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Clonewheel shootout, VSTs and hardware


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This is the point in the conversation where I always bring up my Speakeasy AMA. :facepalm:

 

wonderfull piece of kit, made from unobtanium unless one currently owns it.

 

 

Yeah, I know. However, it does a very good job of demonstrating how power amp tube distortion is mo betta than fizzy preamp tube distortion. One could put together one's own version of an AMA by playing thru low power guitar amps and padding the output down to line level.

Moe

---

 

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I liked #1 and then #5.

 

I think #1 is the Nord as it sounds close to the clonewheel in the Stage 2EX I have.

 

The majority of the others I didn't care for in this setting. From the posts in this thread though, with the exception of #5 which is getting lots of thumbs up, very much each to their own.

 

Observation: Anotherscott, not sure what your goal is here. You ask, which do you like? Is that the goal? I would have thought the better question would be, which sounds closest to the original recording? When you get an answer like the one I quoted, you get someone who says that they like the #1 and it sounds like my Nord Stage 2EX. This person might not ever have ever owned a real hammond and all they know is that they like the sound the Stage 2EX puts out but is not really the closest to what a Hammond actually should sound like. This might be what your after. When you play a clone everyday that sound starts to become the standard by which everything is measured. Again, I'm not sure what you are trying to accomplish but if it is to compare the progressive rock sound of Yes (in which a real organ was used) you should be asking which one compares closest to that sound? At the end of the day I think that is where the manufacturers and the players are trying to get to. It would be extremely helpful if you used a real hammond and say "this is that same lick played on a model X hammond with a model y leslie, which of these unidentified clones sounds closest to the real deal". My two cents, which in this forum is all that my comments are worth.....

 

 

Dave you are right I have never played a real Hammond. My post was an observation of the sound I like (probably because its the sound I know). I also know that sound works for what I do, in the settings I do it. BTW I am no organ player compared to some on this board

Nord Stage 2EX | Nord Wave | Mainstage | Key Largo
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Okay, here's what I expect to be my last test of all these models: "Green Eyed Lady" to get a sense of their thunky percussion. 888 000 000, loud 3rd percussion, no CV, still with a good amount of overdrive. I did back off OD on one or two of them because the amount of OD I had been using just sounded really bad with the percussion. There were also one or two where I adjusted percussion parameters, e.g. if the default short was too short but the default long was too long. The only test I think I will probably still add is to put some of the hardware models through a Vent, but I think wait until after the reveal of which model is which, which I will do soon, after people get a chance to add comments on the more recently added files.

 

So here's the Green Eyed Lady test, same 8 models, same order:

 

 

Yeah, it can be a little sloppy. It was a quickie with no fixes. But you can hear the tone, that's the point.

 

Are the various models in the same order for both the 88888888 and 88800000 tests?

 

Yes, except only the first seven are included in the 888 000 000 test.

 

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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Interesting to hear the organ part isolated from the original tune. I assume this was from one of the "Guitar Hero" style games?

A possible source for these files are the 5.1 remixes which often put a particular instrument in a particular channel, making it easy to grab isolated audio if your playback system provides pre-amp outputs for each audio channel. (There's probably a way to rip it directly from the disc to your computer, too.) Also, there was a venture whose name I forget that got the rights to obtain and sell isolated track versions of many songs, it was marketed to musicians, and it did include a lot of the Yes catalog, so it could have come from there, too.

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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They all struggle to sound like the LP but there's a lot of mojo in having the real deal, micing a leslie and recording to analog tape, me thinks.

Guido was right, the attack is the hardest to reproduce in software.

 

#1 has some guts

#2 could do a good job with some tweaking

#3 not so good on this

#4 nope

#5 nope

#6 better than the previous 3

#7 better

#8 nope

 

Yamaha CP88, Casio PX-560

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Could you possibly do a 88800000, C3, Percussion 3rd Soft Fast "The Sermon" ( much lower overdrive ) comparison?

 

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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From the updated "Yours Is No Disgrace" samples, focusing on the overdrive and Leslie, I still preferred #5 overall (although the overdrive is a bit mild), closely followed by #1 (least "fizzy" overdrive) and new #2 (overdrive a bit "fizzy", Leslie a bit "phasey").

 

From the "Bits" samples, the differences were less noticeable, and it was a close call between #1, #2, #5, and #7.

 

From the "Green Eyed Lady" samples, focusing on the percussion and keyclick, I preferred #2 overall, closely followed by #1 and #7. #5 might have been a contender, but the percussion level pushed the overdrive too far into clipping.

 

Overall, my vote for best all-rounder is a close call between #1 and #2.

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About the updated "Yours..." clips, I think the new #2 sounds very good, but I still prefer the original with its distinct growl, at least for the track in question. #3 on the other hand is a clear improvement overall, but the distortion is still too fizzy for my liking. As mate stubb pointed out, most built-in overdrive effects model a tube preamp rather than power amp, and that of course includes hardware units with a 12AX7 tube stage.

 

So, the original #2 is my favourite for the gurgle, then the new #3 for its Leslie sim and 'usable' distortion.

 

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After listening to the updated samples, I still prefer #2 (the old one, the new one is too bright)

I think the new #2 sounds very good, but I still prefer the original with its distinct growl...So, the original #2 is my favourite for the gurgle

Ah, so I'm glad I did that one too! ;-) It's a very adjustable choice, so I'm sure one could dial in something "between" my two takes of it, as well as numerous other possibilities. About the brightness, yeah, so much of this is judgment calls. I noticed in the isolated track posted that the original was brighter. and it seemed like many of the others I posted were brighter as well, so I thought maybe increasing #2's brightness would make it a more direct comparison. But who knows, the brightness could also have made it less appealing in other ways, i.e. maybe that's what made the overdrive less gurgly, since brightness can also tend to emphasize the "fizzier" aspect of an overdrive, as Paul put it.

 

1, 2, 5 and 7 seem to be the preference here.

When is the reveal?

Reveal tomorrow... I want to give all the early respondents a little more time to update their comments in light of the later posts, if they'd like to, e.g. in case the new posts of 2 and 3 alter their rankings.

 

But in light of your comment about 1, 2, 5, and 7 coming out on top, I'll mention that 5 and 7 are hardware. So here is a post of 5 and 7 again (in that order), but this time through a Neo Ventilator. As expected, 5 and 7 sound more similar to each other when they are both put through the Vent than they do when played through their own sims.

 

Questions to consider:

 

...Do you like 5 and/or 7 better with their internal sims, or with the Vent?

 

...If you like (at least) one of them better with Vent, is it sufficiently better so as to leapfrog any other models you may have previously rated as being preferable to 5 or 7?

 

Click here for Examples 5 and 7 through Ventilator

 

 

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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...Do you like 5 and/or 7 better with their internal sims, or with the Vent?

 

...If you like (at least) one of them better with Vent, is it sufficiently better so as to leapfrog any other models you may have previously rated as being preferable to 5 or 7?

 

Click here for Examples 5 and 7 through Ventilator

 

 

7, with 5 a close second...and yes, day-and-night better with a Vent than without. Both leap frog over the rest easily (at least in the context of this song).

 

For the record, I believe that, had you included the HX3 with a Vent, it would have blown the entire field out of the water.

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...Do you like 5 and/or 7 better with their internal sims, or with the Vent?

 

...If you like (at least) one of them better with Vent, is it sufficiently better so as to leapfrog any other models you may have previously rated as being preferable to 5 or 7?

 

Click here for Examples 5 and 7 through Ventilator

 

 

7, with 5 a close second...and yes, day-and-night better with a Vent than without. Both leap frog over the rest easily (at least in the context of this song).

 

 

Agree 100%. These two sound very close here, but the overdrive on #7 has a tad huskier (better) growl. I'd be interested to hear how these two compare on "Green Eyed Lady" through the Vent.

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They sound about the same thru the vent

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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The updates to #2 and #4 didn"t change my original opinion.

Nice update to #3. It"s now in the running.

I didn"t care for any of them on Green Eyed Lady.

#7 benefited greatly with the vent. It"s now in the running.

 

So, after hearing all of the audio files I like #5 and #7 best.

 

FWIW, I have VB3 II, B5, Blue 3, Mojo, Electro 4D, HX3 expander module, and a '61 A100 w/Leslie 145 (w/Jensen horn driver). I"ve also played the SK1 many times. If I were to play Yours Is No Disgrace on a gig I"d use the HX3. I use it when I have a rock or blues gig and like it. It sounds alive and really cuts through the mix. I use the Mojo with Vent 2 for jazz gigs. For the software rig I"m working on, VB3 II with L"otory is my favorite.

 

It"s interesting how when comparing these various options at home I"ll form an opinion and then on a gig my opinion changes. For example, Blue 3 sounded great at home but just very good on a blues rock gig. There"s a liveliness and presence that is missing from many of the options. I think this deficiency shows itself much more in the context of a rock or electric blues band.

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I'd be interested to hear how these two compare on "Green Eyed Lady" through the Vent.

I was still set up for this, so that was easy... I took a different approach for this one though. Here's what you'll hear

 

* Line 1 of the riff, through Vent with drive at zero, first on #5 then on #7

* Line 2 of the riff, done the same way except with drive at about 1/3

* Line 3 of the riff, done the same way except with drive at about 2/3

* Line 4 of the riff, done the same way except with drive full up

 

The more Vent drive you use, the more similar the two sound...

 

Click:

 

 

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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Still very close: with no or 1/3 overdrive, I prefer #7 by a whisker; but with 2/3 or full overdrive, the percussion pushes both (esp. #7) too far into clipping.

 

I use a combination of a Lounsberry Tall & Fat pedal and the Vent itself for overdrive, as I find them more "growly" / less "fizzy", and less prone to clipping on percussion than inbuilt overdrives.

 

This is my benchmark for heavy percussion & keyclick with overdrive (see 08:45 - 10:02):

[video:youtube]

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For the record, I believe that, had you included the HX3 with a Vent, it would have blown the entire field out of the water.

If you or anyone else here with an HX3 and a Vent would like to post a comparable sample, I can put together a MIDI file and list of settings. I actually have an HX3, but it's old firmware (3.822) and (as I detailed in another thread), I haven't yet had success in updating it. I never tried putting it through a Vent, I could post that combo if it's not too old for people to find worthwhile. I could post it by itself without the Vent too, but I know they have made substantial changes to the Leslie sim since then, so I'm not sure there's much value there, especially since for this particular test (grungy leslie), it would not fare well.

 

Could you possibly do a 88800000, C3, Percussion 3rd Soft Fast "The Sermon" ( much lower overdrive ) comparison?

I had to google to find out what "The Sermon" was. I'm not into jazz organ at all. At any rate, I'm no longer set up to easily do all of them, but if you want to send me a MIDI file playing the part you want to hear, I could run it through some of them. BTW, if you want to hear it through VB3, B5, and Blue3, all of those have free demos you can download. The way I'm set up at the moment, I could still do some of the others.

 

 

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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...Do you like 5 and/or 7 better with their internal sims, or with the Vent?

 

...If you like (at least) one of them better with Vent, is it sufficiently better so as to leapfrog any other models you may have previously rated as being preferable to 5 or 7?

 

Click here for Examples 5 and 7 through Ventilator

 

 

7, with 5 a close second...and yes, day-and-night better with a Vent than without. Both leap frog over the rest easily (at least in the context of this song).

 

 

Agree 100%. These two sound very close here, but the overdrive on #7 has a tad huskier (better) growl...

Same here. Number 7 seems a tad thicker which serves that type of sound well.

 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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And here is the big reveal!

 

1. GSI VB3-II

2. Acoustic Samples B5

3. IM Multimedia B3X

4. GG Blue 3

5. Numa Organ (original)

6. Hammond SK1

7. Nord Stage 3

8. Kurzweil PC4

 

Summary is roughly this:

* Without Vent, favorite was the #5 Numa Organ.

* With Vent, of those who made a post-Vent comparison, favorite was Nord Stage 3, with Numa Organ very close behind.

* These hardware solutions generally beat all the VSTs.

* Best regarded VSTs seemed to be VB3 and B5 (though B3X was particularly appreciated for its Leslie apart from its overdrive, which is notable because you can also buy their Leslie VST separately... though I suspect that if you use VB3 or B5 through that Leslie, you may also lose some of what you liked about VB3 and B5 overall which was affected by their own Leslie emulations).

 

(Caveat: I wonder if the Numa Organ's strong showing could partially be a result of it not being able to generate QUITE as much overdrive as some of the others, and maybe my own taste prompted me to push the ones that COULD go farther to actually GO farther, and that could have made them less appealing to some listeners.)

 

Hardware also has an inherent advantage to me in that, on most hardware, you can hit a button and instantly be playing your drawbars from their current positions... there's no such "sync" available from a VST solution, which conceptually, to me, makes VSTs best either for people who pretty much NEVER use presets (because then their drawbar controller is automatically correct all night), or who pretty much ALWAYS use presets (because then out-of-sync drawbars--or none at all--is not much of a concern). Also, hardware usually gives you a high trigger point, and most controllers do not (even choosing to run your VST from an organ-specific board with high trigger might not provide that high trigger over MIDI).

 

Again, though, this is based on looking for a particular sonic character, a real grungy overdriven Leslie. If you're looking for Jimmy Smith, or gospel, or Deep Purple, these conclusions--even apart from being as small sample anecdotal as they are--are probably not very useful.

 

Frustratingly perhaps for anyone impressed by the Numa's showing, the Numa Organ is the only model tested that is not currently available, except used. The Numa Organ 2, to my ears, actually has a noticeably better Leslie sim... BUT the overdrive is not as good. :-( (Nor is the leakage.)

 

Quick note about Green Eyed Lady... if it sounds like the Hammond example is much cleaner than the others, it's because there's something about percussion and overdrive on the Hammond that don't seem to play nicely together, and I felt I had to dial back the drive when using the percussion. At least if my memory serves. ;-)

 

If anyone thinks I didn't do justice to their favorite, i.e. you're thinking "oh, I could have gotten a better grungy overdrive out of {whatever} than he did," by all means, give it a go! Some of these have lots of tweakability, and it is very possible that I didn't come up with something approaching the best settings. I'd be eager to hear other people's attempts if some of these can be substantially improved..

 

 

Summary of the main ratings, with some comments...

 

Bernmeister:

my picks are 5 (horrible fast Leslie) and 7...

best fast Leslie I'm hearing is from 1 and 2,,,

{but with Vent examples added,} 7, with 5 a close second... Both leap frog over the rest easily

Paul Harrison:

I put 5 at the top of the list and 8 at the bottom...

#5 overall...closely followed by #1...and new #2...

my vote for best all-rounder {all examples, not just YIND} is a close call between #1 and #2

{but with Vent examples added, agreed with Bernmeister above}

I almost didn't put #8 in there, because it was pretty obviously not in the same league as the others, but there's been a lot of talk about the PC4 here lately as an all-rounder, and so I thought the perspective would be useful as to just how much of an organ trade-off there is, albeit just for the one kind of sound. Compared to other boards that are not primarily clonewheels, it does a respectable job, and does give you the full set of real time controls, and it does have assignable outs which makes it easy to add a Vent which would certainly help... but no, you're not really getting what you'd get out of one of the better clonewheels. Caveat, as mentioned in an earlier post, there are tons of tweakable parameters in its organ engine, so maybe someone else can get something better out of it than I did. My test was done with the "PicturOfNectar" preset, all drawbars out, no C/V, reverb off, and mod wheel (overdrive) up substantially. Any PC4 owners up for trying to get a better sound here?

 

Legatoboy:

I like 3 for the 'Your's is No Disgrace ' sound... but I don't know if I could play that sound all night... I guess 6 for me is the best for overall usage

jverghese:

I think #2 has the best distortion, and #3 the best Leslie emulation...

#3 Leslie sounds good on fast speed, could be IK Multimedia...

{after Vent samples added} My new favourite is #7 through Vent. As others have noted, #5 and #7 through Vent are very close.

Good call on identifying B3X!

 

Moonglow:

Overall, I preferred #5....My second overall favorite was #6, although I did not like the Leslie. I probably liked the Leslie of #3 the most, although I would have preferred a slightly quicker ramp-up.

{but with Vent examples added, agreed with Bernmeister above}

#3 (B-3X) is quite tweakable, so i'd bet you can probably get the ramp-up you want out of it.

 

Jazz+:

I wonder how the Crumar Mojo 61 would compare?

As Elmer said, it's VB3, so should sound like #1.

 

Jim Alfredson:

1 - Nord C2

2 - VB3

3 - IK Multimedia B-3X

4 - Blue

5 - Hammond SK1

6 - Acoustic Samples

7 - Numa

8 - Kurzweil PC4

Props for being the only one to try to guess what all 8 were! You got #3, #4, and #8 right, which ain't bad.

 

Al Quinn:

I like #5 best and #8 least....

So, after hearing all of the audio files I like #5 and #7 best {once Vent was added to the equation}

gg22:

For "growly" overdrive I like #2 (probably VB3), then #3 then #5. #8 and #4 are the worst.

As you can see, #2 is B5. It was a bit of a surprise because, by reputation here, B5 is thought to be a little "polite," perhaps better suited for jazz than rock, but it turns out, it was one of the frontrunners for this rock eval.

 

roygBiv:

#5 (by far the best, IMHO)

As others have noted above, #8 was especially egregious.

Kawai James:

I also like #5 the best

SteveUK:

I liked #1 and then #5.

Adan:

I'm with others on liking #5 best.

 

 

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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A little bit shocked, but not flabbergasted. I"ve always liked the sound of the Numa but because of the form factor , and perhaps also out of a tendency to follow the crowd, never gave it serious consideration as an axe to own.

Gigging: Crumar Mojo 61, Hammond SKPro

Home: Vintage Vibe 64

 

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Frustratingly perhaps for anyone impressed by the Numa's showing, the Numa Organ is the only model tested that is not currently available, except used. The Numa Organ 2, to my ears, actually has a noticeably better Leslie sim... BUT the overdrive is not as good. :-(

 

The original Numa was based upon the KeyB, I suppose the Viscount Legend which is the latest incarnation of the KeyB should be a close relative.

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I had the original Numa and really liked the sound, close to my old C3/ leslie 145, but quality was an issue.

When Viscount Legend came out I bought it but returned it, cause the sound and sim was in no way close to what I was searchin for.

Later on I tried the Legend again, with the latest update OS 1.6, but still not what I was after.

Then I was lucky to get a KeyB Duo MK2, same "engine" as the Numa, but built like a tank and two manuals.

To my ears keyclick and crosstalk are essential to the overall sound of the KeyB and the way they (together with the C/V) blend into the sim is just great!

The soundmemory of my C3/ 145 says KeyB Duo MK2 is as close as a clone can get (for me).

 

I´ve tried a lot of different speakers to get the livesound right and now I´m OK with this:

KeyB and Viscount Physis 3 -> Peavey PV6 mixer -> DigiTech RP360 effect -> QSC GX7 poweramp -> two Kustom 12" guitar cabinets fitted with 15" Fane Sovereign fullrange speakers.

Today I´m happy with this rig, tomorrow never knows!

 

 

"This is my rig, and if you don´t like it....well, I have others!"

 

"Think positive...there's always something to complain about!"

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The original Numa was based upon the KeyB, I suppose the Viscount Legend which is the latest incarnation of the KeyB should be a close relative.

I had the original Numa and really liked the sound, close to my old C3/ leslie 145, but quality was an issue.

When Viscount Legend came out I bought it but returned it, cause the sound and sim was in no way close to what I was searching for.

Later on I tried the Legend again, with the latest update OS 1.6, but still not what I was after.

I'd love to hear a Viscount Legend version of this (Live, Solo, EXP, whatever). I can send a MIDI file to anyone who would like to try it.

 

Same if anyone wants to try this on a Numa Organ 2.

 

As for Numa quality, mine came with the mod wheel slightly out of calibration. With a little help from the internet (others had experienced the same), it was an easy fix to open the board and adjust that pot. No, it shouldn't have been necessary. But it's worked fine ever since. Numa had also come out with some alternate drawbar voicings you could load into it, and I was unable to get that to work, and a number of other people reported the same thing. I know there was a serial number cutoff for that compatibility, but I don't think that was the only issue. That said, my experience with Numa/Studiologic in general (and from what I've seen of others' experiences) is that there may be issues, and software things may or may not get fixed, but to the extent that it works when you get it, it will probably keep working just as well. IOW, problems are out-of-the-box or design based, but construction is still good enough that, assuming it works in the first place, it probably will do so indefinitely. they are do not seem any more prone to subsequent failure in the field than any of the big guys. So while initial build and inherent software issues have been concerns, at least they don't seem to break. And even as far as initial build goes, I have not really seen reports of that in more recent years.

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 always felt the Ventilator enhances the Nord organs more than some of the other clones. I like #5 (Numa) better than #7 (Nord) with their internal sims, but the reverse when the Ventilator is introduced.

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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