Yamaha’s Arius series features some of the most popular digital pianos among students and professionals. They provide a fantastic blend of quality and affordability. This review looks at the Arius YDP-164, which sits near the high-end of the Arius range.
The Yamaha YDP-164 is a popular digital piano that bridges the gap between affordable and high-end options. It delivers a noticeable upgrade to the feel and sound you’d get from most cheaper pianos. Although priced outside of what I would consider the budget range, the YDP-164 still represents value for money in its class.
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Final verdict on the Yamaha YDP-164
If I look at the YDP-164, forgetting everything else, I can’t say anything except it’s a gorgeous piano. It sounds stunning, and it’s a joy to play.
The price makes it trickier because it’s not a budget piano, which means you have to compare it to some high-end instruments. It would be easy to think: “I’m spending this much; I might as well add a little more and go higher.” To put it simply, it’s outstanding, but it has some outstanding competition, so choose wisely.
What I like
- Stunning CFX concert grand sound.
- Fantastic feel/keyboard.
- Smart Pianist app.
- Impressive speaker system/audio enhancing features.
- Dual headphone jacks.
What I don’t like
- No audio output.
Note: Newer model
The Arius YDP-164 digital piano has been discontinued by Yamaha. The new YDP-165 comes with some slight enhancements. Read the full Yamaha YDP-165 review for more information on the successor.
The YDP-164 comes with Yamaha’s flagship piano voice, the CFX concert grand. As good as the Pure CF piano sounds on some cheaper models are, the CFX is a step up.
With the CFX sound, Yamaha’s resonance enhancing features, and the 20 W amplifiers, the YDP-164 fills the room well. The premium piano voice has a beautifully articulate tone that encourages expressive playing.
It has a max polyphony of 192 notes, which is plenty for just about any player. In total, there are 10 voices, including electric pianos and strings. You can also layer sounds to create new voices.
I really like the electric pianos, too, but if I’m honest, you shouldn’t buy the YDP-164 if you are looking for the versatility of voices. There are far cheaper options that will give you more in that area. You should buy the YDP-164 is your primary concern is the grand piano sound; it’s absolutely stunning.
The YDP-164 comes with a pair of 4.7″ speakers and two 20 W amplifiers. The speakers are the same as you’d find on some of Yamaha’s portable stage pianos. But, the amplifiers are far more powerful.
Powerful enough for playing/rehearsing in groups.
The YDP-164 features Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Action 3 (GH3) keyboard. Yamaha is very good at getting the weight right because of their experience with acoustic pianos. It’s rare to play a Yamaha piano and complain that the weight misses by much; the YDP-164 is no different.
Adding to the realistic weight (which increases from top to bottom), the keys have a synthetic ebony and ivory feel. The synthetic ebony/ivory feel absorbs moisture, preventing fingers from slipping. Perhaps just as importantly, it allows you to imagine sitting at a real CFX concert grand. It feels like a premium instrument.
Instruments like the YDP-164 aren’t usually packed with unnecessary features. Whatever they do come with tends to be things that enhance the realism of the piano experience. So, let’s see what the YDP-164 has to offer.
Smart Pianist app
We’ll start with the Smart Pianist app because it’s probably the flashiest feature. It does lots of very cool things, like creating chord charts for your favorite songs as a play-along tool.
It also allows you to control the core functions of the piano, like selecting a voice from your smart device. The benefit of this method is that you have a nice graphical user interface (GUI) to make things easier.
You can connect your smart device via USB.
Half-damper control is a more standard type of feature for a good digital piano. It gives you a more precise sustain by allowing you to control the amount depending on how far you depress the pedal. It’s far better than a simple on/off type of sustain and brings it closer to feeling like a real piano.
It’s worth noting that the YDP-164 does have a full three pedal setup.
Damper Resonance mimics the internal sound of a grand piano when the dampers are off the strings. It is a simple feature that can be found on many digital pianos, although some do it better than others.
In combination with everything else the YDP-164 offers, it does make it easier to imagine you are playing a real grand piano.
The recorder allows you to record and store one song (two tracks) with an internal memory of 900 KB. It doesn’t give you a vast memory bank to play with, but it’s more about recording ideas or even practice sessions to gauge your progress. In that sense, it’s still a handy feature.
Intelligent Acoustic Control
IAC is something that you’ll find in a lot of Yamaha digital pianos, from the mid to high price ranges. It’s a clever feature that adjusts the EQ of the speaker system according to your volume setting. For example, whether the volume is low or high, your tone should remain rich and well-balanced.
The function’s effectiveness probably varies from one instrument to the next, depending on the speaker system. For the YDP-164, it seems to work very well.
Part of the charm of playing a real piano is that it comes alive with sound. It doesn’t feel like the sound is coming from one small source/speaker.
With the Stereophonic Optimizer, the sound comes through in a more natural way with the kind of resonance you’d expect from an acoustic instrument.
It’s also great when playing in headphones, as it gives the perception that the sound is coming from the piano and not the headphones.
The built-in effects begin and end with four reverb types, which isn’t very much. However, they add enough (especially to the grand piano voices) to be worth a mention.
Duo mode is perfect for beginners and teachers. It creates two identical zones across the keyboard, each with its own middle C. It makes it far easier to teach through demonstration while both are sitting at the piano.
The good thing about the layout is that there are few controls, and they are small, which means the instrument maintains its sleek appearance.
Controls for voice/demo selection, metronome, and recording are to the left of the keyboard. The power button and master volume knob are to the right of the keyboard. Both control sections aren’t much wider than a single white key.
The common complaint with using a single function button to select voices (especially without a screen) is that it’s slow or inaccurate. Although, there aren’t too many voices to cycle through here, and it’s unlikely you’d often need to switch quickly like you would on stage.
The YDP-164 is the ideal home piano in many ways. As well as sounding fantastic, it looks great and would be a welcome addition to most rooms.
It has all the qualities that a professional needs, and it provides beginners with a realistic feeling instrument. Some prefer starting on lighter keys, which is a valid option but getting used to the weight and resistance of hammer action keys early can be beneficial.
Duo mode with the dual headphone jacks make it even better for teaching/learning at home.
It’s not built to be a gigging instrument that you carry from one show to the next. But, in comparison to other digital pianos, the YDP-164 would do fairly well on stage. In the right setting, as a house piano for a smaller venue, open mic night, recital, and so on, it could be perfect.
The build quality is very good. It comes in a few color choices, with the most popular being black walnut. It has a nice sliding lid to keep dust off your keys and comes with a lovely piano stool to match.
The only issue with the build quality is that it sits at an awkward price. A price that makes you compare it with more expensive options that are superior to the YDP-164.
It has USB connectivity, so you can connect your smart device or use the YDP-164 as a controller in your DAW. More importantly, it comes with dual 1/4″ headphone jacks, which are perfect for Duo mode.
It doesn’t have a dedicated audio output, which means you’d have to use a headphone output if you want to connect to an external source.
Compared to other digital pianos
There is no shortage of quality digital pianos, especially when you get around the $2000 mark. So, here are some other models to consider.
Yamaha YDP-164 vs Yamaha CLP-725
Some people say you are better starting near the bottom of the Clavinova range than near the top of the Arius range. I think it varies, model to model, but the CLP-725 might be a touch better for a little extra money.
Yamaha YDP-164 vs Casio AP-470
Celviano pianos are fantastic instruments, and the AP-470 is a little cheaper than the YDP-164. I think the AP-470 looks a bit better, and the YDP-164 sounds a little better, but you should test it for yourself.
Yamaha YPD-164 vs Korg C1 Air
Korg’s C1 Air will suit anyone who wants something a bit cheaper and a bit smaller. It has a very modern, slimline design and still delivers high-quality sound.
Who is the Yamaha Arius YDP-164 best suited for?
The YDP-164 is a bit pricey for first-time players but ideal for serious piano students and professionals.
Note: The YDP-164 is discontinued and is out of stock in most places, so be sure to check out its successor here.