Yamaha is no stranger to the field of digital piano manufacturing. Yamaha is easily one of the most popular brands on their market, thanks in no small part to their long history as world-leading concert grand makers.
In today’s review, we will be discussing the Yamaha YDP-145, the sibling product to the YDP-165. If you were interested in the YDP-165’s feature set, but turned off by its price tag, the YDP-145 might be in the books for you.
Similarly, we will also be covering the YDP-S35, which is a slimmer version of the YDP-145. Both instruments are fundamentally the same, with the only differences being the sleeker design (hence the ‘S’ in the name).
Considering the good things we had to say about the YDP-165/YDP-S55 in our prior review, it should naturally mean that the YDP-145 is a no-brainer, right? Well, it’s not that straightforward, and there are quite a few caveats that might be a deal-breaker for some.
For simplicity, we will use “YDP-145/S35” as an umbrella term that covers both the YDP-145 and the YDP-S35, as they are fundamentally the same instrument. Any differences will be highlighted when relevant.
Yamaha YDP-145 Specs
- 88-key fully weighted keyboard with matte black keytops
- Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) action
- Touch Sensitivity (Hard, Medium, Soft, Fixed)
- Sound: Yamaha CFX
- Simulated Sound Elements: Virtual Resonance (VRM Lite), key off samples
- 192-note polyphony
- 10 instrument sounds (3 pianos)
- 50 preset piano songs + 10 demo songs + 303 lesson songs
- Dual/Layers, Duo Mode
- 2-track MIDI recorder
- Speakers: 8W + 8W (2 x 12cm)
- Connectors: USB to Host, Headphone jacks (2)
- USB Audio Interface function
- 135.7 x 42.2 x 81.5 cm (53.4” x 16.6” x 32”)
- 38.0 kg (83 lbs., 12 oz.)
- Release Date: April 2022
Check the availability and current price of the Yamaha YDP-145 in your region:
The YDP-145’s design is identical to its predecessor, the YDP-144. It uses a standard digital piano design that targets simplicity, and it works well at giving off a sense of familiarity to any pianist.
The YDP-145 is 53.4″ (W) x 32″ (H) x 16.6″ (D), and weighs 83.7 lbs.
In terms of looks, the YDP-145’s console-style exterior nails the aesthetics of a concert grand’s front panel thanks to its wooden chassis.
The smooth wood surface texture and the heavy build really gives off a sense of quality that you just can’t get with portable digital pianos.
If you’re someone who puts a lot of stock on having a familiar playing experience, I’d say the YDP-145 has the edge over the YDP-S35.
The YDP-145 comes in 4 colors (Dark Rosewood, Black, White Ash and White). Certain regions in the world might only stock Black and White.
Unlike the YDP-145, the YDP-S35 focuses instead on achieving a slim profile. This is once again, the same fundamental design of the prior YDP-S34. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The YDP-S35 is 53.2″ (W) x 31.1″ (H) x 11.6″ (D), and weighs 81.5 lbs.
As you can guess from the smaller dimensions and weight, the YDP-S35 is more compact, though not by much. If the YDP-145’s design is analogous to a concert grand, the YDP-S35 instead feels more similar to an upright piano.
To save space, the key cover and music stand are merged into a single part, which helps keep the YDP-S35 feel less cluttered when closed.
The main area where the YDP-S35 is shrunken down is the front-to-back depth dimension. If you’re living in a smaller room where space comes at a premium, the YDP-S35 is easily the more appealing option.
The YDP-S35 comes in 2 colors (Black and White).
While there are undeniably some differences between the YDP-S35 and the YDP-145, they are fundamentally identical under the hood. If you’re torn between choosing either of them, I’d simply pick the one that better matches your preferences.
In terms of build quality, I have zero complaints about either the YDP-145 or the YDP-S35. Both are solid instruments that are beautifully built while still being sturdy.
Let’s now discuss the functional aspect of the design. For simplicity, we will be referring to both the instruments as the YDP-145.
As a console style digital piano, both digital pianos triple-pedal setups with soft, sostenuto and sustain built right into the chassis. The pedals are made of metal, and have some heft behind them, making it a fairly realistic playing experience.
Note that the damper pedal also supports half-pedalling, which simulates the lighter sustain you’d get when the sustain pedal is pushed halfway down, adding to the expressivity of the YDP-145.
With the positive praise out of the way, let’s discuss what I dislike about the YDP-145/S35’s design. I really dislike the minimal control scheme.
The controls themselves are not the issue. The buttons and knobs share the same quality construction I’d expect from a world-leader in piano manufacturing. The issue is the limited quantity of the controls.
Since there aren’t enough buttons to cover all functions, you’ll often find yourself wrangling with button/key combinations, and you’ll be constantly referring to the user manual during the early days of owning the YDP-145/S35.
For example, if you wanted to change the voice from the default CFX Grand to an 80s synth electric piano, you’ll need to hold down the “Piano/Voice” button, and the E1 key (which corresponds to the ‘E. Piano” preset). If you instead wanted to layer the two piano sounds, you’ll need to also hold down the C1 key at the same time.
If you’re doing some more involved modifications, such as transposing or effect tweaking, you’ll need to memorize a ton of complicated combinations, which is quite a hassle.
For what it is worth, there are also a few workarounds for this. Yamaha includes a companion app, which lets you control the YDP-145/S35 with your smart device.
This will not be an issue if you’re a pianist who primarily uses the default CFX concert grand. I’m just the type of keyboardist who loves pushing a digital piano to its limits by using all of the available features.
My nitpicks aside, I definitely consider the YDP-145 and YDP-S35 to be well-designed. The YDP-series has always held up as a good example of build quality and aesthetics, and its design still holds up today.
As we always say, a digital piano’s competence comes in no small part from its keyboard. Even if a digital piano comes with ultra-realistic samples, there will always be a disconnect if the keybed feels off, unresponsive, or unrealistic.
The YDP-145 and the YDP-S35 both come with Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) key action, which is the same action found on their predecessors.
This is Yamaha’s go-to for entry-level keyboards, and can be regarded as a workhorse key action that is decent, but only just.
The GHS keybed is full-sized, fully-weighted, and comes with the titular grading, which means lower registers have a heavier action than the upper octaves. The plastic keytops are smooth, but there’s a nice matte finish on the black keys.
In terms of feel, these keys feel a bit outdated. You can definitely use the GHS key actions without any issues, but it’ll take some getting used to, especially if you’re used to other, more highly regarded modern key actions.
I’ve always described the GHS keys as ‘mushy’. When you press them down, there is a somewhat sluggish return to the initial position.
This doesn’t affect the playing experience much, but there’s enough of a difference that you end up feeling conscious of it.
On real acoustic pianos, there’s the feeling of ‘kickback’ when the hammers strike the keys, and the GHS keys just don’t have that. The GHS keys also have a shorter pivot length, which makes them harder to control when you play into the keys.
These are minor nitpicks that a beginner certainly won’t notice, and the GHS keys are certainly an upgrade over the synth-style, unweighted keys of the cheapest beginner keyboards. However, it’s still worth noting that there are better actions out there.
It’s a bit unfortunate that we did our review of the YDP-145/S35 right after we checked out its sibling product, the YDP-165. One of our favorite parts of the YDP-165 was its GH3 key action, which, while heavy, definitely nailed the sense of authenticity. I just can’t help but feel that the GHS keys are a downgrade.
Apart from a digital piano’s keys, the way it sounds is equally important. Even if a digital piano comes equipped with fully-wooden keys ripped straight from a Steinway concert grand, it doesn’t matter if the sounds don’t share the same level of quality.
Fortunately, the YDP-145 does not disappoint. Yamaha isn’t one of the world leading concert grand designers for nothing after all, and the YDP-145 comes packing heat with its CFX sound engine.
CFX Grand Piano Presets
The CFX engine’s namesake comes from Yamaha’s CFX concert grand, specifically the 9’ CFX, which is well known for its clean and flexible sound.
The original 9’ CFX instrument has made it into recital halls and recording studios across the globe, and it’s definitely no slouch in the sound department.
The default CFX grand preset, which was previously only available on Yamaha’s high-end Clavinova digital pianos, manages to capture the balanced bass and silky smooth highs of the original, nailing the original’s ability to fit into any genre, be it classical or contemporary.
The included samples just feel responsive thanks to detailed recordings and liberal use of multisamples. This means that you’re triggering a different sample as you play with different dynamic intensities.
In terms of sonic profile, I’d describe the CFX grand preset as being quite ‘airy’. Unlike the instruments from competing products, Yamaha’s instruments tend to use natural recordings with a sense of space courtesy of some room mics. It sounds great, even if you disengage the reverb effects.
The CFX engine also got some upgrades over the original YDP-144/S34. The big difference is the new Virtual Resonance Modeling Lite (VRM Lite) modelling component, which is again ported down from the Clavinovas.
The goal of resonance modelling is to capture the sympathetic resonance that happens in a real piano, whereby a vibrating string will cause other strings to vibrate even without being struck by a hammer. This adds a sense of richness to your playing, and definitely sounds appealing.
The new simulated resonance effect is subtle in practice, but I did notice it while comparing the new YDP-145 against the original YDP-144.
The piano sounds here are just really good, and it’s easily the best part about the YDP-145/S35.
If I had to level a single complaint against the CFX sound engine, it would be the lack of tweakability. Unlike other sound engines like Roland’s SuperNATURAL, you don’t get to tweak modelling parameters like the lid height and so on.
However, the sounds are good right out of the box, and that’s really the most important thing for a digital piano.
For electric pianos, you get a sampled Yamaha DX7-style FM synth and a clean, chorused, Fender-Rhodes EP. These both sound excellent, and can serve you well if you want to practice electric key-led songs.
The organs are also decent, with the jazz organ feeling particularly rich thanks to its simulated rotary speaker. It’s just a shame that you can’t tweak the rotary speed.
There’s also an orchestral string ensemble. In isolation, these strings are a bit overwhelming, and there’s little to no dynamics that you can control.
I did enjoy using these strings a layer in Dual mode though, as they’re capable of adding a good bit of richness to pop ballads.
Finally, there are the harpsichord and vibraphone presets. These are primarily here for era-specific pieces, and they’re solid if you need them.
I do want to note the lack of any bass sounds. Certain keyboardists might want an electric bass sound to practice left-hand splits, which is something you can’t do on the YDP-145. Though, the absence of bass sounds might also be due to the omission of a Split mode in general.
The YDP-145 includes 4 main effects:
- Intelligent Acoustic Control
- Volume Limiter
- Stereophonic Optimizer
The Reverb unit allows users to add a natural sounding airiness by placing the piano samples in a simulated space. There are 4 different algorithms on the YDP-145:
- Recital Hall
- Concert Hall
- Chamber Reverb
- Club Reverb
All 4 of the reverb algorithms described above sound nice, adding a noticeable, but not overbearing tail decay to each sound, with some damping of the higher frequencies to avoid the shimmer effect you’d get from poorly tuned reverbs.
Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC) claims to dynamically adjust the sound quality based on the overall volume of the instrument.
This description seems to indicate that it is a compressor which levels the volume of your playing across the full octave range.
Personally, I didn’t touch this setting during my playtest, as I struggled to hear any differences when this effect was turned on and off. Purists might want to turn this off.
The Volume Limiter is a new feature on the YDP-145, and not included in prior units. This is a very simple safety feature that might be ideal if you’re purchasing the YDP-145 for children.
The effect simply limits the maximum output volume to a predefined threshold, which will protect from ear damage due to overly loud amplitudes.
Finally, there’s the Stereophonic Optimizer. This effect is only active when listening through headphones, and simulates the natural feeling of playing a real concert grand while seated in the usual position on the bench, rather than being close to the strings (which is the close-mic position used for some of the samples).
The YDP-145/S35 comes with 192 notes of polyphony, which is perfectly sufficient for most, if not all, songs regardless of genre.
The YDP-145/S35 include stereo, bottom-firing 8W speakers, the same setup inherited from the prior YDP-144/S34.
As we noted in our prior YDP-144 review, these speakers might seem weak based on the paper specs, but they are more than serviceable.
8W speakers might seem like a downgrade when compared to the YDP-165 20W speakers, but these are not bad speakers by any means.
The YDP-165 obviously wins in the richness of the speaker output, the YDP-145 still delivers a similar level of clarity without falling into muddiness.
The YDP-145’s speakers are also capable of being pushed to fairly loud volumes with minimal distortion (though the bass does start to break up when pushed). You could feasibly use this in a small venue without an external amplifier/speaker combo.
The YDP-145/S35’s feature set is essentially identical to that of the YDP-144/S34.
The YDP-145 comes with 2 modes, Dual and Duo mode.
Dual mode is what we normally refer to as ‘Layer mode’, which allows users to layer two sounds such that they are triggered simultaneously on each keypress.
My go-to strategy for testing this involves layering the default piano preset with strings. With the orchestral ensemble set to a low volume, this creates an epic, rich soundscape that works really well for vocal-led pieces.
Duo mode splits the keyboard into two halves, each sharing the same octave range. This is primarily designed for teachers who teach one-on-one lessons, where they can sit alongside their students for convenient demonstrations.
Seasoned digital piano users might notice the lack of Split mode, which allows two presets to be assigned to different halves of the same keyboard. This is quite an unfortunate omission, as certain keyboardists do want the option to practice bass/key splits.
The YDP-145 has a few modifiable functions despite the limited control scheme. Some essentials are:
- TRANSPOSING. This allows you to change the played key. Transpositions can be changed from -6 to +6 semitones in increments of 1 semitone.
- METRONOME. Pressing the metronome button activates the in-built metronome. Tempo, time signature and volume of metronome sound can be changed.
- MASTER TUNING. The central tuning of the keyboard can be changed in steps of 0.2 Hz. The default pitch is the standard 440.0Hz for Middle A.
Do note that the YDP-145 lacks temperament options, only supporting the default equal temperament system.
Song Recording and Playback
The YDP-145 includes 10 voice-specific demo songs and 50 classical pieces. There are also 303 lesson songs as well.
To record your own songs, there is a dedicated record button with basic recording facilities. Each song recording can consist of two parts, which allows you to record left- and right-hand parts separately.
The recorder uses MIDI rather than audio, which means sound settings can be changed after the initial recording, with changes reflected immediately. This is nice, as it supports experimentation through editing in post.
Unfortunately, the YDP-145 can only save up to 1 song at a time. To store more songs, you’ll need to use an external storage system.
Thankfully, there are other ways to extend the recording functionality of the YDP-145, which is facilitated through the connectivity options.
The YDP-145 comes with a minimal set of connectivity options, but the essentials are there for those who need them.
First, there are two 1/2” stereo headphone jacks, though these can also be used as audio outputs for external amplifiers when the speakers aren’t enough.
Just note that you might need converters if you’re using headphones with the standard 1/8” mini jacks.
The USB to Host type B port is located below the keyboard, and allows the YDP-145 to communicate with a PC or smart device. This allows for MIDI recording straight into dedicated software, which is much more convenient than using the limited built-in recorder. The also has USB Audio capability!
Finally, there is the pedal port, which is where the soft/sostenuto/damper pedal setup gets connected.
USB Audio Interface
As noted, the YDP-145 includes USB audio functionality. This means you can record the excellent CFX samples directly through a USB connection, rather than needing to deal with the hassle of an external audio interface.
All you need to do is connect the YDP-145/S35 to your PC. Once the necessary drivers were installed, my digital audio workstation recognized the YDP-145, and I could immediately start recording the audio outs.
If you’re someone who does some recording from time to time, this is an awesome feature, and I sincerely hope that more manufacturers start including it in their products.
Smart Pianist Companion App
All products in Yamaha’s Arius YDP lineup support the Smart Pianist companion app on iOS and Android.
The app itself allows you to tweak the YDP-145’s settings through your smart device’s touchscreen interface. For people like me, this is a definite improvement over the unmarked button/key combinations on the default machine.
However, the YDP-145/S35 does not support Bluetooth connectivity (the UD-BT01 wireless Bluetooth adapter does not support the Smart Pianist app).
If you want to use the app, you’ll need to connect your smart device to the USB to Host port, which is located underneath the keybed, and is quite difficult to get to.
You’ll also receive the screws and parts required for assembling the YDP-145/S35. This is everything you’ll need to start playing.
Here are a few additional recommendations worth looking into..
For late night practice sessions, you’ll need a pair of headphones. The YDP-145/S35’s headphone jacks are clean, and should work well with any pair of 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 headphones will provide a clearer and more detailed sound compared to the onboard speakers.
Check out this guide to learn how to choose the best-sounding headphones for your keyboard.
Unlike the YDP-165 we previously reviewed, the YDP-145 and the YDP-S35 come with a few notable caveats that make it harder to recommend.
The GHS keys are the biggest flag keeping the YDP-145 from an easy high score. These keys just aren’t as good as similar key actions at the same price point.
While it’s certainly possible to adapt to the key actions over time, it is still a mark against the YDP-145.
I do want to make clear that both the YDP-145 and YDP-S35 are by no means bad. They sound great, are extremely well-built, and play well enough that they are absolutely worth considering. The CFX engine alone is well-worth the asking price.
While the YDP-165 and YDP-S55 are undoubtedly the superior instruments, they are more expensive, and not by an insignificant amount. If you’re torn between the YDP-165 and the YDP-145, I’d recommend testing them out in person.
If you’re not as bothered by the keys and the control scheme, the YDP-145 is an excellent instrument that is well-worth the purchase.
Before ending the review, let’s evaluate the YDP-145/S35 against its 2019 predecessor, the YDP-144/S34.
While the YDP-145/S35’s piano sounds are undeniably better, it’s not by a significant amount. I’d still wholeheartedly recommend the original YDP-144/S34 if you can find them at a good price.
Check the availability and current price of the Yamaha YDP-145 in your region:
Yamaha YDP-145 VS Roland RP701 & F701 (Full Review)
If the GHS keybed just doesn’t do it for you, and if you share my (somewhat irrational) dislike of button/key control schemes, you might want to check out Roland’s RP701 and F701, which are Roland’s contemporaries to Yamaha’s furniture-style Arius lineup.
While I generally consider the RP701 and the F701 to be competitors to the Yamaha YDP-165 and the YDP-S55 due to their higher price tag, they are still worthwhile alternatives to consider if you’re interested in the YDP-145’s feature set.
Roland’s RP701/F701 features Roland’s PHA-4 Standard key action, which is featured on most of Roland’s low- to mid-range digital pianos. These keys are generally quite well-liked, and we’d consider them to be upgrades to the YDP-145/S35’s GHS keybed.
The RP701/F701 also includes Roland’s SuperNATURAL sound engine, which combines conventional sampling with some nifty software modeling to produce its piano sounds. While some might describe the piano tones as ‘sterile’ due to their clean, close-mic’d sound, I’d still consider them perfect for practice and general use.
While I’d give the YDP-145/S35 the lead in terms of the piano sound, the RP701/F701 also includes a whopping 324 instrument sounds, which makes it way more versatile than the comparatively miniscule selection of 10 sounds on the YDP-145/S35.
If you’re someone who enjoys the more natural sound of the YDP-145’s CFX concert grand, then the Roland RP701/F701 might not be for you. However, if you’re a proponent of versatility and flexibility, I’d highly recommend testing out the RP701 and the F701.
Yamaha YDP-145 VS Casio Privia PX-870 (Full Review)
Casio’s PX-870 is part of Casio’s Privia lineup, which is the brand’s contemporary to Yamaha’s Arius lineup, and actually has a cheaper MSRP than the YDP-145, making it quite the appealing option.
One big difference here is Casio’s Tri-sensor Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II key action. It’s name is a mouthful, but the key action itself is pretty good. In my opinion, these surpass Yamaha’s GHS keys in terms of realism and playability.
While I’d still give Roland’s PHA-4 Standard the edge in terms of feel, the PX-870 is one of the only digital pianos at this price point that features synthetic ebony and ivory keytops. It’s a minor detail, but the textured keys really add to the sense that you’re getting a premium product.
Apart from that, the PX-870 also includes 19 sounds (bass sounds included!) to the YDP-145/S35’s 10. The piano sounds here are provided courtesy of Casio’s AiR Sound Source, and provides a natural sound that is similar to the CFX grand on the YDP-145/S35.
I do still prefer the CFX grand sound on the YDP-145/S35 though. When playing through busier pieces, Yamaha’s VRM Lite just adds an extra bit of richness that makes it sound more appealing. I found the PX-870’s outputs to be a bit muddier.
If you’re looking for an alternative that provides a similar sound profile to the YDP-145’s piano sound, I’d definitely recommend testing out Casio’s PX-870. While it might not be as versatile as Roland’s RP701, it is cheaper, and you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck.