Viscount - DB5 Vintage Combo Organ
New Feature: Operating System Update to Version 2.2:

Itīs very commendable if a manufacturer - even after his product is ready for production - is still receptive to suggestions for improvement. Unfortunately, there were some bugs in the OS version 1.00 of the Oberheim/Viscount OB5. The polyphony didnīt work proper and moreover there was a weakness in the management of the 50 global memories. Beside this, I found the percussion of the organ was too loud.
Viscount Italy now presents an update of the operating system to version 2.2, that comes along with a new mainboard of the organ.
With the update installed (What was quiet easy!), I have to retouch my review now. All comments on the new features are stressed by this blue background.
#1) first impresson:
The DB5 is a real Hammond B3 wannabe. The american walnut console, the two waterfall keyboards and even the arrangement of all controlers are a reminiscent of the famous original. Itīs overall working up is pretty well.
Complementary, You can get a special stand and a full pedalboard w/ expression pedal. Both in genuine wood finish. The keyboards give you a great feel. B3 players shouldnīt have any problems to manage this instrument.
Sound generation uses E-IS2 synthesis technique. Itīs a combination of sampling technologie w/ 91 oscillators for the drawbars and virtual tone modeling for the percussion and key click.
In my opinion, the sound of the DB5 can stand a comparison to any other Hammond clone, thatīs available on the market at present.
Viscount DB5
The controlers:
The top panel: 1. Preset drawbars upper - lower & bass, 2. vibrato & chorus section, 3. upper drawbars, 4. bass drawbars, 5. lower drawbars, 6. percussion section, 7. power switch
The panels on the left of the manuals: 1. hold page button, 2. main page button, 3. value -/no and +/yes buttons, 4. cursor buttons, 5. exit button, 6. enter button, 7.display, 8. sound button, 9. effects button, 10. utility button, 11. memory button, 12. reverb trimmer, 13. overdrive trimmer, 14. pedal volume trimmer, 15. lower volume trimmer, 16. rotary on/off button, 17. rotary slow/fast button
The rear panel: 1. pedalboard connector, 2. pedal footswitch I & II and expression pedal, 3. MIDI, 4. send L(mono) & R, 5. return L(mono) & R, 6. output L (mono) & R, 7. headphones, 8. 11pin leslie out
#2) sound settings:
DB5 - Technical Specifications
Keyboards: 2 x 61 keys, waterfall "Vintage organ action"
Sound generator: Advanced Synchronous Tone-Wheel modeling™ (A.S.T.M.™)
Parts: Upper, Lower, Bass
Polyphony: Full Polyphony
Effects: 3 x Vibrato (V1 - V2 - V3), 3 x Chorus (C1 - C2 - C3), 4 Reverb Type (Hall, Room, Church, Spring), Delay, Rotary, Overdrive
Internal memory: 7 Upper Memories, 7 Lower Memories, 50 Global Memories
Display: 16 charakters x 2 lines LCD, backlit
Controls: Presets Drawbars:
Upper - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7
Lower - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7
Vibrato & Chorus:
Upper on/off button - Lower on/off button - Effect knob selector
Drawbars for upper manual:
16ī - 5 1/3ī - 8ī - 4ī - 2 2/3ī - 2ī - 1 3/5ī - 1 1/3ī - 1ī
Drawbars for lower manual:
16ī - 5 1/3ī - 8ī - 4ī - 2 2/3ī - 2ī - 1 3/5ī - 1 1/3ī - 1ī
Drawbars for bass section:
16ī - 8ī
2nd xor 3rd buttons - Normal/Soft button - Decay Slow/Fast button
Power on/off
Display buttons:
Hold - Main - -/No, +/Yes - Left, Right - Exit - Enter - Sound Setting - Effects Setting - Memory - Utility
Reverb Level - Overdrive Level- Pedal Volume - Lower Volume
Off/On - Slow/Fast
Connectors: Pedalboard:
25 poles custom connector
Footswitch I - Footswitch II - Exprpression
In - Out - Thru
External Effects:
Send L(Mono) - R, Return L(Mono) - R
L(Mono) - R
11pin Leslie out
Power supply: 117V AC, 220 V AC
Finish: 'Classic' Walnut Satin
Dimensions: 1170 (W) x 570 (D) x 216 (H) mm (46"x22.4"x8.5")
Weight: 38kg (83.6 lbs)
Options: Wooden Stand, Pedalboard (13, 17, 25), Expression pedal
- presets and memories
The DB5 has two types of memories: Presets and Memories. On the left side of the top panel there are 14 buttons to save individual settings for the upper- and lower/bass drawbars. They memories only the positions of the drawbars.
Additional there are 50 memory locations to save global settings, including the drawbar positions, the scaling, the effect settings, the transposition of the instrument, the background noise and the click settings. You can recall this global memories by using the buttons on the left side panel or a foot switch.
With the new operating system, Viscount now features 50 presets in the global memories. They make use of all programmable parameters and demonstrate the great potential of this instrument.
- drawbars
Like the Roland VK-77, the Viscount DB5 has one set of nine drawbars for each manual and 16ī and 8ī drawbars for the bass pedalboard.
- scaling
Scaling is a different distance position between tonewheel sound generators and pickups.
This function allows to choose between four timbres of the drawbars. So itīs possible to create a basic sound of your taste.
- percussion
Similar to the B3, you can add 2nd & 3rd harmonic percussion on the upper keyboard.There are also two buttons called soft and decay (same function as soft and fast on the B3). Activating the percussion will mute the 1ī drawbar.
Itīs now possible to adjust the percussion volume and length. The settings can be done in a new menue on a scale from 1 to 100 for the perc. volume and 0 to 100 for the perc. length. It's possible setting the percussion top key range and setting a drawbar volume attenuation when percussion is on.
Since the percussion is a basic part of the overall sound of an organ, I think this feature is very important.
- bass settings
There are three ways to play the bass sounds on the DB5. You can play it together with the lower drawbars (monophonic mode of the bass drawbars), creating a layer with assignable key range. You can split the lower manual for bass and lower drawbars (bass drawbars now in polyphonic mode). And - of course - you can play the bass drawbars using an optional pedalboard (polyphonic mode).
Furthermore you can adjust a sustain parameter in 100 steps and choose between two basic timbres (drawbars & A3, B3).
- click and background noise
The DB5 allows to regulate key click volume on attack and release. The sound can be adjusted to a dark or a bright type. Also leakage and motor noise can be added to the sound and adjusted in volume.
It seems to me, that there were done some modifications even for the key click. But maybe there are just better factory default settings now. However, the sound of the DB5 is much more "juicy" now. Great!!!
#3) the effects section:
- vibrato & chorus
Similar to the B3, theresīs a six-position knob on the top panel of the organ, to select one of the three vibrato- or chorus effects. Two buttons assign it to the upper or/and lower keyboard. The effect can be modified in speed and depth.

I didnīt like the vibrato of the old OS. What a great surprise, after Iīd installed the new mainboard. Donīt know how they did it... ;-)

- reverb
You can choose between four reverb types (hall, room, church & spring) and a delay effect. The programs can be adjusted in time & HF damp (reverb) and time & regeneration (delay). For live playing the effect quality is OK. During recordings you may want to use a better sounding engine. In this case itīs possible to mute the internal effect and plug in an external processor by using the (stereo) send and return jacks on the rear panel of the DB5. Both, the internal and the external effect level can be adjusted by a trimmer on the left panel of the instrument.
- rotary
Like all wannabes on the market, the DB5 has a build in Leslie simulation.You can adjust wether this unit shall be linked before or after the reverb processor. Separate settings can be done for the rotary speed of the horn and the bass drum unit. Furthermore the acceleration and deceleration time of the virtual Leslie cabinet can be adjusted. On the left side panel there are two buttons to control the Leslie on/off and slow/fast settings.
- overdrive
To add distortion to the sound, the DB5 has an internal overdrive simulation. The amount of this effect can be regulated by a trimmer on the left side panel.
Looks like the Viscount engineers retouched the overdrive effect again for the OS update. Thereīs much more boost, when you turn up the overdrive trimmer. Also the sound is different now and comes closer to the real thing.
But - and I mean that for ALL Hammond clones - in my opinion, the typical warmth of a tube distortion cannot be emulated digitally. So my suggestion for all "clonewheelers" is to look for an extra tube amp modul or to use a Leslie 122/147. Have a look at the Speakeasy Vintage Music website. They offer rackmount tube amps, that are customly build for Hammond clones. In my rig, I use a Hughes & Kettner Crunch Master together with my Leslie 770. The sound is really great!
- connecting a leslie cabinet
Of course, itīs possible to play the DB5 using an external Leslie cabinet. Therefore itīs equiped with an 11pin Leslie connector. Connecting a remote cabinet automatically disables the internal Leslie effect and the two panel buttons will control the external cabinet. Click the image to the left, to see how the DB is wired to the 11 pins.
#4) utility:
- midi
The DB5 can transmit and receive note on & off events and program & controll changes. Itīs also able to manage system exclusive (SYS-EX) messages. You can assign different midi channels for the upper and lower manual and the optional pedalboard. Midi-filters can be set for program and control changes and sys ex messages. Furthermore the DB5 is able to send and receive a bulk dump.
The following parameters can be adjusted by midi control changes:
Volume (CC 07), Expression (CC 11), Rotary Slow Speed (CC 14), Rotary Fast Speed (CC15), Transition from slow to fast speed (CC 13), Transition from fast to slow speed (CC 13), Reverb time (CC 102), Reverb High Freq. - Delay Reg. (CC 103), Vibrato Speed (CC 76), Vibrato Depth (CC 77), Transposition (CC 101), Pitch (CC 102), All sound off (CC 120 w/ value 0), All notes off (CC 123 w/ value 0)
These parameters can be adjusted by sys ex messages:
The volume for each drawbar, Overdrive, Rotary on, Rotary off, Rotary fast, Rotary slow, Percussion soft, Percussion norm, Percussion fast, Percussion slow, Percussion 2nd, Percussion 3rd, Percussion off, Reverb n.1 (Hall), Reverb n.2 (Room), Reverb n.3 (Church), Reverb n.4 (Spring), Reverb n.5 (Delay), Reverb Level, Vibrato V1, Vibrato V2, Vibrato V3, Chorus C1, Chorus C2, Chorus C3, Vibrato to upper Off, Vibrato to upper On, Vibrato to lower Off, Vibrato to lower On, Tone control Low, Tone control High
- tuning
The DB5 allows you to tune the instrument by hundedths of a semitone (Fine tuning) and by semitones.
- footswitches/ expression pedal
On the rear panel there are two jacks to connect footswitches to the DB5. They can control Rotary on/off, Rotary slow/fast, select upper or/and lower presets and memories.
The expression pedal has to be connected separately from the optional pedalboard to the organ.
- finally ...
The Master volume can be adjusted in 100 steps and thereīs a two band overall equilization.
#5) result:
> Compared to Rolands VK-77, Hammonds XB-3 or Korgs BX-3, the Viscount DB5 is much more than a lower-priced alternative. This instrument offers a great sound, pretty good waterfall keyboards and all the features you need. Like on any other clone, you can adjust and save all parameters to control your individual sound.
Even in combination with a real Leslie cabinet (or motion sound unit), you have a light weight full-organ alternative to the heavy B-3, that offers a lot of potential. <
With the OS update the overall sound and handling of the DB5 is much better now. If youīre looking for a full-organ Hammond wannabe, check it out! :^)