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Organ advice needed: DAWs & MIDI vs N Electro


nadroj

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Hi folks,

 

The only thing my rig is really missing right now is a good clonewheel organ. What I have now is passable but I'm at the point where I'm needing something that's more than that.

 

I'm paired with two choices: buy a good MIDI controller and use some of the great tonewheels I have in Mainstage, etc, or save up, wait a while longer then splash out on a Nord Electro 4D further down the line.

 

What I need is:

 

-something with drawbar/slider control

-Semi weighted keys (for piano stuff, not wanting weighted)

-lightweight - Important

-61, maybe 73 keys at a push

 

Most would immediately jump and say "get the Nord" but the thing is, within the next year I'll be involved in projects where I'll be using Ableton Live as well as Mainstage a lot, and if I get a good semi-weighted controller now with all the dials and pads, etc, not only will I be have something to control my software organs with now, but I won't have to splash out again on a controller keyboard later on this year.

 

I've played around with the Electro in stores, and truth be told, I wasn't really a fan, but maybe that's just because I'm not used to playing Nord instruments. I know everyone rates them highly, so I'd no doubt grow to love it once I got used to it.

The VR-09 is also another option, but I'm already using a board with the same keybed - I really want a board with semi-weighted/waterfall keys, and truth be told, I'd rather get something that's really good than spend ~£700 on something that I may want to replace after a year or so.

 

So I don't know. I need advice. Does anyone use software organs live just now? If so, what do you use? How are they? Are they even passable live? I've looked at past threads regarding MIDI controllers, so have a few ideas on what what my options are. Thanks all.

 

EDIT: I should note that I'm fine with sliders instead of drawbars.

Nord E4 SW73

Yamaha MODX7

Mainstage 3

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Crumar Mojo is a software organ under the hood. I have used that, also VB-3 running on a Receptor and it also does a great job live.

 

The problem with software organs is in the controller. If you don't have a dedicated control surface, you really are not playing organ the instrument. I built my organ midi controller for that very purpose.

 

I don't like stringing a bunch of individual keyboards and drawbar modules together to make a controller, but YMMV.

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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A dedicated organ is always simpler to use and a more robust solution than controller + laptop + software.

 

But, there are other alternatives than the Nord. Hammond XK1c and SK1 are cheaper and weighs about the same. I am also a Nord fan, but Hammond may be better for you, but you won't know until you try them. Then there's the Numa Organ, which is in the same price range, but is slightly heavier.

 

As Moe states - it's hard to find a controller with waterfall keys and drawbars. The Studiologic VMK-161 Plus Organ is the closest, I think. Fairly cheap, waterfall keys, but sliders instead of drawbars. The downside is that it weighs more than any of the board listed above.

Nord Stage 3 sw73, Yamaha CP88, KeyB Legend Live, Kurzweil PC3K7, EV ZXa1 + sub. K&M stands, Hammond E112, Leslie 3300, EHX V256, Roland SE-02, Yamaha EX5R & TG77, Novation Nova desktop & much more...
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...within the next year I'll be involved in projects where I'll be using Ableton Live as well as Mainstage

 

Great - what have you got coming up?

 

VST organs live:

 

I used to run VSTs from NI - then VB3 then tried Rumpel something - couldn't get them to cut through in the live band situations I was in. Only worked when I brought along a proper onstage "fill the place with sound" rig - and I was using a small personal monitor or jogging headphones and letting the PA do the work.

 

Dumped the rig and sold my midi pedals. If I needed it now - second hand Hammond XK1? Anything through a Vent? You'll need something powerful onstage though - the band need to "feel" it washing round them.

I'm the piano player "off of" Borrowed Books.
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I like NI's Tonewheel B3. I have the B3 down to about 10 lbs. plus controller of choice. Another way would be an XW-P1 with a ventilator or a burn. I can get plenty of "cut" and full sound with either. Sometimes I will run the Casio Tonewheel B3 (vintage) and ventilator through a Speakeasy 122 AMA - lots of tubes and some more control, XW-P1 to ventilator to 122AMA to house. I may never take the XK3 System out of the barn woodshed again.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
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Sounds that you will be good with a controler like Axiom 61 and a laptop with either VB3 or NIB3 (i like them both but most people here prefer VB3 hands down...)

Key Action is very subjective, so you will have to try before you buy, but the M Audio Axiom has sliders and knobs and pads for your Ableton projects and it is light to carry around.

Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
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Considered a Kurzweil? The PC361 has synth action, but the PC3, PC3LE6 (61) and PC3LE7 (76) all have an action which is semi-weighted and approaches waterfall.

The B3 out of the box on the LE is not as good as the full PC3 offers (due to the difference in FX capacity and thus, in Leslie quality), but perhaps passable enough in the mix. Controller-wise, the Kurzes are way ahead above a Nord Electro, of course.

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Considered a Kurzweil? The PC361 has synth action, but the PC3, PC3LE6 (61) and PC3LE7 (76) all have an action which is semi-weighted and approaches waterfall.

I actually think the PC361 feels better for organ than their semi's do, but it's subjective. If the organ sound is good enough, it does provide great MIDI controller flexibility as well, but it's kinda heavy.

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. ;-)

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I've played around with the Electro in stores, and truth be told, I wasn't really a fan, but maybe that's just because I'm not used to playing Nord instruments. I know everyone rates them highly, so I'd no doubt grow to love it once I got used to it.

It's not like you're new at this and have no idea what you're looking for... I'd say that if an organ doesn't immediately make you feel "Ahh! This is nice" then it's probably not for you. I would check the Hammond XK-1c/SK1 and Numa Organ. Only if none of them elicit an "ahh" would I consider revisiting the Nord.

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. ;-)

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Great - what have you got coming up?

 

Mostly worship stuff, a lot of the music that particular industry is currently churning out is full of looped and arpeggiated parts that can't really be played without a DAW, and I've been asked to help bring our team up to date in the next year or so. That as well as helping friends out with their projects once I've my final degree show is done.

 

Have researched all suggestions, so thanks for them; you guys never fail to be helpful. Currently I'm looking at either the Axiom with VB3 or the NE4. I'll be having another look at the NE4 in stores soon. For my covers band stuff, whatever I decide to go with will no doubt go on the bottom of my basic live rig, playing piano/ep/organ, with my Juno Di going up as a second tier for all my synth based stuff. Though the benefit with the Axiom is that I'll be able to use the bottom tier for synth/brass stuff too (loaded from Mainstage), which will give me more freedom and options when trying to replicate complex parts. Though the thought of taking my laptop and interface to every pub gig/wedding we play is a pain - having the NE4 would be much simpler. The whole reason I downgraded to the Di for those gigs was purely for simplicity's sake.

 

For my academic stuff, the new purchase will be used purely for organs, as my RD will cover my APs and EPs, while the Di will be hooked up to my MicroKorg for the synth/vocoder stuff there.

Nord E4 SW73

Yamaha MODX7

Mainstage 3

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Wow - loops and worship music. I really don't have a clue about what you contemporary praise musician types get up to.

 

That young church scene wasn't my background growing up in Ireland - I've played in churches but organ, sometimes piano. SATB stuff with occasional big performance pieces (Handel's Messiah, some Christmas Cantata etc...).

 

At one point we loaned and borrowed gear from a guy who did sound in a church - don't know what denomination (Church Of God whatever that means - I remember thinking it was a bit non committal in term of staking out your theology) but they had a huge choir that was group mic'd in threes! Twenty odd channels of them on this huge mixing desk that was longer than our band trailer at the time.

 

The sound guy I knew took me in to see the rig. Feck me, I was impressed. They'd a drum kit and electronic keyboards and guitar and bass amps - it's twenty odd years now - but I still remember how shocked I was. I couldn't imagine what the hell they played - and now you guys are looping and VST-ing it.

 

Way to go. Good luck and a peaceful cool yule to you and your crew.

I'm the piano player "off of" Borrowed Books.
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Cut-down quotes:

 

The only thing my rig is really missing right now is a good clonewheel organ...two choices...MIDI controller and...Mainstage, or...Nord Electro 4D.

 

What I need is: drawbar...semi-weighted...lightweight...61/73 keys

 

I've played around with the Electro in stores, and truth be told, I wasn't really a fan...The VR-09 is also another option, but I'm already using a board with the same keybed

For my covers band stuff, whatever I decide to go with will no doubt go on the bottom of my basic live rig, playing piano/ep/organ, with my Juno Di going up as a second tier for all my synth based stuff. Though the benefit with the Axiom is that I'll be able to use the bottom tier for synth/brass stuff too (loaded from Mainstage), which will give me more freedom and options when trying to replicate complex parts. Though the thought of taking my laptop and interface to every pub gig/wedding we play is a pain - having the NE4 would be much simpler. The whole reason I downgraded to the Di for those gigs was purely for simplicity's sake.

 

For my academic stuff, the new purchase will be used purely for organs, as my RD will cover my APs and EPs, while the Di will be hooked up to my MicroKorg for the synth/vocoder stuff there.

 

Sorry I'm late to the party here - it sounds like you've very accurately encapsulated the reasons against both options.

1. You're not "really a fan" of the Nord - so why blow a considerable amount of money on it?

2. You don't want the pain of a laptop at gigs - so why rely on MainStage?

 

I can't help feeling that you've already identified the best (or least-worst) choice: the VR09. Rather than run it alongside your Juno Di, trade it in. That way:

- You get a one-board rig for your pub gigs/weddings

- You can add the Roland RD for a nice two-board rig (albeit only Roland sounds)

- You can combine VR09 and MicroKorg for those synth/vocoder gigs

- You can use it to control VB3 in MainStage on your laptop at home, or when looping

 

The only downside is that the RD may be heavier than you'd like for a lower board.

 

Anyway, let us know what you decide to do.

 

Cheers, Mike.

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I use MS with VB3 and an Axiom 61 on a Gospel gig (contemporary and traditional "shoutin", preacher chords, etc). It works great as a "right hand" kind of organ but when I set up the Axiom faders as drawbars, I find it clumsy and unresponsive. So I've got my full out sound and then a 008400000 (or similar) setting for quiet stuff.

 

Edit: I should point out that the sound is outstanding with a K10 (which I hate for piano). Visiting players that haven't been exposed to software-based instruments are typically amazed at the sound.

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