PSP has previously impressed us with its L'otary Leslie rotary speaker cabinet plugin, and now it has set its sights on the scanner effect built into most models of Hammond organ, including the B3, C-3 and A-100.
This vibrato/chorus effect was, arguably, just as important to the characteristic sound of the Hammond as the Leslie.
Specific scanners varied from model to model in terms of components, but they were all based on the same principle: a revolving wheel made contact with 16 plates, each constituting one tap in a phase-shifted delay line, generating a variety of vibrato and chorusing effects.
B-Scanner's central controls adjust the main scanner settings, with a ring of 'LEDs' showing rotation speed and (via colouration) the phase correlation between the left and right channels. Around the ring are six Mode settings (three Vibrato and three Chorus), each setting the depth of the effect – the higher the number, the higher the depth.
There are also three Quality modes for controlling the smoothness of the vibrato: the authentic 16-position emulation (B3), the 48-position HiRes, and Smooth, which modulates continuously rather than in steps.
The Tremolo knob mimics the tremolo effect generated by some models of scanner, and C-Mix sets the dry/chorused signal ratio (it's inactive in V Mode). The Input and Output sections contain controls for setting the Gain and stereo Width at both stages, with an additional Drive control for saturating the input and a low-pass filter on the output.
The Fast and Slow sections above and below the central panel define two vibrato/chorus speed settings, which are smoothly shifted between using the Speed Lever. They each feature four parameters: Speed (scanner rotation rate), Acceleration/Deceleration (how quickly the scanner reacts when the Speed changes), Random (introducing random fluctuations to the speed) and Phase (shifting the phase offset between left and right channels).
Speed and Accel/Decel can be L/R linked or set independently for each channel, either free running (between 0-10Hz and 0.10-10s respectively), synced to host tempo (1/64T to 4 bars) or in B D mode. With the latter, the left knob sets the Base speed for both channels and the right knob sets the Deviation from it, with one channel running slower by that amount and the other channel faster.
If news of B-Scanner's release didn't leave you weak at the knees, you're probably in good company, as it recreates a specific piece of hardware that many people don't even know existed and is entirely associated with Hammond organs.
While it might not be the most groundbreaking new plugin of 2016 (as the lean selection of 24 presets makes clear), it is a sublime and characterful effect that can be applied to everything from organs and synths to vocals and, more creatively, auxiliary reverb and delay buses.
Whether manipulated in real time with the Speed Lever or used as a static effect, B-Scanner can add excitement, brightness and powerful stereo modulation to just about any signal, all without ever sounding less than silky smooth. No matter what kind of music you make, it's well worth a spin.