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Leslie speaker

Leslie speaker

Overview
The Leslie speaker is a specially constructed amplifier
Amplifier
Generally, an amplifier or simply amp, is a device for increasing the power of a signal.In popular use, the term usually describes an electronic amplifier, in which the input "signal" is usually a voltage or a current. In audio applications, amplifiers drive the loudspeakers used in PA systems to...

/loudspeaker
Loudspeaker
A loudspeaker is an electroacoustic transducer that produces sound in response to an electrical audio signal input. Non-electrical loudspeakers were developed as accessories to telephone systems, but electronic amplification by vacuum tube made loudspeakers more generally useful...

 used to create special audio effects using the Doppler effect
Doppler effect
The Doppler effect , named after Austrian physicist Christian Doppler who proposed it in 1842 in Prague, is the change in frequency of a wave for an observer moving relative to the source of the wave. It is commonly heard when a vehicle sounding a siren or horn approaches, passes, and recedes from...

. Named after its inventor, Donald Leslie
Donald Leslie
Donald James Leslie, created and manufactured the Leslie speaker that refined the sound of the Hammond organ and helped popularize electronic music....

, it is particularly associated with the Hammond organ
Hammond organ
The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

 but is used with a variety of instruments as well as vocals. The Hammond/Leslie combination has become an element in many genres of music. The Leslie Speaker and the Hammond Organ brand
Brand
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."...

s are currently owned by Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation
Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation
is a Japanese company that produces a range of musical instruments.-History:Suzuki was founded in 1953, as a harmonica manufacturer.Suzuki's western U.S...

.


Don Leslie, at the outset, was refused hire by the Hammond Organ
Hammond organ
The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

 Company, but did work for the local electric company, in a contract with Hammond, to replace the old fifty cycle rotor tone generators
Tonewheel
A tonewheel is a simple electromechanical apparatus for generating electronic musical notes. The tonewheel assembly consists of a synchronous AC motor and an associated gearbox that drives a series of rotating disks...

 with the new sixty cycle units, in customers' homes.
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Encyclopedia
The Leslie speaker is a specially constructed amplifier
Amplifier
Generally, an amplifier or simply amp, is a device for increasing the power of a signal.In popular use, the term usually describes an electronic amplifier, in which the input "signal" is usually a voltage or a current. In audio applications, amplifiers drive the loudspeakers used in PA systems to...

/loudspeaker
Loudspeaker
A loudspeaker is an electroacoustic transducer that produces sound in response to an electrical audio signal input. Non-electrical loudspeakers were developed as accessories to telephone systems, but electronic amplification by vacuum tube made loudspeakers more generally useful...

 used to create special audio effects using the Doppler effect
Doppler effect
The Doppler effect , named after Austrian physicist Christian Doppler who proposed it in 1842 in Prague, is the change in frequency of a wave for an observer moving relative to the source of the wave. It is commonly heard when a vehicle sounding a siren or horn approaches, passes, and recedes from...

. Named after its inventor, Donald Leslie
Donald Leslie
Donald James Leslie, created and manufactured the Leslie speaker that refined the sound of the Hammond organ and helped popularize electronic music....

, it is particularly associated with the Hammond organ
Hammond organ
The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

 but is used with a variety of instruments as well as vocals. The Hammond/Leslie combination has become an element in many genres of music. The Leslie Speaker and the Hammond Organ brand
Brand
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."...

s are currently owned by Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation
Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation
is a Japanese company that produces a range of musical instruments.-History:Suzuki was founded in 1953, as a harmonica manufacturer.Suzuki's western U.S...

.

History



Don Leslie, at the outset, was refused hire by the Hammond Organ
Hammond organ
The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

 Company, but did work for the local electric company, in a contract with Hammond, to replace the old fifty cycle rotor tone generators
Tonewheel
A tonewheel is a simple electromechanical apparatus for generating electronic musical notes. The tonewheel assembly consists of a synchronous AC motor and an associated gearbox that drives a series of rotating disks...

 with the new sixty cycle units, in customers' homes. The speaker's first name, in 1941, was the "Vibratone." (The name was used later by Fender Guitar Company for a speaker system and effects unit containing a Leslie rotating speaker. Fender also used the name "Leslie" after Leslie sold his company, in 1965, to CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

, which had also acquired Fender.) From 1941, when the first units were produced, the speaker went by several names including "Brittain Speakers", "Hollywood Speakers" and "Crawford Speakers", before returning to the name "Leslie Vibratone" in 1946. Seventeen years after it had rejected him, Leslie offered to sell the company to Hammond. After thirty days he had heard no word from Hammond. Don Leslie said: "After seventeen years, the thirty day period is up. Too late".

In 1980, the Hammond Corporation finally bought Electro Music and the Leslie name from CBS. To this day it remains part of Hammond under Hammond Suzuki, USA .

Leslie never advertised his speakers. After demonstrating a prototype (a rotating baffle in a hole in a small closet with a big speaker in the closet near Leslie's home organ) with Bob Mitchell, an organist with radio station KFI near Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, a contract was made to install another prototype in the station's studios, where Mitchell would be the only organist authorized to use it. Mitchell was so impressed that he even tried to patent the speaker, but discovered that he couldn't. Soon afterwards, Mitchell became an organist with the Mutual Broadcasting System
Mutual Broadcasting System
The Mutual Broadcasting System was an American radio network, in operation from 1934 to 1999. In the golden age of U.S. radio drama, MBS was best known as the original network home of The Lone Ranger and The Adventures of Superman and as the long-time radio residence of The Shadow...

, and played a Hammond with the Leslie on its shows. The national exposure was swift and sure. Organists, professional and amateur alike, wanted to have "that sound". Jazz organist Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith (musician)
Jimmy Smith was a jazz musician whose performances on the Hammond B-3 electric organ helped to popularize this instrument...

 helped to popularize "that sound" among rock-n-roll musicians in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The Leslie of that time was over sixty inches tall (about the size of a modern refrigerator), and was named the 30A. Don Leslie made a whole series based on the 30A, called "Tall Boys" (31 series). In the 1950s, Leslie introduced the 21H for use in homes, concert hall venues and smaller radio sound stages.

Today, Leslie parts are available from a number of sources. There are also websites with plans (and photographic examples) for constructing a Leslie speaker, with much improved electronics and speakers. On the web, one can see a 500 W high performance Leslie.

The classic Leslie is still made and sold to this day, though similar effects can now be obtained via analogue electronic devices and digital emulation. Chorus and phase shifter devices can mimic the sounds produced by a Leslie speaker; in fact, early phase shifters like the Uni-Vibe were specifically marketed as low-cost Leslie substitutes for guitarists, and used a foot-operated fast/slow switch. Although the sound of a Leslie speaker heard in person is quite distinct, some digital emulations of the Leslie Doppler effect have become virtually indistinguishable from the sound of a recorded Leslie speaker.

Design



Unlike a high fidelity
High fidelity
High fidelity—or hi-fi—reproduction is a term used by home stereo listeners and home audio enthusiasts to refer to high-quality reproduction of sound or images, to distinguish it from the poorer quality sound produced by inexpensive audio equipment...

 loudspeaker, the Leslie is specifically designed, via reproduction of the Doppler effect, to alter or modify sound. Although there have been many variations over the years, the classic Leslie speaker consists of two driver units - a treble unit with horns, and a bass unit, and a crossover that divided the frequencies between the horn and the woofer. The key feature is that both the horns (in reality one working horn with a dummy to counter-balance it) and a sound baffle or scoop for the bass are electrically rotated to create 'Doppler effect
Doppler effect
The Doppler effect , named after Austrian physicist Christian Doppler who proposed it in 1842 in Prague, is the change in frequency of a wave for an observer moving relative to the source of the wave. It is commonly heard when a vehicle sounding a siren or horn approaches, passes, and recedes from...

 based' vibrato, tremolo and chorus effects. The rotating elements can be stopped, switched between slow (chorale) and fast (tremolo), or transitioned between the two settings. To stop a Leslie's rotor, a special brake circuit was added to the Leslie motor controls that incorporated a tube relay, which sent the rotors into chorale before cutting power from the rotors to bring them to a quicker stop. Solid state relays now make this possible. A three position switch must be used to allow the rotors to "brake" on a two speed Leslie. Some other model Leslies had no slow motor and were basically one speed, "fast" or "off."

Much of the Leslie's unique tone is owed to the fact that the system is at least partially enclosed, but with linear louvres along the sides and front so that the unit can vent the sound from within the box after the sound has bounced around inside, mellowing it. . The tone is also affected by the wood used. Tone differences due to cost cutting using particle board for speaker and rotor shelves instead of the previous plywood, are evident in the Leslie's sound. The thinner ply of the top of the cabinet adds a certain resonance as well. Like an acoustic instrument, a Leslie's tone is defined by its cabinet design and construction, the amp and speakers used, the motors, and not merely by the spinning of rotors.

Model 16


The smallest Leslie is the Leslie Model 16, made in 1970. It has a Fender-like speaker body and a rotating foam dispersion block. It was built for rough club touring, was portable, and had "Leslie" written on the front. It was also released later as Fender/CBS's "Vibratone". Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stephen Ray "Stevie Ray" Vaughan was an American electric blues guitarist and singer. He was the younger brother of Jimmie Vaughan and frontman for Double Trouble, a band that included bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton. Born in Dallas, Vaughan moved to Austin at the age of 17 and...

 used this model on the song "Cold Shot" from the album Couldn't Stand The Weather
Couldn't Stand the Weather
Couldn't Stand the Weather is the second studio album by American blues rock band Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. It was released on May 15, 1984 by Epic Records as the follow-up to the band's critically and commercially successful 1983 album Texas Flood. Recording sessions took place in...

. It can also be heard on Cream
Cream (band)
Cream were a 1960s British rock supergroup consisting of bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, guitarist/vocalist Eric Clapton, and drummer Ginger Baker...

's "Badge
Badge (song)
"Badge" is a song performed by Cream, written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison. It was included as a track on Cream's final album, Goodbye. Peaking at number 60 on Billboard's Hot 100, "Badge" was a minor hit after its release as a single in April 1969...

" and Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter...

' "Little Wing
Little Wing
"Little Wing" is a song written by Jimi Hendrix. It was first recorded by The Jimi Hendrix Experience on their 1967 album Axis: Bold as Love...

".

Model 25


An earlier model, essentially a single speed 125. Like its successor, the 25 has one 12" speaker pointed into a single wooden baffle. These Leslies are relatively inexpensive, and in recent years have been made popular with guitarists wanting to achieve effects similar to that of Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd were an English rock band that achieved worldwide success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music. Their work is marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. Pink Floyd are one of the most commercially...

.

Model 122


The Model 122 is the classic two speed 40 Watt tone cabinet most commonly used with Hammond console organs, such as the B3, C3 and A100 models. Some organists connect two or more of these to their organ for a louder and more widely-spaced "surround" effect. A modern reproduction is the model 122A. This is the Leslie of choice for recording studios or other sonically demanding applications due to the quiet operation of the Model 122's differential signal input design. Leslie Model 142 is identical to Model 122, except that it is housed in a 33" tall cabinet, and thus slightly easier to transport than the 41" tall Model 122, with a different overall sound, that being of less but tighter bass.

Model 122 RV



This unit has the same amp, speakers, motors, 6 pin Leslie cable, as the 122 with the addition of a dedicated tube reverb amp and an extra reverb speaker. The reverb amp is located next to the treble rotor in an enlarged upper cavity to compensate for the amp, which shortens the bass rotor speaker cavity slightly, keeping the RV the same overall dimensions as the 122. The reverb amp, tapping AC off the 122 amp from a stock AC outlet set aside for a reverb amp, receives an audio signal taken off the Leslie crossover. The reverberant signal then feeds a single Jensen 6x9 speaker situated within the bass speaker cavity with its own enclosure to seal it off from the 15 inch bass speaker. The 6x9 vents to smaller louvers, cut on either side of the Leslie cabinet situated just under the top rotor louvers. But only one set of smaller louvers has any signal. The other side is blocked off with a plate and for all intents looks to be there for decoration and visual balance. No one knows for certain why Leslie did this for the 122 RV as other models like the 222 RV had dual 6x9's. Part of the design for the 122 RV, the 6x9 speaker mount location incorporates two round openings that vent into the upper rotor cavity, through the wood shelf, just under the treble rotor. These two holes catch the 6x9's reverb sound coming off the special 6x9 enclosure as the speaker vents to both the louvers and the round holes into the rotor cavity at the same time. Perhaps this was a time align feature to mix some of the separate reverb signal into the Doppler effect of the treble rotor's physical spin, "fanning" the reverb beam with the rotor's rotation. The reverb amount can be adjusted by a control on the reverb amp itself, or remotely from the organ by a special halfmoon switch and dedicated cable that has 3 select settings, "off/medium/on" with actual reverb amount settings preset to taste at the reverb amp in the RV with a variable potentiometer.

Model 142


Identical to Model 145 but with the Model 122 amplifier. Essential a short Leslie 122

Model 147


The Model 147 has the same cabinet, speaker and mechanical components as the Model 122; however, the amplifier input and motor speed control circuits are different. This is primarily because this series was designed to be "universal", which means it could be connected to other organ brands. The signal input is "single-ended", allowing a simpler connection to organs that have a built-in speaker system, as the Hammond A100 or a Wurlitzer. The Model 122 input is a differential, "double-ended" or "balanced line" design that provides for cancellation of any spurious noise that may be present. Also, the motor speed switching uses a separate 120V AC signal, rather than the DC voltage control of the Model 122. In operation, the noticeable differences between the Model 122 and the Model 147 are the Model 122's lower susceptibility to induced noise, and a delay between operation of the speed control and the actual change in speed. Just like with the 122 and 142, the Leslie Model 145 is identical to Model 147, except that it is housed in a 33" tall cabinet, and thus slightly easier to transport than the 41" tall Model 142.

Model 330


Model 330 was issued in 1975. The concept is the same as model 760 - a classic horn/rotor speaker in a portable tolex-covered cabinet. The cabinet size is 37" with casters, i.e. roughly the same size as the older model 145. Technically this speaker is slightly different than the 760. The amplifier is a single channel 60W with a passive cross-over like in the old tube Leslies. This makes the 330 a popular Leslie to convert to tube amplification. Another noticeable difference is that the input socket is the modern 11pin type, making it necessary for the speaker to have a separate power cord (see below). The 11pin socket allows modern Hammond clonewheels – such as the XB-2, XK-2 and XK-3 – to link to and operate the 330 with ease.

Model 760


One of the favourite models for gigging Hammond owners, the Model 760 with 90 watts of power is still a popular choice for organs with 9-pin connectors, despite being a "solid-state" model. It has a black Tolex cabinet and is easy to carry, thanks to integrated handles. These features make it rather road-worthy. Model 770 is technically the same as 760, only with more sophisticated wooden cabinet. Model 760 was primarily used with spinet Hammonds, such as M100 or L100 -series. Leslie 760 has a rotating treble horn as well as a rotating bass drum.

Model 825


A smaller, more portable version of the 760 is the 825. It is a solid-state cabinet like the 760, and it connects to the organ with a 9-pin connector as well. However, it only has a 70-watt amplifier and only has a single rotor with a full-range 12" speaker.

External links