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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel S

Yamaha P145 - Why Are These Keyboards Flying Off The Shelves?


Yamaha, renowned for building quarter million dollar grand pianos used in legendary concert halls worldwide, has spent the last 8 years developing their latest and also their most affordable weighted 88-keys digital piano keyboard. Their outgoing model, the P-45 which I reviewed on my channel, was immensely popular and always out of stock due to its package of affordable price, great sound quality and key action. In the last couple of years, the competition such as Roland, Casio, Alesis & Donner has caught up with Yamaha when it comes to budget piano keyboards. I should know better than anyone. I’ve made more than 500 piano and keyboard reviews. Will this new piano keyboard get Yamaha back in the game? To find out, I used my own money, paid full retail price and bought myself one. Come along with me as I investigate the key action, sound quality, build quality, features & functionality of the P-145, Yamaha’s latest and most affordable 88-weighted keys digital piano keyboard and see how it compares with similarly priced offerings from the competition.


You can find out the full specifications and the best price for this together with my recommended digital pianos, keyboards, and music-learning app right here.


Key Action

The most important thing on a weighted keyboard is the key action - specifically how close does it feel to a traditional acoustic piano. The GHC aka Graded Hammer Compact key action is a definite improvement on the P-145 compared to the dated GHS action in the model it replaces. The action is a little firmer, quicker with a progressive key weighting across the octaves. However, to achieve a more compact chassis depth, Yamaha has noticeably shortened the key pivots which advanced pianists will have issues with when playing between the black keys.


Yamaha has chosen to continue using glossy black & white keys when most of the competition has gone for a lightly textured key surface for more traction, which I personally prefer as I live in the humid tropics. I’m surprised that Yamaha hasn’t upped the ante with triple key sensors and escapement simulation which is important for playing trills and ornaments. Check out my recommended digital pianos and keyboards where for a similar price, you can get an 88 weighted keyboard that has a noticeably better key action with longer key pivots, textured key surface, triple key sensors and escapement simulation.


Sound Quality

The sound most buyers will use 99% of the time on this keyboard is the default piano sound and it doesn’t disappoint. The piano voice is sampled from Yamaha’s $150,000 CFIIIS concert grand piano still used in many music conservatories. The bass notes are thick and rich while the higher notes are bright. It’s an unmistakable Yamaha sound. You get a total of 10 voices on this keyboard. 2 grand pianos, 2 electric pianos, 2 pipe organs, harpsichord, accordion, strings and Dizi - a chinese bamboo flute. Yamaha’s choice and number of onboard voices left me scratching my head. Similarly priced competitors offer more than 30 high quality voices versus just 10 on this keyboard. A jazz organ and a double bass instead of 2 pipe organs and the accordion would make this keyboard significantly more versatile. The inclusion of the Chinese flute is also evidence that the China market is so powerful that Yamaha has to acknowledge it. While the voices can be layered and the volume of the dual voices can be balanced, there is no option to split the keyboard with different voices on the right and left side which a number of the competition can do.


What left me disappointed is Yamaha didn’t take the opportunity to increase the note polyphony on this keyboard. While similarly priced 88-key weighted keyboards from the competition have 96 note polyphony, this keyboard has just 64. For beginner piano students, 64 note polyphony is fine. However, the low polyphony means that Yamaha is not able to offer more complex and nuanced sample textures such as string resonance and key-off resonance which the competition offers. The P-145 offers only damper resonance which is pretty standard on digital pianos these days. A basic pedal is included with this keyboard but you are better off getting the optional single or triple pedal unit which supports half-pedaling, soft and sostenuto like a traditional acoustic grand piano. Thankfully, Yamaha did upgrade the sound system on the P-145. It now sports a pair of 7 watts amplifiers firing through a 4 speaker setup which makes the sound output noticeably punchier and louder than many of the competition which uses an anemic 2 speaker setup. Check my recommended digital pianos and keyboards that has way more voices and more polyphony for a similar price.


Features & Functionality

For silent practice, there is a ¼” headphones jack which doubles as an audio output located at the rear. I would have preferred the headphones jack to be located just next to the player for easier access, which is what many other brands have done. While voices can be selected, layered and transposed by pressing the function button and the corresponding key, adjusting the volume to balance the voice layers is clunky and quick transposition on the fly requires you to carry along the function chart if you don’t use Yamaha’s Smart Pianist app.


While the Smart Pianist App, available on both iOS & Android, is the best in the industry with its intuitive, fluid & feature rich UI allowing users to select, layer and balance voices as well as record an unlimited number of their performances for quick sharing online. The lack of wireless Bluetooth connectivity creates too much friction for the user as you’ll have to use a compatible USB cable to connect to your mobile devices. Streaming backing tracks to play along with also require a USB cable as there is no wireless Bluetooth audio streaming which most of the competition has. I am disappointed that Yamaha didn’t use a modern USB-C port like what many other keyboards are using but kept their really dated USB type B printer port. Thankfully, the USB port supports both MIDI and digital audio data with its built-in audio interface which is perfect for use with music learning apps. The music-learning apps  I recommend together with similarly priced keyboards with wireless bluetooth for unparalleled connectivity and ease of use with music learning apps. 


Build Quality

At just 10kg, the P-145 is noticeably lighter and more compact compared to its predecessor and competition. But sacrifices had to be made such as the cold hard plastics everywhere and the short key pivots. One thing I love is the redesigned music rest which feels and looks more robust and from my tests, the music rest can definitely support huge, thick and heavy music books compared to the previous model.


Conclusion

Unless Yamaha aggressively cuts pricing or you can get one during a sale, the 8 years Yamaha spent improving the wildly popular P-45 is too little, too late. The P-145 isn’t bad by any means but the competition is better value and, depending on your psycho-acoustic preference, may sound better too.


You can find out the full specifications and the best price for this together with my recommended digital pianos, keyboards, and music-learning app right here.




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