This Yamaha P-515 review looks at the flagship model in Yamaha’s popular P series of keyboard pianos. 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 Yamaha P-515, we have an instrument that steps into a higher price range with stiffer competition. We will discuss what the P-515 has to offer and where it sits in its class.
Our verdict on the Yamaha P-515
We are longtime fans of Yamaha’s P series keyboard pianos, and we like this one too. It’s a clear step up from the P-125, yet we have given the P-515 a lower score because it’s much more expensive.
The P-515 is a lovely keyboard 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.Available at: SweetwaterAmazon
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.
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.
The built-in speaker system has a total output of 40 W split between two 20 W amplifiers. It has two 4.7″ woofers and two 1″ 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.
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.
All of the above sounds perfect, but we have some slight complaints. Firstly, the escapement shouldn’t be intrusive, but you should feel it, and we 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 we have scored it lower because it’s not quite as advertised.
Yamaha 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 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.
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 we 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 recreate the change in the sound of a real grand piano when the damper falls back on the string.
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.
We might seem a little harsh with our score here, but we 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 we 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.
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 our lower score.
When it comes to build quality, we have scored the P-515 the same as we did the much cheaper P-125.
To be clear, the P-515 feels more substantial and is definitely a more robust unit. But, we need to look at the price, and in our opinion, the extra money you’d spend on the P-515 isn’t reflected well enough in the build quality.
We 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; we just expected a touch more finesse for the money.
The P-515 provides ample connectivity for most uses. It comes with two 1/4″ audio outputs and two 1/4″ headphone outputs. We like to see dual headphone outputs for student/teacher practice, so that’s a nice addition.
It features a single 1/8″ audio input (AUX in), both type A and B USB, and Bluetooth v4.1.
It has everything you need for home practice, basic gigging, and streaming audio.
Compared to other keyboard pianos
As a general rule, we always advise exploring all of your options before purchasing. Here are some choices that we think are well worth checking out.
You can also check out our recommendations for the best keyboard pianos on the market this year and the best 88-key fully-weighted models.
Yamaha P-515 vs. Yamaha 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.
Check out our Yamaha P-125 review
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.
We prefer the flagship piano sounds of the P-515, but we like how the Roland keyboard feels more.
Yamaha P-515 vs. Kurzweil SP6
We 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.
Check out our Kurzweil SP6 review
Who is the Yamaha P-515 best suited for?
The P-515 suits intermediate students who want a fantastic piano sound with enough connectivity to start gigging when the time comes.
- CFX sound engine.
- Audio/MIDI recording.
- Internal effects.
- XG compatibility.
- Keys are too heavy.
- Lack of finesse on small details.