(14 customer reviews)

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A tiny Bakelite reed organ from the 1950s


“Its look and sounds are lifted from the Magnus Harmonica Corporation’s reed organs of the 1950s. Magnus is all about mushy, muddy sounds that can also get nasty when the saturation is cranked up!”– Sound on Sound magazine

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Magnus is available at a special discount price as part of our Reed Organs bundle. See our Hot Deals page to grab this offer.



Magnus bakeliteTake a trip back in time to the 1950s, when spaceships were shaped like proper rockets, scientists had proper hair, cars had fins and gills like some giant piraña fish, and the sound of the future was the Magnus Reed Organ.

This tiny box was built of Bakelite (the plastic of the future!) and crammed in a couple of octaves of teeny-weeny keys, plus an electric fan to drive air over its reeds. The sound it makes is like a big brown hug. It’s a one-stop shop for rich, thick organic pad sounds with a breathy tone.

Oh – and the smell of warming Bakelite is a joy. Lean closer… closer… there. Smell that? That’s the real deal, that is.

Magnus keyboard stackTo make things a bit more versatile, we’ve also built into this model samples from another Magnus organ, this time from the 1970s. Things had come a long way by then. Keys were full size, fans were quieter, and brown was no longer the only colour: this Magnus was a big bold red plastic block. It looks like someone built it out of Lego. You should probably be thankful we didn’t choose to model the user interface on this one. In the photo here you can see little Magnus sitting on top of big Magnus: a bit like Keith Emerson’s keyboard rig from when he was a kiddie.

You can mix and match the two eras, blending the Bakelite and Plastic knobs to get the vibe you want. Tone rolls off the highs; Electrify kicks in a bit of tube saturation to heat up the sound; and the Attack and Release controls also model the pitch fall-off when the Release knob is set to longer times.

Magnus rear panelOn the rear panel we have Chorus and Phaser and a racy pin-up to keep you on your toes. Hey, boys – looks like she’s taking off those socks! Hot diggetty!

Patent Pending Stereo-Rama widens the sound field in a way that would have boggled the minds of the boffins way back when (but which you’ll probably recognise as being… well… your basic stereo spread.) All in all you’ve got enough control here to generate some really cushy pads and chords, some weirdly lo-fi old-style organ styles, or organic, ethereal high-pitched soundscapes.

Magnus: a whole shedload of warmth in a tiny Bakelite box.

(All our Kontakt instruments require a full copy of Native Instruments Kontakt v4.2.3 or higher (including all versions of Kontakt 5). Kontakt Player is not supported: instruments will load, but will time out after 15 minutes. See the FAQ for further information.)

“Last month, we began our explorations into the world of Rhythmic Robot with a look at Beat Room. (Go to /sos/may12/articles/beat_room.htm for more information on RR’s instruments.)

Under review here is Keyboard Vault, which is made up of 24‑bit mono samples and requires a full version of Kontakt (V4.2.3 is recommended). At the time of writing, KV features two simple reed organs, the first of which is the ShelTone, an organ built into a suitcase, with an electric fan that blows air over its reeds. Rhythmic Robot have, of course, sampled the fan separately, so you can have as much or as little of it as you want. This is a warm and appealing little keyboard, its reedy tones and modest attack unashamedly accordion‑like. It thoroughly deserves the description ‘organic’, but does offer some scope to edge away from the folksy, elbow‑patch vibe too. You can add a little dirt via the tube and drive settings or, for more lush, organ‑y textures, turn on the rotary speaker, which speeds up gradually as you click from slow to fast. With a simple but effective chorus thrown in, the ShelTone is more versatile than it first appears. A quick tweak of its attack and release controls lets you push its repertoire as far as lush and fuzzy pads. This is terrific value.

The second organ is the Magnus, its look and sounds lifted from the Magnus Harmonica Corporation’s reed organs of the 1950s. This brown Bakelite box had a teensy two‑octave keyboard and, like the Sheltone, an electric fan. We haven’t left accordion territory, but the inclusion of a basic low‑pass filter and tube saturation (“Electrify”) adds extra interest. There’s also a simple envelope and a chorus and phaser, both with independent speed controls. The final tonal twist is in the form of samples of a much later model (from the 1970s), and the two organs can be blended using large knobs marked Bakelite and Plastic. The Magnus is all about mushy, muddy sounds that can also get nasty when the saturation is cranked up.” – Sound on Sound magazine

14 reviews for Magnus

  1. johnup12 (verified owner)

    It sounds as cheesy as the original (my sister had one) and is a spot-on emulation. I can close my eyes when I use it and time travel back, er, a lot of years. Love it to pieces.

  2. mightbeacoolusername (verified owner)

    Spiffy little mud slingers; while this is definitely less flexible than most of the instruments on the site, just listen to that demo! This would be a fabulous addition to any track where you need a sound that could have crawled out of the swamp water of its own free will. Cool stuff.

  3. bladesguy (verified owner)

    Once again, a really cool and unique instrument from Rhythmic Robot! While it is a reed organ, it sounds quite different from others and has a decidedly swampy feel, which is exactly what I was hoping for. Blend the two flavors for a somewhat mesmerizing dark organic sound. Serve it up with a side of gumbo!

  4. JAMES (verified owner)

    Very simple reed organ with dark accordion overtones. The two samples are very earthy and raw – there is some real fun to be had tweaking the mix between the two tones. They both bite hard on your ears and will cut well through any mix. Drones and pads are also easy to dial up with the attack and release knobs.

  5. Asterios (verified owner)

    A lovely vintage reed organ from the 1950s, full of mushy, muddy, beautiful sounds!!!

  6. steflinux (verified owner)

    The sound is actually customisable. And that instrument can actually also produces pads made of a soft growly bass (reed-style). It’s cool stuff.

  7. (verified owner)

    Nice reed sound, somewhat folky.

  8. Monika Edvardsen (verified owner)

    The Bakelite organ is breathy and noisy (in a cool way), and the Plastic one sounds like an accordion. They sound best when combined. There’s key position panning here (must’ve been done through the script), so you get the weird feeling of having a very wide Magnus organ (which sounds a bit silly when you play outside the “normal” range)!

    One flaw: The Phaser Rate knob doesn’t work. All it does is setting the rate to 0.65 Hz (if you’ve tweaked its corresponding knob under the hood). I reported this to RR late 2017.

    • The Professor (verified owner)

      We’re glad to say that the bug with the Phaser Rate knob has now been fixed. If you’re an existing owner of Magnus and would like to update to the bugfixed version, just drop us an email and we’ll sort you out with a new download link 🙂

  9. DON Chaffer (verified owner)

    Good acoustic reed-based samples are rarer than you’d think, and then reed-based samples that want to sit in a mix, and not be, like, “Hey look! I’m either Weird Al or The Guy With The Droopy Mustache Outside a Pizzeria in Italy” This is the rock ‘n’ roll side of Accordion Land. Huzzah!

  10. Guillaume (verified owner)

    A very organic-sounding and inspiring instrument. The back panel effects are top notch too, don’t overlook them!

  11. Stefano (verified owner)

    Two vintage organs sampled here, they works well mixed together and filtered to recreate a beautiful reed pad sound.

  12. Steven Kish (verified owner)

    The demo on this sold me. I have been looking for a (for lack of a better descriptor) “cajun” sound for one of my band’s songs. Wonderfully simple to use and sounds really good (meshes well with a distorted guitar in odd time too).

  13. Joseph Groma

    Great for swampy, Cajun roots rock (True Blood theme, CC Adcock).

  14. Robert (verified owner)

    Great little recreation. Turn up the electrify knob and let it spit. Cheap and easy.

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