Yamaha YDP144 vs 163: Which Is The Best Arius?

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 In the Arius series, most choose between Yamaha YDP144 vs 163. The latter, considered the top of the line, is the clear winner. Does YDP144 stand a chance?

Yamaha, perhaps the most celebrated piano manufacturer today, has come up with a more affordable alternative to their world-famous Clavinova – the Arius. This is perfect for beginners and intermediate-level pianists who are on a budget but are looking for a high-quality piece to practice with at home. 

The company has six non-portable models which they constantly develop to catch up with the times. Two of these, the subject of our review, are the YDP144 and the YDP163. The latter is one of the series’ premium options while the former is a mid-range variant both in cost and quality. 

Most would naturally lean towards the YDP163, thinking that there would be numerous enhancements to justify its hefty price tag. The YDP144, on the other hand, is several hundred dollars cheaper. In the Yamaha YDP144 vs 163 match-up, I would go for the former mainly because of cost considerations. But if you want to know all specific details about these Arius models so that you can make a better decision, continue reading on. 

Yamaha YDP144 vs 163: Comparison Chart

Image
The Winner (#1)
Yamaha YDP144 Arius Series Piano with Bench, Dark Rosewood
The Runner-Up (#2)
Yamaha YDP163B Arius Series Console Digital Piano with Bench, Black Walnut
Model
Yamaha YDP144
Yamaha YDP163
Number of Keys
88
88
Hammer Action
Yamaha GHS (Graded Hammer System)
GH3 (Graded Hammer 3 Action)
Tone Generation
Yamaha CFX
Pure CF Sound Engine
Effects
Reverb (4 types), IAC, Stereophonic Optimizer, String and Damper Resonance
Reverb (4 types), IAC, Stereophonic Optimizer, Acoustic Optimizer, Damper Resonance
Polyphony
192
192
Number of Voices
10
10
Layering/Dual mode
Split Mode
-
-
Twin/Lesson Mode
Audio Recording
Standard MIDI, 100KB per song
Standard MIDI, 100KB per song
Connectivity
USB to Host
USB to Host
Headphones
Standard stereo phone x 2
Standard stereo phone x 2
Speakers
Two 6W speakers
Two 20W speakers
Line out
-
-
Pedal included
Three-pedal unit
Three-pedal unit
What I like
Price
$1,149.99
$1,799.99
The Winner (#1)
Image
Yamaha YDP144 Arius Series Piano with Bench, Dark Rosewood
Model
Yamaha YDP144
Number of Keys
88
Hammer Action
Yamaha GHS (Graded Hammer System)
Tone Generation
Yamaha CFX
Effects
Reverb (4 types), IAC, Stereophonic Optimizer, String and Damper Resonance
Polyphony
192
Number of Voices
10
Layering/Dual mode
Split Mode
-
Twin/Lesson Mode
Audio Recording
Standard MIDI, 100KB per song
Connectivity
USB to Host
Headphones
Standard stereo phone x 2
Speakers
Two 6W speakers
Line out
-
Pedal included
Three-pedal unit
What I like
Price
$1,149.99
More info
The Runner-Up (#2)
Image
Yamaha YDP163B Arius Series Console Digital Piano with Bench, Black Walnut
Model
Yamaha YDP163
Number of Keys
88
Hammer Action
GH3 (Graded Hammer 3 Action)
Tone Generation
Pure CF Sound Engine
Effects
Reverb (4 types), IAC, Stereophonic Optimizer, Acoustic Optimizer, Damper Resonance
Polyphony
192
Number of Voices
10
Layering/Dual mode
Split Mode
-
Twin/Lesson Mode
Audio Recording
Standard MIDI, 100KB per song
Connectivity
USB to Host
Headphones
Standard stereo phone x 2
Speakers
Two 20W speakers
Line out
-
Pedal included
Three-pedal unit
What I like
Price
$1,799.99
More info

Last update on 2022-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Yamaha YDP144 vs 163: A Detailed Comparative Report

Since the Arius series was made as an affordable substitute to the Clavinova, you can expect a whole lot of impressive features and functions from any of the digital piano models under it. And although the YDP163 is tagged as the premium option, it actually isn’t that different from the YDP144.

At first glance, the two are almost similar – large cabinet-style digital pianos that come in various wooden finishes. The YDP163 is slightly bulkier with a more classical feel that would look great on stage but some do comment that the YDP144 is equally elegant. Even most of the specs are the same, from the number of the pre-recorded demo songs to the installed sound effects.  

What really sets the YDP163 apart from its Arius sibling are three things: better keys, enhanced sound engine, and higher amplification. 

One could argue that the upgrades found in the YDP163 is worth the extra $500. Besides, if you have the money, there is no reason not to splurge. But when all things are considered, the more affordable, mid-range model wins 3:1 in the Yamaha YDP144 vs 163 face-off. 

Feel and Playability

The Winner: YDP163

After three revamps (from YDP160, 161, and 162), Yamaha finally decided to bump up the functionality of the piece and came up with the YDP163. Most of the changes made are focused on the feel and playability.

Several upgrades were made to create the YDP144, with predecessors 140, 141, 142, and 143. It is just as highly acclaimed but it doesn’t live up to the improvements of its competitor. That is why the YDP163 still comes out the victor in this particular component.  

+Hammer Action

The YDP144 is equipped with Yamaha’s customary GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) action. This basically means that the left-most side of the piano has heavier keys than the right-most end. While this is much better than regular weighted keys in simulating the hammer pull of a real acoustic piano, it is nowhere close to the GH3 (Graded Hammer 3X) found in the YDP163. 

YDP163’s GH3 is exactly the same hammer action used in entry-level Clavinovas. It is slightly heavier when pressed and has more resistance, giving players more control and expression when they play.  

YDP 163: Touch Sensitivity
YDP 163: Touch Sensitivity

+Touch Sensitivity

Playing the piano is all about expression, hence the massive importance of touch sensitivity on digital pianos. Both these Arius share the same levels: Soft, Medium, Hard, and Fixed, so they are basically neck and neck in this regard.  

+Key Texture

The keys on the YDP144 are made of plastic but were given a matte finish. This is Yamaha’s way to ensure better playability while lowering the costs. The ones on YDP163 are way more exceptional since these were made of synthetic ivory. And just like the real deal, the material can also absorb moisture, providing better grip while playing.   

Tone

The Winner: YDP144

Considered the industry leader in digital piano production, Yamaha’s sound engines are always enviable. And with their incessant model redevelopments, the company always outfitted their newer pieces with the most state of the art mechanism to ensure better tone. The YDP144 dominates in this segment mainly because it was equipped with an improved sound engine while the 163 was left with the second best thing.   

+Tone Generator

The sound engine on the YDP144 is the CFX, sampled from one of the world’s best concert grands. Its highs are incredibly crystal clear and the lows are rich and resonant. 

On the other hand, the YDP163 makes use of the Pure CF. No one can deny that this is still a great tone generator but the former is more superior. In fact, Yamaha rigged the Arius 164, the 163’s successor, with the CFX sound engine. 

+Sound Library

The two Arius have 10 voices. The YDP144 consists of three acoustic pianos, two electric stage pianos, three organs, a harpsichord and a vibraphone. The YPD163 has almost the same listing, except that one of the organs is replaced with a set of strings. 

Each also has 50 pre-recorded piano songs. However, the latter has an additional 10 demo tracks. 

Yamaha YDP-163 features ivory-simulated keys
Yamaha YDP-163 features ivory-simulated keys

Piano Functions and Features

The Winner: Tie

Except for external design features, the YDP144 and 163 share almost the same internal functions. And although one disparity makes the former better than the other, another difference does the opposite, equalizing things once more. This is why I believe that the two are evenly matched in this section.

+Polyphony

Defined as the capacity to play numerous notes at once without cutting a single note off, polyphony is a must-have in digital pianos. 

The two featured instruments have 192-count polyphony – great even for expert players. However, for a supposedly top-ranking piece, the count on the YDP163 seems a bit short – especially when its competition from other brands have 256.  

+Playing Modes

Both Arius models have two out of the three important playing modes: Duo and Dual. Duo, also known as Twin or Lesson, bisects the 88 keys into two 44-keyboard that plays the same octave range. Dual is the mode that can layer two or more different voices at the same time.   

+Effects

Just like the first two features, there isn’t a lot of difference between the two Arius in this section as well. Both have four kinds of Reverb, Intelligent Acoustic Control, Stereophonic Optimizer, Damper Resonance, among others.  

+Recording Capability

Although the two are console-style digital pianos, Yamaha threw in a recording function to allow the user to capture their practice sessions or compositions. Both can record two tracks in standard MIDI format. The tracks are modifiable via the app.   

+Connectivity

This isn’t an arranger so don’t expect too much from either models in terms or connectivity. Most of the functions can be operated on the app when connected to the piece via USB. This is much easier than pressing the panel buttons, especially with the YDP163. Both also come with two headphone jacks of different sizes. 

+Speaker System

The cabinets on both the YDP144 and 163 are so well-made that the sound resonates much better through the wood. However, the latter has a more remarkable amplification with a total of 40W power. And despite the intensity, the sound is rich even in the lower register. The former only has 16W speakers. 

+Accessories

Depending on where you live, the two Arius come with the cabinet set-up with is quite easy to assemble, a three-pedal system just like a real acoustic piano, a music book, and even a matching bench. 

But the YDP163 comes out the better option when it comes to accessories because of tiny details that would be of great help to users. For instance, it has a headphone placeholder and little plastic arms on the music rest that prevents pages from accidentally flipping over. The music rest is also foldable. 

Yamaha YDP144 is great for beginners
Yamaha YDP144 is great for beginners

Yamaha YDP144 vs 163: The Similarities

When simply browsing through the features and functions one by one, it’s easy to say that the big brother Arius wins in the YDP144 vs 163 match-up. Who wouldn’t want a higher quality key mechanism and boosted sound system?

But the truth is, the two have too many similar components. And unless you’re willing to spend extra on a whim, it’s better to splurge on the next versions – the YDP 164 or 165. And to be perfectly honest, you’ll get more bang for buck on a Clavinova. 

Quick Rundown of the Yamaha YDP144

Yamaha YDP144 Arius Series Piano with Bench, Dark Rosewood
  • Your purchase includes One Yamaha Arius Series, YDP144 model | Bench, 50 Classical Music Masterpieces Book, Owner’s manual & Quick Operation Guide
  • Piano dimensions – 53-7/16” W x 32-1/16” H x 16-5/8” | Weight – 83 lbs. | Number of pedals – 3 | Max polyphony – 192 | Number of voices – 10 | Headphones – (2) Standard Stereo phone jack | With Recording and Playback capabilities
  • GHS weighted action is heavier in the low keys and lighter in the high keys, just like an acoustic piano
  • Half-damper pedal control allows for continuously increasing amounts of sustain as the pedal is depressed
  • The CFX Premium Grand Piano Voice recreates the power and tone of the flagship CFX concert grand piano from Yamaha

Last update on 2022-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Superior polyphony count at 192
  • CFX sound engine is top of the line
  • Great for beginners, perfect for intermediate-level players
  • Comes in three different colors: Black, Rosewood, and White
Cons
  • Plastic white keys, although matte, are not up to par
  • Still utilizes the GHS hammer action
  • Average sound system

Quick Rundown of the Yamaha YDP163

Yamaha YDP163B Arius Series Console Digital Piano with Bench, Black Walnut
  • The Pure CF Sound Engine faithfully reproduces the tone of a meticulously sampled, acclaimed Yamaha 9' CFIIIS concert grand piano, allowing for incredibly dynamic and expressive playing.
  • Graded Hammer 3 (GH3) weighted action provides increasingly heavier touch from the high keys to the low keys, with grand piano-style response and an outstanding dynamic range.
  • 50 classic piano songs are provided in the built-in song memory as well as in a music book, "50 Greats for the Piano."
  • The Controller App for iOS devices adds a rich graphical user interface, allowing for quick and easy navigation and configuration.
  • The 2-track song recorder allows players to practice one hand at a time, or record their next hit single!.No of pedals:3

Last update on 2022-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • 192-count polyphony is impressive
  • Better hammer action with the GH3
  • Uses high-quality synthetic ivory for the keys
  • Great for beginners, perfect for intermediate-level players
  • Numerous color options: Black, Rosewood, White, and White Ash
Cons
  • Pure CF tone generator is good, but not for the price of the unit
  • A bit too expensive for its features and functions

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