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Thread: Digital Organ Choice

  1. #1
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    Digital Organ Choice

    I am an organist, currently rounding up a PhD program in Composition & Theory in the USA. I intend going into digital organ dealership in Nigerian & Ghana: Churches and various instituitons that continue to spring up in these part of world are in need of pipe organ substitutes. Allen, Johannus Rodgers and Viscount have all established their presence in these areas. But quite a number of organists and organ music lovers are dissatisfied with the tonal quality of these instruments. In my opinion, the problem is a direct consequence of voicing/tunning and sound projection issues compounded by the fact that ordinary salesmen and technicians (not professionally trained organists) install and maintain these organ. Thus, my decision to explore the arena of dealership.

    I have joined this forum to seek opinions and advice on what organ type to represent in W. Afrrica. I am a huge fan of English traditional voicing and will only market a product designed with a bias for this tonal school of thought. Other considerations center on durability and ease of maintenance, tropicalization, cost effectiveness, ease of installation and voicing. The products based on sound sampling technology that I have considered seriously are Content, Makin, Phoenix & Wyvern. I have considered Eminent Organs in the arena of products based on real time tone generation. I have knocked off Rodgers (for price considerations), Johannus (for its continental sound) and Allen (for the undesirable reed organ like quality of the swell reeds in chorus with diapasons and mixtures).

    Please feel free to advise and correct my wrong judgement and misconceptions.

    Thanks

    Ayo

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Welcome aboard, Ayo.

    It's great to have you become a member here and we hope you will always enjoy the time you spend here.

    You might check out this thread which may be of some help to your quest.

    We do have a good number of members here who regularly play pipe and electronic/digital organs.

    I quite agree with the "newer" voicings of the Allen. The older technology Allens (the ADC in particular) had truer sounding reeds. I played an ADC-8000 for several years in a large Catholic parish and always enjoyed that particular instrument.

    As this thread topic really deals more with Electronic/Digital organs, I've relocated it into its present forum area. I expect you will receive a better response here.
    Kh ~~.
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  3. #3
    Commander, Assistant Conductor Ntalikeris666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ayo View Post
    I am an organist, currently rounding up a PhD program in Composition & Theory in the USA. I intend going into digital organ dealership in Nigerian & Ghana: Churches and various instituitons that continue to spring up in these part of world are in need of pipe organ substitutes. Allen, Johannus Rodgers and Viscount have all established their presence in these areas. But quite a number of organists and organ music lovers are dissatisfied with the tonal quality of these instruments. In my opinion, the problem is a direct consequence of voicing/tunning and sound projection issues compounded by the fact that ordinary salesmen and technicians (not professionally trained organists) install and maintain these organ. Thus, my decision to explore the arena of dealership.

    I have joined this forum to seek opinions and advice on what organ type to represent in W. Afrrica. I am a huge fan of English traditional voicing and will only market a product designed with a bias for this tonal school of thought. Other considerations center on durability and ease of maintenance, tropicalization, cost effectiveness, ease of installation and voicing. The products based on sound sampling technology that I have considered seriously are Content, Makin, Phoenix & Wyvern. I have considered Eminent Organs in the arena of products based on real time tone generation. I have knocked off Rodgers (for price considerations), Johannus (for its continental sound) and Allen (for the undesirable reed organ like quality of the swell reeds in chorus with diapasons and mixtures).

    Please feel free to advise and correct my wrong judgement and misconceptions.

    Thanks

    Ayo
    There is and another Company, called Phoenix , which has great organs as well.

    But the bad part is that their service is almost non existing in Europe, so, i went for Content organs instead. Their design in conjunction with their great sound, has a really positive result. If you want i can PM you to explain more and be more particular.

    Cheers,
    Nicholas

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ayo View Post
    The products based on sound sampling technology that I have considered seriously are Content, Makin, Phoenix & Wyvern.
    Ayo, that's a rather amusing inbred selection.

    - Low end off-the-shelf Wyvern organs are actually rebadged Content organs;

    - High end custom Wyvern organs have Phoenix technology under the hood;

    - Phoenix organs were developed by organist/engineers who spent their formative years with Makin; but when Johannus bought up Makin, the engineers fled Makin/Johannus to form the Phoenix Organ Company, with their own new innovative organ design and voicing.

    For me, after doing extensive research in choosing a new organ for my home, Phoenix simply stood out as the clear leader amongst the other major North American options; and as a surprizing bonus benefit, they beat out all of the competition on cost.

    For my home instrument, I chose a Phoenix III/44 with six speaker systems: two main speakers elevated at either side of the organ; two subwoofers; and two rear surround sound speakers systems at the rear of the room. Nothwithstanding that this is only a home organ, other than the speakers and amplifiers, has the very same internals as any massive cathedral installation. So it's a pretty awesome instrument. It's now a year and a half since this instrument was installed, and it's every bit as unbelievably awesome today, as the day it was first installed.

    To take on a dealership of this kind would be a rather fascinating adventure. As an organist, you have probably covered the initial criteria. All Phoenix installations and voicing are supervised and set up by accomplished organists, most often by the same engineer/ organist who intially recorded the voice samples.

    Next in importance would be the ability to select and install appropriate multi-channel speaker systems for the individual installation;

    For the purpose of set up and servicing, at least some knowledge of computer electronics is required. Not as if you would have to service the organ on a component-by-component basis. It's all modular; so replacing a power supply is no different than replacing a computer power supply. Same with amplifiers, which would merely be replaced on a unit basis, no more difficult than replacing the amplifier on your home stereo.

    As for ease of voicing, the software supplied for that purpose is pretty intuitive. The guy who does the voicing for North American organs spent less than an hour showing me how to use the software to modify my organ; and I've made at least a few voicing modifications on the baroque spec since then, to accomodate my own individual proclivities; and I asbolutely love the outcome! The voicing software is extremely easy to use; and if you make a mistake, you can always go back to the last saved configuration to restore the organ to the point before you started to mess with it.

    Which brings up your comment: I am a huge fan of English traditional voicing and will only market a product designed with a bias for this tonal school of thought.

    That's sort of funny, since the most apt description of Phoenix Organs would be: Anglican Church Organs designed by Anglican Church organists!! They are ultra-Brit all the way! Nothwithstanding that each organ actually contains 4 separate organs in one: English/American Romantic; French; Baroque; and orchestral. While not a big fan of somewhat bland English stuff, in preference to strident, raucous, chiffy Baroque stuff; my first month after organ installation was spent entirely on the English/American Romantic spec. It was pretty wonderful. I have to admit, that those singing diapsons on the Eglish spec have a tendency to become a tad addictive.

    Nevertheless, I spend most of my time at the console enjoying the (neo) Baroque spec. While not too strident, it offers just the right balance (for me); wonderfully articulate chiffy voicing. And then there's one of those difficult-to-explain characteristics with close-up-and-personal home organs: where the voices are so well detailed and defined, that you can actually hear all of the delicate breathy metallic nuances of each "pipe" as it is being played.

    While the Baroque spec tends to work best for me, in my close-up-and-personal environment, where I feel that I can almost reach out an touch the pipes; perhaps the English spec might be more appropriate for larger installations.

    Anyway . . . off for a week in the wilds. In our part of Canada, this is the peak of Autumn leaf peeping season; Algonquin Park and all that sort of stuff.
    Last edited by Clarion; Oct-01-2009 at 06:02.

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    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    have played several Makins...very impressive (voiced from Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, United Kingdom).
    I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
    —Albert Einstein.

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    And then there is always the option of a MIDI organ console and a high end computer running Hauptwerk (http://www.hauptwerk.com/) into 8 or 16 channels of speakers. The flexibility, wind model, and voicing options available are simply fantastic... Plus there is a wide range of sample sets available (and customizable) for specific needs of different congregations. If price is a concern, then the OpenSource GrandOrgue (http://www.exedra.hu/grandorgue) or jOrgan (http://jorgan.sourceforge.net/doku.php/introduction) are also excellent options...
    I'm in South Africa, so if you need more info on these options just drop me a personal message.
    GrahamG

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    Commander, Assistant Conductor Ntalikeris666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clarion View Post
    Ayo, that's a rather amusing inbred selection.

    - Low end off-the-shelf Wyvern organs are actually rebadged Content organs;

    - High end custom Wyvern organs have Phoenix technology under the hood;

    - Phoenix organs were developed by organist/engineers who spent their formative years with Makin; but when Johannus bought up Makin, the engineers fled Makin/Johannus to form the Phoenix Organ Company, with their own new innovative organ design and voicing.

    For me, after doing extensive research in choosing a new organ for my home, Phoenix simply stood out as the clear leader amongst the other major North American options; and as a surprizing bonus benefit, they beat out all of the competition on cost.

    For my home instrument, I chose a Phoenix III/44 with six speaker systems: two main speakers elevated at either side of the organ; two subwoofers; and two rear surround sound speakers systems at the rear of the room. Nothwithstanding that this is only a home organ, other than the speakers and amplifiers, has the very same internals as any massive cathedral installation. So it's a pretty awesome instrument. It's now a year and a half since this instrument was installed, and it's every bit as unbelievably awesome today, as the day it was first installed.

    To take on a dealership of this kind would be a rather fascinating adventure. As an organist, you have probably covered the initial criteria. All Phoenix installations and voicing are supervised and set up by accomplished organists, most often by the same engineer/ organist who intially recorded the voice samples.

    Next in importance would be the ability to select and install appropriate multi-channel speaker systems for the individual installation;

    For the purpose of set up and servicing, at least some knowledge of computer electronics is required. Not as if you would have to service the organ on a component-by-component basis. It's all modular; so replacing a power supply is no different than replacing a computer power supply. Same with amplifiers, which would merely be replaced on a unit basis, no more difficult than replacing the amplifier on your home stereo.

    As for ease of voicing, the software supplied for that purpose is pretty intuitive. The guy who does the voicing for North American organs spent less than an hour showing me how to use the software to modify my organ; and I've made at least a few voicing modifications on the baroque spec since then, to accomodate my own individual proclivities; and I asbolutely love the outcome! The voicing software is extremely easy to use; and if you make a mistake, you can always go back to the last saved configuration to restore the organ to the point before you started to mess with it.

    Which brings up your comment: I am a huge fan of English traditional voicing and will only market a product designed with a bias for this tonal school of thought.

    That's sort of funny, since the most apt description of Phoenix Organs would be: Anglican Church Organs designed by Anglican Church organists!! They are ultra-Brit all the way! Nothwithstanding that each organ actually contains 4 separate organs in one: English/American Romantic; French; Baroque; and orchestral. While not a big fan of somewhat bland English stuff, in preference to strident, raucous, chiffy Baroque stuff; my first month after organ installation was spent entirely on the English/American Romantic spec. It was pretty wonderful. I have to admit, that those singing diapsons on the Eglish spec have a tendency to become a tad addictive.

    Nevertheless, I spend most of my time at the console enjoying the (neo) Baroque spec. While not too strident, it offers just the right balance (for me); wonderfully articulate chiffy voicing. And then there's one of those difficult-to-explain characteristics with close-up-and-personal home organs: where the voices are so well detailed and defined, that you can actually hear all of the delicate breathy metallic nuances of each "pipe" as it is being played.

    While the Baroque spec tends to work best for me, in my close-up-and-personal environment, where I feel that I can almost reach out an touch the pipes; perhaps the English spec might be more appropriate for larger installations.

    Anyway . . . off for a week in the wilds. In our part of Canada, this is the peak of Autumn leaf peeping season; Algonquin Park and all that sort of stuff.

    The only bad thing about phoenix is their service (at least in Europe).
    Its almost non-existant. In the summer i was trying to contact a phoenix organ dealer, and after my 3 attempts to do so, they answered. After that, i requersted some more information, and it took 3 weeks for them to answer. Then, i mailed them again, and they never answered :-(

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ntalikeris666 View Post
    The only bad thing about phoenix is their service (at least in Europe).
    Its almost non-existant. In the summer i was trying to contact a phoenix organ dealer, and after my 3 attempts to do so, they answered. After that, i requersted some more information, and it took 3 weeks for them to answer. Then, i mailed them again, and they never answered :-(
    I had a similar experience in Canada. After not receiving a response to my initial email to them, I called them a week later on the telephone. When the guy who answered the phone at Phoenix asked me what I wanted, I told him: "Nothing. I was just checking to see if you guys were still in business, since I hadn't received a response to my email." That started the ball rolling.

    As Jim Anderson, general manager of Phoenix Canada once confessed: "We don't know much about sales; but we sure know how to build organs!!" But don't mistake their lack of response to perhaps hundreds of emails that they may receive on a daily basis, with the way they service actual customers. If you have a problem with one of their instruments, they'll be on your doorstep before you get a chance to even hang up the phone.

    Many corporations hire low paid teenagers who really know nothing about the corporate product, to look after the front lines; answering the phone; responding to emails, and all that sort of stuff.

    Phoenix Organ does not waste customer $$$ on providing a useless cosmetic front end interface with potential customers, by having some girl sit at a desk answering the phone, emails, etal. When you talk to someone at Phoenix, it will be a totally worthwhile experience, because you will be talking directly to the actual engineers, organists and builders of Phoenix Organs.

    These are not the kind of guys that sit around all day waiting for the telephone to ring, or yet another email to adorn their inbox. They most often out in the field, often thousands of kilometers away from home, managing every minute detail of yet another complex installation. Keep in mind that Phoenix is not limited to electronic installations, but are often contracted to deal with complex hybrid pipe organ refurbishing and augmentation.

    If you are looking for a new organ, then the people you actually want to talk to, or hear from, may be thousands of km away for weeks at a time. If you don't receive an immediate response from Phoenix, that just means that the crew is out in the field doing a new installation. And if they don't respond immediately after their return, that just means that they have yet again placed their extant customers first, in favour of a potential new sale.

    Phoenix doesn't have to go out looking for new customers; nor as the builder of the very finest digital organs in the industry, do they have to go out seeking new customers.

    When I set out over a year ago to purchase a new organ, Phoenix Organ really didn't need me; but I surely needed them! And now a year and a half later, the wondrous sounds of the Phoenix are just as exciting as the day it was installed.

    And speaking of installation, while I don't know how Phoenix handles their installations in other parts of the world; but here in Canada, even with a simple home organ installation like mine, the uncompromising installation of my home organ was supervised and voiced by Don and Jim Anderson. Just another day in the life of the Anderson Bros. spent not answering email.

    Let's face it: the Phoenix Organ Company, the industry leader, is far from being desperate when it comes to sales. Amusingly, when it comes to buying a Phoenix, it's now getting down to the the point of pleading: Please Mr. Phoenix, I would like you to build an organ for me!!

    Regards
    Clarion

  9. #9
    Commander, Assistant Conductor Ntalikeris666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clarion View Post
    I had a similar experience in Canada. After not receiving a response to my initial email to them, I called them a week later on the telephone. When the guy who answered the phone at Phoenix asked me what I wanted, I told him: "Nothing. I was just checking to see if you guys were still in business, since I hadn't received a response to my email." That started the ball rolling.

    As Jim Anderson, general manager of Phoenix Canada once confessed: "We don't know much about sales; but we sure know how to build organs!!" But don't mistake their lack of response to perhaps hundreds of emails that they may receive on a daily basis, with the way they service actual customers. If you have a problem with one of their instruments, they'll be on your doorstep before you get a chance to even hang up the phone.

    Many corporations hire low paid teenagers who really know nothing about the corporate product, to look after the front lines; answering the phone; responding to emails, and all that sort of stuff.

    Phoenix Organ does not waste customer $$$ on providing a useless cosmetic front end interface with potential customers, by having some girl sit at a desk answering the phone, emails, etal. When you talk to someone at Phoenix, it will be a totally worthwhile experience, because you will be talking directly to the actual engineers, organists and builders of Phoenix Organs.

    These are not the kind of guys that sit around all day waiting for the telephone to ring, or yet another email to adorn their inbox. They most often out in the field, often thousands of kilometers away from home, managing every minute detail of yet another complex installation. Keep in mind that Phoenix is not limited to electronic installations, but are often contracted to deal with complex hybrid pipe organ refurbishing and augmentation.

    If you are looking for a new organ, then the people you actually want to talk to, or hear from, may be thousands of km away for weeks at a time. If you don't receive an immediate response from Phoenix, that just means that the crew is out in the field doing a new installation. And if they don't respond immediately after their return, that just means that they have yet again placed their extant customers first, in favour of a potential new sale.

    Phoenix doesn't have to go out looking for new customers; nor as the builder of the very finest digital organs in the industry, do they have to go out seeking new customers.

    When I set out over a year ago to purchase a new organ, Phoenix Organ really didn't need me; but I surely needed them! And now a year and a half later, the wondrous sounds of the Phoenix are just as exciting as the day it was installed.

    And speaking of installation, while I don't know how Phoenix handles their installations in other parts of the world; but here in Canada, even with a simple home organ installation like mine, the uncompromising installation of my home organ was supervised and voiced by Don and Jim Anderson. Just another day in the life of the Anderson Bros. spent not answering email.

    Let's face it: the Phoenix Organ Company, the industry leader, is far from being desperate when it comes to sales. Amusingly, when it comes to buying a Phoenix, it's now getting down to the the point of pleading: Please Mr. Phoenix, I would like you to build an organ for me!!

    Regards
    Clarion
    Yeah, i see.

    Well, you know, i would never say that phoenix makes bad organs. Quite the opposite basically. But you know, if in your country there is not any organ dealers, and there are only one or 2 phoenix organ dealers in Europe, and Both of them DENY to reply to your mails, its not the easiest thing to arrange a meeting , or a visit to the factory :P

    Personally i would never buy an instrument, whatever that might be, without seeing it and playing it before.
    If i was buying a phoenix i would take it from the UK because of the current currency and the low VAT. In Hungary , where the other dealer is located, the prices are a bit (to alot) higher and the have a 19% Vat as in most countries. Another thing is the Voicing of the organs. I know that the European versions dont have the same voicing as the Canadian one, but i dont know if the voicing of each organ changes from dealer to dealer.

  10. #10
    Commander, Assistant Conductor Ntalikeris666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ayo View Post
    I am an organist, currently rounding up a PhD program in Composition & Theory in the USA. I intend going into digital organ dealership in Nigerian & Ghana: Churches and various instituitons that continue to spring up in these part of world are in need of pipe organ substitutes. Allen, Johannus Rodgers and Viscount have all established their presence in these areas. But quite a number of organists and organ music lovers are dissatisfied with the tonal quality of these instruments. In my opinion, the problem is a direct consequence of voicing/tunning and sound projection issues compounded by the fact that ordinary salesmen and technicians (not professionally trained organists) install and maintain these organ. Thus, my decision to explore the arena of dealership.

    I have joined this forum to seek opinions and advice on what organ type to represent in W. Afrrica. I am a huge fan of English traditional voicing and will only market a product designed with a bias for this tonal school of thought. Other considerations center on durability and ease of maintenance, tropicalization, cost effectiveness, ease of installation and voicing. The products based on sound sampling technology that I have considered seriously are Content, Makin, Phoenix & Wyvern. I have considered Eminent Organs in the arena of products based on real time tone generation. I have knocked off Rodgers (for price considerations), Johannus (for its continental sound) and Allen (for the undesirable reed organ like quality of the swell reeds in chorus with diapasons and mixtures).

    Please feel free to advise and correct my wrong judgement and misconceptions.

    Thanks

    Ayo
    Check this out:

    The organ is a Content.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azx1y62xmNc&fmt=18

  11. #11
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    You pose an interesting question Ayo. I completely understand your unwillingness to sell Allen, Rodgers or *gasp* Johannus. I'll give you my two cents from a rather unique perspective.

    I know Don and Jim Anderson. Don used to tune my parents' piano when I was young. He's an organist himself, and buying an organ from organists has it's advantages. Phoenix rebuilt the organ in St. John's Anglican Church in Peterborough, which was the organ I first learned on nearly twenty five years ago. It's decent. It's not spectacular, in my opinion, but you have to understand the St. John's organ to appreciate that comment.

    The original organ came from a dark period in Casavant's history. by that, I mean that the tonal quality of the organ is dark. Heavy, lifeless, insufficient mixtures and upperwork, and dull reeds. Don and Jim chose to keep that tonal profile intact. Not my choice, but at the same time, knowing the church as well as I do, I understand completely why they chose to do that.

    I'm a bit surprised you had trouble contacting them initially. That's not like Don. I have heard, however, on other forums, that their service is impeccable.

    As for me, I had the option not too long ago to choose the organ for the new worship space at St. George's Anglican Church in Ajax. The historic church has an old Classic organ - one of their first digitals- and it's pretty nice for it's age. It's still better than many of the base model Allen and Rodgers available today. I chose Classic to build my new instrument. The company decided to upgrade the sound samples to Walker, at no cost to the church. I'm delighted they did. There is a quality to the samples that Allen and Rodgers just don't have. Check out www.classicorgan.com and look for the church under custom organs. As far as I know, it's still the only fully Walker digital in Canada.

    In fairness to Phoenix, I haven't ever played one, so I'm in no position to comment on how they sound. I will say, however, that I looked at their specs, and their stop lists are far closer to what I would choose on an organ compared to what anyone else offers. The hint here, is that I'm talking about custom organs, which is what St. George's was. There's no substitute. Of course, the cost also goes up as EVERYTHING has to be custom made - console, drawstop engraving, software, etc.

    If you are serious about opening up shop, you may want to consider running dual purpose. Offer Phoenix as your A,B,C model out-of-the-box, and offer Walker for those who want and are able/willing to afford custom. Check to see if Phoenix will custom as well, but my money is still on Walker. Until Marshall and Ogletree came on the market, Walker was simply the best out there.

    Here's some advice from someone who recently went through an organ purchase. Take it or leave it, but much of it comes from the organ builders themselves, and it will help you build and sell better instruments.

    You have to approach selling digital organs in the same way you would approach selling pipe organs - all the same principles apply. From stop lists to audio system and audio placement, the acoustics of the space, the needs of the organist and the congregation. All of the things that pipe organ builders consider need to be forefront in selling digital organs as well. As a general rule, break down your instrument into thirds. One third of the cost for audio components, one third for tone generation, and one third for the rest of the hardware.

    Most digital organ builders severly underestimate the audio requirements for an organ. Keep in mind that a 50 stop organ has over 3000 pipes. That means 3000 INDIVIDUAL SOURCES OF SOUND. Compare that to six speakers, and what kind of result to you expect to get? Keep your stop to speaker ratio at under 3 to one. For fifty stops, consider eighteen speakers with two subwoofers. Sounds like alot? It is, but it will drastically improve the sounds. Remember what I said about individual sources of sound. Also, try to spread each stop over four channels, making sure that the note one octave up never shares the same speaker as it's lower partner. Try to run sounds through the same speakers that are not likely to be used together. All this will help minimize the load on each individual speaker. Be careful where you set your frequency cutoff point. Even the last octave of, say, a diapason 8' should have a small amount of the sound run through the subwoofer. It will add incredible depth to the sound.

    Stay away from toys. Don't waste memory on alternate sounds or registrations - keep the money focused on the core of the organ. Don't use sub and supercouplers, even on a small organ. If an organ is designed and voiced properly, you don't need them. In fact, they can completely ruin a well voiced instrument.

    Voicing an instrument isn't easy, even though Allen and rodgers make you think anyone can do it. It takes years of experience and a great deal of knowledge to do it well. Unless that's you, hire someone who knows what they are doing, and who shares your own sense of tonal direction. Yes, you can make minor modifications as the organist, but overall voicing and blend is a fine balancing act. Ever try to perfectly balance a Cornet V?

    Don't oversell the size of the organ. Church councils are generally ill-informed and ignorant as to how organs should be built. If the Allen dealer wants to sell a 50 stop organ with six speakers, you have to show them why that is the wrong approach, and why they are much better off with a smaller spec with more audio. During my time in university, I had the opportunity to be an organ scholar from one college on the campus. There was a three rank (one manual, no pedal) continuo organ built by Karl Wilhelm, and a two manual Casavant. I much preferred to play the Wilhelm, because, although small, it was of much better quality, and the individual sounds were so much more pleasing.

    I'll finish with Hauptwerk. Very good, for home, and very promising. I don't believe it's quite ready for commercial use, although Phoenix supposedly set up one of their consoles to run the system. Clarion might know more than I about that. The downside is that it runs of a hard drive, and they tend to fail far more frequently that do standard sound processors. (Understatement of the year.) For a small parish on a shoestring budget you might get away with it, but by the time you add decent audio, you might find a good Phoenix isn't that far off the mark. BTW, can anyone tell me what the various Phoenix organs sell for these days?

    Anyway, that's my 2 cents. (You get alot from me for two cents.) sorry if it's a bit long, but hope it's helpful

    When the world comes to an end, I will be the Last Corpse Standing.

  12. #12
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    Hello there,

    What is the extent by which English and American churches will consider organs of North German voicing? Do they stick mostly to Rodgers and Allen because they are more used to the English Baroque sounds or the more widely used South German school? I asked about this because there seem to have been certain biased views over organs of North German voicing. I hope an organ scholar can help address this question.

    Also, I would like to ask about Phoenix. How well can it manage fast-running passages of Baroque music when the Mixture or Cymbel are used? Can they provide sufficient clarity of speech? I asked about this because I assume Phoenix is of more a Romantic-type organ upon my hearing some excerpts of music played on the Phoenix.

    If you don't mind, can you also give some details on Classic Organs: can they provide many optional tonal resources of various European and Anglo-American organ traditions for the customer?

    Thanks
    Felix
    Last edited by FelixLowe; Nov-06-2009 at 07:56.

  13. #13
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    Hello Felix. In terms of North American choice of Allen or Rodgers, it comes mostly from the fact that they are the biggest, and hence, the most well known, and therefore must be the best. That's why American drink Budweiser. Flawed logic, but that's life. Organ selection committees are generally pretty ill informed. They hear something that's better than what they had, and that's enough for them. Cost is sometimes a contributing factor, and out-of-the-box makes life easy. I know Allen sometimes artificially boosts the treble and bass on demos to create a wow factor, but after a while of listening, it begins to sound hollow. The problem is, most people don't listen to the demo long enough to notice.

    I don't forsee the N German voicing ever taking off here. Honestly, the organ is a dying instrument to some extent in many parts of North America, and anything that far away from the norm won't be liked. There are some exceptions, but generally you'll get English or Skinner. French is probably the next likely choice of voicing. I, personally, enjoy the N German organs, but they have limits on their flexibility for this market, and you have to find someone who understands how to play them. If you look at many organs out there, you tend to find a conglomoration of all kinds of different organs.

    I won't comment on Phoenix, I haven't played one.

    Classic doesn't have their own samples any more. They were outdated, and rather than spend money on new, they chose to sell Ahlborn-Galanti as an out of the box model, and Walker for their custom lines. I believe they also deal in M&O. The Walker library is quite extensive, and quite fine. The organ at St. George's Ajax could handle virtually anything I threw at it. Speech was very clear and crisp,even in the hard to manage tenor range. Keep in mind, if you're looking custom, you pay through the nose. That organ cost $120,000 Canadian, and that didn't include the extra cost of the Walker system. One thing I loved about this organ, that I haven't noticed in anything else, was the quality of the Swell stops. You could actually hear the tonal difference in the Swell stops caused by the inherent reverberation inside the Swell box itself, expecially on the reeds.

    Personally, from what I've heard, take the Phoenix over the Ahlborn for out-of-the-box. I like their preset specs better, and service is said to be fantastic. Read my previous post about sufficient audio channels, and you should have a fine instrument. Don Anderson runs Phoenix, and he's a good guy. Ask him if he'll do custom as well. Someone with more experience will be able to tell you about the speech characteristics of their organs. Try posting in The Organ Forum as well, and see what answers come up.

    When the world comes to an end, I will be the Last Corpse Standing

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by FelixLowe View Post
    Also, I would like to ask about Phoenix. How well can it manage fast-running passages of Baroque music when the Mixture or Cymbel are used? Can they provide sufficient clarity of speech? I asked about this because I assume Phoenix is of more a Romantic-type organ upon my hearing some excerpts of music played on the Phoenix.
    Let me say at the outset, that there is no such thing as an out-of-the-box Phoenix Organ. ALL Phoenix organs are custom made, and custom designed for each individual installation. And as part of each installation, Phoenix Organs are individually voiced; usually by Don Anderson.

    As for your assumption that Phoenix is of more a Romantic-type organ, that's true in part; they usually include an English Romantic set up as more or less the default organ. And it's very good at what it does in that regard.

    But Phoenix Organs usually don't stop with a mere English Romantic organ. They typically include four independent organs in the one instrument. The common choices are: 1. English Romantic; 2. French 3. Baroque; and 4. Orchestral. The Orchestral organ is a combination of organ and orchestral instruments such as trumpets, strings, cello, flute, oboe, clarinet, etc. These voices are really excellent quality; purchased from a third party company who specializes in this kind of thing.

    My favourite amongst the various organs, is the Baroque organ. I absolutely love it! And that's the organ I usually play. It is quite articulate, although more neo baroque than strident baroque. It has a good cross section of chiffy and non chiffy flutes and diapsons, with less chiffy stuff being assigned to the swell. I would describe the voicing of most of the flutes and diapsons as being rather chiffy, 'full bodied' and breathy.

    If you want to change the voicing, it's pretty simple with the voicing software. I wasn't particularly pleased with anemic way the Choir was initially set up on my instrument. It was too weak and inarticulate. I wanted this division to be able to compete favourably with the other two manuals; and to that end, I not only pumped up the volume on pretty much the entire division; but really cranked up the mutations so that they could ably stand on their own for (strident?) solo work. :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by FelixLowe View Post
    If you don't mind, can you also give some details on Classic Organs: can they provide many optional tonal resources of various European and Anglo-American organ traditions for the customer?
    My previous organ was a Classic Organ.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by LastCorpseStanding View Post
    I know Don and Jim Anderson. Don used to tune my parents' piano when I was young. He's an organist himself, and buying an organ from organists has it's advantages. Phoenix rebuilt the organ in St. John's Anglican Church in Peterborough, which was the organ I first learned on nearly twenty five years ago.
    I grew up in Peterborough too.

    Quote Originally Posted by LastCorpseStanding View Post
    It's decent. It's not spectacular, in my opinion, but you have to understand the St. John's organ to appreciate that comment.
    I supose that explains why more of their samples come from St. Mark's; the Hallman organ built by an electric fence company.

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