As opposed to professionals with years of experience behind them, learners need to find digital pianos that are simple yet recreate the authentic touch and sound of the grand piano to the greatest possible extent. At the same time however, learners would often desire sufficient connectivity options in order to make use of educational software typically meant for laptops and handheld gadgets. The Yamaha P45 Digital Piano claims to tick all of these boxes by providing an interesting combination of authentic touch, excellent audio reproduction and highly simplified controls. Now while not everything the company claims is accurate, we did find Yamaha walking the talk as far as most features were concerned. Yet do such features combine to make a great learner’s digital piano? Let’s find out in the detailed review!
Set Up And Build Quality
Unlike many of the popular learner’s units that require one to follow the tips for cleaning piano keys all too often, the Yamaha P45 comes with a build quality that ensures limited dust and dirt collection on the keys and other parts of the keyboard. Yamaha has kept the top section of the piano non-glossy so as to avoid the repeated scratching suffered by its competitor Casio’s CAS series of pianos.
As one would expect, this range of pianos do not come with x-stands but Yamaha has been considerate in making provision for a bundle that includes not only the stand but a range of other accessories as well. If you still choose to go with the basic model, you can easily place the unit on a desk and then proceed to attach the included music stand. Once this is done, we simply have to plug in the adapter into a powerpoint to start the unit. A few users wondered whether Yamaha should have included a carry case with the package but most agreed that manufacturers rarely provide such cases even in case of extremely highly priced models so expecting one from the P45B would be too much.
Speaking of accessories, we noticed that the unit comes with a rather dependable power adapter. While it is not meant for handling 220V (and hence cannot be used in foreign countries) the build quality of the unit and the length of the power cord were good enough for us and most of the users we talked with. The single sustain pedal, however, did not receive so much praise. Many of us found the pedal itself to be rather flimsy and one user suggested going in for the $20 M-audio pedal unit for a more wholesome experience.
Ease of Playing
One of Yamaha’s promotional planks was the supposedly authentic feel of the keyboard and we’re happy to report that the company gets its act just about right. The keys are hammer weighted and provide a very comfortable gradient along which to move when proceeding from one end of the 88-key set to the other. Combine this with the sturdy ivorite feel of the keys and you have the right combination of friction and resistance to make you believe that you’re playing a real grand piano.
What really sets this unit apart from the competition though is the lack of any thudding or clicking sounds from the keys when they are being pressed at a rapid pace. This not only distraction but provides you with the knowledge that even if your children use the keys improperly once in a while, they would not fall apart.
Of course, even the best keys would be useless if you didn’t’ have your music sheets at hand. To this end, the company has provided the Yamaha P45 with a spacious music sheet holder. Because of the uncluttered control panel, this holder sits right in front of the user like it would in a grand piano and in our opinion, this makes it easier to read and play songs without squinting.
Sound and Acoustic Features
Many of the top websites for piano lessons assume that you have a traditional piano at hand. Thankfully, this product comes with excellent MIDI recordings of 10 musical instruments that include a range of pianos and also accompanying instruments. Since these 10 include some of the best grand piano recordings Yamaha has ever produced, it is unlikely that you would be at a disadvantage if you’re learning from the internet.
Sound quality, of course, varies between the inbuilt speakers and dedicated speakers or headphones. While the former are of average quality and would probably not be able to fill a large-sized room without distortion/fading, the true beauty of the “voices” come forth when dedicated earphones or speakers are connected. In fact, users who were buying this unit for their college bound children specifically chose it because of its ability to produce breath-taking sound through earphones without disturbing other dorm members.
Such college students, of course, are not looking for advanced audio features. Though some users have expressed surprise at the Spartan set of audio enhancements, most users either did not bother to use these or found it more convenient to plug in a gadget and borrow sounds from there. A harpsichord specialist complained that the lower octaves are intolerably quiet and this made his craft somewhat less pleasing. We should add though that in various tests carried out by professionals and by us, this problem did not seem to be particularly persistent.
Controls and Connectivity
Due to its simple design, the Yamaha P45 has a few basic but extremely accurate controls on the top left of the unit. These include the vital button for changing the voices and thus, achieving the sound that conforms to our – and your! – sense of what a grand piano really should sound like.
Much more importantly, the unit comes with gadget connectivity options in the shape of a USB port that works with almost all electronic units. As such, a good number of users, including us, found that we could plug in our laptops and use the sounds of the laptop with a good set of earphones to achieve piano nirvana. Of course, the two can be combined together to obtain a still greater set of sounds and sound options with which to work on the piano.
- Sturdy construction with well-built keys
- Form factor and nature of build make for moderately easy transportation
- Keys have excellent traction and dust-resistance features
- 10 authentic voices for high quality musical reproductions and basic music mixing
- Simple Controls make piano ideal for beginners
- USB port allows a wide variety of electronic accessories and laptops to be connected with ease
- Speakers are regarded as weak and insufficient for large rooms by many users
- Foot pedal is somewhat flimsy
While the Yamaha P45 is not necessarily at the top of the pile when it comes to classification of pianos based on quality and price, the fact that it comes with a great repertoire of sounds, a good keyboard and sufficient connectivity options allows it to negate the negative features with ease. Keeping in mind the reputation of Yamaha and the simplicity of controls, these can easily make this unit one of the best choices for beginners as well as those who wish to continue practising on a basic uncluttered keyboard capable of accompanying him/her across states.