The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.
Share this review on
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.
Nar2’s Quick Skip Product Spec
• 375 voices: (361 “XG Lite” voices, 12 drum kits, sound effect kit, 100 accompaniment styles & 100 built in song demos.) • 61 plastic keys & 32 note polyphony. • Portable Grand Piano feature (but no touch sensitivity option.) • YES/Yamaha Education Suite built in. • Custom LCD panel, back lit and music stand added • 4.5kg weight, 5 Watt total out put (2.5 watts per speaker.) • Portable size: 94cm by 13.3cm by 36cm. • 9 types of reverb. • DC-IN jack, headphone jack, DC MIDI jacks, sustain pedal jack fitted • Price in 2010 Discounted £135 from £147-00 at a private keyboard shop. • Price in 2012 £96-49 from Amazon.co.uk
The Price, The Product & The Promise
Just as I had purchased my PSR E323, a silver/gold model in 2010 for my studio and replacing my very old, but much loved PSR 340 I had for about eight reliable years, the basic black YPT210 model isn’t that far off from the more advanced PSR E323 and there are few differences to each keyboard, if not distinguished by their colours. My experience from a personal point of view doesn’t just rely on the fact that I managed to buy 20 of these new black/grey/blue Yamaha YPT 210 keyboards for the working classroom, but from a personal point of view also bought a single YPT 210 for general, personal use should any of my other digital keyboards go down in later life. The store in Edinburgh where I purchased my own PSR E323 keyboard from had the YPT 210 competitively priced at £79-99 plus an additional £6-99 for the KPA3 power adaptor. Some buyers from Amazon.co.uk report that the power adaptor isn’t included, so it is best to check whether you get one or not, and use the code I’ve given here as its proper plug you’ll need if you don’t get one! Sadly Yamaha also include the rather silly universal brand music stand that slots into the top of the keyboard and doesn’t really offer much use unless you place the keyboard against a wall to ensure books don’t fall off!
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. The mains power adaptor is essential
Pictures of Yamaha YPT-210
The good contrasts of the buttons are good but constant pushing on the rubber buttons can take their toil. A gentle touch is therefore required!
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.
Quality & Design
In terms of quality and design, the Yamaha YPT 210 is decked out in a retro black and pale blue colour scheme with silver inserts, 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. Power of sounds comes from a total amount of 5 watts, 2.5 watts per speaker and surround tweeters are also built in giving the keyboard a good 2 way stereo 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.
General Performance & Downsides
In general terms, it only takes a few minutes to become accustomed and acclimatised to the general layout of each button and their associated function. The large downside however becomes almost instant when it comes to selecting voices. To select voices though, you have to dial in a code of three numbers found on the top of the worded menu on the keyboard. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the voice you want though as there is so much on offer! A trick here though is to dial in the base voice you can see from the menu into the number track pad and just use the Plus and Minus button to go up or down the menu rather than inputting codes all the time.
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 filter 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. What a pity then that the piano feature doesn’t go far enough to be able to offer touch sensitivity. This isn’t an alternative if you wish your child to learn the traditional piano, but rather a digital/electronic keyboard instrument in which they can discover and play about with sound and rhythm.
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!
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 other downside to this keyboard then it's the fact that it doesn't come with DSP or Chorus sound filters. 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 PLUS touch sensitivity, you'll need to look at the Yamaha PSR E323 or its latest successor, the PSR E333.
Two years on, another downside has revealed itself in terms of the rubber buttons. Constant pushing, dialing in numbers and general use can allow the buttons to become non-functional. Replacement buttons can be found through dealers for an eventual repair but in the two years of ownership, my keyboard buttons have become sticky and thus present long-term ownership worries. Yamaha really need to stop putting rubberised function buttons in order to keep the weight of their keyboards down and it doesn’t automatically entice the existing owner to consider Yamaha digital keyboards again, because of them!
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 and the soft rubberised buttons can stick in later life, thus resulting in functions no longer able to be accessed.
I have this exact model and you deliver a superb coverage in this review. You really know your stuff! I have found this to be a great beginner's keyboard although the lack of touch sensitivity and cheap plasticky keys let it down. But for the price (£77 when I got it) the sound quality and functionality is superb.