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SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
#3051713 06/29/20 09:56 PM
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Ever since the SV-2 came out I've been hoping for a straightforward comparison between the old SV-1 sounds and their equivalents in the SV-2. I never found one, but I took the plunge and bought an SV-2 anyway. After getting to know it for a day (and thoroughly enjoying it), I decided to pull my battle-scarred old SV-1 out from under the bed and do a side-by-side comparison. I considered doing a video, but that would have been more trouble than the results really warranted. So here's the deal...

EPs:

The bad news: they didn't improve the SV-1's EP sounds in the SV-2. The good news: they didn't break them either, and there are more options to choose from.

The default Rhodes sound in the SV-1 is the same as the default Rhodes sound in the SV-2 – same sample set, same number of layers, etc. Ditto with the default Wurli sound. I had been hoping that with the additional memory they'd add more velocity layers to those same samples, but no such luck. However, there are more variations of both available than there were in the SV-1. With the Rhodes, that means entirely different sample sets of different models, all with about the same quality as the basic sample set. With the Wurli it seems to be different variations of the same sample set, just with different EQ and using the layers in different ways to make the sound brighter or darker.

APs:

I'll keep this brief because there's very little to say, and it's obvious from the video demos: the pianos in the SV-2 are head and shoulders better. Far greater realism and more variety.

Clav:

The SV-2 Clav samples all seem to be different than the SV-1, for all four pickup positions. While the difference isn't huge, I think the new ones are an improvement for both playability and realism.

Everything else:

The organs are "good enough to get you through a cover band gig" ROMpler organs. I didn't check to see if they're identical to the SV-1's. Orchestral strings are useful with a nice variety. Big orchestral layers sound good, and I suppose will come in handy if I ever need to play the Simpson's Theme on a gig like that guy did in EVERY FRIGGIN' DEMO. One funny thing: something I always appreciated about the SV-1, because I was on a gig that required it at the time, was that it had the best "Jump" synth I'd ever heard in any board other than an actual Oberheim or a dedicated emulator. At first that sound seemed to be missing from the SV-2. It turns out it's there, but it's not accessible via the usual means of selecting a sound type and then a variation; it's only available in the "Legacy SV-1" bank of favorites. So it's the very last patch in the very last bank. That makes me wonder what other "legacy" sounds are hidden that way. I assume they're all accessible via the editor, which I haven't dug into yet.

Since I bought this mainly as an EP board, it would be easy to be disappointed that the basic sounds hadn't been improved in 11 years, especially given how many competing boards now offer some combination of intricately-detailed physical modeling and a gajillion unlooped velocity layers for every key. But the reality is, after I set it up I spent a good couple hours losing myself joyously playing music on it, and feeling like I was "home" in a way that I hadn't felt since I retired my SV-1. The number of those gajillion-layer samples or intricate physical models that have done that for me is exactly zero. So let's just say I'm very happy with this board, and plan on getting a lot of use from it.

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Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3051721 06/29/20 10:27 PM
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Great post for those in the market.

Originally Posted by Josh Paxton
I considered doing a video, but that would have been more trouble than the results really warranted.

You've described almost all YouTube content.

Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3051728 06/29/20 11:07 PM
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A real head scratcher that there is no improvement to show in the EPs a decade later. For many of us, though, finger-to-sound connection matters more than absolute authenticity. That was the appeal of the SV-1 and it's good to know they didn't break it. The weakness of the SV-1 was the APs. As I recall, the finger connection was there, but they all sounded too brittle no matter how you tweaked. With that fixed, I think the SV is again a contender.


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Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3051730 06/29/20 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Paxton
...the SV-1...had the best "Jump" synth I'd ever heard in any board other than an actual Oberheim or a dedicated emulator.

I’m embarrassed to say that after owning and gigging my SV1 for quite a while now, I did not know this! I’ve only ever used it for AP and EP sounds. It’s come to many gigs where I’ve played “Jump” too. Look forward to trying it out next rehearsal.

Thanks for the SV2 review, Josh.

Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3051732 06/29/20 11:32 PM
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I owned and then unowned the SV-1. I appreciated much about it, but hated the slip-out-of-your-hands shape and what for me was unrelentingly stiff and rubbery action. And those blocky AP's. Feh. This might be the board I have tried the hardest to love and failed at it the longest. I am not going to let Josh's good review of my old crush's younger and hotter sister pull me back in.

Nope. Won't do it.

Nope nope nope. Won't.




Crap.


"
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Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3051751 06/30/20 01:30 AM
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I actually purchased MathOfInsects’s SV-1. My relationship with it was somewhat lukewarm in the beginning but I started gigging with it and got attached to it despite of its shortcomings. My main complaint was the Ac. Piano sound and the inability to layer sounds.

When SV-2 was introduced in NAMM on January 2020 I put my SV-1 for sale and to my surprise it sold right away. So now I didn’t have a weighted board in my gig rig any more and I decided that I’ll setup a MainStage rig while waiting for the SV-2 to become available so that I could then decide whether to go with MainStage or SV-2. However, I did great job procrastinating and then one day Sweetwater rep called me and said he has a white 73-key SV-2 available, do you want it? So, I got my SV-2S 73 just in time when the gigs dried up in March.

One thing like about SV-2 (and SV-1) is the ergonomics. I can put my synth board on top of the SV-2 and have the keybeds within close distance of each other. Also, the user interface of the SV inspires to experiment with effects while playing E.P. and other sounds too, something I never did before I got the SV. With the updated Ac. piano sounds with SV-2 my main complaint is gone. And, SV-2 enables adjusting layered sounds on the fly, for example adding a pad under the piano. On top of all that it looks good which of course is the most important thing when you’re playing live ;-)

Last edited by U.Honey; 06/30/20 04:21 AM.
Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3051762 06/30/20 03:06 AM
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Josh, so I take it that you didn't get the one with speakers. Am very curious about how well they do for smaller settings.

Is there any difference in the action, or does it just feel like the SV-1 w/more and better sounds?


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Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3051767 06/30/20 04:14 AM
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Josh: you may not recall, but I spoke with the development team last NAMM, and they told me that they kept every sample/program from the original SV-1 for sound compatibility, so everything is in there. Maybe not all the Programs are loaded, but they can be and will sound the same. So they only added new stuff, nothing removed.

I agree that it was the acoustic pianos that really let it down for me on the original, so I stopped gigging with it.

Jerry

Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
jerrythek #3051768 06/30/20 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by jerrythek
Josh: you may not recall, but I spoke with the development team last NAMM, and they told me that they kept every sample/program from the original SV-1 for sound compatibility, so everything is in there. Maybe not all the Programs are loaded, but they can be and will sound the same. So they only added new stuff, nothing removed.
Do you know whether that includes the two add-on packs? I mean, I assume the samples are all in there, but I'm wondering if the programs are there too (whether in the box or availablevia the editor).

Originally Posted by jerrythek
I agree that it was the acoustic pianos that really let it down for me on the original, so I stopped gigging with it.
IIRC, when I gigged with it, I used its SG-1D sound. One of the situations where working in the context beats more authenticity. ;-)


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Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
AnotherScott #3051777 06/30/20 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by AnotherScott
[IIRC, when I gigged with it, I used its SG-1D sound.
"Good Evening, good evening. I just bought a DP, and I'm not saying it sounds bad, but the best voice is a 16-bit sample of a 12-bit sample! Thank you, I'm here all week"

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Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
AnotherScott #3051783 06/30/20 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by AnotherScott
Originally Posted by jerrythek
Josh: you may not recall, but I spoke with the development team last NAMM, and they told me that they kept every sample/program from the original SV-1 for sound compatibility, so everything is in there. Maybe not all the Programs are loaded, but they can be and will sound the same. So they only added new stuff, nothing removed.
Do you know whether that includes the two add-on packs? I mean, I assume the samples are all in there, but I'm wondering if the programs are there too (whether in the box or availablevia the editor).

The add-on packs were programming only, they never added new samples. I don’t know about the Programs, but I’m sure they could be loaded via the editor.

Originally Posted by jerrythek
I agree that it was the acoustic pianos that really let it down for me on the original, so I stopped gigging with it.
Originally Posted by AnotherScott
IIRC, when I gigged with it, I used its SG-1D sound. One of the situations where working in the context beats more authenticity. ;-)

Ouch! That would never have worked for me. But whatever floats your boat...

Jerry

Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3051786 06/30/20 12:34 PM
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Realism is overrated. I like the SV-1 pianos. They are compressed and the mids are punchy. It works well in a rock band.

Last edited by CEB; 06/30/20 01:54 PM.

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Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3051805 06/30/20 01:41 PM
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Brotha Josh, my test drive of the SV-2 when it came out resulted in a similar conclusion.

The SV-2 satsified my wishlist of features but it didn't sound compelling enough to dump and replace my SV-1.

However, it's good to know that if I had to replace my beloved SV-1 the SV-2 does exist.:cool


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Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
CEB #3051819 06/30/20 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by CEB
Realism is overrated. I like the SV-1 pianos. They are compressed and the mids are punchy. It works well in a rock band.

I agree authenticity is overrated. People should play what feels good and inspires them the most. Digital acoustic piano sounds rank on a scale of which suck the least. But DP that costs more than $1,000 should give you a broader palate of APs than just ones that work for rock, which is the easiest job for any AP to do.

I've always had to do a lot of my practicing through headphones on a digital piano, so sounding ok through headphones is a must and the APs on the SV-1 were pretty bad in that respect.


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Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3051826 06/30/20 03:11 PM
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I know a lot of people dismiss the SV1's AP, but I will not do the same ;-). I still like the AP I'm using on my SV1, which comes from Soundpack 2. I still find it good and playable from a tone perspective, whether through a PA system in a band context, or through my headphones practising alone at home, and even through my room's loudspeakers, for playing Soul, Funk, Blues, Latin, Rock and even Jazz. I even prefer it to my Vox's AP, which as I understood comes from the Kronos engine, and has a kind of metallic sound in the medium and high register which bugs me a bit sometimes. I also prefer it to the Korg Module APs, even though I like them. I hope my ears and brain were not too much influenced by the SV1 tones after so many years using it ;-) I recognize, though, that it would be good to have more tones and different kind of pianos available in the SV1, and this is what the SV2 offers. I also recognize that the lower polyphony level (compared to modern boards or software pianos) can be a problem sometimes, but I can live with it. And for sure, I can hear some slight improvement in the SV2 tones and velocity layers which surely make the playing experience even better. But very bad luck, the Corona crisis had a significant hit on my finances, which killed my project to buy the SV2 this year :-) I have also to say that I'm not so happy to get rid of the SV1, as I used it to great extent and with a lot of pleasure. With that said, the possibility to load the SV1 sounds in the SV2 makes it also very attractive.
So my current state of mind is: I will surely buy the SV2 one day, as there's no reason not to do it beside a (temporary...) financial issue, but I'll continue with the SV1 until then, and that's ok ;-)
I'd be interested to hear more SV1 users who decided to keep on with it, to explain why.

Last edited by jejefunkyman; 06/30/20 03:33 PM.
Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3051833 06/30/20 03:23 PM
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Those SV-1 APs pop in a band mix. I’ve heard some stunningly beautiful Ivory pianos get washed and buried in a mix. I was a Kawai fan boy but for live use when I finished tweaking my old MP-5 they sounded a lot like the SV-1s.

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Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3051863 06/30/20 05:31 PM
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I couldn't get on with the key-action enough to justify the weight and lack of MIDI controller features at the time, and went in a different direction.

As I've since posted, if I was shopping for (what became) my busiest band, it would have been a perfect lower board - 70% EPs, a little AP and clav downstairs. Couple it with a ROMpler with some VA capability (and portamento) and it would have been ideal for our disco, soul, funk sets. The whole retro/electromechanical vibe is perfect.

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Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
jerrythek #3051886 06/30/20 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by jerrythek
The add-on packs were programming only, they never added new samples. I don’t know about the Programs, but I’m sure they could be loaded via the editor.
True that they did not add new samples, though I believe they did make use of samples that, while resident in the machine, had not been used in any of the original 36 sounds. Whether you can load those programs into the SV2 if they're not there is indeed the question. I saw somewhere that the SV2 will not read SV1 datafiles, so you can't simply download the soundpacks and load those programs in, even though all the wave data and available parameters exist. If that's the case, the sounds of the two downloadable SV1 soundpacks can not be played on the SV2 unless they already exist in the SV2 program library OR you "recreate" them yourselves in the editor. No?

Originally Posted by jerrythek
Originally Posted by AnotherScott
IIRC, when I gigged with it, I used its SG-1D sound. One of the situations where working in the context beats more authenticity. ;-)
Ouch! That would never have worked for me. But whatever floats your boat...
You can't deny that the sound cuts through! It's funny how standards change. People used to gig with a CP70/CP80 because finally they had a "portable" board that sounded "like a real piano." And now that's its own vintage sound, seen as quite distinct from the sound of a real piano. The SG may not be today's idea of what a real piano sounds like either, and I certainly wouldn't choose it for everything, and it was not the only SV1 piano I used, but I remember clicking over to it without knowing what it was (the "beauty" of no display on the SV), and deciding that for some of what we were doing, it might be the best choice. (It was a while ago so I won't swear to it, but I think it ended up that it was the SG sound.)


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Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
jejefunkyman #3051923 06/30/20 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by jejefunkyman
I'd be interested to hear more SV1 users who decided to keep on with it, to explain why.

I’m not getting rid of mine any time soon.

Reason 1. I intensely dislike buying/programming/learning new keyboards in general. The ROI takes a long time to materialise if your existing ‘boards are working perfectly well.

Reason 2. I love how it sounds and feels. I’m 100% with Ed (CEB) on how well the AP’s cut through a rock band mix. We sub contract sound engineers and they’re often in verbal agreement too.

Reason 3. It sounded good (to me) the day before the SV2 was released and it sounded exactly the same the day after the SV2 was released.

But...the above all being said, if I were forced to replace it the SV2 would be a strong contender. Particularly after Josh’s review.

Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3051982 07/01/20 08:02 AM
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OK, thanks for your feedback! I'm in the same mood currently, even though I was really about to buy the SV2 just before the Corona madness started :-( Don't know when things will get back to "normal", but probably not in 2020.

Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
Josh Paxton #3052146 07/02/20 05:33 AM
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Trying to work my way through this video comparison of SV1 and SV2 by James, the pianoforever guy. Long but useful for comparing sounds. His thesis, which he attempts to show, is that the SV2 is warmer and less brittle and barky across the board, not just APs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBvCZVh2uXQ


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Re: SV-1 vs. SV-2 sound comparison
AnotherScott #3052239 07/02/20 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by AnotherScott
True that they did not add new samples, though I believe they did make use of samples that, while resident in the machine, had not been used in any of the original 36 sounds. Whether you can load those programs into the SV2 if they're not there is indeed the question. I saw somewhere that the SV2 will not read SV1 datafiles, so you can't simply download the soundpacks and load those programs in, even though all the wave data and available parameters exist. If that's the case, the sounds of the two downloadable SV1 soundpacks can not be played on the SV2 unless they already exist in the SV2 program library OR you "recreate" them yourselves in the editor. No?

As for the samples, I can't recall the whole list, but there were no major keyboard-group samples that were unused. There were a bunch of synth waves, mallets/bells and other stuff, and perhaps some more bass tones. So there's stuff to take the board in a different direction, but nothing from what you'd call "essential food groups".

I did not know the answer to loading the Programs so I asked a friend on the team. It is true that the SV2 can't load SV1 sounds, and there are Soundpack Programs that are not currently part of the preload. So they need to be converted/recreated. My friend is trying to do that in his spare time, but he's very busy so there's no promise at this time that it will get done. Fingers crossed.


Originally Posted by jerrythek
Originally Posted by AnotherScott
IIRC, when I gigged with it, I used its SG-1D sound. One of the situations where working in the context beats more authenticity. ;-)
Ouch! That would never have worked for me. But whatever floats your boat...
Originally Posted by AnotherScott
You can't deny that the sound cuts through! It's funny how standards change. People used to gig with a CP70/CP80 because finally they had a "portable" board that sounded "like a real piano." And now that's its own vintage sound, seen as quite distinct from the sound of a real piano. The SG may not be today's idea of what a real piano sounds like either, and I certainly wouldn't choose it for everything, and it was not the only SV1 piano I used, but I remember clicking over to it without knowing what it was (the "beauty" of no display on the SV), and deciding that for some of what we were doing, it might be the best choice. (It was a while ago so I won't swear to it, but I think it ended up that it was the SG sound.)

Oh I get it, and if I were playing more rock-ish stuff, country roadhouse boogie and such the SG sound works great. It's all about the musical context, I agree. But for jazz, ballads, R&B and so on I wouldn't go there. Imagine playing a solo piano gig with it - nope!

Hope this helps.

Jerry


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