Yamaha P515 Stage Piano Review – High Performance Digital Piano

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The first keyboard that I ever purchased I actually still own. I purchased this about 20 years ago now and it was a Yamaha. The Yamaha P-515 is a digital piano and it is meant for the skilled or experienced pianist looking to upgrade to a quality stage piano.

With that being said, this has lead to me being a fan of Yamaha digital pianos as they are durable and quality keyboards.

Why Is The Yamaha P515 Considered A Stage Piano? It is considered a stage piano because its main purpose is to provide the musician with the closest feel to a piano possible. Stage pianos are used by all sorts of professional pianists because they are a lot lighter than acoustic pianos, yet they still give you a great feel and sound.

Yamaha P515 Overview

Yamaha P515 digital piano

The Yamaha P-515 is a stage piano that is going to be a little more expensive, however, it is also a keyboard that you really don’t need to upgrade. Yamaha has had a lot of experience building digital pianos over the years and their P series is quite popular and for good reason.

The P-515 takes off right where their last left off. A stage piano will typically be more expensive than a keyboard just because they play so close to an acoustic piano.

The P515 is currently the 3rd keyboard in the P series, with the following listed below:

  • Yamaha P-45 (Entry-Level)
  • Yamaha P-125 (Mid-Range)
  • Yamaha P-515 ( Advanced)

The P-515 has now replaced the P-225, which was one of Yamaha’s more impressive portable digital pianos.

So, what’s the difference between the two?

The biggest difference between the two is that the P-515 has better key-action. The P-225 came with graded hammer action, and the P-515 comes with the natural wood action or NWX.

Can you tell the difference between the two? Absolutely. You will be able to distinctly tell the two apart from the action of the keys.

While I do love this digital piano, I recommend checking out the Roland FP-10 as well. It is a little cheaper, but I also really think it’s great.


Design

Yamaha P515 box

When you order the P515, it will come in a large cardboard box that you will most likely need assistance with carrying.

It weighs a little over 60 pounds and it is an awkward thing to carry alone.

Inside the box, you will find a sustain pedal, a sheet music holder and the keyboard itself.

One thing to note with this keyboard is that it comes in two colors: white and black. The white one looks super sleek and crisp, but I personally like the black design more.

Yamaha P515 with stand and sustain pedal
Yamaha P515 in white with the stand and sustain pedal. The stand is sold separately, the pedal is included.

The P515 is relatively lightweight, weighing 48.5 pounds. I’ve toured with much heavier keyboards, so I personally believe this is not a super heavy keyboard.

If you were to put this in a keyboard case, it would still probably only weigh around 70 pounds total, if it’s a hard case. The good thing here is that most hard cases will come with wheels.

In terms of comparing its weight with some of its competition, it’s 3.5 pounds lighter than the Roland FP90, and about 7.5 pounds heavier than the Yamaha CP88.

I personally think that lighter keyboards are definitely better, however, you’re not really going to notice the difference between a few pounds.

When I first started touring, I had a Roland G8 and it weighed nearly 80 pounds. Now, that is something that you would notice a difference in.

I personally recommend just getting a keyboard stand rather than buying the Yamaha L515. The L515 is the stand that you can purchase specifically for this keyboard, however, it’s rather expensive.

If you really want to get the feel of a real piano, you can opt to buy the Lp-1 triple pedal unit that Yamaha makes. I personally think it’s a waste of money.

You can do just fine without it and save a few hundred dollars in the process. With this said, it’s not bad by any means, I just think the FC4a sustain pedal, which is included, is plenty fine.

What I don’t like about the Lp-1 triple pedal unit is that you would need the L515 stand in order to use it. To me, this is done to just make some more money, rather than having a unit that you could use for any digital piano.

Yamaha FC4A sustain pedal
Yamaha FC4a sustain pedal

What do I like about this pedal? I like the fact that mimics a real piano pedal nicely. It isn’t to easy to push down and it doesn’t feel cheap on your foot. I’ve played on countless pedals that felt like they were going to break at any moment.

On the bottom, you will find a rubber base that makes it so it doesn’t slip on floors or stages. Personally, I don’t mind if the pedal slips as I stand when I play. However, if you’re traditional and you’re sitting, you may want it to stay in place.


The Key-bed of the P515

Roland FP90 keybed, read below for more information

In terms of Yamaha key-beds, it goes as follows:

Yamaha Plastic Keys

GHS: the cheapest Yamaha keys that will be found in their entry-level keyboards.

GH: A step-up from the entry-level keyboards of Yamaha. These feel a little bit better.

GH3: These keys swing back to their natural rest faster than on the GH and GHS key-beds.

Yamaha Wood Keys

NWX: The NWX are the keys on the P515 and the only keyboard you could find this on prior to the P515 was the Clavinova series.

Grand Touch: Found On Yamaha’s most expensive grand digital pianos.

This has a fantastic key-bed that feels supernatural to your fingers. As a pianist who has spent many years playing on digital pianos, real pianos, and just keyboards, this ranks up there with some of the best ones I’ve played.

What I like in the P515 is that it feels natural. This is said about a lot of digital pianos, but for anything around this price range, it is hard to find. I was really shocked when I first sat down to play this keyboard.

They make the keys by drying out the wood in order to create a synthetic ivory-like feel. This specific key-bed is called the natural wood x action key-bed. The action that is provided by this keyboard is spot on as well.

One thing to note with this key-bed is that it will be desired by those who prefer heavier keys. I, personally, love heavier keys as they feel closer to an actual piano to me.

Some will say that a lighter action is better for kids or beginners, however, I think that is a load of garbage. Your fingers adjust to the heavier feel, just as if you were to upgrade to an acoustic piano.

If you do want to adjust the touch response on the keys, you will find 5 different options.

You can cycle throughout the different options and adjust to your personal preference. My recommendation is to just get used to the keys it comes with.

By playing on heavier keys, you are developing stronger fingers and more dexterity. This will allow you to be quicker and more accurate with scales and difficult pieces in the long run.

Piano keys are meant to be heavy and hard to press down. By using touch response and making the keys easier to depress, I personally feel like it’s pointless.

Sound

The P-515 comes with two main sounds including the Yamaha CFX sample and the Bosendorfer Imperial. Both of these are revered samples and have been used all of Yamahas digital pianos as well as other industry giants.

The Yamaha CFX9 has been used all over pop music and it is a little bit brighter than the Bosendorfer.

Personally, I prefer the Bosendorfer as I enjoy darker sounding pianos. They bring out more emotion, in my opinion.

With the P515, it also comes with the Yamaha CFX with binaural sampling. Basically, what this technique is, is using 2 microphones to capture the piano sounds in a different light.

In terms of the overall sound, I believe that this keyboard is on par with the Roland FP-90 and the Kawai ES8.

In total, there are 11 acoustic pianos, 7 electric pianos, and 2 harpsichords. You will also find a ton of different organs and string patches as well.

Overall, there 480 different patches to pick from. This is a lot for a digital piano as most of them come with far fewer patches.

To summarize the patches, look below:

  • 11 pianos
  • 7 electric pianos
  • 6 organs
  • 7 strings
  • 4 basses
  • 2 guitars
  • Vibraphone
  • Electric Clavichord
  • 18 drums (kits/samples)

Virtual Resonance Modeling

VRM

Virtual resonance modeling refers to the distinctive reverberation in a grand piano. For example, the sound carries throughout the entire concert grand piano and reverberates. This is the technology that Yamaha uses in order to try and truly capture the sound.

This is a feature that you can turn on and off. The sole purpose of this is to give the pianist a more organic and realistic sound that they’re able to tweak to their liking.

As labeled above, you can select between damper resonance, body resonance, string resonance, and aliquot resonance. So, what exactly do these effect?

Damper – Sustain pedaling

String resonation – Sympathetic vibration of the notes

Aliquot Resonance – Only affects the top 3 octaves

Body Resonance – The casing of the piano shell and how much it affects the sound

When you turn the VRM on, these are the four options to pick from. You can cycle through until you find one that you really like.

Key-Off Samples

Some digital piano enthusiasts are obsessed with this. I think it’s a neat feature as well. The whole purpose of this is to let you be more expressive in your playing.

What this does is replicates the sound that occurs when you release a note. This depends on how quickly you release the note.

Polyphony

Polyphony in digital pianos is something that is talked about almost too frequently with digital pianos. Some digital pianos have ridiculous amounts of polyphony and I personally don’t see the purpose after a certain point.

I totally get it when talking about keyboard workstations and layering sounds on a synthesizer. However, almost all newer digital pianos are built with an adequate amount of polyphony.

So, how much polyphony does the P515 have? 256 note polyphony. Now, some digital pianos may have a lot more polyphony, however, 256 is absolutely plenty.

This means that you could play 256 notes at the same time. To put that in perspective, you could play chords and hold the sustain pedal down and not really get close to 256 notes.

Speakers

P515 Speakers: 2X5 & 2×15 watts

There are 2 speakers total, one located on each side of the piano, as well as 2 tweeters. Tweeters are what make up the high-pitch frequencies. If you blow a tweeter, you will notice an extremely flat sound.

My personal opinion is that people obsess over the sound of the speakers far too much. If speakers are that big of a deal, you can easily hook up to some monitors in your studio or simply use some digital piano headphones.

One thing that I recommend is to try and not push your speakers to maximum volume all of the time. You can and will blow your speakers out over time.

In terms of speaker size and quality, the speakers are the same size as the ever-popular Kawai ES8. With this being said, the Kawai ES8 doesn’t have separate tweeters.

When compared with one of my personal favorites, the Roland FP90, the Yamaha P515 comes up short in the speaker department. The FP90 has 2 25 watt speakers as well as the same tweeter system at the P515.

Now, the reason why I say to not obsess over the speakers is that you’re simply going to get everything you need out of the speakers in any quality digital piano.

The P515 is plenty loud for anyone and if you need it to be louder for performance, you will be connecting to a PA or using an amp anyways. This is why I think you should never obsess over the speakers or compare them with others as part of your decision making.

If you want to play a little bit louder, you can activate “sound boost” and this is supposed to make it louder, without sacrificing and sound quality.

Effects & Piano Room

Yamaha P515 Lid Positions
Once activating piano room, you can then adjust the lid positioning

In the piano room function, you can adjust the lid position. What this does is makes the piano louder as with an acoustic piano. When you open the lid, the sound is typically brighter and louder.

You can adjust the brightness of the piano sound. I typically keep the pianos warm and less bright, but this is personal preference.

You will also be able to adjust the touch of the piano. This is for people who set the resistance on the keys. As recommended above, I think it’s smart to just adjust to how the piano was made.

You will find 6 total reverbs available:

  • Recital Hall – Average venue size
  • Concert Hall – Lots of reverb
  • Chamber – Smaller room
  • Cathedral – Swimming in reverb – My personal favorite
  • Bright- Seems normal in sound to me
  • Plate – Old-school feeling

Connectivity

The P515 has something unique when it comes to its connectivity. You can plug USB into the top of it. I haven’t seen this very often and to be honest, I’m not quite sure if I love it or hate it.

Top of the Yamaha P515
Top View

You can use a USB cable to plug into your laptop or PC to access a DAW and use VSTs. Now, if this sounds like a foreign language to you, I suggest you become very familiar with it.

VSTs are virtual instruments and I have to say, the technology is simply incredible. In my band, we use almost all VSTs in our music, despite having analog synthesizers that are quite expensive and top-of-the-line.

For example, you can use a piano VST to get an incredible sound and you can access it with your digital piano. I use my Roland FA08 as a MIDI controller just to use VSTs.

Back of Yamaha P515
From left to right: Aux In, Aux out (L&R), USB to Host, MIDI In/Out, Pedal input

There are two headphone jacks on the P515. They are your standard quarter-inch jacks that are found in almost every digital piano.

I personally think that you don’t need two, however, you could use them if you had to be quiet and you wanted someone to listen in with you. This would require two sets of headphones though.

The nice thing about the P515 is that it has a built-in interface. This means you can transfer audio data as well as MIDI data. A lot of digital pianos only allow you to transfer the MIDI data, rather than the audio.

There is Bluetooth connectivity with the P515, however, it doesn’t allow you to send MIDI data from your DAWs.


Playing Live

If you’re a musician who is looking to do some gigging and plays mostly acoustic sets or uses mainly organic sounds, the P-515 would cover your needs.

Remember this is just a digital piano, so it’s not going to have a million crazy sounds. However, the sounds that it does have, in specific; the piano sounds are great. The samples are Bösendorfer Imperial concert grand samples.

This is very sleek in its design compared to other keyboards. This is essential when doing some gigging and not having to lug around an overly bulky instrument.


What’s The Main Difference From The Yamaha P515 And Its Predecessors?

The feel of the keys and the samples of the pianos. This is a professional instrument and you realize it the moment you start playing on it. When you buy a cheaper keyboard you can instantly feel the poor quality key-bed and key action.

On top of that, the durability of the speakers and the power of the speakers is a big difference with this keyboard. The wooden key-bed feels really close to an actual piano and I know a lot of brands say this, but this in specific really does feel quite real to the touch and sound.

Key Features:

  • Piano Samples: Bösendorfer Imperial samples
  • Key-bed: Natural Wood X action
  • # Of Presets: 40 different presets
  • Effects: 10 different effects including 6 different reverbs
  • Display: LCD display
  • Recording Feature: Records up to 80 minutes
  • Headphone Jack: Yes
  • MIDI: In/Out
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Weight: 48.15 pounds
  • Sustain Pedal: FC4 sustain pedal included

My Experience With Digital Pianos

When I was 9 I began taking piano lessons. For the last 20 years, I have been developing as a musician and I have spent the last 10 years playing in bands and touring. I have a passion for reviewing music equipment as I was never able to find information on products that was reliable.

Don’t let people trick you when it comes to reviews as you will find information on the internet that is not always correct.

VS The FP 90

Roland FP90 VS Yamaha P515

The Roland FP90 is easily one of the best options in this price range. It comes with Roland’s best keys, the PHA50 key-bed. This is a hybrid wooden and plastic key that is I personally love.

When it comes to comparing digital pianos, it’s all about preference and what you can afford. My honest opinion is that you would more than likely enjoy either.

Where I think it gets a little challenging is in the action of the keys. I personally lean towards Roland key-beds almost every time. To me, they’re the closest thing to an acoustic piano.

With this being said the Yamaha P-515 also has great keys as well.

I, personally would go with the FP90. With this being said, I wouldn’t be able to argue with anyone who enjoys the P515 over the Roland FP90.

My Overall Thoughts On The Yamaha P-515

I think this is a great digital piano for the price. The key-bed feels like they could definitely up the price to something similar to what Kawai is charging for their instruments. I think the number one thing to look at with a digital piano is the key-bed along with the quality of the acoustic samples.

This is where the main separation happens when it comes to keyboards. When you’re playing on a cheaper keyboard you can immediately tell and when you’re playing on a quality keyboard you can also instantly tell.

Keep in mind that the P-515 is not made for beginners. That doesn’t mean you can play on it as a beginner in any way, it just means that the price range is going to be steep compared to a beginner’s keyboard.

This is meant for the serious musician who has been playing for a while and has developed a preference for keyboards. I recommend this over any of the other Yamaha digital pianos as I feel the key-bed and piano samples take it to the next level. If you like this keyboard or have any questions leave them below in the comment section.

7 Comments

  1. Renato
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