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Author Topic: XTREME Comments  (Read 1993 times)

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melodeon

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XTREME Comments
« on: September 30, 2009, 11:15:18 PM »

Coincidental with Andy's visit to the North East Squeeze In and his "positive comments"  about Hohner
I had the opportunity last evening to play a Hohner XTREME  III N
This is the model with LMM and 5 switches specifically for Norteno and the Latin market, an upgraded Corona.

MY first impressions:
I intensely dislike Red accordeons, in particular Hohner's red of the past decade or so.
Rather unappealing. However  the accordeon I played last evening was RED  very RED and
a very nice deep red, without those pink and orange overtones or undertones. It was RED
Coupled with the black and chrome, a very striking instrument. Beautiful in fact for a Hohner.
Not at all gaudy and gussied up to look likea $3 ho as are some pmped up other  commonly used
boxes also intended for the "Latin: market.  
Simply put, the XTREME is a classy looking box that would be at home in any musical environment.

Design
Very difinitely a Hohner but as above, classy and somewhat understated. It still looks like a Corona but has a more
sophisticated air about it.  The small switchboard between the fingerboard and grille is just enough and not too much.
A vast improvement over its ancestor the IIIR.  Very tasty black pivot  switches with functional and attractive knobs.
Same Corona style grille . Nice small tasteful printed logo and designs on the chassis.
Adjustable bass strap of substantial heft and quality, same goes for the bellows straps.
Seems to have a quality belows with black tape and red in the folds...
The keyboard was a nice upgrade with a removable panel and faced with the red pearloid and  on the fingerboard edge.. and finally.. a thumb groove...
Nice rubber(oid) feet on the base side...

Materials.
It is obvious that every piece on this accordeon from the bass strap and bellows strap to the apparently thicker metal on the grille,
 bellows and switches.. all much upgraded from previous models.
Though I did not have an opportunity to open the box, I could see thought the grille material and inside it also appears to different and here I'll presume also upgraded
No opportunity to see the reeds or blocks.. ( yet)
Very nicely made padded  case with logo, very nice shoulder straps with "Hohner" tastefully done.

Workmanship

Not a visual flaw anywhere.  Fit and finish were excellent.
Not much more to be said.  Very much a German engineered and produced machine.
The design project for the XTREME was directed by Gilbert Reyes of Hohner USA.

Playability

Outstanding.  Smooth action , very smooth,  best action yet on a Corona, no noise, no disapearing buttons, no clack.
Button spring pressure was a bit heavy but not so that you would not get used to it.. and a good compromise for most players.
Did I say  S M O O T H...  surprisingly so.
Bass was very easy on the fingers.. and same attention to fit and noise free operation.
Bellows were perfect for me... just the right amount of spring, stiff withour being overly so. Very easy to use.
Sound... and this was a surprice... you could still tell itwas a Hohner with Hohner reeds... but a more mellowed
classy tone,  possibly because of the much reduced tremolo.  And the tuning was spot on to my ears.
Every note the same volume and projection.
You could also modulate the tone with bellows pressure, I had never really been able to do this weel with a Hohner reeded box..
So someone spent some time on the reed work.  I personally would like it even drier, howver I could live with it if the bopx was my
go to   do everything unit.


Other observations

Another surprise was the weight.  Heavier even that a III R   but a different kind of weight, a weight that tells you there is really something inside
Not like an overbloated American car or motorcycle but some real guts. and balanced.  You can tell you have a machine and not a toy in your lap.
The weight had no effect on playability. Matter of fact it was a joy to play.

If I were to get one, I would dry it out a scrid and perhaps lighten the spring tension, and opt for black.

I don't think it is a replacement for an Italian all wood  box, but for the reversed snob appeal...the realization that it is close enough without paying double to trple for a lesser percentage of improved tone and playability...than double or triple...  Or a sophisticated take out machine and leave the thoroughbred at home.. or for specific genres of music
such as Zydeco, blues, Norteno or Latin, even a Western band... the XTREME has its place.

I would consider this box not to be a Porsche but a very high quality VW that can be pushed into the lower reaches of the Porsche zone....
dman fun and handles well and on a lower budget..

Spaeking of that , Andy mentioned price/value..
Now here I would agree..  if one were to pay the list price of over $3K...   I see his point
But he street price is less.... and here is the grey area where if you had the bucks.... at 2K plus....  there is not much out there of this quality
In my opinion a far better value than another popular brand with the Latino players.

Conclusion

I would conclude this is a box made to professional standards given its intended use and audience. With little effort could be "fine tuned"
As  someone who has spent a lifetime working with and owning quallty products ( I can't afford to be cheap) and pride myself owning really good gear
I could easily see myself with the Hohner XTREME. It fits my notion of form follows function, a bit stark with enough decoration but not too much, looks very
traditional and yet modern at the same time. The box works.

Rees,
I think you are right,  that this is definitely the best new Hohner product I have ever played. No question.
It is fun and sounds great, plays very well and has lots of eyeball.  A class act.
It won't replace my handmades, but could certainly sit alongside of them.

Hats off to Hohner, good job.

Now let's see the HA 114 and the Erica come up to speed.



Full  disclosure point of view.

I have owned quite a few accordeons including hand mades and Castagnaris, other Italian boxes and lots of Hohners.
I have never been disappointed with a Hohner.;partially because of their intended market , and of my limited expectation.










« Last Edit: October 01, 2009, 03:13:38 AM by melodeon »
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Rees

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Re: XTREME Comments
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2009, 12:18:29 AM »

Glad you agree Jeff - it is pretty special.
My GCF is black and it is one sexy looking beast.
Mind you, black buttons on a black keyboard and I'm already reaching for the jammy dodger and the gerbil!
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Andy in Vermont

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Re: XTREME Comments
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2009, 12:18:46 PM »

Very thorough comments.

The XTreme's direct competition is Gabbanelli, which it smashes to bits!  I concur with the comments above, but would add:

-- it would be nice if Hohner could offer dry tuning as an option.  Or at least, swing tuning.

-- I found that the instrument felt "stuffy," i.e. too much pressure before the reeds sounded.  I think that this could be hammered out by quality control.

-Andy

melodeon

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Re: XTREME Comments
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2009, 04:58:49 PM »

Andy

I suppose we could call that "turbo lag"  !

I think that it may be in the nature of the reeds, or reed work

But as is a vast improvement over older Corona models.

It is diffucult to express just how surprised I was.. I must admit my expectations were low.

This was a decent box and fun  I mean fun to play.

my  gerbils are wary today.. !
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Andy in Vermont

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Re: XTREME Comments
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2009, 05:31:03 PM »

Jeff,
I was surprised, too -- I'm happy that Hohner has been finding ways to get a higher level of quality out of Chinese factory production.  The Morgane/Merlin quality was a bigger surprise for me, though.  You are right, compared to other available 3 row boxes, if one can get an XTreme for under $2500, it is a decent deal.  It is still a lot of money, though, for a box that can't be delivered with a requested tuning, like swing, dry, etc. 
I am also very confident that if a box had a technical issue, Tim would solve it in great form!
-Andy

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Re: XTREME Comments
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2009, 05:23:08 PM »

Thanks for the review Jeff.It's nice to hear how much progress Hohner has made with some of these new directions they're taking.

Chris
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Steve C.

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Re: XTREME Comments
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2009, 07:18:13 PM »

Not wanting to induce thread drift (BUT) have either of you seen and/or played a Cap Horn?  This is an instrument that really seems an interesting option.
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