I recently updated my Yamaha YDP-163 review and concluded that I can not recommend that model in 2019 facing fierce competition from other models on the market. Yamaha has launched the successor model beginning this year. In this Yamaha YDP-164 review, I’ll take a look at this new model and try to determine how it fares against its competitors in 2019.
The Yamaha YDP-164 is a console type digital piano with a more traditional look. The slightly lifted cabinet gives it a more solid aura. The height of the cabinet sits between the YDP-144 and YDP-184.
The overall look of the YDP-164 has a good mix of tradition and modern. It should fit comfortably in most home decor styles.
Depends on your region, there are four finishes for you to choose from. Besides the common Rosewood and Black, there are also a White and White Ash version. All four finishes have simulated wooden texture on the surface.
The YDP-164 also features a headphone placeholder on the left side beneath the keyboard. I have always find this to be a convenient and welcomed feature on any digital piano.
The music rest on the YDP-164 is collapsible. This is consistent throughout the Arius product line. When you are not playing, put the music rest down makes the instrument look a lot more clean and sleek than it already is.
Yamaha has re-designed the page holder at the bottom of the music rest. It is now much bigger and significantly thicker. As a result, it now holds pages very well in place.
On top of that, Yamaha also adds a pair of braces to help keep pages from flipping.
This re-design of the page holder shows that Yamaha is listening to what customers demands.
Yamaha has also re-designed the control panel on the YDP-164. The controls are split into two parts.
On the right side of the keyboard, you would find the power button and the volume knob.
On the left side, there is a single line of 7 buttons consisting of the most used functions and settings. The buttons are thinner and taller compared to the buttons on the YDP-163. They look sleek and are much easier to operate. Some of the buttons also has LED indicators.
I find it to be a good selection of most-used functions.
To access more advanced features and settings, it requires a combination of buttons and piano keys.
Alternatively you can use the Smart Pianist app on your iOS device to tweak and customize the Yamaha YDP-164.
The Yamaha YDP-164 has a complete 88 piano keyboard.
The keys are plastic but they do have synthetic Ivory keytops for the white keys and synthetic Ebony for the black ones.
Being a digital piano from Yamaha, the keys appear to be well built and evenly spaced.
At the deep end of the keyboard, there is a single line of red velvet that adds a nice accent and a premium feel to the instrument.
Size & Weight
The Yamaha YDP-164 is quite heavy. It weighs around 42 kg (93 lbs).
Without music rest, it has the dimensions of 136(W) x 42(D) x 85(H) cm (53″ x 17″ x 33″).
The Yamaha YDP-164 uses the same key action on the YDP-163.
It features the GH3 key action from Yamaha. This action sits around middle to low end of Yamaha’s technology.
The GH3 key action uses actual hammers behind each key to simulate a more realistic feeling. The weight of the hammers are graded. As a result, the bass is heavier and the tremble is lighter, just like an acoustic piano.
The 3 in the name of this key actions stands for triple sensor technology. There are three sensors in this key action. It ensures fast repetition and more accurate control of the keys.
The synthetic Ivory/Ebony keytops not only adds realistic textures but also help with grip and moisture absorption during long playing sessions.
One thing about the GH3 action is that it is definitely on the heavy side. The forces needed to press the keys down are significantly more compares to key actions from competing brands. This is generally a bad thing unless you are specifically looking for some heavy action to build up your finger strength.
Overall, the key action on the YDP-164 is quiet, smooth and expressive. Although I was hoping for an upgrade from the YDP-163, the GH3 is certainly not bad at all.
The big upgrade of the Yamaha YDP-164 is in the sound engine.
Unlike its predecessor, this new model features Yamaha’s CFX sound engine that you would find on the more advanced YDP-184 and many Clavinovas models.
It samples Yamaha’s flagship 9 foot concert grand piano CFX. The result is a truly pleasant experience to the ear.
The CFX sound engine on the YDP-164 also features Damper resonance, String resonance, key-off samples as well as smooth release. These are important nuances to create an authentic sound of an acoustic piano.
Compare to the Pure CF on the YDP-163, the CFX is a significantly superior engine. It sounds bright and natural with far more details.
Just like the YDP-163, the new YDP-164 features two 20 watt speakers. They are significantly more powerful than the 2X8 watt on its little brother the YDP-144. It is almost on bar with the flagship Arius the YDP-184, which rocks two 30 watt speakers.
The piano sounds loud and clear through the speakers. I would say the volume is almost close to an acoustic upright piano.
This is where this new model from Yamaha loses its competitive edge. The sound selection is limited and there is no Bluetooth, which is really an odd choice from Yamaha.
Yamaha makes a big selling point of its Smart Pianist app on iOS devices. And yet, to utilize that on the YDP-164, you would need an USB cable and a dongle to connect your smart device. Not the best solution in 2019!
Here’s a list of features on the brand new Yamaha YDP-144:
- Grand pianos × 3
- Electric pianos × 2
- Organs × 2
- Polyphony: 192
- Key sensitivity:
- Fixed: turns off key sensitivity
- Medium (default)
- Reverb settings (each with 20 levels):
- Recital Hall
- Concert Hall
- Dual mode: two instrument sound simultaneously
- Duo mode: split the keyboard to identical halfs
- 1 song with 2 tracks
- 10 Demo songs and 50 piano songs
- Headphone jack × 2
- USB to Host port
Being a console style digital piano, the Yamaha YDP-164 comes with three piano pedals. They are identical to the pedals you would find on an acoustic piano. They are the damper/sustain, sostenuto, and soft pedal.
The pedals support half pedaling, which is an important feature for many classical pieces.
Depends on the bundle you choose, it might also comes with a Yamaha branded bench. This however is not a very good bench. It’s not height adjustable and is not the most comfortable bench I’ve used.
As with any digital piano, a good pair of headphones is always recommended.
With the strong speaker system on the YDP-164, you don’t need any external monitor/speaker to enjoy the true Yamaha CFX experience.
To utilize the Smart Pianist, you will need an iOS device and an USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter as well as a USB AB cable. The app currently does not support Android devices. For details about connecting to your iOS device, refer to this manual from Yamaha.
WHO IT’S FOR
The Yamaha YDP-164 is best suited for beginners and intermediate players.
You can also use it as a secondary piano for home practice. The key action and sound engine on the YDP-164 is more than enough for that purpose.
The YDP-164 has some nice upgrades from its predecessor and sits comfortably between the flagship YDP-184 and the entry level YDP-144.
It has the same key action and sound engine as the YDP-184 but lacks quite a bit in features.
Price wise, you do pay a lot premium for the Yamaha brand. If you are open to other brands, there are quite a few options on the market.
Yamaha YDP-164 vs. Yamaha YDP-144
The main difference between these two are the key action and speaker system.
The GH3, although on the heavy side, is much more realistic and expressive than the GHS on the YDP-144.
The YDP-164 features two 20 watt speakers compared to the two 8 watt on the YDP-144. This is a huge difference both in terms of volume and sound quality.
If you can afford the extra $400 or so, the Yamaha YDP-164 is clearly a better choice than the YDP-144.
Yamaha YDP-164 vs. Roland F-140r
The F-140r from Roland is actually much cheaper than the Yamaha YDP-164. It however is better in several aspects.
The Roland F-140r features an advanced key action, the PHA-4. It also has synthetic Ivory keytops but with simulated let-off effect. Even though I’m not a big fan of the simulated let-off, the PHA-4 is much lighter to the touch.
I would say the playing experience on both instrument has their own pros and cons.
The Yamaha does have a much stronger speaker system. The two 20 watt speakers with the Yamaha CFX samples sounds more vibrant and dynamic than the two 12 watt speakers on the F-140r.
The F-140r does win on features. It has Bluetooth, more than 300 voices, a USB to device port and a lot more internal recording capability.
Overall, I would put these two on bar with each other. Considering the higher price of the Yamaha, the Roland F-140r does offer better value for money.
Yamaha YDP-164 vs. Kawai KDP 110
Kawai is famous for the authentic key actions on its digital pianos. The RHCII action on the Kawai KDP 110 is simply the best key action I have tried in its price range and in some cases beyond.
This is one of those cases. Even though the Kawai is couple hundred dollars cheaper, the keys feel more authentic to my touch and I enjoy playing on it more than the YDP-164. It doesn’t have that struggle of heaviness.
The sound of these two models is also very different. While the Yamaha is more bright, the Kawai sounds mellower. The Kawai however does have another advantage here. Each note on the KDP 110 is individually sampled.
They both have the same powerful speaker system and they both sound amazing with headphones.
But again, the Kawai has Bluetooth for easy connectivity with smart devices.
Personally, I would recommend the Kawai KDP 110 over the newly released Yamaha YDP-164 for its better key action and cheaper price.
Leave a comment to let me know what you think of this review. And if you happen to have some experience with the Yamaha YDP-164, please share with us in the comment below.