In retrospect, there are two types of piano players: one that seek to rehearse and engage with the art, and the other that seek to mystify the world with the same. When the latter part is your goal, but you still want to practice in the most authentic way, Yamaha Pianos have always come up with solutions to cater both needs.
That being said, up until the release of the P-115, those who want to practice on digital pianos got showered with extra features that only a performer would care for. As a direct consequence of that, the price tag escalated to unnecessary levels.
This made some practitioners and even professionals to shy away from the best of what Yamaha has to offer. However, this is the matter that has now been fully understood with the release of Yamaha P115. This keyboard seems to integrate the mantra of “practice the instrument, not the hardware”- a statement that speaks volumes about its “practice” motto without the need of trudging through the complex road of its controls.
Now, let us dive deep into this review and find out if the aforementioned keyboard really embraces the promised approach of “practice without complexity” or it does even more than this.
What's in the box?
In the package, you get the following:
This factor that have resonated throughout the complete Yamaha P-series. It is therefore, a good and almost an expected feeling to bear when we found out that the same goes for Yamaha P115. A fully weighted keyboard with 88 keys that accentuate upon the black matte and glossy finish, good aesthetics are just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to this instrument.
The body of the keyboard itself is quite sturdy to begin with, focusing on smooth finish, professional feel and damage protection. Yamaha is so confident about this “Rugged and elegant” quality that they deemed it to be unnecessary to provide the users with a kit bag along with the product.
While it can be argued that the lack of need of the kit bag would work in the user’s favor price vise, the lack of the kit bag might be a nuisance for the same user. However, this does not imply that you cannot use the standard kit bags for the instrument, for the KACES PKB18 meets the requirement of this instrument to the tee.
As for the color choices, there are two: black (P-115B) and white (P-115WH). Although white might give you an air of an enthusiastic professional, we would say you should go for the black one if maintaining the outward aesthetics of the piano is one of your major points of concerns.
P115 has 14 dedicated buttons. These buttons focus on functionalities such as metronome, playback features, some instrument sounds and some support styles. However, there is no LCD. if you want a bit more visual presentation to provide you better control of the arrangements, you would be at a disadvantage.
That being said, this is something that is easily quelled through the App called Digital Controller. It is an iPhone exclusive app (go to connectivity) and its functionality will be discussed further.
Going by the looks alone, the keys accentuate upon the performance, aesthetics and weightiness. Look vise, Yamaha P115’s keys hold true to the standards of a stage performance piano, with the same sized 88-key fully weighted keyboard setup giving you the look of a performer.
Now, with the implementation of the starter edition of the GHS (Graded hammer Standard), the keys goal is to mimic the same sound and feel of the Yamaha’s high end, CF-IIIs nine-foot concert grand piano. Well, as long as we talking about the feel here, it got it down. When pressed upon, the keys felt especially heavy, giving it the emotion of an acoustic piano, as they are weighted in a similar fashion.
Now, the graded hammer action is heaviest on the left-most keys and lightest on the rightmost keys (as is the tradition). There is a continuous decline in the weightedness in the keys as you move from left to right. This action is enough to evolve the most novice of practitioners into veteran players through constant learning.
There is one thing to remember here is that the GHS is more prominent in other high-end editions of the piano, so they might have the same impact as high-end models.
How would the keyboard feel after playing for long hours? Well, due to budgetary reasons, the keys are made up of plastic. However, that does not mean that they lack in quality, for the keys have a glossy finish and the black keys have a matte finish. These do more than just being aesthetically pleasing. The finishes provided on the keys make them unable to become slippery due to the moisture after long hours of sessions.
Therefore, from a purely functional perspective, you won’t feel that you are missing out on the ebony and ivory keys that resonate across most high-end models.
Keys are sensitive to the impact of the touch. What this means is the lighter you press, the lower the sound shall be and vice versa. Yamaha P115 provides customization options of these as well. Through customization, one can set the sensitivity they are comfortable with.
There are many intricate customizations that can be done through the app. However, the preset customization options are not something to be ignored, for we found them out to be very comfortable on our fingers. These options are:
For the practitioner, the initial stages of the piano lessons would not be about how much pressure is to be put on the keys, but the arrangement of keys as a whole. Therefore, for them, there is a fixed option. Selecting this variant removes the sensitivity altogether. What this basically means is regardless of how much pressure you put on the keys, there would be no change in the volume. As the novices do not often indulge with the mellow plays or the hard plays, this is definitely the option to go for.
On the other side of the spectrum, there is a hard mode. This particular option focuses upon producing the widest range of volumes even with the tiniest of pressure variations. Well suited for aggressive playstyle, this impact customization is meant for the veteran specialist who seek to go from the soft chirps to the thunderous roars. Courtesy of the GHS and the sturdiness of the keyboard, the aggressive pianist won’t even have to worry about any damage.
For the expressionist in you, this is the custom option that you should go for. However, you should know one thing: the hard customization is not the most relaistic sounding. Therefore, only choose this mode if you are going for an expressive experience, not a natural experience.
Speaking of natural experience, this is the option to go for. This provides the most natural sounds and realistically mimics what a traditional piano would sound like.
There is one thing to note here, and it is also given in the manual. These customizations can only be made to the piano voice. Therefore, it won’t be applicable for Pipe Organ, Jazz Organ, Rock Organ or harpsichord voices (check the sound section).
Yamaha P115, much like every other Yamaha piano, is equipped with the Pure CF Engine. Sound engines can be a bit difficult to express. However, this is the same one that is also used in the P Series flagship, the Yamaha P-255. Pure CF sampling method was used here to sample the grand piano sound of the CFIIIs 9-foot Concert Grand.
The same sound was integrated into the Yamaha P115 through recording the sound at multiple volumes for each note. Now, for us, these results actually work. They have used the engine to its fullest and were able to convince even our stringent tests.
As we have already stated, the goal of Yamaha 115 was to somehow imitate the CFIIIs sound, and from all the evidence that we have gathered, it has gotten successful at it. The default tone of this instrument is the Grand Piano tone. When tested, this tone was able to provide a realistic, clear and coherent piano sound.
The acoustic resonance was beautiful to say the least. If you want to perform silent, then you would be happy to note that the bass is also pretty decent. It is not, by any length a groundbreaking bass but you can actually feel the sound through your body. This is the best complement I could have given to its effectiveness.
The P115 is able to produce about 192 different notes at the same time (polyphony). When compared to P 105, this is definitely an upgrade considering only 128 notes were available in the latter.
Complementing the default sound, the hardware and the effectiveness are the range of instrument sounds that Yamaha provides.
There are 14 different sound available in this P-115 instrument:
Additionally, there are 4 different types of reverb and all 4 of them can be adjusted from 0 to 20. However, it should also be known that Reverbation is pretty much the only sound effect available in the device.
Listen to the P115 Sound Quality below!
Yamaha focused to provide the best possible experience for the users. P115 has plenty of good features like different modes, lesson function, etc. Let's look at the features.
There are three modes available and they are:
With this mode, you don’t need to limit yourself with a single sound on a note. You can layer the sounds of two instruments in a simultaneous fashion in this mode throughout the keyboard.
If dual mode can cause incoherence for you, then the split mode allows it to be separated between two sections with the keys in each section playing a different sort of instrument. Now, depending upon the instrument the sound is based on, you can decide the ratio of this split.
In this mode, the keyboard can be divided into two equal halves. The pitchy range of both of these halves are identical. For teaching purposes, this particular mode is a boon.
Playback and Recording
The instrument can record your performance in a SMF format (MIDI). Once recorded, you can opt to make some modifications with the record right on the keyboard. That being said, only two tracks are allowed in a single song.
There are 50 preset songs available. All of them are playable and you can also make modifications to them to your liking. You can use MIDI tracks downloaded from the internet as well. That being said, as far as the User song goes, there is only one allowed in the internal memory. Therefore, you should always be ready to transfer your records onto a system.
Fine Tuning and Transpose
Being a digital keyboard, there is no need for the Yamaha P115 to be tuned. One only needs to adjust the pitch using transpose and fine-tuning functions. To alter the pitch in semitones, you can use transpose, the fine tuning allows you to change the pitch in steps of 0.2 hertz.
This feature in Yamaha P115 allows the user to be able to hear even the softer notes. This can in turn help you in producing better music.
Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC)
If the volume of the instrument is turned down, IAC or Intelligent Acoustic Control adjusts the sound quality to make it clear and balanced.
If the instrument is not in use for more than 30 minutes, then it turns off. It is an optional feature but should be considered for those among you worried about power.
If you want to develop some fundamental skills like sensing the rhythm properly, then Yamaha P115 is also equipped with an onboard Metronome. This utility sports 14 built in rhythms that range from Disco to Jazz.
For those of you who want to reharse silently, the Yamaha is equipped with two quarter inches headphone jacks. That means two pair of headphones and silent surroundings.
P115 comes with many ports. You can connect your keyboard with your system. You would need an A to B USB cable to connect your PC with the instrument. With the connection established, you can use it to exchange MIDI files or use the instrument as a MIDI controller. For the Apple devices like iPhone and iPad, you are going to need a lightning to USB camera adapter.
Digital Controller App
The Digital Controller App is an iPhone exclusive app that lets you perform more diverse controls on Yamaha 115. Once connected to the app, you are going to able to be able to make some of the more intrinsic modifications to the keyboard. Furthermore, the lack of screen is compensated using this app.
Additional connections include sustain jack, a paddle jack and for amplifiers /p speakers an Aux in and out jack. Throughout our testing, none of these connections were damaged and they all worked perfectly.
Pros of Yamaha P115
Cons of Yamaha P115
Yamaha P115 is a very definition of a midrange ambition. It has amazing sound quality and its emulation of CFIIIs grand piano is effective and amazing.
Furthermore, its additional utilities are not something to feign at. While it would have been nice to have some additional features, at its budget, we can’t complain because it accomplishes what it set out to do: Being a midrange model that even professionals can depend upon.
Even if you're a beginner, P115 is a great option as it comes with lot of advance features which will make your experience much more enjoyable.