Decoding digital pianos

Feeling unsure of what exactly to look for in a digital piano?  Here’s a basic, easy to understand overview of the main specifications and features of a digital piano.

Number of Keys

88 Key: This is the same number of keys as a real piano and is most ideal for learning, practicing, and playing the piano.

76 Key: Though a less common choice for learning the piano, 76 key models such as the Yamaha P121 can be a good choice for those wanting the feel of a piano, as it has weighted keys. Not all 76 key models have weighted keys however, so it is important to check

61 Key: Ranging from keyboards with hundreds of sounds and rhythms to explore creativity at home, to workstations and synthesizers suitable for the stage. 76 key models also exist in this category.

Sound Engine

The sound engine is the technology used to produce the sound. Unlike acoustic pianos which produce sound from a hammer striking a string and resonating through a wooden soundboard, a digital instrument uses recorded samples of a piano, or a type of technology called ‘modelling’ which closely models the sound, feel, and behaviour of an acoustic instrument.

Each brand has their own name for the technology that they use and they all sound slightly different from one another, much in the same way that different brands of acoustic pianos each have their own distinct sound.

Keyboard Action

The way the keyboard feels is often described as the ‘action’. You might have heard of ‘weighted keys’ – it’s important to learn piano on an instrument with weighted keys to develop the muscles and dexterity in the fingers.

Graded Hammer Action technology takes it one step further in giving the player an authentic piano playing experience. If you’ve ever had a good look inside an acoustic piano, you’ll see that the hammers that strike the strings are larger – and therefore heavier – in the bass end of the piano, and smaller at the top. The natural effect is that the keys at the bottom feel heavier and gradually get lighter as they go up.

Digital piano technology emulates that feeling by making the keys heavier at the bottom, and lighter as they go up – depending on the brand, this can be called ‘Graded Hammer Action’, ‘Scaled Hammer Action’, ‘PHA-4’ (progressive hammer action) to name a few. Just like the sound engine, each brand uses their own technology and terminology.

There are also variances in the key’s texture across the different brands. A beginner is unlikely to have a strong preference (though, some do!), but an experienced player is likely to have a preference for a particular key feel.

Please note that 61 key keyboards generally do not have weighted keys.


Polyphony is the amount of notes you can play at once.

Record Function

The ability to record your playing and store it on the keyboard


In the past, a specific midi cable and keyboard port was required to connect the keyboard to the computer for recording midi. These days, the majority connect via a USB cable. Once connected, you can record midi using your preferred recording program.


A metronome is a click sound which keeps you playing in time. You can set the tempo and time signature. It’s an incredibly useful practice tool.

Headphone Jack

All current digital pianos have a headphone jack to connect headphones with. Depending on the type of headphones you own, you may need to buy a small adapter. These are not costly.


Any more questions related to a specific model? Feel free to get in touch with one of our experienced piano specialists on 1300 888 279


The Yamaha Arius YDP144 and YDP164 models, and how they compare to Clavinova CLP625.

If you’re looking for a digital piano for your home, you might like to look past portable digital pianos and consider a cabinet-style piano. These pianos offer the same features as most digital pianos, look more integrated with the rest of your home furniture. There’s also the benefit of not having to buy the stand and pedals & bench separately–they’re already included in the package! In this blog post, we’ll be looking at the entry level Yamaha cabinet-style pianos and the differences between the Yamaha Arius YDP144 and YDP164, and how these two compare to the starting model of the CLP series, the CLP625. 

The Arius YDP models are a popular choice for affordability while offering a sleek design and weighted action. But there are several differences between the YDP144 and YDP164 that you might need to consider when choosing your piano. 

In terms of sound, both pianos offer 10 different voices and 3 grand piano sounds: the Yamaha CFX grand piano, the mellow piano, and the pop grand piano. The CFX sound is a newer addition to the Arius series, allowing the pianos to have a much richer, more expressive sound. The 192-note polyphony adds to the resonance as well. But the defining factor in the different sounds between the pianos is the speaker size and power–the YDP144 has an 8 watt power system and two speakers overall at 12cm each, making it 16 watts of power overall. Alternatively, the YDP164 features a 20 wattage speaker system for a total of 40 watts. This makes a huge difference in the quality and depth of sound, especially if your piano is going in a larger living room space. 

Another key factor to consider is the difference in touch between the pianos. The YDP144 offers the Graded Hammer Standard action. While this is a fully weighted keyboard and is quite pleasant to play, it is the same as the action in the P125, a portable, entry-level digital piano. The YDP164 has the Graded Hammer 3 key action, which has a 3 sensor setup. This means you have far more range of expression in your playing, as opposed to the 2 sensor set up of the YDP144. A realistic, sensitive key action is essential to learning to play the piano with correct technique and expression, and will be far more satisfying to an experienced player. The YDP164 also comes with simulated ebony and ivory keytops, providing extra grip to your fingers as you practise. 

Both of these excellent pianos are compatible with the Yamaha Smart Pianist app, where you can further explore ways to customise your piano sound and space, as well as playing along to backing tracks, chord sheets, and musical scores. 

If you’re looking for something better yet, the Clavinova CLP series might interest you for even greater longevity and enjoyment. While a beginning player might not notice subtleties in touch, an experienced player is likely to pick this up quickly. This is the key difference between the Arius and Clavinova series. A good piano action helps with the development of proper piano technique, especially important for sound production on an acoustic piano and reducing risk of injury. If your digital piano is your main practise instrument, you want there to be as little discrepancy as possible for when you play on an acoustic. The CLP625 has the Graded Hammer 3X action, far more authentic feeling than any of the pianos in the Arius range.
The CLP625 also includes the CFX and Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano sounds. The Bösendorfer has a powerful but mellow sound, making it perfect for playing Romantic music such as Debussy or Chopin. The CLP625 has the same wattage power as the YDP164, but there’s added resonance with the improved 256-note polyphony. 

Choosing a cabinet-style digital piano tends to require more consideration since it is a more permanent part of your home space. Also they are closer to acoustic pianos in sound, quality, feel and set up, so authenticity of tone and touch is crucial in the decision making process. 

Australian Piano Warehouse | SYDNEY