Yamaha Arius YDP-S34 88-key Digital Piano Review

YAMAHA ARIUS YDP-S34 is a classic digital piano for the home. It contains 10 sounds, an acoustic sound optimizer is on board, available in three colors.

Yamaha digital pianos were and remain a bestseller in the broad field of music electronics and with good reason: It is simply an asset to have a well-tuned instrument in the house at any time, which can be adjusted down to volume on demand, ideally also as a Midi Masterkeyboard can be used and in doubt can be changed without the help of movers.

Yamaha Arius YDP S34 88 key Digital Piano Review

Yamaha’s new model in the Arius series with the sober name YDP-S34 wants to offer all that – and a little more – at an attractive price and in three color variations (white, black walnut, and white ash). We got the pretty furniture for a test in the house and report.

Playability and Comfort

Yamaha Arius YDP S34 88 key Digital Piano Review

The fact that these are so-called “compact digital pianos” is common to the entire Arius series from Yamaha.

Instruments that consciously do not attempt to imitate a classical piano, but rather are designed to present the elementary functions of a digital piano in a compact, portable form.

So it makes much more sense to consider them as a kind of master keyboard with integrated sound generation, speakers and stand, as they formally compared visually with a piano. The tested YDP-S34 clearly shows that it is a true slimline digital piano: The central element is the 88-key Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keyboard around which a design-technically relatively minimalist frame and substructure come together. Nevertheless, the built-in speakers bring it to a respectable 2 x 8 watts, so as to carry the 192 possible voices of the Pure CF Sound Engine in the room.

The YDP-S34 reaches us already assembled and carried by two competent forwarding service. They give themselves – apparently in anticipation of a tip – much harder kneeling than the instrument actually requires. For the nearly forty kilos can be moved quite alone, in pairs of transport is to be managed well accordingly by powerful people. However, only if you can get hold of the instrument safely, because the minimalist design of the YDP-S34 is largely without unnecessary corners and edges from which you could grab it. As the safest variant, the touch below the keyboard turned (front and rear).

First impression

Yamaha Arius YDP S34 88 key Digital Piano Review

As already mentioned: The YDP-S34 successfully manages to reduce the concept of the digital piano to the bare essentials. Accordingly, its appearance is unspectacular and inconspicuous: All visible fronts are covered with a black veneer with wood texture, only a small Yamaha logo on the lid of the keyboard and a large logo on the left side betray the manufacturer. All in all, this looks as simple as it is elegant and should make this digital piano a pleasantly unobtrusive piece of furniture.

Due to the small depth of the instrument (without angle: just under 30 cm), however, two support brackets on the back are required – obviously, so that you do not tilt it forward with a powerfully played fortissimo parts. Although this is not a particularly pretty, but a pragmatic solution and who wants to put the piano flush to a wall (which is not necessarily acoustically recommended), the angle can also simply unscrew. Integrated into the base is a pedal unit with three pedals (left: soft, middle: sostenuto, right: legato) together with a support screw for stabilization, so that the complete rear wall does not step on the floor when the pedal is used.

Connections

Yamaha Arius YDP S34 88 key Digital Piano Review

YAMAHA ARIUS YDP-S34 DIGITAL PIANO is powered by an external 12-volt power supply. Right next to the power jack socket sits a serial for connection of the pedal module. The associated cable is guided at the rear of Intruments down and depends quite relaxed on the rear wall. Also in this “tub” (more about it) sits a USB socket that can be used to connect a laptop or iPad. All core components such as speakers and power / Connectivity section are in three plastic tubs the keyboard attached entertaining and give the impression that these are modular components.

Although this does not look very nice from the bottom up, it does help to reduce manufacturing costs and should also be advantageous in the case of a repair, since the components can be easily exchanged without dismantling the entire instrument. The headphone outputs are standard latch and are – a little hard to reach – at the bottom left. Nice, however, that it is here to twin sockets is: It can also be used with headphones on the instrument for two. In this case you should make the same possible impedance of the handset, otherwise it can for may already be sensitive to loud a while the other is still in the comfort zone.

Keyboard

Yamaha Arius YDP S34 88 key Digital Piano Review

After opening the lid and – if necessary – the note support, the YDP-S34 welcomes you with its optically flawless 88-key-keyboard (white keys glossy, black matt), which penetrates at the end by a noble red felt strip Dust is protected. The feel of the keyboard is nice, even if only the GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) keyboard and not the GH3 (Graded Hammer 3) variant of the top model YDP-163 is used.

Yamaha Arius YDP-S34 plays very softly, smoothly and with an agile rebound, which is quite helpful for beginners, it is much easier to play “with” the instrument and not “against it”. However, it can not be compared to the keys of our reference model, the Yamaha Avantgrand N3. Here you can easily see that the keyboard of the 14,000-euro model has a real wood core and a matte top layer of ivory imitation.

Above all, however, a physical reverberation of the keys is palpable, because the real mechanics physically replicate the contact of the hammer with the string. Of course that does not make the GHS keyboard. Rather, she plays like a neat, weighted master keyboard from Fatar or Studiologic. As I said before, this is not bad and is enough for learning, practicing or uplifting all-round playing.

Playing the Piano

Yamaha Arius YDP S34 88 key Digital Piano Review

Basic operations, such as turning power on, adjusting volume with the volume knob, or playing the 50 demo songs, are all easy to do without looking at the manual. The fact that one must press the key “Piano / Voice” to select the ten available sounds and then with the “+/-” – keys (or press the keys “C1” – “A1”) switches the sounds, actually opens also from Even that the “Metronome” button activates a click track and then the “+/-” buttons are used to increase and slow down the tempo.

Already here I would have liked a display, however, because without displaying the applied beats per minute a metronome makes no sense. But at the latest, when it comes to commanding Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC), changing the touch sensitivity, controlling the built-in reverb, or creating a split sound of two sounds, you need the explanations in the manual because all these operations require different keyboard shortcuts. Fortunately, you do not usually change the reverberation room all the time, or you’re constantly using the surround sound optimizer (Stereophonic Optimizer).

Those who frequently require certain functions are well advised to place them printed next to the instrument. In general, a look in the manual is recommended, because the list of additional features is really impressive. Just to name a few more: “Duo Playing” splits the keyboard in the middle (E3) into two sections that can each be changed in octave, “Dual Mode” allows you to layer or layer two different sounds, yes even the damper resonance sound can be switched off if necessary.

Device Connectivity

It is much more elegant to manage everything if you are the proud owner of an iOS or Android device. Then all additional functions can also be conveniently controlled via the free “Smart Pianist” app. This masters even a respectable notation. Admittedly, this only if you use the app on a device with the appropriate screen size – in our case, a 12.9 “iPad Pro. Too bad that there is currently no option (yet) to download more sheet music, so you have to be modest for the time being with the fifty demo songs.

But even if you do not have a tablet, but instead an OS X / Windows computer available, it is worthwhile to connect via USB, because the Yamaha Arius YDP-S34 can serve both as a master keyboard, as well as Midi sound generator and presents itself the connected computer even as a USB audio device, so that the direct recording of the game in the DAW as audio is possible – very good! Here, however, it is noticeable that the sound has a certain amount of height poverty and occupancy.

Sound

Yamaha Arius YDP S34 88 key Digital Piano Review

Basically, in terms of sound – in the YDP-S34, as in all digital pianos – it is important to distinguish how it sounds, what the sound engine produces, and what in the end sounds out of the speakers and perceived as a virtual sound of the instrument. The sound pattern on the headphone output is pleasing in any case: the Yamaha CFX grand piano, which serves as the basis for the first sound program “CFX Grand”, pearls with a beautiful base, fullness and plasticity. Even in direct comparison with the Avantgrand N3, he does not have to hide in terms of playability.

YDP S34 Chopin Sound:

But with denser figures with many notes played at the same time, the YDP-S34 lacks a little bit of differentiation in the range of overtones. This is particularly clear when swinging chords with the pedal held: Here, the sound of the Avantgrand backwards out simply vivid, dynamic and with more overtones, while the YDP-S34 has the impression of decreasing loop regions, which is technically most likely also the case is.

However, this is criticism on a high level and the playability and expressiveness does not detract. The sound over the two eight-watt speakers is inherently weaker than via headphones. Here are just physical limits achieved, because with the two small speakers in their plastic tubs below the keyboard can now create a space-filling, physically experienceable sound impression. At a quiet to moderate volume, the game is still fun. For larger volumes, our review sample showed a slight self-resonance of the speaker tray at “A # 4”.

If you use the option of connecting the Yamaha YDP-S34 as a midi tone generator via USB cable to the DAW of a connected OS X / Windows computer, you can record your own game directly as an audio file. As already mentioned, however, the transmitted sound lacks highs.

YDP-S34: Sound quality via USB audio transmission

Almost better than the reproduction of the Yamaha flagship wing “CFX”, I liked the “Mellow Grand”, which seems a bit softer and more lyrical and somehow seems to fit better with the slim dimensions of the instrument. Also, the rest of the sounds know to please – because you just realize that Yamaha can rely on a solid library in-house. Here are all offered sounds in fast-forward. You can hear the following sounds:

  1. Harpsichord
  2. Stage E. Piano
  3. CFX Grand
  4. Pop grand
  5. Pipe organ
  6. Mellow Grand
  7. strings
  8. vibraphone
  9. Jazz organ
  10. DX E. Piano

Yamaha Arius YDP-S34 Specs

Dimensions 1353 mm W 792mm H 296 mm D
Weight 35.9 kg
Number of Keys 88 Graded hammer Standard keyboard
Touch Sensitivity Hard/Medium/Soft/Fixed
Number of Pedals 3
Half Pedal Yes
Functions Damper/Sostenuto/Soft
Key Cover Style Folding
Music Rest Yes
Tone Generating Technology Yamaha CFX
Number of Polyphony (Max.) 192
Number of Voices 10
Reverb Yes (4 types)
Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC) Yes
Stereophonic Optimizer Yes
Damper Resonance Yes
Dual/Layers Yes
Duo Yes
Number of Preset Songs 10 Demo Songs, 50 Piano Preset Songs
Recording 1 Song
Number of Tracks 2
Data Capacity 100 KB per song
Metronome Yes
Tempo Range 5 - 280
Transpose -6 to 0,0 to +6
Tuning 414.8 - 440.0 - 466.8 Hz
Headphones Standard stereo phone jack x 2
USB TO HOST Yes
Amplifiers 8 W x 2
Speakers 12 cm x 2
Acoustic Optimizer Yes
Power Supply PA-150B or an equivalent recommended by Yamaha
Auto Power Off Yes
Power Consumption 9W (When using PA-150B AC adapter)
Included Accessories Song Book 50 classical music masterpieces
AC Adaptor PA-150B or an equivalent recommended by Yamaha

Pros

  • Good keyboard
  • Excellent sound
  • Muted keyboard flap
  • Double headphone output
  • Audio-via-USB
  • Smart Pianist App
  • Very compact design

Cons

  • Speaker sound: a poor bit bass
  • Metronome without display
  • Complicated Keyboard commands
  • No audio input

Final Though

Although there are a few cons points on the list, the Yamaha YDP-S34 digital piano in its entirety and above all in terms of value for money receives a good overall rating. Because even if the operation of the considerable functionality without app is a bit complicated, the speakers could handle a bit more bass and the sustain phase of the wing samples sometimes seems a bit static, stands on the other side and just, if you look at the price tag, An overall convincing sound, a decent keyboard and a comprehensive feature set – in particular the possibility to integrate the YDP-S34 in a computer setup thanks to USB Midi / Audio. All in all, the Yamaha YDP-S34 Digital Piano is a sleek and well-sounding instrument that does not break a big hole in the budget, keeping the financial hurdle low for beginners and returnees, and that’s exactly what it’s all about.