REVIEW - Yamaha YDP184 Arius Digital Piano - Very Nice

Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano
🎹 UPDATED REVIEW - July 4, 2018Yamaha Arius YDP-184 Digital Piano - Recommended - The new 2018 Yamaha YDP184 is now the top of the line digital piano in the Arius series. The Yamaha Arius series has been out for many years in a number of models and has  been thought of as the little brother of the more expensive Yamaha Clavinova series digital pianos. However, Yamaha is known for being a leader in the piano industry, and for the 1st time as far as I know, they are offering some of their top Clavinova series technology in the lower price Arius series digital piano. The Arius pianos are much more widely available at internet & local stores than is the more exclusive upgraded Clavinova series so they have always been a bit easier to buy and more widely available.

Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano
The new Yamaha YDP184 ($2199US internet discount price) is an interesting model because what Yamaha has actually done is taken their popular new Clavinova CLP635 digital piano ($2699 internet discount price) and removed certain features and functions from that model and called it the YDP184...it's really that simple to explain. So when comparing these two models, the YDP184 has the same cabinet design as the CLP635, but the YDP184 is only available in the matte rosewood color. It has the same dimensions, the same internal speaker system, the same user interface display screen and basically the same functions, although as I mentioned, some of the very nice features/functions from the higher priced CLP635 are missing in the in the YDP184, hence the lower price in the YDP184 plus this model is not offered in a black cabinet which many people prefer. Speaking of lower price, the YDP184 has the highest price for an Arius series model that I have ever seen before because usually the internet discount price of an Arius series piano rarely, if ever, goes above $1999 selling price. So to see the YDP184 selling at discount for $2199US is a new price level bringing it up over than $2000 price range that many shoppers are looking to stay below. So is the YDP184 worth it's selling price? The answer would probably be...yes:).

Just like in the the Clavinova CLP635, the YDP184 uses the same new Yamaha CFX grand piano sound technology whereby it combines sampling technology with some physical modeling technology allowing for a more natural, more dynamic, and more impressive acoustic piano sound. The CFX grand piano sound technology is offered throughout the the higher priced Clavinova series all the way up to and past the $6000 Clavinova CLP685. So for the YDP184 to have that same piano sound is very impressive because it is more natural with a much larger dynamic tonal range and pedal sustain/decay time than ever before. The lower priced Arius models YDP181, 163, and 143 don't come close to the YDP184 so don't expect that out of them. They are much less money for a good reason because they use a lower quality piano sampling technology and in their price range the lower Arius models are fine but as I said, don't come close to competing with the YDP184.

picture of YDP184 cabinet & control panel
Yamaha CLP635 control panel
Although the YDP184 has the new Yamaha CFX grand piano sound technology, it does not have the new Vienna, Austria European Bosendorfer grand piano technology. The Bosendorfer grand pianos are handmade in Vienna, Austria and have been for hundreds of years and they are famous for a more mellow, sweeter, but yet dynamically alive piano tone that many pianists around the world prefer and like to play. Well, as it turns out, the Yamaha piano company purchased the Bosendorfer piano company a few years ago so now Yamaha can include that European sound technology (still made in Vienna, Austria) in some of their digital pianos. So there really are two distinct grand piano tones available in some Yamaha digital pianos...the Yamaha CFX grand piano and the Bosendorfer grand piano. Unfortunately the YDP184 does not offer the Bosdendorfer grand piano sound but the higher priced Clavinova CLP635 does offer it. Even if the only piano sound difference between the Clavinova CLP635 and the Arius YDP184 is with the the addition of the Vienna, Austria hand made $200,000 Bosendorfer grand piano sound on the CLP635, the extra $500 upgrade for the CLP635 would be more than worth the difference in my opinion to get that model. As you can see from the above picture on the left of the CLP635 control panel with the Bosendorfer button, the YDP184 would not have that button. Piano sound, dynamic tonal range, and piano sound expression are all very important aspects of playing the piano and enjoying the musical results. In terms of the Yamaha Japanese grand piano sound, you can definitely get that on the new YDP184 and it's impressive. But the upgraded Clavinova CLP635 with the European Bosendorfer piano sound is very beautiful and that sound is, for many people, what really helps differentiate this new YDP184 and the higher priced CLP635. Go to the following link to read my review on the CLP635: Yamaha CLP635 Review

picture of YDP184
Speaking of piano sound technology, to really get a dynamically responsive and rich piano sound, the digital piano would need to recreate the nuanced organic tones that come from the wood body of a real acoustic piano along with string vibrations, sympathetic resonances and tonal overtones plus being able to sample the original grand piano in such a way that the final result of that piano sound would not be artificial in tone, but instead would be more natural and organic. In the YDP184 and all the new Yamaha Clavinova pianos, Yamaha has accomplished this task by combining sampling technology with physical modeling technology (creating piano sounds in a computer using mathematical algorithms) in a way that allows for a fuller, more expressive piano sound whether you are playing staccato, legato, using lots of damper/sustain, playing single notes, multiple notes and chords at one time, or however you want to play. Brcause of this newer technology, this 2018 series YDP184 is far and away better than anything Yamaha has had in past years in digital pianos under $2500 and the natural tone of an acoustic piano is more noticeable than ever, so I give high praise for Yamaha being able to accomplish this and offer it in the Arius line of digital pianos.

picture of YDP184 Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano But there are other feature differences between the two models besides the piano sound technology. One of those things is the key action and how it works. Basically the key actions in the Arius models including the YDP163, YDP181, and now the YDP184 all have the same key action "feel & weight" and they call that key action GH3. However, the key action on the Clavinova 600 series has the escapement feature when pressing down a key whereas the Arius series does not. The escapement feature in the key action is supposed to help reproduce the movement feel of a grand piano vs an upright piano when the keys are being pressed down and Yamaha calls that key action the GH3X...with the letter X standing for the escapement function. When you press down the key on a real grand piano then you are supposed to feel a slight notch or hesitation in the key movement when you get towards the bottom of the key travel. This is what you feel on a real grand piano, however that "feeling" on the Yamaha key action is just a simulation and not a very good one in my opinion. So even though the Clavinova CLP635 has this key action feature (escapement), in my opinion at the end of the day it really doesn't matter because the simulation just is not very realistic. The YDP184 does not have the escapement key action feature and that's OK. However, for all the Arius pianos as well as the Clavinova CLP625 and CLP635, the key down-weight (the amount of finger pressure it takes to press down the keys) feels a bit heavy to me and is not as enjoyable to play as some other brands and models in this price range or the higher priced Yamaha CLP645 with a wood key movement. The Yamaha GH3 3-sensor ivory feel key action in the YDP184 is fairly quiet, sturdy, does the job, and the simulated synthetic ivory keytops on the white keys feel good. But because of its extra, and in my opinion, unnecessarily firm down-weight heaviness, you may or may not enjoy this action as much as other key actions because of this firmer movement "feel." Some people will like it and others may not, but overall it is still a good solid key action and is definitely dynamically and tonally responsive...it may just get a bit fatiguing to play for longer periods of time, at least it does for some people.

Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano
Pedaling response is important on pianos and the YDP184 is no exception. All three pedals work nicely including damper/sustain, sostenuto, and soft pedal. The most important pedal by far is the right damper pedal which allows sustain to occur on the notes you are playing so the sound holds on longer and helps create a beautiful tone, especially when playing slower legato musical passages. Sustain ties together one note to the next and the better the piano sound of the sustained note the more expressive and full bodied your music will become. The sustained piano tones on the new YDP184 is a big advancement from previous models and far exceeds any of the other Arius models at this point. There are longer piano sustain-decay times coupled with good half-damper response allowing variations of sustain length of time that you hear with the piano sound before it fades out while holding the pedal down. These various improvements coupled with damper resonance effect offers the player and listener some bigger, bolder, and more obvious natural pedaling response for the right damper pedal as well as the left soft pedal. Overall Yamaha really has stepped up their game when it comes to a more natural piano sound when using the pedals, especially the right damper-sustain pedal. The pedals also feel good to press down and work well in that way just like they do in the higher priced Clavinova pianos. Whether you are a beginner or pro I think you'll appreciate the higher quality and authenticity of the pedaling experience.

Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano
OK...now it's time to talk about some of the cool things this model has inside of it. The first thing are all the instrument sounds with a total of 24 voices (aka: instrument sounds) which include 4 acoustic piano sounds including the main stereo Yamaha CFX Grand and 3 others along with the rest of the sounds which are non-acoustic piano sounds including harpsichord, stereo symphony strings, electric pianos, choirs, organs, guitar, etc. In the Clavinova series digital pianos there are a total of 36 instrument sounds with 10 of them being acoustic pianos. So the big difference in sounds between the YDP184 and the Clavinova CLP635 is that the CLP635 has 6 more acoustic pianos sounds than the YDP184 and those extra piano sounds include the Bosendorfer 9' Viennese Grand Piano which as I mentioned earlier, is a very beautiful piano tone. So there are more acoustic piano selections in the CLP635 although the 4 piano tones in the YDP184 are still very good and for many people may be more than enough. The other instrument sounds I mentioned are good but some are not spectacular in terms of authenticity. But that's OK, not everyone cares about the other instrument sounds as much, particularly ones that you would use as often:).

Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano
The control panel in the YDP184 is quite useful and works well. It is intuitive to use overall and located just to the right of the keyboard which gives the piano a more minimalist appearance as opposed to many buttons all over the piano. There are direct access buttons and controls that take you right to the function or feature and there are other features that take a few more button pushed or steps to activate, but overall this functional control panel is much better than in previous models and is pretty much the same as the control panels in the current Clavinova series (with the exception of the CLP625) but including the CLP635. This is the first time that Yamaha has included this upgraded user interface with its larger LCD screen in one of their Arius series pianos. Until now this control panel was only found in the higher priced Clavinova series.

Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano
With regard to the direct access buttons on the control panel to the left side of the keyboard, Yamaha includes separate buttons for the Yamaha CFX grand piano sound, the strings violins, the voice button which brings up all the instrument sound categories and tones, the dual/split button which allows instant layering of two sounds or being able to assign one sound for the left hand and a different sound for the hand, the "piano room" button which gives you direct access to some of the editing effects which can be applied to the piano sound like reverb, lid position, brilliance, etc so that you can customize the piano sounds if you want to. Another direct access button is a song/demo button so you can play the piano songs already in the piano (there are 50 of them) or play songs off a USB flash drive (250 song storage) along with built-in song demos in the YDP184, a record button that instantly allows you to record a song (in the MIDI format) you are playing, a start/stop button for the recording and playback, a button for direct access to the digital metronome which is a great help to students wanting to practice a song so that they can follow a metronome beat for the proper timing, a rhythm button which allows for a variety of drum patterns (20 of them) to be used for playalong to make playing your song more fun along with giving you real experience with playing along with percussion just like you would do if you were in a band playing Jazz, rock, Latin, etc along with a real drummer. There is even a tempo button to control the speed of the metronome or drum rhythms so you can easily set it to whatever speed (tempo) you need to practice or play your song. You can also navigate through the display menu screen using the up/down buttons and right/left buttons. So when it comes to user control and access to useful functions in this price range, the YDP184 does offer a practical way of enjoying these functions & features while remaining minimaltistic in appearance which is something that other digital pianos in this price range don't necessarily offer.

Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano
Some of the other features of the YDP184 include being able to have two students play the same song in the same octaves at the same time on the piano. This is called the "duo" function and is great for two people in the same family who are working on the same song at the same time and playing together which might be helpful and save time. This Duo feature is not to be confused with the "layer" feature which allows for combining 2 different sounds at the same time when you play the piano such as having piano & strings, organ & harpsichord, etc. Another way to use this Duo feature is for a teacher who is coming to your home to teach the student is for playing the same song together and the teacher wants to play along with the student at the same time playing the same notes...this is called "Duo" and the piano is digitally split into two 44-note portions which each portion sounding identical and in the same octaves. It's a cool thing to have but not one that is really practical unless you need it for the situations I mentioned.

Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano
Another cool feature that the YDP184 offers is the ability to record 16 separate tracks or instruments as a complete song. You can create and arrange a song and then record one instrument sound at a time up to 16 different sounds and then they all play back simultaneously as one complete song just like a recording studio. It lots of fun and can be great in learning to improvise, record in the multi-track platform, and be able to arrange music like the professionals can do. The YDP184 cannot record and playback General MIDI song files that are prominent on the internet and in other MIDI multi-track recording which a few other digital pianos in this price range are able to do. However, for the price, the recording features are pretty cool. I will say that there are shoppers who want to record an "audio" recording of their music and the YDP184 cannot do that. An audio recording feature is able to record the actual sound that you are playing on your piano and then you're able to save that recording on a USB flashdrive and burn it as a CD on your computer or share it with friends on their computers or even convert it to an MP3 iTune file to play on those kinds of devices. A MIDI file recording however can playback that sound with no problem on the piano but once you take your recording off the piano and transfer it to your computer or another device, then that recording won't sound like it did on the piano. That's because a MIDI recording uses the sounds in that device so it could only play back what sounds that device has in it which comes from its sound card such as what's in a computer.An audio recording on digital pianos is normally done as an audio wav file which is what a CD actually is. The CLP635 does have audio wav file CD quality recording which is a very nice feature, whereas the YDP184 does not.

YDP184 speaker picture
As far as internal speaker system and connectivity in this model, there are two larger speakers going into 60 watts of total stereo audio power which gives the YDP184 plenty of volume for most homes, small churches, or small venues. Having only two speakers is generally fine but a 4-speaker system would have been better adding smaller tweeters to project high frequency in a more dynamic way, but this would also be true for the Clavinova CLP635 having the identical internal speaker system as in the YDP184. With regard to connectivity this new model offers standard MIDI input & output along with USB output to external device USB flash drive input for song storage from your recordings or playing music you have downloaded from the internet, audio Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano output jacks for connection to external sound systems, stereo audio input to enable your external music devices (iPad, mobile phone, etc) to run their sound through the Yamaha internal speaker system which is a very useful thing to have, and lastly there are 2 stereo headphone jacks for private playing so that other people cannot hear what you are doing...always great when there are other people nearby who don't want to hear you play or practice, or maybe want to sleep you you feel like playing late at night:).

Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano
The Yamaha YDP184 cabinet is only offered in the matte dark rosewood finish which I mentioned earlier and the measurements are 58"x 37"x 18"(18" depth from wall) and it weighs in at approx 123 lbs. The YDP184 comes with a comfortable matching padded bench, built-in sliding key cover, nice supportive music rack where the sheet music would go, and the rosewood color does have some noticeable simulated grain in the finish so it does look nice. Also the piano cabinet does have a full privacy panel that covers the back of the piano so you can'r see through it and that is something most people like to have on their piano. I did want to mention the the higher priced Yamaha Clavinova CLP635 music rack has some music braces on the music rack so the sheet music cannot easily slip off the music holder and pages in a book can be made to stay open. Sometimes it's the little things that can make a big difference and the music braces is one of  those little things that adds value to any digital piano in my opinion.

Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano Pictures of Yamaha YDP184 digital piano So the bottom line is this: The new Yamaha YDP184 is a fine piano for beginners thru advanced players in that it offers a very good piano playing experience for most people who want to be in its price range of $2199US internet discount price. It has enough "bell& whistles" and practical digital features as I have previously explained to satisfy a variety of playing skill levels along with a more realistic piano tone than ever before in a Yamaha Arius. But make no mistake about it...this piano is not a grand piano by any stretch of the imagination, and although its one main piano sound is sampled (recorded) from a real Yamaha grand piano, that does not make this YDP184 a grand piano because the key action in a real Yamaha grand is built and functions in a far different way than the all-plastic GH3X key action in this digital model. It is interesting to note that in Yamaha's on-line promotional description of the YDP184 on their main web site, Yamaha says the following: "It also features a three-sensor configuration, which accurately senses and interprets the behavior of the keyboard in order to provide a grand piano-style response and feel. The words they use to describe this new model as having a "grand piano-style response and feel" is, in my opinion, stretching the truth in a very big way, but I am not surprised by statements like this because manufacturers in general seem to want people to believe that every digital piano out there can behave and play just like a real grand piano which most of them don't. Oh well...just don't believe everything you read from the digital piano manufacturers because after all, they are trying to get you to buy their products...right? The truth is that the Yamaha YDP184 is a very competitive digital piano as compared to the other major brands in this price range including Roland, Casio, and Kawai and that you as the shopper should consider this model seriously while doing your shopping and research as well as the higher priced bigger brother model CLP635 at $2699US internet price, which also comes in more cabinet colors and finishes. Playing piano should ultimately bring fun and enjoyment to the lives of people who are playing and/or listening to it. It's all about how it makes you feel, and that's the real truth. Music is about touching your feelings deep within your soul and if the YDP184 does that for you, then buy it!

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

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