Pros: Classic Leslie rotary speaker sound in a compact, lightweight pair of units.
Cons: Micing problems. Lack of information about slow vs. 'off' states.
Motion Sound Pro3T and Lo-Pro: What is it?
It's a Leslie divided in half. The top, the Pro3T, has the controls, a 40 watt amp and rotating horn. The bottom half, the LoPro, has a downward firing 12" speaker into a mechanical rotating sound baffle synced electronically (via a 5-pin MIDI cable) to the Pro3T enclosure, which sits right on top of it. Pro3T, 27 lbs. LoPro, 50 lbs. Both covered in indestructible yet handsome sprayed-on black pickup truck liner material.
Why did I get it?
I play keys in a classic rock band. After I joined, it soon dawned on me that a lot of the sounds I needed were B3 related. My piano is a Yamaha P80 with simple MIDI out. I wanted only one keyboard, and I already had it.
So I purchased a VOCE V5 'B3' module and the Motion Sound Pro3T top and Lo-Pro bottom combo. Plus a Morley volume wah to control it all.
..is just great. The Pro3T has a tube pre-amp stage which can be pushed for that classic B3 'growl'.. and since it's got 'pre' and 'post' volumes the growl can come in at relatively low volumes. The Pro3T is crossed over at 800 cycles, just like a Leslie. It's a mechanical roto horn. And, like a Leslie, with the lower reciprocating weight of the horn, it spins up faster than the rotating baffle in the Low-Pro.
While it's got enough beef to compete with a lead guitarist, I found that I need it near me to change the pre-and post-gain volumes mentioned above.. and if it's really close, then ye olde inverse-square law gets me and it really drills my ears.
Through the Mains.
So I wanted to mic it. The models I have do not have internal mics. There is a blurb on the Motion Sound website on how to place small mics in the Pro-3T horn cabinet. Taking it to an expert sound tech, we placed the recommended Kobitone tiny dynamic mics inside the Pro3T enclosure according to the directions.. they sound hideous at any volume. I know it's only over 800 cycles, but there's no combination of balancing this with a mic on the bass cabinet that works for me. The Kobitone mics sound horrible.
So I ended up just putting one Shure SM58 outside the bass enclosure - most of the usable musical audio spectrum is below 800 cycles anyhow - and run that mic into the mains.
Pretty good. The documentation mentions 10,000 hours before the motor belts require replacement on the top or bottom cabs. What they don't say is that the bottom enclosure especially will require periodic tightening - and in my case there was no space to slide the motor away TO allow belt tightening. So I had to remove the motor and use a wood chisel - carefully! - to provide a little space for the motor to be moved away from the pivot point of the rotating baffle - thereby tightening the belt. Since I made that mod to the LoPro, I haven't had to tighten the belt. So one tightening in 8 months of gigging 2-3X per month. It IS an electro-MECHANICAL device.. so don't expect the same kind of experience as with a solid state device. It also sounds better than ANY Leslie simulator of any kind.
Contact with manufacturer
Hey, these guys are in Utah. But they do respond to emails and I've had several exchanges with the designer/president of the company.
There are some design flaws which I discussed at length with John Fisher, head designer and owner of Motion Sound.
First, speed control. There's a real difference in sound between rotors OFF and rotors SLOW. SLOW gives that wonderful, never duplicated Leslie doppler phase shift, while OFF gives you.. an amplifier.
You get a footpedal with two buttons - Slow/Fast and On/Off. However, the Pro3T only indicates when the rotor speed is on FAST. Therefore there's no way to tell whether the unit's rotary action is OFF or SLOW.. besides holding a note and listening closely. So my unit probably gets more wear than it should at gigs because I avoid pressing the OFF button all ! Even on breaks, it's sitting there rotating slowly because I don't want to have to remember whether or not it's stopped! There's NO visual indication of the other two states.. Fast, yes. Slow vs. stopped, no.
I crabbed above about micing this unit. The recommendations they make in their website did not work at all for me. So I'm left with external micing. BUT - the horn section sits on top of the LoPro. AND the LoPro slavishly follows the Leslie pattern of a downward firing woofer into a rotating baffle - and- vents that let the SOUND out at floor level! About 2 1/2 feet below the horn! So there's NO way to use a SINGLE mic to get both lower and upper frequencies. If they were to turn the LoPro upside down - have the woofer fire UP, and have the rotating baffle at the TOP of the cabinet, it would be better dispersed in general, and a single mic could be used to pick up the horn and woofer.
Would I do it again?
Maybe not. The VOCE SPIN unit sounded pretty close and weighs a couple of pounds. I'm not a purist. But if a real rotating Leslie sound is important to you, and you don't want the headache, weight and fragility of a classic 147 cabinet, the Pro3T and LoPro are simply unbeatable.
UPDATE ONE YEAR LATER
Forget what I said about the VOCE Spin II unit.. even in stereo (it has a single TRS 1/4" socket) I can't stand the phasey 'lobe-eyness'.. I've gotten spoiled.
Regarding the Pro3T and LoPRo - Overall the unit has remained reliable. Only one belt tightening was required in 2004, despite playing at least 30 gigs with my band East2West.
I did have a nasty surprise a few weeks back when the only speeds available from the Motion Sound units were 'stop' and 'fast'. It turned out to be cable fatigue within 1 inch of the speed control footpedal.. no strain or bend relief. Easily fixed. But something Motion Sound perhaps should have done in manufacture.. you KNOW people are simply going to roll the cable around the foot control.
I've revisited my ideas about micing. We played a huge arena on the 4th of July, and we used the internal Kobitone mic from the Pro3T VERY quietly, and an external Shure SM57 on the bass rotor.
But for normal band gigs, clubs or parties, I've dropped the micing issue as just too messy - and loud. What I did was get a heavy X scissors stand for the units and put it up high. Or in many venues where we're tight on stage space I just place the whole unit on top of the PA mains speaker on my side of the stage - ensuring that the 'throw' from the two units can be heard at the back of any room.
So - place it high enough for the back of the room and you can cut the volume. And it's now far enough away it doesn't drill my ears.
And I don't need to be fiddling around the front panel any more because I've evolved settings for the pre- and post- gain pots, basically around 12 noon for both.. this ensures enough overall volume plus just a bit of 12AX7 tube 'growl'. This unit plus the Voce V5 has proven to be both light and roadworthy.