When sitting down to play the Yamaha CVP509 Clavinova Digital Piano you immediately know it is something special. Yamaha’s top of the range CVP Clavinova (barring the CGP1000 and CVP409 GP) the CVP509 offers the player everything they could possibly ask for in terms of playability, features and aesthetics.
Yamaha’s reputation is rock solid but in recent years some people have felt that you occasionally pay a little bit too much for the name. Over the last year I feel Yamaha out an excellent range together with perfect price points. For the money (the Yamaha CVP509 Polished Ebony version sells online for around £5158.40) you get an array of sounds, complex recording features and possibly the nicest piano sound and touch I have ever seen on a digital piano.
The actual keyboard uses synthetic ivory keytops and real wood white keys. The key surface is soft and slightly porous, giving the keys added grip and a natural friction that lets you play easily. This makes the piano experience very realistic and similar to playing an acoustic piano.
When you play an expensive acoustic piano, you can vary not only the volume of sound, but also the expressiveness: lively, gentle, and so on. Thanks to AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling, you get the same response from the Yamaha CVP509. This is achieved by sampling sounds at more than 10 different levels of keystroke strength. From these, three to five levels are carefully selected, depending on the model chosen, to offer more detailed tonal variations. As you play, the Clavinova reproduces subtle differences in nuance according to your touch, ranging from pianissimo to fortissimo. To create the piano sample Yamaha used their CFIIIS full concert grand piano which was tuned to the highest possible condition. They then used Yamaha’s unique Pure CF Sampling technique to sample all of its sounds, in order to create the CVP509 Clavinova Digital Piano sound. As a result, you enjoy the same natural tonal response as a top-quality piano.
This model uses Yamaha’s super articulation technology. This is mainly used on the Clavinova’s woodwind sounds. Basically Super Articulation allows the player to accurately play instruments the way they would sound acoustically. For example when playing one of the piano’s saxophone sounds you can bend or slide notes, to “join” different notes together, or to add expressive nuances at the end of a note. This technology means that if you were to go from a certain note to another you can actually hear the holes of the instrument closing as you would on the real instrument. This is seriously impressive and makes for an exceptional playing experience. In my opinion this makes the CVP509 the perfect balance between the Tyros and a pure piano product taking features from both kinds of instrument and combining them.
Megavoices are used on the piano to create stunningly realistic sounds. For me this is best shown on the Clavinova’s classical guitar sample. Players will hear open and mute string sounds, dead notes, hammering effects, slide effects, harmonics and a wide range of strum and body noises. Put simply Megavoices actually mirror the instruments behavior and react accordingly.
The piano uses instruments active field control (IAFC) which is sophisticated technology outputs sound picked up by built-in microphones together with the Clavinova’s internal sound through rear speakers, making automatic adjustments to create a richer sound that best matches the acoustic characteristics of the room you’re playing in. It also uses signal processing to reproduce an authentic damper effect. When the damper pedal is pressed, it delivers discretely sampled overtones, harmonics and resonance to recreate the warm and spacious sound.
Recording your music is a breeze with USB Audio input and MP3 Playback. Simply plug in a mic and enjoy recording your voice over the piano sound. All the usual elements of a Yamaha Clavinova are on the CVP509 including a LAN port for easy access to the web where you will find a host of helpful features, new sounds etc on the Yamaha site. The piano comes with the matching Yamaha stool, my only gripe here is that this stool is not adjustable, however this would probably add a lot of money to the cost which personally I would rather spend on the piano itself. The display uses a nice big bright 7.5″ screen which clearly shows scores, instrument choices and all the other features. I found that even under bright lighting condition the screen did not glare which is always a bonus.
To sum up, the Yamaha CVP509 Clavinova Digital Piano is an excellent choice and well worth the obvious investment. I cannot really fault the product at all as it ticks all the boxes for me not only in terms of it’s piano sounds and playability but also the host of other options that are built in. Simple to use you can be making superb and realistic sounding pieces in no time at all.