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

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    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: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    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: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    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


      #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: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
      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: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
        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: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
          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: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
            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.

            #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: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
            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!!
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