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  • Digital pipe organ and virtual pipe organ- any difference?

    we are planning to buy an organ for the church but we are faced with the challenge of differentiating between a digital organ and Virtual pipe organ.
    anyone with good information or an idea of the advantages over each?... are there any difference?

    Thank you

    TheRevd.

  • #2
    Not an expert here, but from what I've seen the term "virtual pipe organ" seems to be used for organs that feature samples of a specific pipe organ, and are usually associated with PC based organ systems like Hauptwerk. It's still digital. "Digital Organ" is a generic term that denotes that the organ uses digital technology to produce pipe organ sounds. However, the technique used may vary. Sample playback, or additive synthesis, or physical modeling might be used, depending on the manufacturer.

    Comment


    • #3
      Revd,

      Are you located in the US, UK, Europe, Canada? Also, which State/Province? First, let me say it's too bad you are not able to install a pipe organ. There are organizations that help place and install redundant pipe organs.

      For purposes of answering you, I'll assume you're interested in classical/church music rather than theatre and/or contemporary music. Not that it makes much difference, but it may make a difference to you.

      A virtual pipe organ generally uses longer samples (than digital), and more sample points than most digital instruments. In effect, they are high quality recordings of pipe organs throughout the world whose sounds are reproduced when the organist presses a key. With a virtual pipe organ, you purchase an organ's sample set. If you tire of the sample set you originally choose, you can purchase a new sample set and essentially have a new organ. There are also theatre organ sample sets now available. Virtual pipe organs are generally driven by a souped-up computer (i.e. PC or Macintosh) and use a touch-screen interface. Therefore, the organist should also have computer skills to play a virtual pipe organ.

      The most popular virtual pipe organ sets generally use the Hauptwerk system.

      A digital organ's sounds are sampled from some of the best pipe ranks in the world (different organs and builders), and combined in one instrument. Their sample lengths and sample points are generally not as detailed as in virtual organs. Most digital instruments have 4-6 voicings available (i.e. Romantic, Baroque, American, Silbermann, etc.), but you are limited to your initial purchase. Later changes may sometimes be available, and sometimes not available--depending on the manufacturer. Arguably, their consoles are more like pipe organ consoles than virtual pipe organs--but that is changing as technology and controls advance.

      Digital organ manufacturers include Allen, Rodgers, Viscount, Johannus, Phoenix, etc.

      There are many on this Forum who know much more than I about both of these types of instruments, but what I've given you should provide food for thought to start with. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, but ultimately it's your decision about what's best for your church. I hope my description has helped.

      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


      • #4
        Permit me to throw my definitions into the mix:

        A digital organ is an electronic organ that uses dedicated hardware and sound samples to produce the organ sound.

        A virtual pipe organ is a computer and software based system that emulates a pipe organ through configurable sound samples and hardware. Because of this configurability, VPO's often have unconventional means of control. For example, a VPO might use computer touch screens to select stops. In fact, VPO's needn't have any physical keyboards serving rather as MIDI sound generators to be controlled by MIDI file sequencers. On the other hand, some companies package the VPO in a conventional organ console with dedicated stops, in effect, creating a software based digital organ.

        Although VPO's can offer a greater value than dedicated digital organs, there are disadvantages in terms of user familiarity, complexity, support, and service.

        To sum up, VPO's and digital organs both use sound samples to produce the organ sound. Digital organs use proprietary hardware supplemented by software to do this, while a VPO uses an off-the-shelf personal computer and specialized software to do this. Although I'm a fan of VPO's and have one myself, one must consider user familiarity, support, and service when making an investment in an instrument for worship.

        Here's a picture of a VPO using a non-conventional interface:
        Click image for larger version

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        Here's another VPO using touchscreens ( from http://www.organtechnology.com/)
        Click image for larger version

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        Here's a VPO in a conventional organ configuration (from http://www.virtualpipeorgan.com.au/)
        Click image for larger version

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        -Admin

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

        Comment


        • #5
          As admin says, a the jargon "VPO" refers to a digitally sampled pipe sounds played using a standard computer with added additions to make a playable instrument. It is up to the pur Hauser of the instrument to add the peripherals and do some programming to get a playable instrument. For home use, it appears that you can get superior sound with some work.

          A digital organ such as from Allen is a complete instrument, essentially plug and play. This is a more expensive approach, but the user does not need to assemble the system hardware themselves.

          My opinion is that for a church it would be better to buy the plug and play product which comes with installation and servicing. Note that Phoenix organs can supply a complete hauptwerk system if that is what you want.
          Last edited by ; 08-04-2014, 10:58 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            dear Michael, Thank you for the submission. The Church is located in Nigeria lagos. we require a detail information on the advantages and disadvantages of these instruments as we have vendors of the two instruments already submitted quotes to supply.

            Thanks
            Therev
            [email protected]

            Comment


            • #7
              In true technical terms, a virtual pipe organ is a digital organ, and vice versa. The jargon of the home-brew organ builders makes the differentiation.
              For a church environment, I agree with AllanP's thoughts that a commercial instrument installation is probably the better option. The builders are more likely to be around after a decade or two when service might be needed.

              Comment


              • #8
                I, too, think that a commercial "digital" instrument is probably best for a church, because most organists are not also computer gurus. (I know that "turnkey" VPOs supposedly exist, that don't require special knowledge to boot up and get running, but even those most likely have a startup period that would be troublesome if a temporary outage occurred during a service.)

                David

                Comment


                • #9
                  I prefer digital organ as it can be a vpo via midi connecting to Hauptwerk samples

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Johnallen View Post
                    I prefer digital organ as it can be a vpo via midi connecting to Hauptwerk samples
                    Good point, John. I hadn't thought of that!

                    Since the original poster is from Nigeria, it makes me wonder if a dealer would better serve his needs, or if a home made VPO (virtual pipe organ) would work. I wonder which companies have provided quotes? If we knew the names of the companies, we'd be better able to advise.

                    Michael

                    P.S. Upon checking after I originally posted, it appears the dealers are Viscount, Johannus, and Allen.
                    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
                      The best suggestion is to get quotes from local dealers

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        regardless of what you wish to call it, Digital OR Virtual, makes little difference. What DOES matter is how reliable the instrument is going to be, especially if you don't have a resident computer expert around when the organ crashes. You want to investigate the vendor(s) you are working with, or who wish to sell you one of their organs. Talk to clients they have had in the recent past to find out how reliable the product has been, and how responsive the seller has been in fixing any trouble that may have cropped up. Some brands are much better than others about after-the-sale service, as are some dealers.

                        Rick in VA

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yes absolutely a lot of difference- but your organ players will have to be computer literate if you want to go virtual pipe organ
                          The difference between a digital pipe organ ( such a thing REALLY does not exist - it is either a pipe organ or a digital organ) and a virtual pipe organ ( they DO exist) is that with a digital pipe organ you are bound to maybe 4-5 different intonations in 1 organ ( like classic- baroque- werckmeister etc.) but you playing the same stops and in essence the same organ- With a Virtual pipe organ you are playing different virtual pipe organs all from your very own console- I in my own case have about 15 different virtual pipe organs on my 5 manual homebuild virtual pipe organ console. By using a touchscreen ( or 2 - 1 on either side of the keyboards to imitate the drawknob stop boards) you can switch in a matter of minutes or less than that depending about how fats your computer is- from 1 to the other organ and with programs such as Hauptwerk 4 which can automatically recognize the leyboards and pedal board and swellshoes it is very easy to do
                          In fact there are several FREE virtual organ programs out there and if you don't want to invest a lot of money you can also go with JOrgan or MYOrgan- which are free and have several 2-3-4 manual virtual pipe
                          organ programs made for them
                          A Virtual Pipe organ can be way cheaper than a digital organ and there are people out there- such as myself- that can change any current organ into a virtual pipe organ -
                          On midi modules and wiring you are looking at about $ 200-$ 500 for a 2-4 manual organ + a reasonable fast computer with a ICore 7 and at least 16 but better even with 32 GB of DDR3 RAM and a good soundsystem or use amplified speakers which plug directly into your sound card at the back of your computer-
                          Since I have done this more or less for a living for the last 10 years I have an idea what works and does not work ! Rodgers and Allen organs are very good candidates to change into a MIDI organ because they have already 1 wire per key ( the older ones do anyways) and that is all you need for MIDI- If you contact me I can give you a better idea of actual costs based on what you want

                          Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of the differences- it really comes down to how much money you want to spend and how much you like the sound of a pipe organ !

                          - - - Updated - - -

                          Yes absolutely a lot of difference- but your organ players will have to be computer literate if you want to go virtual pipe organ
                          The difference between a digital pipe organ ( such a thing REALLY does not exist - it is either a pipe organ or a digital organ) and a virtual pipe organ ( they DO exist) is that with a digital pipe organ you are bound to maybe 4-5 different intonations in 1 organ ( like classic- baroque- werckmeister etc.) but you playing the same stops and in essence the same organ- With a Virtual pipe organ you are playing different virtual pipe organs all from your very own console- I in my own case have about 15 different virtual pipe organs on my 5 manual homebuild virtual pipe organ console. By using a touchscreen ( or 2 - 1 on either side of the keyboards to imitate the drawknob stop boards) you can switch in a matter of minutes or less than that depending about how fats your computer is- from 1 to the other organ and with programs such as Hauptwerk 4 which can automatically recognize the leyboards and pedal board and swellshoes it is very easy to do
                          In fact there are several FREE virtual organ programs out there and if you don't want to invest a lot of money you can also go with JOrgan or MYOrgan- which are free and have several 2-3-4 manual virtual pipe
                          organ programs made for them
                          A Virtual Pipe organ can be way cheaper than a digital organ and there are people out there- such as myself- that can change any current organ into a virtual pipe organ -
                          On midi modules and wiring you are looking at about $ 200-$ 500 for a 2-4 manual organ + a reasonable fast computer with a ICore 7 and at least 16 but better even with 32 GB of DDR3 RAM and a good soundsystem or use amplified speakers which plug directly into your sound card at the back of your computer-
                          Since I have done this more or less for a living for the last 10 years I have an idea what works and does not work ! Rodgers and Allen organs are very good candidates to change into a MIDI organ because they have already 1 wire per key ( the older ones do anyways) and that is all you need for MIDI- If you contact me I can give you a better idea of actual costs based on what you want

                          Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of the differences- it really comes down to how much money you want to spend and how much you like the sound of a pipe organ !

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I also suggest a standard self-contained digital organ. It is much easier for most people to learn.

                            Make sure it has MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) plugs. Then you can add virtual stops later if there is a need. Just know that add-on stops via a virtual organ may not be incorporated into the preset capture action of the original organ.

                            Think of a substitute organist. Will they be able to fill-in if setting up the organ is too complex. Or, if you leave and the church hires someone else, they'll go through a big learning curve if what you have is a virtual organ.

                            Just my two cents worth; and worth all it cost you.

                            BachOn
                            Make being happy a way of traveling, not just a destination.

                            Church organ - 2 manual 12 rank Estey Pipe Organ with 12 Artisan Digital Stops
                            Home organ - Allen R-230 organ (We also have 48 pipes in a facade)
                            We have a Yamaha 6' 8" Grand
                            Have used an older Korg T3 keyboard and MIDI for doing musical arrangements.
                            I'm a Methodist organist.
                            I taught high school chorus, elementary music and middle school music.
                            Became a Technology Specialist.
                            Retired from Education after 32 years.

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