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Anyone using the Studiologic VMK-161 org controller?


MalH

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Dear All,

 

I'm looking for a new controller for Logic's EVB3 tonewheel organ. It seems to be slim pickings for a waterfall-key controller with 9 sliders, but the Studiologic VMK-161 org looks promising.

 

I can't try one so any feedback would be very welcome.

 

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The OP is asking about the VMK-161 Org, not the Plus, which is what you've linked to. As I recall, there's been next to no discussion of the Org on the forum.

 

Whoops, my bad. :blush: I stand corrected, although I seem to recall at least a couple of instances where the org model was discussed here...

 

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Well, there's been discussion, a year or so ago, but it was all purely speculative and not worth referencing as a result. :-)

 

The consensus has been that this item is still vaporware.

 

OTOH Doepfer uses OEM parts from Studiologic and surely must be using the board upon which this retail product will be based?

 

I once looked forward to this product, but have kind of sworn off rack modules and MIDI on stage these days, so am more likely to just eventually buy a Hammond organ.

 

Nevertheless, I remain interested in this waterfall keyboard controller, should it ever get released. They really should swap out the standard sliders for real drawbars if they want deep market penetration though.

Eugenio Upright, 60th Anniversary P-Bass, USA Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, D'angelico SS Bari, EXL1,

Select Strat, 70th Anniversary Esquire, LP 57, Eastman T486, T64, Ibanez PM2, Hammond XK4, Moog Voyager

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I don't check these things regularly; I give up after awhile unless there is some buzz or some announcement.

 

It's not THAT long ago that I last checked. Who over here has it in stock? Take that with a grain of salt if it's certain e-retailers known for pretending things are in stock just because they think they have a guaranteed supply chain.

Eugenio Upright, 60th Anniversary P-Bass, USA Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, D'angelico SS Bari, EXL1,

Select Strat, 70th Anniversary Esquire, LP 57, Eastman T486, T64, Ibanez PM2, Hammond XK4, Moog Voyager

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Looks like a legitimate in-stock listing, for once. :-)

 

I might have missed it earlier since the ad title doesn't list the "ORG" part of the model name. But I suspect these just got in stock recently, as I did check as recently as April.

Eugenio Upright, 60th Anniversary P-Bass, USA Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, D'angelico SS Bari, EXL1,

Select Strat, 70th Anniversary Esquire, LP 57, Eastman T486, T64, Ibanez PM2, Hammond XK4, Moog Voyager

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The ad photos bring up a pet peeve of mine:

 

Why is it when sites have alternate images of a product, they are useless in terms of detail or showing connections/etc.?

 

No, I do NOT want to see a 45 degree angled view of the product, where there is LESS rather than MORE detail than in the head-on shot because of the vanishing point.

 

Geesh, do they think they're selling to marketing departments?

 

In this case, I think it's fair to assume the ORG has the same rear connectivity as the non-waterfall VMK's.

Eugenio Upright, 60th Anniversary P-Bass, USA Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, D'angelico SS Bari, EXL1,

Select Strat, 70th Anniversary Esquire, LP 57, Eastman T486, T64, Ibanez PM2, Hammond XK4, Moog Voyager

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It seems to take Studiologic a while to get their new products in stores, at least in the States. Who knows when the Numa Nano will be available. Perhaps some of us can chip in to pay for Carlo (aka Marino) to bring us over a few.

 

:idea::thu:

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I have a question for organ controllers like this, and also the keyboards on the Electros, XKs, and Rolands...Do they trigger near the top/middle of the key stroke like the old tonewheelers do or at the bottom of the keystroke like all synths and DPs that measure key velocity?

"It is a danger to create something and risk rejection. It is a greater danger to create nothing and allow mediocrity to rule."

"You owe it to us all to get on with what you're good at." W.H. Auden

 

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The XK-3 and '3c trigger near the top (~1/8") in their normal state. The trigger point can be lowered in the XK-3 by turning percussion velocity on. In the '3c. the trigger point can be lowered by holding the three Leslie buttons down while powering on. This is a toggle so it only has to be done once and the lower point will be used until the buttons are held on power up again. The lower point on both is the point where the second contact is made and IIRC, it gives you another ~1/4" of travel.
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I'm almost sure to have seen a vmk-61 org in The Big Music Store which I use the most. I had no time to dig deeper, but I can try next week (this week, I'm busy with gigs and stuff) and do a report if they still have it.

Also, no Numa Nano yet (a couple of weeks ago).

 

 

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I have a question for organ controllers like this, and also the keyboards on the Electros, XKs, and Rolands...Do they trigger near the top/middle of the key stroke like the old tonewheelers do or at the bottom of the keystroke like all synths and DPs that measure key velocity?

 

The Roland VK-8 can use shallow triggering.

 

Of course it bears mentioning that a true Hammond tonewheel organ like the B3 has 9 contact points (1 for each tonewheel) that activate through the travel of the key, which none of the clonewheels do (short of the Hammond B3P, which qualifies for clonewheel status in spite of its huge price tag; I believe it has 9-point triggering or at least an approximation of it).

 

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There are 9 contacts in the B3 etc. but they don't make contact in turn, at least they aren't supposed to. They should all make contact at the same time +/- a little. The order in which they make contact is random and different for each key but will be in the same order for each key every time.

 

The New B3 and B3P along with the MkII versions have the 9 contacts and while they make contact for the digital tonewheels, they perform the same function (and make the same noise) as the contacts in the original.

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What about the revised waterfall edition of the Korg CX-3?

 

My recollection is that it did not trigger all that close to the top, but was "faster" than the Electro 2.

Eugenio Upright, 60th Anniversary P-Bass, USA Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, D'angelico SS Bari, EXL1,

Select Strat, 70th Anniversary Esquire, LP 57, Eastman T486, T64, Ibanez PM2, Hammond XK4, Moog Voyager

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Sorry for being late. I've got one (a VMK-161 Organ Plus).

 

Use it to control the B4, works pretty well. However, I got my one used, so the factory presets were all overwritten (and there's no way to restore them). Therefore I don't know anything about the factory B4 preset but had to program my own one.

 

The keybed plays pretty well, a little springy if you ask me, but that's ok. Feels same as the Doepfer controller. Keys trigger pretty early on their way down.

 

So MHaylock, what else do you want to know?

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At any rate, it's nice to know that it does have a B4 preset.

 

Several people were nervous about whether it would communicate well with that soft synth.

Eugenio Upright, 60th Anniversary P-Bass, USA Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, D'angelico SS Bari, EXL1,

Select Strat, 70th Anniversary Esquire, LP 57, Eastman T486, T64, Ibanez PM2, Hammond XK4, Moog Voyager

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So MHaylock, what else do you want to know?

 

Great to find an owner finally and you're reasonably happy with the action.

 

A few questions:

How's the build quality? I assume from the limited online photos it is entirely plastic.

 

How are the sliders as drawbars? Are they a confidence-inspiring solid build and close enough together to be able to manipulate several at a time?

 

Have you found any limitations with programming it? I gather you have complete control over messages assigned to each control.

 

Is it a zone system able to transmit independently on several MIDI channels or just a single-channel controller?

 

Thanks very much.

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About the build quality, the enclosure is metal incl. the sides, the front and back panel and the knobs/buttons/slider knobs are plastic.

 

The sliders as drawbars work ok, just as you would expect from sliders as drawbars ;)

 

About the controllers. Sliders and knobs may be programmed as continuous controllers with a min and max value. You can choose UP-DN or DN-UP polarity and of course the CC number. Buttons may operate in trigger or latch (on/off) mode or even trigger a specific note-on MIDI message. The pedal inputs work with switch (e.g. sustain) or controller (e.g. volume) pedals as well, with adjustable min/max and polarity.

 

When using my Roland EV-5 expression pedal as organ swell pedal on the VMK, I found that I have to turn up the range potentiometer on the EV-5 just a little (from zero to one), otherwise the sensitivity of the VMK pedal input does not correctly interact with the pedal. I don't know how other pedals work. With this adjustment the EV-5 works perfect for me.

 

The keyboard and any controller may transmit on separate MIDI channels, although this is something I don't use. Keyboard transpose (+/- 24 half tones) is supported, keyboard zones are not.

 

All mentioned settings may be stored in a preset. 30 presets may be stored. Each preset also has a program change incl. bank select assigned.

 

That's pretty much it. Let me know if you have more questions. Unfortunately, I am not frequently visiting this forum due to limited time these days, so please be patient with me ;)

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To judge yourself about the usability of the sliders as drawbars, here I give you a quickly shot image of the sliders section with my left hand fingers for size comparison :)

 

http://soulianis.com/stuff/vmk-sliders.jpg

 

This is an 88888000 drawbar setting.

 

The buttons below the sliders I programmed for stuff like rotor run/stop, rotor slow/fast, percussion on/off with volume norm/soft and decay slow/fast and harmonics 2nd/3rd, vibrato on/off. The knobs above I use for the tube amplifier, key click and leakage settings. YMMV ;)

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