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Retro Review: Yamaha P80 in 2020
#2982937 05/23/20 06:10 PM
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Hello all,

I wanted to share a review of a circa 1999 used Yamaha P80 Digital Piano and see where it stacks up over 20 years later in 2020!

I picked up a Yamaha P80 Digital Piano about 2 years ago on craigslist for free in semi-working condition - about 20 of the keys were fallen or sluggish. It came with the matching Yamaha sustain pedal and an after-market power brick - more on this last bit later (the official power adapter is the Yamaha PA-3B).

After about 3 hours of repairs with superglue, it was ready to put this puppy to the test.

Pros:
* lightweight-ish and portable enough to bring on gigs
* GHE keyboard - really solid and heavy - feels a lot like a Yamaha U1/2 upright to me
* easy controls for fine tuning and toggling things like sounds/reverb/some effects/tone/touch/transposition/metronome
* The actual instrument tones are very usable (I think it uses their "AWM" piano samples?)
* MIDI ports
* Audio output options: Includes 1/4 jacks, RCA jacks, and 2 headphone jacks.

Cons:
* While the sounds are good and definitely serviceable, but the best modern DP offer more realistic sounding pianos. (I'd consider the sounds middle of the pack to this day - much better than what you'd get on a Williams!)
* no built-in speaker
* all sound outputs (RCA, 1/4, headphone jacks) have a noticeable level of buzz/hiss. Could this be the 3rd party power supply brick or some other issue (loose grounding wire inside? Aging capacitor?)
* 1 pedal support; sustain pedal is either on or off - apparently no half pedal support
* Aesthetically, Yamaha never sold a matching stand.
* At around 20 years old, reliability is a concern.

Summary:
At over 20 years old, this is a very serviceable used digital piano. I'd be willing to pay $100-150 for one of these. The main thing that would make me pause is the lack of built-in speakers.

Compared to modern Yamahas, the keyboard action is nicer than what's included in the modern YDP-144 and any P-series other than the P515. (It feels pretty close to my ~2012 Arius C71pe with its GH keyboard)

For intermediate to advanced pianists - As a primary piano, they'd probably be better served by a higher end modern digital piano: keyboard with synthetic ivory, escapement, multiple pedals, half-pedal sustain, with built-in speakers.

For working keyboardists and pianists - a P80 might be a great option for bringing to gigs and not worrying too much about scuffing up "your baby". At 37lbs it's not light... but it's manageable esp if you want to feel weight under your fingers.

For a beginners to intermediate/infrequent players: The P80 would be a great low investment for someone starting on piano. Great for practicing on your own with headphones. The main downside is the need for an external sound source. As long as you have a speaker/stereo system to plug into, I could see someone playing for 2-3+ years of playing before "needing" an upgrade.


Key specs:
~37lbs
64 note polyphony
10 different tones
GHE keyboard (Graded Hammer Effect - this was later rebranded as GH years later) - this is Yamaha's step up technology that provides more distinct weighting across the low and high ends of the keyboard.
Front panel controls for EVERYTHING
1/4 jacks, RCA jacks, 2 phone jacks, midi ports, plus an old school serial to PC port (Is there any way to use these with modern computers?!)
1 sustain pedal jack (support for only 1 pedal)
Buttons and sliders on the control panel for each and every feature!

FYI:
I had read online that for a short period of this product's production run, Yamaha used a grease that weakened the plastic keys so that a small tab in the back would break. I opened it up and was able to repair all of the broken keys with superglue. Let's see if it holds up. I've read accounts that Yamaha was replacing keys and even the entire keybed through authorized dealers years after the warranty was over (the latest such post I found dated back to around 2010, a decade ago).

Re: Retro Review: Yamaha P80 in 2020
technomaster #2982969 05/23/20 07:40 PM
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I consider this keyboard junk by today's digital piano metrics. The action and sound is just terrible, although perhaps it's actually a typical Yamaha Upright action feel as you said? It is a beautiful and impressive design though, with the metal case and all. I still see many influences of the P80 throughout Yamaha's digital piano lines.

I have one that's in great, if not perfect, condition -- happy to part with it for $150+shipping fee and including accessories, which are probably worth as much, if you're interested.

Re: Retro Review: Yamaha P80 in 2020
technomaster #2982986 05/23/20 09:07 PM
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I have a P90 that I bought used about 12 years ago, a very close cousin to the P80. I don't use it much any more, but still find it more than adequate when I do use it. I like the fact that it didn't have internal speakers because that made it lighter to move.

When I had a windows computer, I ran the midi into the sound card. I got rid of the windows computer so now I just run the RCA into my stereo. I have a chromebook, so don't have any way to run VSTs anymore.

I do not have any hiss on the audio, sound is very clean, so maybe it's your power brick. I'm using the original power supply that came with it.

You're right, there was no stand for the P80 or the P90, I made my own stand out of wood and painted it black, I'm still using that.

I never had the dreaded key breaking problems, maybe they had that straightened out by the time the P90 came out. I have needed to open mine up because that little spring under the key comes out of position every once in awhile. I think that was from moving it because I haven't had that happen for years now that it just sits in my house.

I've played P80s and there is a noticeable improvement in the built in sound on the P90. I can't remember anymore but I think they increased the memory size and sampling, so the difference is quite noticeable.


Yamaha P90, Kawai GL-10
Re: Retro Review: Yamaha P80 in 2020
technomaster #2982996 05/23/20 10:02 PM
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I owned a P80. Then I sold it for P90 when they came out. Ugh! what was I thinking.

After those, the Roland FP4 came out and I was much happier with sound. More recently, I had a Yamaha CP4 and even though it was much better than the P80/P90, I still wasn't pleased with the Yamaha sound and was happy when I sold it.

Does anyone know if the P80/P90 had different samples for each note? I think I remember reading they would use a sample for 3 or 4 notes, maybe I'm wrong.

*Ironically, my N2 is still a joy to play.

Last edited by 36251; 05/23/20 10:03 PM.

AG N2 | ES 110 | REFACE CP | GK MK & MP amps
Re: Retro Review: Yamaha P80 in 2020
technomaster #2983016 05/24/20 12:04 AM
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I still have my old P-80, will probably donate it to our public school.


Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. (falsely attributed to Plato)
Vlad,
Adult beginner
Re: Retro Review: Yamaha P80 in 2020
technomaster #2983101 05/24/20 06:15 AM
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I had a P80 many many years ago. Had the P200 just before it. I remember feeling a sense of regret when I sold it which lasted quite some time.

It's all very well to criticise it and yes, in many ways technically it falls short by today's standards, but I think it is remembered as a bit of a high water mark for good reason.

Solo piano starts at 1:04....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn2-6jcWoBI&t=83s

If anyone wants to tell me that piano doesn't sound pretty darn good I'm willing to listen to your reasoned arguments...


C. Bechstein Model B | Roland RD-1000 | Kawai VPC1

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