In this Yamaha Arius YDP-165 review, we discuss the latest addition to the popular Arius line-up.
Yamaha’s Arius series of digital pianos has produced some of the best beginners to intermediate pianos.
The YDP-165 is the successor to the YDP-164, so we’ll also discuss the difference between the two and which is the better option for potential buyers.
Our verdict on the Yamaha YDP-165
The YDP-165 has some outstanding qualities that you can hear about through our review. But, the biggest reason we like it so much might be the price.
It’s not cheap, but it’s not high-end prices either, although it delivers a high-end sound.
If you’re shopping in the intermediate price range, the YDP-165 is one of the best options out there.Check availability and price: SweetwaterAmazon
The Arius YDP-165 comes with 10 preset voices, the same as its predecessor (YDP-164). It also shares the same flagship tone with the older model; the CFX concert grand piano.
Although there is no difference, on paper, between the sound of the old and new model, the sound of the YDP-165 has more depth to go with that vibrant, bright tone.
When you see the same sound engine in digital pianos that were released years apart, it’s common for the manufacturer to have made enhancements, either in the processing power or the sample sets, etc.
So, we can’t say the sound is lightyears ahead of the YDP-164, but the YDP-165 took something that was already great and made it more realistic/authentic.
The other onboard sounds include electric piano, organ, vibraphone, and strings.
We have the same opinion across the Arius range; the non-piano sounds are good but not outstanding; they aren’t why you should buy the instrument.
It has a max polyphony of 192-notes, which is more than enough for intermediate players.
The YDP-165 doesn’t seem to have any changes in this area since the older model. It comes with the same pair of 4.7″ speakers with dual 20 W amplifiers.
A total of 40 W is as powerful as most digital pianos, especially in a similar price range. Given that the most common use would be home practice/performance, it packs more than enough punch.
If you want to put it to the test elsewhere, it could be enough for a small room recital or rehearsal, but not typical gigging.
Again, on paper, we have something that looks to be the same as the YDP-164. However, Yamaha’s GH3 keyboard seems to be more refined than before.
It has 88 graded hammer-action keys, meaning they get lighter from bass to treble. The most important aspects of this kind of keyboard are that the heaviest (lowest key) weight is accurate, and the graduation to the lightest is accurate.
Yamaha, in some instruments, goes with heavier than average keys, but the Arius series has always been true to the weight of an acoustic piano.
In this case, the YDP-165 feels great and makes the player feel that they have the full range of dynamics and expression at their fingertips.
It also features synthetic ebony and ivory keytops that look great, feel authentic, and absorb moisture to avoid slipping.
It’s very nice, indeed.
Here are the main features of the Arius YDP-165 digital piano.
Intelligent Acoustic Control
This intelligent feature automatically adjusts the EQ of the speaker system to ensure a crystal clear sound at any volume.
Smart Pianist app
Yamaha’s Smart Pianist app is one of the most interactive. It lets you control piano functions remotely, learn your favorite songs, and provides a wide range of tutorial content.
Demo songs and practice exercises
Not every player will see this area as a reason to buy or not to buy. But, there’s a lot of value for beginners here; YDP-165 raises the bar with the amount of built-in content.
It comes with a massive 353 built-in songs, 50 classic piano songs, and most importantly, 303 practice exercises.
When you use the sustain pedal on an acoustic piano, the amount of sustain is determined by how far you depress the pedal.
The idea is that you get complete control over sustain levels rather than just on or off, which is what you get with some digital pianos.
The YDP-165 supports half-pedaling, which gives you more control over your performance and promotes good habits for acoustic piano playing.
The built-in 2-track recorder isn’t overly impressive; it’s pretty average for the price range.
However, it’s a feature that every learner should use, whether writing/arranging songs or listening to practice sessions.
There are two piano modes (outside of regular piano): Duo mode and Dual mode.
Duo mode splits the keyboard into two identical zones, making it perfect for student/teacher practice.
Dual mode allows you to layer two sounds together, which is always helpful when you want to combine piano and strings for those power ballads.
One of the great things about all Arius pianos is that they are incredibly user-friendly.
They typically don’t have a vast amount of sounds or functions to navigate, so the controls are minimal and positioned neatly at the ends of the keyboard.
The position of the controls maintains a more realistic piano look for the instrument.
Besides ruining the image, a huge amount of knobs, faders, or buttons can make a digital piano seem intimidating or confusing for beginners, especially younger kids.
The YDP-165 is a piano that any user should be able to find their way around easily after a few plays.
If we think of home practice being the main use, the YDP-165 is ideal. But, going beyond practice, the sound is so good that it could be perfect for home recording as players get into making their own music and DAWs.
Arius keyboards always look good, but you often find them to feel more robust as you move up the range.
The YDP-165 comes with a solid, well-constructed stand/cabinet that will look good in your home and take some serious effort to damage significantly.
We are impressed by the feel (resistance) of the pedals too, which is too often overlooked on digital pianos.
The piano comes with a lovely Yamaha-branded stool.
It would have been nice to see some dedicated audio outputs, or at least one, since we are getting beyond the beginner price range.
The YDP-165 doesn’t offer that, but it’s far from the only digital piano at this price without audio outputs in Yamaha’s defense.
It has two headphone outputs, which you can use if you ever need to go into a PA system. They are also perfect for silent practice in Duo mode.
There is MIDI over USB (Type-B).
Compared to other digital pianos
The YDP-165 is a serious investment, so you should consider all of your options before any final decision. Here are a few others that we like.
For more great options, check out our picks for the best digital pianos on the market.
Yamaha YDP-165 vs. Yamaha YDP-103
OK, we could have pointed to the YDP-164 here, a very similar (older) piano that would save you a few hundred dollars.
But, if budget is a concern, look further down; the YDP-103 is excellent value for money.
Yamaha YDP-165 vs. Kawai KDP120
We will never get sick of saying this: Kawai digital pianos sound amazing.
It has a different tone, and some may prefer Yamaha, but very few digital pianos sound as authentic as these Kawai’s.
Yamaha YDP-165 vs. Casio AP-470
Shifting to Casio now, and the flagship Celviano series, we have the AP-470.
It has a few premium touches that the YDP-165 doesn’t have, but it’s slightly more dated.
Who is the Yamaha Arius YDP-165 best suited for?
It suits beginners who are in it for the long term and intermediate players who have outgrown lower-level instruments but are not yet ready to go high-end.
- Outstanding CFX concert grand tone.
- Realistic GH3 keyboard.
- Great-looking cabinet and stool.
- Dual headphone jacks.
- Hundreds of onboard practice lessons.
- Built-in recorder.
- No dedicated audio output.
- Still just 10 voices.