08 Oct Yamaha Clavinova Digital Pianos | REVIEW | 11 Models Comparison
Yamaha Clavinova REVIEW | Digital Pianos $2700 up to $17,000 | 11 models | Comparison for 2020 | The 2020/2021 Clavinova piano lineup consists of the new Yamaha CLP-735, CLP-745, CLP-785, CLP-765GP, CLP-795GP, CSP-150, CSP-170, CVP-701, CVP-805, CVP-809, and CVP-809GP. The Yamaha Piano Company has been producing the “Clavinova” line of digital pianos continuously for over 35 years with their CSP models only coming out a little over 2 years ago. Yamaha Clavinovas start at a price of $2699 and go up from there to well over $15,000 depending on the model and they are all in attractive, full furniture cabinets. There are currently 5 models of CLP digital pianos available in the US which are called CLP-735, CLP-745, CLP-785, and 2 digital mini grand pianos called CLP-765GP and CLP-795GP. They are known as the more “traditional” Clavinova’s because they focus more on the “piano playing experience” with fewer “bells & whistles” than the CSP or CVP series. So if you mainly want to “play piano” but also have some cool digital features like extra instrument sounds, some recording & playback features and even Bluetooth connectivity, then the CLP pianos may be the better choice depending on your budget.
There are 2 CSP models which is a newer series of Clavinova pianos for Yamaha and have only been out for a couple years. They are called the CSP-150 & CSP-170 and they are unique because not only do they have an incredible amount of features and functions, but nearly all of the piano is controlled by a new proprietary app designed by Yamaha & Apple called Smart Pianist and this app currently works exclusively on iPad so that you can control the entire piano and all the features intuitively and easily from the color touch screen of an iPad. If you don’t have an iPad then the CSP pianos would be a great excuse to get one! These Clavinova pianos are for people who love technology, would like to use a tablet device with color touch screen, and want a huge array of useful, awesome instrument sounds, accompaniments, and other digital features intuitively controlled by their iPad, then these pianos may be the perfect choice for you.
There are currently 4 models in the Clavinova CVP series and at series has been produced for many years with the latest being the CVP-701, CVP-805, CVP-809, and CVP-809GP. The CVP’s are the “top-of-the-line” models in the Clavinova series with an easy to use built-in control that has many proprietary buttons, controls, along with literally thousands of very cool functions, features accessed by a large color touch screen within the piano. All CVP models (like the CSP) are very interactive in their approach to making music and not only do they have everything the CSP models do, they can do even more things than that so your music making abilities are almost limitless on these instruments. When you add it all up there are 11 different Clavinova models right now available in the US, but the CLP-785 & CLP-795GP are not quite out yet – (maybe before the end of 2020) and with 11 models this is more than enough for a digital piano shopper to find one that’s right for them. All Yamaha Clavinovas come with a very nice matching padded bench and a 5-year factory in-home warranty.
*By the way, if you want lower prices than Amazon or Internet on new digital pianos then please contact us before you purchase any digital piano from anyone and we will help you save a lot of money on new digital pianos including free shipping, no tax, new factory warranty, and free personal tech support. Please call or email us for more information.
– Yamaha Clavinova CLP-735 | $2699 internet price for matte black, matte rosewood, and matte dark walnut | $3199 internet price for polished ebony – This Clavinova model is the first one that has pretty much all of the main Clavinova digital features that are included in the rest of the Clavinova line above this model with the exceptions of the top-of-the-line CLP-775 and also the CLP-785/CLP-795GP which have quite a few more instrument sounds and other features including different user interface display screens. The features on the CLP-735 include 38 instrument sounds, 9 of which are different acoustic pianos, one old time honky-tonk piano, and 2 new “historical piano samples” that recreate the historical acoustic pianos that Mozart and Chopin would have played on which are very unique sounding pianos for those people who would enjoy playing classical music and have it sound like it did in the very “old days.”
The remainder of the instruments include a number or organs, strings, choirs, electric pianos, harpsichord, and bass tones which sound very nice and allow for more musical enjoyment. You can layer/mix any of those instruments, split any 2 of them with one on the left hand and one on the right hand, and you can record them on the 16-track (part) digital MIDI recorder so that you can create a 16 part arrangement using up to 16 different instrument sounds recorded one at a time and then play them back simultaneously. If you know what you’re doing when it comes to recording many instrument tracks the result of that can sound really great.
Rather than just having a basic digital metronome to help with timing and rhythm (which is a good thing to have), Yamaha also included 20 different pre-set drum rhythm pattern styles in this model such as rock, Latin, jazz, waltz, etc and this feature is fun to have so that you can play along rhythmically to a drummer to make your piano playing more exciting and therefore more enjoyable. Yamaha has also added a new feature called interactive “bass player” where you will hear a bass player playing along with the drummer based on you playing chords on your left hand. The bass player picks up on the chord you are playing and inserts the correct bass line based on that chord…it’s very intuitive and makes you sound better than you are…and that’s always a good thing! You can control the tempo of the drummer along with volume and can also record that playing session as well.
Speaking of recording, the CLP635 also has 1-track audio wav file recording in it so that you can get CD quality recording and then save that on a USB flash drive to off-load it to your computer or other device and then play your recorded song on those external devices which definitely is a cool way to hear your music. You can also convert any 16-track MIDI recording you did on the CLP-735 and convert it all to a 1-track wav file audio recording so that you can have a professional quality full mult-track arrangement of the song you did on the CLP-735 and then if you wish, you can later convert that audio recording to an MP3 audio file on your computer so that you can play your awesome song arrangement on your iPhone, iPad, etc. So there is a lot you can do with the recording and playback features of the CLP-735 to make your experience that much more exciting.
The key action in the CLP-735 is called GrandTouch-S and although it’s a plastic key action that Yamaha has used in digital pianos for many years. the balance and fulcrum point in the key action has been redesigned to make it play faster and also be lighter to the touch than on previous models. It’s solid, reliable, and it does a good job with regard to playing piano music and having great dynamic range of expression and piano tone. This CLP-635 model also has what is known as the “Piano Room feature” which is accessed by a single button on the control panel. This feature allows you to customize the piano sound that you’ve chosen and adjust (edit) different elements of that “piano sound environment” such as reverb effects, key transpose, brightness, Grand Piano “lid” position, VRM adjustments, and more.
“VRM” technology in this model is actually known as Virtual Resonance Modeling which means that Yamaha took their original piano recorded samples from a real Yamaha Concert Grand piano and a real European Bosendorfer Concert Grand Piano and then added extra organic elements “resonances” of those pianos to the recorded samples to come up with more accurate acoustic pianos sounds in the CLP735. There are string resonances, damper resonances, and body resonances that naturally occur within the real strings, real dampers, and real wooden body of actual acoustic pianos and those resonances are more difficult to get when using a sampling recording technology. With that in mind, Yamaha took this newer Physical Modeling technology to recreate or “model” those organic resonance tones from a real piano so that they would be heard in the digital piano as well. The result is simply a more natural acoustic piano sound in the Clavinova pianos from the CLP735 on up.
The speaker system within the CLP-735 is good with 60 watts of total power going through two larger 6″ speakers although I would have preferred the internal sound system having more power, more amplifiers, and more speakers although for many people this speaker system will probably be sufficient. Fortunately the next model up CLP-745 has that more powerful speaker system and it makes a lot of difference in what you hear. The control panel in the CLP-735 is functional, overall easy to use, and minimalistic in placement and design within the cabinet. To help with accessing functions and features even further, Yamaha (along with Apple company) designed a proprietary app called “Smart Pianist” for iOS which allows you to quickly and intuitively control all of the features and functions within the CLP-635 from your iPhone or iPad and this app also works with the entire Yamaha Clavinova line of pianos. We have used the Smart Pianist app many times and using the color touch display screen of an iPad to control the functions of the CLP-735 is very cool because of how great the graphics are in the iPad for this app and how easy it is to “get around” the piano as opposed to using the user interface and display screen within the piano.
Yamaha did a great job of designing this app and the Smart Pianist also adds new features to the piano playing experience that are not directly accessible in the CLP-735. In other words, it’s like getting extra cool features in the piano (that it doesn’t already have) such as digital music notation and learning features because you have the app. This model has lots of useful connectivity including audio outputs, audio input, MIDI connectors, USB flash-drive input, and dual stereo headphone jacks. The CLP-735 does not have any built-in Bluetooth wireless connectivity but the other Clavinova models up from this one do have the audio Bluetooth music streaming function along with Bluetooth MIDI for wireless connectivity with external devices in being able to control apps and programs. With its attractive cabinet styling which has all new redesigned legs and new curve elements not in previous models, intuitive user interface to access features & functions, beautiful piano sound, redesigned and competent key action, and those extra “bells & whistles” which definitely make it more enjoyable to play, in its price range the CLP-735 is an impressive piano in the Yamaha Clavinova series.
– Yamaha Clavinova CLP-745 | $3499 internet price for matte black, matte rosewood, matte dark walnut | $3999 internet price for polished ebony – This next model up is nearly identical to the CLP-635 except for a few important differences. The CLP-745 has the same size cabinet measurements and design although it’s 9 lbs heavier, same cabinet color options, same user interface control panel, same functions and features such as 36 instrument sounds, “Piano Room,” drum rhythms, etc, and same connectivity but the differences are that the CLP-745 has a more advanced “wooden key” key action called the GrandTouch-S, the speaker system has been upgraded to 4 speakers and 200 watts with 4 amplifiers, along with Bluetooth audio wireless connectivity and Bluetooth MIDI connectivity.
So for $800 more than the price of the CLP-735 you get a better key action, a better internal sound system, and more connectivity. The question is…is it worth the difference in price? I would argue that it is because it plays better having an upgraded key action that is more refined with the white keys being all wood and the key movement having a lighter “feel” when pressing down the keys as compared to the CLP-735, which is definitely a benefit and one I recommend. The more powerful internal speaker system gives the piano not only more power but also better bass response, clearer high frequencies, more “headroom” meaning you can play the piano at quieter volumes while maintaining a quality sound rather than straining the speaker system to get more volume which happens at times with the CLP-735.
Yamaha CLP735/745/765GP User interface control panel
These are 2 very important things in any digital piano…high quality, more responsive key action and a fuller, richer piano sound, both of which the CLP-745 does well. The 3 rd difference is the Bluetooth wireless audio streaming that I just mentioned. This means you can play music from your external device music library (such as iPad, Android) and have it come out of the internal speaker system of the CLP-745 without connect any cables. This allows for your piano to act as a separate “stereo sound system” in your home, etc so that you can hear music coming through it and control it from your external device even if you are not in the same room or a distance away from the piano. There are many applications for this feature which can be very useful and enjoyable and music sounds great coming through the internal CLP-745 sound system plus you can play along with it live on the piano and hear it all coming out of the piano or even going through stereo headphones when wanting to play privately without anyone else hearing the music.
The headphone feature in this new piano has an all new positional technology which makes it sound as if you are hearing the piano without having headphones on, only you do have headphones on…it is that natural and organic and it can fool you completely. When shopping for a new digital piano, especially in a higher price range over $2000, our advice is…do it right the first time, get the piano you really want assuming you can afford the purchase price because you will likely be keeping it for many years and you don’t want to say later on “I wish we had spent the extra money to get what we really wanted” because that way you won’t “grow out of the piano” and instead you’ll “grow into the piano.” The Yamaha CLP-745 is a great choice and definitely one of our favorite digital pianos.
– Yamaha Clavinova CLP-775 | $4699 internet price for matte black, matte rosewood, matte dark walnut, $5299 internet price for polished ebony – The new CLP-775 is not available in the US at this time even though it is available in other countries. The previous CLP-675 was that big of a “seller” in this country so Yamaha is not bringing this new model in right now to the US. Regardless, the new CLP-775 has a few differences notable differences over the CLP-645 which includes the same cabinet design with a slightly taller and deeper cabinet by approx 1.5″ tall and .5″ more in depth, and also the cabinet weighs 20 lbs more. As far as the digital features such as piano sounds, pedaling, functions, connectivity, etc, it is identical to the CLP-745 in every way.
The major “upgrades” would be a brand new touch sensitive control panel interface (very nice change!), a different key action which Yamaha calls a longer key “GrandTouch” movement, and a more powerful internal speaker system with positional sound dispersion. Given that this model is $1200 more than the CLP-745, you might think these upgrades would be a very big thing and in our opinion they are worth it, especially over the previous CLP-675 which we did not like very much mainly because of the extremely heavy and noisy key action which is now been redesigned in this new model.
Yamaha CLP-775/785/795GP touch control panel interface
The key action in the CLP-775 provides a more balanced key movement from the front to the back of each key (more like a grand piano in that way) and now with the redesigned and somewhat lighter key up-weight & down-weight movement and longer distance from the fulcrum point of the black & white keys, this key action can really hold up under intense playing. The improvement in key length (and grading) in this “GrandTouch” key action to give better front to back key balance and more precise “key to key” weight change with individual linear key weight. This key action is also less noisy than in the previous model which is great because I always felt the key movement, especially when the keys hit bottom when playing, was a distraction and somewhat “thumpy.” In the new CLP-775 Yamaha has “fixed that issue” and redesigned the key “stopper” with new material and a new position so it cuts down on key noise.
Regular acoustic piano key actions also make noise when the keys are moving but you never hear the noise because acoustic pianos are always so loud…it covers up the key movement noise. On a digital piano you can turn down the master volume so then noisy keys becomes more of an issue. As far as the internal speaker system goes, it has been improved with 6 amplifiers with a total of 284 watts of power going through 6 speakers and 2 transducers to provide a richer, more vibrant, and more positionally correct piano sound for the player than ever before. This built-in upgraded speaker system definitely puts out a bigger, bolder piano sound and we definitely like that feature in the CLP-675…it sounds great. With the new, elegant, and more intuitive touch sensitive control panel interface and all the other upgraded features, we think Yamaha finally got this model “right” and at this point for $4699 (matte finish) it may be the perfect piano for you in this price range.
– Yamaha Clavinova CLP-785 | $5799 internet price for matte black, $6599 internet price for polished ebony | $7591 price for polished white – The CLP-785 is definitely (and fortunately) not the same piano as the CLP-675. It has a different (and upgraded) key action, sound system, cabinet design, upgraded digital features and functions, and also comes in a “polished white” which none of the other models offer. The width of this model is 57.5,” depth from the wall is 18.75″ which is almost .5″ deeper than the CLP-775, and the height on the CLP-785 is 40.5″ which is about 2.5″ taller than the CLP-775 and the CLP-785 weighs in at 183 lbs for the matte finish models and 196 lbs for the polished ebony and polished white models.
This makes the CLP-785 weight 30 lbs more than the CLP-775. So the CLP-785 is definitely the largest and heaviest of all CLP Clavinova models. We like this model because although it still has the extra long GrandTouch wooden keys (white keys only), the keys have been upgraded to include “counter-weights” embedded in each key so that the keys can move somewhat more quickly, more precisely than in the CLP-775. This is a nice upgrade and improvement in this key action and in our opinion this it should also have been included with the CLP-675 because it can be confusing to shoppers.
Most people don’t know much about digital pianos and can see the Yamaha specs on their web site and in marketing materials indicate that both the CLP-675 and CLP-685 have the “GrandTouch” key action which is definitely upgraded in a few ways over the GrandTouch-S key action in the CLP645, but yet the GrandTouch action in the CLP-685 and CLP-675 are different from each other. This is because of the “counter-weights” embedded into the CLP-685 keys. Confused yet?? The pedaling mechanism in the CLP-685 as well as in the CLP-675 is called the “GP” triple pedal. The GP means “Grand Piano” and what Yamaha did is add a feeling of physical resistance when you press down on the pedals like a person would feel pressing on grand piano pedals. This extra pedal resistance simulates allows for a more precise control over the pedal movement including damper/sustain with half-damper pedaling. GP pedal response is not included with the CLP-645, 635, or 625.
With regard to the internal speakers system in the CLP-685, it includes a total 300 watts of power going through 6 speakers and 6 amplifiers along with 2 new transducer mics so there is even more power and more natural clarity than in the previous model and as compared to the CLP-775. In the CLP-785 there is an additional main speaker made partially from “spruce-wood” pulp” for the part of the speaker that vibrates using this ‘organic wood” that is supposed to resonate in a way that gives off a more natural piano-like tone to the main speaker as opposed to a synthetic speaker cone that is otherwise part of the other speakers. Real acoustic pianos have a real spruce-wood soundboard in them to amplify the natural vibrations in the piano. So the organic spruce-wood “pulp” within the speaker cone in the CLP-685 helps to more naturally amplify the piano sound coming through the speakers. So basically what you get by way of this new completely redesigned speaker system is a more natural, omni-directional acoustic piano sound that really seems as if the CLP-785 was not a digital piano but instead more of a natural acoustic piano with more high end transients and better sound dispersion to allow that new sampled grand piano sound to come out at you in a more authentic way. So is it worth the “price of admission for that?…I think it does.
Beyond the piano playing experience itself, the CLP-785 has even more feature upgrades in this model such as 49 more proprietary instruments along with 14 drumkits/special effects and a whopping 480 Yamaha “XG” instrument sounds including just about every instrument sound you can think of like brass, woodwinds, guitars, reeds, synths, accordions, harps, etc. These extra sounds also make it possible for the CLP-785 to be a General MIDI recording & playback device compatible with all digital pianos brands for GM/GS files. This is a very cool feature for downloading multi-track MIDI songs from the internet, saving them to a USB flashdrive, and being able to play them back on the CLP-785 so that you can learn new songs and play along with them using the “live” piano sounds in the CLP-785 and also being able to slow down the GM song and even transpose it to a different key to be able to modulate the song into a better key range for singing/vocals and just playing in a different key but playing the same notes as written.
Having all these additional sounds and recording/playback options makes playing music more fun and enjoyable on the CLP-785 and for some people they will use these added features and for others they may not use them. But we do like the fact that Yamaha gave this CLP-785 piano the features we thought should really be in the CLP-775 but were not. The CLP-785 also has an additional connectivity input to connect an “auxiliary pedal” to the piano so that you can have variable volume control over other sounds like organs (organs have foot volume control), strings, brass, synth, swells, attacks, etc. The pedal can also be assigned to control other functions within the piano such as “start/stop” for drum rhythms, glide, and other functions. So why would someone want to invest their money in this higher price range for a new CLP-785? Simple…a really impressive piano playing experience, huge, resonate piano sound along with a beautiful furniture cabinet, a large amount of useful digital features including the Yamaha Smart Pianist app, Bluetooth audio and MIDI wireless connectivity, great reliability over time because Yamaha equipment stands the test of time based on my years of owning Yamaha acoustic and digital pianos, and of course the Yamaha name. Are their other impressive digital pianos from other brand out there? Yes there is…but competing with Yamaha is not an easy task now that they have these new Clavinova CLP models.
– Yamaha Clavinova CLP-765GP – $5499 internet price for polished ebony | $6299 internet price for polished white – This model is a mini-grand digital piano and has a depth measurement from front to back of 3’9″ and weighs 227 lbs so it is a good size and can fit into many spaces. It looks great, sounds beautiful, and plays nicely. Essentially, the CLP-765GP is a CLP-735 in a mini grand cabinet. All of the digital features, interface, connectivity, key action, etc is identical to the CLP-735 with the exception of the internal speaker system being a huge 184 watts of total power with 4 amplifiers and 4 speakers as opposed to the 60 watts of power with 2 amplifiers and 2 speakers in the CLP-735.
Also, this CLP-765GP does have Bluetooth audio & MIDI wireless connectivity whereas the CLP-735 does not. Those are the differences which means you are really getting the CLP-735 in a very attractive mini-grand cabinet with a much more powerful internal speaker system and Bluetooth wireless connectivity for only $2300 more than the polished ebony CLP-735. Is it worth the money for that…we think it is because it sounds a lot better, fuller, richer and that mini-grand cabinet is not cheap to produce…so this model does cost a lot for money for some good reasons. The polished white cabinet finish is $800 more than the polished ebony because Yamaha doesn’t make many of the white versions and there is a big premium you’ll pay to get it…assuming they would be available at the time because there are never many in stock, if at all.
– Yamaha Clavinova CLP-795GP – $7499 internet price for polished ebony | $8499 internet price for polished white – This is Yamaha’s top-of-the-line CLP mini grand and it measures almost 49″ deep from front to back, so just a bit over 4′ deep and it weighs 280 lbs. It has great styling with a large music rack and slide-out key cover. This mini grand piano model is absolutely identical to the CLP-785 upright version in every way with regard to functions & digital features. However, the CLP-795 sound system and speakers are placed in completely positions to emulate the feeling of playing a grand piano in terms of how the piano sound is projected. The bass response a clearer sound and definition to help diffuse it through the grand piano cabinet which helps make the sound more natural and spreads out like a real grand piano. Other than that everything else is identical to the CLP785 including all of the hundreds of extra instrument sounds, General MIDI, the powerful 300 watt speaker system, all functions, features, touch panel interface, etc.
Yamaha CLP-795GP speaker array & spruce-wood cone speaker
The CLP795 also has an interior polished “wood” soundboard which looks very elegant and really makes this model outstanding in terms of cabinet design and materials used to create an impression on everyone who sees it. As I already mentioned, Yamaha has also done a great job in speaker placement and design inside that soundboard along with that extra “wood cone” speaker, so it all ties together nicely and looks great. It’s definitely a step up in appearance from many other digital grand pianos and you’ll likely never run out of things to do on this piano.
Also, as with all the other CLP models, the Smart Pianist app allows you to have control over the piano along with seeing digital sheet music displayed and a lot more through the color touch screen on any iPad. If you don’t mind being in this price range and you want a mini baby grand shaped piano and like what you read about on the CLP-785, then this may be the perfect digital baby grand for you, especially considering its reasonable price range because for just $900 more than the the CLP-785 (polished ebony finish) you get a beautiful mini grand piano cabinet version of the CLP-785 with the sound coming out of the piano like a grand piano.
– Yamaha Clavinova CSP-150 – $3499 internet price matte black | $3999 internet price polished ebony – The Clavinova CSP series currently consists of two models with the CSP-150 being the lowest price. CSP stands for Clavinova “Smart” Piano and this “smart piano” is called that name because it is actually very smart. If you just look at the piano from the outside it doesn’t appear like it has any digital features at all. It is one small, flush-mounted button called “function” located on the left side of the keyboard and on the right side of the keyboard it has one power button and 1 master volume control slider. So by the looks of it this piano seems to have no features because it doesn’t have a built-in user display screen, no control panel with buttons like the other Clavinova models, and basically it looks like many other home furniture cabinet digital pianos as far as cabinet design goes. So what makes this digital piano so different and so “smart” than all the rest? The answer lies in the fact that “underneath the hood” lies literally thousands of features and functions all controlled by a proprietary app for iPad called the Yamaha “Smart Pianist.”
Instead of having the more traditional user interface along with many buttons built into the piano, the CSP digital piano series is the first of its kind offered by any digital piano brand to be completely controlled by the color touch screen on an iPad. The Smart Pianist app was created by Yamaha and Apple company and is mostly based off the features and functions of the popular Yamaha CVP805 digital piano. The CVP805 has thousands of functions & features including having almost 1500 instrument sounds (aka: voices), nearly 500 interactive chord music styles (aka: backing tracks) with hundreds of variations, a built-in 7″ color touch screen to control all of those functions and features, and so many other features you almost cannot believe it.
To say the CVP-805 has a lot of “bells & whistles” is a huge understatement and yet the sounds and music styles, etc of this model are so good that it is a very compelling model to own. However, the user control panel, buttons, sliders, and other user interface functions take a long time to learn on this model for most people, and beyond that, this model is “pricey.” The average selling price of the CVP-805 in the USA is about $7400 plus tax in a matte black finish, and in a polished ebony finish the discount selling price is about $8000. Even though this CVP-805 digital piano is an outstanding musical instrument it is also outside of the financial reach of many families.
So what Yamaha did is that they spent many years of time, energy, and development to design and implement a brand new proprietary technology that digitizes many of the most desirable features and functions of the CVP-805 into “software” that is accessed by the Smart Pianist app on any iPad with a lightning connector. In other words you just take an iPad (doesn’t need to be the latest, greatest iPad model) and you download the Smart Pianist app from the iOS app store and then you connect your iPad to the CSP-150 piano by a simple cable included with the CSP-150 and then you can instantly begin your piano playing adventure using this new app in ways you never thought possible.
This app is attractive, elegant looking, intuitive, easy to use, quick, and it allows you to access thousands of very cool musical features from the iPad color touch screen so that you can play piano and interface with musical features in thousands of very cool ways not available on any other digital piano in the digital piano business. This app is also a great idea because then Yamaha can update the app if and when they come out with new features for the CSP-150 which they could not do in previous “hardware based” digital pianos. It is good to know that the main stereo acoustic piano sounds in this model is exactly the same as all of the Clavinova CLP models including the 256-note polyphony sound chip with sampling & physical resonance modeling technology.
Smart Pianist for CSP – Rhythm accompaniment and interactive sheet music
Here are just “a few” of the features inside this Smart Pianist app: 692 instrument sounds, 470 interactive musical chord style accompaniments with interactive chord detection and style control, 403 preset songs in the song library, 44 different vocal harmony parts for microphone singing when microphone is connected to CSP, 16 track full General MIDI recorder and playback feature, interactive “streaming lights” song learning features and visual note recognition, digital sheet music notation with song play options for left and right hand, master EQ, 58 reverb/effects settings, layer/mix instrument sounds, split instrument sounds, visual digital mixing board, and importing iTunes for instant chord charts and play-along,
The CSP-150 is using a modified version of the CLP cabinet with it being about 1.5″ less wide than the CLP-635 but approx 4.5″ taller with its music rack in a slightly higher position pushed out more toward the player. It’s nearly 18.5″ deep from the wall which is about .5″ deeper than the CLP-635 and is about 4.5 lbs heavier at 128 lbs. The CSP-150 also uses the same internal speaker system as the CLP-635 as well as the same GH3X key action. So the CSP-150 can be reasonably defined as the CLP-635 cabinet, key action, & speakers system combined with the Smart Pianist app giving you most of the features and functions of the more expensive CVP-705 all rolled into one piano with only 2 buttons and one master volume control. The minimalistic appearance of the CSP-150 also makes it look the most “un-digital” piano on the market in terms of obvious buttons, screens, etc withing the structure of the piano itself. If you are the type of person who really likes technology but wants to keep the interface simple and easy to use while having an instrument that just be a good piano without all the “extra stuff” then the CLP-150 may be the perfect piano for you.
– Yamaha Clavinova CSP-170 – $4699 internet price for matte black | $5299 internet price for polished ebony – The CSP-170 model is the top model in the CSP series although we are hoping Yamaha will come out with a mini-grand version in the near future but until that time happens Yamaha does have a mini grand CVP model that has been out for 2020 and is called the CVP809GP which I will get to later in this review. The only differences between the CSP-150 and this CSP-170 is cabinet weight at 20 lbs heavier, internal speaker system which is a big upgrade offering 180 watts of total power going through 4 speakers and being powered by 4 individual amplifiers. The main speakers are housed in a separate acoustic speaker box below the piano keyboard which provides the CSP-170 with a lot more power for a fuller, richer, bassier sound, and it is noticeable, especially compared to the CSP-150.
When you turn up the volume of the CSP-170 it sounds amazing with huge sound like a grand piano. The other big difference between this model and the CSP-150 is the key action. The CSP-170 has the same key action in it as the previous CLP-645 and it is noticeably better because it has a lighter touch than the CSP-150 key action and the wooden white keys in the CLP-170 feels more natural to play. Given that the CSP-170 costs $1200 more than the CSP-150 in matte black ($1300 more in polished ebony), you need to decide if having a much improved and upgraded internal speaker system with a noticeably better key action is worth the difference in price. Otherwise the CSP-170 uses the same Smart Pianist app as the CSP-150 with all the same features & functions accessed in the same way. The CSP-170 is the more popular of the 2 models mainly because if people are going to be in the mid to high $3000 range and they want to keep the piano for a long time, it’s generally best to get the most authentic piano key action available along with experiencing a richer, fuller piano sound when playing the piano. The CSP-170 definitely does a very good job in those particular areas and for most people it’s worth the extra investment into their musical future for piano playing growth and enjoyment.
– Yamaha Clavinova CVP-701 – $3999 internet price for matte black | $4799 internet price for polished ebony – I have personally been playing CVP models for many years both for personal pleasure and also professionally. As with the CVP-701, all CVP models have offered a fun “one-man-band” playing experience with all those cool backing tracks and a big variety of music styles to choose from. The CVP models above this one (CVP-800 series) have the more realistic instrument voices (sounds) and more natural sounding accompaniment music styles. For those people who like this type of interactive piano, the idea has always been for Yamaha to provide the most realistic sounds, voicings, accompaniments that they can offer in a specific price range given the limitations of the digital technology at the time.
The Yamaha CVP series of digital pianos has many of the “bells & whistles” as the CSP series but all those features are accessed by proprietary control panel buttons and in the CVP-701 Yamaha has a 4.3″ color (non-touch) display screen in the piano. The CVP-701 has been on the market for about 4 years which may seem like a long time in technology years but it is still in line with a lot of current features on other new Yamaha digital pianos. The 701 continues to be a current model in the Yamaha CVP line of Clavinova’s and it has the same GH3X synthetic ivory/ebony key action as the CLP-635 and CSP-150 along with having an internal speaker system nearly identical to the CLP-635/CSP-150 with the exception of the total power being 50 watts in the 701 which is 10 watts less than the CLP-635 and CSP-150.
The first question that most people ask about this model is “if I want lots of cool interactive musical and fun features, why would I want to purchase a CVP-701 with all those built-in buttons and smaller no-touch screen as opposed to the CSP-150 which uses an iPad with a larger color touch-screen?” Why would Yamaha want to continue to produce this type of piano, especially when it is $400 more than the matte black CSP-150 and $800 more than the CSP-150 polished ebony? In fact when you think about it, the CSP-150 polished ebony is $500 more than the matte black version but the CVP-701 polished ebony is $800 more than the CVP-701 matte black which in our opinion is way too big of a price difference for those 2 cabinet finishes in this model. Nevertheless, the real question is why would you want a CVP-701?
The CVP-701 has the same stereo 256-note polyphony sound chip in it as the other current model Clavinova’s with the 2 main Yamaha Grand and Bosendorfer grand acoustic piano sounds and that is a good thing. It has Yamaha’s “Piano Room” accessed by a single button on the control panel giving you quick instant access to the piano sound environment including reverb settings, touch, brightness, etc. This model also has 1257 instrument sounds and 29 drum & special effects kits which includes a huge library of amazing “high definition” quality instrument reproductions such as guitars, flutes, saxophones, etc and no other brand has anything close it it in this price range.
So if you like other instruments sounds other than acoustic piano tones, the CVP-701 (like the CSP-150) is a real winner. The CVP-701 has 310 preset music styles from all genres of music so that you can have a one-man-band playing experience when you use left & right hand chords & melody notes to play your music as opposed to more traditional classical bass clef/treble clef. These accompaniment styles are also known as “backing tracks” because they actually do “back up” your music with your own band. This is a great feature to have lots of musical fun and it ultimately makes you sound way better than you really are and puts your playing in the center of an orchestra or band! The CSP-150 also has these features and it is equally as impressive and in that model you access it all from a larger iPad color touch screen.
In the CVP-701 you access all those music selections by pressing the appropriate buttons on either side of the 4.3″ color touch screen or by pressing the appropriate buttons below the screen and along the control panel. This piano also has additional proprietary functions for their music style backing tracks with one of them called “Music Finder” to help you find the appropriate styles for the songs you want to play, “Style Recommender” which helps you finds a good style of music for specific songs located in the piano song library, and “one touch settings” which sets up the appropriate right hand instrument sound when you are using the music styles.
There are 4 variations per style and since there are 310 music styles in the CVP-701 and there are 4 “one touch” settings per style, you get a total of 1240 “one-touch” settings to help you sound great when using those backing tracks. The CVP-701 has the 16-track General MIDI multi-track MIDI recorder player just like you get in the CSP-150 along with being able to play and record individual tracks along with audio wav file recording so that you can have different ways of recording your music and saving them. The main reasons we believe that you would want to purchase a CVP-701 over the CSP-150 is that having proprietary buttons on the piano can make it easier and quicker to change functions and features without having to “turn” pages in the Smart Pianist app for getting to other functions and features which can take more time in doing it that way. So if you like to “jump around” in changing instrument sounds, interactive accompaniment styles, volume controls, etc while you are playing a song in “real-time” then the CVP operating system may have its advantages in that way.
The other main reason for wanting a CVP-701 in our opinion is that it offers more interactive features when it comes to the “accompaniment music styles” as I already mentioned and it does have a few more secondary features we have not discussed yet that are also on other Clavinova models. It is important to note that this CVP is the only Clavinova that cannot use the Smart Pianist app to control the functions on the piano so you must use the piano control panel to do that. However, the CVP-701 does display music notation (sheet music) although you will be limited to seeing it on the 4.3″ color display screen. This model does have “follow-along lights” above the keys so that when you play a song from the CVP-701 song library those lights will light up above the key that you are supposed to play.
This feature allows the beginner to follow the lights so that they will know what key to play when the song is playing. It’s a cool feature and does help beginners (or those who cannot read music) to know what note to play and it helps with eye to hand coordination as well. The CSP-150 has a similar feature called “streaming lights” so that you can also visually follow the music and be able to see what keys to play, but that feature is done in a more advanced way on that model. What it really boils down to is this: if you are the type of person who would focus on the accompaniment one-man-band feature (as I like to call it) and you want all of those cool style finders, recommenders, and one-touch play settings that help you with using the styles, then the CVP-701 would have all those things whereas the CSP pianos do not. In our opinion, at least when considering the CVP-701 against the CSP-150, I believe the better choice for most people will be the CSP-150, and given that it is considerably less money than the CVP (because the CSP does not need all those buttons and built-in color screen), then choosing the CSP-150 would be the better way to go. However, if you like the unique aspects of the CVP-701 and what it has to offer then that model would be a very good choice in our opinion.
– Yamaha Clavinova CVP-805 – $7399 internet price for matte black | $7999 internet price for polished ebony – This newer model replaced the former CVP-705 and has some cool features on it. The cabinet size and weight of this model is 56″ wide x 34″ high x 24″ deep and weighs 176 lbs for matte black and 185 lbs. for polished ebony. As a long time musician and having played and also taught many instruments, I know what a real band or orchestra actually sounds like and I know how many of those individual instruments should behave and how they work when you are playing them. So when I hear digital pianos try to “imitate” those instrumental sounds or music styles I can tell right away if they sound artificial (fake) or if they sound authentic and “live.” For someone who doesn’t know much about music, isn’t personally experienced with a variety of real instruments, or has not been around real bands and orchestras very often (if at all), then even the “fake” instrument voices (sounds) on some of these digital piano may fool you into believing they are real…but in reality they are not real and many musicians would recognize that fact.
I say all of this because Yamaha has new “instrument reproduction technology” in the new CVP-805 which really does give you (even a musician) a more organic “live sound” that you would otherwise get from the “real thing.” In other words Yamaha has move their CVP technology to a new level and radically improved the instrumentation and music style voicing technology in a way where it really does give you the impression that you are hearing “live” musicians play “live instruments” with a live backing orchestra or band. This is essentially what the new CVP-800 series pianos are all about…giving the player the feeling of being immersed in a “live music setting” where you control the music by what you play with the piano providing the most accurate reproduction of sound that is available and puts it way beyond any other digital piano from any other manufacturer on the market.
The CVP-800 series with the CVP-805 being the 1st one and lowest priced model in that series is in a class all by itself and beyond the CVP-701 as well beyond the Yamaha CSP series. Both the CVP-701 and the 2 CSP models are really very exciting to play and sound great. But to the “sophisticated musical ear” you would immediately notice the difference in the instrumental sound “content” and you’d be able to hear all those musical nuances and organic elements associated with that acoustic or electric instrument that have not been previously captured in any digital piano.
The CVP-805 cabinet has also been updated over previous models with a more intuitive and faster responding user interface with a 7″ color “quick response” LCD touch screen with quick-press light up buttons across the entire control panel. The internal sound system has been upgraded to sound richer and fuller than previous models with a 4 speaker, total 130 watt internal sound system powered by 4 separate amplifiers. Considering the price of this model being at over $7000 you might think the internal sound system would have been more robust and more powerful especially as compared to the top-of-the-line Clavinova CLP-785 at $1200 less which has a total of 300 watts powered by 6 amplifiers going through 6 speakers. My best guess is because the digital sound technology and additional digital features, color touch screen, etc in this CVP-805 are so extensive and so much more “live” than what the CLP-785 offers, Yamaha probably had to decide whether adding more audio power and speakers to this model would have been worth a much larger increase in price. The good thing is that you can get a better internal speaker system in a CVP if you are willing to spend more money and go up to the next model CVP-809 which I will be talking about next.
Like all the other Clavinova pianos, the CVP-805 has the Yamaha and Bosendorfer stereo concert grand piano sound samples in it and they do sound great with lots of natural resonance or organic string vibrations and other natural acoustic piano elements. If you just play this model as a piano it is very satisfying to play and hear, in our opinion. So ultimately if you are the type of person who does not play well but wants to sound way better than you really are with the help of the “live” sounding auto-accompaniment backing tracks and music styles of almost any type of music you can think of, and you like a variety of music styles, then this may be the perfect piano for you, especially if you are comfortable with playing 3, 4, and/or 5 finger “chords” rather than just pure bass & treble clef notation. The built-in “live” auto-accompaniment chord playing aspect of this model is what sets it apart from all other digital pianos for Yamaha and for other brands. In fact you can just play simple chords and the auto-accompaniment is so real and so good and fills in so much music into your playing that you can just play “simple music” with simple chords and you sound like an absolute professional player who has been playing all of your life.
The CVP-805 has so many things it can do and so many features that we could talk about that it would be overwhelming so we’ll just mention the most important features which includes this model having 1315 proprietary super high quality instrument voices, 480 standard Yamaha XG/General MIDI voices, and 49 drum/SFX kits for a total of nearly 1800 total instrument sound selections and almost 50 drum and special effects kits and each kit has a variety of individual sounds.
There are 525 amazing music styles (accompaniments) with 4 different variations each for a total of 2100 accompaniment styles and each of the music styles has 3 professional introductions and 3 professional endings to the song accompaniments. There are also 4 “one touch settings” for each of the 525 music styles for a total of 2100 “OTS” (one touch settings”) which will automatically setup the best right hand and/or left hand sounds for your song so that you don’t have to figure out what would sound best among all the sounds in the piano…it’s pretty crazy having all of those possibilities but it works well and is easy to use.
There are 403 full length songs in the CVP-805 and you can also see the actual notation sheet music to those songs on the digital display screen and play along with those songs at any tempo you want. There are 2500 “records” in a song library that allows you to search for 100’s of songs that are popular or famous in some way and if the song is in the piano and you want to play it then the piano will set up all the sounds, rhythms, tempo, accompaniments and everything you need to make that song sound as real as possible in terms of the sounds and backgrounds that are heard. You just press a button and the intelligent technology in the piano does the rest and then you just play the song as you normally would.
This model also has a full blown Karaoke feature in it that displays song lyrics in the LCD color screen for hundreds of songs so that you can sing along through a microphone and hear it come out of the piano speaker system. You can make a variety of adjustments to the song including tempo change, key transpose, etc along with being able to use a “vocal harmonizer feature” that automatically puts instant “harmony” on your solo voice so that it sounds like you have professional back-up singers in your band singing along with you in harmony and it sounds amazing. There are 54 different types of harmonies available to choose from including 2-part, 3-part, 4-part, country, jazz, rock, and the list goes on & on. You can also create your own user vocal harmony custom settings and store them into 60 user memories.
Like other Yamaha Clavinova pianos this models has a 16-track MIDI recorder and playback system so that you can create and arrange your own full music scores as well as 1-track audio wav file recording & playback, However, unlike any other Clavinova models, the CVP805 also has 1-track MP3 (iTune type) audio recording and playback for that format as well which is great for being able to take your recordings and play them back on your favorite MP3 audio player such as an iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc..
The “Piano Room” feature is also in this model where you can select the piano sound you want along with other aspects of the piano you might want to add and do it all very easily from the color touch screen on the piano. You can access the functions and features on the piano including viewing the karaoke lyrics and sheet music notation on a large external TV monitor or screen so that all that info can be displayed through the entire room that you are in so that everyone can see it rather than just having the info seen in the 7″ piano display screen. You can also connect the piano to an iPad and control the entire piano from the iPad using the Yamaha Smart Pianist app just like you can do on the CSP and CLP pianos. Ultimately there is very little this piano cannot do.
The final item on the CVP-805 I want to mention is the new GrandTouch key action with wood keys (white keys only) which replaces the former NWX key action in the prior CVP-705 model. The GrandTouch action is similar to the key action that is used in the CLP-775 but is somewhat heavier in touch and I would personally prefer a lighter key action such as what is currently in the CLP-775. Even though Yamaha has extended the key length of the keys in this action and that extra length has given the keys much better and more even balance and motion from the front of each key to the back of the key as you press the keys down, the down-weight (aka: touch-weight) of each key is somewhat heavy when you press down the keys, especially when playing more lightly and delicately.
Based on our personal playing experience with this key action and having played it ourselves for a number of hours we can say this is the only part of this piano that we would prefer to be different. However, we really do love this new CVP-805 model but the relatively lower power internal speaker system (considering its price) with somewhat smaller bass response along with this heavier key action makes us wish for more. There will likely be some people out there who don’t need or want a more robust internal speakers system for their home, studio, or venue and may like this heavier key action, so this one still could be the perfect piano for you.
– Yamaha Clavinova CVP-809 – $11,799 internet price for matte black | $12,499 internet price for polished ebony, $12,999 internet price for polished white – This top-of-the-line CVP console model is what we would have wanted for the CVP-805. It has everything the CVP-805 has along with a bigger, fuller, more robust internal speaker system that has a noticeably better key action. Even though it is the new GrandTouch longer key key-action, Yamaha incorporated counter-weights within each key on this model to give the keys better response, better key movement, and an overall lighter touch-weight as compared to the GrandTouch key action in the CVP-805 which does not have counterweights in each key.
It’s amazing how much better this key action is with these counter-weights embedded into the keys so we are happy that Yamaha was able to do that in the CVP-809 and we do think they should have done the same thing in the CVP-805 but perhaps the added expense of doing that would have put the price up in the 805 to a level that Yamaha did not want to do. But in our opinion it would have been justified and a welcome addition to that key action in the 805 which we thing is just too heavy…but that’s our opinion and yours may be different.
The CVP-809 also has a “grand piano” response damper pedal which gives you the feeling that you are pressing down a real “grand piano pedal” as far as pedal weight and response are concerned as opposed to the CVP-705 pedal which is more like a standard upright pedal movement. The CVP-805 damper pedal movement and response is very good but it’s not to the level of a grand piano damper pedal movement in the CVP-809. The internal speaker system has 7 speakers with one of them being a larger 8″ speaker with wooden spruce pulp-wood in the cone and powered by a single 80 watt hi-quality Yamaha amplifier which handles the bass frequencies and gives this piano the extra boost that it needs to put out a full, rich, theater quality sound that you just do not get in the CVP-805.
The other 6 speakers are powered by 6 amplifiers putting out a total of 180 watts for a combined total of 260 watts of power in the CVP-809 along with a “twisted flare port” which gives the bass frequencies more definition rather than just being like a sub-woofer. With 150 watts more total power than the CVP-805 along with an 8″ bass “wood” speaker with 80 watts of dedicated power to handle the bass frequencies in the CVP-809, the improved key action and this amazing sound system give this model the “edge” that it needs to be a real winner in the game of ultimate home digital pianos.
So what are the other upgrades and improvements to this top model? The CVP-809 is improved over the prior model CVP-709 with upgraded “live” sounding instrument voices (sounds) and impressive articulation, “live” band and orchestra accompaniments/backing styles that make you believe that real musicians are actually playing along with your music even more than the CVP-805, a better, faster, clearer, and larger color touch-screen display, and better ergonomically designed control panel and buttons along with the new brushed black aluminum material on the control panel. It also has a lot more internal memory with 2 gigabytes vas compared to 6.3 megabytes in the prior model CVP-709.
This extra memory allows for substantially more memory storage for a variety of features. As far as notable differences between the CVP809 and the CVP-805, the CVP-809 has the improved key action and speaker system that we already discussed along with 290 more instrument voices, 9 more drum and SFX kits, and 50 more impressive preset music styles/backing tracks. The cabinet size and weight is almost identical to the CVP-805 so in that way they are very similar with the exception that the CVP-809 also is available in a polished white finish for $500 more than the polished ebony finish. The CVP-809 would be our choice if you can extend your budget to get up to this price range.
– Yamaha Clavinova CVP-809GP grand piano | $15,999 internet price for polished ebony | $16,999 internet for polished white – This model has the exact same functionality that is on and inside of the CVP-809 console model with the only difference (although it’s a big one) being the cabinet design and construction and that’s why the CVP-809GP is $3500 more for polished ebony and $4000 more for polished white as compared to the console version CVP-809 polished ebony and polished white. So you obviously pay a big premium to get the CVP-809 in a mini grand piano cabinet.
The CVP-809GP grand style cabinet is identical to the the Clavinova CLP-795GP although the CLP-795 has an upgraded speaker system redesigned key action, and new upgraded piano sound chip. So when you consider the internal speaker system, piano sound samples, and key action, the CLP 795GP digital grand is better than the CVP-809GP digital grand in that way. But all of the CVP functions and features are in a class by itself. Hundreds and hundreds of natural live sounding articulating instruments, full orchestral and rhythm interactive accompaniments, vocal microphone and vocal harmony capabilities…its amazing what this piano can do.
This model is 49″ (slightly over 4′) from from to back so it has a nice footprint to make it look like a small baby grand and its not too large and not too small like some of the 3′ or 2.5″ deep smaller grand cabinets. Smaller size grand cabinets can also be great for a lot of people with small spaces who like the appearance of a grand but this model is only available in this 4′ model. Also in the CVP-809GP grand style cabinet you will hear the sound come up and out of the piano through the upward facing speakers inside the piano in a way that more realistically emulates a real grand piano as compared to the “upright” console model CVP-809. In the final analysis if you have the “disposable income” and want to invest in your musical future for years of musical enjoyment then the Grand Piano version (GP) of the CVP-809 could be the perfect piano for you, your family, your church, your school, your studio, or wherever you play music! We really like this model and recommend it.