Questions about HX3 Expander with XK-system

Rund um die "Clonewheels" HX3 und HX3.5

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Dnsmo
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Questions about HX3 Expander with XK-system

Beitrag von Dnsmo » 27. Feb 2015, 06:34

I am interested in buying an expander module for use with my XK3 with lower manual, a 25-note pedal klavier, and Leslie 145.
I have these questions:

--I read the HX3 WIKI on using the module with MIDI controllers, which says the MIDI CC sets will only support those controller functions that HX3's sound engine offers; in some cases, controllers are remapped/renamed for convenience. How well does the XK3 communicate with the HX3 module? Do all controls on the XK3 correspond to the same functions on the module? Are there any HX3 functions that cannot be controlled by the XK3?

--Will I have any difficulty using my pedalboard with the module?

--Can I use the reverse-color keys of the XK3 to program presets on the HX3?

--I intend to use the 11-pin Leslie output of the XK3 going to an 1147 connector kit and then the 145. What is the audio cable routing between module and XK3?

--Are there any other things I need to be aware of when using the XK-system with an expander module?

Your input is greatly appreciated. Vielen Dank!

Dennis

clp560
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Re: Questions about HX3 Expander with XK-system

Beitrag von clp560 » 27. Feb 2015, 16:36

Hi Dennis,

I'm using the HX3 expander with my XK-3 system and the sound is a massive improvement over the XK-3 and has given the Hammond-Suzuki setup a new lease of life, especially given that ergonomically the XK-3 is very good to play. Most of the controls worked fine immediately and Carsten (the boss at Keyboardpartner) was extremely helpful in sorting out a couple of XK-3 specific issues. As you know, the XK-3 has no separate control over the lower manual Chorus/Vib (one of its big drawbacks that was solved with the XK3c). In the XK-3 you can send the Chorus on/off to the Demo switch which is next to the Reverb switch. Carsten changed the midi send of the lower Chorus/Vib to the Reverb switch (in firmware 3.721) so now I have the upper and lower Chorus/Vib next to each other and operating independently - a fantastic improvement. The 'Tube Amp' switch now operates the Reverb, which is hardly an inconvenience given that the tube overdrive is redundant when using the HX3.

There is one remaining issue which Carsten was fixing before he became ill recently. This is a problem with the Bass Pedal midi channel. The XK-3 sends on Ch3 but the HX3 expects Ch2. What happens at the moment is that if you move one of the pedal drawbars the volume of that drawbar resets to zero. The workaround is to change the midi channel for the bass pedals momentarily to Ch2 and then the drawbar functions correctly. Switch back to Ch3 and the pedal stays set (unless you move the drawbar again, of course). Switching to Ch2 also puts the lower manual onto the pedals, something which is actually very useful. Carsten did already send me a firmware update to correct this midi issue, but unfortunately there was a software error which prevented it from downloading properly to the HX3. This he was about to fix when he became sick so it's just a matter of being patient until he is able to look at this again.

The Preset Keys on the XK-3 all work perfectly and can all be programmed and saved via the HX3 editor (including the bass pedal drawbar settings).

I use my XK-3 with a modified Leslie 147. The motors are controlled via a 760 power supply/speed controller and an 1176 connector kit. This means that the XK-3 Leslie controls all function correctly so you should have no problem with your setup (the XK-3 Leslie controls also work fine with the HX3 Leslie simulation but I use the amp/ped output and bypass the Leslie sim). Less convenient is how to get the audio signal to the Leslie. Unfortunately, the neatest way would be to go from the HX3 to the Return/Ext in, but this signal then is processed through the XK-3 Leslie simulator as well as the EQ! It should be possible to wire an input to the 11-pin output (can't remember which pin number offhand) to go directly to the Leslie from the HX3 audio out, but for me, I have a jack input on the Leslie amp so I just use a long cable to get there - not a problem really, though it's always nice to be neat with cables whenever possible :-)

The Hammond-Suzuki midi implementation is not standard (they use the nrpn system) so it's not simply a matter of using the Midi CC editor to change switch settings, and Carsten has been really helpful in getting the XK-3 to be fully functional, especially the Chorus/Vib. I think the moving of lower chorus to the reverb switch is only a small inconvenience for owners of the later XK3c, but they already have separate controls for the two manuals.

I have a B3 here - also with a 760 output, so I can directly compare the sound through the same Leslie - and the sound of HX3 is uncannily close to my old Hammond. There are plenty of parameters to tweak, but now that I've fine-tuned some of those I see no reason to change anything else. The XK-3 is still a good instrument to sit at and now I feel I have a really portable 'Hammond' that needs no compromises from me as a player.

Hope this helps you to decide! By the way, I have nothing to do with the company; I'm just very enthusiastic about this little gem of a product. I just took a chance on it initially (there was nowhere try one out) and haven't been disappointed.

Paul

Dnsmo
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Re: Questions about HX3 Expander with XK-system

Beitrag von Dnsmo » 27. Feb 2015, 20:05

Paul,

Thank you so much for your detailed answer; this gives me much cause for hope in using the HX3 module.
The 'Tube Amp' switch now operates the Reverb, which is hardly an inconvenience given that the tube overdrive is redundant when using the HX3.
Since, of course, I'll want to bypass the Tube Amp circuit, it seems okay to use the TUBE AMP button to activate the HX3 reverb. In that case, what knob controls reverb intensity? What does the XK-3 TUBE OVERDRIVE knob control on the HX3?
Switching to Ch2 also puts the lower manual onto the pedals, something which is actually very useful. Carsten did already send me a firmware update to correct this midi issue, but unfortunately there was a software error which prevented it from downloading properly to the HX3. This he was about to fix when he became sick so it's just a matter of being patient until he is able to look at this again.
So the solution is to have Upper Manual on Ch1, Lower Manual and Pedals together on Ch2? This has to be implemented on the XK-3 in order for it to communicate correctly with the module, yes?
Less convenient is how to get the audio signal to the Leslie. Unfortunately, the neatest way would be to go from the HX3 to the Return/Ext in, but this signal then is processed through the XK-3 Leslie simulator as well as the EQ!
Why couldn't I use the Return/EXT IN and just bypass the internal Leslie? Since I have only used the XK-3 with a Leslie and never with the internal simulator, this has never been an issue.

I forgot to ask about using an EXP-100F. Does this expression pedal work correctly with the HX3? I thought I read a post about problems using the EXP-100F.

Dennis

clp560
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Re: Questions about HX3 Expander with XK-system

Beitrag von clp560 » 28. Feb 2015, 12:53

Hi Dennis,

The Tube Overdive knob controls the Amp122 parameter so if you are using the amp/ped audio setting from the rear jacks this will control the level out. An original Hammond has no level control other than the swell pedal but the Leslie 122 (etc.) does, so I suppose this is to remain faithful to the modelling of the original.

On the XK-3 leaving the bass pedal channel on Ch2 puts the lower manual onto the pedals - a better sound, I think, than the Hammond pedal sound! I've been playing around with the use of the 16' drawbar in this situation. While sending on Ch2 the pedal drawbars will function correctly but you won't hear that sound until switching back to Ch3. Another workaround for this is to put the bass pedal settings + whatever lower manual sound you like, onto a preset (including the B flat preset), then if you do move the pedal drawbars and zero the volume accidentally you can instantly restore it. As I said, this is not ideal but hopefully a fix is coming soon.

If you look at the block diagram in the XK-3 manual showing the signal path you'll find that the Return/Ext is always routed through the Leslie sim and EQ, which is annoying! The XK-3 output signal via the 11-pin output does not carry the Leslie effect, as it is intended to be sent though a real Leslie (I think there is also a pin that does carry the effect, intended for other models, but I'd have to look up the pin-out diagram). This is why I think that it should be possible to insert a connecting jack just before the correct pin-out on the 11-pin connector but I haven't tried it yet. I also didn't yet try setting all the XK-3 EQ to 'zero' (and likewise the Leslie simulation) then hooking up the HX3 through the Return/Ext again. I have a feeling that this won't be a simple fix but it's worth a bit of experimenting.

I also use the EXP-100F and this works perfectly with the HX3, at least as long as the XK-3 is the controller. As it has a special connector it can't simply be plugged into the HX3 so that may be where some people have had a problem. Remember that the XK-3 can send a different percentage maximum from the EXP-100F so you'll have to check that parameter on the XK-3. When it's set to 100% it sends a maximum of (midi level) 118 so to get a wider dynamic range you'll have to change it to 110 - 130%. This control is quite useful if you are going through a PA system and need to moderate the dynamic range of the Hammond, which can be really quite wide. The newest version of the HX3 also lets you set the minimum volume.

One other thing I discovered was that the HX3 doesn't recognise sustain. I had the side switch on the EXP-100F set to 'sustain' and I could create some interesting musical ideas by holding the upper manual notes while playing unsustained melody lines on the lower manual. Of course, this was never possible on a real Hammond but I found it a quite useful musical 'add-on' occasionally. Oh well, can't have everything... :-)

I don't have any other issues with the HX3 and I actually think it's a great thing to have something that just does what it is meant to and, like a real Hammond (apart from a few mods here and there), allows you to concentrate on playing the instrument.

Paul

ps It was always said that one particular Hammond modification was to get the lower manual onto the pedals but I have never seen it done and I can't find any info about how it can be done. One up for the XK-3/HX3 combo then!

clp560
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Re: Questions about HX3 Expander with XK-system

Beitrag von clp560 » 28. Feb 2015, 13:02

Forgot to say that the reverb levels can only be set from within the HX3 and the default is 'Reverb 2' (at least this is the one the XK-3 references)

Paul

Martin308
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Re: Questions about HX3 Expander with XK-system

Beitrag von Martin308 » 28. Feb 2015, 20:08

Thank you for your detailed comments.
But I have the problem, that with the EXP100 expression pedal I can't obtain a sufficient volume range.
Even with the curve on the XK3c set to 130%. Do I miss another point ?
The other bug, which is annoying is, that the reverb button on the XK3c doesn't operate on Reverb on/off, but on Vibrato Lower on/off.
FW is 3.721

Best Regards
Martin

clp560
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Re: Questions about HX3 Expander with XK-system

Beitrag von clp560 » 1. Mär 2015, 10:52

I get a very good dynamic range from my setup which is set on 110% on the XK-3 (max midi level 118). The 'minimum swell' on my HX3 is set to 8 - what is yours on? The overall swell range pretty much matches my Hammond B3. Maybe your external amplifier is not set high enough? I use the Amp/Ped audio output to a Leslie 147, though it is fitted with a modified (more powerful) Leslie H1 amplifier.

As I mentioned in the previous post I think you'll find that the 'Tube Amp' switch is now the reverb on/off. Carsten changed this so that XK-3 users could have separate Chorus/Vib on/off controls for the two manuals, something that was sadly lacking on the XK-3 but then added for the XK3c a year later. On the XK3c the Chorus/Vib controls are conveniently together on the left side. By using the reverb switch on the XK-3, together with the Demo switch (assigned to upper chorus/vib), players of the XK-3 now have separate control of the Chorus/Vib on both manuals on the upper right side of the organ. The trade off is using the Tube Amp switch for reverb, but as this is not used by the HX3, and reverb is not usually switched in/out that often, it is a reasonable and logical compromise.

It would be nice to be able to reassign controls via the HX3 Midi CC editor but the Hammond-Suzuki implementation of midi is not standard so cannot be done this way. Maybe in the future there could be two versions of the Firmware (XK-3 and XK3c)? Still, as this is the only difference between the two XK organs the current compromise doesn't inconvenience anyone too greatly.

Hope this helps,

Paul

Martin308
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Re: Questions about HX3 Expander with XK-system

Beitrag von Martin308 » 1. Mär 2015, 14:38

Thank you Paul,

I have just tried your suggestion regarding the expression range. But I'm still not completely satisfied.
I will now try a Yamaha FC-7 pedal directly on the HX3. Actually I would prefer a volume independent overdrive, though this is not the authentic behaviour of a B3. But I think, this would be feasible with a potentiometer volume pedal between HX3- out and amplifier in, wouldn't it ?
With your help I now figured out the reverb thing, though I'm not very happy with it. But at least I now understand the intention regarding the difference between XK3 and XK3C. Different CC-sets for both organs would be a great improvement for future updates.

Best Regards

Martin

Dnsmo
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Re: Questions about HX3 Expander with XK-system

Beitrag von Dnsmo » 3. Mär 2015, 03:54

Thank you, gents.

It would be nice If the module's firmware could support the Ch1= Upper, Ch2 = Lower, Ch3 = Pedal scheme, especially if one elects to have a string or plucked bass sound responding to Channel 3, a la Barbara Dennerlein.

As for the XK-3 audio signal path, I can't experiment right now because my entire XK-system rig is currently in storage, awaiting a move into a new studio where I plan to use the HX3 sound engine. Paul, if you or someone else here who's using an XK-3 could determine whether the EQ and Leslie simulation can be bypassed after the Return/Ext IN and before the 11-pin connector, that would be very useful information. (I'd be surprised if this is NOT possible!) The YouTube clip of Frank Montis demoing his HX3 module with XK3 + LM and Leslie 3300 appears to be hooked up in this manner.

Cheers,
Dennis

clp560
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Re: Questions about HX3 Expander with XK-system

Beitrag von clp560 » 3. Mär 2015, 15:16

Hi Dennis

I've been looking at this today and figured a few things out. Most important is to put a standard Jack (unwired) into the 'send' output of the XK-3. This prevents the sound output of the XK-3 from being transmitted on the 11-pin output. You can turn off 'local' midi but only on the upper manual, unfortunately, so this solves that issue.

I looked again at the block diagram and noticed that the internal Leslie simulation is actually bypassed on the Return/Ext input. However the EQ section is not and neither is the internal reverb. I set all the XK-3 EQ to '0' and the reverb to '0'. For the output of the HX3 I'm using the outer jack (Audio 2 on my Mk3 Expander) and the Configuration (B) is set to B Ped/Amp +B. When a standard Jack lead is connected to the XK-3 Return/Ext the signal is now routed successfully through the 11-pin connector. The XK-3 main volume works normally and the 'Tube Amp' control changes the Amp 122 settings (to model the saturation of the Leslie 122 6550 tube). So far so good...

While the input now works fine the XK-3 internal circuit still adds unwanted colour to the HX3 signal, so simply zeroing the EQ controls doesn't really give a flat response. I had to change the Treble setting in the XK-3 to +9 and this was much better. This will surely vary according to the external Leslie or amp that is used (changing the HX3 EQ treble didn't have much effect).

Incidentally, the Tone control of the XK-3 does affect the HX3 EQ settings but unfortunately not in a controlled incremental way, so the best thing seems to be to EQ the XK-3 how you like it then don't use the Tone control! I had to then go to the 'Preset Load' pages in the XK-3 and turn off the upper/lower link, the EQ and the Reverb settings, otherwise every time you change presets the original XK-3 preset parameters regarding those internal controls get changed, of course. Still, this didn't take much effort and once it's all saved to the SD card in the XK-3 as, say, HX3-setup, then it can all be recalled in the event of things be changed inadvertently later.

So, with a bit of twiddling and tweaking it seems to work and has saved the extra long jack connection to the Leslie - one less thing to take on the road! If I discover any other issues/changes necessary regarding this I'll post it here as and when.

Paul

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