Korg has been one of the biggest innovators in the development of stage pianos over the years. Stage pianos like the Oasys and the Kronos raised the bar significantly when first released.
This review looks at the SV-2 and SV-2S, modern 88-key stage pianos that focus primarily on the sound of vintage keyboards.
Our verdict on the Korg SV-2
It probably does lose some potential users because it’s so dedicated to being a vintage keyboard. But that’s what makes it special. It’s not about pleasing everyone; it’s about being perfect for the right user.
We think Korg has done that very well. If you love vintage but want modern reliability, it’s the Korg SV-2.Available at: SweetwaterAmazon
The SV-2 has 72 onboard sounds that come from the EDS-X Synthesis sound engine. Sounds include lots of acoustic pianos, electric pianos, and other sounds like clavs, organs, synths, and strings.
The acoustic pianos range from concert pianos like the German Grand to modern classics like the Korg M1. On the whole, the pianos are very nice, especially the German/Italian Grand and the M1. It has a wonderfully quirky tack piano, too.
The electric pianos are the showstoppers for us, and perhaps part of the attraction is the Rhodes-like design of the SV-2. Whatever it is, some of the vintage electric piano sounds capture the magic of vintage jazz/funk/soul beautifully.
The SV-2 has a max polyphony of 128 notes and over ten times the sample data of previous models.
Built-in speakers (SV-2S only)
The SV-2S comes with Korg’s K-Array Stereo System, including a pair of 2.5″ speakers and dual 15 W amplifiers.
The speaker quality is good, the volume is enough for home use and some performance, and they look great, which is not something we often say about speakers.
The keyboard is Korg’s premium Real Weighted Hammer-Action system (RH3).
It isn’t easy to know exactly how to score the feel. On the one hand, it probably doesn’t feel as authentic as it could when playing acoustic piano voices. On the other hand, it has an action that’s more fitting of a vintage electric piano.
In our opinion, the vintage electric pianos are one of the main reasons to buy the SV-2, so it shouldn’t be an issue for potential players. It’s just worth noting that if you want a true acoustic piano feel, you’ll find better without spending much more.
For more information, check out our picks for the best-feeling fully-weighted stage pianos on the market right now.
The SV-2 and SV-2S share the same feature set with one exception; the SV-2S has built-in speakers.
Nothing matters more than how an instrument feels and sounds, but we have to give some attention to the design of the SV-2.
It has the look of a vintage electric piano, which adds some authenticity to the playing experience.
SV-2 Editor software
Korg’s SV-2 Editor software helps you create and save custom sounds easily.
The SV-2 is an intuitive and tactile instrument by design, so the Editor software provides a more in-depth approach.
It’s handy if you are setting up a range of custom sounds for a gig.
As an extension of the Editor software, the built-in Favorites banks give you quick access to all of your saved sounds/settings.
The SV-2 allows for 64 saved sounds in total with eight banks and eight variations.
The built-in effects go a little deeper than expected, which is a good start. What you get are six independent stages of signal processing.
If we think about setting up your SV-2 for performing, the effects will play a key role in creating unique sounds.
With vintage instruments, like Fender Rhodes electric pianos, many players would run them through effects pedals to experiment with new sounds in the early days. Now, a lot of these sounds are iconic, and the SV-2 has the ability to recreate them.
The effects include Vibrato, Tremolo, Vox Wah, a 3-band EQ, and the Red Compressor. You have plenty of pre-FX, modulation FX, and global FX to play with.
Valve Reactor circuit
Korg’s Valve Reactor circuit is something that you see in quite a few Korg instruments now. It’s in older keyboards like the KingKorg synth, right through to new releases. It adds another layer of authenticity, especially for vintage sounds.
You don’t always want your tone to be nice and clean; sometimes, you want a little analog dirt. The Valve Reactor circuit gives you that something extra, whether it’s subtle warmth, verging on breaking up, or completely overdriven.
It’s lovely on sounds that you want to crunch a little more when you play harder.
The layout stays true to Korg’s retro design. It has the kind of control panel that you’d expect to see on vintage analog gear. That means there aren’t any unnecessary controls, and everything is pretty hands-on.
The hands-on approach makes it easier to navigate, and it also enhances the vintage instrument experience. It allows you to make adjustments on the fly, and the large favorites buttons make it easy to recall your patches instantly. So, whether on stage or in the studio, it’s a very nice instrument to play.
It’s great at home, too, although it’s probably overpriced if all you want is a keyboard piano for practice.
Most of the body is metal, which gives a feeling of security straight away. The curved design of the SV-2 looks and feels great, so it’s very well put together.
All of the controls are reassuringly sturdy, too. Nothing feels cheap or lightweight. The buttons are nice and responsive, and the knobs have a smooth, accurate action.
The underside of the SV-2 isn’t quite as solid. It’s not a complete liability, but the base doesn’t feel like it keeps in line with the rest of the body.
If you were taking the SV-2 on the road, you shouldn’t have any problem, but it would be wise to take care when moving it.
It might have a vintage personality, but it comes with plenty of modern connectivity.
You have USB, MIDI in/out, and three-pedal inputs (DS-2H pedal supplied).
Two 1/4″ audio inputs, two 1/4″ audio outputs, and two balanced XLR audio outputs are available.
It also has a single 1/4″ headphone jack.
Compared to other stage pianos
The Korg SV-2 is something a little different in the high-end stage piano market. Being different is great, but it means you need to be sure it’s the one for you.
Here are some others to consider.
Korg SV-2 vs. Yamaha CP88
If you want to stick with the vintage feel but aren’t sure about the SV-2, the CP88 is the perfect substitute. The CP88 probably wins the overall sound battle, but there’s some magic in SV-2’s electric pianos. Both are great on stage.
Check out our Yamaha CP88 review
Korg SV-2 vs. Korg Grandstage
If you want to stick with Korg but shift the focus from electric piano to acoustic piano, the Grandstage is perfect. Few stage pianos will deliver a more convincing acoustic piano experience.
Korg SV-2 vs. Roland RD-2000
If you like the idea of a hand-on, tactile stage setup, but want something a little more modern, look to the RD-2000. It has some performance features that will blow you away.
Check out our Roland RD-2000 review
For more great options, check out our pick of the best digital pianos and stage pianos. If you are looking for the most authentic feel available, check our recommendations for the best 88-key weighted models.
Who is the Korg SV-2 best suited for?
It’s ideal for performers who play genres like jazz/fusion, funk, soul, and vintage rock.
- Vintage design.
- Fantastic sound (outstanding electric pianos).
- Tactile, intuitive interface.
- Valve Reactor circuit (it’s not just a gimmick).
- Outstanding onboard effects.
- Might only appeal to those who want a vintage sound.
- Slight build-quality issue.