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  • Allen MDS-5X Midi Problem

    I have been making Midi recordings of complete church services on our Allen MDS-5X, using an iPod + Midi Mobilizer. The resultant .mid file is then edited on a PC using Anvil Studio; simply cutting out complete hymns so as to build up a library for use when both of our two organists are not available. Separate hymn files are then transferred back to the iPod for replay.
    With the recordings made when Organist A is playing, the results are good; replay causes the original stops to be automatically selected immediately prior to the hymn being replayed. In the case of Organist B, results are frustrating. Usually there are no stops selected at all on replay, and any existing stops are cancelled, leaving no sound at all! For other files, there are initially no stops on playback, until the first change at the end of the introduction.
    Since my editing process is identical for all service recordings, any suggestions what Organist A is doing right, and organist B is doing wrong? Note that Midi tabs are selected throughout recording.
    Allan
    Last edited by acwcanal45; 02-24-2014, 08:04 AM. Reason: typo

  • #2
    For the stops to be recorded just prior to the beginning of a hymn the organist would need to do something to initiate the stops being sent out on the MIDI stream. Perhaps one of the organists is in the habit of pressing a general piston prior to playing -- or something similar. In other words, what is happening with Organist B is normal. It would be possible to record a set of stop changes and insert them at the beginning of each recorded hymn. There may be another action such as moving the crescendo pedal which might cause the stop data to be sent. Perhaps someone with an Allen MDS organ could check this out.
    http://www.nwmidi.com

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    • #3
      I should have explained that after starting the recording process, I rejoin the congregation, and cannot see exactly what either organist does. I was assuming that the Organist A outcome was 'normal', on the (perhaps naive) assumption that, at the point of the cut before the start of the hymn, Anvil records the stops selected 'prior' to that point? However, you may be right that no stops are normally recorded at all. Perhaps I will have to organize some monitored recording!
      Allan

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      • #4
        John is probably circling around the problem. I suspect that your issue with organist B is that they have the organ registered and ready to play before you start the recording process. Organist A probably started with all stops OFF. After you started the recording, a piston is pressed which records the stops in the file and then the note playing starts, recording all the stop changes at the start of the file.
        Pete

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        • #5
          I do know for a fact that the organ will not send the stop information right before the organist begins playing. I've had a similar model MDS through my garage workshop and tested it a bit prior to deciding that it sounded good enough that I should sell it rather than do a lot of modifications. I don't recall exactly which actions send out a single stop's data and which send out the status of all the stops at once.

          In any case, for your purposes you will probably want to set up an Anvil template of some sort so that you can easily include a general cancel (the cancel piston) followed by an appropriate general piston selection at the start of each file. This way you will be certain that the organ is registered appropriately when playback starts. One of the organists could assist with this and perhaps set up two or three registrations so you can have a little variety as well as smaller and larger registrations to match the style of the particular hymn.
          http://www.nwmidi.com

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          • #6
            Pete's point is interesting, as there is probably some variability in the start process. Usually, I set the iPod to record before the organist starts to play, but the instrument is usually switched on by that time, and there is a possibility that some stops have already been set. Certainly, on one of Organist A's (good) recordings, I started whilst she was already playing!

            Something that I have realised since starting this thread is that Organist B's file seems to include a Cancel at the very beginning; even if no stops are selected, there is a faint 'thud' at the very start. Thus, even though I know there is going to be a problem with a file originally played by Organist B, I cannot preset a registration as all stops are cancelled immediately after I press Play! The best I can do is to press Play, wait a second and press a piston, accepting that the first few notes may have been lost.

            I think I will need to spend some time doing some test recordings (I can play a bit but not in front of an audience!), with a variety of start-up situations, to see if I can work out the logic of what is happening. I would prefer to 'know' how to get it right every time, and try to train the organists accordingly, but adding instructions to Anvil to ensure some sort of initial registration could be a good alternative.
            Allan

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            • #7
              It's been said previously but let me say it too. When I make a MIDI recording, unless the organ routinely records the registration (I believe that most home organs do this), the organist should select his registration, either via piston or manually, AFTER the recorder begins.

              MIDI messages consist of note messages (ON, OFF, VELOCITY, NOTE NUMBER, etc.) and control messages (program changes, expression, volume, etc.). Your organ obviously can send this stuff and since most church musicians use pistons for this type of music, just ask the second organist to reselect his piston immediately before playing. It is already getting everything that follows, including all subsequent registration changes. On some organs, the individual stops are transmitted as note numbers but on the CONTROL channel. Whatever it is, your recorder and the organ appear to communicate just fine.
              Roland Atelier AT-90s, AT-80s, AT-70, 30, and 15. Roland VR-760 combo
              Yamaha S-90, Kurzweil PC-3x, Casio Privia PX-330, Roland E-80, G-70, BK-5, Leslie 760, 820
              Moved on:
              Allen 3MT/Hauptwerk, Technics GA1, Yamaha HX1, AR80, numerous Hammonds, including 2 M's, an L, 2 A-100's, XP-2, XM-1/1c, & an XK-3. Roland Atelier AT-30, 60r, 80, & 20r(2 units), and a slew of Leslies (147, 142, 760, 900, 330).
              Korg Triton Le-61, Casio Privia PX-310 & 110, and Kurzweils: PC-2x, SP-88, Pro-III, K1000

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              • #8
                Does the MDS-5X have a console controller?

                In the console controller there is a setting that sets the organ to either send the piston press, or send the stops that move. You'll have to look up the controller manual as to how to get to it (I don't have a copy of it at work). Maybe that is what is needed, to set it to the stops.

                There's Preset mode, which sends the program change number (piston). There's User mode that sends the stop ("patch") information. And there's No mode, that sends nothing.
                John
                Allen MDS-317 at home / Allen AP-16 at Church / Allen ADC-3100 at the stake center

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                • #9
                  I looked at an online MDS 5X user manual and saw nothing in the MIDI information that was in conflict with the advice given previously. There was a good additional suggestion concerning the need to operate the expression pedal in order to be sure the MIDI file contains volume information. That would be good to include along with the initial general cancel and initial registration selection.
                  http://www.nwmidi.com

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                  • #10
                    But if he makes a change to the console controller, might that cause his current good results with organist A to change? On the other hand, I found it informative to learn of the distinction between control changes for pistons vs. control changes for individual stops.

                    It seems like the organ would not care by which means it is told to change it's stops, piston vs. tabs (knobs), anymore than it does "live". I mean that I can draw three diapason stops manually, or get them by pressing a suitably programed piston and the result is identical when I play. The recorder, likewise, should pick up either method PROVIDED, I do it only AFTER beginning to record. That remains the likely issue here. I believe that organist B is selecting his initial registration BEFORE the recorder is started and simply making his first move to be the re-selecting of the initial registration will quickly correct the problem. I've done it myself just to quickly make sure of the sounds without having to look over all of the divisions manually. It does not matter how many times you press a particular piston, after all, as far as the registration is concerned.
                    Roland Atelier AT-90s, AT-80s, AT-70, 30, and 15. Roland VR-760 combo
                    Yamaha S-90, Kurzweil PC-3x, Casio Privia PX-330, Roland E-80, G-70, BK-5, Leslie 760, 820
                    Moved on:
                    Allen 3MT/Hauptwerk, Technics GA1, Yamaha HX1, AR80, numerous Hammonds, including 2 M's, an L, 2 A-100's, XP-2, XM-1/1c, & an XK-3. Roland Atelier AT-30, 60r, 80, & 20r(2 units), and a slew of Leslies (147, 142, 760, 900, 330).
                    Korg Triton Le-61, Casio Privia PX-310 & 110, and Kurzweils: PC-2x, SP-88, Pro-III, K1000

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I agree that it doesn't matter whether the registration settings and any subsequent changes are accomplished with pistons or with the individual stop tabs. I guess I don't see any reason to try to change the default operation of the controller unless it is clearly not working. We're overthinking this thing. The point is that it's important to set the organ's registration to what is desired before playing. This applies whether playing the organ oneself or via a recorded MIDI file. The first general cancel would be sent as a 'sanity' measure. Who know who leaned on a bombarde tab before the hymn playback started. The registration gets set next as well as a captured value from the expression pedal.

                      It seems that at this point the advice offered should be evaluated and given a trial run. Then we can deal with any surprises if things aren't working.
                      http://www.nwmidi.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        There needs to be something said here about an organist. Most prefer to have there private piston settings and with the electronic combination actions of today, each organist has their own profile settings. Piston 1 on one profile can and will probably be different on another organists piston 1. The other issue is that if the organ only transmits piston changes, when the organist hand registers changes on individual stops, they won't be recorded. If you want the played back performance to sound like it was originally played, then each tab stop change must be recorded, not just piston changes.

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                        • #13
                          The pistons are recorded by Anvil and the MDS 5X will respond to them when they are played back and set the registration that is in effect for the memory bank in use. In fact my reason for suggesting using the general pistons was that this will also ensure that any previous stops are cancelled. Granted, two different organists may use different settings and flip the key from bank A to B and back, but we're getting way ahead of ourselves.

                          As an aside I have doubts about the entire scenario of putting the organ in karaoke mode for a service, but that's an entirely different discussion. How do AGO members feel about this?
                          http://www.nwmidi.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have been away for two days, so thanks for the additional posts. I intend to try some tests our MDS-5X tomorrow or Saturday.
                            Allan

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                            • #15
                              Apologies for the long time taken to report on further tests on the MDS-5X. I carried out a series of tests, setting stops manually before starting a recording, setting stops manually after starting a recording, using pistons, etc, followed after a short delay (generally) a minute, with a short piece of music. I then used Anvil Studio to cut out the music. In each case, the stop information was still preserved, and stops were set automatically on replay. No answers there.

                              I then found out how to examine the midi code itself. The MDS-5X creates 4 channels, Channels 1, 2 & 3 cover Great, Swell and Pedal (not necessarily in that order), with Channel 8 as control. Looking at Channel 8, I noted that Organist A's recordings invariably included a ProgramChange event at zero time, with a value of 0. Oragnist B's recordings invariably have a similar event, but with a value of 127. ProgramChange 127 is the reset command. It would seem that this reset command is cancelling the stop selection process. Changing this event to a value of 0 causes all of Organist B's previously flawed recordings to play perfectly?

                              So no answer still as to why it happens, but the workaround seems to do the trick. Ironically, for the recordings taken this last Sunday, one by Organist A and the other by Organist B, both suffered the same problem with the 'rogue' reset code after hymns were cut out. Fortunately, both responded successfully to the manual alteration of the ProgramChange value.

                              Many thanks for all your suggestions, but clearly there is still an unexplained problem. I will endeavour to ensure that future recordings always starts before any stops are selected, to see if there is any change, but I believe that most times, I already do that. Since both Organists 'claim' that they rarely use pistons, it is difficult to try to train them to use them now. However, there are some indications that both of them set up the stops for the next hymn immediately after finishing playing the previous hymn, ie a gap of 5 - 20 mins before playing resumes.

                              Allan

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