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Clav Comparison


zoooombiex

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I had a few boards hooked up last night and found myself comparing instruments, and thought I may as well record it while I have the boards in one room.

 

I did comparisons for clav, farfisa & vox, and B3. I'll post the others in separate threads. None of these are meant to be definitive "which one is better comparisons," just a quick back and forth to show how they differ. I mainly did this for myself, but hope it may be helpful to others.

 

To make it a somewhat blind test for others, I numbered the instruments with comments on soundcloud.

 

Here is the clav comparison. The boards are (in alphabetical order):

 

Hammond SK1

Hammond XK3c

Hohner D6

Nord Electro 3

 

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An important part of the clav sound is the release on key-up; it would be nice to hear some of that in a comparison (in addition to what you already did; the sustain is also useful).

 

I agree with the comments above about which are the best. I play an NE2, but can't say for sure it's #3 above, off the top of my head. If I were at home and could compare, then maybe.

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An important part of the clav sound is the release on key-up; it would be nice to hear some of that in a comparison (in addition to what you already did; the sustain is also useful).

 

It's a bit subtle, but you can get a taste of that in the clip. At the end of the last held chord I intentionally pulled all keys off quickly, so you can hear if there is a key-off sample and how it sounds.

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Jeff, if you look at the audio clips in soundcloud you can see that 1, 2 and 4 have key ups and the other two do not. Nord does not have them which is a bit of a give away (tone and no release sampels are why I say #3 is the Nord). Also notice that #1 and 4 do not have a perfect decay envelope, again kind of a giveaway that this is a natural decay vs. the "perfect" synthesized decays you see in the other examples.

 

Busch.

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Right, that shows release samples, but doesn't tell me what I want to know, which is how it sounds when you play staccato and release a note while it's sounding. For example, a real Clav cuts off super fast, whereas the Nord has a relatively long release, and that detracts from its musical usefulness (more than the lack of release samples, IMHO.)
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Right, that shows release samples, but doesn't tell me what I want to know, which is how it sounds when you play staccato and release a note while it's sounding. For example, a real Clav cuts off super fast, whereas the Nord has a relatively long release, and that detracts from its musical usefulness (more than the lack of release samples, IMHO.)

 

I was going to reply to an earlier post of yours but this seems more clear that you're talking about speed of release.

 

It's become mandatory that synthesized clav emulations have an exaggerated click on key release. People look for it, and to be honest, back in the day that was a sign that your hammers were worn and have developed a "rut" that was catching and snapping the string. And that meant it was time to repair your keyboard! I used to do it (as many others did) by turning the hammer pads 45 degrees so they had fresh and solid surface to use. Funny how the only keys that wore out were in the key of E...

:-)

 

Anyway... I always appreciate when an instrument allows you dial in/out this characteristic, or even turn it off.

 

Jerry

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Right, that shows release samples, but doesn't tell me what I want to know, which is how it sounds when you play staccato and release a note while it's sounding. For example, a real Clav cuts off super fast, whereas the Nord has a relatively long release, and that detracts from its musical usefulness (more than the lack of release samples, IMHO.)

 

I'll try to get a quick comparison of that tonight if work permits. (It looks like I may have just sold the SK1, so it's probably my last chance.)

 

Without having the boards in front of me, I think the difference in release probably comes from the key travel rather than the samples themselves. D6 keys are very shallow, and by design it mutes as soon as you lift the key, at the very bottom of the key travel. That gives it that super-fast release.

 

The Nord has an overall longer key travel since it's a piano-ish action, and the note doesn't turn off quite as deep (percentage-wise) as the clav. Once the note-off is triggered, I'm pretty sure the sample cuts off immediately without any decay or delay. (And to that extent the SK1 has the same issue.)

 

That's a tough issue to address. You'd almost need to add some extra key sensors to let the clavs trigger shallower (more like the shallow trigger point for organ, but with velocity control), and then release very deep.

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That's a tough issue to address. You'd almost need to add some extra key sensors to let the clavs trigger shallower (more like the shallow trigger point for organ, but with velocity control), and then release very deep.

The DPs that have three sensors should be able to do this pretty well by assigning the clav's "note off" to the middle sensor instead of the top sensor.

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It's become mandatory that synthesized clav emulations have an exaggerated click on key release. People look for it, and to be honest, back in the day that was a sign that your hammers were worn and have developed a "rut" that was catching and snapping the string. And that meant it was time to repair your keyboard! I used to do it (as many others did) by turning the hammer pads 45 degrees so they had fresh and solid surface to use. Funny how the only keys that wore out were in the key of E...

:-)

 

The note-off clunk is exaggerated by worn hammers, but some of it is also inherent in the design. With the key down, you're essentially "fretting" the string, pushing it down with the hammer. Any time you let up quickly, the string is going to bounce back up and then vibrate (the "clunk") until it's muted by the yarn.

 

If you lift up slower, the string rises up with the hammer and comes to rest much more gently and quietly. So it's something you can control to some extent.

 

That said, since a lot of clav playing is staccato you do often hear this. If your hammers are old, they can actually trap the string (either because they have grooves worn in them or because the rubber has broken down and become sticky, or both...), then the hammer pulls the string up as you release the key, until the string breaks free and snaps back down, which makes for a much more notable clanky release. On top of that, if the yarn is loose/old it won't dampen the string quickly enough.

 

My hammers are actually pretty new, and my yarn is in pretty good shape, so I think this is a fair representation of a "typical" D6 note-off sound. I intentionally exaggerated it here by lifting off a bunch of keys all at once, very quickly.

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That's a tough issue to address. You'd almost need to add some extra key sensors to let the clavs trigger shallower (more like the shallow trigger point for organ, but with velocity control), and then release very deep.

The DPs that have three sensors should be able to do this pretty well by assigning the clav's "note off" to the middle sensor instead of the top sensor.

 

Interesting. If they did so, could they detect the speed of the release to control the level of the note-off sample (from the bottom sensor to the middle)? And presumably they could also use the middle sensor to trigger the note on? Per my post above, that'd be a nice feature for realism.

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That's a tough issue to address. You'd almost need to add some extra key sensors to let the clavs trigger shallower (more like the shallow trigger point for organ, but with velocity control), and then release very deep.

The DPs that have three sensors should be able to do this pretty well by assigning the clav's "note off" to the middle sensor instead of the top sensor.

 

Interesting. If they did so, could they detect the speed of the release to control the level of the note-off sample (from the bottom sensor to the middle)? And presumably they could also use the middle sensor to trigger the note on? Per my post above, that'd be a nice feature for realism.

I don't think any of this gets you very far, IMO. The clav action is unique and modern actions have probably twice the travel. It's the travel that make all the difference, not some subtle difference as to when sounds/releases are triggered.

You simply can play typical clav parts much easier on the original vs. any alternative action I've ever played, save the new Vintage Vibe clav (which is really the same as the original). Clav playing, as we know it, never would have evolved with a modern action. You'd just be playing clav like a piano/harpsichord.

 

Busch.

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I don't think any of this gets you very far, IMO. The clav action is unique and modern actions have probably twice the travel. It's the travel that make all the difference, not some subtle difference as to when sounds/releases are triggered.

 

You simply can play typical clav parts much easier on the original vs. any alternative action I've ever played, save the new Vintage Vibe clav (which is really the same as the original). Clav playing, as we know it, never would have evolved with a modern action. You'd just be playing clav like a piano/harpsichord.

 

Busch.

 

I agree, though I think for those of us that do play clav parts on a piano action like the Nord, the manufacturer may as well do the best job it can. I mean, is it really too much to ask for a motorized keybed that automatically lowers when you select a clav patch? :)

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Interesting discussion, thank you for posting the recordings zoooombiex.

 

As others have already noted, I feel that #1 (both instances) is the real D6, #2 is the SK-1, #3 is the Electro, and #4 is the XK3c.

 

Cheers,

James

x

Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

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Jeff, if you look at the audio clips in soundcloud you can see that 1, 2 and 4 have key ups and the other two do not. Nord does not have them which is a bit of a give away (tone and no release sampels are why I say #3 is the Nord).

 

Can this shortcoming be fixed with updated samples alone, or is this a hardware limitation of having 2 contacts instead of 3?

 

Tom

 

http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/JA/ja321812/2012-10-14_023853_fatar-contacts.jpg

 

Each key presses down on a rubber bubble contact. Each bubble has two conductive discs that, when they get pressed onto a contact pattern on the circuit board, they make a connection that determines that a key was pressed. It takes two contacts to determine the speed at which you pressed the key. Velocity is determined in this way.

 

 

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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I had a few boards hooked up last night and found myself comparing instruments, and thought I may as well record it while I have the boards in one room.

 

I did comparisons for clav, farfisa & vox, and B3. I'll post the others in separate threads. None of these are meant to be definitive "which one is better comparisons," just a quick back and forth to show how they differ. I mainly did this for myself, but hope it may be helpful to others.

 

To make it a somewhat blind test for others, I numbered the instruments with comments on soundcloud.

 

Here is the clav comparison. The boards are (in alphabetical order):

 

Hammond SK1

Hammond XK3c

Hohner D6

Nord Electro 3

 

 

Here is an additional comparison with more staccato playing:

 

-v2

 

I just sold the SK1, so that's it for the comparisons.

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Jeff, if you look at the audio clips in soundcloud you can see that 1, 2 and 4 have key ups and the other two do not. Nord does not have them which is a bit of a give away (tone and no release sampels are why I say #3 is the Nord).

 

Can this shortcoming be fixed with updated samples alone, or is this a hardware limitation of having 2 contacts instead of 3?

 

Tom

 

Each key presses down on a rubber bubble contact. Each bubble has two conductive discs that, when they get pressed onto a contact pattern on the circuit board, they make a connection that determines that a key was pressed. It takes two contacts to determine the speed at which you pressed the key. Velocity is determined in this way.

I don't see why release samples couldn't be triggered with even a single contact system. All that's basically happening is a new sample+envelope is triggered at the time of NOTE OFF.

 

If you're referring to the Nord, I believe the APs, EPs and harpsichords all use release samples. I don't know why Nord didn't include it in their clavs. They are still very good, IMO, but that would have certainly made them better.

 

BTW, with Nord the volume of the release sample (for APs/EPs) is determined by how long the note is held. The longer it's held, the less you'll hear the release. It is not determined by release velocity.

 

Busch.

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Here is an additional comparison with more staccato playing:

 

 

I just sold the SK1, so that's it for the comparisons.

 

Assuming 1=D6; 2=SK1; 3=Nord; 4=XK3c, I have to say the Nord is consistently closer to the sound of the D6.

 

Are you using the same clav tab settings in each example? With #2 and #4, they sound so different I can't tell.

 

Busch.

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Assuming 1=D6; 2=SK1; 3=Nord; 4=XK3c, I have to say the Nord is consistently closer to the sound of the D6.

 

Yeah, there's not much secret in this comparison, so I guess I can just go ahead and confirm everyone's guesses - those are correct.

 

Are you using the same clav tab settings in each example? With #2 and #4, they sound so different I can't tell.

 

The clav is set to A/C, with all tone switches on.

The Nord has the same setting.

The SK-1 is set to AC, but there are no tone switch options.

The XK3c doesn't have any options.

 

For actual playing purposes, I usually use A/C or A/D but normally leave the brilliant and treble switches off. The Nord can approximate those sounds equally well, but I put all the tone switches on here because it was the setting closest to what the Hammond boards could do.

 

This setting on the SK1 is by far the fattest. Since there are no tone switch options you can only select different pickups, and they only get brighter and thinner from there. When I had the D6 & Nord on warmer tone settings the difference was even more dramatic.

 

The XK3c was sort of an afterthought to include. It's obviously not really on par with the others, and even Hammond tried to bury it in a hidden menu. But I have used it on occasion when I didn't have the Nord. With a wah and overdrive it's passable - it sounds funky and people recognize it as a clav. But dry/solo the difference is pretty stark.

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I don't see why release samples couldn't be triggered with even a single contact system. All that's basically happening is a new sample+envelope is triggered at the time of NOTE OFF.

 

If you're referring to the Nord, I believe the APs, EPs and harpsichords all use release samples. I don't know why Nord didn't include it in their clavs. They are still very good, IMO, but that would have certainly made them better.

 

BTW, with Nord the volume of the release sample (for APs/EPs) is determined by how long the note is held. The longer it's held, the less you'll hear the release. It is not determined by release velocity.

 

Busch.

 

Thank you, Mr. Busch! That's exactly what I thought! :thu:

 

The nice thing about Nord is that they can update the clav program, add it to their library, and I can install it in my NE3HP as soon as it is available.

 

Maybe they can keep the samples they are using now and just add the release samples?

 

OTOH, if you are using the Clav program with a Wah effect, you are probably not going to hear this release sample anyway. Right? Perhaps that's why they didn't include it. (I wonder how much additional storage space these release samples use?)

 

Tom

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Without having the boards in front of me, I think the difference in release probably comes from the key travel rather than the samples themselves. D6 keys are very shallow, and by design it mutes as soon as you lift the key, at the very bottom of the key travel. That gives it that super-fast release.

 

The Nord has an overall longer key travel since it's a piano-ish action, and the note doesn't turn off quite as deep (percentage-wise) as the clav. Once the note-off is triggered, I'm pretty sure the sample cuts off immediately without any decay or delay. (And to that extent the SK1 has the same issue.)

 

That's a tough issue to address. You'd almost need to add some extra key sensors to let the clavs trigger shallower (more like the shallow trigger point for organ, but with velocity control), and then release very deep.

 

Actually, in relation to key travel on the originals. I had two D6's up until a few months ago. I sold one, and that one had the standard 3/8 of an inch travel. The one I kept has a much shallower travel. It plays really well. Different players liked different travel I believe, and by lowering or raising the harp would allow for that.

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Without having the boards in front of me, I think the difference in release probably comes from the key travel rather than the samples themselves. D6 keys are very shallow, and by design it mutes as soon as you lift the key, at the very bottom of the key travel. That gives it that super-fast release.

 

The Nord has an overall longer key travel since it's a piano-ish action, and the note doesn't turn off quite as deep (percentage-wise) as the clav. Once the note-off is triggered, I'm pretty sure the sample cuts off immediately without any decay or delay. (And to that extent the SK1 has the same issue.)

 

That's a tough issue to address. You'd almost need to add some extra key sensors to let the clavs trigger shallower (more like the shallow trigger point for organ, but with velocity control), and then release very deep.

 

Actually, in relation to key travel on the originals. I had two D6's up until a few months ago. I sold one, and that one had the standard 3/8 of an inch travel. The one I kept has a much shallower travel. It plays really well. Different players liked different travel I believe, and by lowering or raising the harp would allow for that.

 

That's a good point. I have a second D6 that I'm in the process of restoring, and some of the mounting screws for the harp broke. When I first saw that I thought it would be a challenge to get the level back exactly where it was, but that should be easy enough to set it where it feels best.

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