Yamaha Digital Pianos – An Introduction to Different Models (YPG, DGX, P, N, NP, CP, Arius, YDP, Clavinova CLP & CVP, and MODUS)

Yamaha has a cosmic selection of digital pianos on offer. At last check, Yamaha digital piano models being actively sold was pushing 200.

Yamaha classifies the different models into the following categories:
  1. Portable Grand Piano Series Keyboards (YPG and DGX-series): These are projected as the flagship product of the Yamaha Keyboard line. Available at the upper-end of this spectrum are the connectivity, digital technologies, and acoustic piano simulation capabilities lacking in many of the higher-end digital piano models. They range in price between $350 and $1000.
  2. Contemporary Pianos (P, N, and NP-series): These are portable digital pianos and are at the rear end in Yamaha’s digital piano line. They come with a removable stand (some models optional) and range in price between $450 and $1000.
  3. Professional Stage Pianos (CP-series): These are portable digital pianos in the high-end of the portable line. Introduced in the 1970s as the “electric grands” they were an instant hit because of their authentic sound and live performance convenience. They range in price between $1200 and $2200.
  4. Home Pianos (ARIUS and YDP-series): These are Yamaha’s low-end alternatives to an acoustic console piano. While not portable, in appearance they are comparable to spinets and sport a feel closer to an acoustic console piano. On the average, they weigh below 100 pounds as opposed to upwards of 500 pounds for an acoustic console piano. The ARIUS series has turned out to be a good retail alternative to the Clavinova and MODUS models that are sold through dealers only in the US. The YDP model numbers without the ARIUS prefix are older models. The ARIUS range in price (MSRP) between $1,500 and $2,700. There was also the Nocturne N100 (no longer listed in their current models) which came in a sleek cabinet but otherwise similar to the YDP series that sold for over $2000.
  5. Clavinova Traditional Pianos (CLP-series): The popular CLP series rule the roost as the gold standard of digital pianos. Weighing between 100 and 200 pounds, they are preferred over an acoustic piano by many homes and institutions (schools, colleges, and universities). There are a large number of CLP series Clavinova models designed to fit most of the mid to high-end digital piano market with pricing (MSRP) ranging from ~$2,000 to ~$7,000 depending on features and looks.
  6. Clavinova Ensemble Pianos (CVP-series): With several bells and whistles, these are the high-end of the Clavinova’s. Features for musicians and composers include multi-track recording (16 or more), USB audio recorder, karaoke plug-in, speakers with subwoofers, etc. They weigh upwards of 200 pounds. These range in price (MSRP) between $5000 and $16000. 
  7. Clavinova Grands: These are Clavinova Ensemble CVP series pianos that come in a polished ebony designer grand-piano cabinet. They are generally priced (MSRP) upwards of $20,000.
  8. Designer Pianos (MODUS-series): These are digital pianos that are lower in features compared to the high-end of the Clavinova’s but with designer (luxury) looks. They have a higher price-point (MSRP) than most Clavinovas and range between $6,000 and $21,000.
The array of choices makes it a necessity to classify the different models into separate groups. Confusion is the name of the game as features overlap within the same grouping and across categories.







Features available in Yamaha digital pianos:


TechnologyDetailsGoodBetterBest
Key Action TechnologyThe technology used to make the keys feel like an acoustic piano* – the harder you play, the louder and brighter the sound becomes. Graded Soft Touch (GST) – No Weighted Action – lighter and so more portable. Uses padding thickness to simulate weighted action. Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) – Use weighted metal hammers with scaled weight sizes to achieve graded weighted key action.Graded Hammer Effect (GHE) – Quieter Mechanism, Greater Sensitivity, More Responsive. There is a variation called the GH3 which is considered the very best.
Voice Architecture TechnologyThe technology used to simulate all the subtle voices that come out of an acoustic piano.Half Damper Effect – Recreation of different pedaling sustains (half, vs full)Dynamic Stereo Sampling – technology that uses multiple stereo recording per key to recreate ways each key is played, Stereo Sustain Samples – open strings ringing recreation during sustain pedaling, and Key-off samples – Recreation of the subtle sound produced when dampers rest on strings during release.String Resonance – Recreation of upper notes string resonance.
PolyphonyMeasure of the quantity of samples the tone generator can play at any given moment. 32-6496-128128+
RecordingAllows the user to create ones own songs. More tracks allow incorporation of more instruments and effects to create original sound.1216
USB Audio RecorderLets you record your songs as audio data directly to a USB storage device.
Computer ConnectivityLAN/MIDI – The most basic PC connection optionUSB – Allows high-speed MIDI data transfer over USB cable.IDC – Internet Direct Connection – Allows direct connection to the internet so as to allow buying and downloading songs, performances, etc.
Song StorageInternal Flash Memory, Smart Media, and USB to device options.
iAFCReal-time automatic adjustments that attempts to match the sound to the acoustic characteristics of the room you are playing in.
Karaoke (Vocal Harmony)Microphone interface, auto backup vocals, and keyboard play along.
Guide LampsLearning tool – LEDs that light up the keys to play on the left and/or right hand notes.
Performance AssistantAuto Embellishment of the notes based on the chords you are playing.
Moving KeysPlayer piano feature. It plays on its own using the built-in library, MIDI files, or data streams over the Internet.
KeysMaterials and Technology used to make the keys.GH -weighted key variations for acoustic piano feel.GH3 – weighted gradations with a damper mechanism and two velocity sensorsNatural Wood/Ivory – features of GH3 plus Natural Wood or synthetic ivory material – Durability is greatly improved with the natural wood alternative.
MIDI CompatibilityStandards used when downloading MIDI music files or sharing with othersGM/XG Lite – General MIDI 1 compatibility. XG is a Yamaha standard used widely.GM2/XG – Yamaha extensions to General MIDI 1 which allows increase of the number of sounds and editing.SFF – Allows adding more accompaniment styles to the instrument.
Display TypeLCDScore/Lyrics DisplayColor LCD
Music FinderTempo, voices, accompaniments and other effects set automatically to help you reproduce the sounds of your favorite songs.
VoicesTechnologies that automatically adjusts the sound based on what you are playing.Portable Grand – reproduction of a high quality stereo recording from a real grand piano.Mega Voice – brings realism to accompanimentsSuper Articulation – Intelligently adds expressiveness to your performances.
TuningLets you make fine adjustments to the pitch, allowing you to accurately match the tuning of your keyboard with that of other instruments.
TransposeMake it possible to shift the pitch of the keyboard or song data in semitone units, allowing you to match the pitch of the keyboard to the range of other instruments or singers.
MetronomeHelps you learn to keep a steady speed while playing (i.e. playing "in tempo").

  • *Acoustic pianos have different sized strings for each key – thicker at the base end that becoming progressively thinner. Likewise, the hammers are larger in the lower range and smaller in the higher range.


A note on pricing:

In general, consumers stand to benefit on pianos that can be purchased online or through national retailers as margins are lower. In the USA, only Yamaha’s portable piano models and the ARIUS/YDP home piano models are available both online and through retailers and hence offer the best value for money.

Yamaha has issued a warning about Internet sales that explicitly states Clavinova’s cannot be purchased online in the US making the dealer the only option for a new one. Further for Clavinova and MODUS, Yamaha policies require dealers not to disclose pricing over the phone and restrict sales to their local area. All these contribute to prices varying significantly between dealers. Consumers considering purchase of one of these piano models need to self-educate on the price ranges and be in a better position when negotiating with the local dealer. One option is to look at sites outside the USA where Yamaha has a different policy. In Europe and other areas, Yamaha’s dealer-only policy does not apply, making the retail pricing details much more clear and available.

Note: The current situation is actually an improvement over Yamaha's previous policy (changed in 2014) of not listing MSRP prices of Clavinova's and MODUS pianos in their USA website.

Summary:

We chose the Yamaha P65 (current model is Yamaha P45B - ~$450) a number of years ago - our decision was based on the most economical portable Yamaha we could find that covered the baseline features. The Yamaha ARIUS YDP-162B (~$1300) is a solid option, if you are on the lookout for a non-portable one. A little while later, we also invested in a Kawai K15 and owning both worked out well - with two kids learning piano, the practice times inevitably overlapped.

Yamaha is the premium brand in digital pianos, but it might be worthwhile to checkout the options, pricing, and quality of other brands in the digital piano arena – mainly Kawai, Korg, Roland, and Casio. Please click for a cross-brand comparative review of the best digital pianos.

Also, check out the portable & home piano options in Yamaha and other brands in our related reviews below.




Related Posts:

1. Portable Digital Pianos - A Comparative Review.
2. Non Portable (Home) Digital Pianos - A Comparative Review.
3. Digital Pianos (Yamaha, Casio, Roland, Kawai, Korg) - An introduction for Digital Piano Shoppers.
4. Portable Yamaha Digital Pianos - A Comparative Review.
5. Non Portable (Home) Yamaha Digital Pianos - A Comparative Review.
6. Yamaha Digital Pianos - An Introduction to Different Models (this post).
7. Acoustic Piano (Yamaha M-460, Cable Nelson Yamaha CN-116, Kawai K-15, etc.) - Review, Best Values, Pricing, & Shopping Experience.
8. Yamaha P65 & the new Yamaha P45 Digital Piano Review.
9. Teach your kids Piano with learn piano online for free – well, almost!!

Last Updated: 04/2017.

2 comments :

You Mon Tsang said...

Thanks a ton for this. I wished I found this before I did a lot of research.

Md Jasim said...

The digital piano is one of the most important musical instrument. I think without the sound of a piano the music is not complete. Thanks for this post have been searching something like for a long time. Best digital piano online

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