Yamaha DGX-660 Review 2021: Is It The Best Piano You Can Buy For…
Yamaha is famous for creating quality instruments at an affordable price. Many beginner musicians start with a Yamaha piano that often lasts for many years. Among them is the Digital Grand (DGX) series. The DGX-660 is the flagship product that was released in 2015.
The courses are pretty standard, but the instructors, who are very patient when it comes to teaching each student, make them exceptional. They handle novice players very well and teach lessons in a way that these students can really understand. They make what could have been boring lessons more interesting for newcomers.
Value for Money
The pricing is pretty much straightforward. They do offer a free lesson for new users but with limitations. If you really want to learn, you will have to sign up and choose between the quarterly, semi-annual, or annual plan. The price is pretty much on the high-end, especially for the limited guitar courses.
The platform is quite easy to use. You can find everything you need quickly, and it works on PC, MAC, iOS, and Android devices. However, there is no way to access the platform offline. Unlike other platforms, you cannot download any of the videos, which is kind of a bummer if you want to study on the go and there’s no guaranteed internet connection where you’re going.
Most students find the instructors truly helpful because of their experience in music and teaching. However, most of them have problems with the auto-renewal policy. Apparently, some users who are trying to cancel the account got charged money for auto-renewal. This can be avoided by cancelling before the three-month period ends, however.
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Starting with the DGX-200 way back in early 2002, Yamaha’s Digital Grand Pianos have come a long way. Today, the DGX-660 offers an extensive and expandable library of songs, voices, effects, and functions that beginners and advanced pianists alike would appreciate.
Despite being released a few years back, many wonder if the DGX-660 is still a good piano to purchase today. This article aims to go through all the important functions, unique features, as well as all the good and the bad of the DGX-660.
While the DGX-660 has some similarities to other pianos in Yamaha’s Digital Grand series, there are still aspects that set it apart. The evolution of style in the series is evident if you compare a more contemporary and modern DGX-660 to a DGX-200.
Yamaha’s Digital Grand series is still marketed as portable pianos. This is why I was surprised at the size and weight of the DGX-660. Its width of 55” and height of 5.7” is pretty standard for a full-sized 88-key piano. However, the depth of the DGX-660 is where it goes a little bit over the top.
The DGX-660 has a depth of 17.5” which is almost double the size of other portable pianos. This, in turn, makes the DGX-660 one of the heaviest portable digital pianos out there with a weight of 46.3lbs. I think I am not alone when I say that this is not exactly something you want to hear if you plan to lug it around as a gigging musician.
Aside from this very noticeable con, however, there are still plenty of things to admire on the DGX-660. One of them being the stand it comes with. This digital grand piano is one of the few pianos that actually comes with a matching stand.
The piano comes in a heavy box (approximately 100lbs) with all of its components, too. You probably want to enlist the help of someone else to carry this thing into your home. Fortunately, the setup is pretty straightforward from there, and with the help of the manual, it should not take you more than 30 minutes to have it fully assembled.
Like many of the pianos in the DGX series, the DGX-660 comes in two color options: black and white. This complements the contemporary overall look of the piano.
The console of the piano is made from matte plastic. Despite being made of plastic but doesn’t feel cheap at all. The side panels of the piano are decorated with tinted wood that matches perfectly with the wooden stand that comes with it.
Looking at the console from the eyes of a beginner, it might be easy to feel overwhelmed. There are quite a lot of buttons on the console, which you (if you are a more advanced pianist) will appreciate. Every single button on the console is well utilized and allows you to access a range of settings you desire.
Still, that is not to say it is impossible to navigate the piano if you are a beginner. The DGX-660 does come with an LCD screen (which I will expand on later) to make navigation so much easier.
1.2 Feel & Sensitivity
Much like all Yamaha keyboards in this price range, the DGX-660 has a Graded Hammer Standard (GHS). This is a tried-and-tested feature that you will find in other popular Yamaha pianos like the P45 and P125.
Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Standard means that the hammers underneath the keyboard are not just simulated. Instead, actual hammers (albeit smaller ones) are installed for each key to ensure an authentic acoustic piano feel. The Graded aspect of this ensures that the keys are heavier when you play on a lower note and gradually gets lighter as the notes get higher. This makes it perfect even for beginners as it helps develop the wrist and makes it easier to transition to an acoustic piano later on.
In addition, the keys are also velocity-sensitive which means that the piano responds perfectly to how hard or soft you play. This gives pianists control over their expression and personalization, providing an excellent response to soft pianissimo and strong fortissimos.
The only thing I do not like about the keys on the DGX-660 is that they are not made from simulated Ebony and Ivory. The white keys of this piano are the common glossy white plastic you would find on many electric pianos. Still, I would not consider it a con because this quality is fairly common for pianos within this price range.
Fortunately, despite being made of plastic, the black keys are finished matte that provides pianists a non-slip surface. If you are like me who gets sweaty hands from time to time especially while playing, this extra leverage is extremely helpful.
One of the best aspects of DGX-660 is its sound performance. Not only has this piano evolved in terms of sound quality over time, but the amount of voices in this piano is definitely nothing to scoff at either.
The DGX-660 comes with speakers. A huge number of pianos do not come with speakers opting instead to depend on external sound systems in order to project their tunes. This is one thing that sets the DGX-660 apart as it comes not with one but two pairs of 6-watt speakers on either side of the console. One pair of speakers measures up to 12cm and the other pair much smaller at 5cm.
Unlike the Yamaha P125, where the speakers are located on the console and under the piano itself, both of the DGX-660’s speakers are located up front side by side. Furthermore, the speakers are improved with Yamaha’s Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC). The IAC automatically adjusts the treble and bass to ensure a clean, muffle-free sound even at low volumes.
The 6-watt speakers are enough to be heard during personal practices, lessons, or even small performances. However, you will need to hook the DGX-660 up to an external sound system if you plan to play with a band or on a stage.
2.2 Sound Quality
Like the infamous P125, P225, and several Yamaha Arius models, the DGX-660 boasts the same well-loved sound engine: Pure CF Sound Engine. This sound engine records one of Yamaha’s best Concert Grand Pianos, The Yamaha CFIIIS. Essentially, the Pure CF Sound Engine carefully records the Yamaha CFIIIS from different angles at varying distances to completely capture the sound of the concert grand.
Aside from such an exemplary sound engine, the polyphony of the DGX-660 is also improved from the previous model. It was raised from the 128-note polyphony of the DGX-650 to a 192-note polyphony for the DGX-660.
With an amazing sound system partnered with a good amount of polyphony, it would be a shame if the DGX-660 could not fully utilize them. Fortunately, this digital grand piano is also marketed as an arranger keyboard. Aside from 10 distinct piano voices, you also get hundreds of different instruments and plenty of effects to play around with and truly personalize the music you create.
Here are some of the most notable Yamaha DGX-660 voices preinstalled on the device:
- 10 Piano Voices – Natural Grand, Live Grand, Live Pop Grand, Live Warm Grand, Live Studio Grand, Ambient Grand, Harpsichord, Honky Tonk, MIDI Grand, and CP-80
- 12 Electric Piano Voices – Cool Galaxy, Cool Suitcase, Cool Electric, Hyper Tines, Phase, Funky, DX Modern, Venus, Tremolo, Electric Clavi, Clavi, and Wah Clavi
- 14 Organ Voices – Cool, Cool Rotor, Jazz 1, Jazz 2, Rock, Purple, Click, Bright, Theater, 16’+2’, 16’+4’, Chapel, Pipe, and Reed
- 5 Accordions – Musette, Traditional, Bandoneon, Modern Harp, and Harmonica
- 14 Guitars – Steel, Classical, Nylon, Folk, Cool Jazz, Fusion, 60’s Clean, 12 strings, Clean, Blues, Octave, Muted, Overdriven, and Distortion
- 9 Bass – Cool Electric, Finger, Acoustic, Pick, Fretless, Slap, Synth, Hi-Q, and Dance
- 17 Strings – Live, Live Allegro, Live Orchestra, Ensemble, Chamber, Slow, Tremolo, Marcato, Synth, Pizzicato, Sweet Violin, Violin, Cello, Contrabass, Harp, Banjo, Orchestra Hit
- 4 Choir – Choir, Vocal Ensemble, Air Choir, and Vox Humana
The list simply goes on as the DGX-660 has over 500 voices for you to play around with. If you want to see the full list of voices, you can check out the official PDF (1) from Yamaha’s website.
On top of the long list of voices, you can also apply a wide variety of effects on each and every one of them to customize your sound even further. Here are some of the available effects on the DGX-660:
- 26 Harmonies – Using the DGX-660’s auto-accompaniment feature (I will expand on this later), you can use these effects to add more character and depth to your music.
- 42 Reverb Effects – Reverb imitates the acoustics of different places and applies the simulation on your keyboard. This way, no matter where you are, you can get the effect of being in a hall, a room, or on stage.
- 45 Chorus Effects – The chorus effect helps make your music warmer, providing it with your choice of tremolo and modulation.
- 239 Digital Signal Processing (DSP) Effects – Provides you with even more sounds that you can toggle to fit your type of music perfectly. The DSP Effects contain reverbs, distortions, delays, and many others, all of which you can find in the official DGX-660 Data List (1).
Aside from this already long list of effects to play around with, you also get 5 Master Equalizers (EQ) that you can use to further personalize and characterize your music. Aside from the normal or default setting, you can also switch between bright, piano, soft, and powerful.
Last but not least, you also have a very useful Pitch Bend Wheel that you can use for some quick effects on-the-fly.
With the number of effects and voices on the DGX-660, there is already quite a lot you can do with it. However, this digital piano still has more to offer! On top of the expansive list of customization options, the DGX-660 also has incredible features that set it apart from other digital grand pianos.
Surprisingly, the DGX-660 only has two modes: Split Mode and Dual Mode.
The Split Mode allows you to split the keyboard into two sections and assign a different instrument for each one. The splitting point can also be adjusted to a specific key so you can choose to have more octaves on one instrument than the other.
The Dual Mode, on the other hand, combines 2 different voices so you can play it on one key. Two instruments are layered throughout the entire keyboard.
The Duo Mode which is ideal for people who take lessons is not on the DGX-660. Essentially, what the duo mode does is it splits the keyboard into two sections. Using the same voice, a teacher and a student (or two pianists who want to play a duet) can share the same piano.
3.2 Piano Room
One of the most unique features of the DGX-660 is its Piano Room. It is no secret that Yamaha wanted to go above and beyond the piano aspect of this keyboard. Not only did it choose one of their best concert grands to simulate, but also used a fantastic sound engine.
The Piano Room has its own button on the console. Upon enabling this feature, the DGX-660 selects the main grand piano and chooses the optimum settings to further enrich the sound quality for a flawless tune. If you find that these settings are not to your liking, no worries! The settings are completely configurable as well.
You can customize the sound by arranging five different parameters:
- Lid Position – Customize the type of sound the piano would make, depending on the position of the lid. Choose from Closed, Half-way Open, and Raised.
- Environment Type – Customize the acoustics of the grand piano to simulate different environments such as Room, Recital Hall, or Concert Hall.
- Damper Resonance – Toggle this setting on or off.
- Touch Response – Configure the settings to Hard, Medium, or Soft.
- Tuning – This allows you to adjust the tune of the piano by 1Hz steps.
By providing you with one of the best sound engines and the ability to customize it even further to fit your personal tastes, the DGX-660 ensures that playing the piano is a pleasure.
3.3 Yamaha Education Suite
Another thing I like about the DGX-660 is how versatile it is. First, you have the Piano Room for more advanced pianists. This gives you the ability to play with the best settings for the main grand piano. Second, you have the Yamaha Education Suite that is perfect for beginner pianists and even hobbyists alike.
Basically speaking, the Yamaha Education Suite is the Lesson Mode of the DGX-660. It is meant to teach and help beginners improve by providing them with different options for practice and learning.
DGX-660’s lesson mode allows users to utilize over 100 pre-installed MIDI songs. Furthermore, users can customize their experience by downloading their preferred music from the internet. As long as it has MIDI data, the DGX-660 will allow you to use it for your lessons.
On the topic of lessons, you can customize the way you learn the piano. You can focus on one hand at a time (choose between your left and right hand) or practice with both hands.
The Yamaha Education Suite presents its lessons in three ways. It is entirely up to you to choose which one is your preferred method of learning. Here are the available Song Lesson modes:
- Waiting Mode – This one is almost like a game. It is also incredibly easy to follow as you do not even need to know how to read music sheets (although I highly encourage you to!
You can check my article on The Basics of Sheet Music to learn more) to use this mode. The LCD screen displays the keys you need to press and only after you have pressed the right key will the playback continue. This is especially useful for those who simply want to pump out their favorite tunes.
- Your Tempo – This mode automatically adjusts the tempo of the song to match the tempo you are playing at. This is good for accuracy training!
Minus-One – This allows you to choose a hand (right or left) to play. The piano then allows you to play using that hand while providing accompaniment for the other hand. This one is amazing if you are aiming to train one hand at a time.
The LCD screen displays EVERYTHING you need from scores, song lyrics, notes, and keys you need to play which makes it especially useful in the DGX-660’s Lesson Mode.
3.4 Onboard Recorder
Since the DGX-660 is marketed as a semi-arranger keyboard, the device comes with a pretty good recorder. The recorder on this digital piano works not just with one but instead two types of data: Audio (WAV format) and MIDI.
Being able to process audio files means that not only can the recorder capture high-quality sounds, it can also playback files downloaded from the internet, and with some of the DGX-660’s connection options (which I will touch on in a little bit), you can even play files directly via USB flash drive.
The internal memory of the DGX-660 is also pretty impressive. While you can only store up to 5 songs, each piece can have up to six tracks in them. Furthermore, a single song recording can last up to 80 minutes.
The recordings you capture on the DGX-660 can easily be transferred to a computer and shared online. Additionally, you can also use your very own recorded songs for playback, practice, and even lessons.
The connection options is another aspect where the DGX-660 impressed me more than other digital pianos within its price range as it has more connection options than most. Most of the connection options are located at the back save for the USB to Device socket which is located at the side.
The DGX-660 has a USB to Host Terminal which allows you to connect the keyboard directly to a computer. This makes for quick file transfers to and from the device. It also gives you the ability to use the digital piano as a MIDI controller for software like FlowKey, GarageBand, and more.
This piano also has a USB to Device Jack which allows you to plug a flash drive directly into it for even faster file exchanges. It also allows you to play songs directly from the flash drive.
When I first found out that the Headphone Jack is located at the back, I was a bit skeptical. However, upon closer inspection, I realized that the headphone jack also serves as a Line-Out Jack. This means that you can also use this jack to hook up your piano to external amplifiers, PA systems, and mixers.
The DGX-660 also has a Mic Input Jack. For this one, you will have to use a microphone with a ¼ plug (USB mics do not work for this digital piano). A few microphone settings are also accessible via the console. You can adjust several parameters such as the volume using the designated volume knob for the microphone as well as add some interesting vocal effects.
This piano also has an AUX-In which lets you connect your handheld devices (tablets and phones) to it and utilize its speakers for playback. In order to use this jack, however, you will need a 3.5mm male to male cable.
There are two jacks for pedals on the DGX-660. There is the Sustain Pedal Jack which allows you to connect a single sustain pedal to the device. Then, there is the Pedal Unit Jack which allows you to connect a 3-pedal unit instead.
One thing I noticed about the DGX-660’s connection options is that connecting via Bluetooth is not readily available despite it being a standard for most digital pianos these days. However, if you purchase a Bluetooth adaptor, you can enable this connection option as well.
At one point or another, you probably have wondered what your music would sound like with a full band. This is not something that you will find yourself worrying about with the DGX-660. It comes with over 200 different accompaniment styles from various genres such as pop, jazz, country, R&B, and many others.
Aside from the expansive choice options, you can also choose from 3 fingering/cord specification types:
- Multi-Fingered allows you to play all chord variations whether it be full or single fingered.
- Full Keyboard allows for the use of the entire keyboard for different chords.
- AI fingered lets the device predict what style you want to play next.
If you have trouble choosing a style, you can use DGX-660’s Music Database. This allows you to choose a music genre you like and the optimum settings for your chosen genre will be applied automatically.
The Style Recommender is also a great feature if you are not sure about what genre of music you want to play. All you have to do is play a couple of measures and the style recommender will come up with genre suggestions that you can choose from to get started.
If you do not know how to play chords, although I highly suggest you learn it as it is simple and extremely useful! You can use this article as a guide, the DGX-660’s Smart Chord feature will help you play with different accompaniment styles as long as you know the key of the music you want to play.
3.7 Other Features
Aside from the awesome features that I have mentioned above, the DGX-660 also has some basic features that are crucial to every digital piano.
The Metronome on this piano has adjustable parameters. You can customize the time signature, tempo, and volume to match your own preferences. This is useful for both beginner and advanced players to help with their timing, rhythm, speed, and accuracy.
A Transpose feature is also available on the DGX-660. This allows you to adjust the pitch of the entire piano one semitone per step. This is especially helpful if you find yourself needing to play a complicated piece. Transposing the piano will help minimize the number of black keys you will have to press.
If you are looking for a more accurate way to adjust the keyboard’s pitch than the Transpose function, you also have the Tuning function. This function allows you to adjust the piano’s pitch by 1Hz per step.
The DGX-660 package comes with the usual items included in an electric piano package. It comes with a music stand, a user manual, and a power adapter.
Yamaha also provides a very basic, box-type sustain pedal. While this pedal is usable, it is definitely not the best. The build is noticeably cheap and is made to be replaced. It looks and feels nothing like how the sustain pedal of a piano should be. Still, cutbacks such as this are to be expected for Yamaha to keep the DGX-660 on the price range it is in. Fortunately, getting sustain pedals is not too expensive. My advice is for you to get a 3-pedal unit instead.
One of the most celebrated additions to the accessories of this piano is the music stand. While a majority of pianos come with barely any accessories, the DGX comes with a furniture-style matching music stand.
Now, I am not going to lie, despite the great quality and aesthetics of the stand, it is made from wood and is incredibly heavy. This, combined with the existing weight of the DGX-660 makes it a nightmare to move around. However, if you simply plan on leaving your piano at home, then the stand is beautiful.
This section will compare the basic features of the DGX-660 to other pianos of the same price. Hopefully, this will help you determine if you are truly getting more value for your money should you choose to purchase a DGX-660.
|Yamaha DGX-660 (2)||$640|
|Roland FP-30 (3)||$699|
|Casio PX-S1000 (4)||$599|
As you can see, while other pianos are also formidable when it comes to polyphony and the number of voices provided, the DGX-660 overtakes them by quite a bit. Not only can it record two types of data, but the amount of pre-installed voices on the DGX-660 is also almost overwhelming.
6.1 Unbiased Text Reviews
Here are some text reviews from others who have previously or are currently using the DGX-660:
Here is what one Reddit user has to say about their experience with the Yamaha DGX-660.
This is followed by this Reddit user’s comment. You can find both comments from this thread (5)
Here is a really good comment about the DGX-660’s pros and cons. You can find this comment in this thread (6).
6.2 Helpful Video Reviews
The Yamaha DGX-660 deserves 4.5/5 stars.
In terms of voices, sound quality, and features, it has everything you could wish for and then some. Upon first look at the DGX-660, I was honestly shocked at the versatility it displays. I did not think it was possible to have a digital piano that was ideal for both beginners and advanced musicians as well. It truly feels like a piano that is supposed to last you for years.
The sound quality and sound engine used are great quality to the point that many people are even using the DGX-660 as a stage piano. It provides you with so many fun ways to customize your music and the recording and playback features are top-notch. It feels liberating to record on a piano that gives you a lot of breathing space.
Even if you are a beginner, the DGX-660 feels like a companion that is waiting for you to improve. It provides beginners not just with great lesson mode features but with various ways to improve certain aspects of their skills as they go.
Aesthetically, while some aspects of it are not very exciting (like the glossy plastic white keys), it also comes with a matching stand which many pianos do not provide in the package.
It is obvious that there are aspects of the DGX-660 that were downgraded to cut costs and keep it priced the way it is. The sustain pedal that comes with the box is awful and cheap. Still, these are things that could easily be replaced.
The only real downside I see for the DGX-660 is its weight. It is a shame to have such a great piano confined to the house because of how heavy it is. However, seeing as the weight does not seem to deter a majority of its user base from bringing the DGX-660 to the stage, if there is a will, there is a way!
Frequently Asked Questions