Yamaha P-255 Review
The mid-level of digital pianos is a quagmire of sorts. Usually, it is the piano people consider as their first upgrade after having reached the limits of their beginner piano. However, one piano that has always been in the public eye for all the right reasons is the Yamaha P255. It looks really pretty but behind that beauty is a whole lot of useful features as well. After having played around with every major digital piano model out there, it takes a lot to impress us. The P255 seems to have all the necessary bits to do just that. Let us find out if it really is any good.
There is no denying the fact that this is one of the prettiest digital pianos out there. Unlike a guitar or an acoustic piano, the shape of a digital piano inherently makes it ugly and it is only on rare occasions that digital piano manufacturers are able to make this shape work. Yamaha has pulled it off with the P255. Instead of going for a boxy design like every other electric piano out there and uses subtle curves that start out narrow on the top and then proceed to cover the form of the keys in an appealing manner. It all comes together nicely and will look equally good on a stage as it would in a living room.
Looks only play a small part though if any. The feeling of the keys is quite good and just fiddling around with the P255 gives the impression of it being a nicely built instrument. It comes in two colors – matte black and ivory white, both of which are quite appealing. The piano does look hefty but is actually not all that heavy for a digital piano. There is an air of elegance to how the buttons and the screen above the buttons have been designed and placed. Sleekness seems to be the driving force here but that hasn’t come at the cost of function which is a good thing. The Yamaha P255 is one piano that will definitely catch the eye and give a great first impression. Let us find out if it is actually something worth buying.
Yamaha has a storied history of making digital pianos sound good and they have bought the same level of technical proficiency to the P255. Using cutting edge technology and 256-note polyphony, Yamaha has been able to capture the subtle nuances of the sound from there renowned concert piano – the CF. There are 24 high-quality tone presets that are available on board with four of them being grand piano sounds. The other tones which include electric piano and organ sounds are very good and can all be used in a professional setting.
The excellent sound samples are further accentuated by Yamaha’s Key-Off Samples which alters the sound in a realistic way to replicate the sound you get once you let go off the keys on an acoustic piano. It is also not a fixed system that feels the same irrespective of the style of playing. This Key-Off feature calibrates itself perfectly to both staccato and legato playing showing how much focus Yamaha has put into making the P255 sound as realistic as possible.
The onboard speakers are a treat but they do get overwhelmed when the high notes are played. The other sound samples also feel a bit underwhelming but that is mostly due to how good the piano tones are. Sound-wise, there is very little to complain about here and Yamaha delivers on all its promises in the sound department with the P255.
It would have been quite lame if Yamaha didn’t do the needful when it came to the feel after having worked so hard on the sound. Thankfully, they have put a lot of effort in the feel department as well. The keys are weighted in a graded manner which means that the bass keys are heavier while the higher keys are lighter. Another great thing about the keys is the synthetic ivory used which feels quite authentic and absorbs moisture easily allowing you to play flawlessly even in humid conditions.
Yamaha, however, did miss a trick by using this material only for the white keys. The black keys aren’t miserable to the touch but there is a definite difference in the way the two feel and that is never great. The black keys do not feel as premium as the white keys which a gross oversight at this price. It also does not feel very uniform which is not too bad but not ideal either. This clearly seems like one of those things that the manufacturer didn’t have to do but did anyways so that they could justify charging higher for the more advanced models. This is, however, a small gripe and pretty easy to get used to. The buttons and sliders all offer great tactile response and once you get used to the difference in feel between the black and white keys, there is little to fault with how the P255 feels as a whole.
Additional features, usability, and effects
The P255 is a modern product and isn’t handicapped by some of the shortcomings of its predecessors. One feature that the younger musician and some older musicians will appreciate is the iOS app. This app allows you to get more hands-on with the various features provided by the P255. Everything from layering sounds to controlling the split sounds can all be done using this app which makes the process more intuitive and easy. Using the onboard controls to do the same is also quite easy. Coming to the dual layering, some amazing effects can be created by pairing up two tones.
The 256 key polyphony comes in real handy here and layering a piano tone and a choir tone creates quite the surreal experience without sacrificing the quality of the individual tones.
Another feature that can be really useful is the ability to directly record in lossless format to a USB drive. The lossless format allows the recorded sound to do justice to the sound engine on the Yamaha P255 and it also allows you to sample your performance in its truest form. The tiny screen can be a bit restrictive at times though and it takes a lot of tinkering around to get used to it to the point where you can change stuff on the fly in a live setting.
Connectivity, usability, and portability
The P255 is a modern instrument and as such comes with all the necessary bits when it comes to connectivity. There is MIDI In and Out to allow it to be used as a MIDI controller. There is an auxiliary input too so you can connect to a music player or even your phone provided you have all the right cables and jam along. There are jacks to connect this to an external sound system with separate jacks for the left and right channels. The jack for the left channel also doubles up as a headphone jack. The catch here is that it is a 1/4″ jack which means that you will need to get specialized headphones or adapters for regular headphones. There is a USB to host port as well.
The clutter-free design of the buttons make them pleasing to look at but there are 8 buttons placed between the volume slider and the screen and it can be quite easy to confuse one button with another. It is not too big a deal and you might have to occasionally squint at the writing above the buttons but it isn’t serious enough to be a deal-breaker. The screen itself is quite small and displays only very basic information. There is a three-band EQ system with sliders and it is quite easy to work with though we left it at the default positions most of the time. There is an option for sound-boost and this is something we always had engaged.
Without Sound Boost, the high notes get easily drowned out. It was surprising from Yamaha’s point of view to have the default settings so poorly calibrated for the onboard speakers. The sound through headphones or external sound systems was unaffected and sounded great without needing any sound-boost. You can add reverb and a few other effects, all of which can be quite handy in the right setting. There is an option to lock the panels as well which can be useful if you are using the P255 in a public place and do not want anyone to mess your settings up.
Portability isn’t an issue. It appears big but is quite light for its size. It is also sturdily built making it quite capable of a life that is constantly on the move.
Final thoughts on the Yamaha P-255
The Yamaha P255 was generally quite an enjoyable instrument. It has its quirks and some frustrating shortcomings that could have been avoided but overall it is an excellent addition to Yamaha’s digital Piano line-up. It provides the sound quality and feel of a much more expensive digital piano in a portable package. If you are looking for a good digital piano to graduate from a beginner option but aren’t quite yet ready to break the bank then the Yamaha P255 is a great option worth considering provided you can live with its flaws.
– Beautiful design
– Excellent sound quality
– Great feeling keybed
– Sturdy build-quality
– Great connectivity options including lossless recording
– A bit on the pricey side
– Default speakers do not work well unless Sound Boost is engaged
– Black keys do not feel as great as the white keys
– Lack of a dedicated headphone jack
– App only available on iOS
- Rated 3.5 stars
- Very Good
- Yamaha P-255
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Categorised in: Product Reviews