Yamaha P Series digital piano comparison


Yamaha introduced the first two models in its more compact and portable P Series of digital pianos in 1994, and now nearly thirty years on there have been twenty models in the entire line, with four currently on sale and sixteen discontinued.

Portable may be a relative term in comparison to some of Yamaha’s other keyboard instruments, but for a well-functioned and high quality digital piano, it’s fair to say the models in the P Series are easier to move around, even for a solo musician, which is good news for gigging and session players.

The main selling points of the P Series has always been producing a fairly lightweight instrument with emphasis on the quality of the keyboard feel and piano sound. Additional features tend to be aimed at the pianist, including pedal support, metronome, and decent speakers, along with a smattering of extras such as a handful of other real world acoustic/electronic instruments, keyboard voice split/layering, audio and MIDI and basic recording functions.

Although there are fewer functions than might be found on Yamaha’s portable home keyboards, the P Series not only stand as good mid-level digital pianos but can also be used as basic keyboard controllers for use with MIDI, where other keyboards, modules and computer DAWs (digital audio workstations) can be connected.

All but one of the P Series instruments has a full 88-key range, the current P-121 has 73 keys making it more compact, but otherwise functionally identical to the P-125.

There are no additional performance/manipulation controls such as aftertouch, pitch bend or modulation on the keys or the keyboard.

Current Models

Yamaha’s current four P Series digital pianos

As of 2022, the four current models are the top-of-line P-515, the P-125, P-121 and P-45.

Keyboard

The P-515 features the NWX (Natural Wood X) keyboard, which means the white keys have wooden keys and all keys are constructed with synthetic ebony and ivory key tops, plus escapement.

The P-125 and P-121 both feature the Graded Hammer standard keyboard, with a matte finish on the black keys, while the P-45 has a standard Graded Hammer standard keyboard.

All have 88 keys except the P-121, with 73.

Sound Generation

The P-515 uses Yamaha CFX, Bösendorfer Imperial, CFX Binaural Sampling, so is arguably the most realistic of all the P Series instruments to date.

The P-125 and P-121 use the Pure CF sound engine, while the P-45 employs Yamaha’s well-established AWM Stereo Sampling system.

Polyphony

The P-515 has a hefty 256 note polyphony, for almost limitless playing possibilities even when dual voices are used. The P-125 and P-121 have 192 polyphony while the P-45 has an adequate, but now rather outdated, 64 notes which will cause noticeable dropouts when playing more advanced/sustained pieces of music.

Voices

The P-515 adds a lot of nuanced features to its piano voices, including key-off samples, virtual resonance modelling and binaural sampling. The other models do not have these features.

The P-515 has a total of 40 standard voices, as well as 18 drum kits and 480 XG voices for compatibility with MIDI standards. This makes it a little more versatile for musicians who want a wider selection of voices. The P-125 and P-121 have 24 voices while the P-45 has ten.

Recording

All current P Series pianos except the P-45 have the ability to record songs in some format or another. The P-515 has a wide range of features including direct audio recording and MIDI storage, while the P-125 and P-121 don’t allow audio recording.

Connectivity

All models have a good range of pedal, audio, MIDI and USB connection options. All models can support a sustain pedal with half-pedalling capability, and all but the P-45 can accommodate one of Yamaha’s pedal units. The P-515 offers Bluetooth connections.

Price

You’ll pay a premium for the top-of-line P-515, coming in at a RRP of $1,999. The P-125 is $999, the P-121 is $899, while the entry-level P-45 is $599.

Full Specifications

Here is the full specification table as provided by Yamaha.



P-515

P-125

P-121

P-45

Size/Weight

Dimensions

Width

1336mm (52-5/8″ )

1326mm (52.20″)

1114mm (43.86″)

1,326mm (52-1/4”)

Height

376mm (5-11/16″)

166mm (6.54″)

166mm (6.54″)

154mm (6.0”)

Depth

145mm (14-13/16″)

295mm (11.61″)

295mm (11.61″)

295mm (11-1/2”)

Weight

Weight

22.0kg (48 lb, 8 oz)

11.8kg (26.01 lbs)

10.0kg (22.05 lbs)

11.5kg (25lbs., 4oz)

Control Interface

Keyboard

Number of Keys

88

88

73

88

Type

NWX (Natural Wood X) keyboard: wooden keys (white only), synthetic ebony and ivory keytops, escapement

Graded hammer standard (GHS) keyboard, matte finish on black keys

Graded hammer standard (GHS) keyboard, matte finish on black keys

Graded hammer standard (GHS) keyboard

Touch Sensitivity

Hard2/Hard1/Medium/Soft1/Soft2/Fixed

Hard/medium/soft/fixed

Hard/medium/soft/fixed

Hard/medium/soft/fixed

Display

Type

Full Dots LCD

N/A

N/A

N/A

Size

128 x 64 dots

N/A

N/A

N/A

Panel

Language

English

English

English

English

Voices

Tone Generation

Piano Sound

Yamaha CFX, Bösendorfer Imperial, CFX Binaural Sampling

Pure CF Sound Engine

Pure CF Sound Engine

AWM Stereo Sampling

Binaural Sampling

Yes (CFX Grand Voice only)

N/A

N/A

N/A

Key-off Samples

Yes

Smooth Release

Yes

Virtual Resonance Modeling (VRM)

Yes

Polyphony

Number of Polyphony (Max.)

256

192

192

64

Preset

Number of Voices

40 Voices + 18 Drum/SFX Kits + 480 XG Voices

24

24

10

Effects

Types

Reverb

6

4

4

4

Chorus

3

Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Stereophonic Optimizer

Yes

Functions

Dual/Layers

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Split

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Duo

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Functions

Overall Controls

Metronome

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tempo Range

5 – 500

5-280

5-280

32-280

Transpose

-12 – 0 – +12

-6 – 0 – +6

-6 – 0 – +6

-6 – 0 – +6

Tuning

414.8 – 440.0 – 466.8 Hz (approx. 0.2 Hz increments)

414.8 – 440.0 – 446.8 Hz

414.8 – 440.0 – 446.8 Hz

414.8 – 440.0 – 446.8 Hz

Rhythm

40

20

20

Storage and Connectivity

Storage

Internal Memory

Total maximum size approx. 1.4 MB

External Drives

USB Flash Memory (optional)

Connectivity

DC IN

16V

12V

12V

12V

Headphones

Standard stereo phone jack (x 2)

Standard x2

Standard x2

Standard

Sustain Pedal

Yes

Yes (Half pedal available with optional FC3A)

Yes (Half pedal available with optional FC3A)

Yes (Half pedal available with optional FC3A)

Pedal Unit

Yes

Yes (Optional)

Yes (Optional)

No

MIDI

In/Out

USB

No

AUX IN

Stereo mini jack

AUX OUT

[L/L+R][R]

[L/L+R][R]

[L/L+R][R]

No

USB TO DEVICE

Yes

USB TO HOST

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Bluetooth

Audio

Yes

Amplifiers and Speakers

Amplifiers

(15 W + 5 W) x 2

7W x 2

7W x 2

6W x 2

Speakers

(Oval (12 cm x 6 cm) + 2.5 cm (dome)) x 2

12 cm x 2 + 4 cm x 2

12 cm x 2 + 4 cm x 2

12 cm (4-1/2”) x 2

Power Supply




Power Supply

PA-300C or an equivalent recommended by Yamaha

PA-150 or other Yamaha-preferred parts

PA-150 or other Yamaha-preferred parts

PA-150 or other Yamaha-preferred parts

Power Consumption

15 W

9 W

9 W

6 W

Auto Power Off Function

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Accessories




Included Accessories

Music Rest

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Pedal/Footswitch

FC4A

Yes

Yes

Yes

Songs (Audio)

Recording Time

80 minutes/Song

Compatible Data Format

Recording

WAV (44.1 kHz, 16 bit, Stereo)

Playback

WAV (44.1 kHz, 16 bit, Stereo)

Songs (MIDI)




Preset

Number of Preset Songs

21 Voice Demo Songs + 50 Classics

21 Voice Demo Songs + 50 Classics

21 Voice Demo Songs + 50 Classics

Recording

Number of Songs

250

1

1

Data Capacity

Approx. 500 KB/Song

100 KB per song (approx. 11,000 notes)

100 KB per song (approx. 11,000 notes)

Format

Playback

SMF (Format 0, Format 1)

SMF (Format 0, Format 1)

SMF (Format 0, Format 1)

Recording

SMF (Format 0)

SMF (Format 0)

SMF (Format 0)

RRP


$1,999

$999

$899

$599

Discontinued Models

There are sixteen models Yamaha has discontinued, dating back to 1994. Clearly, technology has advanced, and prices generally reduced, since then, so we would not generally recommend picking up one of these older instruments unless they are in very good working condition and can be bought for a small price.

The earliest lower-end models only had 32 notes of polyphony, which is generally considered far too low for all but the simplest piano music to be played without glitches and drop-outs. Later and higher-end models had 64,, 128 or even 256 notes of polyphony, putting them more on a par with the current lineup of P Series digital pianos.

Sound technology has advanced, and although Yamaha’s AWM sampling system is good, it will not rival the more advanced systems found on the latest models. That said, you pay a premium for the newer, advanced instruments.

Take a look at the specifications, based on the information given in the official Yamaha manuals for each instrument. The mid- to late 2010 models are definitely still worth considering if they can be found in good condition.

We have not included the pricing information as it would generally be unhelpful, given inflation and the fact these can no longer be bought new.


P-300

P-500

P-200

P-120

P-60

P-70

P-140

P-65

P-85

P-155

P-95

P-35

P-105

P-255

P-115

P-515

Keys

88

88

88

88

88

88

88

88

88

88

88

88

88

88

88

88

Type

?

includes aftertouch

GH Keyboard

?

?

?

GH Keyboard

?

?

GH Keyboard

Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) Keyboard

GH Keyboard

Graded Hammer Standard (GHS)

Graded Hammer (GH) Keyboard with Synthetic Ivory Keytops

GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) keyboard with matte black keytops

NWX (Natural Wood X) keyboard: wooden keys (white only), synthetic ebony and ivory keytops, escapement

Polyphony

32

32

64

64

32

32

64

32

64

128

64

32

128

256

192

256

Sound Generation

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

?

Pure CF Sound Engine

Pure CF Sound Engine

Yamaha CFX, Bösendorfer Imperial

Sensitivity

Velocity Curve

Velocity Curve

Hard/Medum/Soft/Fixed

Hard/Medum/Soft/Fixed

Hard/Medum/Soft/Fixed

Hard/Medum/Soft/Fixed

Hard/Medum/Soft/Fixed

Hard/Medum/Soft/Fixed

Hard/Medum/Soft/Fixed

Hard/Medum/Soft/Fixed

Hard/Medum/Soft/Fixed

Hard/Medum/Soft/Fixed

Hard/Medum/Soft/Fixed

Hard/Medum/Soft/Fixed

Hard2/Hard1/Medium/Soft1/Soft2/Fixed

Voices

11

11

13

14

10

10

14

8

10

17

10

10

14

24

14

40 Voices + 18 Drum/SFX Kits + 480 XG Voices

Accompaniment

10

40

Recording

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Audio

In/Out

Out

In/Out

Out

Out

Out

Out

Out

Out

Out

Out

Out

Out

In/Out

Out

In/Out

USB

Host

Host

Device

Host

Host/Device

Host

Host/Device

MIDI

In/Out/Thru

In/Out/Thru

In/Out/Thru

In/Out

In/Out

In/Out

In/Out

In/Out

In/Out

In/Out

In/Out

In/Out

In/Out

In/Out

Pedals

Sustain, Foot Controller x 3

Sustain, Foot Controller x 3

Foot Controller, Sustain, Sostenuto, Soft

Sustain/Aux

Sustain

Sustain

Sustain/Aux

Sustain

Sustain/Unit

Sustain/Aux

Sustain/Unit

Sustain

Sustain/Unit

Sustain/Unit

Sustain/Unit

Aux/Unit

Amplifier

20W x 2

?

30W x 2

12.5W x 2

8W x 2

6W x 2

6W x 2

6W x 2

6W x 2

12W x 2

6W x 2

6W x 2

7W + 7W

15W x 2

7W + 7W

(15 W + 5 W) x 2

Speakers

13 cm (5-1/8”) x 2

?

13 cm (5-1/8”) x 2

Oval (12 cm x 6 cm) x 2

Oval (12cm × 6cm) × 2

(12 cm × 6 cm) × 2

(12 cm × 6 cm) × 2

(12 cm × 6 cm) × 2

(12 cm × 6 cm) × 2

(12 cm × 6 cm) × 2

(12 cm × 6 cm) × 2

12cm x 2

12 cm x 2 + 5 cm x 2

(10cm + 2.5cm) × 2

12 cm x 2 + 4 cm x 2

(Oval (12 cm x 6 cm) + 2.5 cm (dome)) x 2

Power

?

25W

?

28W

?

?

?

?

20W

?

?

?

7W

15W

6W

16V

Year

1994

1994

1998

2001

2002

2005

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2012

2012

2013

2014

2018