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Hammond XM-2: Brief Review


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Hi All,


Im spraying this review to all fields, so to say, so I apologize if you see it posted on other forums.


I just received my Hammond XM-2 today. I also ordered the XM-2c drawbar controller, but apparently it has been lost during shipping, so I was unable to demo this aspect of the system. I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the XM-2 ever since this product was announced. Obviously, by virtue of obtaining a module, I am not a Hammond purist.....all I want is the best Hammond sound I can find as part of a module-based rig, controlled from my K2600 and Triton-Pro. With all of the improvements that Hammond has made to their line-up with the XK-1/3 I was anticipating equally good things from the XM-2. So, did the XM-2 live up to my expectations? In a word: No.


I was able to A/B the XM-2 with an XK-3 that happens to be sitting in my music room for the moment, so I had a nice reference point. For the record, I really dig the XK-3. Both units were blown through my Barbetta SE-32 with identical settings on their respective channels.


First of all, upon opening the package, I noticed that the unit did not ship with ears for rack-mounting. Unless Hammond intends to sell these separately, you will need to obtain a specialized rack mount as the unit is approximately 15 inches long instead of the customary 19. There were four small rubber feet on the bottom of the unit; perhaps it is intended to be a table-top module. I then noticed that several of the plastic buttons on the front panel were slightly crooked. While this did not adversely impact on the operation of the buttons, it makes me wonder about the overall construction.


The thing that bugged me the most was the percussion. The percussion on the XM-2 is in no way comparable to the percussion on the XK-3. Instead of that characteristic woody Hammond thwack I got more of a ping. The percussion on the XM-2 smacked of the type of percussion you often find on a ROMpler. Secondly, the percussion was way too loud, even on the soft setting. The soft percussion setting on the XM-2 was louder than the loud percussion setting on the XK-3! So not only do you get bad percussion, but you get bad percussion that is loud. BIG disappointment.


With the reported improvements made to the leslie sim on the XK-1, I was hoping this would translate to the XM-2. So I was expecting a better leslie sim on the XM-2 than the XK-3. Wrong. The leslie sim on the XM-2 sounded about the same as the XK-3. Additionally, while the acceleration speed can be adjusted, going from slow to fast seemed to take overly long on the XM-2, out of the box. The leslie sim also seemed to lack depth. At times it was hard to distinguish the leslie sim from the chorus when the chorus was set on C-3.


The key click seemed OK, although a bit loud on some factory programs.....of course, this can be adjusted. The overdrive sounded OK as well. Both of these features seem to be about the same on the XK-3 and XM-2.


I did not extensively check the chorus and vibrato; they did not strike me as being remarkably good or bad.....but again, I did not subject them to critical analysis.


Regarding the tone, the dry Hammond tone on the XM-2 (i.e., with no percussion, chorus, vibrato, leslie sim, etc.) sounded similar to the XK-3. The problem is that the above-noted features adversely impact on the overall sound. Sort of like putting mustard on premium chocolate ice cream.


Navigating around the XM-2 was not difficult. I was able to get the hang of the operating system rather quickly.


The range of notes exceeded 61 by several octaves, which may bother some people. I think it may have used the entire 88-note keyboard range.


In conclusion, I was disappointed with the XM-2. The overall sound resembled a rather loose collection of discrete parts, instead of an integrated blend of sounds/features working together in harmony. While I laud Hammond for many of their recent products, they laid an egg with this one. I just hope that my initial impressions of the percussion did not result in negative halo error (i.e., rating everything poorly on the basis of a poor rating on one important feature), but the XM-2 is no XK-3 in a box. I played the MX-2 for about one-half hour, then became disgusted and placed it back in the shipping container. I plan to return it and keep my Voce V-5 or trade it in for an Electro Rack.

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

- George Bernard Shaw


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