A review of the Bemore Genesis Home Organ by Michael Wooldridge
The Genesis is the brainchild of a Dutchman by the name of Richard van Kooij, who started Bemore because he could see the popularity of his favourite instrument, the organ, falling into decline and he felt that this was because many modern organs are perhaps too complicated for the users, so he wanted to build a brand new organ that is very easy to use and has endless musical possibilities, but that doesn’t have lots of menus to sift through. His idea was that you should be able to just sit, play and enjoy. I think he has achieved his aim.
He wanted to be sure that the Genesis is a high quality instrument so recruited Martin van Vliet, a former Philips employee with over 30 years experience in the electronics industry, to be System Architect and firmware Programmer for the new organ. Martin was keen to focus on stability and low power consumption and it is interesting that he has chosen to place a processor on every circuit board, which coupled with a Windows 10 Computer using a Solid State Drive, means the instrument performs lighting fast but that all of the electronics remain cool, with no heat generated at all. Despite incorporating lots of sophisticated technology, it is all designed in such a way that you don’t really know it is there. Richard says the Bemore Genesis is developed for the home organist, someone who understands what an organ is and wants to enjoy the playing itself. Having said that it works superbly when played in ‘keyboard’ style using Fingered Chord and Auto Bass.
The Genesis is really simple to operate, as, unlike just about every other organ and keyboard, it only has one screen. I realise they all (or very nearly all) only have one physical screen but what I mean is that on the Genesis there is just the one big image, it’s not like all the others where when you touch a button the whole screen changes, as you dive deeper and deeper into sub menus to find voices and things, it always shows the same picture. The screen itself is huge, a 151⁄2″ High Definition Touch Screen, so the writing on it is really clear and easy to see. Actually, the one time the screen display would change is if you decided to get technology and have your music display on the screen, but I for one haven’t gone down that route and am quite happy with my pieces of paper on the music desk!
The organ has 2 top quality, 61-note manuals, so they feel lovely to play, and a 17-note pedalboard. If it’s your preference, for a supplement it is also available with a 25-note pedalboard. It is housed in a glossy white cabinet, which looks very impressive, but if you remember what we said earlier, each one is hand finished so, in fact, you can have it in whatever colour you choose, so long as you are happy to wait a short while for it, I think around six weeks.
The amplification system is fabulous. It delivers a really big sound. There is also a Pro model, which uses separate speaker towers rather than in-built speakers, but I haven’t heard those.
The way the Bemore Genesis works is different to everything else. It may take you a brief one minute demonstration to understand how it differs operationally to everything else but once you’ve had that brief guidance, I think you will find it is easier to operate than most other modern organs. This is one of those reviews where it would be so much easier to explain it if we were sitting at the organ than it is trying to put it into words. Anyway, I’ll give it a go! If you are preparing some sound presets, first of all you mix the sounds you want, including choosing if you want any of them to play in different areas of the keyboard, as you can have sounds working in whichever regions of the manuals you choose. You blend together their volumes using the dedicated section volume drawbars. Then you save your sound to the centre right panel on the screen, and you’ll probably put it into the category bank that must closely depicts your sound. Having saved it like this, your new sound combination can be used in all of your future presets without having to recreate it again.
The next step is to drag it down into the presets bar at the bottom of the screen. By ‘drag it down’ I mean you touch your sound name with your finger and slide your finger down the screen to then drop it in a preset button on the screen. There are 10 presets on the screen for the Upper and beneath those, 10 for the Lower. Once you’ve made as many of these presets as you want for your particular song or set of sounds, you then save them all as a set to the centre left panel on the screen. I told you it was going to sound complicated! Please don’t be put off by my necessarily long-winded description. If you pop in to see the instrument you will quickly see just how easy this is to do. An interesting thing about these presets is that ones for the Upper work independently of those for the Lower, so you don’t have to change your whole sound picture with every preset, you can just change Upper or Lower, and this makes them more useful. There is no limit to the number of presets you can make and, because you type names in for them, you don’t even have to remember what you’ve put in them!
The Bemore Genesis has plenty of sound layering to enable creation of some fabulous combinations. There are four main voice sections for the Upper, with a fifth available for use. Then there are three for the Lower and, when I saw it, one for the Bass taken from the Style section, though I think there is going to be a slight change to this very soon, in fact, probably by the time you read this!
There is a huge range of sounds available, really everything you can imagine and more besides! If you like organ sounds, you’ll be in clover! It comes with the some very good theatre organ sounds, grand church organ sounds and then a myriad of electronic organs including the famous Klaus Wunderlich and Franz Lambert sounds from Hammond and Wersi, in fact the sounds of Wersi through the ages, including Helios, Atlantis, Spectra and so on, and Hammonds including H100 and X66.
There’s also a whole load of orchestral voices, again covering everything you can imagine, including some gorgeous Strings, Guitars, and even a Mellotron! On top of all these sounds, it can host VSTs. I think it was only in the last issue (or the one before) that we spoke about VSTs, so I’ll not go into too much detail here, but suffice to say these are top quality extra sounds that you can easily add to your instrument, including the option to have Hauptwerk Virtual Pipe Organ software.
The Genesis comes with the renowned VB3 VST already installed, which has become probably the most used drawbar organ sound in recording studios these days. The real, physical drawbars on the main panel can be used to control the VB3, plus there are other drawbars for mixing the sound levels of voice sections and others again for all of the parts in a Style.
Now we have come to the Style section, here this is again different to other makes. At face value your new Bemore Genesis doesn’t have any Styles or Rhythms. It has all of the buttons for them, typical families like Latin and Swing, and four Intro Buttons, Fill Ins, Variation selectors and so on, but nothing in them!
Where it is clever is you can install whichever Styles you want, or loads of them. If you do a Google search, you will find Styles are readily available through various suppliers and the Bemore is all ready to play any of them, Korg, Yamaha, Roland and Ketron, plus the hundreds available from other suppliers, including the excellent ones from Strawberry Music. So, although technically it doesn’t have any Styles in it, the one I saw was actually home to over 2,000 Styles, including many of the best that we all recognise from Yamaha Tyros and Korg Pa4x and so on. Coming back to the big screen, I’ve already mentioned the central columns. The outer column on the left is where you will see displayed all the parts of the Style, five parts for the keyboard, one bass and one drums, so it is also here that you can very quickly and easily re-voice the style, basically by just touching the part you want to re-voice. The right hand column shows the voice sections for the keyboards.
At the top of the screen is an area which shows the current tempo and has a useful bar, which shows you how long the Intro or Ending is and also the length of the style loop you are using. Just beneath this there is a row of knobs, well, virtual rotary knobs on the screen, for making simple instant adjustments to sounds, like making them Mono or adding a Slow Attack or changing the Frequency. Also how much of the Effects you want to hear, and I must say the quality of the effects processing using the latest technology here is excellent.
I think that’s about all I can usefully tell you for now. You really need to see and hear one. I am sure you will be hugely impressed. It has probably more voices and potential for more styles than any other organ but is designed so it is really easy to use.
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