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  • Hammond X-66 tab voices

    To anyone who has actually played an X-66, how would you rate and describe the sound of the formant-derived voice section? How would you rate what each stop tries to emulate (compared to other organs of its vintage)? Do they sound pleasant? I understand that digital would probably blow it away in the realism department, but I'm interested in cloning the voices with analog circuitry in a stupid project I'll probably never finish, but will definitely learn a ton from.
    -Hammond E-112
    -Hammond Porta-B
    -Hacked-together styrofoam leslie

  • #2
    Opinion seems divided on the X-66 tab voices. I'm in the 'love' camp! They may not be true theatre sounds compared to what you can get into day's digital world, but each one is very usable as a solo voice or blended with the drawbars. They do mix well amongst themselves, though I have to say that I've probably seen too many clips where the all get shoved down in one go.

    Worth sampling? Yes, it's been done commercially, with the results available for Yamaha Tyros keyboards, and one of our members was already doing it to create a virtual X-66, though I haven't heard from him in a while. What you will probably have to do is sample the voices maybe every three semitones, about 24 samples across the keyboard to cope with 73 notes (the 16' goes all the way down). Hammond used a lot of complex circuitry to ensure that the tone of each voice remained constant across the compass of the keyboard from low to high.

    And merely sampling each voice like that and then layering them on playback won't be a true representation. What I think you'd have to do is do 24 samples for each possible combination of voices. That's quite a few possibilities on the upper manual.

    A lot of work, and that's not all, as the vibrato system is unique in the X-66. The tab voices have their own scanner and vibrato line, and amplitude modulation is added in, resulting in a tremulant, rather than just vibrato.

    A fair old bit of work, then! But if you can find a good X-66 to sample, you'd end up with something unique. You might then think about the X-66 drawbar sound itself, which is different to any other Hammond.
    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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    • #3
      Originally posted by andyg
      The tab voices have their own scanner and vibrato line, and amplitude modulation is added in, resulting in a tremulant, rather than just vibrato.
      Not sure I have ever been really able to understand the difference between tremolo/tremulant and vibrato. Anyone help?
      Previous: Elka Crescendo 303, Technics G7, Yamaha EL-90
      Current: Yamaha AR-100

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      • #4
        Originally posted by RogerM View Post
        Not sure I have ever been really able to understand the difference between tremolo/tremulant and vibrato. Anyone help?
        Technically tremolo is amplitude modulation whilst vibrato is frequency modulation, although the terms are commonly interchanged. Early electronic organs, including early Hammonds, had tremulant - just amplitude modulation. Later organs added vibrato with its frequency shift.

        Pipe organ tremulants, and Leslie cabinets, have both AM and FM components.

        On topic, the X-66 had vibrato scanners for the manuals, but the pedal notes were actually a tremulant, amplitude modulation only, produced via variable reactor.
        -Admin

        Allen 965
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        • RogerM
          RogerM commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks, Admin. I think I'll leave it there.

      • #5
        Don't think I ever used Pedal Vibrato. One a couple of X-66's that I've played, the tab has been re-purposed for something like MIDI or Leslie slow/fast (lousy place for that one!)

        The drawbars used scanner vibrato above 800Hz but an electronic vibrato below that, using saturated reactors. Different speed and depth to the scanner vibrato - Hammond were chasing a leslie effect, clearly! I always thought that the pedal drawbars also went through a similar type of vibrato circuit. There's a nice explanation on several pages here: http://www.nshos.com/X6615.htm ,but that suggests that the pedals went through the formanted voices' scanner.

        No doubt a look at the schematics or a quick question sent to one of my X-66 specialist engineers would reveal all!

        Bottom line is that the X-66 vibrato system is complex, with vibratos and tremulants at different speeds and always out of phase. It's an intrinsic part of the organ's sound. Adding just one vibrato effect to a sampled X-66 sound wouldn't be the same.
        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
          Last played one of these around 10 years ago. Fell in love with the Glock when I was a teen. I have read the tech stuff on NSHOS and continue to be amazed at what Hammond brought forth. The one I played had the two 1277's. The tab voices blend wonderfully with the drawbars and percussion. You have to work at it for changes on the fly, but it's all possible as you can see from the vids on youtube. I would love to have one, but unless paying a premium for a well maintained organ, you are going to have some projects.

          Also that console! The players that had one of these in clubs in my youth were split down the middle with those using mostly drawbars, and the other half that did go for more ensemble sounds most of the time. A couple organists that had mass rowe setups really loved the percussions on the X-66. Nothing like organ + vibe, bell, glock, etc. on bop lines over a great standard to mix up solos. My old BV with Trek ii and a mass rowe set still rocks the house (it's really in the garage) and my Elegante holds a sorta bright candle to the X-66 mystique, but there is just nothing like the real thing. The X-77, H-100, are fun in and of themselves (hidden voices, real leslie for those that prefer, etc..) but the look, sound, and execution of the X-66 is a one of a kind thing in the annals of home organ history.

          Would be interesting to implement a well done set of samples; with a newer sound card, you could come very close to full re-creation (and presets!!).
          Ron Wilson in Indy
          Allen R311, Lowrey Sterling, Roland 80-SL, Hammond Elegante & BV, Technics SX-FN3 & Too Many Keyboards...

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