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Allen Organs--general chat

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  • #16
    Re: Allen Organs--general chat

    I hate the sound of this Wicks thing they've got here. Sure, for being electronic, you can't expect perfectly, but their "Trumpets" sound like a MIDI string sound loaded with some effects. Bottom line, it sounds crappy. Plus the recording clips. Who wants to listen to that? The pedal reeds are wimpy too.

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    • #17
      Re: Allen Organs--general chat

      Christ Church here in Plano Tx has a hybrid. Most of the instrument is electronic.

      ...and it is about the most glorious sound I've ever heard...

      But I agree, the recordings were kindof sad and pathetic...

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      • #18
        Re: Allen Organs--general chat

        Why I am not a huge Allen fan. The above mentioned arguments are all mostly bang on, but don't stress enough the hugest deal....price. I've been told they are more expensive than Rodgers for equivalent models. That is unacceptable really. I even find Rodgers to be priced outrageously. And aren't their starting models not equipped with AGO pedalboards? That's insane. For those who missed out on the ridiculously long thread in the classical electronic section (should be on page 2 or 3 right now) I urge you to skim through it. One more thing I'll mention, is that Phoenix has undoubtedly better sound than Allen, and a fully custom built organ, for a fraction of the price.

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        • #19
          Re: Allen Organs--general chat

          You are right that they are more expensive. However, I suspect - and if anybody wants to correct me they are welcome to do so - that Rodgers has quite a few electronic subassemblies coming from overseas. I'm 99% sure I've read somewhere that this is the case (and it wasn't from a competitor) They have been a part of Roland for many years and with Roland being the world leader in popular music electronic instruments, they have a vastly favorable economy of scale in this area. On the other hand, Allen's factory in Macungie has SMC inserters, wave soldering machines, everything required to build the organ from the ground up except the chips and components. Those machines aren't cheap! Likewise, Roland surely had an extensive portfolio of DSP technology. While Allen had to develop such technology themselves (for the Rennaisance series and later, which are DSP based systems running on SHARC chips). So the prices probably reflect this to some degree. I'm not even going to go into the other arguments about what the price differential represents.

          Neither company is making a true profit on their expensive organs and almost certainly never will. Allen is supported by their electronics assembly and access concentrator businesses. (they've done contract manufacturing for Lucent, for example - at some point you've probably had a cell phone call route through equipment made by Allen). Rodgers of course is supported by Roland and competitors will say that the umbilical cord could be cut at any time.

          I think the prognosis for that segment of the organ market is somewhat bleak but not hopeless. The praise band aren't going to go away for the class of people into that sort of thing. The wealthier, snobbier churches will afford pipe organs if they can. A whole generation of young organist have been trained that electronic=toaster. With the 20 year bull market there are a lot of wealthy old people and all they have to do is give a little slice of their portfolio away. I was talking to a director of music at the last Wanamaker organ day and he said a member of his congregation had just given 1/2 million for a pipe organ. Conversely in really poor areas there is a dearth of capable organists, and what's the use of having an organ with the big fancy pedalboard if nobody knows how to play it. Those kind of places just use the "church organ" patch on a keyboard when they need it. The irony in all of this to me is that to do some degree the electronic organ companies, and Allen especially (because their history goes so far back) helped keep the organ viable in congregational life for so long. In the history of the small semi-rural Methodist church I attended growing up (an area that is now vastly different from gentrification), there was only an upright piano until the mid 60s when they raised money for an Allen TC-1. There are many stories like this, look at how many old analog Allens there are on ebay.

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          • #20
            Re: Allen Organs--general chat

            (removed)

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            • #21
              Re: Allen Organs--general chat

              I recently heard a recording of the large custom 1989 Allen at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, and it was the most realistic sound I have ever heard. If that was 1989 era technology, Allens have vastly improved their already great sound, IMHO.

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              • #22
                Re: Allen Organs--general chat

                The problem with Allen is the price and sound quality. As mentioned countless times in this thread, the price is outrageous. Especially compared to Rodgers and Phoenix (another popular alternative discussed in various threads). We were looking at a 3 manual, 45-50 stop organ for our church. The prices rang up at 60, 72 and 80. Allen was the 80 and that was without the full speaker complement. The full sound system brought the total up to 90 (including the rear reverb system).

                On sound quality. Well, that's a personal preference. I prefer Allen and every time I see the name Rodgers I cringe knowing what it will sound like. Others feel exactly the opposite.

                Oh ... one more thing. For as advanced as Allen's technology is ... I found it amazing that our dealer trumpeted a new record/playback/midi system to replace their floppy based one. Um ... I may be mistaken but didn't floppies go out awhile ago? And to have the organ voiced was outrageous. You had to use a serial connection to hook the laptop up to voice the instrument, load in samples, et cetera. Seriously ... spring for a parallel connection. The serial connection is so slow that on the large instruments the voicer will hook it up, start the transfer for one of the manuals and come back in an hour and a half. Of course, he's on the clock the whole time.

                Oh yes, the keys. Don't use Allen as the poster boy for bad standard keys. You want bad standard keys ... go play a Johannus.

                Now that my little rant is over .... I love Allen. I prefer Phoenix.

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                • #23
                  Re: Allen Organs--general chat

                  Actually, serial connections don't have to be slow. Of course, if you're talking the PC serial ports--they are slow. But USB2 and FireWire are serial as well as the relatively new SATA hard drives. They are fast and work well. I am surprised that Allen (or anyone) is still using serial ports. That's so early 1980s!

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                  • #24
                    Re: Allen Organs--general chat

                    Sorry ... didn't think about the USB2/Firewire side of it.

                    Yes, he was using the serial port on his laptop to connect into the organ. He said that's all Allen's software would allow.

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                    • #25
                      Re: Allen Organs--general chat

                      they still make laptops with serial ports?

                      That is a issue with Allen, i.e. the technology being so dated. The MIDI on our church's 2 year old Rennaisance Allen uses the old IBM style large flexible floppy disks that have not been used in modern computers in like a decade...

                      what is up with that?



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                      • #26
                        Re: Allen Organs--general chat

                        >> That is a issue with Allen, i.e. the technology being so dated. The MIDI on our church's 2 year
                        >> old Rennaisance Allen uses the old IBM style large flexible floppy disks that have not been
                        >> used in modern computers in like a decade...

                        >> what is up with that?

                        A Laptop, a USB-MIDI connector, and OrganAssist (free software) and you can toss that 5 1/4" floppy in the dump where it belongs... And get a Phoenix and the Allen can follow that floppy!

                        Just my biased opinion, of course!!!

                        Andy

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                        • #27
                          Re: Allen Organs--general chat

                          I do understand why Allen is not on the bleeding edge of the latest technologies...

                          The way computers interact with devices is in such a constant state of change.....although it seems that Allen hung onto the old 1980's floppy disks too long (still selling equiptment with them in 2003 at least.

                          And if they are still selling only organs that connect with serial ports... YIKES.

                          USB1 is pretty much toast. USB2 is the flavour of the last few years although fortunately the old USB1 stuff still works wtih USB2 (just much slower transfers)

                          Firewire is fantastic, but seems to be a Mac only standard pretty much.

                          Bluetooth seems to be the way of the future in terms of just having wireless connections instead of having to have any physical hardware connection between the devices.

                          Is Bluetooth well enough developed to incorporate it into organs without it being replaced with something else in 5 years?

                          It seems to me whoever gets bluetooth going first will have a competitive edge.

                          I like the idea myself as then you'd be able to control the organ via a laptop anywhere in the church to test registrations, and to be able to operate the organ without having to be anywhere near the console.


                          .......

                          A local church just got a brand new Allen....being delivered this week or next..... I very much look forward to giving it a whirl and to see what type of plastic is used on the keyboards!

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                          • #28
                            Re: Allen Organs--general chat

                            >> I like the idea myself as then you'd be able to control the organ via a laptop anywhere in the
                            >> church to test registrations, and to be able to operate the organ without having to be anywhere
                            >> near the console.

                            Bluetooth has a limit of 10 meters, so "anywhere in the church" means you have a smallish church.
                            People report up to 50 feet for high quality MIDI cables, but you could also just use a program like VNC on one computer to control the computer attached to the console through MIDI. That of course assumes you have a network in your church to which both computers attach. I don't see Bluetooth as an advantage because of the distance limit. If the Hauptwek direction continues, perhaps the line between "the organ" and "the computer" will blur to the extent that your connection choices will be whatever you want. You could change your instrument every week to some new sample set. That'd keep the congregation on their toes!

                            A-

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                            • #29
                              Re: Allen Organs--general chat


                              Here's a scenario:

                              Someone decided to test this wireless MIDI out. They press a button on their laptop while sitting somewhere in pew 14. Suddenly the console (that has been thoughtfully rigged up to play from Hauptwerk) starts to roar out. "Wow, thats very neat, I never knew our little 10-year-old organ could sound like that", they all exclaim.

                              A few nights go by, and they get to thinking... "Gee I wonder how much a system like that could cost to integrate into our church"

                              So you tell them, and they are astonished that they can have a player organ for so little.

                              Long story short, the organist gets fired and replaced by MIDI files, and the console gets sold because the whole shebang can be operated within a single little computer.


                              Granted, this is an extreme case, but how can you compete with long-term savings?



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                              • #30
                                Re: Allen Organs--general chat

                                >> the organist gets fired and replaced by MIDI files

                                Interesting issues...

                                Who "owns" a performance of a piece? Is it the organist or the church? Can the church record a performance without the organist's consent? Does a church owe an organist for later replay of a piece? Could an organist make a nice living from selling MIDI performances? Should the church pay per play or can it buy a piece? You don't need to go to Hauptwerk for this stuff, it's all a part of MIDI now... Obviously there's no synergy between the choir and the organ, the choir follows the organ or else!

                                Any lawyers out there who can shed light on this? The technology has been there for years.

                                A-

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