Viscount DB 5
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Viscount DB 5

DB 5, Orgel from Viscount.

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content in English
kaspencer 05/08/2013

Viscount DB 5: Produktbewertung von kaspencer (content in English)

"A lot of organ for the price!"
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The Viscount DB5 is a fully fledged drawbar organ of the type commonly referred to as a "Hammond Clone".
It has two excellent quality 61-note manuals, of the "waterfall" type.
Each manual has a full set of nine drawbars.
There are also two drawbars (16'+8') for the pedals, as 13-note and 25-note pedalboards are available as optional accessories, and the lower manual can be split for lower keyboard bass-playing.
A standard 6-point rotation switch controls chorus and vibrato. There is of course the usual 2nd and 3rd percussion harmonics, which can be adjusted for volume, attack and decay in the usual manner.
The organ has a very acceptable Leslie rotation emulator which has an excellent chorale sound and a good fast rotation effect too.
A set of rotation knobs provide control of reverberation, overdrive, and pedal and lower manual volume in the mix. I felt that the pedal volume was just a little low for my preference.
Presets are provided for upper and lower manuals, as well as 50 memory settings. Presets store only the drawbar settings, whereas memory settings store all selected options.
This organ has a wealth of connection options which will satisfy any musician:
MIDI IN, OUT and THRoUgh via standard DIN sockets; PEDALBOARD socket; AUDIO IN and OUT in STEREO, and MONO through the left channel; EXPRESSION control, two 3/4" jack sockets for CONTROL SWITCHES (e.g. rotor fast & slow and preset switching); an 11 pin standard LESLIE socket for an external Leslie speaker and of course MAINS in.
This organ has full polyphony (required for dual palm glissandi).
Apparently the Viscount DB5 has analogue sound generation, using 91 oscillators (as per the 91 speaking tonewheels of the Hammond B3), but the control system is digital.
The case is walnut and very good-looking, but quite easily scratched! As there are no controls on the top tier, it is easy to mount an additional keyboard on the top (I use my Nord Electro 3 73 note), or the music desk can be attached, as provided.
The organ is bulky, partially because it is full B3 width (many clones are less wide because the controls on the left side of the DB5 manuals are mounted above the keyboards) and quite heavy at 37 kilogrammes.


UTILIZATION

The Preset controls are quite easy to use: these are not keys as per the original B3, but two rows of 8 push-buttons: the leftmost (black) transfers control to the drawbars, whilst pressing one of the other 7 (white) causes transfer to the stored settings for the upper or lower manual+pedals. To store current drawbar settings in a preset, press the leftmost (black) button with the required preset button (white).
Memory Settings are accessed using the Memory button: pressing it loads a memory ready for use ("booked") and causes the memory LED to flash. Pressing the Enter button then causes its settings to be applied, when the LED becomes steady. Thus a memory can be made ready at leisure and activated when required. The +/- buttons enable scrolling through the available 50 memory locations.
Individual presets and memories, or the entire organ, can be reset to factory settings, but unfortunately the factory presets and memory settings do not seem to be provided in the documentation.
The organ has a two-line LCD screen coupled with a set of buttons for controlling the editing of the settings. When first switched on the display reports the operating system version and then overall volume level and the relative boost or cut of the High and Low frequencies. When switched off, the organ remembers the last used settings for the next playing session.
There are a very wide range of adjustments which can be made to all parts of the organ via the following menus:
Scaling: controls of the distance from the tonewheel to the pickup on the B3;
Percussion: the level, duration, upper key limit and attack are adjustable;
Bass: controls sustain, pedalboard accessory, lower manual split and organ model;
Keyclick: attack and release click level and click brightness;
Noise: Leakage and motor noise levels can be set;
Reverberation: many types of reverberation and delay are provided from hall to spring, and each can be set for HF level, volume, decay, and duration;
Rotary: the Leslie simulator can be configured for order (before or after reverb.), chorale and fast rotation speeds and the rise and fall rates between chorale and fast;
Vibrato and Chorus: speed and depth are adjustable via this setting;
Overdrive: the maximum degree of overdrive applied can be set.
The manual is not bad, but I would prefer more explanation of the the technical terms behind the electromagnetic drawbar organ, such as Scaling.
It has been reported that the manual is in German, but mine was in English. Make sure you have the latest edition, version 2.2.


SOUNDS

I consider the Viscount DB5 to be an excellent clone of a B3.
As mentioned, I also have a Nord Electro 3 (76 note), which has a highly thought-of B3 emulation, and I have been able to compare these two instruments very carefully. They are very similar indeed, from drawbars sounds to effects. Many of the sounds are indistinguishable to my ears, and the two Leslie simulators are very comparable.
It may be that the 888888888 settings on the two organs are slightly different, most B3 players would prefer the sound of the Nord Electro on this settings.

OVERALL OPINION

This organ is something like half the price of most of its competitors. But it is a real contender in the Hammond B3 Clone market. Of course it has no "Extra Voices", but in my view if those are required it is better to go the whole hog and get a proper multi-voice keyboard and mount it on top of the DB5's flat top tier.
Very few of these organs are sold (possibly only 5 per annum in the USA, and fewer here in the UK. I have no idea why, because all of the other two manual clones are so much more expensive! Find one, try it and see for yourself. I had to get mine especially imported from Italy by Viscount UK, as one of the UK dealerships was quite reluctant to get hold of one for me. He said he didn't like the sound, but I do not know why he felt like that.