So, The new Hammond XK-5 eh? We have waited a while for this, and for good reason, under the hood much has changed. Much has been said too in the technical media about this new offering and as I haven’t yet got my hands on one I will curate opinion for you in these pages. Most of the people that I have spoken to either in person or on-line have hailed this new model as the closest thing to come to an original C3 yet. I bear in mind that they said that about the XK3 and XK3c too so the jury is out for the moment. I intent to pop and see Barrie soon and do a full shakedown of the Organ and will report back.
So what do we know so far, well here it is next to its younger brother
Very nice. Straight away we see that it has the extra drawbars of the C3, something lacking in the XK3c. I wonder how much they will be used however? You will note that the assignable knobs are no longer there (as they were on the predecessor). I use them for key click, bass/treble, MISI volume, reverb depth and length. I do know however, that the drawbars can be used to send MIDI messages which is quite neat. Each drawbar can act as a volume knob for a MIDI channel which is a different but cool way of doing things.
Lets get closer
Here we see the absence of the assignable knobs but interestingly with the exception of my MIDI assignment Hammond have built in all of the things that I set the knobs to do anyway, I wonder how many of you used those knobs in the same way. Its good to see also what looks like a sweepable mid parametric in the Master Equalizer section, overdrive “depth” is an interesting phrase but I guess that means “amount”?
What’s new on the other end Nick?
Well lets see now, its all pretty standard stuff here mostly the same as the XK3c but with a few extra tweaks to increase the versatility of the device. Transpose up/down, well yes or learn to play it properly etc…but will certainly be useful when playing outboard gear by MIDI instead of getting under the hood of a small LCD screen. It makes it more playable live, certainly I’ve been impressed that the XK3c even had a MIDI port and clearly there is some semblance of after thought with it but its quite powerful if you take the time to programme it, this change on the XK-5 then is designed to bring control to your fingertips (without the manual in your soloing hand!)
Finally, what extra control is on offer to us:Dropping the Model number is interesting but I do like the addition of the Leslie logo by the port. Left to right then the flashcard port has been replaced with a USB socket, makes sense really although I do like the fact that you can store you backup (copy) inside the organ so if the XK3c has a nightmare and fogets itself (not unknown) you can restore live (I have done this). USB is much more convenient a technology but you cannot keep it plugged in, even whilst travelling. Moving on there is the usual MIDI sockets and expression pedal. Its nice that they have put these together as it will make the connecting up to the lower manual far neater. Foot pedal controllers as standard (2 of) lovely, now with polarity switch to increase compatibility, stereo line out and a small jack headphone socket – not sure how I feel about that but most people will use iPhone ear buds etc.. I guess?). the Leslie socket is the current standard and will carry signal plus slow/fast/stop as usual.
Hammond UK have confirmed that the XK-5 will connect to the previous model Lower Manual as well as the new system so this means that its not going to cost you an arm and a let to upgrade, just an arm.. The new key contact system featured in the XK-5 (which I will discuss next time) will obviously not feature in the previous model Lower Manual so it will be interesting to feel the extent of the difference in the key bed.
These are my views, next time I will reproduce the official information along with what my peers are saying and I can give you advanced warning that I will tell you how much it costs. You can have a while to get ready for this, nice sit down and a sweet cup of tea etc.. the fact of the matter is that this (these) devices are peerless and as a flagship …its gonna cost you. Which All in I think is fair play really. anyway, more on that later
For now then,