Dex­i­bell J7 Dig­i­tal Or­gan

The J7 has a ver­sa­tile sound­set and some unique fea­tures, in­clud­ing mo­torised draw­bars! Dan ‘JD73’ Gold­man in­ves­ti­gates

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

The ded­i­cated ‘clonewheel’ or­gan mar­ket is al­ready pretty crowded, but the combo mar­ket which in­cludes Ham­mond’s SK1-73, Nord’s new Elec­tro 6 and Stage 3, Roland’s VR-730 and Vox’s new Con­ti­nen­tal, is get­ting busier by the minute. Re­cently, I was im­pressed by Dex­i­bell’s Vivo S7 pi­ano and so I was very happy to be able to re­view the Combo J7, which com­bines or­gan with other bread and but­ter sounds.

Build-wise, ev­ery­thing (knobs, switchgear etc) seems very sturdy and built to last and, like Nord’s of­fer­ings, the case is all tough painted metal. The J7 is also adorned with some great-look­ing sculpted wooden, wal­nut-stained ends, which make lift­ing the J7 easy. Thank­fully, it’s pretty light­weight too, weigh­ing in at just 10kg/22lbs (the same as my Nord Stage 3 Com­pact). The keybed also feels al­most iden­ti­cal to the Nord Stage 3 Com­pact – both use Fatar’s TP-80, 73-note wa­ter­fall keybed (though the J7 misses af­ter­touch).

T1 has a rich low end and a nicely cut­ting high end with slightly scooped mids

Re­gard­less, it’s emi­nently playable both for fast or­gan play­ing (it han­dles sin­gle note re­peats/glisses very well) and for play­ing pi­anos and synths.

I’m bet­ting that most folks will be pur­chas­ing the J7 for its or­gan sec­tion, so that’s go­ing to be my fo­cus here. As men­tioned ear­lier, there are two tonewheel mod­els on­board which use Dex­i­bell’s T2L sam­pling and mod­el­ling sys­tem. The first is a B3-type or­gan routed through a tonewheel (Les­lie) cab­i­net, while the sec­ond is a tonewheel or­gan routed through ‘built-in speak­ers’, (which I pre­sume is more like a Ham­mond A100). Both mod­els sound pretty au­then­tic (T1 sounds fat­ter, while T2 sounds thin­ner) and you get four parts to play with (4-part multi-tim­bral), all ad­dress­able in­de­pen­dently over MIDI. This is great as it means you can eas­ily set up a two man­ual (up­per and lower) plus pedal part (as on a real B3).

How­ever! Be aware that there’s only one phys­i­cal MIDI in­put on the J7, so you can’t have a MIDI ped­al­board and an ex­ter­nal sec­ond MIDI con­troller key­board con­nected si­mul­ta­ne­ously – a sec­ond MIDI in­put would have al­lowed greater flex­i­bil­ity here for true 3-part play­ing (though ad­mit­tedly, like the NS3, this isn’t a ded­i­cated ‘clonewheel’ like the C2D or Vis­count Leg­end). A MIDI split­ter box might solve this. Note that you can also layer or­gan with any of the other tones on­board, which is handy!

In terms of son­ics, T1 (Tonewheel 1) is my favourite model. It has a rich low end and a nicely cut­ting high end with slightly scooped mids, though the mids (and the highs and lows) can all be EQed sep­a­rately to get the over­all tone more in the B3 ball­park.

Next to my Nord Stage 3, the gen­eral Ham­mond tone doesn’t feel quite as au­then­tic and ballsy but it’s solid all the same. The same can be said for the Cho­rus/Vi­brato em­u­la­tion – it’s solid but not quite deep or vibey enough next to my real B3 and Nord (but maybe this can be firm-ware-up­dated). I do love the con­tin­u­ously vari­able key click (on/off), leak­age and hum lev­els, (which re­ally add to the au­then­tic­ity). In ad­di­tion, you can tweak the horn bal­ances and ramp/ static speeds for the ro­tary speaker and there’s also some su­per-au­then­tic ro­tary noise that can be blended in to add some air and whirl to your sound!

The ro­tary gen­er­ally sounds great and it has a brake mode too to stop the ro­tors com­pletely. The stereo panorama could be a bit wider (and when fly­ing at full speed, the Les­lie can sound a lit­tle bit too wob­bly or tremolo-ish) but once again it’s still very good and can be foot con­trolled too (along with ex­pres­sion). The over­drive sounds good, and adds some wel­come breakup and tex­ture to the static sound, though it’s a shame there’s no ded­i­cated over­drive dial. Fi­nally, let’s not for­get the in­cluded tran­sis­tor and pipe or­gan em­u­la­tions – th­ese are also nicely au­then­tic, and there are plenty of pre­set sounds and draw­bar reg­is­tra­tions to play with too.

In terms of the bread and but­ter sounds, you have 105 other tones which are lifted di­rectly from the S7. Th­ese in­clude acous­tic/elec­tric pi­anos, clavs, vibes, marimba, acous­tic strings and many var­ied synth tones (in­clud­ing synth basses, leads, brass, su­per-saws and poly-pads). To recap, th­ese sam­ples were all taken at 24-bit 48kHz, with up to 15 sec­ond sam­ples for the lower notes. The pi­anos sound par­tic­u­larly solid and the sym­pa­thetic res­o­nance, note-off noise and pedal noise re­ally add to the au­then­tic vibe. The elec­tric pi­anos also sound good in a mix, though the at­tacks on the tine pi­anos are a bit soft/mushy (for solo­ing at least). Re­gard­less, they’re nicely dy­namic with con­trol avail­able for the bell, growl and cab­i­net res­o­nance el­e­ments – add some re­verb, auto-pan­ning and a lit­tle over­drive/phaser and you’re all set for mak­ing clas­sic EP sounds.

This is a pow­er­ful, well-built piece of kit that gen­er­ally sounds solid next to the com­pe­ti­tion. As Dex­i­bell’s first foray into the combo or­gan mar­ket, it’s all the more im­pres­sive.

Tonewhel Or­gans

The two tonewheel or­gan em­u­la­tions can be routed through the ro­tary, plus the cho­rus/vi­brato and over­drive ef­fects. Four Parts

It is 4-part mul­ti­tim­bral with up­per, lower, pedal and cou­pled (lay­ered) parts. Each part can be ad­dressed sep­a­rately over MIDI. knob­sand­con­trols

The con­trol knobs change func­tion de­pend­ing on the se­lected mode plus they can send and re­ceive MIDI too. Conec­tiv­ity

In­cludes L/R jack out­puts, as­sign­a­ble footswitch and ex­pres­sion pedal sock­ets, MIDI In, Out and Thru and an au­dio in socket.

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