talented. He insists that we get him a proper electric piano. We live in Egypt and the options available within my budget are: Roland S20, Roland RP301-RW, Yamaha YDP142, Yamaha P115. Please advise us

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  33. I forgot to add that also celviano AP-250BK is availble within my budget for my 7 year old. Appreciate your help.

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  34. either the Yamaha P115 or Casio AP250 would be the best choices...not the Rolands. I have played both the Casio & Yamaha but they are different as you have probably noticed. Just depends which is more practical for you in terms of portability, space, size, cabinet design, cost, features etc. With regard to higher quality key action, sound, and functions, the new P115 is much better than the other Yamaha models including their cabinet models.

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  35. I am purchasing the Yamaha Arius YDP 142 for my 7 year old daughter . Do you think this is the best option for a price of £630? She's only a beginner and learner .
    Thank you and best regards
    Lucy

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  36. I do like the YDP142 but other good options in a lower price range (US) are the Kawai KDP90, Casio PX860 and Roland F130R/F140R.

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  37. Hello. I'm very close from deciding between Yamaha YDP 162 and Casio PX860. Kraftmusic site has YDP bundle for 1299 and as you know, the price difference between the two are about $200 if not more. My budget was around $1000, but I would like to buy a better one even if it means spending bit more money since I'll be using this for a very long time. What would YOU buy if you were me?

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