Since the early days of the Yamaha CP series, fender's famous rhodes models, and many others like them... the piano has been transforming from just hammers and strings to much, much more. Electric piano, digital clavichords and organs, synths... Sure we've seen units that can perform with these sounds... and perform well, but in my opinion... nothing comes close to the SV1 when it comes to sound, style, and portability.
Just looking at the SV1 immediately attracts players and non-players alike. its comes in 73 key and 88 key models. Both with graded hammer action (huge ). And the touch is as good as any other plastic representation out there. The controls are as far out as any I've ever seen. It kind of resembles the Moog style IMO. Simple on/off push buttons along with digital rotary dials make carving your unique sound a snap. Way easier than navigating a menu. And saving 1 of 8 user presets means... make your sound... press / hold... done!
The SV1 comes with 36 preset sounds... 6 tones in 6 categories...
E. Piano 1, E. Piano 2, Clav, Piano, Organ, Other
"Other" includes strings and synths mainly. But Korg has released another SoundPack for download on it's website for FREE! And says they'll continue to release new ones. The SoundPacks can then be loaded into the SV1 software and mixed and matched to your liking then loaded into the unit. The best part about this keyboard for me is the ability to change multiple effect parameters on the fly... for example...
If the verse of a song has a softer organ sound for a verse, then a more gritty, distorted sound for the chorus... All I have to do is reach over and grab the "DRIVE" knob and give it a turn. The signal is sent through the internal tube section (elegantly displayed on the front panel) and out the outputs on the back. This kind of quick adjustment can be applied to almost all parameters on this model... EQ, compression, vibrato, tremelo, wah, 6 different sounding amp circuits, 2 chorus', 2 phasers, flange, rotary, 4 reverbs, echo, and stereo delay. yeah.
As for the quality of the sounds? I have my favorites... and my less favorites...
The piano sounds are nice, but not great. Kinda dark for me, but in those situations where you want that... they sound right on. Mix well.
Where these keys really shine is in the electric pianos and organs. MAN this thing is killer. There are videos of people A/Bing them with the real thing and I swear you cant tell the difference.
KORG Sv1 vs Fender Rhodes - YouTube
When I play shows and people hear the rhodes sound from this thing I get asked all kinds of questions. The organs are strong and meaty. and a good variety to choose from (especially when you download the other soundpack).
Connections... There's quite a few.
- headphone out on front left panel
- Stereo XLR outs (Major win! no more direct boxes! And the output is blazing)
- Stereo 1/4" outs
- Stereo 1/4" Ins
- USB midi
- old skool Midi
- 3 pedal inputs (typically sustain, volume, and effect such as rotary speed)
As for things I don't like...
1. Maybe I'm crazy for wanting a keyboard that can change sound banks without stopping the previous sound. As far as I know only midi software like MainStage is capable of this. But it was on my demand list and it remains unchecked.
2. Main volume isn't saved when saving a preset. I thought for a while on whether or not to mention it. Seems like sometimes that might be a pain, but when I switch from a dark piano to a driven organ... I either have to grab the volume knob... or compress the organ to maintain levels. Again, maybe not a failure on Korg's part... but maybe make it an option in the software?
3. My last complaint doesn't have to do with the keyboard so much as my options of how to transport it. This keyboard has no edges... making secure transport in a square case somewhat of a conundrum. I ordered a custom case from GetOffMyCase for about $400. But Korg offers a gig bag for it with a pull-out handle and wheels, but it looked kind of... wimpy. If I'm protecting a $2000 instrument (at the time... now down to $1500 ) I need more support than what I saw.
So there you have it. my review of my favorite keyboard I've ever owned. It may not have as many options as a fantom... or the pianos of the motif... But I've never owned a digital instrument that more accurately represents who I am as a player and offers the ability to customize it so easily.