In this review, we’ll be taking a look at one of the most popular 88-key digital pianos in existence as we review the Yamaha P125. The P125 is the middle sibling of the Yamaha P Series and is inevitably the piano all others in the category get compared to, namely the sub $1,000 CAD portable digital piano category.
We’ll cover the usual core features, like tone engine and action, as well as other features and connectivity. We’ll also give our opinion on whether or not the status as best seller this instrument receives is truly warranted or not.
With that out of the way, let’s get into our Yamaha P125 review.
As we said above, the Yamaha P125 is not just any ordinary digital piano. We are looking at literally the world’s most popular digital piano in the $1,000 CAD range. That doesn’t mean it’s the best, but by judging by statistics from Amazon, it’s sheer popularity is not in question.
And really, it makes sense why the P125 has this crown. For one, the price point is comfortable for a wide variety of users and customers. Including hobbyists, college students who need a practice instrument, and parents starting their kids out with piano lessons for the first time.
The P125 is light enough and high enough quality that even some high-level professional musicians use the P125 as an instrument for gigs. Its minimalistic design is unintimidating for newer players.
At the heart of all of this is of course, Yamaha’s status as one of the top manufacturers of musical instruments worldwide, with one of the top marketing budgets. Everyone knows that when they go with a Yamaha digital piano or another musical instrument for that matter, they’re getting a well-made, good-quality instrument.
All of these combine for a perfect storm that absolutely positions the P125 for success. Let’s dive into the sound engine now.
Yamaha P125 Pure CF Sound Engine
The first thing that jumps out from the spec sheet is the polyphony count of 192 notes. 192 note polyphony is a very high polyphony count for the price range and gives us a hint that the sound engine is probably punching above its weight here.
That sound engine we’re referring to is of course the Pure CF Sound Engine, which is a sample-based engine based on a recording of the Yamaha CFIIIS 9′ concert grand piano. This concert grand has since been replaced by the CFX as Yamaha’s flagship concert grand piano, but this is still a very high-quality instrument that’s serving as for the main acoustic piano sound for the P125.
Right away we can tell that this is a high-quality sample, and extras like damper resonance and string resonance are really coming through.
We like the fact that the speakers are facing up and back, as this produces a lot of clarity. There’s a total of 14 watts of power, courtesy of a 4 speaker system, which includes 2 mains and 2 tweeters.
In terms of other sounds, there are 24 built-in presets in total, including a couple of other piano patches, though the default patch is clearly the highlight as far as acoustic piano patches are concerned.
The Electric piano sounds on here are generally very nice across the board. In fact, we actually think they’re a bit better than what’s on the more expensive P515.
The organ sounds are highly useable and versatile if used a blended setting, though probably not quite good enough if you were laying down solo organ tracks in the studio.
There’s also a very useable string patch, and those are especially hard to find on digital pianos in this price range as the attack and decay is hard to replicate. Synthesizer patches are solid.
Another cool feature is the Intelligent Acoustic Control which automatically EQ’s the sound according to the type of surface the piano is on, as well as a table EQ if it’s sitting on a table or desk, as well as Sound Boost which as the name suggests, adds extra punch to the sound if needed.
Lastly, we also have to mention the Stereophonic Optimizer which optimizes the sound for when playing with headphones.
Overall, we’re pretty impressed with the sound of this instrument. Moving onto the action.
Yamaha P125 Graded Hammer Standard Piano Action
The P125 uses Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Standard, or GHS for short, action. This is a functional 88-key action with weighted keys, but it’s not the best that you’ll get in this price point.
Somebody who’s a really experienced pianist and used to an acoustic piano action or more advanced digital piano action will likely find this hammer action lacking.
That doesn’t mean it’s not a functional action that you can’t learn foundational elements on if you’re a student, or that it’s not usable as a gigging instrument. But if your focus is really on as good a piano touch as possible for the price, you might be left wanting.
It uses a dual-sensor versus a triple-sensor, so it doesn’t deliver the same dynamic accuracy and range that you would get from Roland’s PHA4 action for example. There’s no escapement and it tends to also feel a little bit light, though there are 3 levels of adjustable touch sensitivity.
It also has a highly polished plastic surface on the white key and it’s got a bit of a textured surface on the matte black key. The lack of texture on the white keys is a bit of a drawback as your fingers can start sliding across the key if any moisture develops.
The action is probably the Achilles Heel of the P125 but it’s by no means a deal-breaker. Of course, just make sure that you have a chance to try it if you can, if action is critical to you, before moving forward with the purchase.
That about sums up our discussion on the GHS action. There’s no real issue when playing contemporary music, but when jumping into some classical repertoire, it really is lacking some of the control and some of the depth you’d hope for.
Roland’s PHA4, Kawai’s RHC, and Casio’s Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II are all a step up in our mind.
Features & Connectivity
The P125 has some really nice things going for it when it comes to some of the extra features. For example, it features built-in USB audio interface functionality, as well as some great auto-accompaniment rhythms and discreet 1/4″ line outputs.
The built-in USB audio interface is going to be super useful for a lot of people out there as it allows you to connect to a computer, fire up a DAW, and transmit audio information without the need for additional gear.
The user-friendly accompaniment function includes 20 built-in rhythms, the quality of which are really solid across the board. It’s not very common for instruments in this price range to include any built-in accompaniment, so this is another plus for the P125.
Other typical features like metronome, duo, split mode, and transpose are all covered as well.
The discreet 1/4″ AUX outs are very welcome as it allows you to connect to an amplifier or PA system if you need more juice without having to go through the headphone jack. This is why the P125 is an option for those looking for a gigging instrument.
Other connectivity includes a DC in for the power supply (AC power adapter), 2 headphone jacks, a sustain pedal port (comes with basic footswitch), a 3 pedal unit port, and USB to host.
There is no Bluetooth MIDI or Audio, so you’ll need to use the USB port to connect to an iPad, iPhone, or other iOS device to use the Yamaha Smart Pianist App.
You can get a matching keyboard stand with the P125 which, for anyone who’s wanting to use that in a home environment, might be worth consideration. It includes basic music rest in the box.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the Yamaha P125 review – hopefully, it shed some light as to whether or not the P125 is suitable for you or not.
Ultimately, we’re left with an instrument with a great sound engine, some solid features, but is lacking in the action department, and while it has huge bonuses like a built-in USB audio interface, it’s lacking things like Bluetooth.
You can’t go wrong with the P-125, but its status as the best-selling digital piano in the class isn’t due to it being a no doubt about it superior option to other instruments in the class.