It's not an understatement to say that Yamaha forever changed the game when they created portable pianos. Imagine playing glorious music at fingertips anytime and anywhere around the world.
They continue this lasting legacy with the consistent production of their most popular portable digital pianos.
And for today's review, we will focus on their latest addition: the Yamaha P-125.
Yamaha released the P125 in April 2018 as the successor to the Yamaha P121, and it replaced the Yamaha P115 as the new midrange piano keyboard in their portable series.
While the Yamaha P125 inherited most of its elements from the P115, it does boast some new and improved features that the latter lacked.
So, what does the P125 have in store for us? Let's get into the review!
What is included in the package?
When you purchase the Yamaha P125, you may find the following components and accessories included:
If we're talking about the Yamaha P125's design, it's a 10 out of 10 in our books! Even though the P125 was only slightly redesigned from the P115, the small changes made all the difference.
The new P-125 has a mix of traditional yet modernized design elements while still being compact and lightweight, thus making it a perfect partner for piano playing at home or for outside gigs.
It has a modern design comes from its minimalistic look, but what really shines through are its newly added traditional touch: from its elegant curve on the front panel inspired by the Yamaha CFX Concert Grand and its red felt ribbon accent running across the keys.
Even though the piano itself is sourced from plastic, one can tell that Yamaha didn't hesitate to pick the highest form of quality available.
The only category where there's no room left to wiggle is perhaps the color options as one can only choose between the colors black and white (let's keep our fingers crossed that Yamaha releases a version with an array of colors to choose from).
But I don't think one would mind the color if you think about the possibilities of bringing the piano everywhere - yes folks, the Yamaha P-125 is easily portable and can be transported anywhere!
The whole piano weighs only around 26 lbs and is 52 inches wide, 11.6 inches deep, and around 6.5 inches tall, which is a pretty flexible size, and you can easily place it on a table or a desk.
The piano's controls are just as sleek as the rest of the piano. The 14 buttons have LED indicators built into them, so it's easy to see which function is being used while playing piano.
There are 6 buttons for each sound section and additional buttons as well for a metronome, rhythms, a slider for adjusting the volume gradually, and other features that we will discuss later on.
Now, let's talk about the keyboard. Yamaha didn't disappoint, but they didn't surprise us either. They offer the P125 in two versions, the 73-key version (P121), and the 88-key version.
While other manufacturers are producing new piano keyboard designs every year, Yamaha is sticking to what it does best, and that's applying their well-known Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) action.
This especially applies to the 88-key Yamaha P-125 that uses the graded hammer standard to recreate the feel of a classical non-digital pianos. For starting pianists who aren't fully knowledgeable about the graded hammer action, it works like this:
Graded means the piano keys feel heavier in the lower registers when you press them in comparison to the lighter weight felt in the higher registers.
The P125's keys are extremely touch sensitive, and so the volume or timbre of the sound will depend on the playing and how hard or soft you press the keys.
Yamaha upgraded its speaker system, installing a 4 speaker system that provides a great dynamic range from soft to loud. They included four sensitivity settings to choose from: hard, medium, soft, and fixed.
If you want to recreate the feeling of playing on a traditional piano, it's recommended placing your setting on the "medium" option while the "fixed" option gives you the opportunity to maintain your amount of volume no matter how hard or soft you press the keys.
While the P125 doesn't offer textured materials on their keys compared to other portable pianos with Ivory or Ebony stimulated material, the black keys actually have a matte coating that helps make the playing easier during hot and humid days and helps prevent your fingers from slipping off.
Whether you're an amateur pianist or a world-renowned one, the second most important part to look for in any piano is the sound.
While Yamaha has maintained their classic sound formula in the P125, they managed to add in some new features and options.
The Yamaha P-125 uses the same high-quality Pure CF sound engine from the Yamaha CFIIIS 9' Concert Grand.
The P125 has a 4-layer sampling in comparison with the 3-layer in the P115. This is clearly heard when using the main Concert Grand Piano tone.
The newly added 4th layer helps the sound be more dynamic and smoothens the transitions between samples.
Two other new features include the acoustic piano elements and the stereophonic optimizer. These grand piano elements are damper resonance, string resonance, and key-off simulation, and all of these elements contribute to enrichen the sound and make it more like a real acoustic piano.
Sound samples of Yamaha P-125
The stereophonic optimizer, on the other hand, greatly helps when you're playing the piano by yourself with your headphones on. This feature lets you adjust the spaciousness of the sound, and with the P125's new 4 speaker system, it will truly help the experience be more immersive and realistic like a acoustic piano.
One of the biggest upgrades of the P125's sound system is its 10 additional instrument sounds to the current 14 sounds in the P115. Adding all of that up, there are 24 sounds plus 4 tone variations in the Yamaha P-125.
The next subject up for consideration is the polyphony. Before we get into that, one may wonder, "What is polyphony, and why is that relevant?" For our aspiring pianists, worry not - we'll explain everything in simple terms.
Polyphony is basically the number of notes a digital piano can produce at the same time.
Most digital pianos can play up to 64 or 128-note polyphony. Examples of notes of polyphony can be from sound effects (such as reverb, chorus, etc.), from using the sustain pedal unit, or even from the metronome ticking.
These notes are all added up in the polyphony. This usually happens when you plan on layering several sounds and creating multi-track recordings.
The best example would be when you use the sustain pedal unit; this will play the earliest notes recorded while you're adding new notes into the mix.
In order to do this, your digital piano needs more memory to be able to keep the notes playing. Most digital pianos only have a 128-note polyphony, but the Yamaha P125 takes this to another level by having a 192-note polyphony cap on their portable pianos.
This means you can play up to 192 notes at the same time, which gives you more freedom to add more than the average number of layers when creating your music. You don't need to worry about running out of notes when you're playing on the Yamaha P-125!
Out of all the upgrades Yamaha made to the P125, the 4 speaker system is one of the most amazing features (which is why we've been talking about since the beginning of this review and yes, we love it that much).
What's unique about this upgrade is that you would usually see only two speakers for digital pianos at around this price.
There are two 12 cm full-range speaker system on top of the piano, as well as two 4 cm tweeters underneath to ensure clear frequencies. Combining both these sets of speaker system gives a total of 14W of power that can fill up a room without using other modes of amplification.
The speakers are strategically placed to make sure that the piano sounds flow in and out in both upward and downward directions, creating an all-surrounding and authentic experience for the player.
The Yamaha P125 has additional features to help create an immersive experience for the player.
The first one up is the Table EQ. As we mentioned before, the P125 is easily transported to so you can bring it to your friend's house if you want and place it on his desk.
The Table EQ feature allows you to adjust the settings so that the quality of the music is ensured to its highest quality even if the other speakers are blocked from underneath.
The sound boost is a simple yet important feature that lets you make the sound slightly sharper or louder. It doesn't make a huge difference if you're performing outdoors with other musicians, but if you're practicing in your studio, it can help make your notes sound clearer.
Intelligence Acoustic Control (IAC)
The Intelligence Acoustic Control or IAC is a feature that was present in the P115. This feature's role is simple as it allows you to automatically adjust the frequency response so that high and low notes are still audible when played even at a low volume level.
Another factor a pianist looks for in digital pianos is the range of various modes available. The P125 offers the "whole" keyboard mode, but it also has 3 additional modes:
1. Duet Play
The Duet Play, also referred to as Duo Mode, Partner Mode, or Twin Piano, is a mode that allows the keyboard to split into two identical yet separate sets of pianos with their own (yet identical) octave ranges.
It's basically like two mini pianos together. This is especially handy if you're a beginner and you're taking lessons from a tutor as it lets two people play at the same time.
2. Split Mode
This mode lets you split the keyboard into two parts. Usually, the splitting point is at F#2, but the settings let you adjust it to any key as well as control the volume between parts.
This lets you play one sound with your right hand and another sound with your left hand. The left-hand part is automatically set to any bass tone while the right-hand part can be set to any instrument.
3. Dual Mode
The Dual Mode works similarly with Split Mode, but you can use this mode to layer the two sounds together instead of just playing them separately together, and so when you press a key, you will hear two sounds playing together.
You can adjust the volume balance for the two sounds. However, you can't layer a tone with another tone from the same sound section. Thus, unfortunately, you won't be able to layer a piano with another piano.
The Yamaha P125 comes with its own built-in song library, storing 50 famous pre-set piano pieces from composers such as Beethoven and Bach. Although the P115 has the song library, Yamaha decided to add some new ones in this version for players to enjoy and learn.
Recording and Playback
If you are an aspiring songwriter, the Yamaha P-125 lets you compose, mix, and record your own compositions. For example, if you want to record a song, you can record two independent tracks and then blend them together. The songs are recorded in MIDI format, and you can easily transfer them to your computer.
The only downside to this is that the P125 can only store up to three songs maximum. Although, the Smart Pianist App (which we'll talk more about later in this article) makes up for this as it can let you store songs, and you can load it back and forth between the piano and the device you've got the app installed on.
The P125 still has a few more awesome features up its sleeve. Here are a few others that may come in handy:
A metronome is a tool that helps you keep track of your rhythm and time-keeping skills.
A transpose is a function that allows you to shift the pitch of the keyboard in semitone steps for easier key playing.
3. Tuning Features
The tuning feature is used when you need to match the pitch of another instrument or recording. The P125 lets you change the pitch in 0.2 Hz steps.
When it comes to connectivity, Yamaha played this in the safe lane, installing the same ports the P115 had. And so, this version has two headphone jacks located at the left side of the piano, USB to Host port, Aux Out jacks, and Sustain Pedal jack.
The Aux Out jack is super helpful for gigging musicians as this lets them connect the piano to external amplifiers during performances.
The USB to Host port is practical as it lets you exchange files between your piano and computer, allows you to have more control and freedom for music production (via third-party apps), and even lets you connect your smart devices such as iPads, iPhones, or Android phones.
Yamaha Smart Pianist App
And because it's Yamaha, it didn't stop there when it came to connectivity. The Yamaha P125 is now compatible with the Smart Pianist App, which is available to download on the Android and iOS device.
Why is this app so cool? Here are three reasons that will convince you to buy the P125 just for the app alone!
The Smart Pianist App has an intuitive, user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate through. It acts as a shortcut if you want to access all (and yes, all) of the P125's functions or if you want to select, layer, split, or mix sounds, which makes the experience easier. You can think of it as a remote control for your digital piano!
You don't have to go through the manual all over again if you're searching for a certain song from the built-in library because the app stores all of the song for you. Just go to the app's library and pick the song you want.
In fact, it even lets you select which parts should play, adjust the tempo, and even allows you to see the scores for all the songs.
And by the way, you can also store your own songs in the app and load them back and forth to the piano. Talk about convenience!
The last (but not least) and perhaps the coolest feature in the app, is its ability to pick any song from your phone library, transfer it to the app, and it automatically lets you see the scores or chords for this song so that you can learn it and play along.
Pros vs. Cons
Now that we have discussed the different elements of the Yamaha P125, it's now time to talk about the pros and cons and what we would like to see more in the future.
What are some thoughts for the future?
While there's no denying that the Yamaha P125 is a great digital piano when compared to its predecessors, the P121 and P115, some customers are left wanting more.
We would still like to see Yamaha digital pianos go for a more innovative design and improvement plan for the piano sound itself, although the extra features are pretty damn handy.
It would be nice for the manufacturers to upgrade the Graded Hammer Standard action considering that it's been around for some time now, but it can be a significant improvement for players looking for a more realistic key feel in a portable piano.
This is also considering the fact that there are other products on the market in the same price range with far more realistic key feel available today.
As the new decade begins, we would like to finally see a model of the Yamaha P125 with a Bluetooth connection available.
Let's be honest - it would be a total game changer! Just imagine being able to finally create, record, and transfer songs without the hassle of wires, cables, or adapters. Though, we personally have no doubt that Yamaha will go forward in this direction, and we're very much looking forward to it at this time.
Yamaha P125 Vs Yamaha P121
Okay, so maybe you're thinking of buying the Yamaha P125, but you also think, "Why not get the P121 (the P125's predecessor) instead?" No worries, we're here to help you sort out the dilemma.
When you put the Yamaha P125 and P121 side by side together in comparison, there isn't a huge upfront difference.
Both model have 24 sounds, 192-note polyphony, and 20 rhythms. They both have the same functions or modes, such as the duet play, split mode, and dual mode. Even the IAC, reverb, resonance damping, and chorus effects are present in both the P121 and P125.
However, in the areas where they do have some differences - these differences have big implications as to which one will be the best option for you.
While the Yamaha P121 only has 73 keys, the P125 is offered in an 88-key version with GHS action. The P125 also features adjustable tuning, which is not present in its predecessor.
Plus, the P125 has more of an edge when it comes to connectivity as it has a MIDI input via USB for connecting to iOS devices as well as an available software app for piano control, and an optional 3-pedal unit when compared to P121's singular USB to host.
So, the decision really lies with you and which features you give more priority to. All in all, if you want a more high-tech digital piano and more selections on features, then the Yamaha P125 is probably the go-to choice.
Overall, the Yamaha P125 is a great portable digital piano for its price range. Yamaha stayed within its lane, did what it does best, and added some new and improved features over the predecessors in this lineup.
And even though it seems like the manufacturer has yet to take a leap of faith towards new designs, one can't deny the quality of their products that have ensured their longevity for years.
However, there are a few things to take note of before you purchase this one. The Yamaha P125 model is for you if…
You are a beginner.
If you want to learn a few piano lessons or you're looking for one to gift to your niece or nephew, then the Yamaha P-125 is the perfect digital piano to start with.
It has all the basic necessities that are found in a acoustic piano with perks that can only be achieved from being a digital one.
You are a gigging musician.
If you're just starting out in the music industry and you're looking or a budget-friendly digital pianos, then the Yamaha P-125 is a solid choice.
It has everything a budding musician has and more. It's easily transported so you can bring it with you no matter where your gig is.
You're a pianist looking for a practice piano.
While a digital piano may never be the same as the real acoustic piano one, it's highly unlikely that a pianist would be willing to haul a full acoustic piano wherever he or she goes.
The Yamaha P125's abilities to be compact and lightweight allows it to be the perfect practice instrument for even the most experienced pianists.
However, if you're looking for a digital piano that has many instrument voices and where you can record your own songs with no registry limits - the Yamaha P-125 may not be the best option out of the box.
Overall, the Yamaha P125 is a good choice for a mid-range portable digital piano. It has a great minimalistic design, and with its compact design, it brings and unhindered sound that is natural and immersive.