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Yamaha P45 Review: Authentic Sound Quality, Professional Features, Entry-Level Price Tag

yamaha p45 review
The P45 is Yamaha's entry-level digital piano, but how does it compare to the competitors? Our Yamaha P45 review has the answers.

So, you’re shopping for a digital piano and have come across the P45 from Yamaha.

Is it worth buying?

Purchasing a musical instrument can be equal parts exciting and overwhelming.

At this point you’ve likely been bombarded with a plethora of technical specifications that read like a foreign language.

Allow us to translate and make a little more sense of things.

The Features

The P45, part of Yamaha’s portable series, was designed for those who want the feel and sound of a grand piano without the bulk.

Imagine trying to guide movers as they hoist a baby grand piano up to a second story apartment.

Nope. Not very practical.

The P45 alleviates those concerns:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to store
  • Travels well

Its compact design makes it a space saver, and you can set it up in an apartment, bedroom, living room, or practice pad without sacrificing space.

Size Specifics

  • Height: 6 inches (154 mm)
  • Width: 52.25″ (1,326 mm)
  • Depth: 11.5″ (295 mm)
  • Weight: 25 lbs (11.5 kg)
yamaha digital piano
Yamaha is the industry-leader in digital pianos for authentic grand piano sound and the P45 is no exception. (Source)

Graded Hammer Standard 

Just like a real piano, the P45 offers 88 weighted keys called The Graded Hammer Standard (GHS).

This provides a heavier touch in the low end and lighter touch in the high end, similar to the keys of an acoustic piano.

Acoustic pianos are made with hammers and strings. The hammer strikes the strings, which causes the string to vibrate.

This vibration is what we eventually hear as a note. Digital pianos have a computer inside that detects how hard you press each key and provides the corresponding sound. 

Unlike a real piano, you have options. You can set the sensitivity of the keys to soft, medium, hard, or fixed. If you’re heavy-handed, it doesn’t have to show up as you play. 

AWM Stereo Sampling

Since this is Yamaha we’re talking about, who have been making pianos since 1900, you don’t have to worry about the P45 having a weird electronic sound.

By using a proprietary technology called AWM Stereo Sampling, you not only get a rich and full spectral sound, but you get within a hair’s distance of the real thing. 

So what is AWM Stereo Sampling?

The AWM (Advanced Wave Memory) is a sampling system which creates the realism of an acoustic instrument by using digital technology to record the instrument sound and applying high-quality digital filter technology to the recorded audio samples. The waveform of the sound created by playing the key of an acoustic piano differs depending on the playing strength from pianissimo to fortissimo. The AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling can produce such dynamic nuances by recording samples of various playing strengths. The greater the number of samples used, the higher the expression.

Yamaha Entertainment Group

In other words, the piano was set up in a recording environment. Professional quality microphones were strategically placed around he studio–one recording the right, one recording the left–and each note was played and recorded. Digital technology and a very seasoned sound engineer then perfect the sounds to ensure they’re as authentic as possible. These sounds are rendered as audio samples and programmed into the digital piano. 

Sound Specifics

  • 10 Sound Choices 
  • 64-note max polyphony
  • 4 types of built-in reverb
  • Amplifier: 6W x 2
  • Speakers: 4.5″ x 2

Yamaha P45 Review: Comparisons

The P45 isn’t a first for Yamaha with the P35 being its predecessor. Not only will we be taking a look at what changes have been between the P35 and P45, but we’ll also do a side-by-side comparison of similarly priced digital pianos and see who really offers the better features, functionality, and options for the price. 

Yamaha P35 

Released in 2012, the P35 the first in Yamahas line of portable digital pianos.

  • It’s affordable.
  • It’s suitable for beginners and intermediates.
  • It’s eco-friendly with automatic power-down after a period of inactivity.

The P35 was well-liked upon its release. Piano instructors recommended it to students because it was perceived as a good value and very close to the real thing. The only real complaint was that the headphone jack was 1/4″ rather than 3.5 mm so an adapter was needed to use a traditional set of headphones. 

Yamaha P35 vs P45

When it came time to update the P35 there were some things Yamaha changed with the P45. 

Let’s take a look at the differences in these two entry-level portable digital pianos. 

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Keep in mind that both are MIDI control devices. This means that you can run the piano through a computer and, with a DAW (digital audio workstation), play plugin instruments.

The loss of the actual MIDI cable in/outputs on the P45 doesn’t mean it lost MIDI capabilities. MIDI controllers now can be used through a USB port.

The difference between the two connects? Price. A USB cable is much more wallet-friendly than an actual MIDI cable. 

Polyphony is the max number of voices that can be played simultaneously. This allows you to use such features as a split keyboard with one sound on the right half and a second sound on the other half of the keyboard, to layer sounds.

That’s right. For all of you musicians out there with 64 fingers just dying to put them all to use at one time, this is for you.

Only kidding.

But really, you can stack layer upon layer until you reach 32 with the P35 or 64 with the P45. 

Yamaha P45 vs Competitors

There’s nothing wrong with being educated and doing a little comparison shopping.

To save you some time, we went ahead and pulled the specs on similar digital pianos competing with the P45 and put them head to head.

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Competitor Pros & Cons vs the Yamaha P45

With the Alesis, you may feel like you’re getting a great deal. Well, users report a lack of professional sound. Considering it to be more like a beginner keyboard.

The Casio, while reviewed highly, is a step up from the Alesis. It’s not a toy, but definitely more for a beginner compared to the Yamaha P45. The Casio offers a great sound, but it isn’t as authentic as more advanced players would like. 

Roland does seem to give Yamaha a run for their money. Both reviewed very well and were given raving nods for quality. Roland stole the show with its connectivity, offering a 1/4″ output, 1 USB-A, 1-USB-B, 4.0 Bluetooth, and MIDI via USB or Bluetooth. 

While Roland has a great, realistic feel, the P45 still offers the most authentic and realistic emulated sound that’s preferred by users of all skill leves

3 factors When Choosing the Right Digital Pianos

You’ve read out Yamaha P45 review. Ready to take the leap?

There are three things to consider before making your final decision:

  • Skill level
  • Expectation & functions
  • Price point

Skill Level

With digital pianos, things are usually pretty straight forward.

Keyboards tend to offer all of the fancy buttons, knobs, preset sounds, and effects. They’re designed to sound as they are: digital. They’re best suited for hobbyists at their entry-level and for professionals wanting effects and ambiance, and for musicians who compose electronic music. The sounds they offer typically don’t mimic a real acoustic piano very well. 

The P45 has been rated to suit those of all skill levels.

  • Beginners with no experience
  • Students expanding their knowledge
  • Professionals who play live and record.

This makes the P45 the most diverse digital piano in its price range. 

Expectation & Functions

This is a matter of personal preference. If you’re expecting the piano to sound like an acoustic piano, the P45 will meet and exceed your expectations. 

What about other specs?

  • Preset voices and sounds
  • Effects
  • Size and weight
  • Input/outputs

These are about what you need, what you want to achieve, your practicing environment, and the application you want to use it. The P45 has 10 onboard voices that include the following:

  • 2 Grand Piano
  • 2 Electric Piano
  • 2 Pipe Organ
  • 2 Harpsichord
  • 1 Strings
  • 1 Vibraphone

Even with 88 keys, the P45 will fit in either a studio apartment or a large home. Since it’s designed for portability, taking it on the road is easy due with its lightweight, slim design.

If you’d like to sit down and play with someone else, the P45 offers Duo mode. This allows for one person to play on the right and another to play on the left. 

The Reverb effect allows you to choose the room size. There are four to choose from, and each one will give that width and perception of being further away or closer to the sound being produced. 

Other functions include the following:

  • Fine-tuning the pitch
  • Metronome
  • Selecting a beat
  • Adjusting the tempo
  • Ability to connect to an iPad, iPhone, PC, or Laptop via USB and even transmitting MIDI data 
yamaha p45 review of this portable piano
One of the best parts of our Yamaha P45 review is how portable this piano is. (Source)

Price Point

You don’t want to overspend. You also want to make sure that you’re getting your dollar’s worth. Make a list of features that you would want and ask yourself, “Does this match my expectations?”

Sure, for $200 you can get a digital piano that sounds digital. But if you want the sound of an acoustic piano, that cheap digital piano would be a waste of money. 

For $500 more you can get a digital piano that has 20 different sounds, 20 different effects, knobs, and buttons galore. Do you need all of that when you just want to simply plug it in and play?

Yamaha P45 Review: Final Thoughts

Overall, the P45 from Yamaha offers professional quality and sound for musicians of all skill levels despite having that entry-level label.

Most companies offer cheap instruments that, frankly, sound cheap. Yamaha doesn’t skimp or cut any corners, offering the same dedicated features across the board. It speaks volumes about a company that’s willing to put the same amount of effort into a base model that they do a higher-end model. 

If you aren’t able to make it to a local shop to test one out, there are plenty of demonstrational videos posted on YouTube. Most users are amazed at just how much the P45 sounds and feels like an actual acoustic piano. 

Being user-friendly and keeping things simple takes the intimidation factor away for beginners, and the portability makes it a great practice tool.

You know, for those times you can’t just lug around your baby grand and play on a whim.

All joking aside, the slim and compact design makes transport a breeze. And its durability ensures it won’t be damaged. 

While we’ve given you the facts, the choice is still yours. We’re sure that if you are looking for authenticity, integrity, durability, and longevity, you’ll keep coming back to the P45 from Yamaha. 

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