D'Addario struck a chord with violists, cellists, and bass players with their Kaplan line. Now they have finally released not one, but two different sets for the violin. These are not the same as the gut-core Kaplan Golden Spiral which came out years ago and is no longer in production.
The two sets are named Kaplan Amo and Kaplan Vivo. While the silk wrapping on the Kaplan sets for Viola and Cello are Black and White at the tail end the Amo violin set is Black and Copper while the Vivo is Black and Silver. Both sets look very similar on paper. They both have identical tensions, they both come with a tinned steel E-string, and they rest of the set is a Zyex core. The tension is on the higher side of most synthetic strings sitting just below Evah Pirazzi.
The best way I can describe these strings is "Warm Soloist." If you are looking for something to really darken up a bright sounding instrument these won't do it much. If you have a brighter instrument and are looking for a soloist sound without the shrill that many high tension synthetic strings bring these are perfect. They blended well with my violin which leans a bit on the bright side. Across the G, D, and A strings the sounds was very balanced with with a lot of power behind it. The E string stands out from the rest, but not in an awful way. Projecting higher melodic lines was very easy with fast response and medium tension.
Vivo is exactly what the name suggests. This might be the liveliest strings I have ever put on my violin (Which at this point is a lot). They are as bright as a metal string but will project over a large orchestra with ease. Even though the E strings looks to be the exact same as the Amo I felt that it had more power and brightness in the Vivo set.
Amo strings deliver quite a punch for being a warmer string. I will definitely be putting these on my "gig" violin. Having the warmer tone, but projection that is comparable to other bright/high-tension synthetic strings is essential for outdoor weddings where an amplifier is not accessible.
These strings are cranked to 11. The Vivo set is without a doubt the loudest strings I have ever used. In my private lessons multiple students even took note of how loud my violin suddenly was. Vivo strings seemed to bottom out at what I would consider to be a medium dynamic. If you are already needing more projection than without a doubt these will deliver
I am going to put these together for this category. Complexity is a difficult thing to pin down. Both sets are VERY rich in overtones. Both sets had the rest of the strings constantly ringing with sympathetic vibrations. With that said the depth of tone and richness that you would expect from a gut string or low tension synthetic is not obviously present in the Kaplan set.
It's hard to look at D'Addario's new sets without thinking about Thomastik-Infeld's Blue and Red sets. They should not be placed in the same ballpark by any means though. Infeld Blue and Infeld Red act as a brighter and darker version of the popular Dominant strings which many consider to be a very "neutral" set across the board. Kaplan Amo and Vivo seem to be more focused on the market of violinists that are preferring the big and brilliant sound like that of PI (Peter Infled), Vision Ti, and Evah Pirazzi.
D'Addario's Kaplan Amo creates a wonderful balance between a big soloist sound but more warmth that is hard to come by in that category of strings. These strings are perfect for those that already have a bright instrument and would like to have a projecting sound without becoming shrill.
D'Addario's Kaplan Vivo is not for the timid player. These strings will project to the back of any hall without a problem. They may be perfect for those who have a darker instrument already and need to brighten it up a bit. They do hold enough richness and complexity to be a powerful player in the niche market of higher tensioned synthetic strings.
Previous Spotlight Reviews
Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin
Standard vs. Harp Tailpiece
Electric Violin Comparison
NEW Fiddlerman Strings
Vision Strings (Thomastic-Infeld)
Kaplan Viola Amo/Vivo/Forza
Amber Viola (Warchal)
Evah Pirazzi Gold (Pirastro)
Capriccio Soloist (Dogal)
Avantgarde A (Warchal)
Russian Style A (Warchal)
Kaplan Amo & Vivo (D'Addario)
Red Label Pearl (Super-Sensitive)
Amber - Full Set (Warchal)
Amber - Forte E (Warchal)