Yamaha YDP-S54 Review - A Better Looking And Cheaper YDP-164

Yamaha YDP-S54 Review – A Better Looking And Cheaper YDP-164

Yamaha YDP-S54

7.5

Design

8.0/10

Key Action

7.5/10

Sound

8.0/10

Features

7.0/10

Accessories

7.5/10

Value

7.0/10

Pros

  • Compact & Sleek
  • Yamaha CFX Sound Engine
  • Powerful Speakers

Cons

  • Heavy Key Action
  • Limited Sound Selection
  • No Bluetooth

Not long ago, I did a review on the new Yamaha YDP-164. It turns out to be a pretty solid digital piano. But if you are interested in the YDP-164, you definitely shouldn’t overlook the YDP-S54. It is identical to the 164 but with a contemporary design. For about $100 less, you get a better looking YDP-164. In this Yamaha YDP-S54 review, let’s take a detailed look at this futuristic instrument.

DESIGN


  • The Look

The one difference between the YDP-S54 and the YDP-164 is the look.

While the YDP-164 has a relatively more traditional look of an upright piano, the YDP-S54 has an entirely different approach of design.

The Yamaha YDP-S54 is still considered a console type digital piano. But it is compact and looks contemporary.

There is no lifted cabinet or a standing music rest. The piano has a completely flat surface when not in use.

The key cover is a folding style one just like what you would find on an acoustic upright piano. It does have the soft-close feature that prevents the cover from slamming on the keyboards.

The side panels of the stand are also different from other models. They are solid panels with full width of the side of the instrument.

The flat top and the solid side panels create a compact and modern aura to the piano. It looks really stylish, I must say.

I feel the YDP-S54 would fit in any home decor style. Whether you have a more traditional looking room or an extreme version of minimalism, the YDP-S54 would be a nice addition.   

Two colors of the Yamaha YDP-S54

There are two finishes you can choose for the YDP-S54, the Black Walnut and the White Satin. They both have simulated wooden texture on the surface.

  • Music Rest

Like a traditional upright acoustic piano, the music rest on the YDP-S54 is hidden inside the key cover.

Once raised, you can flip down the panel and rest your sheet music on it.

The benefit of this kind of music rest is that it’s usually very wide and tall, which means you can display several pages at once if you print your sheet music on A4 papers.

It’s also nice to see that Yamaha has added some page holder mechanism on the front end of the music rest. This works well to prevent pages from sliding down the rest.

The music rest on the Yamaha YDP-S54

Overall, I enjoy using this type of music rest much more than the more common stand-alone music rest. When I put down the key cover, the rest is entirely hidden and when I put it into use, there are more than enough place to display as many pages as I want.

  • Control

The controls on the YDP-S54 is identical to the control panel on the YDP-164. It is 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. Four of the seven buttons also has LED indicators.

I find it to be a good selection of most-used functions.

The control panel on the Yamaha YDP-S54

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 customise the Yamaha YDP-S34.

  • Keys

The Yamaha YDP-S54 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.

Keyboard of the Yamaha YDP-S54

Being a digital piano from Yamaha, the keys appear to be well built and evenly spaced.

I’m happy to see that Yamaha has kept the red velvet at the deep end of the keyboard. I think it adds a nice accent and a touch of tradition to this otherwise futuristic instrument.

  • Size & Weight

Being compact is the selling point of the YDP-S54. It is very slim, so much so that you can even place it in the hallway and you will be able to play it comfortably.

The Yamaha YDP-S34 weighs around 40 kg (88 lbs).

With the key cover closed, it has the dimensions of 135(W) x 30(D) x 79(H) cm (53″ x 11″ x 31″).

The key cover opens to an angel so that you can read the sheet music comfortably. This means that you need to leave a few centimeters (about half an inch) between the back end of the piano and the wall.

 

KEY ACTION


The Yamaha YDP-S54 uses the same key action on the YDP-164.

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 GH3 key action on the Yamaha YDP-163

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-S54 is quiet, smooth and expressive.

 

SOUND


Consistent to other models in the Arius line, the Yamaha YDP-S54 features the CFX sound engine.

It samples Yamaha’s flagship 9 foot concert grand piano CFX. The result is a truly pleasant experience to the ear.

The Yamaha flagship CFX concert grand

The CFX sound engine also features Damper resonance, String resonance as well as key-off samples. These are important nuances to create an authentic sound of an acoustic piano.

Just like the YDP-164, the YDP-S54 features two 20 watt speakers. They are significantly more powerful than the two 8 watt on its little brother the YDP-S34. 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.

 

FEATURES


Consistent to the YDP-164 and the YDP-144, the Yamaha YDP-S54 is not packed with features. The sound selection is limited and it doesn’t have Bluetooth for easy connectivity.

Yamaha makes a big selling point of its Smart Pianist app on iOS devices. And yet, to utilize that on the YDP-S54, 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-S54:

  • Sound:
    • Grand pianos × 3
    • Electric pianos × 2
    • Organs × 2
    • Harpsichords
    • Strings
    • Vibraphone
  • Polyphony: 192
  • Key sensitivity:
    • Fixed: turns off key sensitivity
    • Soft
    • Medium (default)
    • Hard
  • Reverb settings (each with 20 levels):
    • Recital Hall
    • Concert Hall
    • Chamber
    • Club
  • Modes:
    • Dual mode: two instrument sound simultaneously
    • Duo mode: split the keyboard to identical halfs
  • Recording:
    • 1 song with 2 tracks
  • 10 Demo songs and 50 piano songs
  • Headphone jack × 2
  • USB to Host port

 

ACCESSORIES


Being a console style digital piano, the Yamaha YDP-S54 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.

The pedal unit is similar to the one on the YDP-S34. They do not respond very well and they feel a little bit clumsy. They are also significantly noisier than the pedal unit on the YDP-164.

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.

Thanks for its powerful speaker system, you don’t need external monitor/speaker to fully enjoy the Yamaha CFX sound engine.

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-S54 is best suited for beginners and intermediate players.

You can also use it as a secondary piano for home practice. The compact size and the contemporary look make it an ideal instrument for that.

 

CONCLUSION


The beautiful YDP-S54 is not exactly cheap. You do pay a premium for the Yamaha brand.

It has great sound engine and a powerful speaker system. The key action is the same as the flagship YDP-184.

Unfortunately, the YDP-S54 lacks many important features, especially if you compare it to other models on the market.


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OTHER OPTIONS

Yamaha YDP-S54 vs. Yamaha YDP-164

These two instruments are identical in many ways. The only major difference is the look.

While the YDP-S54 is compact and futuristic, the YDP-164 is a more traditional looking digital piano.

Being $100 cheaper, the YDP-S54 would be my choice since it would fit and look better in a home setting.

For more details about the Yamaha YDP-164, click here for my full review.


Yamaha YDP-S54 vs. Roland F-140r

The F-140r from Roland is another compact and sleek looking digital piano. It is about $150 cheaper than the YDP-S54.

The key cover of the F-140r has a different mechanism. It slides open with the cover folding into half. When closed, it has the same flat surface just like the S54.

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 F-140r also wins on features. It has Bluetooth, more than 300 voices, a USB to device port and a lot more internal recording capability.

There are two 12 watt speakers on the F-140r compared to the two 20 watt on the YDP-S54.

Overall, the Roland F-140r has the same compact and sleek look, more features but a weaker speaker system.

In my opinion, neither is perfect but the Roland F-140r is definitely a worthy competitor to the S54. Unless you have your mind set on Yamaha, you should not overlook this popular model from Roland.

For more details about the Roland F-140R, click here for my full review.


Yamaha YDP-S54 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 around $150 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 are 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.

To top it off, the Kawai has Bluetooth for easy connectivity with smart devices.

Personally, I would recommend the Kawai KDP 110 for the more authentic key action, extra features and its cheaper price.

The Kawai KDP 110 however has a more traditional look more like the YDP-164.

For more details about the Kawai KDP 110, click here for my full review.


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-S54, please share with us in the comment below.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Wei,

    Thank you. It is really helpful.
    Can you pls give some advice on Yamaha CLP 625 too, comparing to the S54?

    • Hi Jingting,

      I’m glad you find my review helpful. The Yamaha CLP 625 is from a different product line, Yamaha’s premium Clavinova line. It is in many ways supiror than the S54 from the Arius line.

      The key action on the CLP625 is the GH3X, which includes simulated escapement. This is a feature that the GH3 on the S54 does not have.

      They both have the CFX sound engine but the CLP625 has Bösendorfer Imperial sample as well as Binaural recording for headphones. It also has 256 polyphony compare to the 192 on the S54.

      Overall, the CLP625 is much better than the S54. It’s usually about $200 more expensive than the S54 and I think the CLP625 is worth the price.

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