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Rodgers Artist Series vs Allen Chapel Series

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  • Rodgers Artist Series vs Allen Chapel Series

    Our church is preparing to purchase a new organ to replace our 1942 Wicks 5 rank. I'm looking at the 3 manual rodgers artist series and the 3 manual chapel series. I'd appreciate any comments or comparisons that anyone might have!

  • #2

    I saw your message on my facebook page, but I'll just reply here. Maybe others will join in the discussion.

    To be honest, I'm not in the retail organ business, as my primary business is organ service. I do get to play and see a variety of organs, most of them Allen and Rodgers. Both companies sell a good product and I hear nice sounds from organs of both makes. But I am not privy to prices or other details of the retail side, so I can't give you specifics about one model vs. another, because I might be comparing organs of vastly different costs.

    You have certainly zeroed in on some nice models. The models you are looking at in both lines will have excellent build quality and superb sound. I you'd asked me to comment on, for example, a line of organs with cheap consoles covered in plastic versus solid wood consoles, that would be different. But in this comparison, you won't find much difference in that area.

    If you get a nice installation, you will have a worthy successor to the Wicks. And any model from either builder will give you far more color and variety than you've gotten from five ranks of pipes. If your installer and voicer are good, and if there are no corners cut on amps, speakers, and placement, you will get great organ sound at a very reasonable cost.

    So, I'll only say -- and I would have said the very same thing to you if this were a private conversation -- you can't go wrong with either of these product lines. To the best of my knowledge, each company will have an offering at about the same price range, and the features will be similar, as far as number of stops, number of audio channels, type of capture action, quality of the console, warranty terms, and so on. So you may not find any particular advantages of one brand over the other. Do read the brochures and take note of any particular feature that you think might be important. One brand may have more orchestral sounds available, another may have more French organ stops -- and I don't have either brand in mind. I'm just saying this as an example.

    Rather than advising you on a choice of brand, I'd advise you to spend a LOT of time talking with the person(s) at each dealership who will actually install and voice your organ. Make sure this person knows what he is doing. He should be someone with a great deal of experience in the digital organ field, someone who knows how many speakers are optimum for your room, where the speakers should be placed for the best dispersion of the sound.

    He should understand the basic rules of organ installation, for example -- (1) the organist must hear the organ as other people hear it, (2) everyone in the room should hear a proper blend of all the organ's stops and divisions, and (3) the organ console, choir, and the primary speakers should all be located in close proximity.

    He should understand that the organ is first of all a musical instrument, an integrated system of console and audio equipment, and should think like a musician, not like a "sound system" tech. BTW, if anyone suggests to you that the organ should be connected to the PA system, RUN as fast as you can. These models all come with speakers in the console, and the internal speakers can be adequate for a smallish church. But if external speakers are needed, they must be the organ's own speakers, not part of the house sound system. Organs and PA have vastly different audio needs and functions and cannot be mixed.

    Depending on where you are in the country, you may find that one brand or the other has a stronger dealership, a more knowledgeable person on staff, better tech support, more installations to show you, or just a better attitude, more agreeable to talk to and work with. In the long run, since you can't really go wrong with quality products from either Allen or Rodgers, make your choice based on the people you will be working with.

    Let us know how it turns out!
    *** 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!


    • #3
      I will second everything John said and emphasize a couple of factors.

      Where I live, both the Allen and Rodgers dealers are very competent. However, I have played several installations in local churches, all Allens for some reason, where the church decided to save money on the speakers and used somebody's old home speakers instead of buying real speakers. This is a real waste of money but people apparently think a speaker is a speaker, so why not save a little money.

      My other comment is that the sound of a good modern digital organ can be very good if set up properly. However, you need someone from the church to work with the voicer to ensure you get the result you want. There is a lot of range of sound you can get from the same installation, from muddy to bright, as well as the relative dynamics between stops. For example, the local Rodgers dealer tends to make the Festival Trumpet so loud you could never use it in a service. However, with a bit of arguing, you can get it balanced to be usable with a full plenum, without deafening the congregation.

      If at all possible, audition instruments that are a similar as possible to the ones you are considering buying.


      • #4

        I also second everything that Jbird said. We purchased an Allen 2-manual Anniversary Series (drawknobs and extra pistons and toe studs), with the Vista Navigator, almost two years ago. Jbird's rules as laid out in his last four paragraphs serve as an excellent description of the way our Allen dealer treated us and our proposed installation, and I've been very happy with the results. He's a very careful and sensitive voicer, and his solutions for speaker placement were perfect. The Vista device, which acts as a kind of floating division, makes this relatively small instrument much more versatile and useful than it might otherwise be. We could have dealt with Rodgers, but they had just changed regional representatives and I never got a useful reply from the new one until well after the Allen was installed. Obviously the situation could be different in other parts of the country and indeed the opposite might be the case, but here we've been very pleased with the Allen.

        Rick Dostie
        Resurrection Lutheran Church
        Waterville, ME USA