Forum Top Banner Ad

Collapse

Ebay Classic organs

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

The "Best" digital organ to buy for a church

Collapse
This topic is closed.
X
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The "Best" digital organ to buy for a church

    I believe that a similar post or posts have been made on this list but as a new member I have yet to search through everything to find them. So as not to start the same discussion again all over again feel free to point me to similar posts so that we all don't have to regurgitate the same replys.

    My church is in a new (old) building that we are refurbishing. Right now I am playing a Nord C2 with a 32 pedal pedal board from Classic Organ Works in Canada all in a custom designed/built console built by a former church member. As we are a very traditional Anglican church only the pipe organ model gets used, although the B3 model has been used for an occasional gospel song at a funeral.

    As we move forward in our building process the new organ question has come up. There are many that desire a pipe organ and others that think the sound of the Nord is really quite good. Ultimately, I hope we will go pipe, but good stewardship of the church's money is always before me. So... if we go pipe this is moot. If , however, the church from the rector and vestry on down think we would be better served with a "pipeless" organ I want to make sure we get the best that our money can buy.

    In my career I've played good and bad Allens and Rodgers as well as a nice little tracker pipe organ for a while. I know there are others out there and the technology gets better and better.

    Fellow organists, what is your favorite digital organ and why? Price is a consideration but perhaps not a huge deal in the long run.

    Thanks for any replys you care to give. It will help as we move forward

    Regards;

  • #2
    One alternative to consider would be "adopting" a used pipe organ from OHS. Most good pipe organs have years (centuries) of life if properly taken care of, and there should be some real bargains there.

    David

    Comment


    • #3
      If you can go pipe in any way shape or form, it is always the best choice, as long as the budget can support the purchase and maintenance of such an instrument. Otherwise, don't limit yourself to just Allen and Rodgers.

      There are more than 2 players in this business. Allen, Rodgers, Johannus, Ahlborn-Galanti, Viscount, Phoenix are all brands you should check out (I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting that will be mentioned in subsequent posts by others). I'm in this process with my church right now, and for a church wanting to purchase a new organ, I feel the organist owes it to that decision to research it as much as humanly possible. It's a very exhausting process involving a ton of emails, phone calls, and research, be it online, or from mailed literature. Be sure to hear the instruments, preferably in person, but if not possible, online via official websites (as it is tough to ensure ideal quality on youtube or unofficial sources). Good luck to you. It's a process, but a very rewarding one when you know you're going to end up with an exceptional instrument.

      All that said, if a sufficient pipe organ is an option, that is the way you should go, be it brand new, or as mentioned above, "adopted".

      Comment


      • #4
        Having been in the church organ business for some 37 years, I've seen and heard a lot of them, good and bad. I've come to believe that it matters less what kind of equipment is making the sound -- pipes, digital, or even analog generators -- than how well the organ is matched to the musical expectations of the church and the acoustical environment.

        We all recognize that the pipe organ is the standard to which all others are compared, but even among pipe organs there are good and bad. I've heard many a pipe organ that I wouldn't want in my church. Some are just too limited, too puny, too quirky. A good one is glorious, a bad one is a drag on a church's music program, just as depressing and irritating as a bad electronic organ could be.

        Since you asked specifically about digitals, and that happens to be my area of expertise, I'll offer a comment or two. As I said, it matters less what type of equipment is installed than how well it is done. I have heard Allen, Rodgers, Johannus, Viscount, and others that were so stunning I could hardly believe there were no pipes. I don't think of myself as naive when it comes to organs, but I have been unable on several occasions to tell for sure whether I was hearing pipes or not.

        As a matter of fact, many years ago I actually was fooled by an old Hammond. Attending a service in an unfamiliar church, which happened to be a big old-fashioned highly-reverberant one, I sat near the back and enjoyed the lovely rich sounds of the organ, which was in the choir loft behind the pulpit. The organist accompanied several hymns and an anthem and played an offertory and a postlude. I thought I was hearing a quite pleasing and interesting pipe organ. Walking up to the console after the service I was shocked to see that it was a garden-variety Hammond C2. The speaker was a plain old Hammond tone cabinet, but it was located in a sort of echo-chamber box in the rotunda of the church above the chancel. The excellent acoustics of the building and the fortuitous placement of the speaker really made it sound great, though I was quite embarrassed to have believed I was hearing pipes when it was the organ I thought I most detested!

        There are four factors that make the most difference between good and bad organ installations, IMHO. First and foremost would be the acoustics of the room. A dead room padded with carpet, cushions, and acoustical ceiling tile is just no good for any kind of music and is fatal to organ and choir. Second would be providing adequate amplifier power and speakers. Using undersized audio equipment will make an organ sound poor no matter how fine the samples stored in the tone generator system. Third, the speakers need to be placed so that the organ sound is distributed well in the room, so that the organist hears the organ as others hear it, so that the choir hears the organ well and can sing with it, and so that the sound is smooth and pleasant to everyone. Speakers aimed right at one's ears usually don't sound good, so creative "bouncing" of the sound off reflective surfaces is often a good idea, especially if the room is small. And finally, the "finishing" or "voicing" process that the dealer or installer goes through after getting the organ in place. If the organ is not properly adjusted for volume, bass/treble balance, stop to stop and note to note level, and other factors addressed through today's computer-driven voicing software, it will not perform as it should. A dealer who simply plugs the organ in and connects the speakers before taking the check and driving off is not doing the job.

        I'd recommend that you visit many installations in your area and find out what companies are paying attention to these installation factors and let that be more important to you than deciding which brand to go with.
        John
        ----------
        *** 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!

        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

        Comment


        • #5
          Welcome to our forum, Rob. I second everything that John has said, as I usually do since he is definitely the dean of digital organs around here.

          You might want to search and read some recent posts regarding Allen Elite Opus VII and the large Johannus that was recently installed in Springfield, Virginia. I have heard the Allen--which is likely one of the most expensive and complex digital organs in existence--and found it very disappointing. On the other hand, Circa1949 reported that the Johannus is magnificent in every way. Yet Allen by its own admission is the oldest and largest maker of digital organs, while Johannus is often (undeservedly) dismissed as an upstart fabricator of "budget" models.

          As John alludes, the Allen and the Johannus are probably about equal in potential (albeit using somewhat different technology), yet one--the "cheaper" one--achieved this potential while the other did not. Why? Almost certainly the difference is in the details of installation--speaker placement, finishing, room acoustics, etc. He is perfectly correct that you are buying not just an organ but a dealer, and you need to learn as much as you can about your dealer's abilities to match an instrument to the location.

          Don

          Comment


          • #6
            A dead room padded with carpet, cushions, and acoustical ceiling tile is just no good for any kind of music and is fatal to organ and choir.

            Jbird, that is really so true. This point cannot be stressed enough.

            On the other hand, Circa1949 reported that the Johannus is magnificent in every way.

            And not to dispute Don's precis of my review, but it's important to clarify that in my opinion the Johannus made the best of a sanctuary with poor (but not terrible) acoustics. In a related review, I noted a stock Allen Quantum at a 100+ yr old church in central PA would likely sound better to the "average Joe" because the gothic, unpadded space had better sound. The magnificence of the Johannus was a mainly total lack of any type of audio distortion that I am very attuned to hearing; but the older I get the more convinced I am that I cannot speak for the general public on any particular issue but especially those demanding any sort of subtlety, education, refinement, experience, or common sense!
            Last edited by circa1949; 03-06-2012, 10:49 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              The biggest thing to do definitely, is to hear, and play them all. On this forum, you'll find all kinds of people who have many differing opinions. I've not much experience with the European brands, having heard a temporarily installed Viscount at a recital in Liverpool (Metropolitan Cathedral, along-side their pipe organ), and having played a (roughly 7 year old) Johannus at a wedding in Poland last year. Of the North American brands I've played (Allen, Rodgers, Phoenix), I would recommend Phoenix most certainly.

              Having said that, but to reference my previous most once again, I would recommend taking mostly information, rather than specific recommendations out of this forum. Until I began lurking/posting here, I didn't know of many notable brands outside of Allen and Rodgers. Get in touch with the companies. Have them send you info and CDs. I feel with an instrument as complex as an organ, you will very much be able to hear the benefit of a CD versus an MP3 from a website. I've definitely heard some sub-par MP3s on organ companies own websites. I'm not sure why they do it (could be a bandwidth issue, or they want to deliberately do it to be able to say "oh, that's just our quick streaming version, it sounds tremendous in person by comparison". I personally wouldn't do that as an organ vendor, but I am no marketing guru, so what do I know.

              Digital organ companies tend to not be too quick to divulge prices at times as well, so do be prepared for that. Also, as with my above suggestion about not taking at face value what people online tell you is the best, I wouldn't take a price quote at face value either. I rarely find an actual number on this forum about many instruments, but there is a lot of comparitive hearsay. I've found some of it to be accurate, and some not.

              Happy hunting. If you put in the time, it will be worth it. My church is likely ending up with a new organ this year, and I know that we won't regret the decision we make.

              Comment


              • #8
                I can understand what Rob is going through. At our church we currently have an analog Allen organ (circa 1962). Our congregation (Methodist) seems to think that this sounds great, even today. I, on the other hand, am thinking more toward the future. They are waiting for the organ to "die", which I have been told will never happen. The organ itself only has two tone generators as well as a princess pedalboard, which I thoroughly detest. I have been doing some research on my own, and found that some companies will be more than happy to send you literature, especially for organs that don't seem to have much on them. My proposed organ builders at this time would be Phoenix, because they have been working with me even to try to rebuild the old Allen console. Alas, their pedalboard will not fit in the space of the princess board. So now I have to convince our 40-50 elderly folks who are on fixed income that we need to go to the 21st century and get a new organ.

                PianOrgan
                PianOrgan


                So Many Pipes, So Little Room!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Personally, I'm not a big fan of either Allen or Rodgers. It's not necessarily the quality of the samples, but the number of audio channels being used. Phoenix shows some signs of this as well. For instance, a large 80 stop Allen, according to their own web site, starts with 10 channels. 8 to 1 ratio. A phoenix 46 stop spec starts with 8 channels. About a 6 to 1 ratio. I've played a Walker installation with, I believe, 46 stops, and 18 channels. 3 to 1 ratio. Which do you think is going to sound better? Approach your digital choice the same way you would your pipe organ choice. You need solid, high quality components, and a larger audio system than what the standard offering tends to be. Think of it this way. On a pipe organ, each pipe is an individual sound source. Play seven notes, you get seven sound sources. If you play the same seven notes through one speaker, you still have one sound source, and it is the sum of all seven notes. If you play those same seven notes through four speakers, its going to sound better. Ask hard questions of your dealer. What components are they using. How many channels to they offer. Don't rule out Walker. I'd buy that instrument over most anything I've heard.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Ditto the comments about pipe organs and OHS. I'd rather see a nice instrument rescued, but if that's not possible, then it's time to consider something else. I, too, am partial to tracker instruments. Not quite sure why.
                    Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                    I don't think of myself as naive when it comes to organs, but I have been unable on several occasions to tell for sure whether I was hearing pipes or not.

                    As a matter of fact, many years ago I actually was fooled by an old Hammond. Attending a service in an unfamiliar church, which happened to be a big old-fashioned highly-reverberant one, I sat near the back and enjoyed the lovely rich sounds of the organ, which was in the choir loft behind the pulpit. The organist accompanied several hymns and an anthem and played an offertory and a postlude. I thought I was hearing a quite pleasing and interesting pipe organ. Walking up to the console after the service I was shocked to see that it was a garden-variety Hammond C2. The speaker was a plain old Hammond tone cabinet, but it was located in a sort of echo-chamber box in the rotunda of the church above the chancel. The excellent acoustics of the building and the fortuitous placement of the speaker really made it sound great, though I was quite embarrassed to have believed I was hearing pipes when it was the organ I thought I most detested!
                    John, I had such high respect for you! Your hearing must be worse than you thought!:devil: Your story supports your point of environment, though.

                    I am still partial to Rodgers analogs vs. digitals, and Allen's late ADC/MDS digitals vs. analogs or newer Allens. That era (IMHO) remains Allen's best digital period.

                    Michael
                    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                    • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Now Michael, you know I can hear perfectly well! But I am still a bit embarrassed when I think about how gaga I was over the sound of that Hammond! ........ The latest fooling I got was at a big Rodgers installation in Tulsa. They have just a few ranks of pipes and dozens of digital stops. But try as I might, I could not pick out the real pipes. This is all good, of course. Some digitals are just that good.

                      Blessings and Merry Christmas, my friend.
                      John
                      ----------
                      *** 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!

                      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by M1994 View Post
                        If you can go pipe in any way shape or form, it is always the best choice, as long as the budget can support the purchase and maintenance of such an instrument.
                        I disagree. Pipe organ doesn't always mean a good organ. If it is a good sounding pipe organ, then I agree.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by radagast View Post
                          I disagree. Pipe organ doesn't always mean a good organ. If it is a good sounding pipe organ, then I agree.
                          Indeed!! Some of the pipe organs I've heard in the Toronto area, primarily in small to medium size churches, have been amongst the most painfully obnoxious abysmal unmusical kludges I have ever heard!!
                          2008: Phoenix III/44

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Unfortunately, some folks simply cannot believe that. I know more than one situation where a church has a pipe organ that is a drag on the music program, an albatross around the organist's neck. But the church cannot make a change because a few folks are convinced that their pipe organ is a fine instrument and they would never think of retiring it for a digital.

                            I know that pipes are what the digitals try to emulate, and I realize that the sound of pipes is a wondrous thing that includes many emotional and sensory elements that are rarely duplicated by digitals. And I know that pipe organs can theoretically last for centuries and that having a real pipe organ is a status symbol that many churches are unwilling to sacrifice for any reason.

                            And there are a lot of small but wonderful pipe organs in residences, and a lot of interesting old theater organs in music halls that bring a lot of joy to those who own them, play them, or gather for programs on them. Nothing wrong with these, but I just think an organ in a CHURCH that is intended to serve as the church's primary instrument must be held to a higher standard. Cute, historically interesting, oddball, quirky -- such organs are out of place as church organs, IMHO.

                            I have seen and heard a good many pipe organs that I would not want to have to play in church. Some of these may be "interesting" as artifacts, but they just wouldn't cut it as serious musical instruments for leading a typical worship service. Ancient, clunky old consoles with little or nothing in the way of player amenities such as a combination action. Stops that cannot be relied upon to engage or retire due to sluggish actions in chests, dead notes, grotesquely out of tune notes that ruin some stops, noisy blowers, air leaks, and creaky swell shades. Wild seasonal variation in pitch that precludes playing with other instruments throughout much of the year.

                            Worst are the ones that simply will not stay in tune due to worn out stoppers and tuning slides, or those whose wind comes from the attic or basement and therefore go out of tune almost immediately no matter what you try to do. Many are way undersized because that was all the church could afford at the time and they never got around to enlarging it. Some were built with quirky non-AGO pedalboards or other parts that make playing awkward or require making mental adjustments.

                            And no doubt many of these problems could be solved if there was enough money, but the cost to get some of these old instruments up to standards can approach the cost of a brand new pipe organ. Some of the churches saddled with these old organs are barely paying the bills and keeping the doors open, and a couple hundred thousand dollars work on the organ is out of the question.

                            I know that even an entry-level digital (even a Viscount or Johannus) or a properly installed used Allen or Rodgers would be a revelation to these folks. They have no idea what they are missing by not having an organ that people can enjoy singing with, that doesn't freak the organist out every service with some new malfunction, that has stable tuning so that they could enjoy a duet with another instrument now and then.

                            So, yes, a GOOD pipe organ is a joy and a treasure. There are several in my area that I delight to hear in a service or recital, and I find myself responding emotionally to the power and all-encompassing effect of real winded pipes speaking in a beautifully live space. But these are the big ones that cost a ton of money, in the large affluent churches that can afford to keep them tuned and maintained. If every little pipe organ sounded like that, there would be no need for electronics, but the fact is they don't.

                            So, unless there is a half million dollar budget, in most cases a new or refurbished digital with adequate audio equipment, correctly installed and voiced in a suitable environment is a perfectly good choice.
                            John
                            ----------
                            *** 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!

                            https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Amen !, Amen !, and AMEN !!!! To everything John just posted. I really don't have anything to add to those words of wisdom, except that I agree totally.
                              Regards, Larry

                              At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), US-1, EL-25 ( Chopped ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755. 1919 Wangerin 2/7 pipe organ.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X