Yamaha P-255 88-Key Digital Piano

Yamaha has a special advantage relative to most manufacturers of digital pianos in that they are a highly respected manufacturer of the instruments digital pianos seek to emulate: acoustic pianos. The culture of great piano action and great piano sound are deeply embedded into the company culture, and the Yamaha P-255 piano is an elegant reflection of that orientation.

The P-255 is an 88-key weighted action digital piano with excellent quality sound and feel, with a strong complement of additional sounds and a design that counts portability among its integral features.

The chief design factor is of course the sound. The piano sample used in the P-255 features three sample details that are absent in many digital pianos but that contribute to the realism of the sound. Key-off sampling is a process that reproduces the subtle change that is heard in a piano when the hammer disengages from the piano strings. This sound differs with legato versus staccato playing and is reproduced with a striking accuracy.

It also reproduces the soundboard resonance that is heard when the sustain pedal is engaged, as well as the resonance of strings adjacent to the strings that are being struck with the key hammer. The combined effect of these ancillary components of the piano sampling creates a stunning replication of an acoustic piano timbre.

The feel of the P-255 is another impressive technical achievement. It features Yamaha' Graded Hammer action, which means that just like an acoustic piano, the action on the left of the keyboard is heavier than it is on the right. The overall feel is satisfying to any pianist and even features synthetic ivory key tops that have an absorbent property that ensures against slippage, even after playing for an extended period of time.

The speaker system is likewise thoughtfully produced, with tweeters aimed directly at the performer for better-defined top end, and stereo woofers that produce a rich, satisfying, well-balanced sound. A Sound Boost function increases volume and presence at the touch of a button, a handy feature if in the middle of playing with a band you have the sense that you cannot be heard.

It features drum patterns in a variety of idioms, a USB flash drive port for recording, a 256-note polyphony, and a free App for iPhone or iPad that allows you to control the primary features of the P-255 with a touch screen interface. It weighs a mere 38 pounds and comes with an FC4 sustain pedal and a music rest.