The Viscount "Symphonia" model

Digital Electronic Organ

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Some of the music of these Video subpages was recorded using a Viscount "Symphonia" model digital electronic organ (photo), an instrument manufactured in Mondaino, Italy beginning in late 1988 and for the next 9 years was imported into and marketed in America by Church Organ Systems under the Baldwin brand name.  This 5-manual instrument was a MIDI-compatible product equipped with DS4 digital sampling technology and a modest but independent self-contained speaker system.  Manufactured in blocks of 50 at a time, the Symphonia was the largest stock console Viscount ever built.  Only one block of 50 was ever ordered for the United States, but all 50 of them were sold.  At the time, Viscount had a 3-manual stock console of fixed design in regular production (Baldwin C-470) to which one or two extra manuals could be piled on top creating a 4-manual (Baldwin C-480) or 5-manual (Baldwin C-500) version, respectively.  Everything else, including the Pedal division, remained identical among all three models.  Production of the C-480 and C-500 ceased around 1997 when Viscount turned to producing a line of strictly 2- and 3-manual products, and it was around this time that Viscount engineers developed a less expensive 3-manual version (Baldwin C-400) having fewer and different stops than the C-470, couplers transferred from piston to drawknob control, and a solid wood rack to replace the C-470's clear plexi-rack.  The C-500, being in limited production for only about 9 years (1988-1997), sold for around $90K at the time it was phased out of production.   It is thus an extremely rare find these days.


* The following lines will describe one solution for how a number of new and preowned amplifiers and speaker units of various brands can be connected to and improve the sound of a dated electronic digitally sampled organ in cases where both space and cost are considerations.    

  This particular instrument's sampled voices are sourced, separated, and stored by division on 6 separate "slave" computers aboard, one for each division, all of which were controlled by a single master computer.  Voices, couplers, and tremulants are brought on or retired by means of lighted drawknobs and lighted manual and toe pistons.  Lighted rocker tablets paired with an 8-position factory-set Crescendo indicator are built into the rail above the top manual controlled MIDI, Voicing Variations, and divisional Reeds Cancels.  All drawknobs and rocker tablets remain in alignment in both on/off positions.  Output channel phone (1/4") jacks in the back of the console allow for up to 3 separate outputs per division, thus as many as 18 separate powered speaker cabinets (3 for each division) can be added.

The console's self-contained speaker system consists of a pair of 12" woofers each powered by its own 80-watt (80W) amplifier having a combined power consumption of 160W.  It is well known that when a single master-of-all-work speaker attempts to reproduce the entire frequency spectrum all by itself like this the mammoth movements it makes to generate the lowest sounds interferes to some extent with its ability to reproduce the finer movements needed for midrange and higher frequencies.  The resulting intermodulation distortion typically robs the midrange and treble of some of its clarity.  The solution is to send the main output signal stream from the console to a system of loudspeakers equipped with multiple crossovers which divide the signal stream into various frequency bands which can be sent to speakers of different sizes specially built to best reproduce frequencies in those ranges.  

In this installation the external speaker complement is a non-factory mix of pre-owned and new equipment separated into 4 systems:  1) MAIN, 2) MONITOR, 3) AUXILIARY, and 4) MANUAL/PIPE.  Each system makes its own contribution to the overall sound of the instrument which in combination is singular and unique.

Both MAIN and MONITOR channels receive output signal from all 6 divisional channels of the instrument through a single Peavey XR8300 power mixer supplied with dual 300W amplifiers, one for the MAIN channel and one for the MONITOR.  At 300W per channel through a minimum 4 Ohm load, both channels are first looped through a DOD SR231Qx 31-band dual graphic equalizer and mixed with reverb.  The MAIN output signal is routed from there to Velodyne Servo F-1800RII powered subwoofer having an internal amp rated at 600W (1000W max), an 18" driver, and a low crossover set at 40Hz.  This massive sub is side-firing, has a frequency response all the way down to 16Hz, and, in this application, functions to reproduce all those infrasonic frequencies below the range of determinate musical sound by setting its crossover at 40Hz corresponding to 16-foot E which is generally agreed to be the downward limit of the human ear to detect determinate musical pitch.  The equalized signal thus filtered of its extremely lowest frequencies is sent from there to a free-standing BSR passive subwoofer retrofitted with a Memphis 15" floor-firing driver which captures all remaining frequencies from 40Hz up to 120Hz.  The outgoing signal from this sub is then routed to a pair of BSR Colossus R/L stereo cabinets each rated at 200W.  These cabinets retain their own original pair of BSR 2" ceramic tweeters but were retrofitted with new Memphis (15") and Pyle (8", 5") drivers.  A crossover network in each BSR cabinet divides the audio stream into 4 different frequency bands which are sent to each of its 5 loudspeakers designed to receive them (120-800Hz to the 15", 800-1200Hz to the 8", 1200-3400Hz to the 5", and above 3400Hz to both tweeters).  Positioned to the right of the console this system disperses the sound to the right side and rear of the room.  The MONITOR output signal is routed to a single Peavey PV215 quasi 3-way trapezoidal enclosure PA cabinet equipped with a pair of 15" heavy duty woofers and a 1.4-inch RX14 titanium tweeter driver mounted on a 60 X 40 degree coverage constant-directivity horn.  This cabinet is rated at 700W through 4 Ohms, thus it is not connected in parallel with any other cabinet in order to keep a minimum load of 4 Ohms on the Peavey power mixer amp.  It has a single crossover frequency of 2.6kHz, a frequency response of 58Hz to 17kHz, and a frequency range of 40Hz to 21kHz.  Positioned behind and to the right of the player it points the sound to the left of the room. A spare MONITOR output jack at the power mixer is connected to a Sony SA-WMSP1 powered subwoofer equipped with a 50W amp and single 8" bass reflex speaker.  This unit also is side-firing, situated behind the console, and disperses sound in that direction.  This MONITOR channel can be made to play all by itself by not turning on the Velodyne sub, but when the MAIN channel plays it always joins with the MONITOR to provide an expansive sound and a very realistic, pervading bass.  These two channels have a combined power consumption of 300W + 300W (Peavey) + 600W (Velodyne) + 50W (Sony) = 1250W, and, as stated, the entire instrument plays through them.

An Allen MDS-Expander II external module has been MIDI-connected to this console and also speaks through both MAIN and MONITOR channels where its voices are equalized and mixed with reverb.  This is a stand alone add-on unit which can be MIDI-assigned to play on any of the console's three bottom manuals (Swell, Great, Choir/Positiv) and Pedal.  Its supplemental voices including classic organ stops, mutations, and ancient reeds, theatre organ ranks, percussions, and a variety of orchestral and other keyboard instruments; as many as 4 voices may be accessed simultaneously out of the 99 program numbers onboard along with 60 factory preset groups which are both alterable and restorable to original factory configuration.  Selected Allen voices may be assigned to individual Viscount MIDI rocker tabs situated above the top manual for Swell, Great, Choir/Positiv, and Pedal divisions.  These rocker tabs then can be captured and stored on general or divisional pistons to play either singly or with any combinations of the organ's voices.  The four selected voices programmed on Allen Channel 1 meant to supplement the console's combos on Memory One [German Baroque] are:  Sw Rankett 8', Gt Trompette 8', Ch/Pos Barpfeife 8', Ped Principal 16'.  The four selected voices programmed on Allen Channel 2 meant to supplement the console's combos on Memory 2 [French Romantic] are:  Sw Viole 4', Gt Trumpet 16', Ch/Pos Clarinet 16', Ped Principal 10-2/3'].  Making just these 8 additional Allen voices available has been of substantial use in recreating the type of sound world the German Baroque and French Romantic builders and composers knew, increases the number of speaking stops in this organ to 92, and raises the number of ranks to 123.  The Allen module in this application has been adjusted to play very slightly out of tune with the main console -- sharp by just one cent, or 1/100th of a chromatic semitone.     

The AUXILIARY speaker system is supplied with two channels.  The first channel makes use of individual line out jacks from the console for Pedal, Great, and Choir/Positiv divisions.  These outputs are connected to a Roland CM-30 multi-purpose Cube Monitor situated to the left of th econsole and equipped with a 30W amp and a single 6-1/2" coaxial speaker.  With its bass control set at minimum and its treble control flat, its line out jack sends this mixed signal to a single floor-standing Sony SS-U4033 passive speaker cabinet equipped with an 8" woofer, 3" midrange, and 1" tweeter horn having a frequency range of 50Hz-20kHz.  This passive cabinet is side-firing, situated behind the console, and disperses sound in that direction.  The second channel makes use of 2 special combinational output jacks at the console which send  the entire MAIN output signal for Pedal/Choir-Positiv/Solo and Great/Swell/Echo to a compact 2 x 50W Sunbuck AS-22 mini-amplifier.  This amp in turn relays the MAIN signal stream to another Peavey PV215 quasi 3-way trapezoidal enclosure PA cabinet equipped with a pair of 15" heavy duty woofers and a 1.4-inch RX14 titanium tweeter mounted on a 60 X 40 degree coverage constant-directivity horn.  This cabinet is identical to the one used with the MONITOR channel [See above], is rated at 700W, and has a crossover frequency of 2.6kHz, a frequency response of 58Hz to 17kHz, and a frequency range of 40Hz to 21kHz.  Positioned behind and to the right of the player, this cabinet faces and disperses sound in the opposite direction to the left side of the room.  The power consumption of this AUXILIARY speaker system is thus 30W + 50W = 80W, and, as stated, the entire MAIN channel plays through it.

   The MANUAL/PIPE speaker system connects only with the five manual divisions and has three separate channels, the first two of which operate together.  The first channel begins with a powerful 2400W Rockville RPM80BT 8-channel power mixer which receives signal from each of the 5 manual output channels of the console and mixes them into a single mono output signal with reverb.  With its 5-band EQ set flat save for full supression at 60Hz and individual channels set for flat treble and minimum bass, its line out sends this mixed signal to a Klipsch KSW200 powered subwoofer equipped with a floor-firing 12" bass reflex driver and 200W amp with low pass crossover set at its highest [120Hz].  The Klipsch output speaker terminals are wired to send the remaining low-end-filtered Rockville signal to two pair [Models 145-2, 145-3, 146-1, 146-2, all silver finish] of Conn speaker pipes.  Each set of pipes is rated at 8 Ohms, equipped with four Cletron 6" X 9" oval speakers wired in series parallel, and is engineered to operate from 200Hz [around 8-foot tenor A] on up.  These units disperse the sound to the rear and far right of the room.  The first 8 Ohm line output from the Rockville then routs this powered signal to a Roland KCW-1 powered subwoofer equipped with a floor-firing 10" bass reflex driver and 135W amp with crossover set at its highest [120Hz].  From there, the Roland output jacks then send the remaining low-end-filtered Rockville signal to an additional pair [Models 145-1, 146-2, both gold finish] of Conn pipes.  Each set of these pipes are equipped with the same four speakers wired the same way with an 8 Ohm load to operate from 200Hz on up.  These units disperse the sound to the rear of the room.

NOTE:  The Conn pipe array speakers were just one of a number of attempts to improve the rather sterile sound of early analog organs.  These are strictly treble units made up of narrow scale, cylindrical, anodized aluminum pipes of different sizes tuned to the notes of the chromatic scale which work mainly by spreading and diffusing the sound.  The Conn theory was that each specific frequency would find its own pipe and make it resonate.  At close range these units impart to manual stops a detectable but subtle brightness of color, a finespun but discernable edge to the strings and reeds, dispersion of sound vertically to the ceiling and from there to all four corners and throughout the room, and an extremely rapid but detectable buildup and decay of sound when keys are pressed and released, respectively -- effects which can be heard but not counted.  Used all by themselves the results can be disappointing from across the room when compared with conventional speakers, but that is not what they were meant to do; when used in conjunction with existing speakers they "spread the sound out" in a sense which adds a nice ambience and more depth as the sound comes from literally all around and every corner of the room.  These are strictly midrange and upper midrange units and MUST be shielded from low bass frequencies from 200Hz on down to avoid damaging them.  This can be accomplished easily enough by using a bypass crossover network to eliminated lowest bass [setting subwoofer cutoff frequencies at maximum (120Hz or higher) and amplifier bass controls at minimum].  The result is a subtle enhancement of upper partial tones of all manual speaking stops and the addition of the aforementioned pneumatic effects which, again, are noticeably audible and cannot be duplicated by ordinary direct beam loudspeakers.

The second 8 Ohm line output from the Rockville is connected to a Sony SA-WM200 powered subwoofer equipped with an 80W amp and 8" bass reflex woofer.  Its frequency response down to 28Hz reproduces all notes down to 16-foot C, and with its variable crossover set at maximum cutoff [200Hz] all notes from 8-foot tenor A (corresponding to 16-foot middle A) on down are strengthened.  This sub is side-firing, situated to the left of the console, and disperses sound in that direction.  A single spare set of bare wire output terminals from this sub also connect with a Klipsch Quintet III center speaker rated at 300W max at 8 Ohms.  This unit is equipped with a pair of 3-1/2" woofers and a single 3/4" Micro Tractrix horn tweeter, a crossover at 2700Hz, reproduces frequencies from 125Hz-23kHz, and functions to support midrange and high frequencies. 

The power consumption of this first channel of the MANUAL/PIPE speaker system is 2400W (Rockville) + 200W (Klipsch) + 135W (Roland) + 80W (Sony) = 2815W, and it functions to strengthen and enrich the sound of manual voices throughout the entire frequency range.

The second channel is completely pipeless and begins with a line out jack at the Klipsch subwoofer.  The Klipsch line out sends the remaining low-end-filtered Rockville signal to a 250W Radio Shack MPA-250B amp.  From there the signal loops through a Samson S-Curve 215 15-band dual graphic equalizer which fully supresses all frequencies from 160Hz on down while maintaining an otherwise flat signal.  Wire output terminals of this amp then send this equalized signal to a pair of Sony SS-F6000P floorstanding 4-way tower speaker cabinets each rated at 180W and supplied with a 6-1/2" woofer, 3-1/3" midrange speaker, and 1" tweeter.  Positioned behind the console these passive cabinets disperse the sound in that direction.  The wire output terminals of this Radio Shack amp send the same equalized signal to a pair of Acoustic Audio BR-10 3-way Karaoke speaker cabinets each having a crossover network, 10" X 4" horn tweeter, 10" lower midrange, and 4" upper midrange driver.  Positioned on top of the console these passive cabinets disperse the sound directly at the player and from there to the rear of the room.  This second channel of the MANUAL/PIPE speaker system thus has a power consumption of 250W and functions to supply additional strength and dispersion of midrange and treble sounds throughout the room. 

The third channel employs a separate 60W Choice Select ST2060 amp which receives signal from as many as three selected manual inputs arriving from the console [Swell, Solo, and Echo were selected].  With bass control set at maximum and treble at minimum this mixed signal is routed to a pre-owned specially custom-built PVC pipe speaker box created in Lodi, California by the McCurdy Corporation designed to work with larger speaker pipes.  This unit is of singular construction and composed of 12 general purpose 3-1/2" diameter PVC [polyvinyl chloride] cylindrical pipes all of the same diameter [3-1/2"] bundled together and positioned vertically on end over a wire baffle situated above a round opening in the top of a square, hollow wooden box, inside of which is mounted a single upward-firing, passive 12" Radio Shack woofer wired to play all frequencies arriving from the amp.  This PVC pipe unit is positioned behind the console and disperses sound in that direction.  The pipes are painted in a metallic gold leaf color, cut to various lengths determined by their locations over the speaker cone, and engineered to sympathetically resonate with fundamental low midrange and upper bass frequencies generated by the 12 chromatic semitones from about 8-foot tenor A [200Hz] on down to bass A [100Hz].  The longest pipe of this unit when in operation also was found to resonate very strongly as a 2nd harmonic at tenor Bb pitch.  Thus, although this unit comes with only 12 pipes, it's practical upward range extends one more semitone to about 226Hz, overlapping slightly the lower limit of the Conn model 146 speaker pipes.  Employing this channel for the Swell, Solo, and Echo stops, the effects of gradual buildup of sound, gradual decay of sound, vertical dispersion of sound, and enhancing upper partial tones are extended an octave below the Conn pipes without noticeable midrange break.  The RCA audio out jacks of this Choice Select amp also connect to a pre-owned Sony SA-WM250 powered subwoofer equipped with a 100W amp, 8" front-firing bass reflex speaker, and crossover set at 100Hz.  This unit is also situated behind the console and disperses sound in that direction.  An additional pair of bare wire output terminals from this sub are connected to an Acoustic Research C225PS center speaker rated at 120W at 8 Ohms.  This unit is equipped with a pair of 5-1/4" woofers and a single 1" polycarbonate tweeter and functions to bring out midrange and high frequencies.  The power consumption of this third channel of the MANUAL/PIPE speaker system is thus 60W + 100W = 160W, only the Swell, Solo, and Echo stops play through it, and it functions to extend the downward range of the Conn pipes and to enrich and strengthen the tenor octaves of unison stops supplied to these divisions.

The combined power consumption of all three of these MANUAL/PIPE speaker system channels is thus 2400W (Rockville) + 200W (Klipsch) + 135W (Roland) + 80W (Sony) + 250W (Radio Shack) + 60W (Choice Select) + 100W (Sony) = 3225W, and it functions to enrich and strengthen all manual voices particularly in the 8-foot and 16-foot octaves. 

To summarize, the instrument as retrofitted currently plays through an internal and 7 external speaker channels powered by 12 add-on amplifiers running 2 internal and 68 external drivers, 7 of which are subwoofers.  Among the 24 external cabinets are 6 sets of Conn speaker pipes and a set of custom-built PVC pipes.  At full tilt the power consumption of the entire instrument with its four separate speaker systems operating computes to 160W (internal) + 1250W (main/monitor) + 80W (auxiliary) + 3225W (manual/pipe) = 4715W.  The speaker spread is as followsone 18" Velo SUB, one 15" [passive] Memphis SUB, six 15", one 12" Klipsch SUB, one external 12", [two internal 12"], one 10" Roland SUB, two 10", two 10" X 4" horns, three 8" Sony SUBS, three 8", twenty-four 6" X 9" ovals, three 6-1/2", two 5-1/4", two 5", two 4", two 3-1/2", two 3-1/3", one 3", four 2", two 1-1/2", four 1", and one 3/4".

The goal of this project was the creation of improved realism from an older digital sampling technology point of departure and the striving for an unforced yet more realistic pneumatic tone quality and enhanced dispersion of sound throughout the room in the most cost-effective and space-effective way possible.  By hunting down and combining new and repurposed electronic elements like this which were carefully and strategically wedded to complement each other, by configuring the various mixers, amps, and speakers accordingly, and by carefully testing using the ear to adjust the volume and balance, treble/bass, equalization, and artificial reverb separately for the speaker systems and their respective channels to get the sound exactly right individually, the combinational tone generated by using more speakers like this with most of them gently driven has created very satisfying results in a home instrument.  One has to really hear it in person to fully appreciate the impressive transformation these various extensions, retrofits, add-ons, and adjustments have made.  The full organ is very large but unforced, smaller combos are more realistic, individual stops have definition, and with the midrange and high end equalized to where the Conn pipes provide a significant portion of the treble resonance, any annoying piercing shrillness at higher frequencies is eliminated.  At extreme volumes the sound is thrilling but devoid of any annoying electronic squeal and, as with a real pipe organ, the sound can be listened to for long periods of time without cloying upon the ear.   

Most manufacturers of sampled organs, for marketing purposes, say they record (or sample) every note of every stop (not necessarily every rank).  They may even say that their original samples are 30 seconds long or even 60 seconds long.  They may even boast about what bit-rate, sampling rate, etc., they use.  In actual fact it is very hard to get all notes of a rank in a pipe organ to sample perfectly.  Most ranks have notes which are "off" either in volume or tone.  What they actually put into their instruments therefore is going to be something that is vastly reduced, so, just a basic sampling system doesn't really make a digi organ sound exactly like a pipe organ.  The behavior of a wind instrument also needs to be reproduced.  Therefore things like wind noise ("chiff") as pipes get on speech have been put into digi organs like this one but still they end up sounding a little too focused and straight.  The biggest problem manufacturers face is, what can be done at what price.  Companies experience periodic lulls in sales, there has always been serious price competition, and, in order to stay price-competitive, most sampled organs are seriously compromised.  The marketplace for digi organs is such that, most purchasers want more stops, more manuals, etc., rather than the very highest quality musical result.  This has everything to do with the way manufacturers must design their line of products.

With its Echo (5th) manual so hard to reach, its clear plexi-rack out of sight line for so many players, its lack of intramanual couplers, and its non-programmable crescendo shoe, this organ presents a bit of a challenge to play, but its sound stands or falls on the external speaker system(s) through which it plays and how the various divisions are tuned to the Great and coupled with each other.  If tuned exactly true to the Great and each other the sound is lifeless, plastic, and sterile, but if too far away from the Great the beating that result is objectionable if not unbearable.  The trick with this organ to get it to sound with richness is to find that very narrow sweet zone which has each division tuned just barely different from the Great but not so far as to produce noticeable undulations.  The entire organ's pitch is adjustable up or down from A440 by means of a general pitch control knob.  The other 5 divisions are made tuneable up or down to the Great by means of their own individual pitch control knobs, all of which are situated out of sight under the bottom manual within reach of the organist's left hand.  Since the ear will tolerate a little sharpness but not the same degree of flatness, it was decided, using the ear to adjust the amount, to tune the Echo very slightly sharp and the Solo very slightly flat so that when the hands go to the Solo the Echo can be blended in.  Similarly the Swell was tuned barely sharp to the Echo, the Choir barely flat than the Solo, and the Pedal barely sharp to the Echo and barely flat to the Swell.  This was accomplished by drawing the loudest 8-foot reed in each division, coupling them one at a time to the Great Trumpet, listening for beats, and adjusting the tuning knobs accordingly.

In a real pipe organ the mistuned ranks (celestes) inserted by the builder typically are never drawn in fuller ensembles, but in an organ like this some of these celeste stops, provided they're not too assertive and don't create a disturbing pitch "warble," may be drawn with advantage in fuller ensembles to simulate those minute pitch variations among real pipe ranks.  With this organ some trial-and-error experimentation is needed, it's a bit tricky, but the ear is still the best judge as to how much of this may or may not be good.  In this organ all 8-foot celeste stops automatically draw the "mate" rank tuned true which is given its own drawknob, and, with manual division tremolos in this organ being adjustable for depth and speed, compound tones of great beauty are possible by coupling voices -- some mistuned (celestes), some tremmed, and some untremmed -- located in different divisions.

This instrument came with 2 percussion stops (Great Chimes & Solo Harp).  The top octave of the Great Chimes (C#50 to C61) was wired to double back an octave, but, unlike the Chimes in many pipe organs, it did go all the way down to bottom C1 and thus represented 49 equivalent bars.  The Solo Harp ran all the way up to top C6 without doubling back and thus comprised 61 equivalent bars.  Every stop in this organ including Chimes and Harp was equipped with 2 voicing variations (A and B) controlled by tilting tablets which permitted the organist to select from 168 equivalent ranks.  The A voicing reflected more traditional voicing whereas on B the change in harmonic content in the strings and reeds resulted in a different tone, brighter in many cases, the open flutes changed to stopped, and the Principals and Diapasons became either brighter or more bland and flutey-sounding.

The Great Principal is extremely big, more like an English First Open, and dominates any ensemble in which it is introduced.  When a leaner chorus is desired the Salicional may be substituted which lacks the refined voice of the true Salicional and tonally speaking is more like a Third or Fourth Diapason; on B it's voice is stringey and unsympathetic, more like a French Montre.  The 16-foot Principal is also big and on B inclines to a dull tone with less harmonic content. The Flute Celeste is awfully strong but good if the Great volume is turned down all the way.  The Rohr Flute on A or B is a big, burbley flute full of color and good for solos in its lower range.  The Trumpet is loud and dull in tone.  In the Swell the combination of Principal and Viole is very French sounding.  The flutes are all good and available at 6 pitches.  The reed chorus stands on a very strong Contra Fagotto, a milder Trompette, and a loud, dull toned Hautbois which lends strength to the Trompette.  The Principal in the Choir/Positiv is of medium strength and makes a good foundation for its chorus.  The Hohl Flute on A is open and very bright, and on B it's stopped and hollow-sounding with less harmonic content; it's good for solos on either A or B, with or without Tremolo.  The Cromorne is also good, of sufficient strength, and very French-sounding; on B it's more like a Clarinet.  The Solo Diapason is strong, of large scale, and neutral in tonality, which makes it a perfect helper to any big reed, lending strength to the Tuba without appreciably affecting its tone.  It is also surprisingly effective when coupled into the Great chorus.  The Gamba is identical on A or B.  The Gemshorn and Octavin are both very bright and assertive.  The Bassoon is very realistic for an actual Bassoon and on B it's brighter in the midrange and rounder in the bass, which is typical for all 23 reeds in this organ.  The Orchestral Oboe, while thin and keen and an excellent solo stop, also is good for lending brightness and definition to fuller combinations.  The Cor Anglais is very strong and dull in tone.  The Echo Cor De Nuit on B is very French sounding.  The Erzahler is also brighter on B but more beautiful, actually, on A.  The Bombarde chorus is bright but relatively tame.  This division has a Vox [Humana] to die for; it's best on A where it's mixed with a soft helper stop, and on B it sounds all by itself.  The Pedal Principal is big, more like an English Open Wood, and on B it's dull and flutey in tone.  If a lean full organ is desired it may be left out and the less assertive Violone substituted.  The Fagott is extremely strong and dominates when introduced.  The Schalmei is good for solos and for adding clarity to a moving pedal line.  Both 32-foot stops, as expected, demand external amplification to produce their characteristic voices.  Curiously, the Contra Bourdon is not a flute voice; instead it's tone is an exact match to the Violone and, accordingly, should have been labeled Contra Violone.  Again, without external equalization and amplification this stop along with the Contra Bombarde is disappointing in strength but otherwise quite realistic and valuable to have.

Each voice in this organ is independent with no unification or duplexing.  The Pedal Fourniture V is the only mixture in the organ which extends throughout the compass of its clavier without breaks.  All manual mixtures save for the Swell Plein Jeu have one or more breaks.  This voice is wired to sound only through the bottom half of the Swell manual compass; from F#43 it drops back and thus, with the same quality and strength of tone above that note, it sounds very shrill.  The manual suboctave stops are all wired to sound clear down to the bottom.  All 5 manual 2-foot stops and those of higher pitch either break back in the top of their compass or have "dead notes" which are unwired to sound above the limits at which a real pipe can be made to sound.


GREAT

2' Super Octave G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes

SWELL

2' Flautino G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes

1-1/3' Larigot doubles back from C#50 -- B60 over 11 notes (C49 and C61 are dead notes)

III Plein Jeu doubles back from F#43 over 19 notes

CHOIR/POSITIV

2' Doublette G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes

1-3/5' Tierce D52 -- C61, 11 dead notes

1' Sifflote G44 -- C49, G56 -- C61, 12 dead notes

SOLO

2' Octavin G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes

ECHO

2' Flautino G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes

This represents a total of 111 equivalent small pipes in the manual divisions which do not sound.  When this is factored we find an instrument capable of commanding the equivalent of 5,779 sounding pipes on the A voicing variation, and the same number on B.  This means that it would take 11,558 separate individually voiced pipes to make available to the organist the same tonal spread and range of pitches.

Phone (1/4") output jacks, three per division. provided at the back of the console allow it to send as many as 18 separate output signals to external amps and speaker cabinets.  The console is Guild standard, supplied with Fatar premium keybords, MIDI friendly, and equipped with lighted MIDI rocker tablets for MIDI program changes by division which make it capable of storing sounds from an external sound module on its piston memory.  It may also be retrofit with Hauptwerk sample sets, should that be desired.  Separate divisional cancels which operate by pressing the various divisional labels situated at the top of the stop jambs are also provided.  The combination action is computer capture with 8 programmable memory banks.  Additional controls provided include Ventil tilting tablets which silence reeds or mixtures (duplicated with toe studs), a Pedal to Great (Automatic Pedal) reversible piston, a reversible Tutti piston and toe stud, "O pistons" which remember starting hand registrations, all the usual intermanual and manual to pedal couplers, a registered Crescendo shoe with 8 lighted positions, separate expression shoes for the Swell, Choir/Positiv, Solo, and Echo divisions, an All Swells to Swell piston which makes the Great and Pedal expressable through the Swell shoe along with all the other divisions, divisional Tremolos adjustable for depth and speed, adjustable Great, Pedal, and Master Volume, adjustable Brilliance control, transposer, pitch control, divisional generator tuning, and headphone jack.

The biggest challenge with performing solo repertoire on this instrument is settling upon a scheme for drawing and coupling the voices to approach something of the sound world the composer knew.  It works well for the player when the premise is that the Solo is part of the Swell; this makes for a massive voice palette for coloration of sounds and a massive dynamic palette with compound flexibility and expression for nuancing the music.  If the player's hands happen to go to the Solo, it works well to have the Echo blended in. The same can be said for coupling the Swell to both the Great and Choir/Positiv and coupling the Choir/Positiv to the Great.


This organ of 84 stops, for its size, is overly supplied with assertive upperwork (octave stops and higher) and undersupplied with manual Doubles (there are only 6 in the whole instrument, however all of them go all the way down to bottom C without doubling back).  Being somewhat deficient in manual suboctave tone means that when drawing the full organ pretty much all manual Doubles need to enter and the percentage of upperwork demand reduction.  The Great sub coupler, in particular, an essential element of the sound universe known to 19th and early 20th century French organists, especially Franck, Widor, and Vierne, a coupler which had much to do with the way they notated their compositions, is entirely lacking.  Without it, big final spread chords above middle C sound thin and less sonorous when performed exactly as written -- in which case it might benefit to experiment at changing the manuscript mentally by adding a note to the bottom of the final left hand chord or with the right foot high in the pedal to help provide the missing gravity.  As stated, in an organ like this with divisional tuning, voices from different divisions including even a celeste or two may need to be drawn and coupled in combination to get something of the same random chorus effect of a pipe organ.  Individually some of the voices are quite beautiful and very useful on A Voicing, on B Voicing, or both.  Then again, some of them are so dull or shrill in tone that they have little use on A or B, dated technology being largely responsible.  Curiously, the Pedal division of 16 stops, relatively few for an instrument of this size, is supplied with 6 stops of superoctave (4-foot) pitch or higher but only 5 stops of that all-important unison (16-foot) pitch. 

STOP LIST

[*Allen expander module additional ranks]

GREAT (26 ranks)

16' Principal, 8' Principal, 8' Bourdon, 8' Flute Celeste II, 8' Salicional, 4' Octave, 4' Rohr Flute, 2-2/3' Nazard, 2' Super Octave, V Cornet, IV Mixture, VI Fourniture, [*8' Trompette, 16' Trumpet], 8' Trumpet, 4' Trumpet, Chimes, Tremolo

SWELL (16 ranks)

16' Lieblich Gedeckt, 8' Principal, 8' Gedeckt, 8' Viole, 8' Viole Celeste II, 4' Geigen, 2-2/3' Nazard, 2' Flautino, 1-'1/3' Larigot, [*8' Rankett, 4' Viole], III Plein Jeu, 16' Contra Fagott, 8' Trompette, 8' Hautbois, 4' Trompette, Tremolo

CHOIR/POSITIV (14 ranks)

8' Principal, 8' Hohl Flute, 8' Dulciana, 8' Unda Maris II, 4' Principal, 4' Stopped Flute, 2' Doublette, 1/3/5' Tierce, 1' Siffote, IV Mixture, [* 8' Barpfeife, 16' Clarinet], 8' Cromorne, Tremolo

SOLO (13 ranks)

8' Diapason, 8' Major Flute, 8' Gamba, 8' Gamba Celeste II, 4' Gemshorn, 4' Orchestral Flute, 2' Octavin, 16' Bassoon, 8' Tuba Mirabilis, 8' French Horn, 8' Cor Anglais, 8' Orchestral Oboe, 4' Tuba Clarion, 8' Harp, Tremolo

ECHO (18 ranks)

16' Dulciana, 8' Cor De Nuit, 8' Erzahler, 8' Erzahler Celeste II, 8' Echo Celeste II, 4' Flauto D'Echo, 4' Erzahler Celeste II, 2' Flautino, III Mixture, 16' Bombarde, 8' Festival Trumpet, 8' Bombarde, 8' Vox Humana, 4' Bombarde, Tremolo

PEDAL (20 ranks)

32' Contra Bourdon, 16' Principal, [*16' Principal, 10-2/3' Principal], 16' Sub Bass, 16' Violone, 16' Lieblich Gedeckt, 8' Octave, 8' Gedeckt, 4' Super Octave, 4' Flute, 2' Block Flute, V Fourniture, 32' Contra Bombarde, 16' Fagott, 8' Trumpet, 4' Clarion, 4' Schalmei

COUPLER PISTONS

Swell to Great, Choir/Positiv to Great, Solo to Great, Echo to Great, Swell to Choir/Positiv, Solo to Choir/Positiv, Echo to Choir/Positiv, Solo to Swell, Echo to Swell, Echo to Solo, Great to Pedal*, Swell to Pedal*, Choir/Positiv to Pedal*, Solo to Pedal*, Echo to Pedal*

(* with toe piston)

RIGHT SIDE EXTERNAL SPEAKER SYSTEM SHOWING  VELODYNE/BSR SUBS (center bottom), BSR COLOSSUS CABS RETROFIT WITH NEW DRIVERS (center top), AND CONN PIPES SITTING ATOP PEAVEY CABS

CONSOLE SHOWING ALLEN MDS EXPANDER II VOICE MODULE SITTING ATOP LEFT STOP JAMB SUPPORTED BY A GREEN FLORA-FOAM BASE

CONSOLE LEFT STOP JAMB

CONSOLE LEFT STOP JAMB

CONSOLE RIGHT STOP JAMB

CONSOLE RIGHT STOP JAMB

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