Yamaha’s Clavinova series is widely regarded as some of the best digital pianos ever made. In this review, I’m taking a look at the CLP-735. I find out if it delivers the high-end digital piano experience expected from a Clavinova.
About the author
Final verdict on the Clavinova CLP-735
The Clavinova CLP-735 is an absolutely stunning digital piano. It’s about as close to real as you can get with a digital instrument. I love how it sounds, how it feels, and how immersive the playing experience is. It comes with a serious price tag, but it’s a serious piano.
What I like
- Ultra-realistic sound and feel.
- Immersive playing experience.
- Great looking cabinet.
- Extensive connectivity.
- Powerful speaker system.
- Fortepiano voices.
What I don’t like
- Very expensive.
Yamaha left no stone unturned when it came to the sound of the CLP-735. The flagship sounds come from two iconic concert pianos: the Yamaha CFX and the Bösendorfer Imperial. Pristine examples of these stunning pianos were tuned to perfection before being sampled for the CLP-735.
Both pianos offer a different character: the CFX is powerful and impactful, while the Imperial is brighter and more subtle. The remarkable thing is how natural they both sound at any velocity. It sounds as accurate as your fingers play, rather than the closest available recorded velocity.
There are other piano voices, including a Chopin Piano and Fortepiano voices. There are 38 voices in total, with a max polyphony of 256 notes.
The choice of pianos is a significant factor in how good the CLP-735 sounds. Whether playing classical, jazz, blues, or pop music, it will sound great.
The CLP-735 features two 6.29″ speakers with two 30 W amplifiers. The size and power of the speaker system are more than you’d find on an average digital piano. They produce enough power to mimic the force of an acoustic piano without losing clarity, as some cheaper pianos might.
Yamaha’s GrandTouch-S keybed delivers uncanny realism. The combination of natural wooden keys and ebony/ivory keytops lets you imagine you’re sitting at an acoustic piano.
The immersive quality of the CLP-735 comes primarily from Yamaha’s Real Grand Expression 2 technology. It captures every nuance and every variation in touch with your performance. It allows you to play freely with expression and pull every bit of dynamic range out of the outstanding concert piano voices.
You can also check another article where I put together a list of the most realistic-feeling digital pianos in different price ranges.
There are no gimmicks here; every feature is something that adds to the authenticity and playing experience.
Listening through headphones is not a natural way to hear music. The sound isn’t delivered to your ears as it would be in the room. 3D Binaural Sampling is something that is very popular these days. It’s often used to recreate the acoustic qualities of a specific space in headphones.
In this case, it helps give the impression that the piano is positioned in an acoustic space rather than bombarding your ears with sound.
VRM physical modeling
Virtual Resonance Modeling is another feature that plays a part in the overall sound quality of the piano. Basically, it mimics how sound resonates throughout the body of an acoustic piano. It’s a feature that can be found on much cheaper digital pianos, but not typically with the same attention to detail.
The CLP-735 accounts for multiple natural parameters in real-time, like pedal timing, string vibration, velocity, and which keys are pressed. It’s what gives you the natural variation/inconsistencies that come from playing a real instrument.
Tone escape ports
The CLP-735 uses tone escape ports to disperse the sound from the speakers in a more natural way. It’s these ports that create the immersive playing experience by giving the impression that the sound is resonating/emanating through the body and not coming directly from the speakers.
There are a few different keyboard modes to choose from Dual, Duo, and Split modes. Dual and Duo modes are great for duets and student/teacher practice. Split mode lets you play with a different voice in each hand.
Smart Pianist app
The Smart Pianist app is compatible with many Yamaha digital pianos. It offers a bunch of cool features and educational content.
A 16-track sequencer allows you to record up to 80 minutes of 24-bit/44.1 kHz audio. If you have an important performance or recital coming up, it’s a perfect way to make sure your playing is on point.
The built-in effects are there purely to enhance the realism, not to do anything crazy. They include six reverb types, three chorus types, and seven brilliance types.
There are 21 demo songs, 50 classics, and 303 lesson songs. The lesson songs provide a solid path to progress as a player and improve technique.
The first thing to consider is the layout of the controls. The CLP-735 has limited controls, nicely positioned to the side of the keyboard, maintaining the clean image of the cabinet. It has a small LCD screen that makes navigating sounds and functions more straightforward.
The power and quality of the built-in speaker system make the CLP-735 perfect for home use and suitable for smaller venues. If you’re a performer who wants a digital piano that looks like a real piano, it has the connectivity needed for larger gigs, too.
The CLP-735 comes in multiple finishes, including dark walnut, rosewood, and the newer polished ebony (more expensive).
Everything feels solid, right down to the tension of the three-pedal system. If you were to use the CLP-735 as a gigging piano, it would come with the same vulnerabilities as any other. For example, you wouldn’t want to bump the legs with any real force. But, in typical use, it’s stellar.
It comes with a lovely piano stool, too.
I have more to list here than most digital pianos. There are three USB ports, one type B and two type A. It comes with MIDI In/Out/Thru, which is not typical of most digital pianos. There are two 1/4″ headphone jacks so you can practice/duet in silence.
You also get a single 1/8″ AUX audio input, and more importantly, two 1/4″ audio outputs for when the built-in speakers just won’t do.
Compared to other digital pianos
The Clavinova CLP-735 is one of my picks for the best digital pianos this year. But as much as I love the CLP-735, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t give you some awesome alternatives.
Yamaha CLP-735 vs CLP-725
If you love the CLP series but can’t quite stretch your budget far enough, you could go for the cheaper CLP-725. It has a less powerful speaker system but no drastic downgrades.
Yamaha CLP-735 vs Casio AP-710
It’s a closer call than some might think between these two pianos. I prefer the CLP-735, but the AP-710 pushes it close on sound and feel and even has some features I wish the CLP-735 had.
Yamaha CLP-735 vs Roland HP702
The HP702 is a truly beautiful piano, and I know some players prefer the Roland sound. For me, the CLP-735 wins this one.
Who is the Yamaha Clavinova CLP-735 best suited for?
Given the price, the CLP-735 isn’t for beginners, it’s for serious intermediate/professional players.Buy Yamaha Clavinova CLP-735 at: Sweetwater