Yamaha’s entry level 61-key portable keyboard range


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Yamaha Entry-Level Portables
Specs comparison table

Yamaha PSRE203 new
Yamaha PSRE203
Yamaha PSRE303 new
Yamaha PSRE303
Yamaha PSR172
Yamaha PSR172
Yamaha PSR175
Yamaha PSR175
Yamaha PSR273
Yamaha PSR273
Yamaha PSR275
Yamaha PSR275

Introduction

Yamaha are well known for making quality keyboard instruments at all levels and for all needs. Here we look at their entry-level keyboards, which are ideal as first keyboards, portable performance tools, or basic MIDI controllers.

Overview of Yamaha’s entry-levels

Their entry-level portables all feature 61 full-sized keys (5 octaves), MIDI, and various quantities of instrument samples, including acoustic piano, and rhythm/accompaniment sections.

Lowest-end models do not have touch-sensitive keys. In other words, no matter how hard you press the key, the volume of the note played will be the same.

Higher-end models do have touch-sensitivity built in – the harder you press a key, the louder the note.

Are they right for you?

There’s little to doubt the workmanship of Yamaha keyboards, and even the entry-level models pack a lot in for a good price.

What’s important is that you know what you are going to want the instrument for. Don’t go for the cheapest option or you may regret the lack of extra features if you really get into it.

These are really aimed at the beginning musician, rather than synth musicians or pianists. As that, they do a good job.

If you know you’re going to want to tweak and create sounds, you need a proper synthesizer: these keyboards are not for you.

If you know you’re going to want a highly realistic feel as well as sound of an acoustic piano, these keyboards will disappoint. They sound very good, but they feel nothing like a piano, as they don’t have weighted keys.

Getting the right model

I’d suggest the most important things to bear in mind are touch-sensitivity and polyphony.

Touch sensitivity

Apart from playing the organ, I can’t see any benefit in getting a non-touch-sensitive keyboard. All sounds, not just the piano, will respond to how hard a note is played (the velocity of the note). Only very low-end keyboards now don’t offer this feature – it’s not worth the minor monetary saving to do without.

Polyphony

Don’t skimp on polyphony. This is how many notes a keyboard can play at once. Yes, you only have 10 fingers, but bear in mind those drum and instrument accompaniments, sustained notes, split parts, etc.

Yamaha’s lower-range keyboards only offer 16 notes of polyphony, which is only barely adequate. If you can afford a model with 32 notes of polyphony, go for that – you won’t regret it.

The tell-tall signs of a keyboard running out of polyphony are dropped notes – often accompanied by clicks as the sample cuts out. Not good to hear.

Bells and Whistles

The selling point of these keyboards is their fun element – let’s not knock that. “Serious” keyboard players might shun their rhythms, accompaniments, auto-features, and so on, but these keyboards are fun.

They let you produce some great ready-made sounds in a variety of styles, without you having to be a fantastic musician or have your own recording studio.

You may tire of the built-in features after a while, though.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Entry-level keyboards: good sounds, features, low price, fun

Cons

  • Lower polyphony and lack of touch-sensitivity can limit use

Most Important

Try before you buy!

Specification Table

Below is a fairly detailed comparison table, based on Yamaha’s own specifications for each instrument, so that you can see the features present on each model.

MODEL

PSRE203

PSRE303

PSR175

PSR172

PSR273

PSR275

Keys

61 standard touch-sensitive

61 full-size keys

61 standard touch-sensitive

Display

Large LCD

LCD

Large Backlit LCD

Yamaha Education Suite

Version 5

Timing
Waiting
Minus One
Chord Dictionary
Grading

Songs

102

100 Demo

100

Voices

Total

134

482

100

480

GM?

Yes

Xglite?

No

Yes

No

Yes

PianoVoice

Stereo

Dual Voice

No

Yes

Split Voice

No

Yes

Drum Kits

Continued below...

4 +1 SFX

12 + 1 SFX

10 + 2 SFX

Polyphony

32

16

32

Auto-accompaniment

Styles

100

106

100

Variations

Intro, Main A/B, Ending, Fill-in x 2

2

2

Intro, Main A/B, Ending, Fill-in

Control

Accompaniment on/off, sync-start, start/stop,
intro/ending, main A/B (auto fill)

Plus multi-pad

Accompaniment on/off, sync-start, start/stop,
intro/ending, main A/B (auto fill)

Effects

Digital Reverb

9 types

9 types

Digital Chorus

No

4 types

Yes

4 types

Digital Harmony

No

26 types

Yes

26 types

Panel Controls

On/Off, Master Volume, Lesson R/L, Listen &
Learn, Timing, Waiting, Chord Dictionary, Style Controls, Tap/Tempo,
Function, Song Select, Style Select, Voice Select, Portable Grand, Sound
Effect Kit, Reverb On/Off, Numeric Selector, Metronome, Demo

On/Off, Master Volume, Style Controls, Tap/Tempo,
Record, Lesson R/L, Watch & Learn, Timing, Waiting, Chord Dictionary,
Song Select, Style Select, Voice Select, Function, Portable Grand, Sound
Effect Kit, Reverb, Numeric Selector, Split, Dual, Harmony, Touch Control
On/Off, Metronome, Demo, PC Button

On/Off, Master Volume, Touch Control On/Off, Lesson
R/L, Chord Dictionary, Function, Style Controls, Tap/Tempo, Song Select,
Style Select, Voice Select, Demo, Portable Grand, Metronome, PC Button,
Numeric Selector, Harmony, Dual, Split, Sustain

Function Controls

Volume: Accompaniment, Song, Main Voice, Metronome.
Other: Tuning, Transpose, Split Point, Main Voice Octave, Reverb Type &
Depth, Panel Sustain, Local On/Off, External Clock, Initial Setup Send, Time
Signature, Demo Cancel

Main Voice Volume, Octave, Chorus Send Level
Split Voice Volume, Octave, Chorus Send Level
Dual Voice Volume, Octave, Chorus Send Level
Volume: Accompaniment, Metronome, Song
Other: Transpose, Tuning, Split Point, Touch Sensitivity,
Reverb type & level, Chorus type, Panel sustain, Harmony type &
volume, PC mode, Local On/Off, External Clock, Initial setup send, Time
signature, Lesson track (R), Lesson Track (L), Demo Cancel

Volume: Accompaniment, Metronome, Split Voice, Dual
Voice, Song, Other: Split Voice Select, Dual Voice Select, Split Octave, Dual
Octave, Tuning, Rev type & Depth, Chorus type & Depth, Transpose

MIDI

In/Out

Jacks

Phones / Aux. Out L/R, DC in, footswitch

Phones / Aux. Out L/R, DC in, Foot Switch

Amplifier

2.5W + 2.5W

2W x 2

2.7W + 2.7W

Speakers

12 cm x 2

Rated Voltage

DC 10 – 12 V

Dimensions WxDxH

37 1/4 x 13 2/3 x 4 1/3" (945 x 348 x 110 mm)

37 1/4 x 14 5/8 x 5 1/16" (1145 x 370 x 128 mm)

36-2/3" x 13-3/4" x 5-1/16" ( 931 x
348.8 x 127.9mm)

36.3" x 14.8" x 5.2" (933 x 370 x 129
mm)

Weight

9 lbs. 11 oz. (4.4kg)

10 lbs. 13 oz. (4.9kg)

9 lbs. 11 oz. (4.4kg)

11.66 lbs.