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  • Big changes at Allen Organ Company

    I was astonished to see major changes in the Allen product line tonight when I checked out their Web site. These changes had to have happened within the last week as I am on the site at least weekly.

    Evidently, the Protege line has been renamed the Bravura and significantly expanded with drawknob consoles as part of the regular line now (and not just a 40th anniversary option). And I see four-manual consoles as well!

    The only other regular series of organs is the Chapel line.

    At least from the Web site, the Quantum line now appears to consist solely of the designer series organs such as the Diane Bish models. The Elite series is more prominently featured now with links to each of the organs built thus far.

    I have been wondering lately about the reason for keeping both the Protege and Quantum lines--for the life of me, I could see no real difference between them in the dispostions, the consoles, or the technical specs. About all that distinguished the Quantums was that they came standard with drawknobs and included standard four-manual models. Allen must have wondered the same thing and decided that it was time to simplify their offerings.

    Does anyone have any insider information about these changes?

    Don

  • #2
    Originally posted by don60 View Post
    I was astonished to see major changes in the Allen product line tonight when I checked out their Web site. These changes had to have happened within the last week as I am on the site at least weekly.
    Don
    Interesting. Clearly throwing prices up on the website is a huge departure for Allen and can't help but show they are facing very tough competition at the bottom of the market. It's really tough to see the design goals of the new 2 smallest models; does 12X12 inches less of MDF really cut costs that much? I can only assume their market research shows a continued demand for the ridiculous princess pedals, which I really think should just be optional on their smallest models for people who truly have space constraints. (NYC & Tokyo apartments?)

    Making the entire Quantum line basically custom probably makes sense, but it might represent what we've talked about before, that the market is becoming even more segregated between churches who "aren't gonna pay a lot for that organ" and churches with really serious music programs that will pay well over 100K. And if the more-money-than-we-know-what-to-do-with congregations in Northern Virginia are any indication, would have once more seriously considered a pipe organ. The net impression, however, is of an overall economization of their lines. For example, I thought one of the whole reasons behind the Quantum line was to increase the # of channels over the Renaissance organs; the larger Quantum standard three manuals had at least 16 channels IIRC. Now the largest so-called standard 3 manual organ has only 10 channels.

    Comment


    • #3
      Bravura sounds like a furniture polish or a minivan.

      This also tells us something about recent Quantum sales: apparently they were low enough that each organ essentially WAS a built-to-order custom instrument, at least from the shop's standpoint.

      The other major difference in Protege was the keyboards: Quantum had Allen's keyboards, which are really quite nice, and Protege had standard Fatar keyboards. Once you go add moving capture back into a Protege organ, it seems you've eliminated the other major cost-saving distinction in the Protege line, apart from perhaps some decorative console appointments. Bravura appears to have Allen's keyboards, so perhaps the bigger Bravura models are simply Quantums without all the former console options and with non-moving capture base models. I think I might prefer the rockers to Allen's former horse teeth stop tabs anyway. Has anyone really missed those since Allen stopped putting them in organs 8 or so years ago?

      Last year, I played a new Protege and a new Quantum back-to-back, and I can't say I noticed any major difference in keyboard feel or touch. The real test will be in 15 years to see if those silicone microswitches in the Fatar are still hanging in there. Those keyboards seem to have been consolidated in the Chapel line and practice organs.

      When I was at Allen last July, they were already making noises about Protege being their "standard" line, and Quantum being their "custom" line. It seems they've simply formalized this arrangement.

      http://www.organforum.com/forums/sho...ave-Hall-Visit

      Incidentally, it appears that the "custom" Allen I played last year was/is the Randy Miller Designer Series Quantum. Since we're talking about channeling, I have to say that the 14-channel 2-subwoofer Quantum sounded more impressive to me than the 24-channel custom. Who knows what secret sauce is in the Octave Hall speaker systems, but I'm not sure that in this particular case, the extra channels did a whole lot. So maybe the whole interlaced audio and channelization thing does enough of a job when deployed well.

      Comment


      • #4
        Interesting that the "horse-teeth" tabs have completely dropped out of the line. I had actually not even noticed they were gone until now!
        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

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        • #5
          Michael, I respectfully disagree with your statement that Allen used Fatar keyboards in the Protege. To my knowledge, these instruments always used genuine Allen keyboards. It is too late to verify it on the Web site now, but as recently as two weeks ago I was reading the specs on the Proteges, trying to figure out just what distinguished them from the Quantums, and the text and graphics clearly showed traditional Allen wood-core keyboards. No wonder you thought the Protege keys felt good!

          The name "Protege" is relatively new to Allen--until about three years ago, the LED rocker-tab organs were known as the Lumitech series, and at least in some of the literature were called "Quantum Lumitech" to make clear that they were a derivative of the high-end Quantums with more affordable stop controls. The Allen at my church is indeed a three-manual Quantum Lumitech, and I know for a fact that it has the Allen keyboards. I even have the promotional brochure for it showing that feature.

          The Chapel line uses third-party keyboards as standard components, so Allen is not totally pure and holy.

          Don

          Comment


          • #6
            Don,

            Actually Allen has used "Protege" on organs since 1994. They were the first ones to have the Lumitech type stop controls on them.
            When Allen decided it was O.K. to use Fatar keyboards, they used them on the Chapel series organs. Protege became a lower end Quantum organ. And the Fatar keyboards used in the Chapel series, are the low end Fatars from what I gather.
            I think now the Quantum has become what used to be the Heritage organs, where extensive customization was made available.
            Whether Allen will still push the Elite remains to be seen. I think that the concept really did not take off as Allen had hoped. I would have thought they would have sold 10 or so of these a year. Instead they have not even built 10 of them, and 2 of them are showroom demos.

            Certainly, Allen has seen major declines in sales, but this is not unique to them. It is a tough market out there right now. The US market for church/classical/institutional organs went down over 55% from 2008 to 2012. Many parts of Europe are in a major recession, and so spending on organs and the like is a low priority. Manufacturers are looking towards China, S. Korea, Philippines, parts of Africa as future markets.

            For a company that at one time built over 2,000 church/classical organs, and now well less than 800, the factory certainly can't be busy. The Markowitz family must be losing serious coin keeping the operation going. But they are not unique here. Most everyone has seen sales slide.

            Allen is not the only one to rationalize their product line. Rodgers has done the same. From what I understand there are 2 small Roland badged European style models, those same organs done up in AGO livery as the Rodgers 5xx series, and then the Infinity series, which is available in a 2 manual, 3 manual and 4 manual. I'm not sure whether Rodgers is still pusuing totally custom built organs anymore.

            Hopefully, things will improve soon, or there won't be an organ business left.

            AV

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by don60 View Post
              To my knowledge, these instruments always used genuine Allen keyboards. It is too late to verify it on the Web site now, but as recently as two weeks ago I was reading the specs on the Proteges, trying to figure out just what distinguished them from the Quantums, and the text and graphics clearly showed traditional Allen wood-core keyboards. No wonder you thought the Protege keys felt good!Don
              I was confused by the Chapel and Protege lines since there appeared to be much overlap. However, I think I found one main difference. Chapels have no standard multi-suite system (Quad or Stoplist), Proteges had Quad Suite and Quantum had Stoplist Library. There were also differences in speaker compliments between equivalent Chapel and Protege models - the former having fewer units as standard. Looking at Allen Organ UK which still displays the old models, it would appear that Chapel had Fatar and Protege had Allen keyboards as standard.

              I notice that the new Bravura range has only Quad Suite as standard with additional suites as options. There is no mention if the Custom Quantum range has Stoplist Library as standard but I imagine you can have it whatever you want. Bravura, hideous name by the way - agree that it sounds like some household cleaning product.

              My favourite model the Q395 (3 manual, 80 stop) model is gone. I suppose people considering such a large three manual would could afford/be encouraged to step up to the lowest rung 4 manual model with 79 stops (Q410). So I can understand why this is gone.

              I was never sure what the point of the Heritage range was. It offered you a chance to customise Quantum models - something that I thought that you could do with the standard Quantum range anyway? Seemed like a duplication to me.

              Don't know why the Randy Miller doesn't have multiple suites, especially at its price point? Even the Rudy Lucente edition has stoplist library.
              1971 Allen Organ TC-3S (#42904) w/sequential capture system.
              Speakers: x1 Model 100 Gyro, x1 Model 105 & x3 Model 108.

              Comment


              • #8
                OK, Arie, now that you mention it I do recall a low-end Protege line from a while back--I will take your word for it that the name was used as long ago as 1994. Wasn't Protege originally the name for what is now the Chapel series? I am thinking of models with the AP designation (Allen Protege?).

                I wonder whether Allen's intent is to confuse the customer so badly that he just says "Give me the biggest and best model that you have." (That's not likely to happen, though, not these days.)

                Don

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by don60 View Post
                  Michael, I respectfully disagree with your statement that Allen used Fatar keyboards in the Protege. To my knowledge, these instruments always used genuine Allen keyboards. It is too late to verify it on the Web site now, but as recently as two weeks ago I was reading the specs on the Proteges, trying to figure out just what distinguished them from the Quantums, and the text and graphics clearly showed traditional Allen wood-core keyboards. No wonder you thought the Protege keys felt good!

                  Don
                  Don, my mistake- you are absolutely correct on this- it's the Chapel line only that has the Fatar keyboards. I think I just got it in my head at some point that Protege had the different keyboards.

                  Back to Protege, I'm not sure I remember them all the way back, but the first ones were based on the W5 MDS technology and were more like the Chapel line now- mostly 2-4 channel output, mostly smaller specifications, and when Renaissance came out in 1998, the Proteges held out with the MDS technology for a while longer, at least in the smaller organs. What seems to have happened is that Protege slowly moved upmarket, and Chapel came in underneath as the new "value" line.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Interesting that they present the Chapel line as an alternative to "software organs"
                    -Admin

                    Allen 965
                    Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
                    Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
                    Hauptwerk 4.2

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi,

                      Seems odd that Allen would go after "software products" because of their use of 3rd party keyboards. Maybe it was an oversight, but these Allen models are fitted by non-Allen, 3rd party keyboards, that generally come from the same keyboard manufacturer, and not only that the Allen keyboards from Fatar are among the cheapest available.
                      I suppose some folks get a charge out of playing "Allen" organs, but I generally am less inspired playing Allens than quite a number of other electronic organs.
                      Also, these models advertised here, are not even AGO standard consoles, which to me is quite important if I wanted a practice organ.
                      Anyways, seems that Allen Organ Co. has of late become aware of "software product" organs.
                      Likely too, they have heard of dealers losing business to this new genre of organbuilding.
                      Next thing we will hear of Allen building consoles for the "software product" organs. That folks is where the organ business is heading.

                      AV

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                        Interesting that the "horse-teeth" tabs have completely dropped out of the line. I had actually not even noticed they were gone until now!
                        John, believe it or not, horse teeth have been gone since 2006 when the original Quantum updates came out. I didn't notice it either for quite some time. I don't think too many folks really miss them.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Again, why the princess pedals, especially if - as the ad claims, you need to take practice seriously? I think Arie is right on the money with where organbuilding is going, and the mass produced brands are finding themeselve behind the curve, and in a reactive, rather than a proactive mindset. It is also interesting that some of the major brands are advertising their compatibility with Hauptwerk and other type systems. Interesting times, indeed.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Allen continues to make the princess pedalboards because customers continue to buy them. If customers did not buy them, Allen would cease making them--why do we continue to discuss this? There is a market for them, and Allen responds to that market demand. That's called good business sense.

                            Why did Roland make a 30 note pedalboard for the C300? Because there is a market for that style pedalboard.

                            Yes, the commercial organ manufacturer's are aware of the home-brew virtual organs. But that's not the mainstay of Allen and Rodgers--their primary market is churches and synagogues. And I don't see those institutions buying a home brew scheme.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by toodles View Post
                              Yes, the commercial organ manufacturer's are aware of the home-brew virtual organs. But that's not the mainstay of Allen and Rodgers--their primary market is churches and synagogues. And I don't see those institutions buying a home brew scheme.
                              I agree.

                              Building a software based organ for personal use is one thing, but if you intend to go into the business building organs around a software based engine the additional overhead of maintaining a business, providing a warranty, service and making a profit erodes the cost benefits that hobbists enjoy. In other words, you'll quickly find your prices approaching those of the big boys and you'll have to compete on their terms regarding business history, stability, and reputation.

                              Sure, you eliminate much of the cost of R&D and possibly dealer markups, but you won't enjoy the economy scale a brand name enjoys, and you are at the mercy of third party providers for your core technology which is never a good model for long term business success.
                              -Admin

                              Allen 965
                              Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
                              Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
                              Hauptwerk 4.2

                              Comment

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