Having played a real, electromechanical Hammond M100 with a real Leslie for many years, I'm somewhat attuned to what a Hammond should sound like. For a long time, I was searching for a suitable MIDI:ed replacement, first in hardware and then in software.
I have NI:s B4 and B4 II and was never completely happy, especially not with its overdrive emulation, which sounds harsh and brittle, and with the less than totally convincing Leslie sim.
Then I discovered VB3, and realised that my search was over. The sound is, to my ears, totally convincing. The overdrive has that rich, creamy character that NI flunked and the Leslie sounds authentic down to the woosh of the spinning horns and bass baffle and the click of the solenoid as you toggle speeds. Of course you can tweak the levels of these mechanical effects from OFF to obtrusive.
Guido's attention to detail is evident in the almost complete tweakability of sound and controls. In the latest, 1.4, version he has finessed the Leslie sound even further (as a foretaste of VB 2.0!) and, thankfully, re-introduced CTRL #64 (sustain pedal) as a control source for Leslie slow/fast – you can even choose if you want the pedal to work as a toggle or just activate fast speed when you keep it depressed.
V 1.4 AU also plays nice with Digital Performer on Mac OS 10.4 and Tiger, which was a bit of a problem earlier.
VB3 has been completely stable on my Macs, running OS 10.3, 10.4 and 10.5 with Logic 8, DP 5.13 and Live 7/8.
Shareware or not, I consider VB3 a totally professional product and, to my mind, a head above the other Hammond emus on the market. On top of that, Guido's prompt user support and readiness to listen to suggestions is in a class by itself.
Thoroughly recommended for anyone looking for an authentic Hammond/Leslie playing experience in software.
I came across the VB3 a while ago as I wanted to get back to using organ sounds in my music (Had sold my old "pre MIDI"
Korg CX3 already a few years ago).
Anyone who ever played a real organ will feel at home here: Draw bars for two manuals and pedal on the bottom, above that controls for vibrato/chorus, percussion, overdrive and the Leslie. All well designed and not too small. A large amount of additional features for tweaking the organ are in Preset/Global menus.
Just one word: Fantastic! It roars and sings almost like a real thing, with the right amount of imperfection. But you will need to play this as a real organ, using controllers for swell, Leslie speed, and maybe play with two manuals or manual split to really achieve a living Hammond sound - this is not a synth that will create a sound scape by simply hitting a key once. I have used the VB3 on my recent CD in several tracks and noticed also how well it fits into the mix with minor EQ adjustments.
VB3 comes with 32 presets, covering the range from Gospel,Jazz,Funk to Rock. They are a good start to get you into your own preset design. You should also invest some time in adjusting the options to your personal preferences (tone wheel leakage, type of Leslie etc.) The only presets that did not convince me fully are those emulating the Farfisa and Vox organs.
Features: As mentioned above you can set and tweak almost everything that is relevant for a Hammond sound, specifically in the Global options which give you control of your organ's age and characteristics. I like that the features are focusing solely on what is relevant for an organ, no multi effect, delays, bit crushers or such included.
Value for Money:
The VB3 costs 49 Euros which makes it a real bargain. Besides, it sounds better than some other emulations that have a price that is 2 or 3 times higher.
I never had problems with the VB3, but had contacted Guido to give feedback, also on the ZD6. He was very responsive and open for suggestions.
Documentation: Good and sufficient information about all features. It is nice that you also get some background info about how things function in a real Hammond organ (tone wheels, scanner vibrato). Also tube emulation and different speaker cabinets are well described.
Stability: Never had any problems with VB3 so far, playing it live or and while recording with Reaper and Cantabile. CPU load is okay, considering that it is a quite sophisticated emulation, not a sample player
In a nutshell: If you are looking for a real organ emulation this is probably the best choice, and all that at a ridiculously low price.
One comment I would like to add: This is not shareware or freeware, but a professional product showing that the developer put a lot of effort and knowledge into it. One need not do glossy 4c ads to be a professional vst developer IMHO ;-)
That was one of my first plugins, as an Hammond afficionados, looking for real Tone wheel sounds.
Just installed the unregistred version for windows (xp - 2gb ram dual core and motu)
The sound is very "sampled" like, and may results very static like old samplers, but with some EQ and some effects you can "alias" a bit the sound, the routines should be more pro, and get some better features (I also tried to change frequency rate, but still sounding a bit dull)
But still Some very rock preset and some blues some various sounds, had some freeze with this ,so it's not very stable for live gigs.
Good points are some emulation of italian transistor if you like the sound of cheesy machines from that gold era
Percussions sounds are good and the rotor make some noise, (maybe too much!) The vibrato scanner effect is good and realistic!
I like shareware products, but I l prefer professional products such as native B4, still the best, but Vb3 is not bad, the most interesting thing is price if you're on budget.
I thought organized trio was really good, but this version blows it out of the water! Now VB3 1.0 had limited adjustments to the rotary which sounded good if not a little too far away in the room for my taste. Now mic distance and such can be adjusted to your liking. I have tried all the organ sims out there. I actually own B4II, but I will probably buy this because I think it sounds better. The overdrive is much nicer, though at the last 1/4 turn of the knob the drive suddenly jumps to extreme. I think the velocity keyclick is really authentic and really brings it to life. It is the closest I've felt to playing the real thing. It's, warm, it's ballsy, the rotary sim is excellent, maybe the best I've heard. It even has other electric organ tonewheels like b4 does. The spring reverb is great. The tonewheel level scaling parameter is a great idea; I wish more plugins would do this. I dig the authentic rotary brake.
The user interface could be more attractive, but I really don't care. The upper manual is on the left though, unlike a real b3 which puts the lower manual on the left.
The plugin seems stable. I never got any crashes. Some parameters can zipper a bit, but none of the ones you would use realtime.
My only requests on the dream list would be a little complicated:
1: Alternate tube overdrive simulations and/or item 3.
2: Alternate rotary cabinets (but really, the stock one sounds better to me than any of b4II's)
3: A way to run an insert effect between the raw tonewheel and the rotary without running multiple instances (I know, nearly impossible but I love running effects pre-leslie).
4: Tonewheel motor kill effect. Just for every once in a while.
Bottom Line: This plugin is really affordable and best in class against all the other more expensive ones. Organized is the best free organ and VB3 is now the best commercial one.
Latest 4 reviews from a total of 4