We love digital pianos here at Digital Piano Expert, and we'd be remiss if we didn't do a story on a Yamaha that's getting all kinds of attention for all the right reasons. This special digital piano would be the Yamaha Arius YDP-143. We'll be talking not just about the Yamaha Arius YDP-143, but comparing it to several comparable models, if such a thing is possible!
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What Is Yamaha Arius YDP-143 Digital Piano?
The Yamaha Arius YDP-143 is really designed not just for the experienced professional, but for anyone aspiring to be the next Yanni, or perhaps not even the next anything. Because even though the Yamaha is engineered to possess all the aural majesty of a 9' CFIIIS grand piano, the small spinet-like size combined with a low- to no-maintenance day-in, day-out performance of this elegant instrument make it a phenomenon in its own right, which will make you wonder why you had ever toyed with actual grand pianos before! Okay, perhaps that's going a bit too far, but you get the idea.
The Yamaha Arius YDP-143 is equipped with ten instruments, including three pianos. You've got your metronome, and of course the full-size keyboard of 88 ivories and ebonies. Not to mention how realistic it sounds and feels, with weighted keys backed up by graded hammer action. Polyphony is decent with 192 simultaneous notes, not to mention real-time, instant transposition and USB compatibility. And for old times' sake, why not hear out some of the prerecorded songs with a friend? All of this underwritten by a solid 3-year warranty from long-reputed industry leader Yamaha.
You may have to splurge a grand or more on this one, but you get what you pay for. Will you find this on the stages of the world's finest concert halls? Like most of the items on this list, probably not. However, you may find it in the apartments of those who play those halls regularly. There's nothing like a piano, but if you're going to spend on a digital, it might as well be the Yamaha Arius YDP-143.
How It Compares
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
Yamaha Arius YDP-143 Digital Piano
Ease of Use
Just plug it into the wall and if you can press the power button, you're good to go. Of course, it's compatible with any kind of amp you'd like to attach it to, or recording equipment.
Sound & Connectivity
We're not talking digital sound outputs on the Yamaha Arius YDP-143, but it's got all that the market expects of a piano in its class, sadly perhaps a little less in the realm of connectivity. USB-to-master connectivity is included. We can't seem to find the discrete L/R outputs, though we suppose you could always use a splitter to take a feed from one of the earphone outs.
It's - what we expect of a digital piano today. Unpretentious, small enough, although not small enough to move without a decent-sized vehicle. It works in the living room, elegant enough with its black cabinetry.
The Yamaha Arius YDP-143 comes with Yamaha's excellent three-year warranty. This would be an area we suppose we'd like to see the whole industry push the envelope in a little more. Many non-digital pianos have a warranty of ten years; and digital pianos require so much less maintenance - why can't they go ten years as well? We doubt these pianos are breaking within ten years, but the warranty makes us wonder.
Casio Privia PX-860
Long understood to be the second-to-Yamaha brand among consumers and professionals alike, the Casio Privia PX-860 lives up to Casio's reputation of creating slightly-cheaper products. If you're looking to save cash over the Yamaha, Casio is the way to go. We suppose the Privia PX-860 comes as close as any, and they're upping their game to try to overcome the reputation it's earned that's cost them sales in the past.
Ease of Use
Turn it on and start playing. You can actually press a button to modify the hammer action, which we'd imagine comes in handy for those with arthritis.
Sound & Connectivity
The piano plays pre-recorded orchestra recordings you can play along with, as a kind of novelty. In the realm of more piano-imitative features, this Casio's engineers actually took into account the ways that certain keys resonate when other keys are held down. So this is a rather intriguing feature which takes the piano imitation to a rather interesting level. Casio appears to be trying really hard here in the way of imitating the soundboard on an actual piano. Someone in the R&D department at Casio deserves a raise. Is this a case like the old Avis slogan, "We try harder?" You'll have to hear it for yourself!
The top lifts like a regular piano for direct-to-room resonance. It looks as decent as we'd expect today's digital piano to look. The other question that remains to be answered here is - we know the Casio Privia PX-860 has a boatload of innovative features. Is Casio fulfilling all the basics in terms of what your traditional Yamaha Arius can do in the way of design? We admit they feel similar, but you'll have to try it out for yourself and see whether you think Casio is encroaching on Yamaha's long-standing reputation as the quality control leader.
Casio's imitation ivory and ebony finishes on the keys promises that even if it's a little damp, your fingers will experience a minimum of that slippage that can sometimes throw your performance quality when playing.
Oh! Just when we were thinking Casio was making serious inroads to contest Yamaha's long-uncontested title as a distinctive leader in electronic digital pianos, we discovered Casio's warranty. And by the way, when searching for it we had to dig through the warranties for all of Casio's other markets, like timepieces, calculators, etcetera! And when we finally found the musical instrument warranty, it turned out to just last one year. That suggests to us that Casio isn't merely discounting its product because it's trying to win over Yamaha and Roland players; it suggests to us that perhaps Casio is skimping somewhere on the materials they're using. You've been warned. Although, if you're buying a piano that you only need to last a year and won't mind the hassle of making good on the warranty - say, if you plan on using the piano in a context where you plan on throwing it off the back of a truck intentionally after a year - this is a great choice.
Roland has never really been big on making the piano look like an actual piano - they're all-business when it comes to sound, and frankly, the sound is really, really good. You may actually have a difficult time finding this particular Roland model, but it's got such a significant place in digital piano history our editors decided you need to know about it, and besides, it's a great reference to compare to the Yamaha Arius YDP-143. Roland's attitude seems to be, if it's not stage-worthy, why bother?
Ease of Use
Those who are either new to pianos or who are exploring going digital for the first time might find the dazzling array of buttons and controllers a little confusing at first. That said, if you're looking to get a great piano sound out of your machine and are considering seriously performing on electronic equipment, you really need to know your instrument. The great part is, you don't need to hire a piano tuner!
The less-great part is that sometimes, in order to best emulate that real-piano sound, you might need to hire some acoustic engineers! Don't get us wrong, the capability to be a grand piano is all in this little machine, which is more portable than the Yamaha Arius YDP-143, by the way. The challenge, perhaps, is carefully calibrating your machine to unleash all that quality from the highly-capable digital piano.
As with most Rolands, because all the investment is really in the quality of the pre-amplified magic, you'll almost definitely need to connect this to your exterior amplification system in order to get the best sound out of it. That said, it can do things, in the purest sense of the sound, that the others would be hard-pressed to imitate.
Sound & Connectivity
Notwithstanding that you need external amplification as with most Roland pianos to make this baby shine, Roland is nothing if not highly connectable! Any outputs wanting in the Yamaha you'll find in this, including standard stereo sound outputs.
We feel this is almost an unfair comparison because it and the Yamaha are designed for two different things. This is not furniture; it's a very big, and highly worthy, investment in a digital instrument whose beauty, to be fully appreciated, must be measured compared to other strictly digital instruments. There's not a lot of wasted space or exterior aimed at making this look like something other than it is - a digital piano. This economy of design in the Roland RD-800, complemented by the ruggedness we've come to expect of the Roland company - which also does lots of other stuff besides Pianos, by the way - is commendable.
Roland actually offers generous warranties on most of its digital piano products. Part of the reason this is a difficult one to evaluate is because the RD-800 is simply limited in availability at this time. Therefore, most talk of Warranties is moot, because if you can't buy it right now, how do you evaluate the Warranty? We give Roland 4 out of 5 Stars based on their other lines of products and generous warranties which, even on digital, they stand by sometimes up to 5 years, beating out Yamaha in that regard on the products we've compared them to here.
Kawai ES 100
Kawai is known as more of an acoustic piano grand, however, they're trying really hard to be a formidable force in the Digital Piano game. For this reason, you may be able to edge something of a deal out of a Kawai as compared to comparable Rolands and Yamaha's.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is never really an issue in this day of digital pianos. Just plug it in, turn it on, and you're good to go. Nothing exceptional here, either.
Sound & Connectivity
Sound and connectivity is more or less on par with something in between the Casio and Yamaha models we've investigated here. We're not blown away by anything, but it's a decent digital piano from a decently-reputed manufacturer of the real thing.
This Digital piano is designed to stow and go rather than to be elegant furniture. In that regard, it's more comparable to the Roland, though not nearly as sophisticated, particularly in the sound realm. You'll need a stand or something to put it upon, since digital pianos don't generally fare well in marching bands.
The Kawai ES 100 warranty is 3 years parts and labor, which is on the lower end compared to what even Kawai offers for other Digital Pianos its sells like those in the CP, CA, CS, and CN series.
Short and sweet? We recommend Roland for the best sound, even if you can't find the RD-800 model. Roland designs for professional and stage use. If you're willing to give a little regarding Roland's industry-leading mastery of the synthesized piano and all its fancy customizability in the name of living-room friendliness and even a little cost savings, the Yamaha Arius YDP-143 is sufficient for many homes.
That said, this comparison has left our editors hungry for some yet-to-be-invented machine combining Casio's features in the realm of resonance, Roland's sound customizability and portability, and Yamaha Arius YDP-143's cabinetry design. Maybe that's asking too much, as it would require some kind of quality that would allow a Roland to detach from its cabinetry, and perhaps the Roland is fine the way it is in its unabashedly electronic casing and design. Bottom line, Roland wins on sound while Yamaha Arius YDP-143 wins considering the lifestyle needs of most folks considering putting it in their den or living room.
Featured Image via Unsplash