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    Professional Electronic Organs for Churches

    Our church recently had a fire and we are looking for what most people would think would be the best sound quality electronic organ - looking at spending $75-100,000 or more depending on sound. We are looking to build a new church.

    I am one of the sound technicians and I know Mackie sound boards and other technical stuff, but ZIP about electronic organs.

    I live in Ontario, Canada. Any help would be appreciated.

    Regards, Bob

    #2
    Bob,

    Best sounding electronic organ? Depends on what your point of reference is. In the price range you mention, if pipe organ sound is what you are after, most likely a digital organ based on the MIDI driven PC based Hauptwerk program. It is not entirely conventional at this point, but is growing by leaps and bounds, in terms of users. It is also constantly being improved and updated, and also sample sets are constantly being added. I believe there are somewhere around 80 to 100 sample sets out now. The advantage of this system is that it is not based on proprietary hardware, and so supporting it, changing it, etc. should be good for the long term. There are a number of companies now selling hardware, consoles, etc. for this system. In fact I believe if manufacturers of digital don't get on board with Hauptwerk or some other similar system, they will be out of business within the next 5 years, most likely sooner.

    One thing that you must also be aware of, is the audio system. Manufacturers are heading in the right direction here, but for too long, most models sold, did not have enough discrete audio channels. For $100,000 it is better to get a minimum of 16 audio channels, than to get an extra keyboard or a pile of extra stops. Unfortunately, most churches prefer a big console with lots of goodies than fine organ sound. One other thing, if you want good sound, do not pump the organ through the church's sound system. Guaranteed to be disappointing. I heard of a case a couple of years ago, where a 3 manual Rodgers was placed in a church - with no external speakers at all, it was pumped through the church's sound system in MONO. Sounds plain awful so I am told.

    Lastly, doesn't matter what potential the organ has, if it doesn't get properly installed and voiced, it will never sound good.

    So, what is my advice, - don't believe what you read on web-sites, brochures, etc. Go see some actual organs, do some serious investigation about what actually makes an organ good, etc.

    AV from TO

    Comment


      #3
      A 3-manual Rogers through the church sound system? That has to sound horrible!

      Bob,

      A few of the electronic digital church organ builders and the Hauptwerk URLs:

      http://www.rodgersinstruments.com/
      http://www.allenorgan.com/
      http://www.johannus.com/en/
      http://www.phoenixorgans.com/
      http://www.hauptwerk.com/

      There may be others, but those are the ones I know about. Of the bunch, Allen has been building electronic organs the longest.

      As Arie stated, whichever you chose, it has to be properly installed and voiced (the one at my church is in dire need of voicing - I don't notice it so much in the congregation, but when I play it...).
      John
      Allen MDS-317 at home / Allen AP-16 at Church / Allen ADC-3100 at the stake center

      Comment


        #4
        Phoenix Organs would be at the very top of your list for great sound and a quality instrument; and the North American manufacturing facility is just down the road from you in Peterborough.

        All of their organs are custom built and voiced individually for each installation; and IMO, they are the very best sounding of digital organs.

        http://phoenixorgans.com/

        http://www.phoenixorgans.co.uk/installations-1.html

        http://www.phoenix-organs.co.uk/audio.html

        I had Phoenix build an organ for my home a couple years ago, and could not be more pleased with the instrument.
        Last edited by Clarion; 08-26-2010, 09:06 AM.
        2008: Phoenix III/44

        Comment


          #5
          I will follow up and agree with Clarion's recommendation. Phoenix built our church organ over 5 years ago (5 years already? Wow, time flies!). They are fine folks to deal with. Jim and Don Anderson installed the instrument at our church, and Don spent a day and a half voicing it. The story of our search can be seen and read about here.. There's many good examples in your area, which I'm sure they would love to demo for you. Arie above is right. Go listen to some instruments and talk to some companies involved in building digital instruments. $100K might even provide enough money for a used pipe organ... take your time with your search and ask lots of questions.

          Andy
          Last edited by clumber; 08-26-2010, 03:50 PM. Reason: bad URL

          Comment


            #6
            I second sadatoni's recommendations. Check 'em all out (including Hauptwerk)and settle on what sounds best to you. Be sure to seek several unbiased opinions from professionals in the area. And, as Arie said, make sure it is installed and voiced to your satisfaction before you let them out the door. For that amount of money, you shouldn't settle for 2nd best.

            Michael
            Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
            • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
            • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
            • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by myorgan View Post
              I second sadatoni's recommendations. Check 'em all out (including Hauptwerk)and settle on what sounds best to you.
              While Hauptwerk might be a fun option for a home organ; I am of the opinion that Hauptwerk would be most inappropriate in a church environment, with a very few minor exceptions. And if you don't know the exceptions, then Haputwerk would be a most inappropriate choice for your church.

              Originally posted by myorgan View Post
              And, as Arie said, make sure it is installed and voiced to your satisfaction before you let them out the door. For that amount of money, you shouldn't settle for 2nd best.
              That's not is not a very good idea! The time to be sure the organ is to be installed and voiced to your satisfaction, is BEFORE you let them in the door!!!!!! That's what contracts are all about.
              Last edited by Clarion; 08-27-2010, 07:37 AM.
              2008: Phoenix III/44

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Clarion View Post
                While Hauptwerk might be a fun option for a home organ; I am of the opinion that Hauptwerk would be most inappropriate in a church environment, with a very few minor exceptions. And if you don't know the exceptions, then Haputwerk would be a most inappropriate choice for your church.



                That's not is not a very good idea! The time to be sure the organ is to be installed and voiced to your satisfaction, is BEFORE you let them in the door!!!!!! That's what contracts are all about.
                Clarion,

                I know you despise Hauptwerk, but can tell you, it is far outselling your favourite brand, even to churches. It is a reliable platform and sounds fantastic IF it is run through proper equipment. Many features on Hauptwerk go beyond what is available from anybody else. And not only that, it's development is going forward at a very rapid pace. The problems that most people encounter, is that they want to be cheap - run it on obsolete computers, low grade audio, and do it themselves. After all the thinking is organists shouldn't have to pay big bucks to feed their hobby. There is no organ forum that I know of, that is as big or as busy as the Hauptwerk forum. The Hauptwerk community is growing daily.

                Maybe you can enlighten this list as to the Phoenix "wannabe Hauptwerk" system using freeware, shareware stuff. Last year they installed their so-called new computer system on a Casavant pipe organ in Toronto. At the dedication concert of this sytem, these new stops cyphered, crashed, misbehaved so badly, that the use of the new digital stops had to be aborted. Six months later, the system still wasn't working right. I haven't heard since, if they ever got it all sorted out. Sounds like serious teething problems that should have been ironed out BEFORE, the church let them in the door. Maybe that is why they are not really pushing the newsystem very hard. I also heard that the sound of the additions was not great when a number of digital stops were used simultaneously.

                The way things are going, I would suggest that Hauptwerk will be the system of choice sooner rather than later. I doubt that any of the other systems such as j-Organ, Grand Organ, Miditzer will ever be developed to the extant that Hauptwerk is. Those programs are for people who want something for nothing, but there is no official R & D going on, just hobbyists working on it in their spare time, for no financial gain. These programs almost always end up at a dead end - being no longer supported.

                AV

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by arie v View Post
                  Clarion,
                  I know you despise Hauptwerk, but can tell you, it is far outselling your favourite brand, even to churches. It is a reliable platform and sounds fantastic IF it is run through proper equipment.
                  Arie,

                  I don't know where you ever picked up the idea that I despise Hauptwerk; because nothing could be further from the truth! I have heard some really great Hauptwerk systems. Ones like Rob Stefanussen's system come to mind:


                  'Course being a computer programmer/tech by day, helps a lot in putting one of these systems together and keeping them running; notwithstanding, that major $$$ are still required to get everything up an running, even for an expert like Rob.

                  Possessing a significant degree of electronics and computer smarts, would be foundational to building one of these instruments. Even for those who are knowledgeable, the chances of seeing your $20,000 project evaporate into a plume of smoke the first time you plug it in, is very real! If this happens to a typical non-tech, they are totally screwed!!

                  As for my own personal preferences: While I certainly don't despise Hauptwerk; I've never experienced any desire to expand my organ beyond it's original 3 organs-in-one design. It's just that the resident voices in a Phoenix are ever so wonderful and satisfying, that so far, I really haven't been motivated to seek "greener grass". Not that installing a Hauptwerk system would be all that difficult on a Phoenix. Everything needed for Hauptwerk is already there; so it's a pretty much a simple plug-and-play routine.

                  Originally posted by arie v View Post
                  Many features on Hauptwerk go beyond what is available from anybody else. And not only that, it's development is going forward at a very rapid pace. The problems that most people encounter, is that they want to be cheap - run it on obsolete computers, low grade audio, and do it themselves.
                  Isn't "cheap" what Hauptwerk is all about?

                  Originally posted by arie v View Post
                  After all the thinking is organists shouldn't have to pay big bucks to feed their hobby. There is no organ forum that I know of, that is as big or as busy as the Hauptwerk forum. The Hauptwerk community is growing daily.
                  To reiterate: Isn't "cheap" what Hauptwerk is all about?

                  Originally posted by arie v View Post
                  Maybe you can enlighten this list as to the Phoenix "wannabe Hauptwerk" system using freeware, shareware stuff. Last year they installed their so-called new computer system on a Casavant pipe organ in Toronto. At the dedication concert of this sytem, these new stops cyphered, crashed, misbehaved so badly, that the use of the new digital stops had to be aborted.
                  I have no inside track on what's happening inside Phoenix. I'm just a typical rah! rah! enthusiastic Phoenix benefactor!!

                  I suspect I know which organ you are talking about, but I've heard no complaints from the resident organist who arranged the modification. Judging from the results, project seemed to be entirely focused upon: How totally cheeeeap can it be done??

                  But when it comes down to organs misbehaving, even new hardwired organs from reputable manufacturers like Classic Organ of Markham, Ontario can offer a few nasties. Not sure if you are familiar with Classic Organ, Arie, but a while back, I was asked to play a funeral service at Marshall's in Richmond Hill. They had a rather new Classic Organ for their chapel. Talk about a kludge! Fortunately, I arrived a day early to check out the organ, and a good thing I did!! This instrument was given to a nasty habit of randomly transposing a piece from one key to another. But to make it even more interesting, the upper manual would transpose to Eb, while the lower manual was satisfied with transposing to F!! If you were invited to play a kludge like that for a funeral, would you subscribe???

                  Originally posted by arie v View Post
                  The way things are going, I would suggest that Hauptwerk will be the system of choice sooner rather than later. I doubt that any of the other systems such as j-Organ, Grand Organ, Miditzer will ever be developed to the extant that Hauptwerk is. Those programs are for people who want something for nothing, but there is no official R & D going on, just hobbyists working on it in their spare time, for no financial gain. These programs almost always end up at a dead end - being no longer supported.

                  AV
                  While you might enjoy indulging an such a such a fantasy, whether J-Organ or Hauptwerk, neither PC computer-based system is immune to demonstrating a few nasties; something rarely observed with hardware based systems.
                  Last edited by Admin; 08-27-2010, 09:33 PM. Reason: embedded video
                  2008: Phoenix III/44

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Honestly, the whole passive-aggressive Phoenix versus Classic (yes, we know Arie used to work for them, Clarion) versus Hauptwerk versus whoever else tit-for-tat is not very helpful, and frankly, not very respectful or respectable. Might it be possible to just not go there? For once?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      [gone,gone,gone]
                      Last edited by bcollins; 09-05-2010, 11:44 AM.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by michaelhoddy View Post
                        Honestly, the whole passive-aggressive Phoenix versus Classic . . .
                        A discussion of Phoenix -vs- Classic has never been broached on this Forum, either now, or in the past.
                        2008: Phoenix III/44

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Guys,

                          Don't bother responding to the guy's request anymore. Bob (aka Soundtechguy) joined on the 25th, made this post, and hasn't logged on since.

                          Which does beg the question, though. Why do certain people incessantly "hijack" threads to discuss things that have little, if anything, to do with the topic at hand? My Dad used to say, "Opinions are like noses--everybody has one." The sideswipes, as well as sniping and snide remarks are uncalled-for and unprofessional. Perhaps they are more suited for the Grease Pit.

                          Please consider putting yourself in the shoes of a person who is on an organ search committee, doing their best to search the Internet for the benefit of their church. They come across this Forum, and from most appearances the people on the Forum are a combination of knowledgeable professionals (at least more knowledgeable than I am as a member of the committee), and those interested in the advancement of the organ. Let me post a question to get their input.

                          Now, re-read our posts from that committee member's shoes and see how helpful they are. There are places for the comments that have been made, but not necessarily in response to Bob's question--if he ever signs on again. Can we be more helpful and less snide? Can we blame him for not signing on again?

                          Just my 2 cents worth.

                          Michael
                          Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                          • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                          • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                          • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

                          Comment


                            #14
                            For a church that will have visiting organists, any instrument provided should be absolutely "turn-key" and should not look any different from comparable-sized instruments found elsewhere: console, pedals, and controls should all be standard (AGO standard if applicable); no touch-screens, no display screens (except perhaps little ones used to select piston groups or such). All controls should be like those found on quality instruments elsewhere. Anything other than that will require a learning curve for the visitor and could seriously jeopardize the organist's ability to provide a good performance. Not only that, but the system should be ready to play as soon as the power switch is turned on (within a couple of seconds)--a long boot-up time for a computer is unacceptable. I have no experience with HW or other PC-based organs, and if those qualities can be provided by such instruments then they could be considered. If not, then I'd look for a "built" instrument from a well-known manufacturer.

                            David

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by michaelhoddy View Post
                              yes, we know Arie used to work for them . . .
                              Your recent public revelation of Aries' identity, has really bothered me over the past few days. Although not an absolute rule of the Forum in a forum which basically has no rules, and counts on the discretion and decency of participants, you are the very first participant to to have ever publicly and gratuitously exposed the identity of another forum member.

                              You have the honour of being the first person to have abridged the the generally accepted forum-etiquette of protecting the identity of a member from public exposure, when the member himself has not chosen to do so! If you have an issue of this kind, then take it up privately. That's one of the purposes of PM.

                              Whatever disagreements might exist between me and Arie, are really none of your business. I have the greatest of respect for Arie, and his continuing contributions to the organ world.
                              Last edited by Clarion; 08-31-2010, 08:08 PM.
                              2008: Phoenix III/44

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