The DGX-660 is Yamaha’s premium portable keyboard. Dubbed a “Portable Grand”, the DGX-660 features a full 88-key keyboard with high quality grand piano sounds as well as a number of other features for education, performance, and fun.
In this review, I will focus on the keyboard physical features and connections, how the keys feel from a seasoned pianist’s point of view, the quality and performance of its instrument library, and the navigation and uses of its many features.
Compared to a nine-foot, 1000 pound acoustic grand piano, the DGX-660 is very portable.
With the included stand, it is around 30 inches tall, 55 inches wide, 17.5 inches deep, and 61 pounds. Sure it’s a bit heavy and cumbersome, but a friend or family can easily help you move.
The instrument is a stylish black with synthetic wood grain on the stand. When purchased new, the instrument and its stand will need to be assembled.
Assembly can be a little complicated, so it is best to refer the manual when putting the 660 together. The floor-model I tested felt sturdy when given a little shake and I’m sure the piano can handle non-rigorous travel for something like a coffee-shop open mic. The keyboard also comes equipped with a music rest that easily fits into the slots on the top edge of the keyboard.
Remember, this instrument is categorized as a portable keyboard, not a stage-piano; it is not meant to be moved that often.
Connections and Ports
The DGX-660 is a versatile keyboard, and with that it has many different connections and ports. It is equipped with the typical DC in power port, one quarter-inch stereo output/headphone jack, sustain pedal jack, one auxiliary input (this is a great feature I will discuss later), and one quarter inch microphone input.
Microphone cables are typically XLR, so you will either need an adapter or a mic with a dedicated quarter-inch male connection for it.
A typical, damper only pedal can be used with DGX-660, but more professional, three pedal units can be attached such as the Yamaha LP7A can be used. This is more natural for someone who is used to an acoustic piano’s pedal configuration.
Pedal’s such as the LP7A also have a half-damper function that changes the amount of clarity on the piano’s resonance based on how deeply you press the damper pedal. It’s a great feature!
How Does It Feel?
The DGX-660 is still considered a “portable keyboard”, so it’s not too surprising that it does not live up to its specification as a “Portable Grand”. The keys are plastic, but still have some sense of quality about them.
The piano has a Graded Hammer Standard keybed which attempts to replicate the gradual heavy to light touch from low to high that one would feel on a acoustic grand piano.
When I played the instrument, this feature was noticeable and I can appreciate, but it doesn’t compare to the real thing.
For me personally, the key’s recoil in the middle to high-mid section has an unnatural recoil to it that reminds more of something more like a semi-weighted keyboard. This does not facilitate well for quickly repeated notes or very fast trills.
Overall, the touch is not bad. It is perfect for someone who may not be a serious student of the piano and plays more for leisure and fun. Yamaha’s different lines of stage pianos and digital grand pianos may be more appropriate for someone who is looking for a more authentic touch.
Digital pianos such in the Arius line by Yamaha or the Clavinova have more options and more to offer when it comes to keybeds.
Instrument Options and Quality
There are 554 voice options on the DGX-660. The first is a unique set of piano sounds called “Piano Room” that is very differentiated from the rest of the keyboards sound library. It is accessed by simply pressing the “Piano Room” button. Yamaha wanted to give players a greater sense of configurability and fun for those with more discerning ears. The virtual space can be chosen from “environment” options of Concert, Recital, Stage, Room, or none.
These are essentially types of reverbs from largest to smallest. Four types of pianos can be chosen from which are Grand, Pop, Warm Grand, and Honky Tonk. Next the lid position of “open” or “closed” can be chosen for all pianos but the Honkey Tonk. At this level, there are many options in the Piano Room, but Yamaha adds a little more configurability with a “Detail” section where you can choose the piano’s overall tuning, what kind of touch response it has, and the damper resonance.
With that said, there is a lot of different piano sounds in this setting. The quality is generally pretty good. I particularly like the way the Warm Grand sounds and think it has the most authentic timbre to it. The reverbs are decent, as are the little nuances of the lid position and damper resonance.
I believe the Pop piano is a little too bright, but this type of piano sound usually works better in an ensemble setting because the piano can cut through more and be heard. I did not like the Honky Tonk; no amount of reverb or other options can save this cheap sounding instrument patch.
Apart from the Piano Room is the set of sounds that are accessible when you first turn on the keyboard. The proprietary instrument voices are numbered 000-151. Within these 152 sounds are pianos, all sorts of keyboard instruments, guitars and basses, stringed instruments, brass and woodwinds, among others.
The acoustic pianos were good overall, but “Live! Warm Grand” was my favorite. The electric pianos sounded great as did most of the organ patches. The guitar patches were lacking except the classical guitar, however this is typical for all but the very best keyboards.
There are a surprising amount of ensemble string patches with a good amount of variety on the DGX-660, and many of these can be blended well with other patches like the pianos to create a great sound.
The solo strings however are some of the weakest in the whole set. They are poorly integrated and processed and have a very thin, uninspiring sound.
There are a good amount of patches for different hits and other dramatic sound effects. The vocal patches are actually quite nice as well and would blend well with the string and keyboard sounds nicely. The woodwinds and particularly the saxophones were of low quality as well.
They sound very unnatural and have little or no response to different velocities. There are many other instrument sound in the XGlite voices of the keyboard, but I don’t have time to go through them.
XGlite is an outdated extension to the midi protocol and effects, but some of the instruments, particularly idiophones like xylophone, glockenspiel, marimba, etc… really shine and sound great.
If you are looking for fantastic quality of instrument patches, look beyond the DGX-660. Many upper-tier keyboards and workstation by Yamaha such as the Motif line have much better instrumental patches that can hold their own in professional recordings.
If anything, the DGX-660 is full of useful features. Some of the standard features I’ve hinted at already include being able to layer different patches, as well as split the keyboard to have one part of the keyboard play one sound and the other side another.
Like most keyboards, the DGX-660 has a metronome, but also has some great flexibility such as tapping in the tempo with the damper pedal, changing the time signature, and adjusting whether the sound is a click or a bell. These functions are easily done on the DGX-660 and can be found in the manual.
The DGX-660 takes other neat features found on other keyboards adding harmony and backing accompaniment to enhance your playing, but takes them to the next level with features like the Style Recommender that chooses the correct accompaniment style based on the rhythm you play.
You can record these type of performances easily with this keyboard as both audio and midi files as exciting, multi-track files.
Other features on the DGX-660 include educational tools to learn songs already on the keyboard or imported through USB. The music notation is displayed on the keyboard’s screen and three different functions “Waiting”, “Your Tempo” and “Minus One” offer different levels of learning. In all honesty, this is more of a gimmicky feature in my opinion. The screen is not very large and you will have to be looking straight at the keyboard; this is not very conducive to learning.
It may be fun to see the chords and melodies for some of the DGX 660’s songs, but not the best presentation. In the same manner, using Yamaha’s XG song files for karaoke and play along, the lyrics for popular songs that are available are displayed on the screen. Looking straight down may be alright for learning the songs, but definitely not a good look for performance time.
There are lot’s of other useful features on the DGX-660, but one that sets it apart from others in Yamaha’s portable digital piano line is the ability to connect a microphone into the keyboard for an amplified vocal performance.
Plug a dynamic microphone into the keyboard before turning it on and have the volume turned all the way down. Three vocal effect presets which include dynamic processing and eq are included and can be edited based on your vocal style and needs. Yamaha want into surprising detail in this feature!
I was unable to test this last feature for my review, but the DGX-660 can also be used with wireless devices such as tablets and smartphones that can transmit audio and midi data between the device and the keyboard.
The Chord Tracker app is a great example of this: it analyzes your favorite songs on that are on your device and can transmit what chords are being used in the song so you can learn them more easily. It’s a great tool and the data can be transmitted to the display of the DGX-660.
The DGX-660 is an overall great instrument. It looks great and is built well, has a large number of features, great piano sounds as well as other instrument sounds, and is has some great forward thinking amenities with its wireless compatibility.
Some drawbacks are its overall keyboard feel, some very unimpressive sounds in its soundbank, and the amount of features is a little overwhelming and and hard to navigate.
Consumers should remember that this keyboard is somewhere in between a stage piano and a digital piano with some unique added features and not expect too much from it.
Overall I give this keyboard 3.3 out of 5 stars.