🎹Yamaha YDP-144 vs Casio PX-870 Digital Piano Review, Comparison, & Demo🎹

The under $2,000 CAD home digital piano market is one of the most competitive in the digital piano industry, hands down. Today, we’re going to compare two of the best-selling and highest-reviewed digital pianos with weighted keys in the category with the Yamaha YDP 144 vs Casio PX 870.

The Yamaha Arius and Casio Privia are two lines that really don’t typically intersect, with the exception of these two models. The YDP-144 digital piano is closer to the entry point of the Arius line, while the PX-870 is the top model available in the Privia lineup.

But these two digital console pianos compare very well, both in terms of their overall offering, and price point, making both a common choice among beginners just getting into music and more advanced players seeking a practice instrument. Let’s get into it.

Yamaha YDP 144 vs Casio PX 870 – Brand & Series Overview

Casio PX 870 Digital Piano
Casio PX-870 Digital Piano

It’s important to note right away that the Yamaha Arius YDP-144 has been on the market longer than the Casio PX 870. As a slightly older product, it’s not really fair to expect the YDP-144 to keep up with the PX-870 in every single regard given their similar price point.

Technology progresses very quickly, and it’s no different in the digital piano space than it is in the smartphone space for example. Just like it wouldn’t be a fair fight to compare a smartphone from 2017 to one from 2019, the same logic applies to digital pianos.

That said, this comparison really is unavoidable given that these are current models that happened to be positioned against one another, along with offerings from Roland, Kawai, Korg and some smaller manufacturers.

Casio has had a pretty strong selection of offerings in the sub $1,000 part of the market for a while now, but they obviously made a decision at the corporate level a few years ago to go after a bigger piece of the pie – models released over the past few years have spoken to a tightening competition in the over $1,000 home digital piano category where normally Yamaha, Roland, and Kawai have been the dominant brands.

The PX-870 is one of those models that has been increasing in visibility and truly emerged as a viable option in this competitive market space.

The YDP-144 is one of the entry points into the Arius line of Yamaha digital pianos before moving up to the more advanced and costly YDP-164 and YDP-184.

With that little bit of context out of the way, let’s begin by comparing the sound engines of these home pianos.

YDP-144 vs PX-870 – Digital Piano Sound Comparison

A quick side-by-side comparison of the default acoustic piano patches on these two pianos reveals that the manufacturers have gone for very different tonal profiles. Sometimes when you compare similarly priced competing instruments from different manufacturers, you don’t necessarily hear a huge difference. In this case, these pianos really do sound quite different.

The YDP-144 has quite a throaty sound with more of an emphasis in the upper mid-range and tends to have a non-conventional EQ curve. The PX-870 on the other hand has that traditional EQ curve with some bass and treble enhancement, while the throaty mid-range portion is somewhat squished.

There’s no right or wrong approach here, but given the stark difference, odds are you will have a preference between the different piano sounds here.

Into specifics about the sound engines themselves, the YDP-144 is equipped with the Yamaha CFX Concert grand piano sample. Yamaha doesn’t disclose how many sample layers have gone into the engine, but our understanding is that this isn’t an 88-note individually sampled tone, meaning there is some stretching going on. They’ve synthesized some other acoustic effects like damper resonance and key-off resonance, which are then added to the sample.

The sound can be manipulated to a certain extent with the Yamaha Smart Pianist App as you can adjust things such as the reverb simulator and some other parameters. Other sound-related features include Yamaha’s Intelligent Acoustic Control and Stereophonic Optimizer.

Over on the PX 870, there’s also a companion app – the Casio Chordana Play App for piano – which performs a similar function.

Casio Chordana Play App
Casio Chordana Play App

An interesting thing Casio has done with the PX870 includes a set of tone ports which essentially gives your ear a direct line to the back of the speaker. And in this case, there’s a powerful set of 20-watt amplifiers that are pushing that piano tone for 40 watts of power, contrasted with a 16-watt speaker system on the YDP-144.

That’s a substantial difference in the amount of power and thus in the depth of sound, these pianos are capable of. The YDP-144 has a set of tone ports too, but the effect is less dramatic given the less powerful amplifiers.

Beyond the difference of the power itself, we’re also hearing a difference in the complexity of the samples as well, and this is evidenced by the fact that the 870’s Multi-Dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source sample is using up 3x more memory than the YDP-144’s CFX sample.

Further evidence of this increased processing power is the polyphony – the YDP-144 has a very solid 192 notes of polyphony, while the PX-870 has an even better 256-note polyphony count. 192 notes is going to be sufficient for just about everyone, so this isn’t the most important spec comparison, it just simply attests to the extra power possessed by the PX-870.

In terms of the total number of sound presets, the YDP-144 has 10 in total, while the PX-870 has 19. The sounds are very solid across the board on both pianos (especially the YDP-144’s electric pianos), though an area where the PX-870 could use some improvement has to do with the dynamics of the different patches – they vary widely which can be jarring, so some uniformity there would be welcome.

That concludes our discussion on sound. As we stated at the outset, thanks in part to being a newer instrument, the PX-870 wins the sound battle in a number of key specifications, on paper at least. The caveat is though, at the end of the day, these two manufacturers have approached sound in fundamentally different ways, so you should really try to play to see which approach you connect with more.

Digital Piano Action Comparison – Tri-Sensor vs GHS

The action comparison between these two instruments plays out in a similar way as the sound comparison – both are solid, but we are comparing older technology with Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) action versus Casio’s newer Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II.

The 870’s Tri-Sensor action has a nice texture on the ebony and ivory keys which gives the key surfaces a really nice level of glide. It’s also equipped with a triple sensor which means the MIDI output is going to be more accurate than a dual sensor with better touch sensitivity, and triple sensors are by no means a given at this price point.

Not everyone is going to derive value from the triple sensor. In fact, beginners probably won’t notice a difference at all. But anyone doing some studio triggering, or especially folks getting into advanced classical music will absolutely appreciate the benefits of a triple sensor. There is no escapement like on a real piano, with only Roland’s PHA4 action offering that feature in the price range.

The YDP-144’s GHS action has a matte texture on the black key tops which is nice, but the white keys have a glossy finish that can be too grippy during longer playing sessions, and it’s also equipped with a less advanced dual sensor.

Besides these differences, these keys feel quite similar, especially in terms of the weighting and the response. This is pretty remarkable in that even 5 or so years ago, it’s hard to imagine anyone arguing that a Casio action could be on par with a Yamaha action, let alone superior, but here we are.

The repetition speed on both actions is good, if not at the top of the class where we would argue actions from Roland and Kawai sit.

So again, we have a situation where the PX-870 wins the on-paper battle, but there’s no doubt that we’re looking at two high-quality actions capable of producing an enjoyable playing experience.

Additional Features & Connectivity – USB/MIDI

Casio PX 870 Connectors
Casio PX-870 Connectors

Since we’re discussing a couple of console-based digital pianos here, both of these musical instruments come with integrated stands and triple pedal systems with a sustain pedal, sostenuto pedal and soft pedal. The PX-870 has more of a slim, contemporary look while the YDP-144 comes to the table with a more traditional upright piano aesthetic.

Both have built-in dust covers, and you should definitely close the covers when your piano isn’t in use to prevent dust from getting into the action and therefore prolonging the life of your piano. Both pianos are available in Black and White, while the YDP-144 is also available in Rosewood.

In terms of the connectivity ports, both pianos have two stereo quarter-inch headphone jacks, though no discreet audio outputs, so you will have to use one of these headphone ports with an adapter if you need more juice.

Neither piano has Bluetooth of any kind, unfortunately, so if you want to get connected to an iOS iPad or Android device, you will need to use the USB port with a cable. Both pianos have both USB Type A and B.

Standard features like a metronome a present on both, as well as some built-in piano songs.

Closing Thoughts

So what do we have here at the end of the day? Well, we can confidently say that we have two excellent models here bringing excellent value to the market with very good warranty coverage. The price points are very similar, and while they’re targeted at the same end user, they’re actually quite different musically.

If you like Yamaha as a brand and are attracted to the Yamaha sound, there’s not a lot to take issue with as far as what the YDP-144 has to offer – the tone is classic Yamaha and the action is solid.

If you’re not attached to Yamaha necessarily, the PX-870 has the edge in a few areas, such as a more complex sample, a much more powerful amplifier, a higher polyphony count and more onboard sounds.

The action battle also goes to the PX-870 in terms of the specs, though of course, some folks will prefer the GHS action simply due to personal preference.

We’ve got two great pianos here worth their popularity and rave reviews, both of which should be considered should you be shopping for a piano in this category.

Thanks for reading!