In the following review, we will take a close look at the Yamaha P515 Digital Piano. This model is Yamaha’s successor to the phenomenally popular P255 and the flagship of Yamaha’s P-series pianos. It is aimed at professionals and gig musicians who are looking for a portable piano with a lot of features.
A great choice for anyone looking for exceptional portability paired with a natural, realistic piano experience, the P515 features a number of improvements over its predecessor. Yamaha’s P-series pianos have set the standard for portable, high quality digital pianos.
P515 is an expensive piano when compared to other models in the P-series. How does it compare to them, and is it worth your money if you’re looking for a professional instrument? Should you purchase the Yamaha P515?
Must to Know
Yamaha P515 Summary
We noticed the first thing remarkable about the Yamaha P 515 is the use of two of the finest pianos in the world to come up with incredible sound samples. These samples were taken from the Bösendorfer Imperial and the CFX acoustic grand piano.
Several of the biggest music stages in the world have used these two pianos. It doesn’t take long for you to realize how profound the impact has been resulting from the Yamaha P 515’s addition of principal voicing to the P-Series keyboard.
There are no words to describe how beautiful the sound is! Various velocity layers were recorded in an effort to ensure that the loudness and harmonic content were appropriate for the keyboard playing style. As if that wasn’t enough, they used the Virtual Resonance Modelling technology to enhance the sounds even more.
A few soundboard resonances, strings, and improvements to the damper pedal were added by this tech. Each time you release a key, you’ll also hear a timbral and amplitudinal change. You’ll definitely enjoy the sounds here.
When these are combined with its various supporting features, you’re left with an instrument that’ll let your musical creativity soar.
Yamaha P515 Features
- Dimensions: 52.3 x 14.5 x 5.5 in;
- Weight: 48.5 lbs;
- Warranty: parts and labor – 3 years;
- Keys: 88 full-weighted wood keys with simulated Ebony and Ivory keytops;
- Natural Wood X with Escapement;
- Touch Sensitivity: 5 types;
- Sound: Bosendorfer Imperial; Yamaha CFX;
- Polyphony: 256;
- Instrument sounds: 40 (from which 11 acoustic pianos), 18 Drum kits, 480 XG Tones;
- 40 rythms;
- 12 effect types, 6 reverb types, 3 chorus types;
- Metronome, Fine-tuning, Transpose;
- Speakers: (15W + 5W) x 2;
- VRM: Aliquot Resonance, String Resonance, Damper Resonance;
- Intelligent Acoustic Control, Sound Boost, Master EQ, Stereophonic Optimizer;
- 16 Track MIDI Recorder, 250 songs;
- WAV audio recorder (44.1 KHz, 16 Bit, Stereo);
- Connectors: USB to Host (MIDI and Audio), USB to Device, MIDI in/out, 2 Headphone jacks, Line out R, L/ Mono, Line in, Bluetooth 4.1 (Audio only), Pedal Unit.
The design of the piano isn’t really radically different from the P255 – Yamaha hasn’t really done something radically different here. The buttons are all in place where you’d expect them to be, and Yamaha has placed a lot of emphasis on usability and functionality.
The P515 does not look bad in my opinion – I think it looks excellent. It can be mounted on almost any universal keyboard stand, even if it’s a cheap one because the P515 is much heavier than most other keyboards.
With the LP1 pedal unit and L515 keyboard stand, the P515 looks much better and gives the impression of being a complete package. It will, however, function just as well on a table, an X-frame stand or a desk. The design is stylish and functional.
With a weight of 22kg (48lbs) and a length of 135cm, this isn’t something you want to take on a bus or train. That being said, it isn’t so heavy that you need two people to carry it from gig to gig.
Yamaha has packed such a comprehensive feature set into something this small and light. It’s definitely a very portable keyboard. It can easily move between concerts, rehearsals, and gigs.
No assembly is really necessary – simply unpack the P515 from the large cardboard box it comes in, place it on your keyboard stand or table, plug in the power, the included sustain footswitch and away you go. Couldn’t be easier!
However, if you opt for the bespoke L515 stand, that will need assembling, but clear instructions are provided in the box for this. It’s no more difficult than assembling any other Yamaha console digital piano.
When you’ve bolted the stand together and installed the pedals, all that remains is to rest the keyboard on top of the stand and plug everything in.
Controls and Buttons
The controls on the P515 are so easy to use that it represents a clear advantage over something cheaper. Basically, you will be able to control all aspects of this piano that are not controlled by a self-explanatory dedicated button through the clear LCD screen.
The left function button is now a function key, and the right arrow keys control everything. This is a world of difference from the function + key press combination that plagued Yamahas in the past, about which I have complained so much on this blog.
Yamaha Smart Pianist app is also great because it allows you to connect your iPad or iPhone to the P515 via Bluetooth, and you can control the piano’s sounds from the app. This makes it even easier to select the sounds and effects you want.
When it comes to pedals, you have two options with the P515 – you can use the included FC4A footswitch (which is pretty useless in my opinion), or you can purchase the LP1 pedal board, which provides three pedals, like those found on a high-end concert grand piano.
Yamaha features a footswitch in most of their portable keyboards, and it is an on/off switch for the sustain function. The pedal set is probably okay for beginners, but serious musicians will probably want to invest in a better sustain switch or a dedicated pedal set.
You don’t have much choice with the P515 – you can either have white or black. Despite the fact that it seems a bit limiting, given that this is a model marketed to professionals, it makes sense. Both the black and white look fantastic, but the black stands out more. Both colours are the same price.
Next, let’s discuss one of the most important aspects of this review – the piano sound. The other features are great, but if the piano sound is poor, then everything fails.
Each of the two samples in the P515 comes from a different piano – the flagship Yamaha CFX grand and the incredible Bösendorfer 290 grand.
Both of these models have been my privilege to play in concert halls, and I can honestly say that the P515 gets them both absolutely right. It’s almost indistinguishable from the real thing in terms of richness, clarity, and full-bodiedness of sound if I close my eyes.
A Bösendorfer piano produces a much richer, mellower sound, which is ideal for romantic and more modern music – Chopin, Debussy, and Ravel are perfect examples. With the CFX, you can play almost any type of music, whether it is pop, jazz, classical, or rock. Whatever the case may be, I’m sure you will agree that the P515 sounds incredible.
As well as the Yamaha CFX with binaural sampling, Yamaha has included the Stereophonic Optimiser, which improves sound quality even further during playback with headphones.
Take a listen to these two piano sounds – I believe you will agree that they are both incredible.
Other Included Sounds
Let’s not forget the other sounds, which are almost as important as the piano.
You’ll find 9 classic Yamaha piano sounds, from a honky-tonk piano to an upright and grand piano. Some of these sounds will be familiar if you’ve played a Yamaha digital piano in the past few years.
You’ll also find harpsichord, electric piano, vibraphone, organ and a harpsichord. These sounds are not as good as the two flagship piano sounds, but they’re pretty close.
This is a complete list of sounds you get with the Yamaha P515. You can get almost any sound from a keyboard with this. Additionally, you receive Yamaha’s bank of 18 Drum and SFX sounds, as well as a whopping 480 XG sounds covering just about any instrument you can imagine.
The Yamaha P515 also features something called Virtual Resonance Modelling (VRM) which accurately and organically replicates the subtle sounds you get from an acoustic piano, such as damper resonance, overtones, string resonance and body resonance.
You also get key-off samples, which changes the sound based on how quickly your fingers leave the keys. All in all, this makes for a compelling, organic and realistic piano experience.
The P515 also features a huge 256 note polyphony, which is more than you’ll ever need. If you’re interested in learning some more about polyphony and why it’s important, check out our dedicated article on polyphony on digital pianos.
On each side of the P515, Yamaha has included two speaker sets. The speakers feature a 15W driver and a 5W tweeter, which ensures clear sound. I did not notice any distortion or crackling when using the P515’s built-in speakers at higher volumes.
Despite the excellent sound quality across all ranges including extremes of bass and treble, I felt these speakers were too weak to be used at a concert, while fine for home practice. It seems like they would need a little more oomph if they were used in a large space.
I understand, however, that adding amplification to the piano would likely add to its weight. Furthermore, concert and gig spaces will usually have amplification already.
Effects and Reverb
There are many types of reverb and chorus effects available on the P515. The P515 comes with features such as Piano Room and Sound Boost that allow you to change the acoustic environment as though you were playing in a recital hall, cathedral, or studio. What makes the P515 particularly special is the Piano Room and Sound Boost functions.
Sound Boost’s main feature is its graphic equalizer (EQ), which allows you to customize and edit the character and timbre of the sound according to the environment you’re in. As an example, if you’re in a large room and you want a brighter sound, the Sound Boost will do that for you.
While trying out the Yamaha P515, I found Piano Room to be one of my favorite features. The controls allow you to alter the sounds of the piano, including hammer noise, half-pedal point, damper resonance, tone and even whether the lid of the piano is opened or closed.
Piano Room gives you complete control over the sound of your piano, which can be tailored to your musical preferences or the needs of the music you play.
The connectivity of the P515 leaves no stone unturned, and you have all the connections and plugs you could ever hope for. You have the following:
- Aux In (for playing external sound through the in-built speakers)
- Aux Out (for amplification)
- USB-to Host and USB-to-Device (for connecting to a USB device or PC)
- 16V DC In
- 2x standard stereo headphone jacks
- MIDI In and Out
- Aux Sustain (for the included footswitch)
- Aux Pedal (for the LP1 pedal unit)
Now we come to the make or break part of the Yamaha P515. If everything else is great, but the keyboard is lacking, then what?
Fortunately, the P515 doesn’t let us down in this regard either. The P515 has one of the best actions I’ve ever played on a digital piano – it’s unbelievably accurate and natural, simulating a proper acoustic piano like never before.
The P515 features Yamaha’s NWX (Natural Wood, Escapement) action, which simulates the feel of a real grand piano with real wood parts. The NWX also uses dummy hammers inside the keyboard, which further enhances the realism and response, making it almost impossible to distinguish from a real acoustic piano.
The Clavinova and CP4 Stage Piano models have previously only come with this action and I am impressed with its responsiveness and smoothness, in comparison to some of Yamaha’s plastic actions featured on the P125 and P45, which can be a bit sluggish and unresponsive.
With its solid action (but not too much weight that it becomes tiring after a while), the piano produces a surprisingly compelling, organic piano playing experience. I give it top marks!
With this piano, Yamaha has included six levels of touch sensitivity. However, I was loathe to start playing around with this setting because the default setting provides such an excellent experience that I was reluctant to change it.
However, if you have children learning piano or if your piano finger strength is not quite developed, you may find it easier to play the P515 if the touch sensitivity is a little softer. You can also adjust the touch sensitivity so that it’s harder if you’re not getting enough expression out of the default setting. This will give you more expression and dynamic range.
Wood and plastic make up the 88 weighted keys, all of which are of a high quality. The black keys are textured as well. As a result, the keytops are topped with synthetic ebony and ivory for an extraordinarily authentic experience.
The keys on the Yamaha P515 are the same as those on the flagship line of Clavinova pianos. These are almost as good as Yamaha’s Avantgrand models, which are not portable and designed to mimic a real piano in every way.
If you close your eyes, it will be very hard for you to tell the difference between the keys on this model and those on a real Yamaha piano.