Thursday, October 10, 2013

REVIEW - Yamaha CLP430, CLP440, CLP470, CLP480 Clavinova Digital Pianos - Recommended - Very Nice


UPDATED REVIEW - June 20, 2015 - The following Yamaha CLP 400 series are discontinued with the exception of the CLP440. The new replacement pianos are called the CLP500  models and you can read about them at my following review: Digital Piano Comparison - Yamaha CLP500 series and other comparable brands

Prior review of the CLP430, CLP440, CLP470, CLP480 - Recommended - For many years I have enjoyed playing and performing on Yamaha acoustic & digital pianos (I have two of them in my music studio incl one acoustic Yamaha - left pic). The Yamaha Clavinova CLP400 series digital pianos are excellent instruments overall with fairly realistic key action and piano sound. The newer 400 series models came out in early 2011 so they are older in technology now as compared with some newer digital pianos in other famous brands including Kawai, Roland, & Casio, but they're still popular with their nice furniture cabinet styles. The Yamaha 400 series models include the CLP430 (approx $2999 retail US), CLP440 ($3899 retail US), CLP470 (approx $4799 retail US), & CLP480 (approx $6999 retail US). Polished ebony cabinets are available in all models and are priced about $500+ higher (in many Yamaha stores) than non-polished ebony. You can figure the store discount prices on Clavinova's in general should be about 25% off retail prices (give or take) depending on the dealer, model, and availability. These instruments get better as you go up the line with better piano tone, better piano touch (plastic keys/wood keys), more features, better internal audio system, and nicer cabinets. Also, be aware that there are new improved CLP500 series pianos just coming out in the US now which will likely make the CLP400 series become discontinued in the near future. Because of that, the CLP400 series may be at lower discount prices than normal in local US Yamaha piano stores. If you live in the US and want more info on that, please contact me.

Yamaha Clavinova CLP430 digital piano
CLP430 dark rosewood
When you are paying up to $5000 or more for one of these  CLP 400 series, you want them to be satisfying and these Clavinova's do sound pretty good (although the new 500's are better). The Yamaha company, like all brands of digital pianos, use special words or phrases they have made up to describe their tone or touch technology and some of these phrases sound very impressive in their literature and write-ups. Yamaha has descriptive words such as Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC), GRE, Smooth Release, Linear Graded Hammers, and Soundboard Speaker. Roland has SuperNATURAL Piano, Kawai has Progressive Harmonic Imaging, Casio has AIR, and Kurzweil has Triple Strike Piano.
Yamaha Clavinova CLP440 digital piano
New CLP440 satin white
But for me as someone who has played hundreds of different digital pianos over the years, these descriptive words are really meaningless because at the end of the day, your enjoyment level will not be based on the words manufacturers use, but on your playing reality instead. Does the piano you purchased feel & sound like a piano to you? Does it make you happy when you play and hear it? Will it reproduce the kind of music you like when you play the piano? Those are the real questions that you need to ask when purchasing any piano. Descriptive words used to define technologies and various models do give you a point of reference, but you must judge a piano by its own merit and not by the words used to describe it. Overall, I do like the new acoustic type piano sounds and nuances in these Clavinova's and they are quite nice, although sound and touch is still subjective based on one's own piano playing  experiences and skill level.

Yamaha Clavinova CLP440 digital pianoI did notice something on the CLP430 & CLP440 (left pic) which bothered me a bit. The plastic GH3 key actions in the CLP430 & CLP440 (the number 3 stands for a 3rd key sensor key which is a good thing) is overly stiff or resistant in my opinion when you play the keys lightly or softly across the keyboard. However, the CLP470 (lower left pic) & 480 wood key action seems to be better and I didn't notice that issue quite as much based on my experiences with them. However, as good as the CLP470 & 480 are, the wood keys on those models  are installed and designed differently than the Kawai CA series wood key digital pianos (Yamaha's wood key competitor). Based on my considerable acoustic piano experience, the Kawai wood key action is more authentic in the way it moves and the way in which it is installed into their pianos. Yamaha, like all good digital piano manufacturers, try to design and manufacturer their key actions to emulate an acoustic piano, but when you play a real acoustic upright piano, the keys should be easy to press down when playing lightly and then get slightly easier to push down as you across the keys. The CLP series keyboard actions are graded in weight and do  get progressively easier to play when pushing the keys (it is subtle) as you move up the keyboard. But the overall heaviness and resistance of the keys when pressing down from key resting position (called static touch weight) on the CLP430 & CLP440 is noticeable to me. This may not be apparent to the average person who may not have much acoustic piano playing experience, but if you played a good Yamaha (or other good brands) acoustic upright piano and compared it with these specific CLP digital pianos, you would likely notice the difference. To me, the Yamaha CLP430 & 440 have key actions that feel less like an acoustic piano as compared with Kawai & Roland digital pianos in similar price ranges, but that's just my opinion and you may feel differently.

CLP480 polished ebony
All of these Yamaha Clavinova pianos have good volume output, especially the CLP480 with a huge amount of power! The CLP480 has a total of 200 watts of power into multiple built-in speakers which will just blow you away if you want that high volume (and good sound), and the CLP480 also puts out quality tone with lower volume too. There is a noticeable difference in piano sound resonance and realism on the CLP480 because of its upgraded speaker system and speaker functions as compared to the other Clavinova CLP models. The CLP480 also has over 500 instrument sounds to choose from (wow!) as compared with just 28 on the CLP470 and the CLP480 is the only model of the bunch that can play & record General MIDI song files through 16 individual instrument tracks which helps with learning, practice, and is a lot of fun to play along with. Too bad you need to get the top CLP480 model to experience the General MIDI and multiple instrument 16-track sound and playback features. The CLP470 should have had those features as well considering that model sells for closer to $3500 at discount. Even some of Yamaha's least expensive piano keyboards like the new DGX650 ($799 internet price) have General MIDI song playback & recording and hundreds of nice instrument sounds available, but Yamaha obviously knew what they were doing by making people pay more money and forcing them up to the CLP480 if they wanted those cool features.The CLP480 is certainly my favorite amongst these models but it does come with a high price tag.

Yamaha Clavinova CLP480 digital piano
CLP480 w/key cover closed
All models have attractive, sturdy cabinets with front legs (above left), nice ivory feel keys (all except CLP430), USB flash drive device input for audio wav file and basic MIDI piano song play (does not play General MIDI song files except for CLP480) and overall good key 'feel' and piano sound. Yamaha has produced very good piano sound, pedal nuances, resonance, and longer pedal sustain decay time found in good acoustic pianos with their new technology. They have done a nice job of this and for some intermediate to advanced players or students wanting to get to an advanced level, the new piano technology would be a nice benefit. But for many families I know who are looking for a good, solid digital piano as a form of recreation and enjoyment for less money, there are certainly other options (different brands & models) that I believe would give people high quality & useful educational features, an attractive cabinet and a very satisfying playing experience other than Yamaha.

The lowest priced Clavinova model is the CLP430 which sells on average for somewhere between $2000-$2300US at Yamaha piano stores. However, the well known Kawai piano company has a newer digital piano available in the US called the CE220 at $1899US internet discount price (left pic), which in my opinion, outperforms the Yamaha CLP430, and for less money and is an amazing instrument. The Kawai CE220 uses actual acoustic piano full length wooden keys installed over solid metal pins that creates a very stable key action with no lateral movement (lower left pic) along with graduated weighted hammer key action, 192-notes of polyphony (as opposed to 128 in the Yamaha CLP430), 3 traditional functioning pedals with half-damper control, 100 drum rhythm patterns for rhythm & timing training, 22 impressive instrument sounds including stereo grand pianos, 4-hand duet play function, and comes in an attractive satin black furniture style cabinet with bench. I have played and listened extensively to the Kawai CE220 and it is really impressive for
its lower price. Based on what I can see, you would need to go up to the Yamaha CLP470 (sells for approx $3500US in stores) before you get the kind of digital features and wood keys the Kawai CE220 has, although the Yamaha internal speaker system is louder on the CLP430 & 440 and the Yamaha does have wav audio recording where the Kawai does not. But the CE220 also has USB flash drive input to save recorded MIDI songs, USB to computer/iPad output for connecting iPad (and Android) for interactive learning, stereo audio inputs & outputs, and some other very cool features like being able to play back many multi-track MIDI songs for educational purposes, which is a very cool thing and I use that technology in my music studio. The Yamaha CVP Clavinova's play back mult-track MIDI songs but those pianos start at about $4000 at discount price, although they are very nice. Take a look at my Kawai CE220 review at the following link: Kawai CE220 Piano Review. 

Yamaha CLP440 digital piano polished ebonyAs I mentioned a bit before, for the higher amount of money these pianos cost, the Yamaha Clavinova 400 series pianos also have a noticeable lack of instruments on three of the CLP models as compared with other brands at similar prices, which may or may not be important to you. There are just 14 of instrument tones in the CLP430, 28 in the CLP440, 28 in the CLP470, and over 500 instruments in the CLP480. The models with 14-28 instrument tones do have good quality instrument sounds and are quite enjoyable to play such as electric pianos, harpsichord, acoustic guitar, organs, etc. However, Roland offers 337 quality instruments on its HP line of pianos and even their less expensive RP401R ($1999) has many more instrument selections, assuming that would be an important feature to you. The Kawai company also offers many more instrument tones & features on their pianos priced at above $2300.

Yamaha CLP440 digital piano polished ebony
CLP440 polished ebony
The CLP 430 does not have the synthetic ivory keytops like the other Yamaha models do (Roland, Kawai & Casio do have the ivory feel keys in the lower price range) and the CLP430 has just  128 notes of polyphony as compared to the CLP440, CLP470, and CLP480 with 256-note polyphony memory which is generous and can be useful, especially for intermediate to advanced players. More polyphony memory allows allows for more complex piano playing especially when two or more instruments are combined and played at the same time (like piano & strings, etc). Most families I talk with typically want to spend less than $3000 for a digital piano so the CLP440 (above left - polished ebony priced higher) would be a good one in that range and is upgraded over the CLP430 along with a somewhat better internal sound system. The CLP440 does sound and look good, has 80 watts of power going through two speakers
Yamaha CLP470 digital piano
CLP470 dark rosewood
(which I actually thought sounded a bit mid-rangy in tone as compared to other pianos), can play and record audio WAV song files as well as regular piano MIDI song files. It is a good piano and looks attractive along with having the new synthetic ivory keytops (which may or may not be important to you). It also has Yamaha's popular GH3 (3 sensor) key action which provides for more precise piano play as opposed to the lower priced Yamaha Arius series YDP162 & 181. The key action on the CLP430 & 440 is a bit noisier than Kawai brand pianos when the keys hit the bottom of the keybed and the keys do have some lateral movement as compared to Kawai digital pianos (with wood keys) and regular acoustic pianos. Key action is the heart of any digital piano and although Yamaha is good in the Clavinova series (especially in the CLP470/480), I like Kawai and Roland key actions better but that's just my opinion and personal taste. Copyright AZPianoNews.com 2014

Casio PX850 Digital PianoIf you want a furniture cabinet model in a lower price range, then you should also look at the new Yamaha Arius YDP162 ($1499US internet discount price with basic cabinet finish), the Casio Privia PX860 ($1099US internet discount price - left pic), or the new Roland RP401R which are very nice pianos too. The Casio PX860 compact home cabinet model in satin black has the synthetic ivory & ebony feel keys, 256-note polyphony (very high polyphony in that price range), a wav file audio recorder/player using USB flashdrive (just like on the CLP's), fairly realistic acoustic piano tone and convincing acoustic piano key action (3 sensor key action for smoother play with 4-level stereo samples) and other cool things all in a contemporary compact cabinet. I have reviewed the Casio PX860 on my blog with the link here: Casio PX860 Review. As digital technology progresses and advances, it allows for better products at lower prices in many product categories (such as cell phones, tablets, TV's, digital pianos, etc), and such would seem to be the case in this new Casio PX860. I would also recommend in the higher price range (over $3000) the new Kawai CA67 & CA97 which are quite impressive with their grand piano let-off key action and also Roland's newer HP506 & HP08 which offer more sounds and the let-off grand key action like Kawai. Those models compare very favorably to the Yamaha CLP470 & CLP480.

Kawai ES7 Digital Piano
Kawai ES7
Another new and unique digital piano to consider in the $2000 to $2500 price range that I really like is the new Kawai ES7 compact contemporary furniture style piano (left pic). It comes in a two-tone gloss ebony finish and gloss white finish and they both look attractive. The ES7 is using Kawai's newest upscale key action in that price range with 3 key sensors per key and 256-note polyphony acoustic piano sound technology along with having some very useful digital features. This model compares favorably with the Yamaha CLP440 and in my opinion actually offers quite a bit more in terms of performance and control along even better acoustic piano tone and key action realism as far as I am concerned. The Kawai ES7 piano is a serious instrument but yet fun at the same time (a great combination). With its flexibility, compact size, and realistic performance, I believe the Kawai ES7 should be a definite consideration for those people who want higher quality features in a solid, attractive, and functional cabinet at a lower price.  

Roland HP508 digital piano
Roland HP508 polished ebony
It's always good to look at other name brands especially when you are in the higher price range above $2000, so I also recommend you take a look at the newer Roland HP line of furniture cabinet digital pianos as they are very enjoyable to play and listen to and have some distinct advantages over the Yamaha Clavinova's. The 2015 model Roland HP504, HP506, HP508 are particularly nice in their higher price range and give a very realistic piano playing experience for both key action and overall piano sound reproduction, in my opinion. Go to my following review to read about the new Roland digital pianos: Roland HP504, HP506, HP508 Review

CLP470 w/key cover closed
The Yamaha CLP digital pianos look attractive (particularly the polished ebony cabinets) and sound nice, especially when listening through good headphones, and for the most part, play very smoothly. The Yamaha CLP Clavinova's are popular pianos and have been that way for many years, and I believe most people will enjoy them.  The Yamaha brand has a great reputation for reliability, service, and resale value so I do recommend them as a good choice. Be aware that in the US, the Clavinova series of digital pianos is not available on-line and are sold only in local piano stores. In addition to that, discount pricing can be slightly different depending on the local Yamaha piano store and product availability, and you would need to physically go into a local Yamaha piano store to find out the discount price they are offering. This is also true for some digital piano models in other brands including Roland & Kawai. Yamaha does offer its lower priced Arius series of digital pianos in the US for sale on the internet at discount prices so you don't necessarily need to go into a store for those models. But no matter what digital piano you decide to buy, it's all about playing music, having a good time, expressing yourself, and bringing something into your home that is good for you and your family.

If you want more info on these and other pianos and lower prices than internet discounts, please email me at tim@azpianowholesale.com or call direct at 602-571-1864

* I recommend eMedia educational software. If you decide to make a purchase after clicking on link below, I have arranged a big discount for you direct with eMedia for their educational software and that discount price is displayed through this link only! I want to see everyone learn to play and enjoy piano!

12 comments:

  1. Quotation: «The current Yamaha models include the CLP430 (approx $2999 retail US), CLP440 (approx $3899 retail US), CLP470 (approx $4799 retail US), & CLP480 (approx $6999 retail US)».

    Are you kidding us?! Where did you find these crazy prices?! For those prices YAMAHA won't have any chance in front of other competitors, such as KAWAI etc. I can buy CLP-440 right now for $2600 in Ukraine from a several official YAMAHA's dealers (not $3900 as you wrote – this is absolutely crazy and false information!). Before I bought CLP-340 for $2200. So, don't mislead your readers.

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    1. US retail price does not mean "selling price." In the US things are done differently than in other countries with regard to buying and selling. I indicated that actual store selling prices on the CLP's are about 25% less than retail prices in many US stores and that price can even be lower depending on the US store. So you must have misread my blog post on CLP's with regard to actual selling prices and what they can be in the US? Also, each country can have different warranties on digital pianos which also can have an effect on prices. I hope this info helps you.

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  2. Thank you for your articles. I agree about YAMAHA. They want too much money for their products. YAMAHA became too choosy. Before I was a fan of YAMAHA, I have owned CLP-340. But I don't like their politics anymore and for sure my next instrument won't be from YAMAHA. I prefer KAWAI with their best key actions (RM3 [Realistic Materials, Movement and Mechanics] and GF [Grand Feel]) on the market. KAWAI can also record and playback not only WAV, but also MP3, which for me is also important. Even low-priced instruments from KAWAI use 88-sampled notes. But YAMAHA – only in the most expensive CLP-480. Shame on you, YAMAHA!

    I also think about CASIO PX-5S with its good 88-keyboard action, sound and USB-audio recording. Add here compactness and a minimum possible weight. And all these for the price, that YAMAHA wouldn't offer even in its dream.

    For the prices, that YAMAHA offers, it's possible to find much more interesting alternatives.

    P.S. About lateral movement in YAMAHA's action. Absolutely agree! That's what I noticed immediately, once I've sat and started to play on my new CLP-340.

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  3. Yamaha does make very good and reliable digital pianos and offer some good playing experiences. However not all models Yamaha produces are competitive with other good brands in certain price ranges so it just depends what you are looking for.

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  4. Good evening, thank you for all these review. Locally, I could find some older CLP (CLP 810s, CLP920, CLP 122). Are these piano quite good or should I go for a a cheaper nw model such as PX150? Thank you

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  5. Hey Tim, Thanks a lot for the article. it was really useful. I live in New delhi, India and here I have two choices - The Yamaha CLP 440 or the Kawai CA 15. My two most important needs are the piano sampling sound (i am an acoustic piano player) and recording. The CLP 440 has 256 polyphony and allows me to record in WAV (and has an aux for live performance) but the Kawai CA 15 has wooden keys. Do the wooden keys make a huge difference? What are your thoughts on this? really need help on choosing between these two. I am getting them for about the same price through the dealership.

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  6. The Kawai CA15 is essentially the same piano for sound and features as the Kawai CN24 with the exception of the CA15 having the better wood key action. I personally like the Kawai key action and piano sampled sound much better than the Yamaha but the Yamaha has a stronger internal speaker system along with more usable features, direct USB output, and USB flashdrive feature for saving and playing MIDI and audio recordings. It just depends what you are wanting to do musically and what is important to you. You could be probably be happy with either one.

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  7. I would like a digital piano with wood cabinet, wood keys, realistic but not too bright sound, available in a brown versus black tone. Don't need it to do fancy things except record what I play for my own (critical) purposes. Would also like to cover up the electronic stuff while I'm playing so I can fool myself into thinking it's an acoustic... What do you think might be best?

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  8. What about the CLP-575 - any comments as I am about to buy one.

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  9. Hi Tim

    I will be taking my first lesson this coming July and I am considering to get a digital piano too as it allows me to play with headphone at night when everyone is sleeping. I have spent the last few hours reading your blog and was doing reference check with various quoted models for Kawai and Yahama. The series you have mentioned above have been discontinued. Yamaha stores are selling the newer 500 series.

    What would be a good Kawai model for CLP-525? (Something like CE220 as compared to Yamaha CLP-430)

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  10. The best Kawai digital piano in the price range of the Yamaha CLP525 is the Kawai CN25. I have done a review of that piano on this blog and it is an impressive piano. Another model to consider in this price range is the Roland RP401R which I have also reviewed and like very much. Of course the Kawai CE220 is still a very popular piano and is a better, more authentic piano compared to the Yamaha CLP525 in nearly every way.

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  11. What do you think is a fair price for the clp 430 now that it is discontinued?

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