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PR-40 vs. built in speakers (A100 or D152)

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  • PR-40 vs. built in speakers (A100 or D152)

    I'm a city apt. dwelller in Wash. DC with an A-100, who recently found myself as caretaker/part-owner of the "family" house in NoVa I grew up in, and am thinking of getting an organ to use/play while out there. Debating whether to find an A-100/D-152 vs. something with separate tone cabinet, such as PR-40/20, which to date I simply haven't had space for, but now have.

    For various reasons, I prefer the Hammond's own vibrato and reverb, and don't necessarily have to have a Leslie. Sound qualities I'm seeking are 1.) good reverb, and 2.) bass response. Problem is, I have never tried/played through a PR-40 , my two main questions are:

    1.) How does (if at all) the necklace reverb differ (in sound) from the spring reverb like I THINK my A-100 (1963) has, and that in the fender amp I run my XB-2 on stage through?
    2.) Do the 15" speakers in the PR-40 / 20 give better bass than the 12" speakers in my A-100? This is always the case (better bass output through larger speakers) with the XB-2, or even my Vox Continental, just not sure of the same with a "real" tonewheel organ.

    THANKS in advance for thoughts/opinions anyone has - Mark.
    Last edited by OrganLeroyDC; 11-25-2022, 05:14 PM.

  • #2
    I can't comment on the difference between A100 and PR40 reverb, suffice to say the PR40 reverb does sound good to my ears. And there are three stages for both bass and treble. But what's most striking about the PR40, as long as it's fully functioning, is the amount of bass. It has the best bass response out there for the Hammond consoles - some even say too much. The treble channel lacks the bite and attack of a Leslie, which means it's a lot less clicky. The PR40 is a good speaker, and its renaissance over the last 15 or so years means we're seeing fewer in the trash.

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    • #3
      I just got a PR 40 and a 1954 C-2 given to me.....a local piano store could not sell it and wanted their space back.

      Hammond recommended tone cabinets like the PR40 rather than leslies for many years. What I notice is that in a lot of classic jazz recordings a spinning leslie is actually never used. On many Jimmy Smith or Don Patterson recordings etc. it is just the sound of chorus vibrato you are hearing...I would imagine that many of you already know this.

      I am one of those people who prefer the tone cabinet sound to a leslie. I have problems sometimes balancing the treble driver and the woofer in leslies to get the percussion volume right...particularly at home.

      So I would have to say I have an easier time with the PR 40. The percussion sounds smoother to me through the 12 inch woofer and I also feel like the tone cabinet covers the mid range better in many cases. On leslies a lot of the midrange is coming through that little treble driver and there are the distortion issues......

      My experience then is that the PR 40 may be a better
      match to capture the tone of vintage tonewheel Hammonds in a home setting.... If you don't care about spin, which I generally don't. I like pure unaffected chorus vibrato...thank you....as Hammond intended.

      Disagree or agree all you want.

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      • Lazlo
        Lazlo commented
        Editing a comment
        To say JOS or Don Patterson never used tremolo is incorrect. That generation of soul jazz organists certainy didn't use trem to the same degree that today's players do - but use it they did. There's plenty of it on JOS's Crazy Baby for example... on What's New and Mack the Knife. And on the early live club recordings from 1956 full theatre settings with trem are used. Don Patterson would use it to end a piece sometimes, also with a full setting. I think the distinction is more that these players didn't use it the way Jackie Davis, Milt Buckner or Wild bill Davis and those early '50s players did. JOS, Patterson etc were reacting more to Charlie Parker in their style, and so used a more nasal, horn-like registration.

    • #4
      By the way where is the link to start a new topic.? It certainly is well hidden. I am trying to install a percussion volume pot on a B-3. I would like to start a new topic about this.

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      • #5
        I've worked on a few PR-40s. The necklace reverb is spring reverb, just a different form of spring reverb compared to the "tank" that has become standard. General consensus is that necklace reverb was the best-sounding spring reverb system; however, it had a couple of downsides. One was size, of course, and the second was that it is easier to "crash" via external jolts to the cabinet. If you have a bouncy floor and someone walks across the floor, you may hear it.

        The dual 15" speakers for bass in the PR-40 do provide very good bass, and the output transformer for the bass channel is wound specifically for bass. And the PR-40 has room controls that allow you to vary the bass.

        Now for the downsides of the PR-40. The AO-33 amplifier in the PR-40 is very complicated with three output channels and reverb that is selectable from the console. This means that it has a high parts count and a complex power supply circuit. For various reasons, they have hardly ever been maintained. People simply run them till they stop working. You will often find them with one or two channels not working at all. The cathode resistors can burn up as a consequence of never replacing the output tubes. Spring reverb is often not working due to the cable from the reverb unit to the amp shorting out internally, and the electrolytic capacitors around the transistor recovery stage may have failed, blocking the reverb signal. And the amp has lots and lots of tubes in it. Using 12" speakers for treble means the upper treble (above 4khz) is a bit weak, but that's probably the easiest thing to change; you can add a horn compression driver with a simple crossover if you want.

        PR-40s in good working condition sound very good indeed, but most of them out there are in poor working order. Getting one back to tip-top working order could be expensive if you had to pay someone to do it since it is labor-intensive and will probably require a number of new tubes.

        Leslie tube amps, in comparison, are very simple and use a passive crossover instead of multiple output channels.
        I'm David. 'Dave' is someone else's name.

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        • #6
          It may make more economic sense to invest in a single speed Leslie (like a 21H) and have it fully serviced, than to invest in fully servicing a PR-40. It will hold a lot more resell value down the line, and you can leave the motors off if you don’t care for them running.

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          • #7
            Originally posted by Bam Bam View Post
            By the way where is the link to start a new topic.? It certainly is well hidden. I am trying to install a percussion volume pot on a B-3. I would like to start a new topic about this.

            Certainly not 'well hidden' - here! :)



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            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 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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            • #8
              I actually have a D-152, so it's basically an RT-3 with basically the same amp as the PR-40 installed. Bass isn't quite as deep, I'd say, as the PR-40 with smaller speakers, but high end is better.
              I'm David. 'Dave' is someone else's name.

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              • #9
                All of the above is good to know - especially about complexities of the AO-33 amp......When looking on-line, you nearly always "wind up" with Keyboard Exchange International (Florida), or VintageHammond.com in TX, but I haven't dealt with either of them before, and both seem focused on pairing up the organ with a Leslie,

                MANY THANKS for the input,

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                • #10
                  Everyone's input here is appreciated. A little after all this I came across a pristine A-143, which I had read about, but never actually seen before, makes sense, as it is reputed to be the rarest of the "decorator" A-100 consoles. Not usually a big early American fan, but the finish sure is nice, since all the furniture at the house where this will be going is of that style, it will be right at home. I have a fondness for rare/unique models, and went with it. Got a decent deal with Keyboard Exchange, and their restoration looks/seems to be pretty thorough. I may be missing out on a few benefits of the PR-40, but this will save a little space, and at least I'll have the same model in town as at the house.

                  THANKS for everyone's help, and wishing all a happy, musical, and prosperous 2023.
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