* Prices may differ from that shown
I have always wanted to play the piano/keyboard and decided that now is the time to start. Given that I have never played before and wasn't sure how I would take to my new hobby, I decided to buy a low budget keyboard with a view to upgrading if I discovered I was not an uncoordinated buffoon.
From the moment I first used this keyboard I have been amazed at how much it can do for the price. It has 61 keys which is more than enough for the beginner and these keys are full sized (very important in my opinion). The sound quality is excellent; it really does sound like a grand piano - granted, the more musically tuned ear may disagree with me, but I wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
You can do more than just play in the grand piano 'voice' though. You can play a range of instruments from the rock organ to the pan pipes, all of which sound brilliantly realistic.
As for the learning side, the keyboard comes with 100 preincluded songs including many classic pieces including Greensleeves, Fur Elise and to my elation, The Entertainer (think of the movie The Sting). The learning function allows you to listen to these songs then attempt to play them. You can learn the left hand and right hand separately or dive right in and try the whole thing. This works by showing whcih keys should be played on the small display screen in the centre of the keyboard. Only by pressing the correct keys on the keyboard is a sound made and the song allowed to progress (press the wrong key and nothing will happen). The screen is a little small but it is not too difficult to make out which keys need to be played. This, in my opinion, is a fantastic way to learn songs without the need to read music (a daunting task for the beginner). You can then also work on perfecting the timing of the song using the timing function where you have to play the key(s) at the correct time and in the correct rhythm. You don't have to play the correct key, any key will do - as long as it's in time. This is a little curious but I suppose the purpose of this function is to get you used to the tempo and rhythm of the piece.
There are many other aids that help make learning to play the keyboard easier. You can slow down the tempo of songs so you have more time to take in the notes and learn the keys. There is a chord dictionary which, although a little tricky to use at first, contains hundreds of chords to learn; the keys for each chord are again shown on the digital screen. On the topic of the screen - when you play a key/note, that note is then displayed on the screen on a grand staff (those rows of lines you see with sheet music) which helps you in learning the basics of reading music. You can also choose to play with accompanying music in the background such as an orchestra or drum music. I haven't had much use for this myself but I'm sure it will apply to some.
Some people may think that only having 61 keys will limit the notes and therefore the music that can be played. Well, yes and no. You won't be able to play peices that use both the lowest and highest notes together but you can 'move' the notes up or down an octave if you want. This means that the lowest note you can play is an octave lower - and consequently, every note on the keyboard now plays an octave lower. Or you can move the notes up an octave so that every note plays an octave higher. This allows you to play those missing low and high notes on the standard 61 key set-up (Pardon my bumbled effort of explaining this feature - I can sense musicians cringing at my efforts).
One disadvantage, the scale of which depends on your requirements, is that it does not have touch-sensitive keys. So when you play a key, the note sounds at the same volume regardless of how softly or forefully you strike it. This is not a great problem for the beginner like myself but will limit what you can do if you are a bit better.
The keyboard comes with a stand which fixes onto the back to hold your sheet music or any other notes and also allows for a headphone connection. I have bought a keyboard stand and a dust cover to accompany mine - both of which I strongly recommend.
In summary, this is a remarkable keyboard for the price. I have not regretted for one moment opting for this model and would happily recommend this to any aspiring pianist out there. I am also happy to report that I am progressing nicely with my new hobby and have already benefitted greatly from the learning fucntions on this keyboard. I hope this review has helped you and good luck if you are just about to take up learning the keyboard!
We're at that time again at the start of a new session in school and at a start of a new term, which brings new technological toys to play about with in the classroom. Or if you're like me in a school that can't afford much due to consistent government cuts that should take a cut to their salaries rather than schools, then you'll be in a department with a severe shortage of resources designed to enlighten young adults. Most schools these days have embraced Yamaha keyboards and in the last twenty odd years since the 1980s, the Yamaha keyboard with full size keys has replaced the mini-key type keyboards from the 1970's under Yamaha's name that are now in short supply for amateur musicians eager to learn the keyboard, or for amateur pianists who can't afford a full size piano in their home. A digital home keyboard isn't such a bad idea, especially when most keyboards on the market all have a stereo headphone socket equipped, great for private practice but more so for playing and discovering sounds without annoying anyone.
Last year briefly I was at the helm of my own Yamaha purchase in the form of the PSR E323, a silver/gold model that doesn't look very different to the basic black YPT210 model and there are few differences to each keyboard, if not distinguished by their colours. I have 20 of these new black/grey/blue Yamaha YPT 210 keyboards in my classroom and for the meantime they look and sound great with their retro black and pale blue colour scheme matched by soft touch keys and function buttons that are reasonably easy to function with large easy to read decals. This is a standard that Yamaha have always preached, unlike Casio and other cheaper brands that often dress their keyboards in lurid plastics and holographic colours that look wonderful yet are hard to find the functions or have buttons that squeak or feel too brittle. In terms of tactile surfaces Yamaha have concentrated on rubber buttons and a feeling of slight cheapness around the plastic board that holds everything together. Each "piano" key however feels substantial even though for the most part the total amount of 61 keys are easy and light plastic to push down. The keyboard has a polyphony of ability of 32 keys - meaning you can press up 32 keys together if you really want to all at the same time! Total weight of the keyboard is around 4kg, which is easier to transport than other keyboards but Yamaha could make life easier here with an in-built handle for such a requirement. The overall size is 94cm by 35cm and a height of 11cm, which is quite a large keyboard and could be too big for anyone under the age of 7 years old.
The YPT210 from Yamaha is now the starter "full size keyed," digital keyboard that offers buyers a bit more than just a couple of sounds encased in a fun looking package. The total amount of power is 5 watts, 2.5 watts per speaker and surround tweeters are also built in giving the keyboard a good 2 way sound, something that Yamaha would not have dreamt of putting in a standard starter keyboard many years ago. There's a single point 3.5 cm headphone jack for stereo headphones, a sustain pedal socket and twin DIN IN/DIN OUT MIDI points suitable to tie up with other devices at the rear not just including computers with MIDI compatible software. Pity here that Yamaha still refuse to move with the more modern USB points that are now appearing on other brands' keyboards though.
The core of the YPT 210's main advantages lies in the digital electronic hardware on board the keyboard itself. Sweeter sounds appear courtesy of Yamaha's well known sound generator, "XG/XGlite." There are 92 rhythm styles on board and they change their style somewhat when the fill-in button is pushed, not just putting a drum fill at the end of each measure which then gives the owner double the amount to 184 style variations. Then there are 8 further "non-drummer" styles that give pianists the chance to try light classical music without the tackiness of a pre-recorded drum kit blaring away in the background all the time. Great to see that Yamaha have provided variety here against all those who want to keep playing "Crazy Frog!" 9 drum kit styles allow the whole of the keyboard's single keys to emulate parts of a drum kit so you can drum away quite the thing. The quality of many of these drum styles are quite impressive though and sound very similar to real drums, thanks to Yamaha's XG and remains to be a generator that Yamaha have fitted to all of their home keyboards since the 1990's. XG also gives the piano sound a realistic sound without sounding too synthetic and this is because it has an additional special sound filter fitted to the piano sound called "stereo sampled," giving more of a home grown take-off. The guitar sounds are also highly authentic but to my ears, the only downsides I don't like are that of the mallet options - where vibraphones don't sound like the real instrument - a quality feature on Yamaha keyboards that over the years the brand has always perfected. This is because that when the volume is made to increase to the highest limit, the speakers can crackle badly when the mallet voices are selected and shows up Yamaha's poor quality plastic in this respect. However there are 375 voices in total on offer here which means there are far more voices to select giving the general musician the opportunity to the golden halo of perfected digital sampling.
In terms of other settings to improve the sound quality, Yamaha also offer up to 10 levels of acoustic choices. This gives you the opportunity to dampen the sound such as Hall 1 to 3, Room 1 & 2, Stage 1 & 2, Plate 1 & 2 or no option to take. When taking everything into consideration, the Yamaha YPT 210 has a lot going for it in terms of voice reproduction and the amount of styles/rhythms and voices offered. On top of that you then have the auto chord accompaniment that your left hand can play. This gives amateur musicians the kind of help they really need in terms of having to constantly play a manual chord and here is the where orange lit LCD panel helps you out. Other features include a 102 song list of pre-recorded demo songs built in to whirr away the hours, or to provide a suitable song that you can pause to record onto your telephone answer machine amidst other possibilities of demo songs if the feeling really takes you!
Located in the centre fascia is the main fascia screen that can't be adjusted with its orange lit background. However it does provide a lot of suitable information with small to medium grey LCD decals that appear on the screen depending on the function you have selected. A permanent treble cleff with notes on five lines and spaces appear if you play your right hand or the melody you're playing. Arrows appear in continuous motion to show beats 1 to 4 depending on the rhythmic style you've chosen or if the metronome has been selected to play in time whilst the auto chords themselves show from the auto chords played in the left hand, where you don't have to adopt fingers 1, 3 and 5 on your left hand to play a primary chord. The Yamaha system since the 1990's has been available to sense what chord you are trying to achieve with several extended parameters. Before the 1990 keyboards, Yamaha persisted in offering the musician two types of chord and beyond that in the 1980s a confusing array of chords with either bass knocked out, or just the bass or single finger action or the usual and often more difficult way of playing with double or triple finger chords. This time the keyboard will sense what you are trying to play and the Yamaha Education Suite has a few lessons to show you how to get chords, how to play melodies and how to get to grips with just being able to play in time. All the while, whenever the auto accompaniment/auto chords are selected you can view the actual chords you are playing and up to 7th, 13th and even a flurry of notes including jazz chords, this Yamaha will show you exactly what chord you are playing!
Of course, nothing is ever perfect with digital technology and although the Yamaha YPT 210 makes a good case for itself, there are a couple of downsides. At retail cost, the Yamaha YPT 210 costs between £76-00 and £99-00 and not every keyboard will include the electrical mains power cord adaptor priced between £10 and £15 from most stockists. My advice here is, if considering online purchasing, consider Amazon's price, as Amazon tends to stock these keyboards WITH the electrical mains power adaptor or if on the high street, a specialist music store who sell Yamaha keyboards. The store in Edinburgh where I purchased my own PSR E323 keyboard has the YPT 210 competitively priced at £79-99 plus an additional £6-99 for the KPA3 power adaptor whereas Argos don't and as a sweetener often offer this keyboard with a silly universal brand music stand that you can buy much later throughout your ownership period. The mains power adaptor is essential for long power play even if the keyboard can take 6 rather heavy 1.5 Volt batteries for portable play and the cord is usually more than a metre in length for distant power sockets.
Another issue is the blessed music stand! The one you get fits in easily on two permanent lugs at the top of the keyboard fascia, but once again like my own Yamaha PSR E323, the plastic stand can only accommodate two A4 page sheets or double the amount before anything more slides off the stand. Yamaha will persist in fitting all of their home keyboards with these kinds of stands; it's a real pity to a final good value home keyboard that allows discovery and creativity to blossom when the stand can't harness any more than a couple of pages. Short of putting clothes pegs on the top of the stand, Yamaha haven't improved this free cost optional accessory and there is no where to store it when not in use.
The user manual is fair to middling where information is concerned but parts of it have been plainly translated into poor English. Although it shows you clearly how to change styles, how to get the voice you want etc, parts of the thick user booklet could be made easier to understand rather than showing an imploded diagram for most of the features. At least the manual can be downloaded in pdf. format for free from Yamaha's website if you lose your paper copy.
If there is one final downside to this keyboard then it's the fact that it doesn't come with DSP, Chorus or touch sensitivity levels. That's a great pity because even with the portable grand piano function, it doesn't really allow musicians to get a feel for a real piano as real pianos have a touch sensitivity lending their traditional "pianoforte/soft-loud," name. The YPT 210 also lacks a recording function so you can't record anything other than take advantage of the limited Yamaha Education Suite (Y.E.S) facility. If you want those functions plus a little more in the rhythm, reverb and style department you'll need to look at the next Yamaha keyboard priced upwards, my model infact - the PSR E323 which Amazon are currently selling at £110.
Despite the lack of enhanced playing abilities and dynamic effects that are lacking on this keyboard, the Yamaha YPT 210 is a worthy component for beginners who are looking to advance their musical skills on a electric keyboard. Unlike the PSR E323, which gives amateur musicians, a feel for a more traditional piano, the Yamaha YPT 210 is well thought out, albeit not particularly well made in its plastic bonded casings. However I'm prepared to forgive this for the superb array of sounds and sound quality built in. For the price, it is hard to beat but it's time Yamaha had a look at the quality they're putting into this base level keyboard and at the very least offer touch sensitivity. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2010