It is often debated whether it is possible to retain the authentic feel and look of the traditional Clavinova or Grand Piano while achieving all of the time-saving and music-enhancing digital features that are the staple of professional pianists. Quite surprisingly then, we find that a reputed company like Yamaha claims to have packaged both of these sought-after facets in a design that is at once light but sturdy. Even more surprisingly, we found most of the claims to be rather accurate in practice. Of course, when we say most, we do have to count in some negative factors like the music sheet being located farther back than would be considered normal. So does the Yamaha DGX650 live up to its claim of being the best digital piano among compact but realistic units? Let us see below!
Set Up and Build Quality
As you’d expect of a mid-range piano, the package comes with all the accessories you’d require to set it up. Before you do so, you might want to know that most customers – including young women like yours truly – did not have any trouble carrying the unit over moderate distances, even when such distances were punctuated by multiple flights of stairs.
Once the piano has arrived at the correct spot, all you need to do is take the matching stand and place the piano carefully onto it. We found that using an additional electric screwdriver allowed us to complete assembly in half an hour, though even an ordinary one would suffice (though it would take longer). Once set up, the stand is capable of handling live concerts, heavy travelling and even the occasional bump against the wall, without suffering from instability or requiring any digital piano maintenance out of turn.
The last step is to attach the foot pedal. The company provides a single-foot pedal that can be attached using a simple nut-bolt mechanism located at the back of the unit. Once the foot pedal has been attached, plug in the power cord (and any other peripherals) and you’re ready to start playing.
Ease of Playing
For a piano that has been marketed by Yamaha as primarily a digital pianist’s paradise, the keys feel remarkably solid even though they are made of plastic and not ivorite (synthetic ivory). Coupled with the presence of hammer action as opposed to simple weighted motion and the overall sturdiness of the keys, this allows the pianist to enjoy the feeling of a real grand piano at a fraction of the price of the latter. Indeed, we found that this was particularly useful for training young professionals who would eventually go on to play grand pianos. Further, because the overall design is compact and the keys are spacious, such training is possible even in cramped rooms. This makes the unit ideal for those seeking a piano for a small room.
Once you get accustomed to the movement of the keys, you begin to notice that the “feel” of the upper and lower keys is remarkably different and as many users have agreed, this enhances the overall experience. Some users did notice a mild “clicking” noise when playing the chords but such instances were rare and in even such rare cases, were not bothersome.
Moving onto the accessories, it was found that the foot pedal was primarily a sustain-pedal. While beginners might find this simple and useful, many professionals have voiced their desire to obtain the separately sold 3-pedal setup for greater control.
As we mentioned in the introduction though, the unit’s music sheet holder is located farther back than is normally the case. As some users surmised, this is because of the controls that have to be accommodated in front of the music sheet. If you’re used to traditional pianos, you may want Yamaha to include the option for pulling the sheet holder forward in future iterations of this model.
Sound and Acoustic Features
Yamaha claims that the 128-bit polyphony sound samples added to the Yamaha DGX650 Digital Piano’s memory include those from one of its most popular flagship pianos. While few have the chance to compare the grand piano’s actual sounds with those of the model under review, we would be bold enough to argue that the sound quality of the unit is better than most of the competition in this price bracket. The bass in particular is noteworthy though some users would claim that it is similar to the Yamaha P105.
Further, a few users did complain that the low chords sounded a bit weaker than what they would expect of a grand piano, but it would be wise to remember that the construction of a grand piano is radically different from digital ones and such comparisons are therefore unfair.
The real USP of the unit is however, supposed to lie in its ability to provide a range of effects and sound features. Some of the most noticeable are:
- Split Feature: As many users have clarified, the split feature allows two “voices” or soundtracks to play simultaneously, divided by a certain note. By default this dividing note is the F# below the C-note but you can change it easily by scrolling through the menus (see below).
- Transposition: Though initially we rued the lack of a single transposition button, we learned from a fellow user that using the Transpose option in the settings, we could transpose keys by pressing the +1 or -1 as per our needs. The transposed settings can then be saved to the memory “Banks” in the product.
- Style Recommender: Like any good product in the market, this Yamaha device comes with 150+ styles. To our pleasant surprise, the piano chose our preferred style (or gave us a range of options) based on the tempo and way in which we chose to play. This can help narrow down your choices when working under time constraints.
Controls and Connectivity
The controls for an 88-note digital piano like the Yamaha DGX650 Digital Piano aren’t the simplest to arrange, but Yamaha has done a remarkable job of symmetrically spacing out the myriad buttons around a large backlit LCD display. As many users would agree, the ease of operation afforded by such spacing is further accentuated by the presence of a small USB port at the far right end of the control panel. This allows users to place gadgets on the vacant top right of the unit and avoid getting tangled up in the peripheral’s wiring.
Speaking of connectivity, the need for such additional gadgets is not strictly necessary because the unit is capable of recording audio in the WAV format and laying it using the in-built speakers. Should you wish to play other music though, you can connect anything from a pendrive to a laptop with ease.
Beyond simple connectivity, the product also offers “speaker override” which basically allows you to synchronise your exterior speakers with the internal speakers for easier operation and greater sound control. “Auxiliary input” on the other hand has been praised for providing users the choice of playing along with exterior playback sources even as the piano adjusts itself to the tune. While these features may not be very useful in the house, they can be a great boon on-stage or in the Church.
- Compact build quality with sturdy frame
- Realistic key action and sturdy keys
- 128-bit polyphony and auto style-selection for easy and improved playing
- Range of auxiliary choices depending on user’s needs.
- In-built speaker and WAV format recording
- Split feature allows for easy compilation of complex sounds
- Single-pedal accessory provided with the unit.
- Notes holder placed farther back than normal
While the lack of a three-pedal accessory and some other shortcomings may seem annoying for professionals used to more traditional setups, it is easy to accustom yourself to these changes since the Yamaha DGX650 provides quality and playability that are unmatched in this price bracket. With a range of sound features and conveniences thrown in, these make this unit among the best choices for those seeking a professional unit that caters to their advanced acoustic needs without adding undue complications.