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Advice for tuning an Allen protege AP-2 (MDS) W5

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  • Advice for tuning an Allen protege AP-2 (MDS) W5

    Hi all, 'm just new on this (excellent) forum.
    I think I'll meet good experts here!!!
    I just got an excellent Allen protege AP-2 (MDS) which sound very well, all things are fully working.
    However I'd like to revoice it to reach the good sound in my living-room. I know where is the cage, with its four channels. But I don't know which stops are tied to an allocated channel. any diagram on the owner's manual of course!!!
    I think the letters mean= W= wind effect, B= bass, T, treble, and G for General?
    But nothing about a particular stop even not a group of stops.

    In the past I'd tuned (real) pipe organs so I'm used to work with keen hearing.

    Before this organ I had an MOS II-- also good but the MDS is far away in quality of samples!

    Thanks!

  • #2
    You got the four controls almost right. The "G" is for "gain" and is the volume control for that channel.

    To do a complete voicing, start by "exercising" very gently the four pots of each channel. This is necessary because after all these years they may have developed dead spots or roughness in their rotation. Just be very careful so as not to damage these little things. Use a screwdriver that fits the slot and turn each one slowly back and forth a dozen times through the full range of motion.

    Next, locate the two amplifier volume knobs (which are on the amp chassis, the large black and silver metal unit in the floor of the organ, on the left as you are looking into the back of the console). Set the volume level of the two knobs to "8". I do this because "8" gives me some room to turn the overall volume up or down a bit if I need to do so after adjusting all the voicing controls.

    Now, do your voicing. Turn all the "W" (wind) controls completely off (counter-clockwise). This is necessary so you won't hear the air sound while setting levels for the basic tones of the stops. you will come back and add some wind later.

    Put the all the B, T, and G pots in their middle position, halfway through their rotation. Make sure the expression pedal is wide open.

    Voicing channel #3 contains the Great Principal 8 stop (possibly called Diapason on this model). Have someone play on that stop while you adjust the G control to give the stop a comfortably loud volume. Don't go for too loud, just reasonable. Better to set it too soft than too loud!

    Voicing channel #4 contains the Great Octave 4 and also the Great Rohrflote 8. Play on the Octave 4 and set its volume to be slightly softer than the Diapason 8. Since you are experienced with pipes, you will know the proper ratio. Double-check this channel by listening to the Rohrflote, which should be similar in volume to the Diapason.

    Voicing channel #1 contains the Swell Principal 4 (possibly called Spitzprincipal). Turn on this stop and also turn on the Octave 4 in the Great. Adjust the G control on #1 so that the swell 4' is perhaps just a tad softer than the great 4'. Again, use your pipe experience to set that stop to a suitable level. But remember to keep things a bit on the soft side.

    Now, the channel #1 that you just adjusted also contains the Viola 8 on the swell. Your next step is to match the volume of the Viola Celeste, which is in channel #2, to the Viola. They need to be very nearly equal in volume. Adjust the #2 G control until the two stops are equal in volume.

    If you satisfied with the volume level at this point, now adjust the "T" controls in each channel to produce the treble clarity you desire. You will want to pay attention to the treble (T) of #4, which contains the Great mixture, and to the treble of #2, which contains the Swell mixture.

    Then, adjust the bass (B) controls. The Pedal Bourdon 16 is in channel #4, so adjust that bass pot to give you adequate but not too much bass. The Lieblich Gedeckt 16 is in channel #1, so adjust the bass on that channel to give you a softer bass on that stop.

    Now you can go back and open up the "wind" pots a bit. Generally you only need a little bit of that. It is pretty "windy"! I do recall one customer who wanted a LOT of wind, but you will have to decide for yourself. The wind is only on certain stops. Here they are, with the channels in which they are found. Adjust the "W" control on the given channel to produce wind on the named stop:

    Channel 1 -- Lieblich Gedeckt 16 in the pedal
    Channel 2 -- Gedackt 8 in the swell
    Channel 3 -- Diapason 8 in the great
    Channel 4 -- Rohrflote 8 in the great and the Bourdon 16 in the pedal

    This should get you in the ball park. If you need to tweak further, just use your ears and be careful.

    Here's the chart so you can see all the stops in their channels:
    Attached Files
    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

    Comment


    • #3
      Thank you John! Your post is comprehensive!
      I'll tune the organ tomorrow.

      Patrick

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for posting the chart, Jbird. It's always interesting to see one of those, even for the smallest AP model. It's interesting that, if you really wanted to, you could have wired that model to have 4 channels, though it might have meant bypassing the Allen-approved mixing board and downstream accessories. (i.e., assuming it had a tremolo/vibrato or reverb unit installed, it would only have been for 2 channels) OR were some W5 boards hard-soldered with a jumper or something, to combine the channels into 2?
        No matter how small the stop specification, if I were using a secondary audio system anyhow, like a 6 channel home theater, and I had an organ capable of 4 channels, I'd use all four. It's obvious both with the experimenting I did with my 1140 and in all the electronic organs I've ever listened to, that, overall, you want as many channels as possible and as little electronic mixing as possible.

        Comment


        • #5
          All W-5 boards have four channels of audio, IIRC. There are either DIP switches or jumpers to determine if the audio is outputted on two or four channels. All four outputs are present, even in a two-channel organ, as all W-5 assemblies are the same except for the various EPROMs and auxiliary memory boards used to set the board up for a given model.

          OF course the AP-2 has fewer stops than a larger model, but the W-5 board was capable (again IIRC) of generating 32 separate stops, 8 per channel, and some models probably took full advantage of that capability.

          W-5 boards became a sort of building-block for Allen, since they were uniquely configurable. A big W-5 organ would have two complete W-5 systems. There were probably models with 3 or even more W-5 boards, as this technology almost completely superseded the large-cage MDS system as they got better at using it.

          That's more than I know about that. Neat system though, and you can see how it built upon the MADC-3 small-cage system and how it pre-saged the Renaissance II small-cage system as well.
          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

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks John. Yeah my last dealings with the yahoo group were trying to figure out the evoluation of the "W" boards in the MDS era. It seems that by the end of the MDS era, the ADC-style "large cage" had become relatively rare. Perhaps only used for the biggest organs and/or custom instruments. A number of late, mid-to-large MDS models used 2 W5 cages, each containing, I believe, 2 W5 boards, for a total of 16 possible output channels. Usually mixed down from there, of course, sometimes substantially.

            Comment


            • #7
              I find this topic very interesting. Can you therefor get better sound out of the organ by voicing it like explained than the factory settings?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Johnallen View Post
                I find this topic very interesting. Can you therefor get better sound out of the organ by voicing it like explained than the factory settings?
                Yes! Even though voicing for the AP-2 is not as elaborate as newer Allen models, the controls provide a way for the organ to be tonally finished for the acoustics/size of the room. When I was selling Allen Organs, I always voiced the organ to the room. Factory settings are just that – the way Allen set up the organ for testing before it was shipped. I believe on custom high-end organs, Allen does some voicing at the factory, then finishing to the room when installed.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Do you have to have lot's of experience in voicing the organ, or will a very good ear help? THe reason why i'm asking is that i don't want to mess up the organ that it have an awful sound after voicing it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Johnallen,

                    Take some sharp close-up pics of the voicing controls before you start, then if you think it's messed up you can return to the way it was before you worked on it.

                    But seriously, if you are careful and have a good ear you can make these adjustments. Allen always warned us as techs and sales folk back in the 80's and 90's "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" ... In other words, simply trust that the factory voicing is just fine and don't mess with it unless you have to change out a board or something. That was good advice for a lot of people, since a lot of people who service and sell organs don't even claim to have an ear for voicing. But for anyone who knows and understands organ tone and has a concept of how the balances among stops should sound, adjusting these controls is not brain surgery.

                    A W-5 organ is not a great big Allen Renaissance or Quantum, not a Rodgers Masterpiece or Signature, so you really aren't messing with all the stop parameters anyway. You're just insuring that the overall bass to treble balance of each channel matches the acoustical setting of your room, then making sure that the stops in each group are correctly balanced in intensity with the stops in the other groups. If you follow the rules spelled out above, and don't make the mistake of trying to make your organ too loud, you won't mess up and you might come up with a sound that pleases you better than the factory voicing.

                    Also, there is always a chance that some tech or dealer, sometime in the past 20 or 25 years, has messed with it already or perhaps changed out a board and didn't even get the controls in the ball park. In that case, anything you do is probably going to be an improvement! Quite a few times I've gone out to service an organ only to discover that the organist has put up with some truly distressing and horrific imbalance for years, such as finding that one channel is almost completely turned off or that the two swell channels in a typical ADC or MDS are set at such different levels that you cannot even get a decent celeste sound, or the channel with the great mixture is turned up so high that they've never been able to use it. And on and on.

                    So don't be afraid to try if you want to see what you can do! Just be careful with the tiny pots. Be sure to have a screwdriver that fits them perfectly and don't push hard on them, just insert the blade and turn.
                    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

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      So after to have tuned the AP-2, I can say "What a great organ!" even though it was the Allen's low-end MDS line. No doubt the Protege sounds as great as some Renaissance of the same size! I 'played' to tune it in different ways to got some configuration, such as 'romantic', event 'baroque style' when the gain level and wind effect are switched on the right way. Too bad we can't save these configurations to recall them when you want to play a 'French style organ or a 'German baroque as well… For that, go to the newer series! Small organ yet but plenty of possibilities! Thanks to John for his good advice. As I'd already tuned pipe organs, I was pleased to work on the Allen to voice it: the best tools to do it are our ears. Of course, that exercise takes some time to do it properly but you don't tune a pipe organ in a hour too! The AP-2 console isn't to large thus I was able to touch the keyboards while voicing, no additional help was required! As I can say, the art of tuning-or voicing- is all but a mere task for non-musician folk! You have to get a keen hearing, to have some knowledge in organ manufacturing, etc. That's why some installations are poor even ugly: some dealer throw the organ out the van and put it in the church, plug the speakers and get out after a mere voicing (or not in some cases!)-- I reach the previous post about this fact: manufactory's setting are just for testing not for final use in the room where the organ is installed! On the other hand, the room is living different when it is empty or full of the congregation. BTW the organ don't sound exactly the same in these cases.
                      Modern digital organs allow a fine voicing-tuning.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                        Johnallen,

                        Take some sharp close-up pics of the voicing controls before you start, then if you think it's messed up you can return to the way it was before you worked on it.

                        But seriously, if you are careful and have a good ear you can make these adjustments. Allen always warned us as techs and sales folk back in the 80's and 90's "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" ... In other words, simply trust that the factory voicing is just fine and don't mess with it unless you have to change out a board or something. That was good advice for a lot of people, since a lot of people who service and sell organs don't even claim to have an ear for voicing. But for anyone who knows and understands organ tone and has a concept of how the balances among stops should sound, adjusting these controls is not brain surgery.

                        A W-5 organ is not a great big Allen Renaissance or Quantum, not a Rodgers Masterpiece or Signature, so you really aren't messing with all the stop parameters anyway. You're just insuring that the overall bass to treble balance of each channel matches the acoustical setting of your room, then making sure that the stops in each group are correctly balanced in intensity with the stops in the other groups. If you follow the rules spelled out above, and don't make the mistake of trying to make your organ too loud, you won't mess up and you might come up with a sound that pleases you better than the factory voicing.

                        Also, there is always a chance that some tech or dealer, sometime in the past 20 or 25 years, has messed with it already or perhaps changed out a board and didn't even get the controls in the ball park. In that case, anything you do is probably going to be an improvement! Quite a few times I've gone out to service an organ only to discover that the organist has put up with some truly distressing and horrific imbalance for years, such as finding that one channel is almost completely turned off or that the two swell channels in a typical ADC or MDS are set at such different levels that you cannot even get a decent celeste sound, or the channel with the great mixture is turned up so high that they've never been able to use it. And on and on.

                        So don't be afraid to try if you want to see what you can do! Just be careful with the tiny pots. Be sure to have a screwdriver that fits them perfectly and don't push hard on them, just insert the blade and turn.
                        Ok sound very helpful and not very hard. Do the AP3 differ alot from AP2 as i have AP3? Also where is the chamber located? I asume i have to tune the amps like explained in your first post.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The AP-3 has the basic voices in the same slots. However there were several different versions of the AP-3 sold over a long period of time, so you might find some differences in the other stops. The AP-2 chart will get you started, but the AP-3 has other voices not shown.

                          The amps are in the console. As you are looking into the back of the organ, standing behind it, the amp chassis will be on your left in the bottom. If it is an earlier style amp, it will have two black knobs with numbers 0 through 10 inscribed on it. If it's a later amp, it may not have any obvious volume knobs, but will instead have two small mini-pots at the upper left corner marked "Ch1" and "Ch2". Use your mini-screwdriver to adjust the volume there. Since you don't have a number "8" to set it to in that amp, turn both knobs fully clockwise, then back up to about the three-o-clock position. Not critical, just have them both set the same for easiest voicing.
                          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

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks John. THis forum is very helpful to learn. Can you perhaps tell me where to locate the chambers for voicing? Is there perhaps a voicing sheet available for the AP3. I'll have to find out which AP3 i have.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              When you remove the back of the organ, the voicing controls will be right there in the middle. The W-5 generator assembly is mounted on a swing-out panel, but you don't even swing it out. the four sets of controls will be visible on a metal plate, clearly marked.
                              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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