The Yamaha Clavinova. It all began over twenty years ago in 1985 with the Clavinova CVP 3. Since then, Yamaha has improved upon that first Clavinova every single year (except 2006) with well over one-hundred different models. Today, the latest evolution of the finest digital piano in the world is born again—the Clavinova CVP 400 series.
This review will be focused on the CVP 407 and CVP 409 since they are very similar in features except for a few differences which we will point out. Check our Clavinova page for reviews on the CVP 401, CVP 403, and CVP 405 models.
Like the CVP 300 series, the 400 series uses Advanced Waveform Memory (AWM) technology for efficiently storing sample waveform files. The CVP 407/409 also incorporates Yamaha's Natural Wood keyboard (white keys) from the high-end CVP 300 series. The only difference is with the CVP 409's keyboard; Yamaha added a special synthetic ivory coating to the keys making them porous, thus, creating more key grip.
Super Articulation Voices
The CVP 407/409 has 590 voices plus 480 XG voices. This includes a new type of voice called "Super Articulation" voices introduced with the CVP 405 and up models. These voices are pretty much like the super expressive "Mega Voice" programs from the 300 series except you can actually play them on the keyboard where before only MIDI sequences could utilize them. And, of course, the Clavinova CVP 407/409 have the Mega, Natural!, Live!, Sweet!, Cool!, Organ Flute! and regular voice types found in the CVP 300 series.
128 + 128 Notes of Polyphony
The Clavinova CVP 407/409 also has 128 + 128 maximum polyphony. Yamaha did not explain what they meant by this but, we're pretty sure they were trying to say that 128 notes of polyphony are dedicated for song and style playback and the other 128 for the AWM engine. This way if 128 notes of polyphony are reserved for the AWM engine, you can be more assured that the CVP 407/409 won't cut out during the most intense playing even while you are being accompanied by a large orchestral piece, for example.
The CVP 407/409 incorporates Yamaha's iAFC (Instrumental Active Field Control) effect borrowed from the higher-end 300 series models. Essentially, iAFC uses the built-in microphone and speakers and measures the amount of reverberation that is present in the room. This data is then fed back to effectively recreate a virtual soundboard within the CVP 407/409. You can actually feel the resonance in the cabinetry just like in a real piano! Yamaha obviously went all out creating this subtlety and we really loved this feature.
USB Audio Recorder
With the Clavinova CVP 403 models and up, you can now record your voice or any other instrument you plug your microphone into including the on-board sounds of the CVP 400 series via the USB audio recorder. All you need for this is a USB storage device and this digital piano will record in CD quality wav format. You can then compress it to an mp3 from your computer and email you compositions to your associates or friends and family!
The CVP 407/409 has the usual features that you would expect from a Clavinova, such as, a 16-track sequencer, tons of accompaniment styles, songs, effects, karaoke mode, a brilliant 640 x 480 color LCD, and a great sound system consisting of two 60W and two 20W speakers for lots of sonic power. The CVP 407 comes in a dark rosewood finish while the CVP 409 has a choice of either the polished mahogany or polished ebony finish. The polished ebony finish was the winner for us.
CVP 407 VS. CVP 409
We were surprised to find out that there were virtually no differences in features between the CVP 407 and the CVP 409. The only differences we found between the two was the synthetic ivory coating on the keys of the CVP 409, a 1/4" height difference making the CVP 409 slightly taller and heavier by 2kg (4lbs., 6.5oz) over the CVP 407 and the choice of finishes.
Yamaha continues to amaze us by raising the bar on an already absolutely, stunningly gorgeous grand piano in their Clavinovas. In addition to all the nuances that Yamaha usually engineers into their digital pianos, you can actually hear the hammer blows and knocks in the upper registers. This is of course in addition to the quadruple-strike velocity samples, release samples, sympathetic resonance, and iAFC effects which transforms the CVP 407/409's piano from beautiful to completely dazzling. Obviously, these new Clavinovas have the same half-damper pedal capabilities that their CVP 300 series counterparts had too.
We can't talk about the CVP 407/409's sounds without mentioning what Yamaha calls "Super Articulation" voices. They are a lot like "Mega Voices" only you can actually play them and they are a lot more expressive. For example, depending on how you play the Steel Guitar program, say fast, the program will automatically at the right times add realistic finger squeaks. Plus, stepping on the sostenuto pedal plays a sample of a hand smacking the guitar body.
The saxophone was another great "Super Articulation" voice. Depending on how hard you strike the keyboard will vary the breathiness and raspiness of the sound. You can even hear the keypads on the sax click and the sostenuto pedal plays a sample of a person inhaling!!!
In all, there are 38 "Super Articulation" voices but, aside from that the rest of the sounds from the electric pianos, strings, brass, to the woodwinds, and percussion were absolutely stunning.
We are happy to see that Yamaha continues to raise the bar with their Clavinova line of digital pianos. We loved the Natural Wood keyboard, the "Super Articulation" voices, and the USB audio recorder but, most of all we fell in love with the stunningly beautiful grand piano. The CVP 407/409 is worth the price just for the grand piano—it's that good. The sound system is more than powerful and the big bright colorful screen is well laid out and user-friendly.
We could not find a single thing to gripe about the CVP-407/409. Obviously if you are in the market for a Clavinova or already own one, you know they aren't cheap so don't be surprised by the price but, they are worth every penny. Remember the old saying, "You get what you pay for?" Well, it applies here and the CVP-407/409 is in our opinion the finest digital piano in the world.