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Compare: Yamaha vs Casio Best Selling 88-Key Piano Keyboards - Differences You Need to Know

Review:

Yamaha P-45

$549.99 USD


Casio CDP-S160

$529.99 USD

Today I am going to compare the key action, sound quality, features, and functionality of 2 of the most affordable keyboards with 88 weighted hammer action keys from 2 established and extremely popular Japanese brands, Yamaha and Casio. I will play the sounds from these 2 keyboards side-by-side so you have a direct comparison as to which sound you prefer.


These 2 models, the Yamaha P-45 and the Casio CDP-S160 are the cheapest new digital pianos you can buy as of the time of this article With just a mere $20 difference between these 2 keyboards, it is clear the 2 Japanese giants are trying to capture the price-sensitive markets. While Casio has an even cheaper CDP-S110, it is not available in many markets and I have excluded it from this comparison.


I am going to tell you the differences in the features and functionality of both these keyboards in order to help you make a better buying decision.



I have links to the best prices for these 2 digital pianos here. Also, feel free to check out my beginner piano app. As well as some beginner video courses and course materials available for you. You check out this free 25 Piano lesson too.


Key Actions

Like a traditional acoustic piano, both the P-45 and CDP-S160 have 88 full-size keys and graded hammer action but the response of these keys cannot be more different. The keys on the P-45 have a firmer weight to them, which I prefer, over the CDP-S160 which has a lighter feel.

The keys on the P-45 are also quieter while the action on the CDP-S160 is less dampened. I love the matte and textured black and white keys on the CDP-S160 which simulates natural ebony and ivory.

Only the black keys on the P-45 have a matte finish while the white keys are glossy.

My fingers stay planted better on the CDP-S160 versus the glossy P-45 keys. However, I can extract a more controlled dynamic range from Yamaha’s GHS key action on the P-45 even though both these keyboards come with 4 velocity curves.


If you spend a little extra, there is another key action that is better which I have linked here


Sound Quality

The capability of sound engines on these keyboards is very similar. Both keyboards come with 64-note polyphony and 10 voices but the voice selection on these keyboards is quite different.

The Casio comes with 3 grand piano voices while the Yamaha comes with just 2. Here’s how they sound. The CDP-S160 comes with a selection of 3 electric piano voices while the P-45 has just 2. Yamaha decided that we should get 2 pipe organs and 2 harpsichords on the P-45 while Casio gives us just 1 pipe organ and 1 harpsichord on the CDP-S160.


I personally prefer 2 string patches, one with a faster attack for melodic lines and another with a slower attack for lush ballads but both keyboards come with just one string patch each. The last sound on the Yamaha is a vibraphone and on the Casio, we get a jazz organ.


If you find 10 voices to be inadequate, I have links to piano keyboards with up to 600 onboard sounds right here.


Features

While both these keyboards allow you to layer 2 voices at the same time, Yamaha allows us to balance the volume of the 2 voice layers which you cannot do on the Casio. On both these pianos, there is no option to split different sounds across the keyboard.


I have another similarly priced digital piano that can do that which you can check out here.


While both brands include a basic sustain pedal in the box, advanced players will prefer Casio’s support for an optional triple pedal unit giving you soft, sostenuto, and damper controls.

Yamaha believes buyers of this keyboard are most likely to be beginners and therefore the P-45 does not support soft and sostenuto.


If you want to tweak your sounds, the Casio keyboard gives you 4 reverb and 4 chorus effects while the Yamaha has just 4 reverb effects and no chorus is available.

These are meant to be practice pianos and you can find a metronome, a transpose function, and the ability to tune the keyboard to match other musicians.


Casio, however, has gone one step further by giving us 16 additional scale systems. Baroque, middle eastern, oriental, and world music do not use the typical equal temperament tuning and the CDP-S160 has you covered


Functionality

A major advantage of digital pianos is the ability to use headphones for quiet practice. Both these keyboards come with a single headphone jack but the Casio favors a 3.5mm mini-jack while the Yamaha uses a more robust ¼” connector.

My favorite pair of headphones can be found here. Also have recommendations for speakers, microphones, and other connectivity devices which you might be looking for.


Even though the CDP-S160 is a more compact unit, it manages to pack in a more powerful amplification system. A pair of 8 watts amplifiers give you a total output of 16 watts versus the 12 watts output on the Yamaha.

You have the option to stream music from your mobile device to the onboard speakers using an auxiliary audio cable but the Casio uses a 3.5mm jack whereas Yamaha has a more robust ¼” jack which I personally prefer. Wireless audio streaming via Bluetooth is unfortunately not available on both of these units.


Another model I recommend with Bluetooth wireless streaming is linked here for you.


The Casio keyboard has a single song and single-track recorder which is really useful for capturing your performance. There is no way to record your playing on the Yamaha P-45.

However, both these keyboards come with a USB MIDI connection allowing you to record to advanced music production software and connect to music learning apps for interactive lessons on your iPad or laptop.

Do check out my beginner piano app, some beginner video courses and course materials available for you. As well as this free 25 Piano lesson too.


The CDP-S160 is the king of portability. At 23 Lbs not only is it 2 Lbs lighter than the Yamaha keyboard, it is also 2 inches shallower and 3 inches shorter making it significantly easier to handle if you intend to bring it out.

While both these digital pianos come with an AC adaptor for operating off an electrical outlet, the Casio wins big on its ability to use regular AA batteries for power.

At campsites, while busking or on a road trip, an electrical outlet may not always be within reach and this is where the Casio CDP-S160 shines.


Conclusion

While you can simply switch on and play the various voices on these keyboards, the Casio is better when it comes to user-friendliness. Every available parameter is printed on the chassis making it easy to make changes without referring to the user manual. On the Yamaha, apart from the regular voice selection, you will not be able to make changes such as tuning, transposing, and balancing the layer volumes without referencing the user manual.


I hope that this review has helped you in making an informed purchase of the Yamaha P-45 and Casio CDP-S160 Do check out the links provided in this article to get the latest prices and updates on the P-45 and CDP-S160. To find out more about the world of keyboards and pianos, do read more articles on this blog to find the most suitable and perfect instrument for your needs


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