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Thread: Yamaha HX-1 as home organ

  1. #1
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Yamaha HX-1 as home organ

    Just wondering if anybody out there also has a Yamaha HX-1 at home. I've had one for several months and have been using it simply to go over my music for Sunday -- run through some hymns, do a few finger exercises, prep communion music, keep my skills up from week to week. But I've been using a simplistic set of preset sounds that I made up myself using only the built-in voices. Haven't done much reading or experimenting, thought I'd mastered the thing and that it was pretty limited. It's only at the house because I moved last year and sold my Rodgers, which was too big to fit in the new house, and this HX was sitting in the shop unused. It was fairly easy to move home since it breaks down into manageable pieces.

    Another forum member sent me a PM to inquire about a set of disks for the HX, which I dug out of the big box of disks I got with this organ (I got the HX and a heap of documents and disks as payment for a repair on another instrument). I discovered a set of disks containing custom voices and registrations designed by Hector Olivera, of all people!

    Now I had been under the impression that the garden-variety classical organ presets on the basic voicing disk were by Hector, and I had been unimpressed with them, figured this old organ just really didn't cut it as a classical organ. But I was astounded when I loaded up these voices and tried them out. Old Hector was up to his stuff even back in 1989, apparently!

    Anyway, I've gotten a whole new respect for the HX and am now thinking of upgrading the audio system I've got it attached to (a low-power monitor amp and a pair of inexpensive PA speakers) because the 32' pedal reeds and other punchy stuff in these voices stressed my existing audio to the limit!

    If other HX owners are out there, I'd like to know how you're using your machine and what interesting stuff you've discovered.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 ........ at last!
    Home: Allen MADC-420 ...........finally!
    Shop: More organs than I can count.... some working, many not!
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
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  2. #2
    Senior Member geoelectro's Avatar
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    John, as a Yamaha Service Center I have serviced many HX-1's. Recently I was given an HX-3 with no speakers which I have just put in storage until I figure out what I want to do with it. I do have an FX-1 in my music room. It has a pair of rather substantial speakers and has a huge sound. My keyboard setup has high end powered monitors which also gives a huge sound.

    I cannot stress enough that the sound system makes or breaks your sound. The HX-1 will sound as big as your speakers.

    Geo

  3. #3
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    I see the wisdom of that, Geo. After playing around today with Hector's classical voices and presets, I have discovered just how big this organ can sound. I plan to bring home a more powerful amp and some real organ speakers that will do justice to these huge sounds. Even with the limited sound system it's connected to now, it may actually sound better than the organ at church. If it were only a little easier to manipulate on the fly I'd be sold on it. Still looking to bring him a real church organ eventually, but it may be hard to find one that will be as thrilling soundwise!
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 ........ at last!
    Home: Allen MADC-420 ...........finally!
    Shop: More organs than I can count.... some working, many not!
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  4. #4

    I have had a HX-1 for about 6 months now, and I use it mostly for my own amusement. I have spent quite some time studying the technical aspects of this instrument, and it is pretty impressive indeed.

    When comparing the algorithm charts of the HX-1 and other fm synth products, I found out that many are clearly the equivalents of particular Algorithms of both the 6 and 4 Operator DX series synthesizers.
    Some of the 16 OP algorithms are constructed with 4 carriers and 4 output channels, which suggests that it is possible to take 4 different sounds from a yamaha TX81Z synth and put them in a single HX-1 voice, throw some envelopes on them for transition between them, then filters and digital effects.....

    Apparently Yamaha had plans for the HX to be augmented via the MIDI interface, both to program the internal FM voice generators and add extra voices. Somewhere down the road it seems like Yamaha did not quite follow up on these possibilities, and a few pioneers like Hector Olivera and Craig Knudsen brought the system a few steps further with their astounding set of custom voices and registrations. I read somewhere that the key to his revolutionary registrations and voices was a Toshiba T3000 series computer with a software and special hardware to program the voices.

  5. #5
    Newbie Craig Mecak's Avatar
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    I bought a HX-1 off eBay last year and absolutely love it. I'm using not only it's internal sounds, but external via MIDI to trigger my iPad with apps like virtual pipe organs, Garage Band, Sample Tank, Pocket Organ etc. I'm amazed that even the swell pedal works on some apps. I bought an iRig to get MIDI to the iPad.

    I have even taken the MIDI out and put it into a Yamaha MOX8, and am using it as a sound module, with 3 different sounds on 3 different MIDI channels (Upper/Lower/Pedals).

    Cheers,

    Craig,

  6. #6
    Member Larrytow's Avatar
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    John,

    I'm glad to hear that you are exploring your HX-1. There is a LOT to play with on that instrument, but most of it is well hidden in menus and so forth. Nice to hear that it can do church organ well, but I will point out again, It Is Not A Church Organ ! It was never conceived for that purpose, and the fact that it can do some church organ well is great, but there is so much more to it than that. It is well known amongst Yamaha aficionados that the HX-1 is the most difficult Electone to play live, without pre-programming just about every song.

    As far as amps and speakers for it go, Yamaha expected that most users would use a pair of their then current line of KA amplified speaker cabinets with one. Those were the KA-20, KA-30, and KA-40 cabinets. I think they are 150, 200, 300 watts respectively. Those were ( and still are ) great cabinets for organs and keyboards. I have a friend who has a set of both KA-20s and KA-40s for his ELX-1, and they can shake any building !
    Regards, Larry

    At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 2 ), E-5AR ( X 2 ), FX-1, FX-20, EL-25 ( chopped ). Allen organs : T-12B ( available cheap ), 301-B ( Sold to Shannon in da U.P. ), ADC-6000D. A bunch of other Synthesizers and Keyboards. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with VISTA ). Hammond A105. Baldwin 720T. Several various small and medium size pipe organs of many sorts and builders.

  7. #7
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Good assessment, Larry. Pressing it into service as a church organ is a stretch, but these sounds created by Hector are amazing. If I were to sell one of these to a little church (which would obviously not be the best thing to do with it) I'd have to set up 16 presets for them, possibly some others on disk, and probably make a shelf to cover the control panel!

    The polyphonic User Voices in Hector's classical set include an 8' diapason, a 4' + 2' diapason, an 8' diapason with mixture, a tutti with reeds and mixtures and a 16' component, an 8' flute, an 8'4'2 flute blend, an 8' +1' flute, and a string celeste. There are six monophonic sounds usable for the pedals or the lead tone -- subbass 16/8, diapason 16 + flutes 8/4, solo cornet V, solo trumpet, subbass 32/16, and tutti pedal with 32' reed.

    Everyone reading this thread knows more about this organ than I do, but from what I can tell, for each manual you can combine any two polyphonic user voices (one on the orchestral button, another on the percussive button even though they are not percussion sounds). And you can adjust the brilliance and volume of each user voice separately. Then blend in a little or a lot of the AWM pipe organ sound via the AWM button, and add your choice of sine wave tones via the Combi button. Of course, nothing says you can't use the strings or other existing voices as part of your palette as well! Any one or more of these can be run through the celeste or delay or other effects, and the overall sound given more or less reverb.

    A typical rich full foundation preset might include (1) the 8' diapason with mixture, (2) the 8-4-2 flute blend, (3) the onboard AWM pipe organ patch at about 1/3 volume, (4) sine waves at 2, 1 1/3, and 1. In the pedal you can only combine two voices, so for this setup you might use the pipe bass patch at 1/2 volume plus the subbass 32/16. To scale upward from this, substitute the tutti patches in the manual and the pedal and bump up the volume of the other components. To scale downward, lower the levels incrementally, remove the AWM pipe patch, move down from the 8 w/mixture to the 4/2 diapason, etc. It's not as hard as it sounds, but it is time-consuming and it helps to plan it out on paper before you start!

    So, it's far too complex to make registration changes on the fly, other than perhaps reaching up to turn one of the buttons on or off (if you can remember what you've got on that button at a given time!). But with 16 presets, I find that I can set up an abundance of useful registrations, though it can obviously take a LONG time to set up each registration with all the options in each one.

    The 16 classical presets on the disk are pretty useful, though not really set up the way I would do it. I'm working on a set with 8 ascending levels of ensemble tone -- starting with soft celestes and building to tutti -- plus 8 solo registrations with some accompanimental sounds on one manual and a reed, percussion, cornet, or other solo stop on the other.

    This obviously involves a lot more work than just setting up some good combinations on the capture action of a typical church organ. I'm spending time doing this that I should spend on practicing, but it's still fun right now.

    Anybody have an idea what an HX is worth if I decide to let it go and bring home one of my used church organs? I actually had someone interested in it locally over the weekend, but I'm not ready to make that move yet.

    Y'all have a good day!
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 ........ at last!
    Home: Allen MADC-420 ...........finally!
    Shop: More organs than I can count.... some working, many not!
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  8. #8

    Hi!

    I have owned a Yamaha HX-1 System 1 since 1988 or so n I couldn't imagine life without it! - My top B natural pedal doesn't work and I have no idea what to do about that .. any thoughts?

  9. #9
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Probably a bad contact switch on that note. If you're so inclined, you might carefully open up the pedalboard assembly. I've never done this, so I can't tell you what you might find. The cure might suggest itself once you get inside (replace a reed switch, for example, if that is what you find, or repair a broken wire or solder joint or glue a magnet back on).

    Sorry I don't know any more about this model in spite of having one in the house! The one I own happens to be the only one I've ever seen.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 ........ at last!
    Home: Allen MADC-420 ...........finally!
    Shop: More organs than I can count.... some working, many not!
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  10. #10
    Member Kurzweil's Avatar
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    I've opened that pedal assembly and watch out for two little plastic pins with larger heads at one end. They connect to the actual contacts from the pedals and provide the velocity information. If you drop one out, AWM and other non-organ voices will sound at full volume regardless of pedal pressure (the pedal board is velocity sensitive and is used for things like throwing in timpani or a cymbal crash). I am happy to report that this instrument enjoys the same fine resale value as any well made home organ with first rate engineering in it. Almost nothing. I struggled for months finding a buyer at $500 and agreed to deliver it to the next state in the bargain. Due to one of those pins missing, we had a "bad" pedal note, this mattered to the buyer, and I was out of time. And space, as I was picking up its replacement, an AtT-90r, in the same trip. Ended up selling it for $300 even though both of us felt that the problem was probably minor. Turned out to be true but I had allowed him the cost of a professional repair, just in case.

    They are marvelously well made, probably the best thing Yamaha ever made at the time. It was sharing technology with the award winning DX-7 FM synthesizer but the HX-1 took FM synthesis to places the DX-7 never dreamed of (16 operators vs. 6). Parts of the case, around the control panel, are a bit on the fragile side so handle with care.

    By the way, if BOTH pins were missing on that B-natural, that alone would account for your dead note. If you use only organ bass, which has no velocity component, you could steal a pin from the adjacent 'C'.
    Last edited by Kurzweil; 08-01-2013 at 03:28 PM.
    Roland Atelier AT-90s, AT-80s, AT-60r, and AT-15(which is an s). Roland VR-760 organ/synth/piano
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