Yamaha P45 Digital Piano Full Review

Yamaha’s P-45 Digital Piano offers authentic real piano feel via its Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keyboard, a simple yet effective user interface, and great sounds at an incredibly low price (see lowest price). As a teacher who often gives recommendations to students, many of whom are looking for affordable options, I was especially excited to test and review this piano.

 

First Glance

On first glance, I liked the small size and lightweight body of the keyboard. It’s big enough to feel sturdy, but small enough that it’s easy to transport. Even before plugging it in, I felt the keys and was impressed by their convincing acoustic piano like weight. The piano has a nice look and sleek, attractive design that when coupled with the optional L-85 keyboard stand, blends effortlessly into your home décor and gives the digital piano a more acoustic home piano look.

 

Features

The P45 comes with owner’s manual, AC adapter, warranty information, online product registration card, sustain pedal footswitch, and a music rest. Setup is simple and I was up and playing in no time. Although the piano is easy to use, the manual is well written, easy to navigate, and helpful in explaining more complex features, should you need it. The sustain pedal is the small square type, which is to be expected on a keyboard of this price point. Users may want to upgrade to a more piano like sustain pedal which will be sturdier and won’t slide around as easily.

Controls on the keyboard couldn’t be simpler. There is a power button, master volume slider, and a Grand Piano Function button which can be used to instantly recall the default grand piano setting, as well as control all of the other piano functions. Simply hold down the Grand Piano Function button and hit a corresponding key on the piano’s keyboard to control operations. The manual comes with a handy sheet which shows all of the piano’s functions and corresponding keys on one easy to read page.

Built in stereo speakers are located on the left and right of the keyboard and are surprisingly full sounding considering their size, with rich lows and clear highs.

The back panel features a DC in jack, headphone output jack (which also doubles as a line out), sustain pedal jack, and a USB to host terminal which allows you to connect the piano to an iPad, iPhone, or computer. Computer connectivity via USB allows advanced users to record to digital audio workstations (DAWs), as well as use instructional software, notation software, and software synths.

Although the controls are simple, this piano can do more than it appears. The Grand Piano Function button is the key to all of the piano’s options.  By holding down this button and pressing various piano keys, you can change sounds, layer voices, adjust the balance between voices, and adjust many other features as well. Holding the Grand Piano Function button and pressing keys A0 through C0 changes the voicings, with each voice corresponding to a particular key. The P-45 features 64 voice polyphony, which is more than you will ever need for this type of keyboard.

 

Voicings include:

Grand Piano 1    A beautifully sampled concert grand piano.

Grand Piano 2    A brighter grand piano with more of a pop style tone.

  1. Piano 1 A tine electric piano sound reminiscent of the Fender Rhodes. It goes from soft when played lightly to a more aggressive attack when played hard.
  2. Piano 2 An FM synthesis electric piano sound reminiscent of the classic Yamaha DX7.

Pipe Organ 1      Pipe organ sound with 8 feet, 4 feet, and 2 feet pipes.

Pipe Organ 2      Full coupler pipe organ sound associated with Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue”

Strings                  Large Scale String Ensemble

Harpsichord 1    Authentic plucked string harpsichord sound.

Harpsichord 2    The Harpsichord 1 voice plus an octave higher voice for a more brilliant tone.

Vibraphone         Sound of a soft vibraphone played with light mallets.

 

Layering and Duo Mode

The P45 allows you to layer two voices, as well as adjust each voice’s volume balance. For example, you can have a grand piano with strings layered underneath.  You can also shift the octave of each voice up or down. If you want to play lower keys on the piano but have the string voice simultaneously play an octave higher, simply shift the string voicing an octave higher to accomplish this.

Duo mode allows two different players to play the same instrument voicing in the same octave, one on the left and the other on the right. This is a useful feature for lessons, as well as just for fun with friends.

 

Reverb Options

Four types of reverb are included—room, hall 1, hall 2, and stage. Reverb depth is adjustable as well, allowing you to fine tune your sound to your liking. Reverb simulates the reflective qualities of larger rooms. If you speak in a large room you will notice your voice reflect as it bounces off the various walls. This creates a full and pleasing sound.  A piano in a large concert hall has a similar effect. The sound is fuller, richer, and has a greater sense of space.

Yamaha allows you to have this large reflective sound at your fingertips, even in a small living room. The room reverb setting gives you the reflective sound of a large room. Hall 1 and Hall 2 offer differing large concert hall sounds. This is a much larger and more reflective sound than the room setting. Finally, the stage reverb setting approximates the reflective qualities of playing live on stage. Experimenting with different reverbs and reverb settings adds a new dimension to your sound and allows for fuller and richer results.

 

Adjustable Touch Sensitivity

I was pleasantly surprised to find that a piano at this price point offers adjustable touch sensitivity. You can easily choose between fixed, soft, medium (which is the default), and hard. Fixed sensitivity means the dynamics of the sound will not change no matter how hard or soft you hit the keys. The soft setting yields a softer keyboard sound, even if you are hitting hard. Using the hard setting, you will sound as though you are hitting the keyboard hard regardless of how hard or soft you play. There are still dynamics in the hard and soft modes; but they are not as varied as in the default setting. For most applications, the medium setting will be the most useful, but it is nice to have the option to go with a softer or harder sensitivity when needed. I should note that since pipe organs and harpsichords are not normally touch sensitive instruments, changing the touch sensitivity will not affect these voices.

Pitch can be adjusted in semitones or in cents. If you ever need to tune to a piano that isn’t in perfect tune or tune to another instrument, this can be easily accomplished. You can also set the pitch to A3 442 Hz, as well as the default standard of A3 440 Hz.

The P45 comes with 10 voice demo songs and 10 piano songs, as well as a useful metronome with adjustable tempo and volume. There are two metronome settings, one with the first beat accented and one with no beats accented. Having a built in metronome is a useful practice tool that teachers and students alike will find helpful.

 

USB Out

The fact that the P-45 has a great feeling keyboard and USB connectivity means advanced users will enjoy using it as an affordable controller for recording, triggering other MIDI devices, connecting to instructional software, and numerous other options.  I connected the demo P-45 to my laptop and was easily able to access my collection of soft synths.

This opened up a world of new sounds and textures, while still allowing me to use the piano’s excellent feeling weighted keys. Recording using this piano to a digital audio workstation was easy as well. Simply running a USB cable from the P-45 to a USB port on my laptop allowed me to connect via MIDI within minutes. If you are looking for an affordable 88 key weighted controller which also has its own speakers and built in sounds when needed, this is a great option.

 

Playability

For a piano of this price point, I honestly was not expecting the keys to have such a nice feel. Unlike many less expensive keyboards that have a weighted feel that is somewhere between organ and piano and honestly feels like neither, this digital piano feels like a real piano. Its Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keyboard has varying weights from the low to high strings, just like a real piano. The lower bass strings are heavier and the higher strings are lighter and more responsive. This provides for a more realistic action that is a joy to play. 

 

The Sounds

Since this instrument is primarily designed to be a digital piano, my main concern was the quality of the piano sounds. I was impressed, especially considering the price. I have a digital piano that’s about five years old, one which originally cost five times that of the P-45, and I can honestly say the piano sounds on the P45 are considerably better than my older digital piano. The piano sounds nice through the built in speakers, but also works equally well through a keyboard amplifier or PA system. The built in speakers have plenty of volume and fullness for in home applications. There is enough power on tap for you to hear yourself, as well as entertain a room. Adding in the adjustable reverb gives a sense of spaciousness and realism to the sound. This might not be necessary in larger reflective rooms, but is certainly nice to have in small, dry rooms or when playing through headphones.

The additional nine sounds include another piano, electric pianos, pipe organs, harpsichords, a string ensemble, and a vibraphone. Since there are only 10 sounds, I thought it would’ve been nice if Yamaha included a Hammond B3 tone wheel type sound to allow for more contemporary organ sounds. This seems more useful than two pipe organs and two harpsichords. I would’ve personally traded the second pipe organ and second harpsichord for a tone wheel sound and a second string ensemble option. That being said, it’s important to remember the price point of this instrument and that it is designed to be primarily a quality digital piano with a few additional sounds. In this, Yamaha has definitely succeeded.

Sounds are accomplished via Yamaha’s Advanced Wave Memory (AWM) Dynamic Stereo Sampling technology. Real instruments are sampled by recording each key at varying playing strengths, from incredibly soft to incredibly hard and many points in between. Sampling at varying intensity allows for incredible realism not only in the sound of the sampled instrument, but also in the dynamics.  This, coupled with the built in stereo speaker system, gives you a powerful sounding keyboard in a small, lightweight package.

 

Summary

The Yamaha P-45 is an incredibly affordable, easy to use digital piano with realistic piano action, excellent sounds, and more options than meets the eye.  Its low price point will make it an attractive option to students, parents of students, and players of any level who require an affordable quality digital piano. Keyboard players who are into recording will also like this keyboard as an affordable MIDI controller option. It connects flawlessly to computer soft synths, digital audio workstations, and other computerized devices. If you are looking for a budget weighted key controller that also has useable built in sounds, this is a great choice. I especially like the USB out on this keyboard. If down the road you need additional sounds, connecting the USB to a computer opens unlimited options in terms of sounds and options via software based synths. All in all, this is a great playing piano with excellent sounds, at an accessible price point. Students, parents, and players on a budget will find a lot to like about the Yamaha P45 digital piano.

 

Pick the P45 if

You are just starting out and are looking for one of the best budget-friendly keyboards on the market.

Don’t Pick the P45 if 

You have been playing for a few years and already own an entry level keyboard.

 

Check out the latest prices and other customer reviews before you make your decision!

 

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