B4 II full review
The B4 is a software emulation of the Hammond B3 tonewheel organ widely used in Rock, Pop, House, Soul, R&B, Jazz and Gospel. The original instrument is housed in a substantial cabinet that includes two keyboards, a row of drawbars that can be pulled in and out to shape the sound, and a plethora of knobs and switches for further shaping the sound. It also has a set of bass pedals and a volume pedal – and it’s as heavy as hell to carry! So one of the main selling points of the software is undoubtedly the fact that you can balance its box on the tip of one finger. Of course, that’s not the only advantage the B4 has over the original: it also has lots more presets and can emulate Vox Continental and Farfisa transistor organs – and the Indian Harmonium.
B4 II completely models the tonal characteristics of the original B3 and the Leslie rotating speaker and other classic loudspeakers typically used to amplify the instrument. Even the defects are faithfully modelled – everything from compression and distortion to key clicks – to provide as authentic an experience as possible.
The new tube amplifier, based on the original Leslie model, has a Drive control that lets you introduce the authentic ‘cooking’ sound that you get from a genuine, overdriven Leslie valve amplifier. Cabinets on offer include open and closed versions of the Leslie 122 and 147 cabinets, along with various classic guitar rigs including the Vox AC30, Fender Twin and Bassman, and both Marshall and Orange 4 x 12 cabinets.
Both spring and studio reverb types are provided to produce greater depth of sound and even greater attention to detail has been employed to further refine the accuracy of the modelling. So, for example, the crosstalk between the tonewheels is adjustable and alternative tonewheel sets are provided that simulate organs with different degrees of ageing. The standard Classic B3 tonewheel set is tuned to 44Hz. You can also choose from four alternative tunings: 436Hz, 444Hz, 448Hz and 452Hz.
I own a vintage Hammond M3 and Leslie 122 cabinet. When you get your hands (and feet) on the real thing, you can immediately access all the performance controls as you play. Playing the B4 II using synthesizer keyboards and MIDI control devices always involves an element of compromise. However, I strongly recommend the B4D Hardware Controller, which is basically a set of 9 drawbars, 22 switches and two knobs for use with the B4.