Yamaha P115 Review (2017) – A Happy Middle Ground?

Yamaha P-115 review

In this article, we’re going to review an intermediate level keyboard of the Japanese brand, the Yamaha P-115.

The piano has replaced the previous P-105 model, which has been one of the leaders on the market of portable digital pianos.

No wonder, Yamaha has made great efforts to improve the instrument to be able to successfully compete with other major brands.

The P-115 is the middle model between the P45 and the P255 in Yamaha’s Portable (P) line.

The piano is equipped with an 88-key fully weighted action keyboard, 14 instrument sound, 14W speaker system, an onboard audio recorder and more.

The P-115 also has new features like Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC), Sound Boost function; the polyphony number has also been increased.

Now let’s dive into the review and take a deep look at the P-115.

Update June 2018 – The Yamaha P-115 has been discontinued. The new P-125 model is now available for purchase.

Read my full review of the P-125 here.

Yamaha P-115 Specs and Features

  • 88-key fully-weighted keyboard with matte black keytops
  • Graded Hammer Standard action
  • Touch Sensitivity (Hard, Medium, Soft, Fixed)
  • Sound: Pure CF Sound Engine
  • 192-note polyphony
  • 14 instrument sounds (3 pianos)
  • 50 preset piano songs + 14 demo songs
  • Modes: Duo, Split, Dual
  • Lesson Function (ability to practice each hand’s part separately)
  • 2-track MIDI recorder
  • Metronome (14 rhythms), Transpose, Fine-tuning
  • Sound Boost, Intelligent Acoustic Control
  • Speakers: 7W + 7W (12cm x 2 + 4cm x 2)
  • Connections: USB to Host, Headphone jacks (2), Line Out, Sustain jack
  • 1,326 x 295 x 163 mm (52.2” x 11.6” x 6.4”)
  • 11.8 kg (26 lbs. 3 oz.)
  • Street Price: $599
  • Warranty: 3-year manufacturer’s warranty

Design

The P-115 is a portable digital piano with a compact design. The size of the piano is very similar to its younger brother, the P-45.

The P-115 is 52.2 inches wide, 11.6 inches deep and 6.4 inches high (without a stand).

The piano can easily fit into a small room without taking up too much floor space. You can even put the keyboard on a desk to connect to a computer, for example.

Of course, it would’ve been much more convenient to have a dedicated stand for the instrument.

The P-115 doesn’t come with any kind of stand, so you’ll have to buy it separately. It can be either an X-type stand or the L85 furniture stand that Yamaha offers for the P115 model (see “Accessories” section).

Yamaha P-115 review

Take a look at the table below to quickly compare the P-115’s size to some other popular digital pianos:

 

The piano is not only compact, but also pretty lightweight (26 lbs.). One person can easily carry the keyboard without any extra help.

The piano is easy to put away when not in use, which is particularly useful if you have little kids or pets.

Moreover, the P-115 is a popular choice for gigs and live shows. It’s easy to move around and there are plenty of keyboard bags that will fit the piano.

Yamaha P-115 review

I like the sleek, simple design of the instrument with a nice red lining on top of the keys.

There are 14 dedicated buttons for recording/playback features, metronome, accompaniment styles and some of the instrument sounds on the P-115.

To access the rest of the functions and settings, you’ll need to press a certain Button + Key combination.

All combinations are listed in the User Manual (Quick Operation Guide).

The P115 has no display, but you can use the special Digital Piano Controller app, which Yamaha has designed for iOS devices (see “Connectivity” section).

The app will allow you control various parameters (voice, mode, reverb, recording/playback, metronome, etc.) with an intuitive, on-screen interface.

The P-115 is available in two colors, black (P-115B) and white (P-115WH).
Yamaha P-115 review

Keyboard

The P115 has 88 fully-weighted keys, which are the same size as you’ll find on an acoustic piano.

The keyboard action is called the Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) and it’s the most affordable hammer-action mechanism of Yamaha for today.

The GHS action is found on pretty much all Yamaha digital pianos under 1000$.

The touch of the GHS is quite heavy and feels close to an acoustic piano, which is great for building proper finger strength and technique needed for playing smoothly on a traditional instrument.

The keys on the P-115 are weighted similar to an acoustic piano, low-end keys are heavier to the touch, and high-end keys are lighter.

The keyboard is touch (velocity) – sensitive, which means the harder you play the keys, the louder the sound. You can also adjust the level of touch sensitivity to better suit your playing style.

There are the 4 preset settings available: Hard, Medium (default), Soft and Fixed.

The “Hard” setting provides the widest dynamic range from the softest pianissimo to the thunderous fortissimo and allows you to play with great expressiveness. You’ll need to strike the keys really hard to produce the loudest sound.

The “Fixed” setting on the other hand will make the keyboard not touch-sensitive at all; the piano will produce the same amount of volume regardless of how hard or soft you play.

To my taste, the default “Medium” setting feels the most natural and close to a real piano.

Yamaha P-115 review

The keys of the P-115 are made of plastic and don’t have synthetic Ivory & Ebony key tops like some of Yamaha’s higher-end action keyboards (GH, GH3).

The white keys are glossy; the black ones have a matte finish on them, which prevents fingers from slipping when they become moist.

Sound

The P115 is equipped with Yamaha’s proprietary Pure CF sound engine. It’s the same engine as used in the flagship of the P-line, the P-255.

The Pure CF sound source includes the sound (001 Grand Piano) of the marvelous Yamaha CFIIIS 9′ Concert Grand recorded at multiple volume levels for each note.

The quality of the P-115’s sound is very convincing.

Yamaha P-115 review

The main Grand Piano tone provides an incredibly realistic and clear piano sound with beautiful resonance and decay.

The bass is also very decent, especially when listening through a good pair of headphones.

Watch the video below for a better understanding of what I’m talking about!

In short, the P115 provides one of the best piano sounds you can get in this price range.

  • In total there are 14 instrument sounds available on the P-115:
  • 3 Grand Pianos (including the CFIIIS 9′ concert grand sound)
  • 3 Electric Pianos
  • 3 Organs (Jazz, Pipe, Rock)
  • Vibraphone
  • Strings
  • Harpsichord
  • Wood Bass, E. Bass

They all sounded pretty authentic to me, though the piano tones were my main focus.

Reverberation is the only sound effect available on the P115. It will make the sound bigger and more expressive, simulating various acoustic environments.

There are 4 types of reverb on the keyboard: Recital Hall, Concert Hall, Chamber, and Club.

The depth of the reverb can also be adjusted from 0 to 20.

Speakers

The onboard speaker system consists of 2 x 12cm + 2 x 4cm speakers (7W + 7W amplifiers). For the size and not the most powerful amplifiers the speakers sound surprisingly good.

Yamaha P-115 review

Two dedicated true-circle speakers convey full, rich low frequencies, and combined with the tweeters offer clear and well-balanced sound.

The onboard speakers are sufficient for casual home usage and small performances in front of your friends or family.

You can always connect the piano to an external amplifier or a PA system to get more powerful sound if you need to.

When connecting the P-115 to external speakers or an amplifer you can choose whether to shut off the onboard speakers or not.

Polyphony

What is Polyphony?

The polyphony is the number of notes a digital piano can produce at the same time.

Most of the contemporary digital pianos are equipped with 64, 128, 192 or 256-note polyphony.

You may wonder how it is possible to have 32, 64, or even 128 notes playing at the same time, if there are only 88 keys and we never play them all together.

First of all, many of today’s digital pianos use stereo samples, which sometimes require two notes for each key played.

Another thing is that the use of the sustain pedal, sound effects (Reverb, Chorus), Dual mode (layering) and even the metronome tick sound take up additional notes of polyphony.

For example, when you depress the sustain pedal, the earliest played notes continue to sound while you’re adding new ones and the piano needs more memory to keep all the notes sounding.

Another example of polyphony consumption is when you’re playing along with a song playback (can also be your own recorded performance) or auto-accompaniment.

In this case, the piano will need polyphony not only for the notes you’re playing but also for a backing track.

When you reach the polyphony cap, the piano starts to drop the earliest played notes to free up memory for the new ones, which in turn affects the sound and its fullness.

You’ll hardly ever need all the 192 or 256 voices of polyphony at a time, but there are cases when you can reach 64 or even 128 note limit, especially if you like to layer several sounds and create multi-track recordings.

So it’s very desirable to have at least 64 notes of polyphony.

The P-115 has 192 notes of polyphony, which has been increased compared to the P-105 by 64 notes.

The 192 notes of polyphony will be sufficient for even advanced players and will allow you to layer multiple sounds and create multi-track recordings without running out of memory.

Features

The P-115 has a nice set of features including 3 different modes, recording capabilites, auto-accompaniment, etc., which will make playing and learning much more fun and enjoyable.

Modes

There are 3 modes available on the P115: Split, Dual and Duo.

The Split mode divides the keyboard into two sections and allows you to play a different instrument sound in each section.

You can also change the split point where the keyboard is divided.

Yamaha P-115 split mode

The Dual mode (Layering) allows you to layer two instrument sounds so that they sound simultaneously across the entire range of the keyboard.

For example, you can layer strings on top of the piano sound and get a beautiful rich combination. You can choose whatever two sounds you like.

The Duo mode allows you to split the keyboard into two halves, each having identical pitch ranges (two middle C’s) so that two players can sit side by side and play the same notes at the same time.

This function  is often used by students for side-by-side practice with their teacher.

For example, a teacher can play some tunes on one side of the keyboard and a student can follow along on the other side playing the exact same notes.

Recording and Playback

Yamaha P-115 recording

The P115 has a 2-track MIDI recorder, which allows you to record your performances on the internal memory in SMF format (MIDI). Such recordings are not the actual sound of the instrument but MIDI data (a sequence of notes, their length, and velocity).

That’s why we can change the instrument sound, tempo, and even add new (or delete original) notes after the recording is done. You can record up to two tracks for each song.

For example, you can record the right-hand part on track one and then the left-hand part on track two while listening to the playback of the track one you’ve already recorded.

Once you’ve recorded two tracks, you can play them back together as a one song or mute either track to practice a particular part of the song.

Music Library (Preset Songs)

Yamaha P-115 review

The built-in music library of the P115 includes 50 preset songs, which you can playback, practice each hand’s part (while the other is playing back), change the tone, tempo, and more.

There are tons of songs in MIDI available on the Internet that you can load into the instrument (via USB) and use them in the same way as preset songs.

Unfortunately, the piano allows you to load only one User Song (SMF format 0 or 1) into the internal memory, which will replace your recorded data (if you have any).

So to prevent data loss, you’d have to transfer your recorded performance to a computer first and then load a MIDI file (User Song) into the instrument.

If later you want  to play back your recording, you can load it back into the piano (replacing your User Song).

Transpose and Fine tuning

Like any digital piano, the P115 doesn’t need to be tuned, though you can still adjust the pitch of the entire keyboard using either Transpose  or Tuning function.

Transpose function will allow you to change the pitch of the entire keyboard in semitone steps. So, for example, you know how to play a song in F major, you can transpose the pitch and play the song in C major without actually learning it in a new key.

Yamaha P-115 review

If you want to match the pitch of the piano to that of other instruments, you can fine tune the pitch in 0.2Hz steps.

Unfortunately the P-115 doesn’t allow you to change the standard “Equal Temperament” to other tuning systems like Pure Major, Pure Minor, Meantone, etc.

Other Functions

Auto-accompaniment (Pianist Styles)

The P115 has an accompaniment function, which automatically plays rhythmic arpeggios based on your left-hand chord progression as you play a melody with your left hand.

The piano offers 10 different Pianist Styles such as Boogie, Swing, Blues, Rag, Arpeggio, Slow Rock, etc.

Metronome

Yamaha P-115 review

The onboard metronome helps keep an accurate rhythm and can be very useful in developing such fundamental skills as time-keeping and a sense of rhythm.

You adjust the time-signature (beat), tempo and volume of the metronome.

Moreover, the P115 allows you to change the conventional click sound of the metronome to one of the 14 built-in rhythms including Swing, Disco, Jazz Waltz, Samba, Latin Pop, etc.

Sound Boost

The P115 has Sound Boost feature, which increases the volume makes even softly played notes clearly audible. The function will help your instrument to cut through an ensemble of instruments when you perform.

Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC)

The function automatically adjusts the sound quality to provide more balanced and clear sound at low volume levels where high and low frequencies aren’t as clearly heard.

In practice, I wouldn’t say the function makes a big difference if any. The P-115 sounds great regardless of whether this function is on or off.

Yamaha P-115 review

Auto Power Off function

Auto power off function prevents unnecessary power consumption by automatically turning the instrument off after approximately 30 minutes of no operation.

The function can be disabled if needed.

Connectivity

Headphone jacks

Unlike its younger brother, the P-45, the headphone jacks of the P-115 are on front of the instrument, which is much more convenient.

There are two ¼” headphone jacks, which means you can plug in two pairs of headphones at the same time and play at any time without bothering anyone else.

Yamaha P-115 connectivity

 

The onboard speakers will automatically shut off when you connect the headphones.

The rest of the ports are on the back of the instrument.

Yamaha P-115 jacks and ports

USB to Host

This port is used for connecting the piano to computers and other devices like tablets and smartphones. To connect the P115 to the computer you’ll need an A to B USB cable, which you can buy on Amazon for less than 5 dollars.

Having connected the piano to the computer you’ll be able to exchange MIDI files (SMF 0 or 1 format) and use the piano as a MIDI controller with music apps, such as GarageBand, Mixcraft, FL Studio, etc.

Depending on the program, you can expand the capabilities of the piano in terms of music recording, editing, learning and more.

To connect the piano to the iPhone/iPad you’ll need the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter in addition to the AB type USB cable that I mentioned above.

Exclusively for the P115, Yamaha offers the Digital Piano controller app, which works with Apple devices and in a way compensates for the absence of a display.

The app allows you to remotely control various parameters of the piano in an intuitive, visual way.

Yamaha P-115 controller app

Aux Out [R + L/L+R]

These 2 x 1/4″ jacks can be used for plugging in an external amplifier or speakers to the piano to get a more powerful and higher-quality sound for a live performance.

Sustain jack

This jack is used for connecting the supplied sustain footswitch to the piano. Sustain pedals with 1/4″ plug from other brands also will work.

Pedal Unit jack

The optional 3-pedal unit Yamaha LP-5A/LP-5AWH plugs into this jack. You’d also need to buy the Yamaha L-85 furniture stand as the pedal unit can only be assembled to that stand.

Accessories

  • The Yamaha P-115 comes with the following accessories:
  • Music Rest
  • Sustain Pedal (Footswitch)
  • AC Power Adapter
  • Owner’s Manual

Stand

Yamaha P-115 standMost likely you’d want a stand for the P-115, if you don’t have one.

The P115 doesn’t come with a stand but some bundles on Amazon include either an X-type stand or the L-85 furniture stand along with other additional accessories.

The Yamaha L-85 wooden stand is designed to be stationary and isn’t supposed to be moved around very often.

It’s still possible to move the P115 around with the L-85 stand, but you may need someone to give help you out.

X-type stands are great in terms of portability, especially if you plan to move the keyboard around a lot.

It’s also a great option if you want to be able to quckly remove the keyboard from the stand and put away when not in use.

 

Sustain Pedal

The P115 comes with the basic Yamaha footswitch (no half-pedal support), which is compact but doesn’t look very nice and somewhat flimsy, which is true for many budget keyboards.

If you decide you need a more substantial and realistic pedal, I recommend taking a look at the M-Audio SP-2  sustain pedal. It features a piano-style design and is very close in feeling to a real piano pedal.

Yamaha also offers the optional LP-5A 3-pedal unit for the P115 for even more realistic playing experience.

The pedal unit can only be assembled to the L85 wooden stand, so you’d need to buy it as well.

Case

Yamaha P-115 gig bag/case

 

As I mentioned the piano is quite portable to take to gigs and other events. A protective case will make it easier to transport the keyboard and will prevent it from damage.

The Yamaha Artiste Series Keyboard Bag will fit the P115 fine, but the bag is wider than the keyboard, so you’ll have some space left inside.

The Gator Slim 88-note protective bag is almost twice as expensive as Yamaha bag. But this bag is more durable and will better fit the P115.

The Kaces 15-KB is another high-quality gig bag, which will perfectly fit the keyboard and cost only 10 dollars more than the Yamaha bag.

Yamaha P-115 gig bag

Headphones

Yamaha P-115 Headphones

Headphones come in very handy when you want to practice in private, focusing solely on your playing and not disturbing others nearby.

Moreover, a good pair of piano headphones will provide clear and detailed sound that onboard speakers cannot offer.

Check out this guide to learn how to choose the best-sounding headphones for your digital piano.

In most cases the headphones included with Amazon bundles are cheap and don’t offer great sound quality and comfort.

Summary

Yamaha P-115 Review Summary

 

 

The Yamaha P-115 just like any digital piano is designed to provide a realistic piano playing experience. And this job the P-115 does very well.

It would be a great instrument not only for beginners but also for intermediate or even advanced players, considering the P-115’s hammer-action keyboard, 192-note polyphony and wonderful piano sound sampled from the Yamaha CFIIIS 9‘ concert grand.

The P115 is also great for learning on. It features all the needed elements to build the proper technique for an easy transition to an acoustic piano.

The compact design of the P115 makes it a great instrument to take to gigs. The piano has AUX Out jacks that make it possible to connect the keyboard to external amplifiers, PA systems, mixers, etc.

The recording feature will allow you to analyze and assess your performances.

At the same time, the P115 is pretty straightforward and, in my opinion, has just the right amount of features including the Split, Dual and Duo modes, 50 preset songs for practice and listening, 10 accompaniment styles, etc.

It’s not the keyboard you’d use for multi-track recording, mixing or, in other words, music production.

As for the rest, the P-115 is a pretty versatile instrument that can be used in a wide variety of settings.

I’d recommend the keyboard for anyone from beginner to an experienced musician who is looking for a portable piano with an authentic sound, feel and all the essential functions but dont’t want to spend a fortune on it.

Alternatives

The Yamaha P115 falls into the 500-700$ price category.

There are 3 strong competitors to the P-115 you may want to consider in this price range:

  • Casio Privia PX-160
  • Roland FP-30
  • Kawai ES110

Yamaha P-115 vs  Casio PX-160 (Full Review)

Yamaha P-115 vs Casio PX-160

Compared to each other, the P-115 and the PX-160 have more similarities than differences.

Both pianos are fairly portable and have very similar size and weight.

The both have fully-weighted keyboards, except that PX-160’s keyboard features 3-sensor action mechanism and synthetic Ivory & Ebony keytops, while Yamaha has 2-sensor mechanism and have conventional glossy keys (the black ones are matted).

To me, Casio’s action feels more realistic and nicer to the touch, but Yamaha’s action is a little less noisy.

When it comes to sound, it’s always hard to tell what instrument sounds better.

The P115 beats the PX-160 in polyphony number (192 vs 128 notes), but the PX-160 has 4 more instrument sounds (18 vs 14).

Both pianos use high-quality multi-layered samples and have pretty decent speaker systems, which results in a beautiful, realistic sound.

I won’t say one piano sounds better than the other, it all comes down to personal taste.

Check out the video below to compare how the instruments sound side by side.

When it comes to features, the Casio PX-160 and the Yamaha P115 are almost identical.

Both pianos offer Duo, Split, Dual (Layer) modes, a 2-track MIDI recorder, built-in Music library with preset songs (P-115 has 50 songs; PX-160 has 60), Transpose and Fine-tuning functions, Auto-power off function.

On top of that the Yamaha P-115 offers 10 accompaniment styles, and its Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC) and Sound Boost functions, which the Casio PX-160 doesn’t provide.

At the same time, the PX-160 allows you to load up to 10 User Songs to its internal memory, while with P-115 you can load only one.

So, overall Yamaha has slightly more features to offer but the difference isn’t that major. Not to forget the Casio PX-160 is 100$ cheaper than the Yamaha P-115.

So you decide whether those extra features are worth the extra money.

Yamaha P-115 vs  Roland FP-30 (Full Review)

Yamaha P-115 vs Roland FP-30The FP-30 is Roland’s most affordable digital piano, yet has a lot to offer for intermediate and even advanced players. The piano offers 35 instrument sounds (the P-115 has only 14), Bluetooth MIDI connectivity and a USB type A port (to plug in Flash drives).

The FP-30 has a 1-track MIDI recorder (the P-115 has a 2-track recorder), but unlike the P-115, the FP-30 allows you to playback MIDI and audio files directly from a USB Flash Drive, which is very convenient.

On the other hand, the Yamaha P115 has 192-note polyphony, while the FP-30 has 128 notes, which is still more than enough in most cases.

I personally like the FP-30 for an excellent PHA-4 Standard keyboard (with Escapement and Ivory Feel), which is one of the best available for under 1000$, and SuperNatural sound modeling technology, which offers incredibly rich and full sound.

Moreover, the piano has more powerful speaker system (22 W vs 14 W in the P-115).

Check the video below to see how the FP-30’s Grand Piano sound compares to that of the P-115:

 

Yamaha P-115 vs  Kawai ES110 (Full Review)

Yamaha P-115 vs Kawai ES-110
Being about 130$ more expensive than the P-115, the newly released Kawai ES110 has already been called one the best digital pianos under 1000$ by many experienced players.

The piano has the new 3-sensor Responsive Hammer Compact action with matte keytops on the black and white keys. Generally, the RHC has a more authentic feel to the keys than Yamaha’s GHS action.

When it comes to sound, the ES110 is also very convincing and provides arguably the most realistic piano sound in its class.

The Harmonic Imaging sound source offers 19 beautiful instrument sounds, including 8 different piano tones.

Kawai digital pianos are known for its very natural, mellow piano sound, which is one of the best I’ve heard so far.

Furthermore, the ES-110 allows you to customize the sound by changing various parameters, such as damper resonance, fall-back noise, damper noise, temperament, etc.

Watch the video below to compare the ES-110’s Grand Piano sound to that of the Roland FP-30 and the Yamaha P-115 .

Like the Yamaha piano, the ES-110 has 192-note polyphony, 14W speakers, Split and Dual mode. Unfortunately, the ES-110 doesn’t a Duo Mode, which for some could be quite a useful function.

Another disadvantage for some might be that instead of the popular nowadays USB type B port, the ES-110 is equipped with good old MIDI In/Out ports, which can actually be used in the same way as the USB port (adapter is needed in both cases).

However, the ES-110 compensates for this disadvantage with its Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, which allows to wirelessly exchange MIDI data with devices that support Bluetooth.

You might also like:

If after reading this review you still have doubts about what instrument to choose, please take a look at the Ultimate Buying Guide as well as some of the popular “Top 5” lists below:

3 Comments

  1. Frédéric Charriere May 5, 2018
    • Lucas Welter Lucas Welter May 5, 2018
  2. Michael Maher July 4, 2018

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