When it comes to offering a complete range of keyboards, Yamaha certainly make sure that they cover all bases. In both price range and feature sets, they ensure that there is something for every budget and user requirement. And, never wanting to let a product fall behind, Yamaha seems to revise each of their keyboard and digital piano products every 18 to 24 months, making sure that they offer users the very best technology available for the price. With that in mind, I now think about the NP series of portable keyboards, having not had an overhaul for a few years. But with the release of the NP-32 and NP-12 portable keyboards, the Piaggero range of lightweight, slimline keyboards from Yamaha now jumps back into the focus once again.
A LIGHTER OPTION
With the larger, 88-note models like the P-45 and P-115 available for those who are looking for a graded hammer action that feels more like a piano, not everyone wants the bulk, or price tag associated with these units. That is why the Piaggero series has held an important role in the Yamaha portable keyboard line-up since its introduction. These units can easily be slung under the arm and carried about without any worry, being built into a very slim and very lightweight casing; these really define what a ‘portable’ keyboard should be.
Both NP-32 and NP-12 are simple creatures, not trying to overcomplicate things with loads of bells and whistles. If you are looking for programmed songs, backing styles and hundreds of sounds, then the PSR series is what you probably need. The NP range in the Piaggero series is all about the piano, without the space, price tag or weight. Designed to replace a digital piano on a smaller scale, both of these units do just that.
The big boy of the pair is, as the name would suggest, the NP-32. This is a 76-note keyboard that extends in length for greater range without the need to shift octaves up or down. But, it is still housed in a casing that isn’t too long, like many 88-note digital pianos. You’ll get this across the back seats of any car on the market if you need to travel with it and you won’t put your back out lifting it in and out. What the NP-32 enjoys is a graded soft touch action to the piano style keys. They are closed off to resemble full piano keys, but are nowhere near as solid or heavy. The pressure from the keys alters as you work your way up the keyboard, giving a realistic feel, whilst still being gentle and easy to play for beginners or those used to keyboards rather than pianos.
The slightly smaller option is the NP-12, offering 61 keys, a format that many users of the PSR series and similar keyboards will be familiar with. This model does have a lighter touch to the action too, so it is very easy to play for beginners and synthesizer users alike. Beyond the size and action, there is very little difference. Like the NP-32, the NP-12 has a choice of 10 different sounds, mostly piano and organ based. But don’t worry, the obligatory harpsichord sounds have been left in there, so you won’t go missing those in a hurry. The other big difference is in the amplification section, powering the built in speakers. The NP-12 has a pair of 2.5-watt amplifiers driving the speakers, whilst the NP-32 has a pair of window rattling 6-watt amplifiers. Because of this, the NP-12 suffers a little when you want to get any decent low frequency response at volume, but this is not what it is designed for. If you run a line from the headphone output into a PA system or monitor speakers, the tone of the AWM sampled sounds is fantastic and delivers right across the frequency range.
In looking for a compact, portable keyboard, whether you want total portability and a reduced size, or would prefer a slightly heavier, graded touch with fuller sounding speakers, there is going to be something that will suit your needs in the Piaggero range from Yamaha. Both these models are slicker versions of their predecessors and deliver plenty of value and sound quality at the same time.
Hits and Misses
Great Yamaha piano sounds
Responsive keyboard in both models
The speakers don’t quite deliver in the bottom end. It’s just nit-picking really