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Thread: Looking for good digital

  1. #1
    Apprentice, Piano
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    Looking for good digital

    Hello fellow musicians,

    I am new to posting so if I don't do everything just so, please forgive my ignorance.
    I am looking for a good used three manual digital organ for my home. I have enough space to include separate speaker cabinets, etc. My concern is that I don't know enough about digital organs to make a wise decision. Of course, I would enjoy as close to a pipe organ sound as possible. I realize that Allen and Rogers make digital organs and I have played both. I'm not completely satisfied with either as yet. I really don't want lighted drawknobs!
    I have heard that the Phoenix organ company makes a good instrument at an excellent price tag. I realize that I am on a pipe organ forum but I thought that someone could steer me in the best direction.
    I would appreciate your frankness and your help. My budget could bear between 4 and 8 thousand.
    Billy 12345

  2. #2
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    You do not make clear where you do live. The reference to Allen and Rodgers makes me think that you are in the US. Anyway, I don't think I can help you much, but here is what I can say.

    I have a limited knowledge of the technology of digital organs, but having purchased this year an old digital (probably the very first generation) for my home practice, I started to look at this subject and I am trying to acquire a more clear idea of today's offers. Generally, Ahlborn and Johannus are considered the best in (continental) Europe. No idea about the US though. There are many factors and parameters to look at, but after careful examination of the specifications, hearing, playing and inspecting the physical feel of the actual product will be the principal guide for the final decision.

    All depends on what you are looking for, on what your needs are. For example, in my case, I was interested in doing a minimal investment in such an instrument, just to cover the needs for my organ studies. At the time, I knew nothing about digital organs and my decision was based purely on hearing and playing the instrument. It was in very good condition for such an old instrument (10-12 years old), and it performed acoustically leaps above what I was trying to achieve with my modest synthesizer. A completely new world for a very attractive price. Oh, and it has pedals too .

    So, this is just to tell you that you have first to ask yourself what exactly you do need, before making your mind up. And today, most manufacturers, the most known at least, offer more or less comparable products and the game now is played in the details that can be very important, according always to the needs and goals.

    I would invite you to think about this and ask more. I will have perhaps some answers.

  3. #3
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    Best Used Digitals

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy12345 View Post
    Hello fellow musicians,

    I have heard that the Phoenix organ company makes a good instrument at an excellent price tag. My budget could bear between 4 and 8 thousand.
    Billy 12345
    Hello all! My first Magle post. I just bought a new Phoenix. In my opinion they are the absolute best (except maybe for M&O). Unforunately you won't find any used. They are too new a company and their instruments are too good. Their samples are light years ahead (IMHO) of Allen, Rodgers and Johannus. The prices are well under what the others charge as well. What I really like is that each instrument is built custom to your specs both in the stoplist, what and where controls are, et cetera.

    Unfortunately ... as I said ... you won't find them used. You will have to buy new (and wait in line 10-12 months for it to be built/delivered). As a VERY rough guide ... expect to pay around a thousand a stop minimum. For a 15-20 stop 2 manual that is probably double your budget

    As an alternative ... if you can get your hands on a used console you may be able to purchase the Phoenix system and install it yourself. You will have to be able to do the voicing yourself though. I don't know of anyone personally who has done this so no idea if anyone ever has or if Phoenix would allow it.

    - Regards

    P.S. Phoenix is actually a European company. There is a North American (Peterborough Ontario) and U.K. branches. Phoenixorgans.com and phoenixorgans.co.uk

  4. #4
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    To pb05 and to Bombarde 32

    Thanks for your input. I am from the US (Alabama). pbo5, I think that I know for what I am looking. Hopefully, I can find a used organ to meet these specifications. Versitility, 3 manuals, AGO pedal board, not necessarily cutting edge technology. A good sound and a good practice instrument. Thanks also to Bombarde 32 for the input on pricing for the Phoenix. It certainly makes sense that they are too new for used ones to be available as yet. And another source tells me that Phoenix Organs can be upgraded so there will probably not be as much turn over. Thanks again to you both.
    Billy12345

  5. #5
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Hi Bombarde32 ... welcome to MIMF

    Enjoyed reading about the Phoenix organ and went to their website. Pretty impressed with sound clips of the softer voices. There is something about full ensemble though that can only come from wind blown pipes, something that the 'toasters' are getting closer to replicating.
    Kh ~~.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy12345 View Post
    pbo5, I think that I know for what I am looking. Hopefully, I can find a used organ to meet these specifications. Versitility, 3 manuals, AGO pedal board, not necessarily cutting edge technology. A good sound and a good practice instrument.
    OK. I don't think that I can help on where to look.

    You can certainly find good 3-manual organs in your budget range. "Good" is always a relative term and depends on your expectations. For example, if you can read french, here is an example (used organ) for 5400 euros. There are many parameters to look at, but from the most important are the sample loop length (today's digital organs use samples of real organ pipes), the detail of samples, the dedicated amount of memory of the organ and the sound separation through channels. And built construction of course.

    In your case, I don't think you should start your search based solely on the paper specifications, partly because even used organs that have good technical profiles by today's standards, would be way beyond your budget. You should more look for occasions in the US, like the european link I cited above, and make visits on site to hear and play the organ.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, unlike computers, digital organs hold very well their value. This is related to the fact that the people using them are a tiny minority in the music market.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post
    Hi Bombarde32 ... welcome to MIMF

    Enjoyed reading about the Phoenix organ and went to their website. Pretty impressed with sound clips of the softer voices.
    I agree, they have some impressive samples showing that these organs are of high quality. Final judgement though should be reserved upon hearing the actual instrument in appropriate acoustic conditions.

    Very good samples can be found in the other manufacturers that I mentioned above. It seems though that some Johannus recordings are substantially better than the Ahlborn ones. Take as example this one (more samples here) and the recording or mp3 compression problem is more than visible (or audible ) in the beginning. On the other hand, there are some pretty impressive Johannus samples in this page. But I don't think that the real difference between Ahlborn and Joahnnus would be so big as the above samples let you believe. Furthermore, the Johannus marketing looks more eloquent than the Ahlborn one. That's why I insist that final judgement should be made after seeing and hearing the instrument in person.

    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post
    There is something about full ensemble though that can only come from wind blown pipes, something that the 'toasters' are getting closer to replicating.
    What do you mean? What are "toasters"?

  8. #8
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Hi pb05,

    "Toasters" is a slang term sometimes used by pipe organ builders describing the electronic and/or digital reproduction of wind blown pipes. For the record, I am not a pipe organ builder, nor am I opposed to electronic and/or digital reproduction of actual wind blown pipes. It was meant in a humorous way.

    I did not mean to offend anyone nor was it meant to convey that I personally am opposed to electronic/digital reproductions - I am partial to Allen, however, having been in insitutional sales and later as a road technician.
    Kh ~~.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post
    Hi pb05,

    "Toasters" is a slang term sometimes used by pipe organ builders describing the electronic and/or digital reproduction of wind blown pipes. For the record, I am not a pipe organ builder, nor am I opposed to electronic and/or digital reproduction of actual wind blown pipes. It was meant in a humorous way.

    I did not mean to offend anyone nor was it meant to convey that I personally am opposed to electronic/digital reproductions - I am partial to Allen, however, having been in insitutional sales and later as a road technician.
    Thanks for the clarifications Krummhorn.
    No, I did not take offence, I was just curious.

    So, you do compare the tutti between a pipe and a digital organ. Of course you cannot expect the same level of performance. However, it seems that progress has been made. Johannus claims that their full organ settings are similar to what one finds in a real pipe organ in sound characteristics. A little hard to believe without being a witness and it does not mean that others too, who do not speak too much, have not made progress in the same direction. But as I said previously, it appears that Johannus marketing is stronger than other's.

  10. #10
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Hi pb05,

    I have heard some recordings of the Johannus - quite impressed with the overall tone quality.
    Kh ~~.
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  11. #11
    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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  12. #12
    Rear Admiral Appassionata greatcyber's Avatar
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    Listening to many of the electronic versions of pipe organs out there is quickly becoming an obcession for me. I find myself at my computer for countless hours, even forgetting to take the time to prepare meals and/or go to bed.

    I have to thank you all for the wealth of information on these forums. It has truly opened my eyes to what is possible with some time, patience, and of course, some money.

    Since I have been googling my head off, I came across this YouTube download that I thought would be nice to share...just to see if it makes the same impression on anyone here as it did on me. I was especially moved by the trumpet sounds. And to think that this organ is in someone's lounge/living room!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaoDKTRh5P4

    Let me know if you like it.

    Stephen

  13. #13
    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    greatcyber ... where on this vast planet do you live? I'm in Australia.

    Billy - thanks, it's been a fascinating thread.

  14. #14
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    If you're looking for new then the European makes like Viscount, Johannus & Ahlborn Galanti will offer you the best value for money and a higher spec at your price point.

    Personally, I'm a fan of Allen organs (Rodgers are good too), but for your budget you'd only be able to afford a tiny new Allen or Rodgers which you may find underwhelming and which you may "out grow" quite quickly.

    Alternatively, if you go second hand then there is plenty to choose from.

    I'd personally stay away from the likes of Johannus and Viscount instruments that were built before the mid 1990s. These are known for their poor build quality and so-so reliability - and parts are hard to get hold of these days. However, in the last few years they've improved vastly and are now not too far off the likes of Allen when it comes to build quality.

    If you go second hand then you can't go wrong with either an Allen or Rodgers. On your budget you should be able to get a digital instrument built from the late 1980s onwards (depending on spec of course). These instruments are built like tanks and will go on for many years. There are also still parts around for if you ever need to repair them.

    Personally, I like larger instruments, so I'd go second hand and purchase myself something like a late 1980s/early 1990s Allen three manual.

  15. #15
    Rear Admiral Appassionata greatcyber's Avatar
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    Smile I get around

    Quote Originally Posted by Contratrombone64 View Post
    greatcyber ... where on this vast planet do you live? I'm in Australia.

    Billy - thanks, it's been a fascinating thread.
    Contratrombone64~I live in Montreal, Quebec. I jsut moved here in January. My husband and I moved from Fort Lauderdale. Yes, I know, people always ask why we would leave south Florida and move to Canada?!? One word answer should suffice: Bush! We have become more than disheartened with the US over the past several years and my husband being Canadian allows for us to live an open and honest life without the biggotry and gay-bashing that happened to us in FLL. It is a shame we had to leave our country, but, boy, are we HAPPY now. Of course, moving in the height of winter was an adjustment and one of our dogs wouldn't go out of the house for 3 months, but cost of life is cheaper, food is better, people are actually PLEASANT and our only task now is to learn to speak French. Thank goodness for Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur.

    But this forum has been a God-send for me...not to mention a wealth of information. It is allowing me to go back to music, which I have been away from for some 35 years or so. I'm really getting into the virtual organ programs and am having my mom send me all my old organ music from Florida. I used to play in church when I was 17. I'm 51 now. Just starting all over again. It's fun, actually.

    Cheers,
    Stephen

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