Yamaha lays claim to some of the most awesome and technologically innovative piano models in the world. It is, therefore, always a pleasure to review any of their pianos. This singular reason contributed to my interest in reviewing the P-515 today, an awesome digital piano that was released to replace the former P-255. Join me in exploring why the P-515 has become the flagship of Yamaha’s P-series.
The modern design of the P-515 is no surprise, given that it was released in September 2018. Yamaha’s century long piano-making experience and the numerous feedback gotten on the release of the other members of the P-series have contributed, immensely, to the design and construction of this musical instrument.
Yamaha has not only made the piano to sound authentic, it has also made it to look gorgeous. You start to exercise your preferences from the “point of sale,” with you having the option to choose either the white or black colored version of P-515. Both are ultimate beauties, though. You have the same decision to make when if you wish to get the optional console stand from Yamaha, although you’re going to have to pay for this separately, you should choose the same color as that of the piano color.
Overall, the piano looks sturdy, portable, and neatly-shaped. The keys are made of wood, I mean exotic wood; while the other parts are made of durable plastic.
Yamaha’s P-515 was designed in such a way that you have total control over own music.
It makes use of a small LCD screen that is furnished with 23 control buttons for sounds and effects. While this may not be the most modish display screen, you can support it by tapping into the wealth of options afforded you by Yamaha’s Smart Pianist App; although its level of compatibility with the app does not permit you to save settings for future use as seen in Yamaha’s high-end pianos.
The Smart Pianist App was first available for iOS devices, but the App now has its Android version; making it compatible with most smart phones.
Using this App and the LCD screen allows you to access the numerous features that came with the P-515. While the LCD gives you a small screen, the App gives you a modern display and easy navigation of its features and settings, as well as your music library on the device. You can easily connect your device via a USB to Host port located at the back of the piano for you to use the App.
Size and Weight
While P-515 is the most feature-packed piano in Yamaha’s “PORTABLES” line, it is not the most portable member of the group. It is, in fact, heavier than all of them. Apart from the DGX-660 that weighs 21kg, other members of the series average less than 12kg by weight; while the P-515 weighs 22kg.
Its dimension is quite similar to those of other members of the series, being 52.3 x 14.5 x 5.5 inches by dimension.
Nonetheless, since it was made to be a member of the P-series, it is still a relatively portable digital piano when compared to similar products with as much features. However, a mission to carry it with your hand on a long distance journey may be discouraged by its weight.
Another reason the Yamaha P-515 is exotic to the P-series is its use of Natural Wood X keyboard, which is quite better than Yamaha’s Hammer Action mechanisms. All its 88 fully weighted keys were made of this excellent, well-crafted wood that used to be unique to Yamaha’s Clavinova series. Each of the keys were layered with synthetic ebony and ivory, to complete that touch of superiority that comes with every well-made modern digital piano for every user.
Each finger strike provide the feel of genuinely weighted wooden keys with an escapement mechanism similar to that afforded by an acoustic piano. Although it could feel too hard for beginners and children, it has excellent touch sensitivity mechanism, whose responsiveness can be set per user preference.
You can choose to make the hard or soft to the touch, or anything in between; there are five touch responsiveness options to choose from. You can as well off the sensitivity, so that the keys will give the same level of sound no matter how hard or soft you strike the keys.
The P-515 was designed to offer quality sounds that are superior to many of its peers. What users get from this piano is a 2-in-1 Yamaha’s flagship sound quality, featuring Yamaha’s 9 feet tall CFX Grand Piano and Bösendorfer Imperial Piano sounds, two of world’s foremost Grand Pianos.
Since P-515 simulates CFX Grand Piano sound, it also comes with the binaural sampling that is unique to this high-end Grand; and a combination of this with the featured Yamaha’s Stereophonic Optimizer afford users an immersive sound experience whenever the piano is used with a quality headphone. You feel like the sound is still coming from the piano, even when you’re using the headphone, a situation in which you become one with the piano.
Although these two grand pianos offer uncommon combination for a digital piano in the P-series, P-515 still offers many sound surprises. It comes equipped with another 9 Accoustic pianos, 7 Electric Pianos, 6 Organs, 18 Drums, 2 Harpsichords, 1 Electric Clavichord, 1 Vibraphone, 7 Strings, 2 Guitars, and 4 Basses. It also features 480 preset tones.
Making use of Yamaha’s Piano Room, you can choose the environment you want your piano to simulate. This includes you choosing one of 6 types of Reverberation environments: Recital Hall, Concert Hall, Chamber, Cathedral, Club, or Recording Studio.
Its 256-note polyphony is just about what any Pianist will need in a piano, and it affords you the liberty of playing as many notes as you wish at a time.
It features two 15W speakers, supported by two 5W tweeters for optimum sound output across all frequencies. You can as well use the Sound Boost feature to make the speaker sound louder. These features make the piano convenient for play in front of a small audience, but you can still connect it to an external speaker to make it suffice for your needs.
Although the P-515 is truly a feature-packed digital piano with features that may not be fully explored by a single review, some features are better elaborated than sandwiched into a list. One of such features is the 3 Mode options available for users in the P-515 digital piano.
Like most modern digital pianos, the P-515 can be tweak to a Dual, Split, or Duo Mode. The Dual Mode let you play two different musical instruments at the same time, across all the keys on the piano. The Split Mode let you separate the keyboard into two sessions, with one session playing one instrument while the other plays another instrument of your chosen simultaneously. Also, the Duo Mode will let you turn the piano into two separate pianos that can play at the same time. While you can delight yourself with the other two Modes, the Duo Mode is extremely important because of its classroom usefulness for a convenient piano student and teacher relationship.
When it comes to Audio recording, Playback, and Music production; P-515 is the gold standard in the P-series and can only be compared to Yamaha’s high-end digital pianos.
P-515 features a 16-track sequencer, allowing you to be as creative as you can be with different instruments when producing music demos. You can either save your recorded songs in MIDI format to allow you edit each track on your personal computer whenever you want to, or save it in audio format.
Its internal memory is capable of accommodating up to 250 MIDI files, each can have up to 16 tracks, but the file can’t be more than 500KB in size.
When it comes to connectivity, P-515 is as flexible as a digital piano can get. Two headphone jacks and a USB to Device port is located in front of the keyboard, both at convenient reach. Also, it has USB to Host ports and MIDI In/Out ports that support the transfer of both MIDI and Audio files into and from the piano.
Additionally, you will be able to connect external sound equipment such as Public Address Systems, Mixers, Amplifiers, and so on, using the AUX OUT port; while you will be able to play the audio songs on your external device with the onboard speakers of the piano.
Interestingly, P-515 can connect to your devices via Bluetooth connection, although it can only receive audio data through this method.
Its lack of MIC input won’t allow you to be able to record your voice directly with the piano, but a mixer can easily fill this gap.
Other Features Include:
- Touch Sensitivity: 5 options, and Off.
- Yamaha CFX
- Bösendorfer Imperial
- Binaural Sampling
- Stereophonic Optimizer
- 256-note polyphony
- 40 Instrument Sounds (11 acoustic pianos)
- 18 Drum/SFX Kits
- 480 XG Tones
- 40 rhythms (x 2 variations)
- 6 reverb types, 3 chorus types, 12 effect types.
- VRM (Damper Resonance, String Resonance, Aliquot Resonance)
- Key Off Samples
- Smooth Release
- Master EQ, Sound Boost, Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC), Stereophonic Optimizer.
- Modes: Dual, Split, Duo.
- 16-track MIDI recorder (250 songs)
- WAV audio recorder (44.1 kHz, 16 bit, Stereo).
- Metronome, Transpose, Fine-tuning.
- Speakers: (15W + 5W) x 2 | (Oval (12 cm x 6 cm) + 2.5 cm (dome)) x 2.
- MIDI In/Out
- USB to Host (supports MIDI and Audio)
- USB to Device
- Headphone jacks (2)
- Line Out (R, L/Mono)
- Line In
- Pedal Unit
- Bluetooth 4.1 (Audio only)
- Size: 133 x 37 x 14 cm (52.3″ x 14.5″ x 5.5″)
- Weight: 22 kg (48.5 pounds)
The P-515 comes with a binary on/off foot-switch. This is a quite odd choice from Yamaha. The FC4A pedal looks like a proper pedal and it works surprisingly well. And yet, it doesn’t support half pedaling. It’s really a shame since if you are doing any serious piano playing on the P-515, you will need to purchase a pedal that supports half pedaling.
Being a portable digital piano, you can pair your P-515 with either furniture style stand and bench or portable style. It depends on your intended use of the instrument and I have to say, the P-515 looks great with either.
The two 20 watt speakers on the P-515 is more than enough to fill the music in any decent sized venue. However, if you want to get the best out of the CFX and Bösendorfer, I do recommend external speaker/monitor.
A good pair of headphones is always recommended to any digital piano. But for the P-515, it is extra crucial. You will be able to enjoy binary sample with your headphones and the effect is simply amazing. Try the above example with headphones.
The review is excellent. I have a question: there’s a lot of negative opinions on the Internet regarding the untypically heavy keys action on this instrument (some people have measured the down-weight as being 90 grams on this keyboard as compared to 50 grams standard). Could you elaborate a bit on the subject? Do the heavy keys make this instrument unplayable?
The keys are definitely heavy. But that doesn’t make this piano unplayable. It just takes some getting used to. Quite a few people have reported that once they get used to the heaviness of the keys, they actually enjoy it better than a lighter keyboard due to the extra control and expressiveness.
I have to say it really comes down to your background and expectation. If you have years of experience playing on an old acoustic upright piano, you probably won’t have any issue with the Yamaha P-515.
My best suggestion would be to find a store near you and try the keys yourself.
It’s a great review. For classical music, would this equal the Arius YDP184? Are there any particular reasons to NOT get a standalone digital piano vs this portable piano? Thanks!
If you don’t need portability, it’s always recommended to go for the console style digital piano. They are not limited by weight and size and you get the best the manufacture can offer for the price.
That’s very helpful! I think your review said the Yamaha YDP-184 has a somewhat heavy keyboard action. What are good alternatives in that range? Thanks!
Just to be clear, the heavy action on the YDP-184 isn’t necessary a bad thing. It all comes down to personal preference. Some people love the heavy actions and some don’t care much for it.
For a relatively lighter action, the Kawai CA48 comes to mind. It’s an excellent instrument and definitely a strong competitor of the YDP-184.