Korg XVP-20 Volume and Expression Pedal
By Phil O'Keefe |
Korg XVP-20 Volume / Expression Pedal
A dual-purpose pedal - redesigned and updated
by Phil O'Keefe
Volume pedals are rarely considered sexy or exciting. However their usefulness is hard to deny, whether for adjusting volume while your hands are otherwise occupied or for volume swells, solo boosts and even muting your instrument in between songs. For over 20 years Korg has offered their popular XVP-10 volume / expression pedal, but now it has been discontinued and replaced with an updated and completely redesigned model called the XVP-20. Let's see what changes have been made with the new release and who might consider getting one.
- The XVP-20 is a dual input, dual output volume pedal, with the I/O on 1/4" jacks. It can control the volume of two individual instruments at the same time, or a single instrument or effect with either mono or stereo outputs.
- The XVP-20 can also function as an expression pedal, and has a dedicated 1/4" TRS expression jack for that purpose. Like the rest of the I/O and controls, it's located at the "toe" end of the pedal. Korg thoughtfully includes a 1/4" TRS cable for use with the expression jack.
- The aluminum housing is a bit more compact than the XVP-10, measuring 3.54" W x 10.55" L x 2.44" H, including the rubber feet. It's also somewhat lighter than its predecessor, weighting in at 2.87 pounds. The XVP-20's black anodized finish matches their flagship KRONOS workstation.
- Unlike some volume pedals that use strings to rotate the control pot, the XVP-20 uses a gear mechanism. Additionally, it has more teeth than its predecessor, giving the user a better degree of control over fine adjustments and the new pedal a subjectively smoother feel.
- Rubber pads have been added under the pedal to help prevent it from slipping away from you, even on a wood, tile or concrete floor. A rubber pad covers the treadle itself, which helps keep your foot planted firmly for better control.
- One really great feature is the adjustable torque. Adjusting a screw underneath the pedal's treadle can firm up or loosen the pedal's feel, as well as the amount of force required to manipulate it.
- Another very useful feature is the XVP-20's Minimum Volume control. This can be set anywhere from 0% to 50% of full volume, which allows some signal through even when the pedal is in the fully heel-back position. This is wonderful for pre-setting a minimum level for rhythm parts, and a boosted level for solos.
- Using it simultaneously as a volume and expression pedal is not recommended - use it as one or the other.
- Since it's a low impedance pedal (50k - 100k input impedance), it's ideal for use with keyboards, but less well suited for use with high impedance instruments like guitar. You can certainly use it as an expression pedal with guitar pedals, and it will also work well if you place it after an effects pedal (most of which have low impedance outputs). But if you want to feed it a guitar with passive pickups and run it first in the chain, or without any other pedals, it's not the volume pedal you want.
- While lighter than the XVP-10, at 2.87 pounds it's still a fairly heavy pedal. The upside is it tends to stay in place better than a lighter pedal.
This is a very well-designed volume pedal, but you need to know what you're getting. If you're a keyboardist, you can buy one with little worry, since it should work well with the low impedance output of your instruments, but guitarists need to carefully consider where and how they want to use the XVP-20. If you want to use it at the end of a chain of pedals it will work fine, and it will work well as an expression pedal too, but if you want to use it first in the chain (before any other pedals) or without any other pedals at all, this isn't recommended due to the impedance mismatch. Of course, low-impedance or active pickups render this a non-issue, but that doesn't apply to the majority of guitarists. Hopefully Korg will consider releasing a high-impedance version for greater compatibility with guitar rigs, but in the meantime, keyboard players will find the XVP-20 to be an excellent option for both volume and expression control. -HC-
Korg XVP-20 Volume and Expression pedal ($200.00 MSRP, $159.99 "street")
Korg's product web page
You can purchase the Korg XVP-20 from:
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.