Welcome to another piano comparison here with us at Merriam Pianos. In this piece, we’ll be comparing two titans of the under $1,000 portable digital piano category as we look at the Yamaha P125 vs Roland FP-30.
Thousands of these instruments wind up in homes all around the world every single year as best sellers in the beginner to intermediate category (especially on Amazon for the P125) thanks to the combination price, unintimidating user-friendly minimalistic design, and musical punch they pack.
They are very different musically, however, which is why we’ll be comparing the sound engines, actions, and other important features to see what kind of musical experience each of these 88-key digital pianos has to offer.
Let’s start by comparing the sound engines.
Yamaha P125 vs Roland FP-30 Piano Sound
Let’s start with the FP-30bk. The FP-30 has a polyphony count of 128 notes and 22 watts of speaker power courtesy of the dual 11-watt speaker system.
That 128-note polyphony is certainly an improvement over what you get on the Roland FP-10 with 96 notes, but it’s a spec that most people shouldn’t be too concerned with since it just refers to the maximum amount of notes a sound engine can play at once.
We’re drawing attention to it here because the P125 has 192 notes, and that might lead people to believe that the P125 then has a more complex piano tone made up of more sample layers.
That’s actually not the case here, and when you look at the waveform that the P125 with their Pure CF Sound Engine (sample of the CFIIIs Concert Grand Piano), versus the FP-30 and its SuperNATURAL Piano Sound engine, there’s actually a more nuanced, such as a more believable damper resonance and string resonance, going on with the FP-30’s tone.
Part of this is probably also due to the speakers, as the Yamaha P125 has a noticeably weaker amplifier with 14 watts of total power (though it’s a 4 speaker system with 2 tweeters). The extra speaker power from the FP-30 is just adding extra warmth and presence, especially in the lower register.
Now, all of this being said, there’s very seldom a right and wrong when it comes to the type of piano sound you prefer, and these
two engines do sound distinctly different.
Despite the P125 not sounding as warm or complex as the FP-30, some people will absolutely still prefer the brighter sound of the P125, which is quite representative of Yamaha digital pianos in general. Check out the video review above to hear exactly how both pianos sound.
Acoustic Piano Sounds
Moving on from the acoustic piano sounds, both of these instruments are nicely equipped with a good selection of presets Neither one has the full general MIDI 2 sounds, but you’re still getting 24 sounds with the P125 and 35 on the FP30.
Electric Piano Sounds
Now, let’s dive into some electric piano sounds. In some ways, for a keyboard player, the electric piano sounds can be even more revealing in terms of the level of authenticity than the acoustic piano tones.
In general, both pianos do a great job with their e-piano tones, particularly the P125. Things like organs, strings, and synthesizers are all quite nice here too.
P-125 Additional Sound Features
A couple of other things worth mentioning – the P125 has a couple of other cool sound-related features including a Table EQ, Sound Boost mode, Stereophonic Optimizer, and Intelligent Acoustic Control.
Let’s move on to the action.
Roland PHA-4 vs Yamaha Graded Standard Piano Action
FP-30 PHA-4 Standard Keyboard
The FP-30 uses Roland’s PHA-4 Standard Keyboard with Escapement and Ivory Feel. This is the same action with weighted keys that Roland puts in the FP-10 and more expensive FP-60, as well as some other models like the F140R and RP501R.
It’s essentially Roland’s staple mid-range hammer action that they deploy throughout the lineup until you get into the high-end portion of their offerings.
It’s a very well-known, proven, and well-liked action out in the marketplace that also happens to be quite durable, and boasts triple sensor detection for a high degree of accuracy. There’s a nice micro texture on the black keys and an ivory texture on the white keys, both of which add some extra grip by absorbing moisture.
The escapement feature is quite nice as it helps improve repetition speed – this is definitely something gigging musicians will notice and appreciate.
P-125 Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) Key Action
The P-125 is using Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Standard key action, or GHS for short. This is an action that’s been on the market for quite a while, and it’s probably one of the least advanced parts of the P125 with a dated dual sensor, though there is some adjustable touch sensitivity to accommodate different playing styles.
The action feels solid in the sense that there’s not a lot of mechanical noise, and part of that is due to the fact that it’s a more simple design than the PHA-4. There’s no escapement on the GHS, and while there is a matte finish on the black keys, there’s nothing on the white keys, meaning your finger can get slippery when moisture develops.
But you feel really sure-footed under, this action, and it can be quite forgiving. And there’s not a hands-down winner between the two, as they do feel quite different.
Generally speaking though, the GHS is probably due for a bit of an update, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see Yamaha coming out with some type of an update to that action in subsequent P-series models in the near future.
Features & Connectivity
The P125 has a couple of very cool features that we like about it. First of all, it’s got built-in quarter-inch stereo outputs which make it very easy for you to be plugging into amps and PAs without eating up a headphone jack – a great feature for the price range.
This is a key connector for gigging musicians that is not present on the FP-30, where you’ll have to settle for one of the headphone outputs as your line out.
The P125 and the FP-30 are both available with matching keyboard stands, as well as 3 pedal units. They both also come with pretty basic sustain pedals of the footswitch style, but we would actually highly recommend upgrading them, regardless of which piano you choose. The upgraded damper pedal options from each manufacturer are just so much more substantial.
One of the things that the Yamaha is missing that the P125 has is the Bluetooth connection. . The P125 does not have any Bluetooth MIDI, but it does have a USB connection, so you can connect to an iOS device (iPad, iPhone) for music apps like the Yamaha Smart Pianist App that way.
The P125 has a really well-done onboard auto-accompaniment function. There are quite a few rhythms on here to choose from.
Rhythms are accessible via Roland’s Piano Partner 2 app, but they are not built-in directly on-board like the P125.
Beyond that, we’ve got kind of the normal complement of all of your basics, like transpose, metronome, split mode, layer mode (duo), and Twin Piano Mode. Both of them have the ability to do that quite nicely.
Let’s do a quick summary here of the comparison between these two pianos. In terms of the speakers, the FP30 wins here by virtue of its extra power, even though it’s using a 2 speaker system versus a 4 speaker on the P125 which does result in some extra clarity.
In terms of the tone engines, the FP30 is using the SuperNATURAL engine with 128 polyphony, versus the Pure CF engine with 192 notes of polyphony on the P125.
Then we’ve got the P125’s GHS action with no texture on the white keys and no escapement, versus the PHA-4 where we’ve got a nice texture, escapement, and a triple sensor. They both come with music rests and power adapters (power supply) and are available with matching stands and triple pedals (KPD-70 and KSC-70). The P125 has a discreet AUX out, whereas the FP30 does not, but the FP30 has Bluetooth, and the P125 does not.
We hope this comparison of the Yamaha P45 vs Roland FP-30, two immensely popular musical instruments has been helpful. Thanks for reading!