Yamaha CP73 Review

Were you one of the many who wanted a more “pro” Reface series? Well, the new Yamaha CP73 might just scratch that itch.

When the original Reface line was introduced a few years back, we had some reservations. Not about the quality of the keyboards, in fact we were stunned at how good they sounded, and how well they played for having such tiny keys. We still have a few here in the office that we use regularly, in fact (CP and CS). What concerned us was that the toy-like aesthetic might not translate to pro users taking the things seriously. We don’t have insight into Yamaha’s sales, of course, so we can’t know if that gut reaction was grounded in reality or not, but with the new CP series of stage pianos, Yamaha has finally taken the sound engines they perfected over the years, and stuffed a lot of them into a more professional looking, feeling, and sounding unit. So, for all complaining about the lack of a “Reface Pro” line, listen up. 

To start, you’ve got a number of sound sets here that Reface users might be familiar with, namely electric pianos (reed, tine, etc), acoustic and CP piano sounds, as well as tonewheel organs, clavinets, DX-style FM pianos, synth pads, and pretty much anything else an accompanist would need access to, including strings. If you were on the fence about the Reface CP, YC or DX because of the mini-keys and form factors, you should definitely check out the new CP73. The action is spot-on, as the new balanced hammer keyboard (which goes E to E like guitars), just feels right. Mini-keys be gone – we’ve finally got a professional keybed!

This simply feels and plays amazingly well, and the sensitive nature of the keybed allows for nuanced parts just like you’d want on a traditional acoustic or mechanical instrument. The prime example of this comes into play when dialing in an electric piano sound. Rhodes and Wurlis respond exceptionally well to dynamic playing styles, ranging from quiet bell-like tones to full-on, driven sounds when you really start to dig in and hammer the keys. Thankfully, that dynamic range and velocity reaction is great here – you can easily emulate those sounds the way they were originally heard and meant to be played. If you’ve toyed around with something like the Crumar Mojo 61 in the past, you’ll appreciate the effort Yamaha’s put in here. 

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The real draw, for many, of course will be the concert grand sounds built-in. And again, Yamaha knocks it out of the park. There’s a reason that virtuosos like Tori Amos play Bösendorfer pianos, and the on-board acoustic sounds are incredibly detailed recreations of Yamaha’s signature tones. 

Of course, there are other extras, like access to the Soundmondo library, which again is another familiar sight for Reface users, 128-voice polyphony (like the Reface CP), delays, reverbs, EQs and other on-board fx, as well as USB and MIDI DIN connectors.

As with the Reface line, I really enjoyed the one-to-one knob-per-function approach, as opposed to the endless menu-diving of more complex synths like the MODX, for example. The CP73 is dead-simple to program, which will come as a relief to those unfamiliar with synthesis and endless parameter-tweaking. Overall, the CP73 is a phenomenal instrument that any pro keyboard player should consider for their arsenal; you can simply pick it up and start playing immediately. And it’s that immediacy you’ll love. You might even find it replaces a half-dozen keyboards you’ve already got lying around, as well as your master MIDI controller in the studio. Highly recommended.

PROS:

fantastic sound engine, great keybed, easy to program

CONS:

should have come out sooner

STREET PRICE:

$1995

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