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REVISED B4 vs CX-3 - Clone Wars


burningbusch

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Whoops Somehow the MP3s got mixed up and what you had the first time was two versions of the B4. Now you should be able to hear some real differences. Sorry about that.

 

=====================================

Triggered by a poster who wanted to know, "which is better B4 or CX-3", I thought I'd create some small MP3s to give a sampling of both clones.

 

Here is the B4

Here is the CX-3

 

Details:

 

The clip starts with some chords. Settings are:

Drawbars: 888888888

Percussion: Off

Chorus: C3

Leslie: alternates fast/slow

 

The next section is four identical blues riffs.

For all examples:

Drawbars: 888000000

Percussion: On; Loud; Fast

Leslie: slow

 

#1 - Perc Harm 2nd; Chorus: Off

#2 - Perc Harm 2nd; Chorus: C3

#3 - Perc Harm 3rd; Chorus: Off

#4 - Perc Harm 3rd; Chorus: C3

 

Fast descending blues run. Settings:

Drawbars: 888000000

Percussion: On; Loud; Fast; 2nd

Chorus: C3

Leslie: Slow

 

Now Vote

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So that's why they were so close! Forget everything I said before! :D Now ro listen again...

Stephen Fortner

Principal, Fortner Media

Senior Editor, Music Player Network

Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Digital Piano Consultant, Piano Buyer Magazine

 

Industry affiliations: Antares, Arturia, Giles Communications, MS Media, Polyverse

 

 

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Originally posted by progfusion74:

No contest

 

B4

I like the B4 too, but I do have a couple of quibbles.

 

Although I like the B4 Leslie better, I prefer the way the CX3 changes speed. The B4 is too fast and (perhaps because of that) I don't clearly hear the two rotors slowing down at different rates. Is that adjustable?

 

The B4 makes better use of the stereo field. It would be interesting to here them both in mono. This would reduce the advantage of the B4.

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Originally posted by Byrdman:

The B4 is too fast and (perhaps because of that) I don't clearly hear the two rotors slowing down at different rates. Is that adjustable?

Yeap. You have controls for bass and treble rotors: "Slow - Fast - Accel - tone", and you can control Mic position and "spread". It's an awesome soft synth.

 

Even while I'm NOT in any way a B3 expert, my vote remains the same: B4. It just sounds BETTER.

 

... I was SOsurprised regarding the quality of the CX-3 sounds... :D ... I hate you Bush ... J/K...

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My impression is that the B4 mp3 sounds more midrangey, the CX3 mp3 sounds less midrangey.

 

As for leslie effect, the B4 mp3 sounds like it relies more on stereo panning to achieve the leslie effect than the CX3. In fact, I've played a CX3 in the store many times (I'm on the verge of buying one but haven't taken the plunge yet), and the leslie effect on the mp3 doesn't sound like the way I remember hearing it. I remember the CX3 leslie effect as being very rich and realistic. The mp3 doesn't seem to capture that. Is it possible that the CX3 mp3 is recorded in mono, and the B4 mp3 is recorded in stereo?

 

I wonder how they would compare if they were both recorded in mono?

 

There's no clear winner to me, they both sound good. If you like more midrangey, you'd pick the B4, if you like less midrangey, you'd pick the CX3.

 

As for the poll results, I really have to question the validity of this. Are people biased because they happen to own one or the other? I'm guessing a lot more people own the B4 because it's cheaper, and are likely to vote for it because they own it. I'm such a skeptic!

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I'm still wondering why Korg would name two products the CX3???

 

I have an old CX3 and it's very good with a Leslie (although it lacks the chorus settings).

 

My CX3 isn't a B3 but very good all the same.

 

When sequencing, the B4 is a killer

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As for the poll results, I really have to question the validity of this. Are people biased because they happen to own one or the other?
Well I can't speak for anyone else...I don't own either product but I do trust my ears. Assuming the sample MP3s are accurate representations of the two, my choice is easy. Granted I don't have the best speakers to listen through with my computer but I have heard a CX-3 in the store and recognize the things I didn't like about it in the MP3 posted here.

 

Take it or leave it...it's my opinion based on the MP3s provided...the B4 sounds A LOT more realistic to me.

 

Some people won't care if it sounds like a real Leslie and will be totally happy with a CX-3...I use a real Leslie and wouldn't be happy with anything less (including B4).

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I solidly went for the B4. Is it as good as the real thing? Certainly not. But most people working in a project studio or home studio context, even if they come by a real Hammond and Lesle, are forced to deal with compromises about mics, signal chain, and the room they're recording in. I've had to work around these factors enough that IMHO, the B4's sound quality makes it a neck-and-neck real-world alternative. I can't say that for any other stand-alone simulator. (i.e. relying on the unit for both Hammond and Leslie sound)

Stephen Fortner

Principal, Fortner Media

Senior Editor, Music Player Network

Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Digital Piano Consultant, Piano Buyer Magazine

 

Industry affiliations: Antares, Arturia, Giles Communications, MS Media, Polyverse

 

 

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Both MP3s were recorded in stereo. I am certain of that and have checked the sound directly out of the CX-3 (via headphones) and find that the stereo separation is essentially identical to the MP3s. If you have any type of metering you can SEE the channel level differences even if you can't hear them. Also, try headphones as you will be able to more clearly hear the stereo imaging. If you think my MP3s are unrepresentative you can listen to Korg's demos here and here. To my ear, the same monophonic sounding, center dominant fast Leslie can be heard. AFAIK, the only parameters for controlling the stereo separation of the Leslie effect on the CX-3 are the "Horn Mic Spread" and the "Rotor Mic Spread." These are PATCH specific parameters and on the MP3 that I created, both were set to the highest (widest) setting of 99.

 

I own (or have owned) the XK-2, VK-7, CX-3 and B4. I have found that the believability of the Leslie simulations are dependent on such things as: speakers/headphones, register you're playing in, whether chorus is on or off, drawbar settings, or any combination of these. With the B4, for example, I find that 888888888, fast Leslie in the highest two octaves with headphones can sound a bit too vibrato-y at times. None of them are 100% believable in every situation, that's why God created the real thing.

 

I chose 888000000 and 888888888 because these drawbars settings are instantly identifiable to anyone who has played Hammond for any length of time. I didn't use them because I thought they made one clone sound better than the other.

 

To me the B4 has a lot of character. It sounds like a B that's been around the block more than a few times. The CX-3 is more like a brand new B3/Leslie combo back in 1965, both set to factory specs. There are situations where I like the more balanced sound of the CX-3, other times when the B4 fits in better. I think every CX-3 owner should have the B4 as well for recording purposes.

 

No one has commented on this, but I find that I like the CX-3 on the fast blues run at the end. It has a very liquid sound vs. the B4 which sounds more disjointed. The CX-3 can be a blast to play. If you're buying a CX-3, make sure the double triggering isn't an issue for you. I curse it everytime I play mine.

 

Busch.

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Originally posted by burningbusch:

No one has commented on this, but I find that I like the CX-3 on the fast blues run at the end. It has a very liquid sound vs. the B4 which sounds more disjointed.

Good demo, Bill. Yeah, the riff at the end does sound better on the CX. Those last few low notes sound beefier.

 

Scanner vibrato (C3, please) is B4's strong suit. It just kills. And it sounds even more realistic with the slow rotors stopped. The leslie sim, as good as it is, defiles an otherwise righteous scanner vibrato.

 

If you like the rotor-off sound, keep the rotator on and turn the slow motor pots to minimum. This stops the rotors on slow, but still gives you fast speed. I can't remember the model, but some Leslies were like this--no slow chorale. The other cool thing about this setting is that when going from fast to stop, the rotors come to rest in random postitions--just as they would in a real Leslie.

 

Bart Garratt

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The Hammond sound has still been missed by all the clones. The highs on a Hammond are clear, lots of treble, without being brittle & piercing. The lows are thick & solid, not mushy. The sound has a transparency about, a see through sort of thing that is caused by the harmonic crosstalk. Greasy is another term that comes to mind. None of the clones have done a good job with the crosstalk. The crosstalk on a B is so strong in some places it almost sounds like another note being played. I hear that the Voce V-5 has better crosstalk, but it's really the same sample played over & over. I have the B4 & a B-3. Just for fun I A/B'd them thru my Leslie 145. The B4 doesn't really cut it in a side by side comparison to the real deal. No different that my QS-8 compared to my mother's upright grand piano. I bought a Doug Riley's solo piano CD the other day. I'd forgotten how much more expressive a real piano is compared to a digital, never mind the sound difference. This is a topic for another thread. There's also a personal preference to the sounds. I know someone who likes the Roland Vk-7 more than the new CX-3, saying it sits in the mix better. I agree with some of the other posts that the B4 is good to record with, specially with that Nashville sound where the Hammond replaces the steel guitar spot or in pop, where its just a pad filling out the sound. But the CX-3 does have some of the high end that the real deal has. A B-3 feels like its going to cut your head off, it's razor sharp without being piercing. With the clones I feel like I might get a little bloody. The percussion on these units sound dinky. On the B it goes DOINK!! The B4 has a percussion that's OK. The true test is can you get Steppenwolf's Born to be Wild's sound out of it or something that sounds like Keith Emerson's Tarkus, especially the section with the stops. I know these are "Hot Rodded Hammonds" - Hammonds with modifications, but I can get something like these sounds with my B. Can you get them with your clone? I press a preset on the B4 that's supposed to be a Steppenwolf sound & it sounds like John Lord's Smoke on the Water. As I said earlier the clones haven't done it yet. But I'm glad they're trying because it's a lot easier to take my Hammond XK-2 to a gig than the B-3.

 

Here's a link to a tune that I recorded with my B-3. You can hear the transparent, haunting sound that I'm talking about.

http://homepage.mac.com/b_3guy2/MP3%27s/magnolia.mp3

Steve

 

www.seagullphotodesign.com

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Originally posted by burningbusch:

No one has commented on this, but I find that I like the CX-3 on the fast blues run at the end. Busch.

I must admit I was too busy admiring the playing on that run to compare the sounds.
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If you like the rotor-off sound, keep the rotator on and turn the slow motor pots to minimum. This stops the rotors on slow, but still gives you fast speed. I can't remember the model, but some Leslies were like this--no slow chorale.
One of the 900 series was like this natively... the 925?? FYI, you can make any two-speed Leslie that uses the vintage two-motor assemblies do this... just unplug the lower rotor's slow motor from it's AC socket on the amp chassis. That's how they did it in Memphis...

Stephen Fortner

Principal, Fortner Media

Senior Editor, Music Player Network

Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Digital Piano Consultant, Piano Buyer Magazine

 

Industry affiliations: Antares, Arturia, Giles Communications, MS Media, Polyverse

 

 

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Yes Steve, I have a 925 and you can stop both of the motors.
The alchemy of the masters moving molecules of air, we capture by moving particles of iron, so that the poetry of the ancients will echo into the future.
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Ok. Call me an idiot, but I liked the CX 3 better. Next time you do it, try not listing which is which, and I'll bet you get more objectivity. I just closed my eyes and thoroughly enjoyed the playing!!!

 

Thank you!!

 

Rick

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Well, compared to my 1958 B3, they both suck. But compared to my Vk7, they are both awesome. :) It's apples and oranges. I have the B4 and it's great for what it is, but you can't beat the real time control aspect of the CX3.

 

One thing that NO simulation has done to date is accurately represent the non-linear curve of the expression pedal on a Hammond. And as someone who plays left-hand and pedal bass, that really gets on my nerves. When you back off the volume on a real Hammond, the highs fall away long before the bass. The bass is still nice and present and also softer, but not as much. It let's you comp behind someone and lower your right hand without losing the bass punch.

 

Keep it greasy,

*b3-er*

 

www.organissimo.org

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Originally posted by B3-er:

When you back off the volume on a real Hammond, the highs fall away long before the bass.

Jim, you are so right. Hammonds use a variable capacitor to do this. I wrote to the developer of B4 about emulating this behavior. I tried to do it myself by assigning a MIDI expression pedal to a LPF in DP. As you might guess, it sucked. Hammond's simple method is very hard to imitate. A proper model of the B3 variable capacitor would add so much to any clone.

 

Bart Garratt

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Originally posted by B3-er:

I should email them too. Maybe if enough of us do it, they'll add it to a later upgrade.

Well, it couldn't hurt. Michael Kurz is the main developer. I did a B4 mp3 demo for him that's on the NI website. As the demo includes bass pedals, I ran into the swell pedal problem early on. In my notes to him I explained how the Hammond swell is supposed to sound and that with B4 I had to record the bass pedal track separately so as not to be affected by the swell pedal.

 

It turns out B4 was modelled on a specific B3 and Leslie, and apparently the swell pedal did not operate in the stock manner. I can only guess this particular B3 was modified with a variable resistor or something. As Bill noted, B4 sounds like a B that's been around the block more than a few times. Maybe it had an "improved" Showbud volume pedal. Ack!

 

This is from the alt.music.hammond-organ newsgroup:

 

> I'm pulling the swell pedal lever on-screen, with my mouse. In the

> lowest position, there is some sound but way too faint. When

> increasing the level, the volume does increase, but no eq changing

> is going on, per a real Hammond. On a Hammond console, you will

> notice that as the pedal is pushed towards "full", the bass remains

> pretty much unchanged in volume, while the mids and highs vary

> much more... the most obvious thing being the mids that really

> kick in as you increase the level. This sort of thing is not happening

> on the B4.

 

I'll take your word for it that this is how your B3 behaves. However, the

one I used as a reference (Serial No 79005) behaves in exactly the same way

that the B4 does. Which of the two may be the odd one out I'll leave to the

assembled experts here to discuss.

 

And by the way, the controller number that the B4 uses to control the

expression pedal (11) is as defined by the MIDI standard specification and

supported by many keyboards. There also exists a standard for volume control

(7), which is sometimes a pedal but more often a knob or fader, and is of

course not the same as an expression pedal.

 

cheers,

 

Michael

 

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"Triggered by a poster who wanted to know, "which is better B4 or CX-3", I thought I'd create some small MP3s to give a sampling of both clones.

Here"

 

Firstly good job on the demo's

Simply put I don't see how anyone can decide which one is better by such a limited demonstration. Both of these

Clones have a lot of depth and while the B4

obviously sounds better (first part) on your demo, as an owner of a CX3(just ordered a BX3) the settings(parameters) you used on the CX3 do not in anyway show off it's sonic capabilities. There is a lot more depth to the CX3 sound and Leslie simulation than your demo illutrates.

While neither Clone is perfect they both have their strengths and weaknesses.

My .02Cdn.

GK

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In an effort to give a more balanced view of these two instruments I decided to create some additional MP3s based on the same MIDI file. Also, to ensure that there is nothing in the path that would affect the sound of the CX-3, I bypassed my Mackie 3204 and took the CX-3 directly into Protools TDM HD (192 interface). Finally I brought down the reverb level on all the MP3s. Note: Bro J is the same preset that I used in the first example with the exception that I turned the Amp Gain down to remove much of the distortion. And B4 Blues was the patch that I used on the B4, again turning down the Amp Drive Level. With these B4 examples, I increased the acceleration time for the Leslie.

 

Korg CX-3

BC Best Full

Bro J

Cat on aMoJo

AK ChestBand

Felix\'sDaKat

Go McJimmy

 

Native Instruments B4

B4 Blues

Emterson Basic

Full B3 Clean

Scanner Full Bar

 

See if these change your mind or simply reinforce your opinion. By the way if you want the MIDI file, here it is.

 

Busch.

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Busch, thanks for posting all these MP3's.

 

Personally, I still like the CX3 best. I've currently got a CX3 out on rental for a couple of weeks. Used it on a gig last night - what a thrill! I get juiced every time I hear it!

 

I didn't notice any double-triggering, or key-bounce, or whatever it's called. Could someone please explain how this problem manifests itself? Because on the one I played, I didn't notice any problems like that.

 

The one thing I did notice was that on split-keyboard patches, the left-hand side seems to be set up for playing bass lines instead of comping. The lefthand side needs to be up an octave or two for comping. This should be configurable as a Global setting, but it's not - it seems you have to edit each individual patch to transpose the left-hand side of the split patches. I think this is a mistake, it should have been a global setting.

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Wow...

 

For me, it's not even close (which surprises me, because I 'd have thought it would have been closer).

 

I think the B4 wipes the floor up with the CX3...to my ear, the B4 is fuller, more realistic...and ballsier, too. At first I thought that it might be that the CX wasn't recorded as hot as the B4 was, but then I remembered who it was who had done the files - Mr. Busch has certainly shown himself to be...thorough... ;):D

 

Also, the Leslie effect bothers me on the CX3 - I can especially hear it in the Bro J patch...it's way filtery - almost wah-wah like.

 

You know what almost always occurs to me when I hear B4? It seems to me like what NI modeled was not so much the B3 itself so much as as what a perfectly recorded B3 would sound like, if you know what I mean. The B4 just comes out of my monitors sounding like a Hammond and Leslie that's been really well miked up and expertly EQ'd. Perhaps that's one of the differences.

 

I'll bet the CX would sound better running through a real Leslie.

 

Regardless, when one takes into account the extreme difference in price between the two, I can't see many reasons to choose the CX for a home studio application.

 

Live, of course, would be a different story...

 

Bill - thanks for taking the time. As usual - excellent work, sir!

 

dB

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I was wondering if anyone has access to a Nord Electro. It would be nice to be able to compare instruments.

 

I got to played one in the store yesterday. I wanted to like it. I thought it didn't measure up to the CX3 or the B4 in terms of clarity, leslie, or overdrive. I was wearing a rotten pair of headphones though. :rolleyes:

 

Anyone have comments on, or access to the Electro?

 

Cheers,

 

Jerry

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Originally posted by bg:

Originally posted by B3-er:

When you back off the volume on a real Hammond, the highs fall away long before the bass.

Jim, you are so right. Hammonds use a variable capacitor to do this. I wrote to the developer of B4 about emulating this behavior. I tried to do it myself by assigning a MIDI expression pedal to a LPF in DP. As you might guess, it sucked. Hammond's simple method is very hard to imitate. A proper model of the B3 variable capacitor would add so much to any clone.

 

Bart Garratt

In Beauty in the beast (Mark Vail,The Music Player Network) page 312 it says that the capacitor volume pedal only appears on post-war Hammonds. Pre-war Hammonds had resistor ladder based expression pedals with a discreet number of steps. However, it seems that both kinds had eq compensation. The capcitor based ones had too little dynamic range so a 12db soft tab was added.
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