“Without music, life would be a mistake”, said Fiedrich Nietzsche.
The best way to channel your creative energy is to play music. It creates a sense of peace and solitude within you and captures your mood and emotion like nothing else.
Like all other musical instruments, playing the piano is an acquired skill, carefully nurtured for years, until it shines bright and creates the magic which makes life worthwhile.
There are plenty of digital pianos these days specifically designed to suit your skill and requirement. They come with features of the grand piano like Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) as well as modern day features like polymorphic settings.
Yamaha, which is currently a leader in the digital piano space, has two series of pianos the P-series and the Arius series which are targeted for the beginners as well as the experts. They have several categories within the series to suit your budget.
Yamaha YDP103 is considered the junior in the Arius series of pianos. It is the most pocket-friendly among the three in the Arius family and is ideal for a serious beginner and an amateur player, who wishes to play the piano in the proper cabinet setting. It lacks some features which experts and professional piano players might want to use, but overall it is a great piano for beginners as well as serious piano players.
The YDP103 release comes after the YDP143 and YDP163 in the Yamaha Arius series. The other two pianos are heavier on the wallet but comes with more features. The cost considerations make the YDP103 an attractive option. In a way, it completes the Arius line.
The sound quality is amazing and it has a magnificent look and feel, the pedal is short and functions really well. Overall, it is a great piano and a preferable one if you want a good sturdy piano but has a budget. It looks great in a study and adds immense aesthetic value to your house.
Without any further ado, let's get into the review.
Embracing simplicity with a touch of style
This is the factor that have resonated throughout the complete Yamaha Arius series. A fully weighted keyboard with 88 keys that accentuate upon the black matte and glossy finish.
YDP-103 comes in Dark Rosewood color which is almost black and has a wood grain finish. It has a superior build quality compared to other digital pianos and is quite sturdy which makes it very easy to play. It is very elegant to look at and has a great aesthetic appeal.
The total weight of the YDP 103 package is 37.5 kilograms (82 pounds), which means that it is substantially heavy. It requires a basic assembly which is easy to complete in an hour if you have a good screwdriver handy. But the setup would take less time if you have someone to help you out with the assembly.
Without the stand, the Yamaha YDP103 dimensions are 135.2x81.5x42.2 centimeters. This is a standard dimension and it is to be thankful for. It is very comfortable to sit and play on.
The body of the YDP 103 keyboard itself is quite sturdy to begin with, focusing on smooth finish, professional feel and damage protection. It has a basic stool and the overall finish is quite good and elegant.
Yamaha YDP 103 has a straightforward button setup. It has only two buttons and a volume adjusting knob. All functions can be assessed and configured while pressing the function button and the corresponding piano key simultaneously. It is important to keep the manual handy for tuning this piano, like all other digital pianos.
These buttons focus on functionalities such as metronome, dual and duo player modes, transpose and tuning functions. if you want a bit more visual presentation to provide you with 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. Unfortunately, this piano does not have record and playback feature or the lesson mode functionality which its costlier cousins have.
The box comes with the following accessories:
Going by the looks alone, the keys accentuate upon the performance, aesthetics and weightiness. Look vise, Yamaha’s YDP103 keys hold true to the standards of a stage performance piano, with the same sized 88-key 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 are talking about the feel here, this piano is perfect. When pressed upon, the keys felt especially heavy, giving it the emotion of an acoustic piano, as they are weighted in a similar fashion.
For practitioners, this sort of keyboard is highly recommended, as the heaviness it accentuates upon is going to develop proper finger strength needed to be able to play a traditional instrument. Therefore, from a practitioner’s perspective, the keys are the best attributes that they can hope for.
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 practice. There is one thing to remember here is that the GHS is more prominent in other high-end editions of the piano.
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. It can be played continuously for several hours.
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. The YDP103 provides customization options of these as well. Through customization, one can set the sensitivity they are comfortable with.
There are many intricate customization's 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.
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 choice to go for.
On the other side of the spectrum, there is a hard option. 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 seeks 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: hard customization is not the most natural sounding. Therefore, only choose this if you are going for an expressive experience, not a natural experience.
While the hard settings are meant for aggressive play, the soft settings are meant to play softer music. The sensitivity is responsive, but the volume range resulting due to that is not that varied. We are jazz fans and we needed to form coherence between aggressiveness and mellowness with more focus to be made on the latter. The soft sensitivity came to our advantage. It becomes genera-specific customization where you don't want to make any mistakes while still enjoying playing.
Speaking of natural experience, this is the choice 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.
Yamaha YDP103 is retrofitted with a couple of good dedicated onboard speakers that are able to fill up the room with its sound. Boasting the dimensions of 2x12cm +2x6cm, they are surprisingly good to listen to. They are not the most powerful speakers, but they are actually able to accentuate upon the internal architectural beauty of the device through their sounds.
The YDP103, much like every other Yamaha piano, is equipped with the AWM stereo sampling technology. The AWM uses the actual sound of the grand acoustic piano recorded at various velocity levels to correlate and recreate a wide range of dynamic sounds from the acoustic instrument.
As we have already stated, the goal of Yamaha YDP103 was to imitate the grand piano sound. 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 practice, 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 compliment I could have given to its effectiveness.
The Yamaha YDP103 is able to produce about 64 different notes at the same time (polyphony). This feature has a better range in the other pianos of the Arius series.
Complementing the default sound, the hardware and the effectiveness are the range of instrument sounds that Yamaha provides. There are 10 different sound available in this instrument and they entail the following:
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.
There are two modes available and they are:
a. Dual Mode: 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.
b. Duo Mode: In this mode, the keyboard can be divided into two equal halves. The pitchy range of both of these halves is identical. For teaching purposes, this particular mode is a boon.
There are 10 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.
a. Fine tuning and transpose: Being a digital keyboard, there is no need for the Yamaha YDP103 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.
b. Power saver: 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.
c. Metronome: if you want to develop some fundamental skills like sensing the rhythm properly, then Yamaha YDP103 is also equipped with an onboard Metronome.
Headphone Jacks: For those of you who want to practice silently, the Yamaha is equipped with two quarter inches headphone jacks. That means two pair of headphones and silent surroundings.
Ports: with this port, 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 the 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 YDP103. 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 for 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.
Yamaha YDP103 is a very definition of an ambition to learn the grand piano. It has amazing sound quality and its emulation of grand piano via the AWM technology 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, like the recording, at its budget, we can’t complain because it accomplishes what it set out to do: An ideal medium to learn the piano.
It lacks some key features like recording and playback and does not have the split mode, so these might be limitations for the expert player or a professional but overall it is a solid choice for beginners and piano enthusiasts.
I hope you liked this review, feel to comment below if you have any questions.
I'm the lead researcher and content manager at PianoNadu. I test various different digital pianos and share our unbiased reviews here. We test them on various different aspects and make sure it passes our quality criteria. During my college years, I was a part of my college band known as DMT. I was the Pianist in our band. My love for playing the piano grew during middle school. Read more about me here