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Another Reedless Accordion Review (Orla Quartet)

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  • Hans Palm
    (Another try, had word wrap on before) Inspired by Ventura, here s my review of the Orla Quartet Reedless Virtual Accordion. I m trying to follow Ventura s
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 31, 2003
      (Another try, had word wrap on before)

      Inspired by Ventura, here's my review of the Orla Quartet Reedless Virtual Accordion.
      I'm trying to follow Ventura's template for comparision but using only one brief posting.
      My original idea was to post on my webpage, related to http://www.accordionpage.com/reedless.html
      but now I'm posting here instead.

      Overview:

      "Just" spent about one year with the Orla Quartet Reedless Virtual Accordion.
      A full review follows this introduction.


      On the scale of 1 through 10, I'll place the current technical
      level of this reedless, as compared to a professional acoustic,
      as follows:

      bellows sensitivity 5
      overall tone 5
      touch 9

      Part zero - problems with Orla quality and support:

      The accordion was in a bad condition when it arrived. The key switches were
      not correctly mounted. The keys on both the left and right hand side got stuck
      and the keys requried to be pushed a very long way (several millimeters) before
      a sound was produced. On an acoustic accordion, sound is produced after only
      fractions of a millimeter. I decided to rectify this myself and this has worked
      perfectly since then. Orla claims that they've changed their routines since then.

      I've experienced problems with the bellows sensitivity, see below and some other
      minor problems. Orla has promised me new firmware a long ago to rectify this
      but this was a false promise and they don't answer any of my questions anymore.
      This is the worst kind of custumer support and I can't recommend them.

      Part one - Touch:

      Simply feels like a real accordion but lighter. The key mechanism is rather loud
      and this could be improved rather easily.

      Part 2: Sound

      There are 290 sounds and 40 accordion sounds available using the XM20 sound
      card that is in an external box together with PSU, MIDI connections and audio out+
      headphones connections.

      The non accordion sounds are not first class but decent. The accordion sounds
      are just decent but some of them sounds like bad tuned and they have problems
      with the range. I've got a 52 key chromatic version (more than 4 octaves in the right hand)
      and the sounds seems to be produced for only 3 octaves or less, they sound awful
      in the end of the range depending on the octave settings and have audible differences
      between adjacent notes. If you're aware of this, it's OK but an external sound module
      of better quality is highly recommended.

      The reverb level is not adjustable (maybe through an external MIDI controller but
      I've asked Orla about 5 times and they've never answered) and this is a problem
      when playing fast tunes, too much reverb.

      The sound from the headphones connection is awful, too loud and noisy and there's
      no volume control. I've tried more than 5 different headphones with the same result
      so now I'm using the stereo outputs connected to a mixer with headphones connection.

      Part 3: Implementation

      Without going into details, it's easy to set up sounds on either the standard accordion stops
      (5 bass, 12 treble) or using the extra control panel (small rubber switches). There's an
      "overall preset" function that enables you to use the 12 standard accordion stops as master
      switches to set up the sounds on four different sections, bass, chord, treble and treble 2, all
      sections with a separate volume slider.

      The bellows sensibility may be switched on/off for each section and also has two "curves",
      normal or hard. One major problem is that when switched off, the MIDI implementation
      uses a velocity value of 128 but when switched on, it requires a lot of force to reach levels
      of about half of that. In effect, there's a big problem with the relative levels on the volume
      sliders. I've asked Orla several times about this but they just claim "no complaints from
      other users". They have promised me a firmware update but for several months they
      don't answer my email and I''ve given up on them.

      Part 4: Construction and Tech talk
      Apart from the mounting problems of the switch sensors (magnetic), the bellows
      sensitivity, and the headphones connection, the electronics seems to be of professional
      quality. The extra control panel uses cheap rubber switches that sometimes get stuck in
      the hole (Orla claims that the hole dimension may be increased) and most people will only
      use them occasionally and use the "overall presets" most of the time.

      MIDI seems to work OK (In, out1 and out2 on the external box) apart from the problems
      with the bellows sensibility. You can't switch sounds in the middle of playing, a lot of
      MIDI messages seems to be sent and it doesn't sound nice. In effect, you must
      wait a while before swtiching to a new sound.

      The response of the keys is excellent (after my adjustments, see part zero).

      Part 5 - The Digital ying-yang:

      See Ventura's text. I'm using it for practising using headphones. The ideal
      solution would be a fully portable unit using batteries, replacable/programmable
      internal sounds and internal headphones and MIDI outputs (perhaps also speakers).

      Part 6: how does it work

      Not going into details, see http://www.accordionpage.com/reedless.html and the links.
      There are specs and sound samples available.

      Conclusion:

      Orla has developed a rather nice reedless. The sounds may be improved to be more
      in tune an cover a larger range without any sound artefacts between adjacent notes.
      If properly mounted (see part zero), the key response is excellent. The bellows
      response is not OK but this should be easy to correct by Orla. The headphones
      connection is totally unusable, I can't understand how this can happen.
      With a few rather small technical and quality improvements, Orla will have an
      excellent reedless accordion. BUT, their support is awful. They answer only
      parts of your questions and then completely stops the support.

      My recommendation is if you're able to rectify the switch problems and are aware
      of the other problems, you may be satiesfied with this product. I'm using it
      at home for practising and it works OK but I wouldn't recommend it for
      professional use on stage.

      Also note that the only way to buy this was to "gamble" since Orla wouldn't give
      me a possibility to return it. I bought it through the Swedish importer but he
      couldn't take it back either since this is a rather special product and it's hard
      to find another buyer. If you're interested, try it in a shop or make sure that
      you're able to get your money back if you're not completely satisfied.

      Hans Palm
      http://www.accordionpage.com
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