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Yamaha P-515 review: Great piano with some minor flaws

This review looks at the flagship model in Yamaha’s popular P series of digital pianos, the Yamaha P-515. Thanks to the combination of quality and value for money, the P series has long been a reliable and trusted choice for many students and performers.

In the P-515, we have an instrument that steps into a higher price range with stiffer competition. I will discuss what it has to offer and where it sits in its class.

Yamaha P-515 digital piano review
Yamaha P-515 digital piano | Image: Higher Hz

Final verdict on the Yamaha P-515 4.5

I’m a longtime fan of Yamaha’s P series pianos, and I like this one too. It’s a clear step up from the P-125, yet I have given the P-515 a lower score because it’s much more expensive.

The Yamaha P-515 is a lovely digital piano, and buyers should have very few complaints. However, being well over $1000 means it’s competing with some absolutely epic instruments, and it’s not at the top of its class.

What I like

  • CFX sound engine.
  • Audio/MIDI recording.
  • Bluetooth.
  • Internal effects.
  • XG compatibility.

What I don’t like

  • Keys are too heavy.
  • Lack of finesse on small details.
See current price at: SweetwaterAmazon

Why you should trust me

James Nugent, writer at Higher Hz

As a pianist and composer with over 20 years of experience in the music industry, I’ve played and owned many keyboards and digital pianos.

Over the years, I’ve had several phases in my career when I’ve preferred one manufacturer above all others, and Yamaha is a name that has often topped my list.

My history with Yamaha began with 1990s PSR beginner keyboards and continued with several Yamaha Motifs in the 2000s.

Since my Motif days, I’ve been a massive fan of Yamaha’s grand piano tones, and I still consider them amongst the very best available.

Yamaha has been my go-to choice at a few important stages of my development and career, and I know how much these instruments have to offer the right player.


Use these jump links to navigate to the desired section of the review.

Sound quality 4.8

One of the most significant improvements with this flagship model is the step up from Yamaha’s Pure CF sound engine to the Yamaha CFX engine.

That might not mean too much in name, and it doesn’t provide a vast number of voices: there are 40, and the P-125 had only 24.

However, it does bring with it the sound of the Yamaha CFX and Bösendorfer Imperial concert grand pianos. Those models are arguably two of the most iconic and sought-after pianos in the world.

Both pianos have been sampled with immaculate attention to detail, which has captured the differences between the two very well. The Yamaha CFX is dynamic and bright, while the Bösendorfer has a much darker tonal quality.

Yamaha P-515 speakers and sound
A close-up look at the Yamaha P-515’s interface | Image: Higher Hz

Beyond the two flagship sounds, there are some more lovely acoustic pianos, some are even brighter than the CFX, and a ballad piano provides a nice blend of brightness, warmth, and subtlety.

As for the rest of the voices, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The electric pianos are gorgeous and cover a wide range of classic sounds from Rhodes to DX and Wurly. There’s a really lovely phaser EP that sounds fantastic.

The sounds are a bit more average outside of acoustic and electric pianos. The Hammond-style organs lack grit/dirt, the strings are good but not mind-blowing, and the rest follows that trend.

Ultimately, the grand pianos and EPs are what matter most, and they are fantastic. The P-515 has a max polyphony of 256 notes.

Built-in speakers 4.6

The built-in speaker system has a total output of 40 watts split between two 20-watt amplifiers. It has two 4.7-inch woofers and two 1-inch tweeters, providing a nice balanced sound.

The built-in speakers won’t be enough to gig with unless it’s a very small recital, but they are more than enough for home practice.

Keyboard feel 4.5

The P-515 comes with Yamaha’s NWX action keyboard, which stands for Natural Wood X. It’s a full-size 88-key stage piano, so adding an element of real wooden keys adds to the realism.

The keys also have a synthetic ebony and ivory feel and escapement, which adds another level of authenticity.

Yamaha P-515 keys and feel
Yamaha P-515’s keyboard | Image: Higher Hz

All of the above sounds perfect, but I have some slight complaints. Firstly, the escapement shouldn’t be intrusive, but you should feel it, and I don’t think it’s felt enough here.

Secondly, the synthetic texture of the keys is somewhat inconsistent, with the white keys feeling much more like smooth plastic than the black keys.

Lastly, while nicely graded, the weight of the keys is heavier than average overall. Some users may prefer the heavier action, but it’s not for everyone.

Overall, the keyboard is better than the cheaper P-125, but I have scored it lower because it’s not quite as advertised.

Features 4.5

Yamaha’s P series instruments are typically straightforward with no unnecessary features. The P-515 fits that description but still offers a few very handy features.

Internal effects

Internal effects include six reverb types, three chorus types, and a master EQ.

The reverbs are relatively subtle but useful. The chorus effects are nice with some of the electric piano voices, and the master EQ allows you to shape your overall sound a little more.

Built-in recorder

The Yamaha P-515 offers up to 80 minutes of audio recording with playback via Bluetooth or USB. It also offers MIDI recording of up to 250 songs (500 kB per song).

As I always say, recording yourself to gauge your progress is an invaluable part of learning. Especially audio recording as you then hear precisely as you played.

Virtual Resonance Modeling

This feature is somewhat an extension of the internal effects. It recreates the mechanical and reverberant sounds of a real grand piano and does it very well.

Key-off samples

Key-off samples recreate the change in the sound of a real grand piano when the damper falls back on the string.

XG compatibility

Through the Yamaha MusicSoft website, you’ll get access to thousands of songs, printable sheet music, and hundreds of additional voices for your P-515.

It’s a fantastic source of learning material that will help students of all levels.

In use 4.0

I might seem a little harsh with my score here, but I have to consider the negatives and the positives.

Starting with the positives, the flagship acoustic piano sounds are an absolute joy and would compete with most sounds in the price range.

Once you get used to the weight of the keys, the keyboard action is very responsive and expressive.

The electric piano voices make the P-515 an excellent versatile choice for many genres of music.

Another thing that I love is the simple interface. Everything is right in front of the user with straightforward controls and a nice little screen to keep you right.

It even has USB connectivity on the main panel, which comes in handy when connecting your phone or smart device.

Yamaha P-515 screen and features
LCD display for faster navigation | Image: Higher Hz

Now for the negatives. While the heavier keys might be suitable for some and could possibly provide a nice learning curve for beginners, they aren’t as nice to play after a while.

Other keyboards in the price range offer a more comfortable and enjoyable playing experience, and that’s the foundation of my lower score.

Build quality 4.0

When it comes to build quality, I have scored the P-515 the same as I did the much cheaper P-125.

To be clear, the P-515 feels more substantial and is definitely a more robust unit. But, I need to look at the price, and in my opinion, the extra money you’d spend on the P-515 isn’t reflected well enough in the build quality.

Yamaha P-515 build quality
Image: Higher Hz

I could have gone with a higher score if the more minor details, like the key-tops, had been better.

Don’t be too alarmed if you’re a potential buyer. The P-515 is more than robust enough; I just expected a touch more finesse for the money.

Connectivity 4.4

The P-515 provides ample connectivity for most uses. It comes with two 1/4-inch audio outputs and two 1/4-inch headphone outputs.

I like to see dual headphone outputs for student/teacher practice, so that’s a nice addition.

It also features a single 1/8-inch audio input (Aux in), USB type A and B, and Bluetooth v4.1.

The Yamaha P-515 has everything you need for home practice, basic gigging, and streaming audio.

Compared to other digital pianos

All in all, the Yamaha P-515 is a great digital piano. But as a general rule, I always advise exploring all of your options before purchasing. Here are some choices that I think are well worth checking out.

Yamaha P-515 vs P-125

The P-125 might seem like an odd choice, given that it’s so much cheaper than the P-515. It doesn’t sound quite as good, but it’s worth trying both models considering the money you could save.

Yamaha P-515 vs Roland FP-60X

Roland’s FP-X series is very similar to Yamaha’s P series in that it provides reliable, good-quality instruments. I prefer the flagship piano sounds of the P-515, but I like how the Roland keyboard feels more.

Yamaha P-515 vs Kurzweil SP6

I think the Kurzweil SP6 might fly under the radar for many musicians, but you need to check it out if you’re in this price range. It sounds excellent, and it’s one of the most intuitive stage pianos on the market.

Who is the Yamaha P-515 best suited for?

The Yamaha P-515 suits intermediate students who want a fantastic piano sound with enough connectivity to start gigging when the time comes.

See current price at: SweetwaterAmazon

Recent updates

  • April 8, 2024: I’ve updated the text for clarity and added quick jump links for faster navigation between the sections.
  • October 23, 2023: I’ve fixed minor inconsistencies and verified the accuracy of the comparisons.
  • June 16, 2022: I published the original review based on my experience with the digital piano and compared it to the closest competitors.