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 starting in late 1988.  This 5-manual instrument was a MIDI-compatible product equipped with DS4 digital sampling technology and a modest but independent self-contained 2-channel speaker system consisting of a pair of 80W internal amplifiers each powering their own master-of-all-work 12" woofer.  This Symphonia model was the largest stock console Viscount ever built.  It was manufactured in blocks of 50 at a time, but, largely due to its extreme size, cost (around $90k each, back then), and limited demand, only two blocks were ever produced.  One block of 50 went to the UK.  The other block went to the USA to be marketed under the Church Organ Systems and Baldwin brand names.  At the time, Viscount had a 3-manual stock console of fixed design in regular production (Baldwin model C350) provided with piston coupler control to which one or two extra manuals could be piled on top creating a 4-manual (Baldwin model C450) and 5-manual (Baldwin model C500) version, respectively, the Pedal division of 16 stops remaining identical however among all three of these stock models.  Production of these models ceased in 1997 when Viscount turned to producing a line of strictly 2- and 3-manual consoles.  It was around that time that Viscount engineers developed a less expensive 3-manual organ (Baldwin model C400) having fewer and different stops, couplers transferred from piston to drawknob control, and a solid wood rack to replace the clear plexi-rack.  Being in limited production for only 9 years, and with only 50 ever distributed to and sold in America, the Viscount Symphonia (Baldwin C500) organ is thus a very rare find these days.


When the sound of any older, dated instrument like this needs to be brought up to speed, and the financial means are readily available, one of the first things that comes to mind is an all-Artisan conversion employing Hauptwerk software or something similar.  This can be done for a fraction of the cost of a new organ, but when this isn't possible financially the question becomes:  "Why would anyone want to put 10 cents into an electronic organ more than 25 years old?"  The answer seems obvious ... a home practice instrument with enough realism and ambience to its sound to satisfy the serious student is still needed.


The next best thing therefore would be to gradually improve the sound in progressive stages (a little at a time as one can afford it and the opportunities arise) by connecting the console's output jacks with a combination of new and preowned/repurposed power mixers, amplifiers, audio speakers, and subwoofers of various sizes, brands, and manufacturers, supplemented where possible over time with an add-on voice module, effects processor with reverb, and some speaker pipes.  The resulting improvement in the sound, while still not perfect, can be a viable alternative.  Granted, this business of augmenting and/or creating your own custom-designed practice instrument at home is an insane journey in patience ...  but it's also a journey of discovery which can perhaps encourage others, spark inspiration and fun, and encourage problem solving.  The following description is not another "how to" necessarily, but rather a "how this webmaster did it."     

    

  In this particular instrument sampled voices are sourced, separated, and stored by division on 6 separate "slave" computers aboard, one for each division, all of which are 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.  Standard TRS (1/4" phone) jacks in the back of the console allow for up to 3 separate mono outputs per division along with a pair of special combined mono outputs for Great/Choir-Positiv/Pedal and Swell/Solo/Echo, all for connection of external powered speaker cabinets.

The power requirement to run the console is 520 watts [520W].  Its own internal speaker system is powered by two 80W amplifiers each powering its own single 12" master-of-all-work speaker driver having a combined audio output power of 160W.  The console is supplied with adjustable factory reverb, 2 tremolo speed controls [Swell/Echo + Great/Choir-Positiv/Solo], and 2 tremolo depth controls [Swell + Choir-Positiv].  With the entire frequency spectrum of the signal stream is sent like this to a single driver the mammoth movements it makes trying to generate the lowest sounds interferes with its ability to reproduce the finer movements needed for midrange and higher frequencies.  With the resulting intermodulation distortion robbing the midrange and treble of clarity the solution is to use multiple drivers of different sizes and match them by means of a crossover network to the specific frequency bands they're best geared to reproduce.  In this application the sound is sourced and separated this very way using a non-factory mix of new and pre-owned equipment.  Three separate external speaker systems [MAIN/MONITOR, SMALL AUXILIARY, & LARGE AUXILIARY] in this application each make their own individual contributions to the sound of the instrument.

CAUTION:  Instead of plugging everything electric into unprotected wall receptacles, always connect the power cords for the console and any other external amplifiers to a power strip (surge bar) that has either a built-in circuit breaker or red protection light, and keep the power strip turned on, 24 hours a day.  When the red light is on, this means its surge protection is working; if the red light won't turn on, the power strip should be replaced.  This helps protect the console's internal motherboard and its fuses from power surges, including lightning storms [if the console isn't working after a big storm, the console's fallboard should be closed, the back of the console removed, and fuses should be checked and replaced if needed].  If any add-on voice modules lack an on/off switch, then their power line needs to be disconnected and reconnected each time they're used, leaving the power strip on all the time.  To avoid possible fire or electrical shock when using an extension cord plugged into a power strip, never daisy chain in series multiple devices to that same extension cord [See blog, Conn Speaker Pipes, for more about wiring].    

1.  The MAIN and MONITOR channels receive individual mono output signals from all 6 divisions of the instrument through jacks in the back of the console.  These connect with a Peavey XR8300 power mixer supplied with dual 300W amps controlling MAIN and MONITOR channels, each of which is supplied with its own built-in 7 band dual graphic equalizer (EQ) which on both MAIN and MONITOR channels is set flat save for -3dB @ 250Hz, -6dB @ 500Hz, -9dB @ 1kHz, and -12dB @ 2kHz, 4kHz, and 10kHz.  The output signal from both channels of this power mixer then loops through a DOD 231 series 31-band dual graphic EQ which retains a flat signal for all output frequencies save for:  on the bottom end +12dB @ 20Hz, +6dB @ 25Hz, and +3dB @ 31.5Hz:  and on the top end -3dB @ 3.1kHz, 4kHz, 5kHz, -6dB @ 6.3kHz, 8kHz, 10kHz, and -12dB @ 12.5kHz, 16kHz, 20kHz.  After looping the signal through these EQ settings the mixer adds its own onboard Peavey reverb.  The MAIN output signal then routs to a Velodyne Servo F-1800RII powered subwoofer equipped with a massive 18" driver and internal amp rated at 600W.  This sub is side-firing, has a frequency response all the way down to 16Hz, and, in this application, its crossover control is set at 40Hz [16-foot E] to reproduce all infrasonic frequencies, i.e., below the ear's ability to recognize determinate musical pitch which includes the entire 32-foot octave down to the low C note @ 16Hz.  The remaining signal thus filtered of infrasonic bass is sent from there to a free-standing BSR passive subwoofer cabinet retrofitted with a Memphis 15" floor-firing driver which filters all remaining bass frequencies up to 120Hz.  The outgoing signal from this sub is then routed to a pair of BSR Colossus R/L passive stereo cabinets each rated at 200W.  These retain their own original pair of BSR 2" ceramic tweeters but were retrofitted with new Memphis (15") and Pyle (8", 5") drivers.  A built-in crossover network in each BSR cabinet divides the incoming audio stream into 4 different frequency bands and sends them to drivers of appropriate size [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 from the Peavey power mixer is routed separately to a Peavey PV215 passive 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, has a crossover frequency of 2.6kHz, a frequency response of 58Hz to 17kHz, and a frequency range of 40Hz to 21kHz.  Positioned to the far right of the player it speaks in that direction.  A spare monitor out jack at the Peavey mixer also routs the signal to a Sony SA-3000 powered subwoofer equipped with a 12-inch driver and 180W amp having a frequency range of 20Hz-200Hz and crossover set at its midpoint [120Hz].  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 a more realistic and expansive sound.  These channels have a total maximum combined audio power of 300W X 2 = 600W (Peavey) + 600W (Velodyne) + 180W (Sony) = 1380W, and, as stated, all of the console's factory voices play through them.

An Allen MDS-Expander II external module is MIDI-connected to speak through this MAIN/MONITOR speaker system and operates only on the Swell, Great, Choir/Positiv, and Pedal keyboards.  Its voices thus are equalized and mixed with reverb at the Peavey mixer.  This Allen module is a stand-alone add-on unit which can be MIDI-assigned to play on any organ's two or three bottom manuals and pedals.  Its supplemental voices include classic organ stops, mutations, and ancient reeds, theatre organ ranks, percussions, and orchestral and other keyboard instruments.  As many as 4 voices out of the 99 program numbers onboard may be accessed simultaneously.  In this organ selected Allen voices are assigned to individual Viscount MIDI rocker tabs situated in the rail above the top manual controlling Swell, Great, Choir/Positiv, and Pedal divisions which then can be captured and stored on general or divisional pistons.  The four selected voices programmed on Allen Channel 1 and this organ's Memory One [German Baroque, all reeds] are:  Sw 8' Rankett, Gt 16' Bassoon, Ch/Pos 16' Musette, Ped 16' Dulzian.  The four selected voices programmed on Allen Channel 2 and this organ's Memory Two [French Romantic] are:  Sw 4' Viole, Gt 16' Dulzian, Ch/Pos 16' Bassoon, Ped 10-2/3' Principal].  Much experimentation using the ear was involved in selecting these specific voices for what they supply to complement and add something to the tones of the factory voices in the divisions and the critically important roles they play through coupling in the buildup to full organ.  Among its many features this module's voices and flexible tuning has been of significant use in providing greater tonal spread, realism, and something of the same sound world known to composers.  It increases the number of speaking stops in this organ to 92, raises the number of available equivalent ranks to 123, adds fire and life to the fuller ensembles, and makes playing the instrument now a complete adrenalin rush [the module in this application is adjusted to play very slightly out of tune with the main console -- sharp by just one Cent (1/100th of a chromatic semitone) to more closely approach the random tuning characteristics of real organ pipes].     

2.  The SMALL AUXILIARY speaker system is supplied with 2 channels of its own, the first of which makes use of a separate line out jack from the console just for the Pedal division.  This Pedal output signal is first routed to a Roland KCW-1 powered subwoofer supplied with a 10" woofer and amp rated at 200W.  With its cutoff set at its midpoint [60Hz] and bass boost switch on, a line out from this sub relays the signal to a Sony SA-WMS325 powered subwoofer rated at 75W equipped with a single 6-3/8" cone-type, front-firing driver and built-in frequency range of 28Hz-200Hz.  This sub filters all remaining frequencies below 200Hz and sends the bass-filtered signal to a pair of Conn speaker pipe cabinets [models 145-2 and 146-1, both silver finish] each equipped with 4 upward-firing 6 x 9" oval Cletron speakers wired in series parallel and mounted end-to-end.  This channel functions to provide additional strength and a touch of brightness to the Pedal voices.

The second channel is supplied with special reverb and makes use of 2 special jacks at the console which send mono line output signals for Pedal/Choir-Positiv/Solo and Great/Swell/Echo to an Alesis Nanoverb 18-Bit Digital Effects Processor having a dynamic range and frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz.  Here the signal is mixed with "Nanoverb Hall 3" Alesis reverb then looped through a duplicate DOD 231 series 31 band dual graphic EQ with input gain and sliders controlling frequency band setting positioned exactly the same way as its counterpart in the MAIN/MONITOR system.  This reverb enriched, equalized signal is then relayed to a 2 x 50W Sunbuck AS-22 mini-amp with its bass control set at max and treble set flat.  The bare wire outputs of this mini-amp rout the signal stream to yet another Peavey PV215 passive 3-way trapezoidal enclosure PA cabinet identical with the one used with the MONITOR channel and a Sony SS-U4033 passive 3-way floor-standing cabinet equipped with an 8" woofer, 3" midrange, 1" tweeter, and rated at 100W, 140W peak.  Positioned behind to the right and left of the player, respectively, these cabinets face and disperse sound to the left and rear of the room and function to supply spatial reverb, ambience, and additional power to complement and perfectly partner with the MAIN/MONITOR system.

The total maximum combined audio power of this SMALL AUXILIARY speaker system is thus 200W (Roland) + 75W (Sony) + 100W (Sunbuck) = 375W, and the entire organ plays through it.

   3.  The LARGE AUXILIARY speaker system operates only on manual voices and has 3 separate channels, the first two of which work together.  The first channel begins with a powerful 2400W Rockville RPM80BT 8-channel power mixer which receives signal from each of the organ's 5 manual outputs from the console and combines them into a single mono output signal.  This mixer's built-in 5-band EQ is set flat save for -6dB @ 800Hz, -12dB @ 2kHz, and -12dB @ 8kHz.  With individual channel controls set flat for bass and minimum for treble this single output signal is then mixed with built-in Rockville reverb and routed to a Klipsch KSW200 powered subwoofer equipped with a floor-firing 12" bass reflex driver and 200W amp with crossover set at its highest [120Hz].  The "speaker-out" bare wire terminals from this sub rout the remaining low-end-filtered Rockville signal to another pair of Conn speaker pipes [Models 145-3, 146-2, both silver finish].  Each set is rated for a load of 8 Ohms, equipped with four Cletron 6" X 9" oval speakers wired in series parallel, and designed to operate only at treble and high midrange frequencies with a practical downward limit of 200Hz corresponding to the 8-foot tenor G# note [208Hz].  This channel also disperses the sound to both sides of the room.  A second 8 Ohm line output jack from the Rockville directly routs signal to a Sony SA-WM200 powered subwoofer equipped with an 80W amp and 8" bass reflex driver.  Its frequency response down to 28Hz covers all notes down to 16-foot C, and with its crossover set at maximum [200Hz] all frequencies from 8-foot tenor G# on down are strengthened.  This sub is side-firing, situated to the right of the console, and disperses sound in that direction.  This Sony sub's "speaker-out" bare wire terminals send the remaining bass-filtered Rockville signal to yet another pair of Conn speaker pipes [Models 145-1, 146-2, both gold finish] situated directly behind the player.

NOTE:  Conn speaker pipes were one of a number of attempts made by various builders of the time to improve the sound of early analog organs.  As stated, these are strictly treble and upper midrange units made up of narrow scale, cylindrical, anodized aluminum pipes of different diameters and lengths tuned to sympathetically resonate with the notes of the chromatic scale.  The Conn theory was that individual frequencies generated by the upward firing speakers would find their own pipes and make them resonate.  These units impart to manual stops a distinctly audible brightness, a finespun but discernable edge to individual voices, dispersion of sound vertically upward throughout the room, and a very subtle but measurable buildup and decay of sound when keys are pressed and released, respectively -- pneumatic effects which can be heard but not counted.  Used all by themselves the results can be disappointing when compared with the efficiency of speaker drivers mounted in conventional cabinets -- that is not what the Conn pipes were meant to do.  When they are used the sound takes on a bright quality lacking any trace of annoying, piercing shrillness and becomes omni-directional like a subwoofer, adding a touch of ambience and depth as the sound seems to come from every corner of the room.  These units provide all the upper brilliance needed for the full organ, thus the treble frequencies reaching any other speakers used with them needs to be deliberately suppressed.  CAUTION:  THESE UNITS MUST BE SHIELDED FROM ALL BASS AND LOW MIDRANGE FREQUENCIES.  This seems to be most easily accomplished by filtering their incoming signal stream through a powered subwoofer having a high built-in crossover [or by setting its crossover control at maximum].  The result is the enhancement of all manual voices sounding at pitches above the 8-foot tenor G note frequency [195Hz] with the addition of the aforementioned brightening and pneumatic effects which, again, are noticeably audible and cannot be duplicated by merely turning up the treble controls of amplifiers.

A third 8 Ohm line output jack from the Rockville is connected to a JBL Sub150 powered subwoofer equipped with a 300W amp, 10" bass reflex driver, and frequency response of 27Hz-150Hz.  Positioned to the left of the player its crossover is set at max [150Hz] which adds strength to the lower octaves of all manual suboctave stops.  This sub's wire output terminals connect with a Klipsch Quintet III center speaker rated at 300W max at 8 Ohms and equipped with a pair of 3-1/2" woofers and a single 3/4" Micro Tractrix horn tweeter.  With a 2700Hz built-in crossover this unit reproduces frequencies from 125Hz-23kHz and functions to support midrange frequencies.

The second channel of the LARGE AUXILIARY speaker system is completely pipeless and begins with a single line out jack at the Klipsch subwoofer.  This line out sends its low-end-filtered Rockville signal to a 250W Radio Shack MPA-250B amp.  This amp then routs the signal via bare wire out terminals to a pair of Sony SS-F6000P passive floor-standing 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 cabinets disperse manual sound in that direction.  Another pair of bare wire out terminals from this amp sends the same signal to a pair of Acoustic Audio BR-10 passive 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 cabinets disperse the sound directly at the player.  An additional RCA output jack from the Radio Shack amp also sends signal to a Sony SA-WMSP1 powered subwoofer supplied with a small 50W amp and single 8" bass reflex driver.  This unit has a frequency range of 28Hz-200Hz, a built-in high cutoff of 150Hz, is side-firing, situated behind the console, and disperses any remaining high bass manual sound in that direction. 

The third channel of the LARGE AUXILIARY speaker system employs a separate 60W Choice Select ST2060 amp which can receive signal from as many as 3 mono output jacks at the console [Swell, Solo, and Echo were selected].  With its bass control set flat and treble near minimum the mixed signal from this amp is then routed via bare wire out terminals to a pre-owned specially custom-built PVC pipe speaker box created in Lodi, California by the McCurdy Corporation.  This unit is made to work with larger pipes and is of singular construction.  It consists 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 Radio Shack passive 12" woofer wired to play all frequencies arriving from the amp.  This 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 was found to resonate very strongly as a 2nd harmonic on the tenor Bb note.  Thus, although this unit comes with only 12 pipes, it's practical upward range extends one more semitone upward to about 226Hz, overlapping slightly the lower limit of the Conn model 146 speaker pipes.  Employing this channel just for the Swell, Solo, and Echo stops, the effects of gradual buildup of sound, gradual decay of sound, vertical dispersion of sound, and enhancement of overtones are extended one 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 terminals are connected from this sub 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 support midrange frequencies.  This channel functions to extend the downward range of the Conn pipes and to enrich and strengthen the tenor octaves of the Swell, Solo, and Echo unison stops.

The maximum combined audio power of all 3 channels of this LARGE AUXILIARY speaker system calculates to 2980W (Rockville/Klipsch/JBL/Sony) + 300W (Radio Shack/Sony) + 160W (Choice Select/Sony) = 3440W, and it functions to enrich and strengthen all manual voices. 

To summarize, the instrument as presently constituted plays through 4 separate reverb systems and a gathering of 8 speaker channels grouped into 4 different systems powered by 15 amplifiers.  Five separate equalizers are used to adjust signal frequencies, and 74 separate drivers [10 being subwoofers] ranging across 19 different sizes join now to create a more authentic and powerful combinational sound.  Among the 28 external cabinets are 6 separate sets of Conn speaker pipes and a special set of oversize custom-built PVC speaker pipes.  Operating the console now with all external amps and speaker systems running requires a power supply of 520W (console) + 1380W (main/monitor) + 375W (small auxiliary) + 3440W (large auxiliary) = 5715W -- over 10 times what it takes to operate the console all by itself.  The speaker array from largest driver to smallest tabulates as followsone 18" powered SUB, one 15" passive SUB, six more 15", two 12" powered SUBS, three more 12", two 10" powered SUBS, two more 10", two 10" X 4" horns, three 8" powered SUBS, three more 8", twenty-four 6" X 9" ovals, two 6-1/2", one 6-3/8" powered SUB, 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 ambience, realism, and power from early digital sampling technology, striving for an unforced but enhanced dispersion of sound throughout the room as a cost-effective, next-best alternative to a total rebuilding.  By hunting down new and repurposed electronics and cobbling things  together in calculated ways, and with careful experimentation using the ear to adjust volume, balance, treble/bass, equalization, and artificial reverb separately for each of the speaker systems to get the sound right individually, the combinational tone with all systems running, for a home practice instrument, has been found sufficient to satisfy the serious organist.  To truly appreciate the transformation these various extensions, retrofits, add-ons, and adjustments have made, one really has to hear it up close and in person.  The audio power of the console's internal amplification has been multiplied more than 30 times, the full organ is majestic, individual stops speak with more realism, and the speaker pipes add a subtle but noticeable pneumatic resonance.  Crescendos are devoid of any annoying electronic squeal and, as with a real pipe organ, the sound can be listened to now for long periods of time.   

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 and rack so far away, intramanual couplers absent, and the crescendo shoe non-programmable, there are certain challenges to playing this organ, but its sound stands or falls on whatever external speaker system(s) are provided 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 dead and lifeless, but if too far away from the Great the beating is objectionable.  The trick is to find that sweet spot which has each division tuned just barely different from the Great but not enough 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 divisional 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.

As for the tonality of individual stops, the Great Principal is extremely big like an English 1st Open Diapason.  When a leaner chorus is desired the Salicional may be substituted which is more like a 3rd Open in tone and strength; on B it's voice is less assertive, keener, with a prominent 12th.  The 16-foot Principal is also big and on B inclines to a dull tone with less harmonic content.  The Flute Celeste is paired with the Bourdon and is extremely strong but good if the Great volume is turned down all the way.  The 4' Rohr Flute is good for solos, a big, burbley flute full of color in its lower range.  The Great Trumpets, as expected, are loud and bright.  In the Swell the combination of Principal and Viole is very French sounding.  The Swell flutes are all good and, as expected, are available at 6 pitches.  The Swell reed chorus stands on a big Contra Fagotto and two Trompettes of medium strength at 8' and 4' pitches, respectively.  The Principal in the Choir/Positiv is a 2nd Open in strength.  The Hohl Flute is open on A, stopped and hollow-sounding on B with less harmonic content, but good for solos on A or B, with or without Tremolo.  The Cromorne on A is very French-sounding, on B more like a Clarinet.  The Solo Diapason is big, of large scale, neutral in tonality, and finds its best use as a helper stop, adding desirable power to the Tuba Mirabilis without appreciably affecting its tone.  The Gamba and its paired Celeste are good and, curiously, are both identical on A and B.  The Gemshorn is bright but not overbearing, and the Octavin is very bright and assertive.  The Bassoon on A is very realistic for an actual Bassoon; on B it's brighter in the midrange and rounder in the bass.  The Orchestral Oboe, as expected, is thin and keen, an excellent solo stop, and also comes in handy when coupled for adding definition to a chorus without dominating.  The Cor Anglais is very big and rather dull in tone.  The Echo Cor De Nuit on B is very French sounding.  The Erzahler is most beautiful on A, thinner and brighter on B.  The Bombarde chorus is a bit raspy in tone, full of harmonic content but tame in strength.  This Vox Humana in this division is especially  good -- a "Vox to die for" -- on A it's mixed with a soft helper stop, and on B it's by itself.  The Pedal Principal is like a big 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 along with the Great Principals and the less assertive Violone substituted.  The Pedal Fagott is extremely strong and dominates when introduced.  The 4' Schalmei is very nasal, good by itself in Pedal solos with the Clarion preferably drawn in the full organ.  Curiously, the Contra Bourdon is not a flute voice; instead it's tone, being an exact match to the Violone, is best used that way, i.e. as a "Contra Violone."  When supplied with sufficient external amplification, equalization, and subwoofer speakers this stop, along with the Contra Bombarde, is very realistic and valuable in adding depth and gravity to all fuller ensembles.

Each voice in this organ is independent with no unification or duplexing, and the Pedal Fourniture V is the only mixture stop in the organ without breaks.  All others have one or more breaks, and the Swell Plein Jeu III sounds only through the bottom half of the Swell manual -- at F#43 it drops back, thus, above that note it sounds more assertive than expected.  All (6) 16-foot manual stops run clear down to the bottom without breaking back.  Voices of 2-foot pitch or higher either break back in the top octave or end at the top with a few "dead notes." 

GREAT

2' Super Octave G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes at the top

SWELL

2' Flautino G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes at the top

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 at the top

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

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

SOLO

2' Octavin G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes at the top

ECHO

2' Flautino G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes at the top

This represents a total of 111 equivalent small pipes in the manual divisions which do not sound.  When this is factored in, 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 a pipe organ of 11,558 separate individually voiced pipes to make available the same tonal spread and range of pitches.  The Allen module on Memories One and Two adds the equivalent of another 430 sounding pipes, representing the equivalent of an instrument commanding nearly 12K [11,988] pipes. 

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 voices]

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' Trumpet, 4' Trumpet, Chimes, Tremolo, [*16' Bassoon , 16' Dulzian]

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, III Plein Jeu, 16' Contra Fagott, 8' Trompette, 8' Hautbois, 4' Trompette, Tremolo [*8' Rankett, 4' Viole]

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' Cromorne, Tremolo, [*16' Musette, 16' Bassoon]

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' 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, [*16' Dulzian, 10-2/3' Principal]

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*

*Manual to Pedal couplers duplicated with toe pistons

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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