Plug-in Review—ORGANized Trio V3.1 by Soundfonts.it

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Tone wheel sound generation involves a spinning wheel with a predetermined number of bumps or teeth relative to the pitch required. An electromagnetic pickup, similar to guitar pickups in design, transfers the sound to an amplifier. Each key on the organ has its own tone wheel and pickup combination but because of the close proximity due to space considerations, a pickup can sometimes pick up sound from tone wheels other than its own. This was first thought to be a design flaw but later came to be known as part of the signature sound of the B-3.

 

Just as church organ has, the B-3 incorporates an upper and lower keyboard (denoted as manuals) and usually had 25 bass pedals with the highest note being the middle C on a piano. Each manual and the pedal board had 9 drawbars that corresponded to specific harmonics of the tone being generated, similar again to a pipe organ's controls of individual pipes. These drawbars controlled the amount of the harmonic being blending into the sound from off (0) to full on (8) and could be modified in real-time to change the timbre of the instrument during performance.

 

A couple of idiosyncrasies of the B-3 have greatly contributed to the unique sound are percussion and key click. Percussion involves the addition of the second and third harmonic overtones which quickly fade out after the key is depressed. Key click was originally thought to be a defect as it is a result of all nine key contacts being closed at the same time but many people liked the sound and it became part of the B-3 sound.

 

Amplification was usually, though not always accomplished by using a Leslie rotating speaker cabinet/amplifier combo. The Leslie has an upper treble horn and a lower speaker that rotate independently. There are two speeds at which the speakers can rotate, high and low. Another part of the whole B-3 experience is the amount of overdrive at the amplification stage. Many rock organists use extreme overdrive as a part of their sound while others use very little if any. An overdriven B-3 contributes to a "heavy" sound while a clean B-3 cuts through the mix quite easily.

 

Soundfont.it's ORGANizedV3 plug-in emulates (no samples) all the above features of a Hammond B-3 with that addition of chorus and vibrato  and does them all well. You can adjust the amount of key click,, percussion, overdrive from the amplifier, rotation speed of the top and bottom Leslie speakers, ie—everything. It even has the capabilities, provided you have the hardware, to use two manuals and a pedal board. The user interface is intuitive and easy to navigate with midi control for those of you who like to have the tactile response. I can definitely say that having a midi control surface would be a great boon in using this emulation to its fullest.

 

The real measure of any instrument is how it sounds and although I don't have a B-3 sitting in my studio to compare it against, my own personal opinion is that it's awfully convincing. Version 2.2 was reviewed in Keyboard magazine in 2005 and was given high marks for usability and authenticity of sound. Again, I'm not a keyboardist so I lifted a midi sequence that was created by BiAB from one of the songs I've been working on and used the plug-in to play it. Here are a few of the more interesting presets with a little bit of compression and some reverb added.

 

1) Organized Trio V3

2) Deep Rock—Think Purple

3) Full—Cheezy Church Organ

4) Pink Echoes—Dark Side of the Moon

5) Keith’s Pictures—Emerson, that is

6) Blues for Jimmy—Mr. Smith

 

I also found a video on Youtube that’ll give you a pretty good feel for how everything works—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Month—Soundfonts.it’s Mr Ray Electric Piano

This month's plug-in review is actually two articles in one. I'm reviewing Soundfont.it's ORGANizedV3 Hammond B-3 VST plug-in but I thought it might be helpful to include some information about how a tone wheel organ like the B-3 works. In fact, the B-3 was really an early type of synthesizer since it was designed to inexpensively emulate the sound of a church pipe organ.

 

Laurens Hammond invented the Hammond organ in 1934 and the original was electro-mechanical by design. While originally intended to be used in churches, as stated above, it became the ubiquitous standard in the the pop, jazz, rock and blues

genres. The last Hammond to use tonewheel generation was manufactured in 1970 and since then the innards are all electronic and/or digital.