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Piano Review: The Yamaha P-515 Keyboard

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Johnson Tam

October 1st, 2021

When searching for a keyboard, there's a few brands that come up into our minds.  From Casio to Kawai, to upscale classes such as Yamahas, Rolands, and Nords.  

Today, I have the pleasure to let you know my thoughts on my newly purchased 2021 Yamaha P515. Please note that this review was not sponsored nor monetized by Yamaha, but rather straightly from a consumer with an itch to play piano properly in a small condominium space without the worry of making space for a grand or an upright.  

Firstly, this review comes from a classicaly-trained pianist such as myself, who have had the opportunity to try different brands of pianos over the years.  My family used to own an upright Petrof, as well as a grand piano in the heart of our living room by the same brand.  My performances have also taken me to try other brands such as Yamaha, or those beautiful Steinways, and countless other brands that I won't even be able to name anymore.  

As a pianist, most of us care about the quality of an acoustic piano keys' touch, sensitivity, depth, and sound after the mixture of the three previous elements.  Given the opportunity to play on an acoustic piano throughout most of my career, a big hesitation to me when playing on a keyboard's keys is when the touch is more (for the lack of a better term) plastic.  A good acoustic piano has an elegant wooden feel in its touch, which when playing techniques, becomes more alive and vibrant than most keyboards may be able to mimic, and definitely enhances the experience of the playing, providing more support to the hand and contours of its movement.  

Imagine my surprise when Yamaha has released its P515 model to accurately depict the same feeling I get when playing a proper acoustic piano.  Granted, keyboard technology has been improving in the last decade, but this model, less than a year's old, is a model that closely competes against rival Roland's P90 models.  While I have also tried the P60 and P90 of Roland models, I definitely appreciate the genuinity of the P515's keys' touch.  The depth was low enough that my fingers can sink into it and allow me to make my rotations and twists on the piano without ease of stumbling, and the sound it exhibits (especially with a sound system attached) accurately reflects the sensitivity when I press the keys to acoustic keys.  

P515 was able to accurately reflect that simply because their usage of real wood for the keys, creating that true weighted feeling one gets.  There are also other keyboard only features, from changing the sound to different existing Yamaha acoustic piano models, to an included metronome, which the industry has gotten right for the most part in recent years.  Another important feature I feel I always require on keyboards, are the option to change the sensitivity for the weight of the keys themselves.  P515 allows five sensitivity options, where the player may adjust, based on their experiences, how much the piano reacts to one's playing and heaviness.  For example, my family's Petrof grand has quite the heavy keys, which forces the player to refine their playing to a higher pedigree to get the piano to react to the player's touch.  I was pleased to see I may get that same feeling on the P515 by setting it to the second heaviest option, but I may also get the familiar Yamaha grand's touch by setting it to the second lightest sensitivity.  This gives the player even more flexibility based on how one would like to practice their pieces, or simply set the sensitivity that will best exhibit the sort of style the pieces require.  

It is true the P515 doesn't come cheap, as here in Canada, it sells for a retail price of $2050. You can purchase these online from Amazon, Cosmo Music and Long and McQuade just to name a few. Keyboards starts at the range of a few hundred, and it is definitely true this is a slightly higher tier.  But when compared to the pricing of current upright pianos, the P515 provides the option of being portable or stowed away, I would definitely feel the pricing for its quality definitely justifiable.  This is especially true if the family or player wants to "do it right" and may not seek for an upgrade anytime soon, but rather settle with what truly works.  

Your biggest challenge though?  Securing a model right at this moment, with the global supply shortage being an issue.  The lack of computer chips in circulation doesn't help either so most stores are out of stock for the time-being in the Greater Toronto Area.  If you do, however, manage to get an opportunity to try one of these models, I encourage you to approach it with an open mind and see if you agree with my own verdict and thoughts.  Plug it in with a proper sound system and this P515 is a real treat, let me tell you!

My final verdict - If you're looking to invest in a quality keyboard that simulates the feel of a grand piano and has the bells and whistles of any other standard keyboard, this is a keyboard I would recommend. 

Enjoy!