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Review: B-3 Virtual Tonewheel Organ by Arturia

Arturia B-3 V Review

The new version of Arturia’s V Collection 5 includes some great vintage keys, and nothing is more venerable than the classic Hammond B3 tonewheel organ sound played through a Leslie 122 or 147, and the time has come for us to see a very faithful recreation of both sonic and visual aspects from an original B3.

B3 tone wheel organ was introduced back in 1954 as an alternative to pipe organs. B3 was only one of Laurens Hammond (1895-1973) many inventions.

Hammond B3 tone wheel organ
Laurens Hammond (1895-1973)

Let’ get back to the virtual instrument…

Of course we’ve got a dual manual interface, each of them with its set of drawbars, we’ve got all three vibrato settings and all three chorus settings, which of course, you can turn on or off for each manual (typically, you’d play melody with the upper manual, and you might add Chorus setting number three, and leave lower manual with no chorus or vibrato in order to play bass lines or chords).

B 3 Virtual Instrument
B-3 V User Interface

To the right side of the drawbars, you’ll find preamp drive amount -which is exquisite-, master volume, and percussion tabs for ON/OFF, normal/soft volume, Short/long decay, and 2nd/3rd harmonic.

One thing to mention about percussion settings, is that I couldn’t find a way to make percussion cancel drawbar 9 when on (classic Jimmy Smith setting). Reverse coloured keys in the first octave, control drawbar presets, as with the original, which is very cool indeed.

There are two half-moon switches to control the Leslie, from stop to run and from fast to slow. This last switch makes a very cool noise every time you switch it, just like with the real thing!

Below the manuals, you’ll find the Swell pedal for controlling volume.

Finally, we’ve got the Leslie (quite tweakable, by the way), which includes a switch for changing from open to closed model, on/off, balance, stereo width, horn and drum acceleration, and slow and fast speeds.

Also, they’ve included a Reverb unit with many presets as well as dry/wet knob. Next to the Leslie, there’s a pedalboard for further sound design options, modelled after classic analog pedals, you’ll find an Analogue Delay, a Phaser, Chorus, Flanger, and Overdrive.

Remember guys, this is Arturia, so, of course, there’s more under-the-hood! You can control the drawbar leakage, the tone-wheel leakage, brilliance, background noise, you can set it to have polyphonic percussion, key click volume amount, lower attack, lower release, upper attack and upper release. And yes, there’s still some more! You can add modulation for the drawbars using an LFO, a multipoint Envelope or a sequencer! So, make the B-3 V talk!

B-3 V virtual instrument work in Standalone, VST 2.4 (32-bit and 64-bit), VST 3 (32-bit and 64-bit), AAX (32 bits with PT 10.3.8, 64 bits with PT 11), Audio Unit (32-bit and 64-bit).

More Details/Download: B3 Virtual Instrument | V Collection 5

Update: Check out the new Arturia V Collection 6

[author image=”https://www.producerspot.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/piggy-sounds-logo.jpg” ]Rafael Hofstadter is a recording and mixing engineer and sound designer with 10+ years experience in playing and programming synths, recording, mixing and producing pop/rock/folk albums. He also runs piggysounds.com.[/author]
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