Yamaha YDP 164 Review (2020)

Yamaha has been creating and producing top quality musical instruments and accessories for over 130 years, making a newly released digital piano a big deal in the lives of most musical players.

The YDP-164 is the latest addition to the Yamaha Arius range of digital pianos to be released.

This model arrived just in time as the YDP-163 was becoming outdated and the new arrival is highly ranked by players in comparison to the other models within the range.

This review is packed with useful information about the Yamaha Arius YDP-164, including what it has to offer you, the pros and cons of the model, and how it compares to its competition and older generations.

How Does It Sound? 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that your instrument has to sound good in order for it to be worth your time.

I would even go as far as to say that the sound of the model is the most important deciding factor, which is why you won’t be disappointed with the YDP-164. 

Yamaha has built the YDP-164 around their CFX 9’ concert grand piano, much like all the other models in the Arius range.

The Yamaha CFX is an award-winning and highly desired performance piano with countless raving reviews, implying that the sound quality is unlike any other.

As far as sampling pianos go, the Yamaha CFX is hard to beat, particularly if you’re going to be playing a lot of classical music on it. 

The other digital pianos in the Arius range have a track record of capturing the sound of the CFX perfectly, and the Yamaha YDP-164 is no exception.

With all the other digital pianos in the Arius range delivering beautiful sound, there is no reason to believe that the newest model would perform any differently, giving you the reassurance that the YDP-164 will deliver beautiful sound quality time and time again. 

Digital pianos often have a hard time replicating the low range and the high ranges of classic pianos, making these two big factors to focus on when judging the sound quality of a digital model.

More often than not, digital pianos have a lovely mid-range but the lower end can sound too hollow or muddy, whereas the highest end can feel rather lifeless and dull. 

However, the Yamaha YDP-164 again does not disappoint and you can hear the beautiful organic sound amazingly.

The combination of the CFX engine and GH3 keys create such a natural sound that you’ll have trouble believing that this is a digital model at all. 

The low range sounds thick and full of life without reducing the clarity, meaning you can really hear and appreciate the individual notes.

This makes for excellent runs and impressive anchor notes, which is perfect if you’re wanting to create ambiance or breathtaking bass lines.

The high range is more dazzling and brilliant than the sun, bringing the keyboard and your music to life. The high end cuts through any velocity that gets in its way and rings out natural sounding notes. 

With a lot of digital pianos on the market you’ll find that the low, middle and high ranges all sound separate and inorganic.

With the YDP-164 however, the ranges compliment each other and flow completely naturally, which isn’t an easy feature to find. 

How Does It Feel?

Along with the sound, the feel of the piano is another important feature to look out for, as the playing experience and how it feels underneath your fingers is what’s going to convince you whether to buy that particular model or not. 

The YDP-164 boasts GH3 - a weighted key system designed by Yamaha. This creates a realistic playing experience that makes you feel as though you are sat in front of a classic piano - something you simply cannot get with a keyboard. 

‘G’ is for ‘Graded’, meaning the weight of the keys is graded from light to heavy. Basically the bottom end of the YDP-164 is the heaviest and the keys gradually get lighter as you work your way through the higher notes. 

‘H’ is for ‘Hammer’, referring to the mechanism that mimics the weight of hammers on classic pianos. 

‘3’ represents the three sensor configuration which senses the articulation of each key press as well as its velocity. Imagine you have three velocity levels - soft, medium and hard.

There is still so much expression between the three that needs help being accurately captured, and the three sensor configuration does well to articulate even the softest of nuances.

The GH3 system is an excellent feature of the YDP-164, as well as the synthetic ebony and ivory keys. The synthetic material creates the illusion of playing on a classical grand piano.

This is a very nice touch and goes a long way in mimicking the feel of a traditional model. 

The Smart Pianist App

As well as a range of stellar digital pianos, Yamaha has created an app called Smart Pianist which can be used with compatible models.

This app enables you to control many of your piano’s functions from your smartphone or tablet, such as voices, layer voices, adjust the keyboard split, the transpose and pedal settings. 

You can also change the environment settings with the Smart Pianist app, like the type and amount of reverb, not to mention you can record yourself playing. 

If this wasn’t enough, the app also offers a play along feature so you can play alongside your favourite songs.

The app analyzes any track you choose and generates chords for you to follow, making it much easier to learn new songs, improve your timing and develop your ability to jam with other instruments. 

The app may struggle slightly with songs that are overly complicated, but mostly will produce accurate chord charts. It connects to WiFi or via cable.

Yamaha YDP 164 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Unbeatable piano sound thanks to the mimicking of the CFX, making the YDP-164 sound just like a traditional piano. 
  • The detailed weight of the keys and feel of the model makes for a realistic piano playing experience.
  • You get the choice of two high quality cabinets to beautifully finish your instrument. 

Cons

  • Only 10 sound presets can sometimes limit your music.
  • The Smart Pianist app can sometimes struggle with producing chords for overly complex tracks.

Comparisons Against the Competition

Yamaha YDP-163

There’s no use telling you all the wonders of the YDP-164 without comparing it to some healthy competition, is there? Where better to begin than with the model that the YDP-164 was designed to replace - the YDP-163. 

Many of the differences between these two are cosmetic: the YDP-164 is slightly larger in height, it’s heavier, and has a sliding lid rather than the YDP-163’s folding lid.

At first glance it doesn’t seem like much has been changed, but the few differences are the most important ones.

The shiny, new YDP-164 includes a speaker system that was newly designed to deliver only the crispest, highly defined piano sound in the Arius range. Yamaha resampled the CFX classical piano to improve on the already impressive high quality sound. 

Roland HP601

Moving away from Yamaha, the Roland HP601 boasts a few similar features to the YDP-164, such as the gradient weighted keys which are made from synthetic ebony and ivory. However, the feel isn’t as natural and believable as the YDP-164 model. 

The most noticeable difference between these two digital pianos is that the HP601 offers an outstanding 319 sound presets whereas the Yamaha YDP-164 only offers 10.

This makes the Roland model much more versatile and appealing to players who like a broader spectrum. 

Having said this, the sound from Roland’s superNATURAL engine isn’t as convincing as the authentic and natural sound from the YDP-164, and therefore Yamaha’s model creates a more realistic piano experience.  

Our Final Thoughts

The Yamaha YDP-164 is an amazingly high quality digital piano which offers a perfectly pure piano experience. The quality of the feel and the sound put it above most other models when looking for a digital piano that makes you forget you’re playing a digital piano. 

Yamaha has decided to focus on the piano itself instead of all the bells and whistles that can come along with some other models, such as the Roland HP601, and it does it very well.

This is the reason why many players put the Yamaha YDP-164 above most other models offered at a similar price point. 

The Yamaha Arius YDP-164 is for serious players, but we don’t just mean professionals. This is a perfect model for people who take their craft seriously and like to practice for hours, whether it be beginners or experts. 

If you’re a beginner who’s looking for a piano with the luxurious feel of a classical piano that boasts the feature of volume control, then this model is the one for you. If you're looking for a less expensive model, maybe you should hold off.

Similarly, if you’re an expert in the craft who needs a piano to fit in a limited space, the YDP-164 can cater excellently to you. Whatever your skill level, if you’re committed to the art of piano then you won’t find a better model than the Yamaha YDP-164.