Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Yet another "new" organ for Jbird604.... Rodgers Allegiant 677 this time

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Yet another "new" organ for Jbird604.... Rodgers Allegiant 677 this time

    I said goodbye to the amazing Allen Renaissance R-230 this morning, having been made "an offer I couldn't refuse" by a talented local organ student. She will do a lot more with that fine organ that I ever would have, and I'm happy that it is being played so beautifully and with such purpose.

    My "new" Rodgers Allegiant 677 was built in 2004 and was owned by a local organist who has retired. It's "less" organ in many ways than the R-230, but it ought to be enough organ for what I do.

    The 677 is a small two-manual AGO with 28 lighted drawknobs and 11 lighted tilt tabs for stop, coupler, and feature controls, along with 17 pistons (8 generals, 4 memory levels, set, cancel, and some special functions) and the two knobs for accessing the menu items on a small LCD screen. Two expression pedals (great/swell), one of which can become a crescendo pedal if desired.

    These controls call up 26 standard pipe organ stops plus chimes and a set of orchestral patches, and turn MIDI on or off for each division. In addition to the 26 named pipe stops on the knobs, there are another 10 "Voice Palette" pipe organ stops -- a concept that raises some questions... Not a big spec, but not bad for a small home organ used for practice.

    Complaint about the Voice Palette system -- it's like someone said "Let's have a Flute Celeste and a Viole Celeste, but we'll save a few bucks by not using two knobs." Likewise for ten pairs of stops, both of which are useful, but you just can't have them at the same time! But the biggest problem -- I'm not kidding -- you really do NOT known which one of the stops you'll get when you pull that knob, as it depends on which one you selected from the menu the last time you used that knob! I see the potential for some trouble, though there is a way to just do away with the swapping, assign each of the dual-purpose knobs just ONE permanent stop, even if it isn't the one that's engraved on it... That may wind up being what I do, because I'm worried about the prospect of drawing a flute and getting a trumpet (one of the knobs actually is engraved for a flute but has a trumpet as the Voice Palette!)...

    That gripe aside, I'm surprisingly happy with this little instrument. The sound is certainly different from any other organ I've owned. No doubt I'll explore that idea more fully as I get used to it.

    The audio channeling is interesting. By default it's a two-channel "stereo" organ. Each stop is panned (and there's no adjustment) either left, right, or in the center of the stereo field. Makes for some interesting separation of stops, in a pattern similar to Allen ADC models -- Principal 8 over here, Octave 4 over there, mixture in the middle, etc.

    There is an option to add a second pair of audio channels, and I got some spare amps and such with it so I can easily add this option. With the second pair installed, you can select any desired stops to move to these alternate channels. You can of course simply move the entire swell division, and have a divided organ like I had with the R-230. But I'm thinking of a more unorthodox split -- leave the 8' and 4' members of a chorus in the main speakers, move the upper work to the alternates. Or put half the pedal stops in the alternate along with the mixtures and reeds, or some such arrangement.

    The menu system gives access to complete voicing without using a computer. You can adjust each note of each stop individually for level, tuning, and tone color. You can adjust each stop for level, for tuning, for tone color, as well as selecting which pair of audio channels to play through. Adjust the tremulants and the numerous reverb/environment settings. Stops that have multiple ranks let you adjust each rank separately, note by note, as with the Celestes and mixtures. Stops with a Voice Palette let you adjust each of the optional tones separately from the main tone on that knob. Obviously quite a flexible voicing program with the potential for doing some great work -- OR for making a real mess!

    The keyboards on this 677 are the type RK-30 which Rodgers used in a lot of their better organs of the same era, including large MasterPiece models. Of course there were better keyboards available as options, but this one is quite serviceable. The pedals are regular Rodgers Hillsboro-built units with a very nice feel.

    Anyway, I've got some work to do before it will be fully set up. The original owner had bought some external Rodgers amps and speakers, some of which got sold separately. I wound up getting two S-200 (two-channel) amps, but at least one of them seems to be dead. I'm hoping I'll have one working amp so I can easily set up my "alternate" pair of channels without having to hack the organ's audio board. I got no Rodgers speakers with it, but I have plenty of good organ speakers on hand.

    I'll have more to say in a few days. Here's a copy of the original factory brochure:

    Rodgers677.pdf
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

    #2
    Hi John,

    Congrats on your "new to you" house organ. Nice organ for practicing on. I suspect however this won't be your last home organ though.

    My guess is that you will eventually like this organ better than any of your previous instruments.

    I take it that the Viscount 3 manual you mentioned about a month ago, has not been repaired, or cannot be fixed.

    Have a lot of fun with your new toy.

    AV

    Comment


    • jbird604
      jbird604 commented
      Editing a comment
      The Viscount G404 is still dead, probably will need the main board sent off to Italy. So it's a long-term project and I needed something that was ready to play, thus brought home the recently-acquired Rodgers. The Viscount may eventually come home, or we may keep it around the shop as a rental instrument. May not get to spend much time on it until after the Christmas rush.

    #3
    The Rodgers has several needs which I want to address as time allows. It's playable, but far from optimized. There are things to check into regarding tuning, rank balances and audio channeling, note by note scaling of the ranks, and details such as tremulants and acoustics.

    It's surprising how "out of tune" it is. I don't know how much voicing/finishing the original owner had done, but I wanted to start from scratch anyway, so I did a rank by rank factory reset. Once reset, there were two or three ranks that were quite a bit out of tune, like 15 or 20 cents off from most of the others, enough to sound like a badly out of tune pipe organ. Most other ranks were fairly close to A440 in the middle of the range, but tended to have some pretty wild notes high and low. Before I could even play it, I used the Rank Tune menu item to pull the errant ranks generally closer to A440, though they may still be rougher than the others.

    I've now tuned the Great Principal 8 to a precise A440 from bottom to top using my ClearTune app to set each note. That of course makes that rank sound perfectly in tune with itself, but not surprisingly a little "sterile" -- as critics of digital organs like to say. It's no wonder today's organs are shipped with a good bit of intentional detuning. They're afraid someone will think it sounds too much like an old MOS or like a divider organ. I just don't want it to sound like one of those old pipes organs that makes you say "get the tuner in here before Sunday or I'm not going to play this thing!"

    Now that the Principal is tuned dead-on and in pure octaves, I can use it as a standard to see how sour other ranks are. I'll probably not be tuning other ranks dead-on sterile like this; I just wanted a perfect standard to go by for comparison.

    My goal is not to create a "perfect" tuning that will sound like a MOS organ. No organ I've owned before made it so very easy to tune each rank by notes (my R-230 had the capability, but it required using DOVE and editing the various frequency tables by hand). So, this is going to be interesting. I hope to find out just how much de-tuning sounds good, and at what point it becomes un-musical and unsettling.

    Beyond tuning, I'll keep notes about any ranks with obvious out-of-scale notes. A too-loud or off-tone note here and there may be "charming" on a pipe organ, but to me it's jarring, so I'll use the adjustments to try to make the scales as even as I can. Again, not trying to make it too "MOS-like" but just pleasing and musical.

    Hope to record something soon. If I weren't so old and prone to wearing out so quickly, I'd be keeping a recorded archive of all the organs that come through here so we could share and talk about the different qualities heard in the various brands and models. Maybe I'll eventually have time to do a little of that. But I do want to share some of the sounds on this little thing for everyone to hear, since we don't talk much about this type of organ on this forum.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

    Comment


    • mlaird
      mlaird commented
      Editing a comment
      It's funny that you're working to tighten up the tuning of your new Rodgers. I'm trying to loosen up the tuning of my new Allen, since I've always preferred Rodgers' tuning to Allen's. Rodgers' tuning always seemed "warmer" and more pipe-like, while Allen's always has seemed too coldly, mathematically precise and electronic-sounding. That said, 15-20 cents off sounds like too much, so perhaps you have more out-of-tuneness than what I've heard in other Rodgers organs.

    • jbird604
      jbird604 commented
      Editing a comment
      Since I'm the second owner, I can't be sure what the tuning was like out of the crate. But I did a factory reset rank and by rank, so I assume this really large offset on some ranks was the default. In order to get all the ranks reasonably in tune with the rest, I had to adjust some of them up or down by 10 or 15 cents. That's how far off they were. Not only were whole ranks very much flat or sharp of standard, many individual notes within ranks were off by several cents from the octave above or below, making it seem even more sour. Not pleasant in my book!

      Now that I have it tuned up tight, I have to wonder if I over did it. Maybe it would be more interesting if it were a little bit more random. There is a "random tuning" function in the menu that I can enable at varying degrees, and that, I presume, would intentionally sour if up. As time goes along and I feel more like experimenting, I may see what that does.

    #4
    A midnight revelation -- this organ is surely the first one I've owned that sounds BETTER with headphones than it does through the speakers. I'm doing some late-night practice while my wife sleeps, thus the phones. As much as I loved the R-230, it, like every other Allen I've owned, didn't sound very satisfying through headphones, no matter what Virtual Acoustics settings I tried. But this little Rodgers seems to be made for headphone playing. The "Dimensional Modeling," or whatever they call the reverb on it, seems overbearing through the speakers, but with phones on it sounds more like a Hauptwerk organ than my other organs did. The stops retain their left/center/right locations, but the reflections and sustain and swirling about of the sound produce a very enjoyable sonic image of a cathedral in my head!

    So that's a point in its favor. A pretty big point, since I do have to wear the phones quite a bit.

    I've made peace with the Voice Palette -- I just decided to accept the stops as they are engraved and disabled the VP by "locking" them to the default tones. So I lose my great Gemshorn and the Flute Celeste on the swell, and several other stops that really should've had their own knobs, but my brain likes this better. It's a small organ after all, so why fuss that it doesn't have every single stop that I'd like...

    Other minor drawbacks are beginning to yield to voicing. For example, not having a Krummhorn on the great (except the oddly pitched 4' Krummhorn that was a Voice Palette selection under the Clarion 4) galls me because that is my go-to solo stop at church. To ameliorate the loss, I used the voicing controls to turn the great's Trumpet 8 very mellow and much softer than a trumpet should be, made it into a nice sweet little Cornopean or something. Anyway, I can use it as a sub for a Krummhorn in my practicing. I have plans to sweeten up the Viole Celeste on the swell to make it sound more Allen-ish. I also did some major work on the great Mixture IV -- since the fifths are regulable separately from the octaves of the mixture, I turned down the level of the fifths somewhat and the mixture became much more pleasant to my ears -- less reedy and harsh, more "silvery" and clean, like a Cymbel III, I suppose.

    As I explore the possibilities, I'll surely find even more things to like about this one. First thing you know, I'll be in love with it, then someone will want to buy it and make me "an offer I can't refuse...."

    Such is the life of the frustrated musician who became an organ tech and used organ seller...
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

    Comment


      #5
      Spent some time today on tuning. I went through several ranks and tuned them more or less zero-beat with the principal, and then I found that it sounded a little too dead. After that, I went back into the menu and jiggered the tuning of certain ranks up or down by a cent or two, which made the ensemble richer, I think.

      Next I created some combinations to store on the pistons. I got a nice multi-step buildup from 8' foundations all the way to a near-tutti, and I liked the balance a lot. I think the ensemble here may be a little better than on the Allen, in fact.

      I also set up a series of increasing "celestial" combinations. Having only one actual celeste stop, I intentionally tuned the 8' flute on the great a few cents sharp, so that when the swell 8' flute is coupled down I get a rather good flute celeste. Then I tuned the swell Geigen about halfway between the two, and adding it to the mix gives me a little bigger and more active celeste-like effect. Finally, the Viole Celeste can be added, producing a very active sound for meditative music.

      Tuning mixtures is an interesting art. The menu allows you to mute either the fifths or the octaves in each mixture, so I listened to each half of the mixture individually, playing it with the principal 8 and tuning the individual notes to get rid of the beats. I like this effect -- mixtures tuned pure -- better than having the mixtures intentionally sharp to the unison. YMMV as some voicers like to sharp the mixtures quite a bit to make them stand out dramatically in the ensemble.

      I'm still having fun. Toying with the reverb, trying to find the right combination of "room size" and "wall material" and ambiance density. When using headphones, I like to have quite a bit of this, as it makes the whole thing sound much more cohesive. It's less useful when playing with speakers though, and tends to make the sound run together too much when turned up too high.
      John
      ----------
      Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
      Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
      Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
      Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

      Comment


        #6
        Troubleshooting isn't always a snap, not even for a seasoned veteran like me. Especially when you don't have lots of "spare parts" available and easy working space arrangements.

        For example, I haven't been able to get the two external audio channels to work yet. As I've described above, there is a dedicated signal output for connecting a standard Rodgers S200 amplifier and a pair of speakers, then you can use the menu to direct any desired stops into these alternate audio channels. I am planning to put a select group of stops into these and have them sound from the speakers behind me in the organ nook.

        The organ came out of the original owner's residence (estate sale) with two Rodgers S200 amps and the 9-pin cables to connect them to the organ. I don't know what kind of audio arrangement he had, as I couldn't even play it before I moved it out of there, the speakers having been sold off separately, and the internal speakers were gone.

        But when I connected one of the S200 amps to the output jack on the organ, I got no sound. I opened up the amp -- no blown fuses, no obvious problems. So I tried the second S200 and still no sound. There are two LED indicators on the face of the amp to show when it receives a turn-on signal from the organ and when the AC is live. No lights at all on one amp. They sometimes come on, sometimes don't on the other amp. So, not sure what's going on.

        Could be that one or both of the 9-pin cables is defective, but still seems that there should be at least one channel that would work, or that I'd get SOMETHING out of the speakers, if just hum. But nothing.

        Could be that the organ's audio board has been damaged somehow. But it's hard to know, since I have no more S200 amps to test it with, no more 9-pin cables, and my organ is pushed up against the wall in a corner of my small organ nook.

        My plan is to (1) make up from scratch a 9-pin cable with ordinary RCA plugs on the ends so I can try running the audio into a know-working line-level amp. Then I'll know whether or not the organ is actually delivering a signal on the jack. (2) If there is no audio with that setup, I'll know that the organ's audio board itself is dead, then I'll have to see about fixing it or getting a replacement from Rodgers.

        (3) If there IS audio with my scratch-made cable and known-working amp, then I'll know that the trouble is either with both the S200 amps or else with one or both 9-pin cables.

        To test the cables, I can connect each cable to the jack in the back of the organ, then attach my scratch cable to the other end and on to the known-working amp to see if the cable is delivering signal. If the cables are OK, then it must be the amps that are bad. Wouldn't surprise me, as the owner reportedly was driving several speakers from each amp, according to the family member who is selling off the estate (and who is not an organist and seems rather dismissive of the original owner for some reason).

        So, there's quite a bit of work to do, and I'll need to round up several items to do my troubleshooting. This would be so easy if the organ were still at the shop, but I foolishly didn't even test it over there, other than to turn it on and determine that it would play with its internals (once we stuck some speakers in the holes where the originals had been removed).
        John
        ----------
        Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
        Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
        Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
        Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

        Comment


          #7
          I am coming at this from my Rodgers 990 experience, an instrument 30 years the senior to yours; but behind the amp output board on the 990 there is a small glass fuse to prevent cross connecting, and shorting the amp output cable lines. If you have a bad cable, or amp it may have popped this fuse, if such a fuse exists on your organ.
          Until The Next Dimension,
          Admiral Coluch.

          -1929 Wangerin Pipe Organ Historian
          -Owner 1982 Rogers Specification 990

          Comment


          • jbird604
            jbird604 commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks. I'll look around for something like that. I have to at least wonder if the audio output board was damaged at some point, as the original owner apparently had completely quit playing it some months ago, and I don't know why, unless he had blown out both amps and couldn't figure out how to make it work any more.

          #8
          I didn't do any more troubleshooting on the Rodgers today, but did play it a while. It's got it's good points, and I'll certainly tolerate it for a while. I really enjoy certain stops, and I'm having fun playing around so easily with the tuning and voicing. Once I figure out what's wrong with the audio outputs and get my four channels going, I'll surely enjoy the sound even more.

          BUT --- today I went to the home of the student who bought my R-230 to go over the owner's materials with her and check it out post-delivery (I was indisposed last week when the movers came and got it, couldn't go with them to the lady's home)........ And of course you know what's next...... Yes, I nearly CRIED!! That Allen is SO much more organ, and the sounds are so much more beautiful and full and rich and real and engaging! (But still, it sounds awful through headphones!)

          The good news is that I've now got my eye on a nice Allen MDS-16 that we went out to service a couple days ago. It's in a church that is closing the doors in January, and the organ will be available, presumably. I'm going to make them an offer. The MDS-16 is the MDS model that has the exact same stoplist as my R-230, the same advanced MIDI and console controller, the same capture action and all other console accessories. It has the same dual MIDI outputs as my R-230, so it can connect to both a SmartRecorder and a MIDI Expander at the same time. Looks identical to the R-230, and sounds very much the same too, except for those inherent differences between MDS and Renaissance. Voicing is of course not nearly as flexible, but it is far easier too. I think MDS is a good technology to settle on, if this has to be my last organ ever... (IF the church will sell it to me!)

          So, perhaps this little Rodgers is just a temporary home organ, and I'll be back with a wonderful Allen very soon. Time will telll......
          John
          ----------
          Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
          Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
          Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
          Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
          https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

          Comment


          • you795a
            you795a commented
            Editing a comment
            You mention the MDS-16. That is a nice organ. I worked on many of them at Allen as a tech. I wish I had one of them as well.That model was built in the late 90's and early 2000's. It was built in an AK style console. That would also be a W-5 system. Easy to voice.

          • jbird604
            jbird604 commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, the MDS-16 is a really sweet model. W-5 technology and all the "right stuff" -- nearly identical stop list to the MDS-45 at church, exact same capture action and piston layout, divided expression + crescendo -- and can be easily set up for four-channel audio. Has dual MIDI out jacks, perfect for making disks at home for playback at church.

            But it may turn out that the Rodgers is just fine for me, if I can learn to love the sound, and if I can easily make sequences on floppies that will play back at church (one of my major reasons for having a home organ). I also continue to love what I hear from Hauptwerk, and perhaps I'll have to eventually make the switch to a VPO. Time will tell!

          • you795a
            you795a commented
            Editing a comment
            I also agree with you on Hauptwerk. I have a Wurlitzer 950 that gave up last year. I modified it to play Hauptwerk, GrandOrgue and jOrgan. I have the replacement boards to repair the Wurtlizer but I am having fun with Hauptwerk. I'd like to modify the organ that I could play either of them, either the VPO or the Wurlitzer because I like the sound of the Wurlister as well.

          #9
          Hmmm... I could swear that neither of those S200 amps I got with the organ worked the other day, but last night I hooked up one and it seems fine. So now I have the stops coming from four different speakers, sort of surrounding me on the bench, as I had with the Allen. Not grouped by manual divisions, but rather I tried to spread the various stops of each division and each chorus out so I'd have more separation and individuality as I build up each chorus. I can draw the great 8' principal, octave 4, and mixture and have each rank sounding from a different speaker. Quite an interesting concept.

          Or should be... But so far still not a lot of joy in the sound. Perhaps more voicing is needed. The speakers behind me in the nook (which were the swell speakers for the Allen) are quite different from the speakers in front of me (a pair of woofers in the kneeboard, and mids and tweeters in my converted Conn pipes on top of the console), so I'll have to do some adjusting for tone to get the two audio systems to match.

          While the individual stops sound somewhat realistic when played alone, and the relative levels are about right, there's still something that isn't "right" about the ensemble, perhaps the bass/treble balance is off, or maybe there is a mid-range emphasis that will be hard to tune out. Or maybe this organ just isn't a match for that amazing R-230 I had!

          All this voicing makes me appreciate just how perfectly balanced and voiced and colored are all the stops in an old MOS organ or on an ADC or MDS. With all those older technologies, you may have bass and treble controls for each channel, but you don't have to fiddle with individual notes or worry about the exact tuning offsets of the stops. Modern digital technology has given us a lot of options, but it sure seems to take a lot of work just to get a modern organ to sound as good as an old one does right out of the box!
          John
          ----------
          Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
          Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
          Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
          Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
          https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

          Comment


          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            John,

            Could it be you had the speaker complement balanced for the Allen, but that's not translating well to the Rodgers? I'm not sure if you have any or not, but do you have any 16x9, etc. that would work well on the Rodgers? Perhaps you could even use passive Allen speakers on the organ for the initial voicing.

            I seem to remember you had an organ in the past (one of the many) where the speakers were internal. IIRC, you mentioned the sound coming from the speakers at your knees was less satisfying than listening to them from a distance where you didn't have the manuals in the way.

            I hope I've jogged your memory a little, and hope it helps.

            Michael

          • jbird604
            jbird604 commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks, Michael. Yes, you'd think a guy with a warehouse full of organ speakers could find SOMETHING that works with a particular organ, but here I am... Well, the speakers I'm using for the "rear" channels of this Rodgers are a full-range stereo set that came off a Johannus organ (of all things) that I got in some deal a few years back. They are good speakers, though like most other organ speakers, they were made to sound good in a big open room, not in a little cramped nook. I do have them facing up at the ceiling, so that's some help.

            If I had plenty of space for my organ, I'd probably put four Allen HC cabinets on it and be satisfied. Those HC units, especially the HC-12, are just the sweetest organ speakers ever made, and they help any old organ shine. But alas, there is so little room here. The Johannus set fits the space, as the two woofers (one for each channel) are in a separate box that fits next to the wall beside my desk, and the two boxes with a mid and a tweeter in each one are small enough to lay flat on a shelf above my desk. They take up nearly no floor space, and that's good because I don't have any to spare!

            The main or "front" speakers are simply the pair of woofers in the organ's kneeboard, crossed over to the two mids and two tweeters in the base of the old gutted Conn pipe unit. I've tried having the pipes standing over the cones, and having the cones uncovered, with the pipes just sitting beside them to diffract the sound. Either way, they sound quite acceptable.

            To be fair, I'm not really finished setting up. The Rodgers organ came in with the console speakers removed, and the two woofers I stuck in the holes are not true bass speakers, just 10" musical instrument speakers (guitar speakers). I plan to order a pair of nice foam-surround woofers to mount there, and also plan to change the cheap piezo horn tweeter in my Conn pipe box out for a decent dome or cone tweeter. That may help as much as anything.

            I'd love to have my organ in a big dedicated room with plenty of space for speakers, lively acoustics, room to work on the insides when necessary. But it's probably not going to ever happen. I just need to settle on an organ that I'll be satisfied with for the rest of my life. There are just TOO MANY organs to choose from, and I want then ALL!!

          • AllenAnalog
            AllenAnalog commented
            Editing a comment
            Love dem HC-12s and HC-15s! I just picked up another two HC-15s for $40 each - not that I really need them, already having 15, haha. But at that price I couldn't resist. Any future Hauptwerk organ in my music room will love them.

            I must point out that there was ZERO foam rot on the mid-range drivers in the speakers I just bought. And that is true of my other 18 HC speakers as well. So my conclusion is that humidity makes all the difference in whether foam rot develops. All of my speakers have been in Colorado since they were shipped from the factory. We have very low humidity here, even in the summer time.

            Have you ever considered getting a large Tuff Shed to use as a music room in the back yard? I see them being designed as cabins, man caves and all sorts of other more finished uses instead of storing garden tools.

          #10
          I hooked up the Allen SmartRecorder to the MIDI jacks of the Rodgers and tried recording and playing back. It works, though there may be some quirkiness. During recording I hit a piston and a note stuck on, had to turn the organ off to make it stop. Perhaps some setting in either the organ or the recorder needs to be set differently to make this work perfectly. But I pressed on, recorded a hymn without making any stop, expression, or piston changes, and nothing bad happened.

          After I got a track recorded on a floppy, I opened the file on my laptop with Sonar. I saw that the Rodgers recorded the Great manual notes on MIDI channel 12 and the Pedal notes on MIDI channel 14. There was a bit of other data at the beginning of each track, various NRPN's and such.

          Opening a MIDI file that I had previously recorded off the Allen using the same recorder revealed that the Allen recorded the Great manual notes on channel 2 and the Pedal notes on channel 3. There was other data on other channels, presumably various control information such as stops and expression and such. I didn't try to decode any of that, but noted that it was very different from the data the Rodgers had put on the disk.

          My needs for recording are simple -- I just need to sequence one hymn each week for a processional, so I can come in with my choir. So I have taken the following steps:

          (1) Going into the MIDI menu on the Rodgers, I set it to NOT send any stop or piston data, and not to send "update sequencer" data when a recording starts. This is to prevent the recording of any data that might cause unwanted effects when I play the disk back on the Allen.

          (2) Then I sat down on the bench, turned on the stops, set the expression pedal, THEN started the SmartRecorder and began to play the hymn exactly as I want it to play back in church.

          (3) Next I opened the resulting MIDI file on my laptop with Sonar. I moved track 12 (great note on/off data) to track 2 (where the Allen expects to find it) and set the MIDI channel to 2. Likewise, I moved the data on track 14 to track 3 (where the Allen expects to find pedal notes) and set the channel to 3. I wiped all the other tracks clean.

          (4) There was no other data of any kind at the beginning of my two tracks (presumably because I had set the MIDI menu on the Rodgers not to send stop, piston, or update data). At the end of each track is a single control #64 message, data=0. Control 64 is "damper pedal" and I don't know why this message is recorded here, but I assume this is some kind of "end of file" message that the SmartRecorder inserts, as this same data appears on the disks recorded on the Allen organ. I left these messages in place.

          NOW.......... If I've done this correctly, this file SHOULD play on the Allen at church, but it will NOT automatically turn on any stops or set the expression pedal. That just means I must set a registration and open the expression pedals all the way before I walk to the rear of the church and use the remote control to begin the processional. The SmartRecorder should simply play back the notes as I played them on the Rodgers, using the stops I set on the Allen.

          If this doesn't work, I suppose I'll have to go down to the church every Saturday to make my disk for the next day. That wouldn't be a lot of trouble, but I have enjoyed being able to make my disks at home.

          I'll try it out when I get a chance tomorrow, and report back on how it works.
          John
          ----------
          Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
          Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
          Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
          Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
          https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

          Comment


          • Admin
            Admin commented
            Editing a comment
            Is there no way to configure the MIDI channels the Rodgers uses? If not, and you don't mind a more complex setup, you could insert a MIDI message translation program between the output of the Rodgers and the SmartRecorder to translate and filter the messages to the recorder. I believe MIDI-Ox can do this.

          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            John,

            What I used to do when recording between pianos of different types, is to record the control and other messages ONLY on the desired playback instrument, and add them just before the note on/off data.

            Translating this to organ, you can record your piston settings at church on the Allen in a file, and add the piston changes/stop/expression changes via computer in the track editor to change the stops, etc.

            Hope this is useful. However, I like Admin's suggestion better, if it will work for your situation.

            Michael

          #11
          Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I'm not very computer literate, but could probably do that if I had to. I took my doctored disk to church to try it out, and sure enough, it played the Allen perfectly. It doesn't control the expression pedals or the stops, so I just set the shoes wide open and hit the piston for my processional registration before starting the playback.

          In the morning, just before the service starts, I'll make sure the shoes and stops are set for the processional. Then at the appropriate time I'll will start the player with the remote, from the near of the nave, as I normally do. When I was recording with my Allen, I would usually do a registration change after the first stanza, but that is a minor issue. Most Sundays I am on the bench about the time the second stanza starts anyway, so I can make my own changes. Then I start playing live on the third stanza.

          This is not really much harder than it was before. An extra step is involved -- loading the diskette on my computer and opening it in Sonar to correct the MIDI channels. But that's not hard.
          John
          ----------
          Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
          Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
          Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
          Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
          https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

          Comment


            #12
            One scary side effect of recording on the Rodgers and playing back at church on the Allen...... Today, I actually thought to myself that the hymn sounded better on the Rodgers than on the Allen (!) .......... Of course, I've often felt in the past that my sequences sounded better at home on the R-230 than on the MDS-45 at church, which isn't surprising, given the 10 year difference in technology. But I really wanted to beat myself up for even thinking for a moment that this fairly cheap little Rodgers sounded better, even if it is 12 or 13 years newer than the Allen at church. That just can't be s

            There are probably a couple of factors -- (1) you tend to like what you get accustomed to, and I've been playing the Rodgers for hours on end the past couple of weeks, both practicing and tweaking the voicing and such, so my ears have grown used to its qualities. And (2) the Rodgers does have a sweet and mellow sound, since I've intentionally voiced it on the mellow side to complement my small organ nook at home. Another thing that sweetens the Rodgers is the pretty darn good digital reverb, which gives me a decent illusion of playing in a very organ-friendly room. Thus, the Allen sounds somewhat shrill and coarse by comparison, especially in an empty church. It will sound better with people in there in the morning.

            But I suppose I'll have to admit at some point that the Rodgers isn't really too bad. I'm not getting any more fond of the lighted drawknobs (painfully hard for me to activate with my constantly sore shoulders), and I miss having the elaborate capture action on the R-230 (this Rodgers has only 8 generals, no divisionals, though there are four memory levels).

            We went to church last Sunday in St. Louis, where we were visiting family. We attended a nice Disciples church with a very big Rodgers Masterpiece organ. And I was quite impressed with the sound of it. Perhaps I'm developing a bit of a taste for the Rodgers sound after all!
            John
            ----------
            Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
            Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
            Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
            Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
            https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

            Comment


            • myorgan
              myorgan commented
              Editing a comment
              Originally posted by jbird604
              Perhaps I'm developing a bit of a taste for the Rodgers sound after all!
              Oh, no! Say it isn't so, John!

              The two sounds are both quite unique between the brands, but both have their strong suits!

              Michael

            • jbird604
              jbird604 commented
              Editing a comment
              Yes, each has its own charms. And Rodgers has a long heritage of fine sound. I remember attending a big convention back in the early 80's where a large 3m organ had been set up to accompany the congregation. I enjoyed the sound and felt confident it was an Allen (I was selling Allen at the time). But when I walked up to the platform during intermission, I was surprised to see it was a Rodgers! An analog, of course, since only Allen had digital organs back then. But the Rodgers sure was doing the job, and I hadn't even noticed that it was analog and therefore unified.

              My beef with Rodgers in recent years has been the frequent turnover in technologies, the occasional lack of parts support for out of warranty models, and general dismay over the changes in ownership and personnel. But I do know that they are doing much better now under the umbrella of GOG and in cooperation with Johannus and the other companies in the group.

              My little cheap one though certainly isn't a good example of their work. It still sounds more like a Roland keyboard than anything else to me. I'm just finding myself rather surprised at how well it all goes together to make some satisfying and pleasant organ ensemble.

            #13
            Not to worry. I'm back in the Allen fold after playing at church yesterday. The MDS-45 outdid itself and won me back. While I'm still basking in the novelty of this little Rodgers at home and being sort of surprised each time I sit down at it by some new little nuance I discover, I must admit that the Allen just bowls me over every Sunday with its power and beauty.

            Yesterday was a good day. Thanksgiving Sunday's hymns included "Now Thank We All Our God" and "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come." Also, being Christ the King Sunday, we used the always fun and exciting "Crown Him with Many Crowns" as the processional. And I had selected (don't throw any tomatoes) "Victory in Jesus" as the closing hymn, since I like to send the people out singing something that they enjoy down to the soles of their feet! This good old "Baptist" hymn really stirs the congregation up, and I juiced it with Festival Trumpet soloing out the melody on the final chorus. The Allen just peeled the paint and rocked the walls. I loved it!

            At some point I'll need to realize that I simply cannot bring home the experience of playing in church. It's a totally different environment, not to mention the fact that at home I'm simply playing for my own amusement, while at church I'm leading worship and thus feeling uplifted and blessed by the participation of my fellow worshipers.

            Perhaps there is a VPO in my future. Way back when I first got the Allen R-230 and discovered that it didn't sound so grand in headphones, I considered attaching a laptop running Hauptwerk, which I would have used solely for headphone playing. With that, I could enjoy the most glorious organs in the world in the privacy of my headphones, then enjoy the Allen for its own sounds whenever I had the chance to play it through the speakers in the room. None of this would take the place of the joy playing for worship, but with Hauptwerk I could at least have superb headphone sound.

            Anyway, I have benefited greatly this past couple weeks from all the practicing on the Rodgers, even though much of that practice time was actually more accurately "voicing time." Still, I was on the bench, playing keys and pedals. And I felt more comfortable and competent on the bench at church this Sunday than I have in quite a while. And I need to remember that this is what it's all about -- practicing to sharpen my skills, not just salivating over what new technology I may be able to have at home.
            John
            ----------
            Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
            Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
            Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
            Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
            https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

            Comment


            • myorgan
              myorgan commented
              Editing a comment
              John,

              There's something to be said for having a totally different organ at home than at church. Having the Rodgers will help you appreciate the Allen when you hear the sounds the Rodgers doesn't have, while having the Allen will help you appreciate the Rodgers when you hear what the Rodgers doesn't have.

              Michael

              P.S. Now, you just need to change your signature.

            • jbird604
              jbird604 commented
              Editing a comment
              Oops.... Thanks for reminding me to change the signature! Maybe I'll be changing it again pretty soon

            #14
            You know me -- anything I have is for sale under the right circumstances. So yesterday I had to sell my Allen SmartRecorder that I use at home! Yep, a church over two hours away with an Allen called and said their SmartRecorder was not working, and they desperately needed it for Advent. I packed up mine and took it with me to try to troubleshoot the situation.

            Sure enough, theirs wouldn't play any of their disks. Hooking up my own unit to their organ, all disks played normally. I made them a trade-in price and they agreed, so now they have my recorder and I have their dead one.

            Well, not TOTALLY dead.... Once I got it home and hooked it up to the Rodgers, I discovered that it WILL record to disks, just won't play back. So, since I don't need to play back anything at home, I can still record my processional hymns on the Rodgers, transfer the diskette to the computer to change the MIDI channels for the Allen, then take it to church to play it.

            And perhaps I can fix the playback circuit in the thing. Who knows what might be wrong with it. There are a few socketed chips that I can probably still buy somewhere, and maybe Allen still does factory repair on these. I'd have to check on that. Or maybe I'll just watch ebay and buy another one for not much money.

            So it goes in the daily life of the organ tech who WOULD have been a real organist!
            John
            ----------
            Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
            Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
            Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
            Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
            https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

            Comment


              #15
              Too bad you missed the three NOS Smart Recorders that the factory had on ebay a few weeks ago. I see a used one just sold there on the 22nd for $95.

              I finally had to give up the Viscount 3.5" floppy based MIDI playback unit I used for my Mills Violano. I had been warned that the drive did not lift the heads off of the diskettes when they were not being accessed and most of the time followed the advice to pop the diskette out of the drive when I was not playing a song. But after 12 years of use it would no longer read the diskettes so now I use an SD card based MIDI file player.
              Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand name.

              Main: Allen RMWTHEA.3 with Rocky Mount Electra-Piano, Allen 423-C + Gyro cabinet, Britson Opus OEM38, Saville Series IV Opus 209, Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI
              Lower Level: Hammond 9812H with roll player, Gulbransen Rialto, Roland E-200, Vintage Moog
              Shop: Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with 18 speakers and MIDI, 4 Allen theater organ tone cabinets (including 3 Gyros, but don't call me Gyro Gearloose!).

              Comment


              • jbird604
                jbird604 commented
                Editing a comment
                The one I just sold to the needy church actually was bought on ebay from the Allen Organ store, and was NOS. I think I paid $350 at the time, which included free shipping. I should keep an eye out for another one to come up. Right now I don't really need the playback function at home, but if I get another Allen organ for home use I may want the SmartRecorder to work correctly.
            Working...
            X