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  • Adding digital voices to a church pipe organ

    I previously posed questions about this process. But little progress has been made. So I'm trying to shake the trees to see what I can do. ;-)

    Our organ is a small two-manual Estey. The console was rebuilt about 10 years ago. A robust Peterson capture system was installed. And communication to the pipe system is via fiber-optic cables. We had most of the pipes and resonators refurbished. The organ has about 10 ranks of pipes and uses the borrowing of stops characteristic of smaller organs. The church is a United Methodist Church.

    Our organ technician has suggested we could add electronic voices. He recommends we ONLY use Walker voices. His estimate is that we could add about 12 stop tabs to enhance some of the limits o:->f the instrument. We have a space in our pipe chamber (behind the shades) for speakers.

    The church has a limited budget. We'd have to add a MIDI interface, then buy the Walker sound module and speakers. The tech suggested we MIGHT be able to find a used Walker sound module, have it refurbished and do the install for around $20,000 - $25,000, That would include having a Walker Tech do the voicing. But truthfully, I can't even find enough data to determine how much a new module would cost.

    I've got some people (some with money) who want to do it. We've got most of the money - and I think we could get the rest if I beat the bushes. Though I don't think we could come up with enough to do it if we have to buy a new Walker module.

    The problem is that we can't find a used Walker module. Our tech hasn't found one. And I can't either. I've searched the Internet. Went to Walker's website. (Talk about minimalism.) I've sent e-mail to Walker. Found almost nothing on the Internet. Got no reply from Walker. I suspect Walker only wants to deal with REAL organ techs. Nothing via Google. Nothing on Organ Clearinghouse, eBay, Craigslist. Your basic bust.

    Can anyone suggest some other avenues I could explore?

    First, what are we looking at to add MIDI to such an organ? I mean how complicated would it be? And what kind of cost would be typical. I'm assuming that the Peterson system already has the capability to accept MIDI without too much augmentation. Am I wrong?

    I'd like to beef this instrument up a little and add some solo stops for variety. It gets tiresome to play with the limited available voices.

    I'm very hesitant about adding a virtual system like Hauptwerk that uses touch screens. I think it would be better to use something that could easily be incorporated into the existing capture action. I could learn it. But someone who subs would probably fear this. And my replacement might find it objectionable. I'm trying to go conservative.

    Rodgers and Allen could probably do something. But our tech is probably suspicious that they would try to take over the service on the organ. And they probably would. And he does claim the Walker voices are superior. He does a good job for us. And he's done some extras for us at bargain prices when we were really hurting financially. I've seen some videos on YouTube of a Walker organ. And I like what I hear, though I can't find an organ in our area that has a system similar to what we envision. And Walker's non-response can't point me to any.

    I've already been warned to try to include multiple channels for better sound. And I agree with that.

    Thanks in advance for any guidance, comments, or other help.

    Bach On
    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.

  • #2
    Where are you?

    Jerry F Bacon-Dallas,Tx
    Jerry F Bacon-Dallas,Tx

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi,

      Regarding interfacing Walker digital stops, it can be done in 3 ways, via MIDI, by serial input or parallel input. So MIDI would not necessarily need to be added.

      You will likely need to have the Peterson relay modified to accommodate the Walker stops, unless you manage to get exactly what you want, and it has already made provision for. That usually entails some engineering costs, and some parts or circuit boards.

      I would concur too that Walker sounds are superior to most. This is also due to the fact that Walker uses the highest sampling rate in the industry, and seems to have more high frequency tone than most due to the fact that their audio system has a very high bandwidth. Also, Bob Walker does the voicing for Walker Technical, and he is a true master at blending digital stops with pipes.

      I agree with your assessment of Walker's web-site. Tells you almost nothing. That is the way they like it. They want to be thought of in a sort of mystical way.

      AV

      Comment


      • #4
        Wicks may be able to help you. I would avoid Artisan as their samples run for very good to poor--inconsistent and after 4 years, they have not provided all the ranks I bought from them. You might also consider a used Galanti sound module. The sample are OK but certainly not the quality of Walker samples. Johannus also used to have a sound module and perhaps still sells it. Hope that helps.

        Comment


        • #5
          I might have something that could possibly fit your needs - basically a swell division and some pedal stops - of the manufacturer you mention (brand W). Contact me off list or via private message.

          Take care,

          Andy

          Comment


          • #6
            Andy,

            I have just sent you a private message.

            BO

            - - - Updated - - -

            Jerry,

            I'm located near Wilson, North Carolina. We're about 45 miles East of Raleigh.

            BO
            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.

            Comment


            • #7
              Marshall & Olgetree does pipe/digital combos. I think you can see a video of a 4 manual instrument they did with Ruffatti for Olivet Nazarene University.

              Comment


              • #8
                I disagree with your current technician. Walker will definately "Take Over" anything to do with their equipment on any organ. There are other options, if yhou would like to talkto me directly, I might be able to help you. [email protected]

                Comment


                • #9
                  OrganCNY,

                  You may wish to remove your e-mail address from your post, as this Forum is often scanned by search engines and show up in search results. If you would like to have it removed, just let a Moderator know.

                  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


                  • #10
                    Organ CNY,

                    Go ahead and share your information here. I'll be interested to see what you have to share.

                    BO
                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We have a substantial two manual pipe organ that I wanted to add 32' pedal ranks to. Just two ranks (I wanted three) from Walker would cost around $50K. Same with Allen and Rodgers. I didn't think that was good stewardship as the organ itself "only" cost $80K. So we went with Artisan. There is a LOT of capability in the Artisan hardware and we decided to go well past just two 32' voices since there was so much left over. The system could handle up to 80 ranks. I wanted to only use voices that did not require a touch screen, so basically I filled in all the "prepared" for blank tablets that existed on the console. There were quite a few. Very unfortunately, the Artisan consultant/installer was a most unreliable individual and we had to basically fire him long before the project was fully completed. This brought about an "I told you so" from those who wanted to go with Walker in the first place and a re-doubling of efforts to get them involved. Of course they are out of the question budgetwise and thus the project sits in limbo. Luckily, enough Artisan hardware was installed that, with the help of a borrowed sub-woofer, I have a digital 32' Bourdon that I can use at the end of big pieces. Quite wonderful. Every organ should have one. Get the Artisan system and get an independent technician to install it!

                      H

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A new Walker module was also going to cost us about $60K. We've found an older module. It can hold only 12 voices. And Walker won't change the voices, though it is possible to do so since they have ROM chips that can be programmed with different samples. It's just their policy not to reprogram them.

                        Where we're running into an issue is with the number of tabs on our organ. I also don't want to use a touch screen system. We have no blank tabs. How many did you have?

                        I remember using some of the Allen organs with the plastic IBM cards that went on the Alterable Voices tabs. Something like that would be nice here. We have space for roughly 12 more tabs for the entire organ, but it will require lots of effort to add them (and it will cost a bundle for each). But this would be true with any brand of sound module.

                        BO
                        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.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hi BO,

                          I would not have thought that 12 or so stops from Walker Technical, would run $60K. Seems rather steep to me. But they are the most recognized for doing this kind of work, and usually results are first class. I'm surprised that the Walker firm has that attitude about their older jobs. Really reduces the value that their electronics have once it is installed in the field.

                          Another route would be to get a MIDI system put on the Peterson relay/combo action system. I know someone who has a surplus Peterson MIDI system, should you be interested.

                          About the only cost-effective augmentation in your budget range would be the Viscount CM-100. It is very configurable, has 180 or so sounds in it, of which you can choose 12, and has 6 channels of audio output. While some sounds are rather ho-hum, there is enough to work with, to make a worthwhile addition to the organ. I have done it a number of times,and was always impressed with the results.

                          You should be able to get this done within your budget.

                          AV
                          Last edited by arie v; 12-13-2014, 09:20 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            AV,
                            The newer Walker system would have been capable of 40 voices. But we wouldn't have had enough tabs to make use of all of them. The module we're looking at cost less. But the labor required is extensive. It can do 4 discreet channels. Our tech asked Walker if we could upgrade this unit. He was told NO. Perhaps that don't want to provide legacy support so people will move to the newer systems.

                            I'll mention the Peterson MIDI item to my tech. We may be interested in contacting the person you know.

                            I'm not familiar with the Viscount CM-100. Our tech seems to think Walker is the only way to go.

                            Thanks for the tips.

                            BO
                            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.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bach-On View Post
                              I remember using some of the Allen organs with the plastic IBM cards that went on the Alterable Voices tabs. Something like that would be nice here. We have space for roughly 12 more tabs for the entire organ, but it will require lots of effort to add them (and it will cost a bundle for each). But this would be true with any brand of sound module.
                              Bach,

                              Your observation made me think. What components from an Allen organ would one need to simply remove the Alterable Voice system from an existing organ, and add it to another instrument--pipe or otherwise--and have it function properly? I know we're talking about some sort of keying system, AV card translation, amplifiers, and speakers, but I'm wondering if it is possible.

                              Of course MIDI added to an organ with good voices like those already being discussed here is probably more preferable for many reasons, but I couldn't help wondering.

                              Michael

                              P.S. Should I make my post into a different thread, or does it belong in this thread?
                              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

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