- -- “The New Original” captures the sound and feel of the legendary B-3 and Leslie speaker with unprecedented accuracy —
ADDISON, IL., June 8, 2016 — HAMMOND ORGAN USA is proud to announce the new XK-5 organ. With the classic sound of the HAMMOND B-3 more sought-after and emulated today than ever, a company spokesperson said, “We really think we’ve closed the final millimeters of the realism gap in a form factor that’s far more portable, affordable, and reliable than a vintage Hammond organ. We’re very proud of this instrument, and frankly feel that it has no peer in its category among today’s keyboard offerings. We think of it as ‘The New Original.’ Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell, an early tester, seemed to agree when he simply exclaimed, ‘It’s a B-3!’”
Developing the XK-5 involved a new design from the ground up, in which the R&D team (which HAMMOND has tasked with capturing the sound of its classic organs for over 30 years) went back to the original blueprints. They devised four new patent-pending technologies to make the playing experience as close as possible to sitting at a vintage B-3:
Hybrid Multi Key Contact System: On classic HAMMONDs, pressing a key closes 9 mechanical contacts: one for each drawbar harmonic. This can’t be accomplished with a single MIDI note-on, which is what most other organ and synth actions use. The XK-5 uses 3 mechanical contacts per key. Each of these triggers 3 virtual contacts, giving you 9 separate note-ons for an authentic fingers-to-music connection.
Custom Keybed: HAMMOND builds the XK-5’s keyboard action entirely in-house. It’s designed to duplicate the heft, bounce, and key dip of a “new old stock” B-3, and has the “waterfall” key fronts crucial for playing techniques such as palm slides. Early play-testers praised its authenticity, including jazz organ great Dr. Lonnie Smith, who said, “The feel of the keyboard, it kicks back at you. It’s not dead, and it feels good. That’s what we’re looking for!”
New Sound Engine: Tone generation was also completely rethought. Modeling and sampling are combined in a proprietary process to recreate all 96 spinning electro-mechanical discs from the original tone wheel generator, not to mention other important sonic details such as key click, harmonic percussion, and vibrato-chorus. Programmability has also been extended to new depths, letting the player reconstruct classic HAMMONDs right down to the model, year, condition, and serial number. Downloadable tone wheel profiles of famous organists’ instruments are planned.
Matching Transformer: In classic HAMMOND organs, all signals from the upper, lower, and pedal manuals passed through a matchingtransformer upstream of the preamp. This had a saturation phenomenon called hysteresis,which musically speaking, enhanced the organ’s “breathy” character. In the XK-5, this is modeled and adjustable.
Further new features number over 50, and include:
- Four full sets of Harmonic Drawbars plus pedal drawbars, as on original Hammond console organs.
- 12 additional virtual tone wheels for complex pedal tones.
- Latest-generation Digital Leslie effect is improved and can use continuously-variable speed.
- Dedicated octave shift / transpose buttons.
- Improved DSP-based overdrive complemented by vacuum tube preamp.
- Improved vibrato-chorus.
- Dedicated on/off buttons and amount knobs for reverb, overdrive, and assignable multi-FX.
- Lower B drawbars can alternately control 9 MIDI control messages for external gear.
- Left and right ¼'' outs can be used at the same time as Leslie output.
- More key-triggering modes for pedal-to-lower coupler (Manual Bass function).
- Firmware updatable via USB flash drive or directly from computer.
- Crisp new OLED display is more readable under different lighting conditions.
For expanding beyond single-manual uses, he XK-5 forms the core of HAMMOND’s new Heritage Series, which offers two ways to add a second manual and/or bass pedalboard:
XK-5 Pro System: Aimed at a contemporary look and easy breakdown for transport. Adds the XLK-5 lower manual, which has the same action and multi-key-contacts, and whose extended side panels replace those on the XK-5 itself, creating a seamless appearance. The XPK-250 pedalboard features 25 full-sized bass pedals and includes the new EXP-250 expression pedal, and is available in black (BK) or wood (W) finish. An open-footprint, folding aluminum Pro stand and matching bench round out the package.
Model A-3: Intended for a “traditional B” look (as shown in photo above). A-3 lower manual works like XLK-5 but has wider side panels, matching up perfectly with the “spindle-leg” A-3 stand and A-3 wooden bench. The wood-finish XPK-250W is the pedal choice here.
The XK-5 and Heritage Series will be on exhibit at the Summer NAMM Show June 23 – 25, 2016 in the Nashville Music City Center (booth 430), Nashville, TN. Attendees can also hear it in action at the HAMMOND Sound Soul Summit V concert, featuring Dr. Lonnie Smith, Grammy nominee Paul Brown (The Waterboys), and many more great musicians. The Summit will be held Thursday, June 23, 2016, at 7 P.M. at the Soundcheck Complex, 750 Cowan St., Nashville, TN 37207. Tickets will be available at the HAMMOND booth and, for dealers, through Hammond sales representatives.
The XK-5 will sell at retail for $3,695 MAP and is expected to begin shipping in August 2016.