Divine sounding - and waaay easier to haul to gigs than a real Hammond's B3 organ.


The sound of the venerable Hammond B3 organ is familiar to anyone who's listened to popular music in the last 40 years. From R&B and gospel to the strains of Jimmy Smith and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, the sonic weight of the B3 still packs a punch-as does the physical weight of this monstrous beast. Native Instruments' B4 II is the most accurate, pleasing software version of an actual B3 that we've ever heard, and it weighs in at hundreds of pounds less than the real McCoy.


Delivered as a standalone app or as an Audio Units and VST plugin, B4 II is a snap to install and a joy to play. Unlike many other software synths, B4 II is designed to do one thing and do it exceptionally well-emulate the sound of the original instrument. The aural authenticity is nothing short of amazing-it's eerily close to actual B3s that we've played, with all the features of the real thing and then some, including 120 presets that show off the range of the B3. The tone-changing drawbars from the real hardware are placed right where they belong in B4 II's interface, and they can be programmed to respond to MIDI-controller values. Native Instruments also offers the ultimate hardware accessory, the B4D Drawbar Controller ($339; $449 when bundled with B4 II), which sports real drawbars and other controls specifically designed for B4 II. We tested B4 II in GarageBand and Ableton Live, and it displayed low latency and perfect stability. We won't hesitate to use it for live performances.


For this version, Native Instruments added a beefed-up tube-emulation feature that lets you overdrive the sound for that perfect organic recreation of the dirtiest Deep Purple "Hush" snarl. For vintage-keyboard geeks, the B4 II also packs in some nice simulations of other classic keyboards, including the Farfisa and Vox Continental-very useful in a retro-music setting. The much-improved Leslie rotating-speaker code (an essential part of the B3 mystique) and a decent variety of virtual speaker cabinets round out the tonal-tweaking possibilities.


The bottom line. The B4 II is darned close to being the perfect plug-in for creating the next classic-rock or R&B hit. It easily earns its Editors' Choice award.


COMPANY: Native Instruments

CONTACT: 866-556-6487, www.native-instruments.com

PRICE: $229, $99 (upgrade)

REQUIREMENTS: 733MHz G4, Mac OS 10.3 or later, 256MB RAM

Excellent Hammond B3 sound. Low latency. Gritty overdrive.

Nothing significant.



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I`ve come that close to buying a tonewheel Hammond before coming to my senses and thinking about the hassle and the lifting, spare parts, capable electricians etc. that a real Hammond would entail. Then as if by magic, here I am with a mighty B3 in the comfort of my own bouduoir, giving the neighbours more Uriah Heep than they can handle and 35 years of wanting to know what it would be like to play a tonewheel Hammond has been more than satisfied. This piece of software is just ***kin` amazing ! Don`t think about it- buy it now!!

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