SummaryDo you prefer a digital piano over a classic? Read our review on the Yamaha P115 digital piano and see if it's the right digital piano for you.
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The Yamaha P105 digital piano has long been an industry standard for musicians who need real grand piano sound — among other things — in a portable, professional keyboard.
It’s been the benchmark for stage performance ever since it was introduced in 2013, and while it had a few issues, its adaptability, fairly lightweight construction, and warm, clean, concert ready sound made it invaluable to anyone who needed a “real piano” for a steady gig.
Unfortunately, it’s been discontinued while Yamaha’s prepared another mid-range instrument to take its place.
That piano is now here.
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Enter the Yamaha P115 Digital Piano
The Yamaha P115 digital piano promises to become the new standard — and not just because it corrects some of the problems with the P105.
It’s nobody’s idea of a major breakthrough, but it tweaks just enough important aspects of the old model for serious musicians to seriously consider it as an upgrade.
Because the P105 is no longer being manufactured, it’s suddenly become pretty valuable on places like eBay, but the P115 will successfully take its place… and it remains one of the better bargains for pianists who love its simple functionality and realistic sound.
Let’s take a look at what’s changed from the p105 and what hasn’t. Then you can make up your mind whether or not to sell off your old one.
What’s Been Kept From the P105
Pure CF Sound Engine. Like the P105, the P115 contains samples recorded directly from Yamaha’s state-of-the-industry CFIIIS Concert Grand Piano. It remains one of the most realistic grand piano sounds you can get from a digital keyboard.
Graded Hammer Technology. Also like its predecessor, the P115 uses Yamaha’s Graded Hammer technology to weight down its keys in order to exactly replicate the feel of a concert grand piano.
One of the big problems musicians still have with switching to digital keyboards is the feel: Yamaha pianos not only tweak the keys, the weights are proportionally heavier lower down at the bottom end of the scale, while those at the higher end of the scale are lighter.
The Graded Hammer standard also actually replicates, as much as technology will allow, the action of a hammer on a string; higher-end Yamaha digital piano systems even feature a degree called Natural Wood.
Intelligent Acoustic Control. Mere volume controls aren’t enough for a live stage setting, as Yamaha knows very well.
That’s why they came up with intelligent acoustic control, which boosts treble and bass when volume is lower and tweaks the EQ to make up for other deficiencies at low volume. The P115 still has this feature.
Lightweight Design. The P115’s weight is ever so slightly north of the P105’s 28 lb. specs — but not more than about 3 oz. or so. The effect is negligible: you won’t have to start working out to carry it around if you already own a P105.
What’s Different From the P105
Better Sound. One of the subtle but major improvements Yamaha made over the P105 is the sound itself.
Although it stlll samples from the CFIIIS concert piano, the overall effect is a little warmer and more natural if you listen closely. It’s not quite as bright as the P105.
Also, Yamaha has moved the tweeter position of the P115’s built-in speakers to more naturally replicate the acoustics of a real grand piano.
192-key Polyphony. The big selling point of the P115 lies here.
For those not in the know, “polyphony” simply refers to the number of notes that can ring at one time from a digital piano. While it may seem unnecessary for more than the P115’s 88 keys to ring out at one time, when you’re making those runs, or soloing, it can make a big difference.
You can get a Yamaha with the magic 256-key polyphony, but 192 is a big game changer for a mid-range priced digital piano such as this, and it’s a major improvement over the P105’s 128-key polyphony.
Different Sounds, Rhythms, and Styles. The sounds, preset rhythms, and song styles of the p115 have been tweaked slightly from the P105, but nothing drastic.
Its 14 instrument sounds remain mostly the same, except that one of the four electric piano sounds has been sacrificed to create a third grand piano sound (you now have “bright” and “mellow” grand piano choices).
The new version sports 14 preset rhythms as opposed to 10 — extra 8 and 16 beat options, a shuffle, and “Latin Pop.” There’s also roughly the same selection of 50 preset songs.
One of the biggest calling cards of the P105 was the Pianist Styles that allowed you to solo freely while the microchips took care of the bottom end. They’re still present: March is out, 8-beat ballad is in.
Better Connectivity. A Yamaha digital piano you can control with an iPhone? Yes!
Connectivity was one of the main issues with the P105, but the new digital piano controller app actually allows you to take over the keyboard from your iPhone or iPad — although you have to plug in for now. USB ports remain.
Is the Yamaha P115 Digital Piano Worth It?
So if you’ve got a P105 digital piano already, should you upgrade it?
The P115’s sound is a subtle but definite improvement, and if you’ve been dying to attach your Apple tech, now’s your chance. A lot of it may rest upon whether blunted polyphony has been a problem for you in the past.
If you’ve never bought a mid-range Yamaha, and you’re looking to make a step up, it’s definitely worth the extra money — especially since the P105s aren’t in production anymore.
That probably means you can find used ones cheaper than ever, but unless you’re really hurting for cash, it’s probably not going to make a big difference on stage, so you should go ahead and spring for the P115.
Check the specs out today and see what you think… it’s definitely cheaper than forking over the $100,000 or more it would cost you to buy a real grand piano!
The last vestige of digital pianos being not considered “real” has probably just disappeared. So why not step into the future today and get the Yamaha P115? You can compare prices right here!