(VST 2.0, MOTU MAS and Digidesign DirectConnect)

I recently had the pleasure of using Native Instrument's Hammond B3 plug-in appropriately dubbed the B4. For those of you like me, who have lusted after the unique character and mystique that has surrounded this most famous of Hammond organs; yet have found nothing but disappointment in the literally thousands of attempts that have been made to emulate it with hardware synth patches, you are in luck - this virtual instrument nails it perfectly. NI has done an amazing job at replicating every subtle, but absolutely essential nuance of the B3 sound. The B4 features 91 tonewheels, 9 drawbars per manual, percussive and keyclick parameters; plus rotary speaker and tube distortion effects - all infinitely adjustable and nicely laid out in a wonderfully rendered visual interface that's easy to use. The presets that come with it are fabulous, reflecting what made the original B3 so wonderful, yet seemingly impossible to emulate until now. Listen carefully and you can hear the gentle "wush-wush" of air swirling around that only a fixed, rotary speaker can create. Be amazed at the low throb, growl and shriek that a 6L6 tubed amp can produce with the gain set to "stun." It's all baked in there and ready to tweak to your heart's content. You can even use the B4 as an insert effect; in case you want to apply just the tube overdrive and rotary speaker effect to a guitar or perhaps piano track. This is as close to the real deal as anything I've ever heard. I am admittedly giddy over this new toy, so I must go now and practice my Booker T. Jones riffs. ($239 street price, www.native- instruments.de)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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