Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Played a Numa organ tonight


Jim Alfredson

Recommended Posts

For our second gig in Italy, the backline consisted of a Yamaha S90es and a Numa organ.

 

I will refrain from judging it tonight since the backline company failed to provide an expression pedal. To say it was hard to play is an understatement. It was like a drummer missing a limb. Fucking tough. But I made it work.

 

I will say: Having the volume knob on the right side was the absolute worst place for it to be when you don't have an expression pedal! :)

 

There are things I like and things I do not like about it but I will say more after tomorrow's gig since I will have the same rig (and the backline guy promises he'll bring the expression pedal).

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 128
  • Created
  • Last Reply
Holy crap! You can't play organ without a swell pedal. Glad you made it work.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even though I have a Numa and really like it, I can't imagine playing one through just any old speakers.

 

I in fact did that about a month a ago and the Numa sounded shrill as hell. The 3rd harmonic percussion is a big part of that. For the type of situation you are in it could stand to have some way to adjust the percussion volume.

 

I fully expect to hear all kinds of nasty reports because I don't believe that the Numa is a plug and play type scenario.I spent quite a bit of time matching speakers, amp and EQ and I have something that works but I bet it would be hard to duplicate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That happened to me one gig... My expression pedal failed and had to play my XK3c without one. But having the volume on the left side made it somewhat possible... I cant imagine how you dealt with it on the right side... yikes!
'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I were playing lower manual bass I would want it on the right side where it is.

 

When a Numa is being run through a house PA I would try to make sure I was getting stereo through the monitors because the leslie sim sounds best that way. I would also ask the sound people to back off some of the highs and put some low end EQ into it.

 

I personally think it is crazy to let sound people control this sort of thing. Very few people "get" what an organ is supposed to sound like or even what you want it to sound like.

 

My best results have some through boosting an external EQ from around 60 to 180 HZ and backing it off in the 2K range to tame the percussion volume a bit.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the record, for live settings, I play my Numa mono through a K10 and it sounds great to my ears. The EQ stays flat for the most part unless the room needs help. The FOH gets a mono signal.

 

In the Studio I play it through Event monitors and again, I find it sounds great. The EQ stays flat.

 

aL

Gear: Yamaha MODX8, Mojo 61, NS2 73, C. Bechstein baby grand.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I personally think it is crazy to let sound people control this sort of thing. Very few people "get" what an organ is supposed to sound like or even what you want it to sound like.

 

That is why its critical to have someone you trust out at the sound board... Even to help the engineer dial in the sound that you want.

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Master volume should always be on the left. What were they thinking?

 

A nice thing about the Electro is that master volume is on left, but patch volume is on the right, so if you have to adjust while playing on the left side, you can ... sort of, but only if the knob is already near the current patch's level, or you stop playing for a moment. One of those infinite knobs with LEDs to show the current location would be better, but never mind, keep the price down and the UI simple.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

The reason I don't use the Numa with a flat frequency response is because of the volume of 3rd harmonic percussion with slow decay. When I am running the Numa through my B3 preamp/ leslie 122 the slow decay percussion is a bit louder and I have to compensate for this. Boosting bass frequencies seems to help with the balance.

 

I don't believe that a leslie has a flat frequency response curve and it doesn't work for me if the Numa is run flat either.

 

Since there is no percussion volume adjustment, this is how I compensate.

 

I am probably one of the few people who prefers slow decay. I also prefer things like leslie sim OFF with chorus vibrato on.

I play with the sim off quite a bit of the time.

 

To me the slow percussion decay setting sounded very strange through the QSC stuff. Ditto the overdrive. Too much high frequency emphasis, and no way to compensate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the XB-2 volume knob is on the right but with the XK3c it is one the left. I never thought about it because I always left the volume knob turned up. The XB-2 had the tone controls on the rear panel. That was inconveinent because sometimes they would get moved. I guess I should have taped them down.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok so I have about an hour before I go back to the gig. Just got some dinner and I'm back at the hotel room.

 

The backline guy brought a volume pedal. Unfortunately it is a terrible piece of shit. It basically goes from soft (thankfully not totally off, but very soft) to full volume with barely any movement. The entire range of volume is literally within 1/8" of movement of the pedal. The rest of the throw of the pedal is worthless and doesn't change the volume of the sound at all. Oh well, it's better than nothing.

 

Concerning the Numa sound itself: Last night, even though I was frustrated by the lack of expression pedal, I did enjoy the sound of the Numa. I think it sounds quite good, with some caveats. The percussion sounds great. The chorus/vibrato is very authentic in terms of being like a late 50's Hammond console. The overall tone of the organ is very good, though it was extremely bass heavy last night. Today it was much more restrained, so that was probably something with the monitors last night.

 

The high-end is a bit weak for my tastes. I'm talking the upper harmonics. No amount of tweaking the onboard EQ really fixed that. Maybe some of the other tonewheel models address that. I don't know how to access them and for all intents and purposes, it's fine. Remember, I have my XK3's loaded with my custom tonewheel set based on my tricked out '58 B3 which absolutely SCREAMS in the top end. In fact, I raised the "virtual tonewheel" levels in my custom set for the XK3 as far as they could go for the upper tonewheels, scooped out the middle tonewheels, and raised the bass, because that's how my '58 B3 sounds. Perfect for getting above the din of a rockin' blues band! :)

 

The only thing I would say as a negative about the sound of the Numa is that I feel like it is a very specific example of a Hammond sound. Almost like a very detailed painting of a photograph. What I mean is that it has a sound that at first listen appears very authentic but when you start to listen closely it reveals the falseness, almost like it is an extreme example of an ideal. Kind of like faux wood vs. real wood, if you know what I mean. Basically it's the same thing that really bugs me about the Nord organ sound.

 

Anyway, that's just a taste issue. For what I do, I like an organ that has a brassy high-end and is a little unpredictable. I am willing to bet that through a real Leslie, throwing sound out around the stage, the Numa would sound killer. Depending on how much you can tweak it, it might very well be able to nail the sound I'm looking for. After all, if it can please tastes as wide as those between Joey DeFrancesco and Brian Auger, it must be pretty cool.

 

As for as ergonomics, yes having the master volume on the other side would be better for me. No big deal.

 

I'm not thrilled with the location or feel of the Leslie switch either, but I'm sure I could get used to it if I was playing it every day.

 

The drawbars feel nice. A little wobbly in terms of side-to-side motion, but nothing distracting.

 

The keybed is okay; a lot like the KeyB. Again, it would take me a while to get used to it since I'm dialed in to my XK3 action, but I'm sure I could in a week or two and it would be fine.

 

The red buttons are a little hard to see in the sunlight.

 

Over all it plays and sounds good for what it is. It doesn't make me want to replace my XK3 but in terms of all the other clones out there, I'd feel most comfortable sound-wise with the Numa if I couldn't play a Hammond (either a real one or the XK series). The fact that the Leslie sim is quite good without needing a Ventilator is a bonus, too.

 

 

BUT...

 

... and here's the ultimate rub for me...

 

While playing it, I kept getting a constant nagging feeling of disconnect between myself and the instrument. I thought maybe it was just the negative frustration I had last night due to the lack of expression pedal. But today during soundcheck I had the same feeling. And I had a similar feeling playing the KeyB Duo as well. I just never felt connected to the instrument, especially when doing very rhythmic, two handed stuff. Anyone who's seen me play knows that I'm a very rhythmic player, treating the organ in a comping role much like a percussive instrument. I don't just sit there and hold chords (unless of course the song really calls for it). I like to give the other soloist(s) something to play off.

 

So this feeling of disconnect persisted even today. And that's why I brough my laptop. My suspicion was latency. Latency between when a key is pressed and sound comes through the outputs.

 

After our soundcheck, I took my vocal mic and plugged it into channel 1 of my Steinberg CI1 interface. I took a 1/4" output from the Numa direct into channel 2. I aimed the mic at the key I was hitting (middle F), set my levels, and hit record. Here is a zoom of what Reaper captured:

 

http://www.organissimo.org/pub/reaper.jpg

 

The top waveform is the microphone. The bottom is the output of the Numa.

 

I hit the key 8 times. I averaged the number of samples in between the start of the microphone's waveform and the start of the Numa direct output waveform. The average was 605 samples. That equates to a latency of 13ms.

 

That's a lot.

 

At least I know I'm not crazy and why that feeling of disconnect is there for me.

 

Now 13ms might not be all that much by itself... I mean, I think it is, but maybe some folks are fine with that. But when you factor in that the output of the Numa is running probably 40 feet or more back to the FOH soundboard through a DI, and then back from the soundboard to my monitor which is 4 feet below me to the side... well, that's got to be adding at least another 6 to 7 ms of delay. Maybe more. So now we're into 20ms or more latency.

 

By contrast, the Yamaha S90es, which is running the same lengths back to the FOH desk and then up to my monitor again, feels natural, quick, and responsive. No issues there.

 

I guess if you're monitoring with your own speaker right there on stage, taking a direct off the DI or something, that would be better. But even with that, the base latency of the organ itself is 13ms. That's enough for me personally to have issues with. The whole reason I recently bought a new laptop is because I couldn't get my old one to run Pianoteq with anything less than 10ms of latency and I couldn't play with that kind of delay. It just bugged the crap out of me.

 

I hate to say it, but I think this is the Achilles heal of the Numa for me. The sound is really good. Really good. But the latency... I don't think I could get used to that. I had the same feeling with the KeyB Duo. I really liked the sound but I never felt like I gelled with the instrument. I did not have a chance to measure the latency with the KeyB. Maybe someone who owns one can do that. I have a feeling it will be in the same ballpark.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you ever done a similar latency test with any other keyboard? I'm wondering how this compares.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interestingly, I have tried to tailor some of the highs out of the Numa. The percussion is louder on mine than my B-3 is through the same preamp. And all my drawbar tones cut through loud and clear through my own speaker set up.

 

As far as the latency issue, Dave Amels alluded to it when I spoke to him about the Numa at NAMM. But it hasn't seemed like an issue to me, and I play mine every day. In all honesty I am probably not feeling and hearing in millionths of seconds. That is REALLY splitting hairs.

 

I also play the Numa enough that when I go back to the B-3 there are actually things I miss that the Numa has.

 

It would be interesting to hear what someone like Joey De Francesco would have to say, and whether he has noticed anything on the Key B's that he has been performing with.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My experience with Receptor Latency arguments would say that 128 is hated by most, 64 acceptable and 32 samples is dandy stuff.

 

The following are measures from internal and midi in on Rev Cs.

 

128: 7.7/9.0 ms

64: 4.8/5.1 ms

32: 3.4/3.6 ms

 

603 samples? That was the problem with NI Akoustik Piano on Receptor Cs. Anything over 64 samples or over 6 ms would produce user complaints. 10 ms was when the wars woudl start between 'fan boys' and trolls and excuse makers.

 

If it really specs out that high on a scope (not knocking ytour approach) than its likely a similar war in the offing.

 

I find 128 (8 ms and over to the audio out) spongy and not acceptable. It's excuse making time at that point and 64 (5-6 ms) is tolerable. 32 samples (3-4 ms) is like good hardware.

 

My opinion. But whenever I hear 10ms from key press to audio out I say run far, far away. I don't need to hear it if it scopes out like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I played a Numa organ about four months ago and spent a couple of hours with it... me and my headphones.

Maybe it was the fact that I was really expectting a lot from it (probably because I read that it was more of a jazz-focused clonewheel)... but, the bottom line was: I was not impressed like I thought I would be.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Now 13ms might not be all that much by itself... I mean, I think it is, but maybe some folks are fine with that. But when you factor in that the output of the Numa is running probably 40 feet or more back to the FOH soundboard through a DI, and then back from the soundboard to my monitor which is 4 feet below me to the side... well, that's got to be adding at least another 6 to 7 ms of delay. Maybe more. So now we're into 20ms or more latency.

The 40 feet to FOH and back add micrseconds at most. The 4 feet from monitor to ear add nearly 4 ms, for a total of 17.

 

As noted before, that last 4 -- at least it's something our brains are used to and may tolerate more.

 

In any case, this is a useful data point: for you, 13 ms latency in the keyboard is too much.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My experience with Receptor Latency arguments would say that 128 is hated by most, 64 acceptable and 32 samples is dandy stuff.

 

The following are measures from internal and midi in on Rev Cs.

 

128: 7.7/9.0 ms

64: 4.8/5.1 ms

32: 3.4/3.6 ms

 

At 44.1kHz, 64 samples is about 1.5ms, assuming one buffer outstanding (total of 2). So, if the Numa has those response times, they must be using 4 outstanding buffers (total of 5).

 

The math is simple: 1000 ms per sec * 64 samples / 44100 samples per sec = 1.451 ms

 

If you can change the number of buffers, try reducing that and using 128 samples, which should get 3 ms latency, and more efficiently than a buffer size of 32. The absolute minimum is 2 buffers, total.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just got back from the gig. I had to reset the Numa twice during the last two songs of a 90 minute set. A note hung in both instances when doing multiple glissandos.

 

I enjoyed the sound of it. I think the parts they did well are the attack and release "keyclick", the percussion, and the C/V. But I still think there's this "better that reality" quality to it, like a photo with really saturated colors, that might get tiring after awhile. Or maybe not.

 

The latency is not splitting hairs, imo. That's an important consideration for those of us who are sensitive to the issue. It affects the play ability. Like richwhite9, anything over 8ms or so really bugs me. I also decided I really don't care for the Leslie switch or where it is positioned. With my current gig, I rely on both a footswitch (the kick-switch on my EXP-100f expression pedal on the XK3) or a button because sometimes I'm holding a sustain pedal with my left foot for piano/electric piano chords. After the gig tonight, I was really cursing where the switch is on the Numa. Maybe one could attach a halfmoon to it?

 

It's also silly they didn't include a visual cue as to the speed of the "Leslie".

 

I'm curious what the latency of the XK3 is and will test it when I get back to the states next week.

 

I have the Numa again tomorrow. I asked for a better expression pedal. I hope my comments aren't being taken out of context. I do enjoy the sound of it, but the playability/latency issue combined with hung notes (is there an OS upgrade for that?) means that it's not really the board for me. But if I get one for backline down the road, I'll be happy. Much more so than getting a Nord! :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Might buffering be configurable on the Numa?

 

Hung notes suck -- I got that occasionally on NIB4, but a palm swipe would cure it (or just hitting the stuck note).

 

I hope I didn't imply that too much latency is splitting hairs. I just commented on math a little, and I *was* splitting hairs!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For about a week I had an XK1 and a Numa organ together playing them through the same amplification system. I ended up returning the Numa for a variety of reasons. But the bottom line was that I preferred the sound and feel of the XK1. I have no idea whether latency played a role in the greater pleasure I felt jamming on the XK1. I hope the SK1 is on par with the XK1, because I ordered one.

 

Spike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hung notes is the kind of thing that scares me about buying any Fatar/Numa/Studiologic piece that is much more than a raw keyboard. Some of their actions are very nice, some aren't, but typically they all work. As soon as they start adding fancy electronics, they have had a history of units with glitches, and no support.

 

It's interesting to find latency problems with a board's internal sound generator. I like the idea of testing boards for this. I wonder if that's part of why some people feel certain keyboards have a better "sound-keyboard connection" than others, maybe it's as simple as latency.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For about a week I had an XK1 and a Numa organ together playing them through the same amplification system. I ended up returning the Numa for a variety of reasons. But the bottom line was that I preferred the sound and feel of the XK1. I have no idea whether latency played a role in the greater pleasure I felt jamming on the XK1. I hope the SK1 is on par with the XK1, because I ordered one.

 

Cool...

 

I know this is out-of-the-topic but...

Will you still have your Xk1 by the time you receive your Sk1?

I would really like to get your opinion on the possible differences between these two (only organ sound, of course).

 

See ya!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nope. I sold the XK1 before its price hit the floor. What I will do, and report back, is compare the SK1 with the Nord Stage 2 Compact I bought recently. The NS2 organ ain't bad, although I hate the electronic drawbars. But a side-by-side comparison with the SK1 will be interesting. I plan to use both boards for gigs, with the NS2 as the lower board - the mother-board so to speak. But I can also use the NS2 as the lower manual of a B3 with the SK1 screaming away on top. We'll see!

 

Spike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...