We are taking a look at the best Yamaha keyboards and digital pianos available in 2019. We have compiled a list of our favorites with a short review/overview for each one.
Here are the best Yamaha keyboards and digital pianos 2019:
- Yamaha Arius YDP-184
- Yamaha Clavinova CSP-170
- Yamaha Arius YDP-164
- Yamaha CP88
- Yamaha CP40
- Yamaha DGX-660
- Yamaha Montage8
- Yamaha MODX8
- Yamaha Reface CS
- Yamaha YPT-260
Top 3 Best Yamaha Digital Pianos
1. Yamaha Arius YDP-184
Yamaha has meticulously sampled their legendary CFX 9″ concert grand to create the CFX Sound Engine, the heart of the Yamaha YPD-184. It’s all about realism with the YDP-184, Yamaha’s Virtual Resonance Modeling (VRM) replicates the natural resonant sounds of a real piano. String vibration and pedal/damper noise are recreated in stunning clarity.
The realism continues in the feel of this digital piano. The 88 graded hammer action keys are as expressive as you will find on a digital piano. Particularly impressive is the natural-sounding progression through the ranges from low to high – something many digital pianos get wrong.
Another aspect of realism comes through Yamaha’s Stereophonic Optimizer which disperses sound as if it’s coming from the body of the piano even when playing through headphones.
There are 24 voices (256-note max polyphony) including the flagship CFX 9″ concert grand tone and some very nice electric pianos. There isn’t as much variety in the type of voices as we would like but it’s more than most similar digital pianos.
As digital pianos are often bought to be played from beginner to expert, any tuition-based features are always welcome. The YPD-184 has a whole range of exercises and tutorials available through Yamaha’s Smart Pianist app. You can access the app via smartphone or tablet and connect to the piano using USB.
There is also a MIDI record function so you can listen to your playing, it may not sound as good as it did in your head, but it’s an important part of learning.
If we take into account the main reasons for buying this type of digital piano, the YDP-184 is our top-rated. It delivers the most expressive playing experience which makes it perfect for pianists of all levels.
The CFX Sound Engine is beautiful and complimented well by the graded hammer action keys. The interactive content accessible via the Smart Pianist app make it a little easier for beginners to get the most out of it.
Overall, the YDP-184 feels and sounds authentic and that’s what you want, that makes it our top Yamaha digital piano.
2. Yamaha Clavinova CSP-170
The CSP-170 is about as luxurious as it gets for a digital piano and that is reflected in the high price. The cabinet is gorgeous and as well put together as a real acoustic piano.
The CSP-170 has graded hammer action keys just like the Arius range, the difference is with this piano you get real wood keys. This elevates the realism to a whole new level, the natural weight of the keys means it feels just like an acoustic piano.
This piano also utilizes Yamaha’s Stereophonic Optimizer and CFX Sound Engine but it also comes with the Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano sound. If you have been lucky enough to play a prime condition Bösendorfer piano you will understand why it’s a big deal to have that tone included.
There is more versatility than most digital pianos with 692 Voices and 29 Drum/SFX Kits, in fact, many workstations/synths don’t have that many voices. The voices include pianos, electric pianos, flutes, organs, and percussion.
Given the number of voices available, as expected, they are not all of the same impeccable standards. There’s also a whopping 470 accompaniment presets for play-along practice.
It has USB connectivity for your smart device and accessing lots of content via the Smart Pianist app.
If money were no object then the CSP-170 is number one, it’s the best Yamaha digital piano. However, for most of us, money plays a part in our decision and for that reason alone, it’s number two.
The real wood keys are a huge plus point, it’s as good as it gets without having an acoustic piano. It does everything the YDP-184 does and a lot more for a much higher price, it’s a stunning piano.
3. Yamaha Arius YDP-164
Now we have the latest model from the Arius range. It’s not only a cheaper alternative to the YDP-184 but the CFX 9″ concert grand was resampled for the release of the Yamaha YDP-164.
A lot can change in the world of pro audio in a short time so if you can imagine it, the CFX Sound Engine now captures even more detail than ever.
The upside is that the YDP-164 shares the same graded hammer action keys with the higher-priced models. So it has that wonderfully expressive feel that makes the Arius range so good.
It also shares other great features like the Stereophonic Optimizer, (VRM) string resonance, and MIDI record functions with the YDP-184. You also get all the benefits of accessing the Smart Pianist app with your smart device via USB.
The downside is that the YDP-164 only has 10 voices compared to the 24 boasted by the YDP-184.
This is purely an alternative to the YDP-184 but it’s worthy of its place in the top 3. It’s not just a poor version of the YDP-184 though, the core features are the same.
There are fewer voices but if that doesn’t matter to you then you should save some money and go for the YDP-164. If all you want is a digital piano with a realistic, expressive feel and a great sound you’ll find it here.
Top 3 Best Yamaha Keyboard Pianos
1. Yamaha CP88
The Yamaha CP88 is one of our favorite keyboard pianos from any manufacturer. It combines advanced sound and functions with intuitive, easy to use controls as well as any keyboard we have seen. It’s light enough for travel and strong enough to survive life on the road.
The piano sound is vital to any keyboard piano above all else. The CP88 boasts 3 stunning grand piano sounds, the Yamaha CFX, Yamaha S700, and the Bösendorfer Imperial 290.
Each one offers something different and all have been recorded with incredible detail. There are also 2 upright piano sounds available, the U1 and Yamaha’s flagship upright piano, the SU7.
As well as piano sounds there are synth lead/bass voices, organs, orchestral sounds, and some supreme electric pianos including Yamaha’s iconic CP70 and CP80 electric grand pianos.
The CP88 has somewhat of a vintage look about it and that is complemented by Yamaha’s VCM (Virtual Circuit Modelling). VCM mimics classic vintage effects and processors to bring iconic voices to a modern keyboard.
Whether you use this keyboard on stage or in the studio you get fantastic sound with ease. Workflow is vital to a musician and the simple but effective layout of the CP88 make it a joy to use.
The piano sounds are superb, all of the CP88 voices are high-end. The onboard effects are fantastic and add to the sound rather than overpower it.
This is a professional grade keyboard piano that a beginner could operate. It’s a joy to play and it’s our highest-rated Yamaha keyboard piano.
2. Yamaha CP40 Stage
The CP40 Stage is a popular choice amongst musicians who perform regularly. It features a range of high-end piano sounds from Yamaha’s Premium Collection. Most notably the Yamaha CFIIIS, a stunning concert grand with a full, bright sound and resonant bass.
One of the best things about the CP40 Stage is that it comes with a collection of voices from the legendary Yamaha Motif. The Yamaha Motif has been used on more hit records than you could imagine so to have that kind of soundbank is huge. The vintage electric piano voices come with VCM effects, making them sound as close to the real thing as possible.
It comes with very responsive graded hammer action keys that feel surprisingly realistic for such a light keyboard (36 lbs). The controls are nicely set out, large lighted buttons make it easy to change sound banks, functions, or effects even on a dark stage.
This is a beautiful keyboard piano for many reasons. First of all the Premium Piano Collection sounds lovely and the Motif voices are iconic. Secondly, the controls make it a pleasure to use and it feels great especially when you consider how light it is.
The reason it’s not number one is that in the areas it shines (grand piano sound and simple layout), the CP88 is slightly better overall. However, your decision could be swayed by the Motif voices, it’s a close call.
3. Yamaha DGX-660
The new Yamaha DGX-660 is a keyboard piano that’s great for beginners or professionals. There are lots of interactive features that make it easy to learn and play your favorite tunes.
One of the best of these is Yamaha’s Piano Room feature. Piano Room lets you choose from a list of piano voices and acoustic (room) settings so you can build your unique playing environment.
It’s also great for singer/songwriters because you can connect a microphone straight into the keyboard and hear your voice through the built-in speakers. Not only can you plug in your mic, but you can also add digital effects to your vocals making it great for practice or performing.
The heart of the DGX-660 is Yamaha’s Pure CF sound engine, not quite as good as the CFX sound engine but very good in its own right. In total there are 151 voices and 15 Drum/SFX Kits so it’s unlikely it won’t have what you are looking for.
There is a wide range of onboard effects with 41 reverb types and a master EQ section so your sound is always highly customizable. For the times you don’t feel like doing it all yourself there are 205 accompaniment presets for you to play/sing along to.
There aren’t any bad things to say about this keyboard, it’s simply not quite as good as the other two. If you are a singer/songwriter this may well be the best one for you. Having built-in speakers means you can practice/perform anywhere and being able to plug your microphone straight in is a blessing.
Overall, if you are a solo performer this would be a very good choice because you can do so much with no other equipment needed. If you are an ensemble player then it doesn’t beat the two choices above.
Top 3 Best Yamaha Workstations/Synths
1. Yamaha Montage8
The Montage is a modern classic from Yamaha. It comes after the long reign of the Yamaha Motif but it’s not a direct replacement. The Montage is a different animal altogether.
The coolest thing about the Montage is that it’s always evolving through firmware updates. So, while you are enjoying your synth, Yamaha is constantly working to improve the sound and performance quality.
Yamaha’s Motion Control Synthesis Engine controls two uniquely powerful sound engines, AWM2 and FM-X. The FM-X sound engine delivers everything from vintage 80’s synths to modern EDM voices with amazing dynamic range.
Between the two sound engines, the Montage picks up where the Motif left off and doesn’t stop. There are also sound expansion packs available, like the Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano and the Chick Corea Mark V electric piano.
Control is a key element of the Montage, being able to harness the power of this synth easily is vital. Yamaha developed what they call the Super Knob to do just that.
The Super Knob lets you control multiple parameters at the same time. You can also assign the Super Knob to a footswitch/controller if both hands are too busy on the keys.
The Montage is available with 61, 76, or 88 keys. The Montage8 has 88 balanced hammer action keys with aftertouch.
The Montage is a monster of a synth, a true powerhouse. If you are familiar with the Yamaha Motif then you can think of this as a Motif on steroids. As a versatile performers keyboard, the Montage is hard to beat due to is the vast amount of high-quality voices.
Once you get used to using the Super Knob you can start to use the true creative power of this synth, editing parameters easily in real-time.
It’s an expensive investment so don’t buy one unless you need it. In other words, if you just need a piano or just need a few great sounds, you can get that for far less money.
2. Yamaha MODX8
Expanding on the success of Yamaha’s MOXF range, the MODX8 is one of the latest synthesizers from the iconic manufacturer.
Like the Montage8, the MODX8 is controlled by Yamaha’s Motion Control Synthesis powering the AWM2 and FM-X sound engines. This is not only a powerful performance instrument, but it also has exceptional sequencing capabilities making it ideal for music creation.
There are two grand piano sounds, both sampled in amazing detail – the Yamaha CFIIIS and the 7″ S6 grand piano. At times, synths can lack real expression and dynamic response in piano voices but that is certainly not the case here. There is a huge 6gb of waveforms with 1,152 preset voices and 72 drum kits. Voices range from acoustic instruments to electric, synths, and percussion.
The thing that sets the MODX8 apart from other synths is the built-in audio interface. What this means is that when combined with a DAW you have a complete USB recording interface. It has up to 4 simultaneous input tracks, 1 stereo input and 2 external inputs so you can easily record from the synth or external instruments.
The onboard effects come from Yamaha’s VCM engine, used in many high-end Yamaha keyboards. This gives you access to perfectly mimicked vintage effects from guitar effects to rack-mounted gear.
So we listed that the piano voices are incredibly expressive, and that’s true. We also listed that the CFX 9″ concert grand voice would be better, that’s also true but it’s a testament to how good the MODX8 is. We need to be fussy to find any faults.
We place the Montage8 ahead of the MODX8 purely because it would be our choice as a performers synth. However, in terms of all-round features, especially in production and composition, the MODX8 is better. This was another close call and it comes down to what you need it for most, stage or studio.
3. Yamaha Reface CS
The Reface CS is an 8-note polyphonic virtual analog synth with a big sound. It has 5 oscillator types: Multi-saw, Pulse, Oscillator Sync, Ring Mod, and Frequency Mod. The Reface CS has 37 mini-action keys which makes it the first CS model to have mini-keys since 1984.
The 4 onboard effects are Distortion, VCM Chorus/Flanger, VCM Phaser, and Delay and it also has a phrase looper. It is powered by the AN (Analog Physical Modeling) sound engine and parameters are controlled by sliders.
Weighing very little, the Reface CS is a synth you can take anywhere, creating music on the go. It’s also battery-powered so you can create new sounds anywhere. There are 2 built-in speakers or you can plug in some headphones. Combine it with a laptop and DAW and you have a mobile production setup when using it as a MIDI controller via USB.
The Reface CS is our number 3 synth because it’s something different. It’s a synth you can take anywhere, create some amazing sounds, without the cost of a larger synth.
It’s not as powerful the larger synth, being battery-powered means there are some sacrifices in performance but for what it is, it’s a great option. It’s perfect for producers who travel a lot or performers who want something small for basslines or lead lines.
Best Beginner Yamaha Keyboard
For beginners, there is one Yamaha keyboard we recommend before all others, the Yamaha YPT-260. The YPT-260 is one of the best-selling and most popular beginner keyboards on the market. It’s purpose-built to help you get from not knowing a thing to playing songs.
It comes with 61 velocity-sensitive keys with 32-note max polyphony. It’s jam-packed with 384 voices, ranging from pianos, organs to orchestral, and percussion sounds.
There are also over 100 play-along rhythms to kickstart your creativity. If you do happen to get bored of the 100+ you can play external audio tracks through the built-in speakers using the USB port.
Like any Yamaha keyboard aimed at beginners, the YPT-260 has lots of interactive features. Lessons and tutorials can be accessed through the dedicated app via your smart device (USB). The keyboard can be split into 2 identical playing zones for student/teacher playing which is a fantastic hands-on learning feature.
This is a win/win keyboard. This is one for people who have no experience at all and want to give it a go. It’s relatively cheap so it’s not a risky investment for a new player and it has everything you need to develop. It’s portable, versatile, and it sounds good enough to get you through a few stages of your musical journey.
These are what we consider to be the best Yamaha keyboards and digital pianos in 2019. We can’t detail these keyboards/pianos fully in our short overviews but we can help you establish which ones might be suitable for you. So, always check them out further before buying!
James is a writer and musician with a passion for audio production. He is a lover of all things tech, especially the latest keyboards, synths, DAW’s, virtual instruments, and effects plugins. Musical interests include jazz, funk, hip hop, blues, and rock.