VR vs Hammond SK vs Nord Electro vs ….
or: the eternal question: which one is ‘better’?
Most replies will be ‘Nord’ as this has become a kind of ‘red sect’ …
From a neutral point of view all stage-organs (or ‘clonewheels’) have their strong points and weak points.
|The following list is an overview of single-manual combo stage organs
It does not include pure Hammond clones like Hammond XK, Viscount, etc. nor ‘Workstations with ‘tonewheel’ (e.g. Roland RD2000, Casio XW-P1…)
- Dexibell Combo J7
Why does Dexibell get more attention here than the other ‘rivals’? Well, Dexibell is a young company founded in 2014 by the licensed Roland staff when Roland Europe R&D and production centre in Italy was closed down. Which means that Dexibell keys are quality instruments built by Roland people and assembled in a former Roland production plant.
The J7 stageorgen can be considered as a ‘superior VR730’ – somewhere between Nord Electro and Nord Stage.
The J7 shares the same Sound-System (“Vivo OS”) as the Dexibell Digital Pianos wihch probably gives it the best acoustic pianos of all actual clonewheels.
Its motorized drawbars that selfadjust to selected organ preset or toggling of upper/lower manual is an unique feature.
- 73 key Fatar TP/8o Waterfall keybed (like VR730), split + layer mode
- weight 10kg, metal housing, wooden side panels
- decent tonewheel organ (not on the level of Hammond/Nord/Crumar – but in many aspects very comparable to Yamaha YC). Excellent Vox, Farfisa, Pipe
- excellent acoustic and electric pianos
- 100 bread&butter sounds + ca 100 more sounds from Dexibell website
- loadable sounds in SF2-‘sound font’ format (unlimited number of free and pro SF2 sounds on the web)
- 4 layers, 4 split zones
- motorised drawbars and ‘foot switch smooth transition’ (“morph”) between organ presets
- permanent Leslie mechanical background noise (belts, bearings, wind…)
- 3 jacks for pedals (e.g. expression, piano damper, rotary switch)
- midi via usb, audio via usb, mp3/wav player, audio (wav) recorder, audio-in via Bluetooth
- EQ, organ parameters, Leslie parameters, piano resonance+damper noise, filter + envelope (AHDSR), fully customisable MFX, freaky ‘sound modulators’ like ‘blow-noise’ for sax/flute/etc, noise of trumpet valves, etc
- J7 profits from the regular upgrades of the ‘all products’ VIVO operating system (e.g. big improvement of Leslie sim, upgrade from 2 to 4 zones, constant bugfixing, improvments, new features
- Yamaha YCVery well built, good waterfall keys (Yamaha built), exellent APs, organ sound is slightly synthetic, Leslie-Sim is not its strong side (a bit like Dexibell)
- Hammond SK-1It’s the ‘tonewheel-queen’ of the Combos: no one has more possibilities to customise the organ sound (up to individually tuning EACH virtual tonewheel) and the ‘real drawbars’ make an enormous difference in ‘organ feel’. It falls behind with ‘additional’ sounds and split/layering. Keybed is a Fatar TP/8O waterfall (same model as VR730 and both feel very similar) with nice ‘vintage beige coloured keys’. Dedicated organ output for original Leslie connector. All controls are solid, casing is metal and and the 2nd-lightest after VR09 (7 kg)
- Hammond SK-ProIt’s even more the ‘tonewheel-queen’, replacing the VASE organ engine of SK1/2/X with the new MTW engine of Hammond XK5. Virtual ‘key multi contact simulation’, individually tuning of EACH virtual tonewheel and tons of Leslie-parameters. 4 Zones. 4 ‘principal’ sound categories where 2 can be composed of up to 4 layers (possible to create an 8-layer sound). Monophonic VA synth with real time controls + PCM polyphonic synth. Acoustic pianos improved over SK-1/2 but not the level of Dexibell or Nord. Keybed is a Fatar TP/8O waterfall. Dedicated organ outputs for original Leslie connector AND TRS-plug
- Nord ElectroIn 2016 Nord shocked the world by introducing (limited) key split to 5D (hahaha). Now, with 6D it’s still not possible to split two synth or piano (AP-EP) sounds… Nord Electro uses the Fatar TP/8O keybed but in a strange specification with wobbly keys. Tonewheel sound is powerful (very good for rock bands but less suited for sublime Jazz), acoustic pianos are very good, electric pianos a bit synthetic and pale. Hundreds of other sounds can be loaded from Nords sound libraries, e.g. new (improved) acoustic pianos. Line-outs can be split into organ-out (for routing to Leslie sims like Ventilator or real Leslie) and (unfortunately only mono) ‘sound-out’ for all other sounds
- Nord Stage CompactThe ‘Waterfall-version’ of Nord Stage has all the gizmos ‘missing’ on the Electro like mod-wheels and stereo-out for non-organ sounds (when rerouting the organ). It integrates a full featured synthesizer with real-time controls and 4 zones split/layering. On the con side: very expensive…
- Vox Continental Is the fashion model: very stylish with its draw-touchsliders, falls behind with Hammond sound but has an integrated tube preamp to warm up your sounds
- Crumar Mojo 61Together with SK-Pro most authentic and beautiful Hammond sound of all combos (if it can be called a combo – with only 5 additional AP/EP sounds)
The following comparison tries to be as much as ‘objectiv’ as possible, e.g. considering
– ‘B3 authenticity’ for organ sound
– sample quality and ‘piano effects’ (like string resonance) for acoustic pianos
– authentic sound and ‘bite’ for electric pianos
– ‘natural/realistic’ vs. ‘artificial/digital’ sound character, etc.
|Organ||Hammond SK-ProMojoHammond SKNord Electro/Stage||Yamaha YCDexibell J7Roland VRVox||Roland VR |
|Acoustic Pianos||Yamaha YCDexibell J7VoxNord Electro/Stage||Hammond SK-ProHammond SK||MojoRoland VR|
|Electric Pianos||VoxHammond SK-ProHammond SKMojoYamaha YCDexibell J7||Nord Electro/StageRoland VR||–|
|Bread & Butter Sounds||Nord StageHammond SK-ProYamaha YCRoland VRDexibell J7Nord Electro||Hammond SK||Mojo|
|Synth Features (realtime controls, envelopes, filters …)||Nord StageHammond SK-ProYamaha YCRoland VR||Dexibell J7Nord Electro||Hammond SKMojo|
|Split/Layer||Hammond SK-ProDexibell J7Nord StageRoland VR||Yamaha YCVoxHammond SKNord Electro 5/6||MojoNord Electro 1-4|
|Dedicated organ line-out||Hammond SK-ProHammond SKNord Stage||Nord Electro||VoxMojoYamaha YCDexibell J7Roland VR|
 under aspect of organ note retrigger bug