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How does the X-66 sound.

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  • How does the X-66 sound.

    I'm thinking of doing a design and thought experiment. The X-66 is the only Hammond to have 12 tone wheels, then use a circuit to simulate the rest based on the original tonewheels. This is a pretty size effective and cost-effective solution, vs the 96 tonewheels of a traditional Hammond. But I cant really find too much on how it sounds. What are your guy's insight?

    Edit: What makes a Hammond sound like a Hammond? Everybody says its just "addative synthesis" https://youtu.be/htF2GzI7Q74?t=131 This oscillator uses the same principles of a Hammond yet sounds nothing like it. There is something more to this...
    Last edited by Retkid; 02-28-2019, 07:45 AM.

  • #2
    Just to explain the tonewheel arrangement, There is a 12 note tone wheel generator that is used as a frequency source for the divider circuits. The tone wheels are not heard at all. Just a frequency source. I haven't heard one in decades and there are some here with a better grasp on the sound. It is an analog organ typical from the era with some exceptions like the vibrato system, tonewheel frequency source (meaning it stays in tune) etc.

    Geo

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    • #3
      It sounds like a Hammond organ, but not like a tonewheel Hammond. Basically, the X66 is a divider organ that uses the tonewheels to generate the top octave. It's more similar to the Hammond LSI models than the tonewheel Hammonds. In addition to the traditional drawbar voicing, it has formant voices for strings and reeds, and more realistic sounding percussion voices.

      There are many X66 videos on youtube, but our AndyG's Hammond X66 story is a good place to start

      -Admin

      Allen 965
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      • Retkid
        Retkid commented
        Editing a comment
        Ah, alright. So essentially it has a makeshift oscillator. There goes me the reference point for even the potential physical possibility for the project I was thinking of.

      • Admin
        Admin commented
        Editing a comment
        The twelve mechanical tonewheels replace the conventional electronic top octave oscillator. Hammond could have easily dropped the tonewheels altogether and gone the total electronic route with the exact same result. Why didn't they? Perhaps because one of their main marketing points over the years was that because of the tonewheels, Hammonds never required tuning. In fact there is an all electronic replacement for the twelve tonewheels available from a third party.

      • Ben Madison
        Ben Madison commented
        Editing a comment
        that draw bar graphic is helpful is their way someone or Andy can point me to a resource that is somewhat similar, thanks.

    • #4
      Never required tuning but in recent years most of them are not guaranteed to be in tune anymore.

      Comment


      • andyg
        andyg commented
        Editing a comment
        Why? The TWG units seem to be reliable enough, given a bit of oil. And those that have failed have had the Trek II system installed. Either way, they should be in tune.

      • Hamman
        Hamman commented
        Editing a comment
        Well, what is meant by "never have to tune" is no oscillators to individually tune. If you have a model series that uses a run motor cap. on it, than yes, they've been known to sound out of tune due to the run motor cap starting to, or going bad.

    • #5
      The X-66 has a unique sound, unlike any other Hammond, or any other organ for that matter.

      Why use the 12 note TWG? 1) They had the technology to produce 12 absolutely stable frequencies. 2) It did allow them to call it a tonewheel organ - so they did. The brochure shows the usual image of a couple of tonewheels, but has a transistor next to them. Tonally, there's absolutely no difference between a TWG X-66 and one fitted with the Trek II system. The latter has the advantage of a transpose facility (and we're trying to badger it into giving a semitone glide, like the Lowrey).

      For more technical info on the way that the X-66 works visit http://www.nshos.com/ In the menu you'll find technical articles, and there's a whole section on the X-66. Paco de la Rosa's excellent www.hammond.x66.com site has links to technical articles by Dan Vigin, who knows more than most people about the X-66.
      It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

      New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com

      Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha Genos, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
      Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
      Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
      Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1

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      • #6
        "Divide down technology" in a Hammond was first realized in the Novachord in the late 30s. But instead of tonewheels, it used oscillators. I have often wondered why they decided on the use of oscillators instead of tonewheels as their source of signal. My layman's brain can only deduce that all the filters on the Nova affect the production of the actual oscillated wave rather than manipulate a wave that is static. Or perhaps a combination thereof.

        A simple explanation:

        <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AjY8ql1f16Q" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
        Last edited by Admin; 02-28-2019, 11:54 AM. Reason: Embedding error
        1st born: 1958 B3 & 1964 Leslie 122
        Most Proud of: 1938 Concert Model E paired w/ 1948 Leslie 31A & Vibratone (Leslie) 30A (c.1942)
        Daily Workhorse: 3 Manual Rodgers running Hauptwerk 4.2
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      • #7
        Originally posted by KC9UDX View Post
        Never required tuning but in recent years most of them are not guaranteed to be in tune anymore.
        andyg When I reply to you, it quotes me for some reason.

        The in-tune-ness of a Hammond time wheel generator is mostly dependant on the power line frequency.

        In most places in the world now (your locale excepting!) power plants no longer guarantee accurate frequency. What they now guarantee is that the number of cycles over long periods, like a month, is correct. This keeps synchronous clocks accurate in the long term, but not precisely accurate in the short term.

        A few cycles here and there probably, and most likely not worthy of concern yet, but the fact remains, unfortunately.

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        • Admin
          Admin commented
          Editing a comment
          It quoted you because you replied to the topic by clicking Quote on the post that Andy commented upon which was your post. Alternatively, you could have clicked Comment on your post to place your response in the context of your original post and of Andy's comment.

      • #8
        Originally posted by Retkid View Post
        This is a pretty size effective and cost-effective solution, vs the 96 tonewheels of a traditional Hammond. But I cant really find too much on how it sounds. What are your guy's insight?
        No, it is not. It is a behemoth of circuit boards, dividers, etc to go along with that. The tone generator is one of the smallest components of the system. It is 150 lbs heavier than the B3.

        X-66 organs require a dearth of maintenance and work to keep them going smoothly. Many of the components are encapsulated (dipped, hybrid circuits) and if one component of an encapsulated circuit dies, you have to find a donor, or craft a replacement from scratch. The one time I serviced one, I fixed a pedal keying issue and cleaned the switches. I then tried to schedule a follow-up to clean the manual bus bars, only to find out that the owner had thrown the organ in the dumpster. Whether this was a lie or not, I'll never know. But, he did comment on not liking its huge size in his living room when I was there.

        Comment


        • #9
          Consider what it would take to make a B3 sound like an X-66 and suddenly the X-66 was size and cost effective.

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          • #10
            A fundamental difference between a top down divider organ and a tonewheel organ is all of the tones derived from the reference frequency are in phase while the tones from a tonewheel organ have a random phase relationship. How this affects the tonality would be an interesting analysis.

            Jim

            Comment


            • #11
              By the time the sounds, which are indeed all in phase, get through the multiple vibrato systems, they're anything but in phase. The vibratos and tremulants are an intrinsic part of the X-66 sound.

              If you want to hear an X-66 played on the fly by a superb player, watch this clip by Steven Eaklor playing Star Trek. It was recorded at Hammond's HQ, IIRC, on a restored X-66. Blew everyone away!

              One of the reasons for the X-66's huge weight was the base - solid cast iron!
              It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

              New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com

              Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha Genos, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
              Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
              Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
              Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1

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              • #12
                I spent a lot of time at a X66. This was after 15 years of road work using primarily a B3, so there was definitely a transition period. But then again, I started out playing pipe organs and later became a product artist for Thomas, so I appreciate the complex voicing. The particular rig I played also had a 147 tied to it which really helped close the gap. All in all I enjoy the instrument, especially after visiting Dan Vigen's site in which he provides info on various "fixes" and mods for the organ.
                Over the years: Hammond M3, BC, M102, B3, four X77s and three PR-40s, a Thomas Electra and a Celebrity, three Fender Rhodes, Roland HS-10, HP-2000, HP-600, RD-600, JV-880, a thing made by Korg (?), two Leslie 910s, 122, 257, 258, 247, two 142s, and three custom-built Leslies. Wow, way too much money spent!

                Comment


                • beel m
                  beel m commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Did the lack of "waterfall" keys bother you?

                • KC9UDX
                  KC9UDX commented
                  Editing a comment
                  It bothers me on my Concorde. But it shouldn't: I've spent far, far more time over the years playing electronic keyboards with "diving board" keys than organs and pianos with "waterfall" keys, and it never bothered me until I got the Concorde.

                  I think what really bothers me is the significant difference in action between the Concorde with plastic "diving board" keys and my Lowrey with wooden "waterfall" keys. My brain associates my trouble playing the Concorde with the keys themselves, but the shape of the keys probably has nothing to do with it.

              • #13
                I appreciate the waterfall keys because of the heavier key weight and also the up- and down-stop felt cushioning. Beyond that, the shape has little to do with it. I think it's a question of weight and action.
                Over the years: Hammond M3, BC, M102, B3, four X77s and three PR-40s, a Thomas Electra and a Celebrity, three Fender Rhodes, Roland HS-10, HP-2000, HP-600, RD-600, JV-880, a thing made by Korg (?), two Leslie 910s, 122, 257, 258, 247, two 142s, and three custom-built Leslies. Wow, way too much money spent!

                Comment


                • #14
                  Given the choice, I'd take proper organ shaped keys over waterfall keys any day. Overhanging, to allow for proper bridging technique and maybe even tilted, as you'd find on theatre organ. All to do with comfort, and I have no problems with smears and glisses on just about any keys - apart from one or two makes where the key action is a bit deep.

                  When it comes to waterfall keys, I'd take Lowrey over Hammond.

                  Ultimately, I think KC9 has it nailed, it's all in the mind rather than the fingers!
                  It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

                  New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com

                  Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha Genos, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
                  Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
                  Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
                  Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1

                  Comment

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