The Yamaha Piaggero NP-15 is the successor to the NP-12, an instrument I previously listed as my favorite keyboard for beginners. Given the popularity of the previous model, I have high expectations for the NP-15. In this review, I’ll find out if the NP-15 lives up to expectations and surpasses its popular predecessor.
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Final verdict on the Piaggero NP-15
I love the NP-15, and it can easily replace the NP-12 as my favorite beginner keyboard. But, even though it’s better, there are some areas where I expected more significant changes and improvements.
Overall, it’s slightly better than its predecessor, which was already exceptionally good, so I’ve no choice but to love it.
What I like
- Incredible sound quality.
- More voices than NP-12.
- Lightweight and portable.
- Yamaha apps.
- Half-damper control.
- Battery power.
What I don’t like
- No Bluetooth.
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The first and most important thing I must say about the sound quality is that it’s as good as the NP-12, which was epic. It’s slightly better because the sample quality is better, providing a wider dynamic range, but it’s not a dramatic difference.
The Piaggero NP-15 uses the same AWN Stereo Sampling technology found in older models, and it still delivers an outstanding grand piano sound for the money.
The most significant difference is the number of sounds available, which has gone from 10 to 15. There are five sound categories: Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Harpsichord/Vibraphone, and Strings. Each category provides three variations of that instrument, and as before, the Piaggero offers the best overall collection of sounds in its class.
If I have one complaint, it’s that the new sounds are just additional variations of what was already available, and while that’s still great, a more significant increase would have been welcome.
The best of the bunch are again the acoustic pianos, which include the Concert Grand, Mellow Grand, and Bright Grand. The Concert Grand sound is incredibly detailed for a budget keyboard, and whether you’re playing Chopsticks or Chopin, it sounds great.
The Jazz Organ sound is another standout because keyboards at this price typically don’t produce this sound so well, if at all. Despite wishing for a bigger increase in quantity, the sounds are excellent across the board; no complaints about quality.
Yamaha’s Piaggero NP-15 has slightly larger speakers than the previous model, and that might make some difference, but not enough to consider an improvement.
Although the built-in speakers are slightly larger, they are no more powerful, with the same dual 2.5-watt amplifiers found in the NP-12. I know some people will be upset not to see an increase in power/volume, but as the size isn’t an improvement, I don’t see the lack of increased power as a complaint.
The speakers are as sharp and crisp as ever, and most importantly, they remain crystal-clear when you play harder. I liked the position of the speakers on the NP-12 (on either side of the keys rather than above), and I’m glad to see that it also remains the same.
The Piaggero NP-15 comes with 61 velocity-sensitive box-style keys. You might see them listed as piano-style keys or other variations, but the keyboard looks and feels like the older model.
It’s a beginner keyboard, and as such, the keys are very light to avoid younger students struggling to make a consistent sound. I’d love to see slightly heavier keys to allow the player to bring out more dynamics with those beautiful piano sounds, but I’m happy with the choice to stay lighter because it’s better for younger beginners.
The NP-15 offers four levels of touch sensitivity: Soft, Medium, Hard, and Fixed. Adjusting the levels does make a noticeable difference and should help beginners to think about dynamics more, even without weighted keys.
I love the Piaggero range because they are simple keyboards that focus on quality over quantity, and that’s still true of the NP-15. But there are a few cool features that are worth mentioning.
The built-in recorder lets you capture one song (up to 7,000 notes). I say it all the time: a built-in recorder is an essential feature for students at any level, but especially beginners. Recording practice sessions is just as important as new song ideas.
The metronome is another simple but vital feature for beginners. It’s strange to see some beginner keyboards without a metronome, but I’m glad to see one here.
There are 25 onboard demo songs, including Mozart’s ever-popular Rondo Alla Turca.
The NP-15 doesn’t come with a sustain pedal, but adding one can transform your playing. Half-damper control means that you can accurately control the amount of sustain applied using the pedal as you can with a real piano, rather than simply on or off.
It’s not a feature we see often in keyboards at this price range, but it’s a fantastic addition.
The Piaggero NP-15 is powered by a 12 V DC adapter or six AA batteries. When a keyboard is so light and portable, it’s always nice to see a battery-powered option. It makes it easier to practice anywhere, any time.
Split and Layer modes allow you to create new sounds and combinations, which might be even better than before, thanks to the additional sounds.
Built-in reverb effects
The NP-15 features six reverb types, two more than the older NP-12.
Smart Pianist app
Yamaha’s Smart Pianist app provides a range of features that make learning fun and easy. One of the coolest features is the Audio-to-Score function that helps you learn your favorite songs by turning audio into sheet music.
It also provides new ways to practice through various practice lessons and backing tracks to feel like you’re jamming with a band. The app also provides more control over some keyboard functions like Split/Layer modes and Tuning.
The NP-15 is as straightforward as it gets. One of the features I love is the multi-color buttons. When selecting a sound, Piano, for example, you press the Piano button, and each additional time you press it, it changes color to represent a change in the instrument variation.
A simple feature like multi-color buttons removes the need for additional controls or awkward menu-diving. Other functions are similarly easy to control, like the demo songs, which are triggered using various button/key combinations.
As mentioned above, it’s extremely lightweight and portable, so getting it around the house or further afield is no problem. I don’t imagine even younger kids having difficulty navigating the NP-15.
The first thing I liked about the Piaggero series is that they look like serious instruments. Because of the price, I also know that the NP-15 isn’t going to be built like a high-end stage piano, but I love that it has that appearance.
So, in comparison with other beginner keyboards, the Piaggero NP-15 is very well made. I can attribute much of the score in this section to Yamaha’s design choices. When working with lightweight plastic and not heavy-duty material, it’s important to choose the right style of buttons and controls, types that won’t easily get damaged in transit, and Yamaha has done that perfectly.
I’d have liked and expected to see Bluetooth connectivity included as standard with the NP-15; unfortunately, it’s not.
That aside, the connectivity remains as before, with a single USB Type B connection, a 1/4-inch sustain pedal input, and a 1/4-inch audio output (headphone jack).
I’ve no complaints about what we’ve got, but perhaps slight disappointment not to see more.
Compared to other beginner keyboards
As much as I love the NP-15, there are a few alternatives that I think you should consider before making your decision.
Yamaha NP-15 vs NP-35
The NP-35 is the bigger brother with 76 keys; if you want more keys, it’s the better option. However, it’s not that straightforward; it comes at a price that sees it compete with more instruments. As a complete beginner, I’d stick with the NP-15.
Yamaha NP-15 vs NP-12
The NP-15 is better than the NP-12, but not by much, so that makes things simple. If you own an NP-12, it’s not worth upgrading; if you’re buying for the first time, get the NP-15.
Yamaha NP-15 vs Casio CT-S1
Casio’s CT-S1 is a wonderful beginner keyboard and lots of fun. I prefer the NP-15, but if you’re buying for a younger child who might relate better to the fun personality of the CT-S1, it’s a great choice.
Yamaha NP-15 vs Alesis Concert
The Alesis Concert has 88 semi-weighted keys and costs the same as the NP-15, which I think makes it better value for money (despite the Yamaha Concert Grand sound being better). But, it depends on the student; the student has to be ready for heavier keys.
Who is the Yamaha NP-15 best suited for?
The Yamaha Piaggero NP-15 is the perfect keyboard for beginners who prefer higher sound quality over flashy features.Buy Yamaha Piaggero NP-15 at: SweetwaterAmazon