Open Close

Yamaha YDP-181 digital piano review

With a rich piano tone, powerful amplification and a great touch, the Yamaha YDP-181 is sits at the top of the Yamaha Arius range and is a perfect digital piano for intermediate to more advanced pianists.

Online retailers

Retailer Country Price from
gear4musiclogo usroundflag £1,149.00
musicroomlogo usroundflag £1,149.00
musiciansfriendlogo usroundflag $1,699.99

About Yamaha pianos

Yamaha digital pianos are widely considered to be the best digital pianos in the market ahead of companies like Kurzweil and Roland. They’ve been making a wide-range of digital pianos for an awfully long time. What makes Yamaha digital pianos so popular in comparison to other makes is their quality of construction and tone-quality. At the time of writing, their range currently comprises:
– NP-range: entry-level keyboard/synth pianos
– P-series: a “compact and stylish” portable range
– Arius/YDP-range: a mid-range selection of static digital pianos (to which the Yamaha YDP-181 belongs)
– Clavinova CLP-range: a top-end selection of static and grand digital pianos
– Clavinova CVP-range: a top-end selection of electronic-functions based “show” pianos
– MODUS-range: a top-end selection of digital pianos that focus heavily on design

For more information about Yamaha digital pianos, please click here:

About Yamaha Arius (YDP) series

The Arius (YDP) series digital pianos are Yamaha’s static ‘furniture-style’ range. They’re digital pianos that combine great quality piano sounds with a decent touch. They’re perfect instruments for beginners through to experienced players and range in price from around £650 through to £1,400.



The Yamaha YDP-181 is arguably the top-of-the-range model in the Arius (YDP) range. The re-creation of the piano sound by Yamaha’s AWM dynamic stereo sampling is what sets it apart from its competitors. Whilst the Yamaha YDP-181 didn’t receive an upgrade to Yamaha’s Pure CF sound engine in 2013 in the way the Yamaha YDP-161 did (to the Yamaha YDP-162), it still produces an excellent rich piano tone.

Featuring 128-note polyphony (allowing you to play multiple notes at once with no loss in sound quality) and 20W+20W amplification played through two 16cm speakers, it’s certainly the most powerful in the Arius (YDP) range. For reference the YDP-162 has the same amplification but smaller speakers.

The Yamaha YDP-181 houses 14 voices (4 more than on more junior models) and two headphone jacks.



The 88-key Yamaha YDP-181, like the majority of models in the Arius range, is a medium-weighted piano (see touch-weight in the terminology section) and features a “graded hammer (GH)” keyboard action meaning the keys in the left-hand are slightly harder to depress than those in the right, as on an acoustic piano. “Graded hammer (GH)” is an upgrade to “graded hammer standard (GHS)”, Yamaha’s entry-level grading and hence makes for a more realistic playing experience.

It really is a joy to play. Whilst some argue that the GH action makes the keys too hard to press, at Digital Piano Compare we like how much firmer and more stable it is than the GHS action and also how much quieter and less ‘clicky’ the keys are.

The ‘furniture-style’ Arius (YDP) range all feature full pedal-boards giving the digital pianos a very real ‘proper’ piano feel. Three stable pedals are mounted: a damper pedal, a soft pedal and a sostenuto (sustain) pedal and these allow for more expressive playing.
Value for Money

three and a half star


The Yamaha YDP-181 is currently available in Dark Rosewood.

Yamaha YDP 181

Further information

People with a whole range of requirements from their digital piano purchase the Yamaha YDP-181 and it’s an instrument that’s ideal for intermediate/serious students. It’s particularly popular in secondary education as a classroom digital piano given how well it replicates an acoustic piano feel.

There is an LED-display on the Yamaha YDP-181 to make navigation of different settings slightly easier and a USB flashdrive input (alongside MIDI input and output ports). In terms of where this digital piano sits within the Yamaha range, there’s still quite a step up to the Clavinova range that feature 30W+30W amplification, an improved graded hammer action and the highly impressive RGE (real grand expression) sound engine that produces a stunning piano sound.

Other pianos for consideration

Those who are considering purchasing the Yamaha YDP-181 may also consider a number of different options including the Yamaha CLP-430 Clavinova (albeit a considerable step-up cost-wise), or the Casio PX-850 or Yamaha P-155 if you’re considering a portable alternative (it has the GH graded hammer action and the AWM dynamic stereo sampling but significantly less amplification).

Technical specification

Full technical specifications can be found here:


Here’s a wonderful video of a German chap playing the Yamaha YDP-181 which provides an excellent feel for the sound and “playability” of the instrument:

*in order to pay for the upkeep of the site, please note that there are affiliate links used on this page

Leave a comment

All fields marked (*) are required