REVIEW: Dexibell Vivo S1 Stage Piano

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VIVOS1.1

The Vivo S1 is a powerful new digital piano from Dexibell, combining sturdy hardware and high-quality sounds into a 19 pound, sturdy aluminum body. It’s an ideal balance of portability and versatility, with battery and plug-in power, bluetooth capability, an onboard computer and audio interface, and a score of additional well-designed features.

IN THE BOX

I was immediately impressed by the quality of the Vivo S1. Smooth hammer-action keyboards are a rarity outside of bulky workstations, but Dexibell has developed a keybed that feels great without adding unnecessary weight. The keys are quite responsive, enabling a wide range of dynamics and expression.

This leads to my next immediate impression: the sounds are fantastic. While the Vivo S1 doubles as a MIDI controller and audio interface using its built-in USB jack, it also has a large onboard sound library, with a wide range of customization and variation. The Vivo S1 uses 24-bit, 48 kHz samples lasting over 15 seconds each, driven through a quad-core computer and 320 oscillators. This keyboard is astoundingly powerful, and its sounds are even more realistic than its action.

All said, Dexibell somehow managed to compact these extensive features into a firm aluminum casing that weighs less than 20 pounds, which is a feat unto itself.

On the back of the Vivo S1, you’ll find all the essential connections and more. In addition to a customary stereo L/R output and power supply jack, this keyboard has three pedal inputs for a damper/sustain, foot switch, and expression pedal. Furthermore, the Vivo S1 features a USB memory slot and USB out jack, which doubles as a MIDI and audio interface connection. This encourages some interesting possibilities for the Vivo S1 as a combined MIDI/audio workstation. Finally, the VIVO S1 has dual 1/4” and 1/8” headphone jacks – an incredibly useful feature, since 1/4”-1/8” adapters are arguably the easiest piece of gear to misplace – as well as an 1/8” audio in jack.

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IN THE FIELD

The Vivo S1’s control surface is intuitively designed. I had no trouble jumping in from the start. Dexibell clearly put extensive thought into the level of customization on the Vivo S1, with easily accessible reverb and effects controls for each patch. This keyboard has all the essentials: overdrive, multiple tremolos, rotary speaker emulation, various delays, reverb, phaser, chorus, and more. Furthermore, each effect has its own custom set of parameters. The sky’s the limit as far as sound design here.

Navigating between patches is seamless on the Vivo S1, with no interruptions or dropouts. The pianos are the strongest and most satisfying sounds, by far, but the Vivo S1’s electric pianos and synths are formidable as well. The damper pedal support was smooth, although this particular keyboard also features a Virtual Damper Pedal capability, so you can perform sustained passages without a pedal. All in all, it's clear that this keyboard is a great choice for studio and live musicians alike.

VIVOS1.0

STRENGTHS

Incredibly robust sound engine, audio interface, MIDI controller, and hammer-action crammed into a lightweight body. Ideal combination of portability and craftsmanship. In-depth sound customization and versatility.

LIMITATIONS

Only one control knob, which limits MIDI control capability. No pitch bend or mod wheel for synths (although this keyboard is largely geared towards organic emulation, feel and performance).

$1,499 street

http://www.dexibell.com

Cale Hawkins is a multi-instrumentalist and writer who has worked with Quincy Jones, Nate Ruess, Wyclef Jean, Bilal, Nikki Yanofsky and others. Find out more at www.calehawkins.com