Yamaha P-125 vs P-515 portable piano comparison review
Yamaha have really been excelling over that past few years at making quality portable pianos. Indeed the P-105, P-115, P-255 and P-45 have been the biggest selling portable pianos that we’ve ever seen! This range is an excellent choice for beginners because of the price but also for experienced players that require something of quality that they can travel with easily.
The new models released in the summer of 2018 are the Yamaha P-125 and P-515 and we have been inundated with questions about which one would be most suitable for people. So in this blog we are going to make clear the biggest and most obvious differences between them.
The most obvious difference is the price. The P-515 is approximately twice the cost of the P-125 for reasons that I will explain. By the way the reason I am not giving the exact prices is because they fluctuate slightly week by week, usually the P-515 is double the cost of P-125 but I’ll round up and say the P-515 is about £1200 and P-125 is around £550.
The biggest difference aside from price is the key mechanisms themselves. The P-125 uses the Yamaha GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) and the P-515 uses the Yamaha NWX (Natural Wood X). Allow me to translate this into layman’s terms; Both the GHS and NWX actions feel just like a traditional piano action, that’s to say there is resistance in the key and they feel slightly heavy to the touch. They even simulate the different weights of the hammers on a traditional piano and you’ll feel them getting slightly lighter as you go up and heavier as you go down. But where they differ is in the material the keys are made from. The GHS has plastic keys and the NWX has wooden keys. Why is this a good thing? Because traditional pianos use wooden keys therefore the NWX is more authentic. Wooden keys a nice light and quick quality to them which allows the player to play repeat notes and fast passages more accurately and with better precision. Plastic keys are not terrible and can be used by new player and experienced ones alike, but plastic keys are denser and lack the attributes that I described above.
When it comes the the main piano sound, which is what will most people will be concerned with, there is a major difference. Both the P-125 and P-515 have high quality samples of Yamaha’s world renowned concert grand called the CFX. But the P-515 also has another world class concert grand piano namely the Bosendorfer Imperial Grand which gives a much mellower softer tone and makes a really pleasant alternative to the Yamaha. Do not underestimate the value of this because after hours and hours of rehearsal or practicing an exam piece it can be really refreshing to change the piano to a different type, and personally speaking I have come to prefer using the Bosendorfer Imperial Grand as it suits my own playing style more than the Yamaha.
The P-515 trumps the P-125 in another respect too when it comes to the main piano sounds. The P-515 uses a cutting edge piece of sampling technology called ‘Virtual Resonance Modelling’ (VRM) which simulates the whistling, howling, echoing sounds that the 9ft long cabinets produce on a concert grand piano. Again I will try and translate into layman’s terms. Imagine you are stool next to a 9ft long concert grand and you clap your hands, you will hear a reverberation travelling around the cabinet and swirling around like a big echo. This happens when you’re only clapping your hands so imagine what it’s like when you actually playing the keys! The sound effects produces are vast and varied and can be harnessed by a good player into a performance. It takes highly developed and attuned technology to capture this properly and transfer it to a digital piano. That is the purpose of VRM and P-515 uses it. P-125 does not.
In this blog I am pointing out the major differences between the two models but I should also mention that there are other specifications that differ too. The weight for example is very different, P-125 is 11.8kg, whereas the P-515 is 22kg. Both can still easily be slung under your arm and moved around (if you’re relatively fit and able). P-515 has 40 rhythm accompaniment styles and P-125 has 20. These are nice little additions to the pianos and give you a pretty rudimentary, yet professional sounding, accompaniment if you desire it. The P-515 has a 16-track recording facility but P-125 only has a 2-track. P-515 has a USB socket allowing you to plug in a USB flash drive to save/transfer recording to a computer (.wav and MIDI on both models) but on P-125 you’ll have to connect to a computer using a USB cable. You can also record using the brilliant Yamaha Smart Pianist app, which we have a video all about which you can watch below.
The difference in speakers is worth a mention too. In basic terms the P-515 has three separate speakers for the bass, middle and treble (high and low) notes built in, which as you’d expect allows for a wider production of sound and therefore gives the player more scope for expression in their playing. It also uses their really cool twisted flare speaker cone technology which is proven to give more clarity to the sound. Couple this with the two great concert grand pianos in the P-515 and you have a very impressive set up that most pro pianists would be pleased with on a portable piano. The P-125 also has separate speakers for bass and treble but the speaker cones are smaller and don’t employ the twisted cone technology. In summary the P-125 does give you a good spread of sound but the P-515 gives you scope for more subtlety and finesse which advanced players will appreciate and beginners will benefit from as they progress.
Both of these pianos can be purchased as just a stand alone piano (along with the music rest, power adaptor and manual which come in the box) or in packages including the custom made wooden stand and 3 pedal unit which provide a more traditional set up and make the whole thing look a bit prettier. It’s worth knowing that the pianos simply screw onto the top of their respective stands and can be easily removed if needed. But if you plan on making regular trips with them it might be a good idea to buy a portable X frame keyboard stand.
The full specification of these pianos can be seen on our product pages here: