Yamaha DGX650B Digital Piano Review
When I moved into a new apartment that couldn’t fit my upright piano, I decided that it was the right time to get a digital piano. Digital pianos are perfect for spaces where you can’t be loud for long in fear of annoying your neighbors, and this new space was one of those. I spent a long time in the local music shops testing out different keyboards until I found the Yamaha DGX 650B. It has a beautiful feel and a dizzying number of options and tweakable effects.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Digital Piano
If you are a regular piano player, you’ll know that there are some key differences between digital and normal pianos. The major thing you should look for in a digital piano is how the keys are weighted. The weight of the keys signifies how “piano-like” the simulation of this piano is by its digital version. Another important factor you should consider is how much you would like to be able to modify the sound. Some high-end digital pianos recreate real pianos to the point you can barely tell the sonic difference but don’t offer much else.
The Yamaha DGX 650B
The Yamaha DGX 650B is a truly professional digital piano. It offers a great 88-key keyboard with proper weighting on all keys and 88-note polyphony. It also has built-in accompaniment, USB to MIDI outputs, and a headphone jack for private practice. The keyboard features a fully sampled digital version of the Yamaha CFIIIS concert grand piano, and its range is extremely dynamic. There are some awesome hidden features that add just enough to bring this out as one of my favorite digital pianos of all time.
Features & Benefits
Sound quality and output
One of the most jarring things about having a digital piano is the audio clipping you get if you turn the volume up and play with force. The audio signal runs too hot into the speakers, and the sound begins to distort. That’s never happened with my Yamaha even when I put it on full volume and play as hard as possible.
Furthermore, I can’t stress enough how insanely good this piano sounds. If I was a listener and just closed my eyes, I don’t think I could tell the difference between it and a true piano. The sampling is extremely well done, and there’s no hint that it’s digital.
Realistic Key Action
Having the same key response that your regular piano’s keys have is imperative for a great digital piano. The DGX has great response and even takes that a step further. The weighted keys also have four different touch sensitivity settings that you can tweak to your playing style, giving you increased customizability over how the piano is played.
Ease of Use
If you were to unpack this piano right now, you’d be able to plug it in and play it out of the box without reading the manual. Since you don’t need to know how to navigate the menus to get the amazing sounds it’s known for, the fact that those menus are slightly complex becomes unimportant. Once you’ve mastered the easy-to-use portions of the Yamaha, then you can dive into the more in-depth menus.
Value for the Money
While the 650B is my absolute favorite digital piano, for some people it may not be close enough to their particular acoustic piano that they feel totally comfortable. In that case, you should try out some of these alternatives.
Williams Legato 88-Key Digital Piano
If you’re on a tighter budget, then the Williams digital piano does the job quite well. Its piano isn’t quite as natural sounding, but it does have five distinct sounds you can use. It also allows for battery use, instead of relying on keeping it plugged into the wall all the time. It has the added bonus of including stereo/mono line outs in addition to its MIDI USB jacks, so you can plug it into speakers if wanted.
Compared to DGX650B:
- Much cheaper than the Yamaha
- Does not come with stand or pedal
- Keys are only semi-weighted
Casio CGP-700BK 88-Key Digital Grand Piano
Casio is known for producing cool toy keyboards and high-end electronics, so it's only natural that they created a great combination of both. The CGP-700 is a great digital piano with amazing sound and a nice touch screen. The touch screen makes tweaking settings during performances supremely easy, but the keys just don’t feel quite as real as the Yamaha’s keys do.
Compared to DGX650B:
- Color touch screen is much easier to navigate than the Yamaha’s menus
- Rich tones that sound surprisingly unlike other Casio equipment
- Keys don’t feel quite as nice as the Yamaha
Casio PX860 Bk Privia Digital Home Piano
If you really want to splurge, then this is the digital piano for you. The PX860 has an impressive sample library, allowing you to play instruments like other electric pianos and even string ensembles. It also has 256-note polyphony and split-mode capabilities, so you can play one piano with your right hand and another piano with your left. The piano is extremely heavy and can’t be moved as easily as the Yamaha, as it’s intended to stay at home.
Compared to DGX650B:
- Extremely large sound library
- More customization options than the Yamaha
- No way to transport if wanted
If you’re looking for a digital piano that’s cheaper than the real thing but still provides a true sound, then the Yamaha DGX 650B is definitely one of the best options on the market. Its great modeled sound and its good key feel give it an edge on the competition.