The Yamaha YDP-S54B Digital Piano is designed to give beginners and advanced musicians alike the experience of playing a real piano, and more. It represents the top end of Yamaha’s ARIUS line of digital pianos.
Its full 88-key Graded Hammer 3 keyboard with synthetic ebony and ivory keytops feels like the real thing. The sound is based on Yamaha’s CFX nine-foot concert grand piano. It has three pedals, just like a real grand. And it comes in a slim cabinet that resembles a futuristic spinet piano.
But It Does Much More Than Your Acoustic Piano Ever Will!
The YDP-S54B includes the sounds of 10 instruments and an album of 50 songs. Built-in speakers give you high-fidelity stereo sound with concert hall reverb. A built-in recorder lets you listen to your performance. And you can use it with your iPhone for even more fun.
So let’s take a closer look at Yamaha’s 21st Century re-imagining of the classic acoustic piano. The…
Yamaha YDP-S54B Digital Piano
Although it is considered a console digital piano, it has a stylish contemporary look that’s much more streamlined and compact. The top is completely flat, with no music stand sticking up, and solid full-height side panels.
The keyboard cover looks like what you’d find on a traditional acoustic upright piano. It includes a soft-close feature to prevent it from slamming on the keyboard.
If you want a traditional matching piano bench, Yamaha makes one available separately. However, you might opt to get one elsewhere. The height of the Yamaha bench can’t be adjusted, and more comfortable third-party alternatives are available.
Overall, the piano has a very slim profile and weighs just 88 pounds. This makes it ideal for a small apartment or music room.
GH3 Weighted Action
When you sit down to play the Yamaha YDP-S54B, your hands might think it’s a concert grand piano. That’s because of Yamaha’s proprietary Graded Hammer 3 (GH3) action. It uses real hammers connected to each key to provide a more realistic touch. Weighted keys have a heavier touch at the bass end, just like an acoustic piano.
Each key has three sensors…
These detect the motion of the keys providing a precise grand piano-like response. This allows for maximum expressive control and very rapid repeated notes. You can actually select three different levels of key sensitivity to suit your playing style. Or turn it off altogether.
Keys are capped with synthetic ivory and synthetic ebony with a realistic texture. The matte black key tops absorb moisture and don’t feel slippery if they get wet.
The Sound Of A Concert Grand
The source of the uniquely realistic sound of the YDP-S54B is the acclaimed nine-foot CFX concert grand piano. This piano was the instrument of choice for the winner of the International Chopin Piano Competition in 2011.
To reproduce the sound of this magnificent instrument, the YDP-S54B uses stereo recordings of every CFX note played at several dynamic levels. For even greater realism, it also includes the sound of each note being released.
Playing notes on an acoustic piano with the damper pedal down causes other strings to vibrate sympathetically. Yamaha has emulated this effect by adding string and damper resonance digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms.
The YDP-S54B provides 192-note polyphony. This means you will never run out of notes, even playing huge chords with the damper pedal down.
A Full Set Of Pedals
Just like a grand piano, the Yamaha YDP-S54B comes with three pedals. On the right is the familiar damper pedal (sometimes called the “sustain” pedal). On an acoustic piano, this pedal lifts all the dampers off the strings at once so the strings can ring freely. The Yamaha YDP-S54B accomplishes the same thing using DSP.
And There’s More…
On an acoustic piano, you can press down the damper pedal halfway to produce a slightly sustained sound. This is called “half-pedaling,” and the Yamaha YDP-S54B lets you do this too.
The left-hand pedal is the soft pedal. As the name suggests, it makes the instrument play more quietly.
In the middle is the sostenuto pedal. As on an acoustic grand, this pedal sustains only notes already being held down when the pedal is pressed.
But The YamahaYDP-S54B Does More Than Just Emulate A Real Piano!
A Music Store Full Of Instruments In One Place
First of all, the Yamaha YDP-S54B isn’t limited to just a single grand piano sound. It actually gives you three grand pianos, two electric pianos, two organs, a harpsichord, a vibraphone, and strings. You can quickly select the voice you want by pressing buttons on the left side of the keyboard.
Even better, you can use Duo mode to split the keyboard and assign a different sound to each half. Or use Dual mode to assign two sounds (such as piano and strings) to the entire keyboard range.
You can change the tuning if you need to match another instrument (or for any other reason) and transpose the entire instrument up or down as much as six semitones.
To help you in your practice, a built-in metronome can be set from 32 – 280 beats per minute.
Excellent Built-in sound System
The YamahaYDP-S54 includes a relatively powerful 20 watts per channel stereo amplifier and a pair of 5 x 2.5-inch oval speakers. So you can play at nearly full concert volume, or turn the sound down to keep the neighbors happy late at night.
A pair of stereo headphone jacks are also provided for those times when you need to play in complete privacy. That second headphone jack comes in handy for playing duets.
Add some ambiance…
You can “sweeten” your sound with four different types of reverb, so it feels like you’re performing in a concert or recital hall, club, or chamber.
A special Yamaha feature called Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC) adjusts the sound automatically so you can get a balanced sound at any volume level.
Songbook & Recorder
The Yamaha YDP-S54B includes ten demo songs, plus a music book collection of 50 Classical Music Masterpieces. You can play them at different tempos if you want to practice playing along.
Also included is a basic Song Recorder that can record and play back two separate tracks. This is useful for evaluating your performance or recording a background track to improvise against. It can also serve as a songwriter’s sketch pad.
The YDP-S54B comes with 100K of user memory, which is enough for about 9 or 10 average-length songs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer any tools to edit your performance.
The YDP-S54B includes a USB TO HOST port that enables you to connect your digital piano to a wide variety of educational and entertainment musical applications running on your iOS mobile device:
Smart Pianist is an iOS app that can analyze songs stored in your music library and display a chord chart, so you can play along. It can also be used to select piano voices, control the Layer and Split functions and control transposition, tuning and pedal settings.
Visual Performer allows you to visualize your musical performance graphically. The graphic animation changes in time with the pitch and intensity of the music.
Piano Diary helps you keep track of your practice schedule and monitor your progress by recording your performances.
My Music Recorder is a free app that’s designed for parents to record, archive, and share their children’s musical practice and performances. Connection requires a Yamaha i-UX1 interface.
Unfortunately, Android devices are not supported. Also, you can’t use the USB port to record MIDI data or send MIDI to the YDP-S54B from an application running Windows or Macintosh OS.
With so many superb digital pianos available from Yamaha, it can be a difficult choice deciding on which is the perfect one for your needs. But it may well be worth taking a quick look at our in-depth Yamaha YDP 163B review, our Yamaha YDP 143 review, and our Yamaha YDP 103 review for some other options.
Yamaha YDP-S54B Digital Piano Pros & Cons
- Great piano action with a realistic touch.
- Accurate modeling of a Yamaha CFX concert grand piano.
- Ten instruments to choose from.
- Included songbook.
- Slim, attractive cabinet profile.
- Bench not included; Yamaha bench not very comfortable.
- Song Recorder has only two tracks and no editing features.
- Available apps are iOS only.
- No MIDI In/Out.
- No Bluetooth.
The Yamaha YDP-S54 is well-suited for beginning to intermediate piano students, or anyone wanting to play music casually. Serious pianists might find it less than a full substitute for a real piano.
Yamaha is the world’s largest manufacturer of musical instruments. Their brand is recognized and respected by music professionals and institutions around the world. Many classical concert halls provide Yamaha pianos for visiting artists.
This means that Yamaha knows how to make a piano that sounds good and plays well. Indeed, the YDP-S54B does a remarkable job of emulating a traditional acoustic piano.
However, it also means you pay a premium for the brand name. Compared to competing brands, you may find that the YDP-S54B offers fewer features at the same price point.
Ultimately, your choice of piano is a matter of personal taste. Definitely, the Yamaha YDP-S54B Digital Piano gives you a playing experience very close to a concert grand piano, in an attractive package that fits well in even the smallest space.