As a very regular (and happy) user of Native Instruments simulated Hammond organ, the B4, it was nice to see them release a set of add-on sounds for this indispensable "virtual instrument". The new sets include some definitely non-Hammond sounds like the Vox Continental, a Farfisa and a nice rendition of a harmonium. In addition, they've included some new variations on the basic B3 - this time by emulating the condition of aging - an approximation of what happens to the sound when the internal amplifier's filter capacitors start to degrade. The result is some progressively distorted and wheezy tones. Beyond that, they've added a feature left out of the original B4 release that many users clamored for: tuning variations. In addition to the standard, fixed tuning frequency of 440 Hz, you can now set it to 436, 444, 448 and 452. In a nod to ease of access, this update puts all the new sounds into a drop-down list from the main menu. Out of all the new tones, I found the harmonium most useful, as I hadn't found any samples yet that reasonably captured the unique quality of this reed-based keyboard instrument. The tuning variations are a big plus, but frankly they should have been included in the original release, or at least as part of the recent 1.1 update to registered users. As in the original B4, the sound quality is excellent and the several additional instruments provide some nice variations. So the question is one of value: is it worth paying $99 (around 50% of the original B4's price) to get these new features? That's a tough call. Personally, I feel that if this package had been priced around $70, I could give it an unqualified endorsement. (

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

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