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servicing interesting organs

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  • servicing interesting organs


    Yesterday I serviced an AOB, dating from 1979. It was a 2 manual, 800+ oscillator organ, with over 60 audio channels.

    The reason for the service call, was that the organ had a defective power supply. I replaced it with one I had on hand.

    Anyways, once fixed, the organ sounded much better, and I must say, that this organ even though quite old, and analog, sounded most excellent to my ears. Maybe not the accuracy of tone that modern digitals have, but a very credible ensemble, and easy on the ears.

    Gave me newfound respect for the leading edge analog technology of 1979. The concept of many oscillators, numerous audio channels is still very valid today.

    All in a day's work as they say....................


  • #2
    I just mentioned respect for the "old" sounds in a Wurlitzer thread yesterday. Great pains were taken by most companies to achieve authenticity in console models for serious musicians. The technology should never have been judged by the mass production of beginner instruments that we saw for two decades. I'm glad it brought music into the lives of everyday people but at starter prices sacrifices had to be made and so a good half of available instruments didn't represent the wonderful sounds that were possible.


    • #3

      We serviced a nice Walker church instrument last week. Here's a link to my facebook album with rather poor photos of the console and amp rack. Didn't get any photos of the speakers...

      Lovely 4-manual console. I didn't count the ranks or stops, but it is well-equipped. Fourteen two-channel amps, for a total of 28 audio channels supply something over 50 speaker cabinets. This is in a fairly large church, and what was most notable about it was the complete lack of any "straining" even when filling the church with massive sound. Surely one of the most pipe-like digitals I have ever heard. Hard to imagine that anyone could do a better job than Walker did with this one, though "more is better" and I'm sure Walker and other custom builders have built organs with many more audio channels than even this monster, and they sound even more authentic and awesome.

      Built in 1998, and has needed almost no service since. It had developed a noisy audio channel and a few stops in one division were missing half their notes. Turned out there were two problems -- the cooling fan on one of the amps had stopped turning, and we're guessing that amp would run hot after a while and start to pop -- and one of the audio processor cards in the the slave cage was losing an audio channel. Walker shipped the parts quickly and the organ was back to 100%.

      What this glorious instrument has in common with the AOB you described is massive audio! The garden-variety store-bought organs just don't usually come with enough oomph, and as a result the sound is strained and compressed when more than a few stops are drawn at once. Huge audio systems like the one you saw and the one on this Walker greatly alleviate that problem.

      It is a joy to see and hear a truly magnificent organ like this. Wish I could hear that AOB too.
      *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!


      • #4

        Walker certainly built in my opinion the best digital church/classical/theatre organs in the late 90s. Their technology was far beyond what others were doing. Long, high resolution samples along with very detailed voicing software and a robust audio system gave the Walker organs a much more pipe organ like presentation of tone into the room.

        I'm not sure how much Walker Tech. has refined their system, but Bob Walker did tell me, he gets better results now when he voices the organs.

        I have done several jobs using Walker generators, and the results have been markedly superior.

        As to audio systems, I think that is a key to a better sounding organ. There are still many organs being built with 2/4 or 6 channels. Quite often now the channel count is said to be higher when they add the summed bass channel and reverb channels. So 9 channel organs are really 6 discrete audio lines, with a sub, and then 2 reverb lines. Frequently this is written out as 6.1 audio plus 2 channel reflections/reverb. My guess is that the total number of digi organs produced and installed in North America where the # of discrete audio channels exceeds 12 is fewer than 2 dozen per year. It is easier to sell that extra keyboard, an extra gadget, drawstops than to sell good audio, which after all determines the maximum potential of the musical performance of the instrument.



        • #5
          I saw an old discussion that you did about keyboards. Yesterday I bought a set of 80's Laukhuff, magnetic tracker-touch keyboards on e-bay. The pivot appears to be near the middle. I'm not sure I've ever played any. What's your opinion of their keyboards from this era?