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  • 5 Manual Allen organ?

    Did Allen ever make any 5 manual organs that carried the Tone Card slots?

    And while I'm at it, did they also ever include the Tone Card mechanism as well as MIDI in the same unit?

  • #2
    Originally posted by campbellmc View Post
    Did Allen ever make any 5 manual organs that carried the Tone Card slots?

    And while I'm at it, did they also ever include the Tone Card mechanism as well as MIDI in the same unit?
    Hi,

    Yes, Allen installed in 1989 a 5 manual ADC organ, V/150, in Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Manietta, GA. This organ carries the tone card slots. I am not sure if this organ have MIDI or not.

    Gerrit

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    • #3
      As to card reader and MIDi co-existing on the same organ, Allen's earliest crop of MDS models, introduced about 1990, had both MIDI and a card reader. The MDS-45 at my church, built about 1992, has both. The smaller MDS models that used the W-4 cage had a card-reader piggy-back board inside the cage similar to the tone generator in the MADC models like the 3100. And of course all MDS models have MIDI, that being one of the main differences between ADC and MDS. (Some of the last ADC models to roll out also had both MIDI and the card reader, but MIDI was not fully implemented and not integrated into the pistons either on those organs, so it was of limited function.)

      It's telling that not too far into the MDS era Allen discontinued the card reader. I don't know what year they built the last one with a card reader, but by the time the W-5 models came out, the card reader was gone, never to appear again.

      I'd venture to guess that users figured out pretty quickly that MIDI was far more useful than the card reader. While the card reader had been a godsend in the early days of digital, a way to give you access to a lot more stops than could be contained on a stop rail, there were drawbacks. If you only wanted to use the card reader for one or two specific voices all the time, and leave those voices permanently loaded (by means of the battery backup on the larger ADC models), it was fine. That same pair of voices would always be there for you, just like other stops.

      But MIDI offered vastly more opportunities. To begin with, you could assign a unique MIDI patch to each of your pistons and have that sound load up automatically each time that piston was pressed. And a different MIDI patch for each division, all playable at the same time. Granted, early versions allowed only 10 pistons to be programmed, but that was still a big improvement over "none" -- the number of card voices that could be saved to a piston.

      Yes, you could save the Alterable Voice drawknob or tab to the capture memory, and yes, if you had one of the large ADC models the installed voice would stay in memory, but you could not have a different piston bring up a different pair of Alterable voices, or have different Alterables on different divisions of the organ. (Although the MOS organs did in fact have separate Alterables for each division, but that's another story, and they had their own set of limitations.)

      The card reader on the MDS-45 at my church had stopped working when we got the organ due to the battery pack having leaked years earlier and damaging the Alterable Voice memory board. It would cost a lot of money to make it work again because not only would we have to buy a new board from Allen, but the socket in the cage that held the board was also damaged, which would require a major repair to fix. But I really don't miss the card reader. True, it was always nice to be able to quickly insert a Festival Trumpet card, and have that stop play only on one division and not couple unless I wanted it to. But I can do that with MIDI as long as I plan ahead, and I don't have to fumble for the card.

      I guess I went way overboard answering your question, but that's what I usually do!
      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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      • #4
        The ubiquitous MDS-Expander more or less replaced the function of the Card Reader by the time W5 came around, sounded noticeably better even within its own limitations, and had the significant improvement of being able to access any of its voices instantly and (when properly installed) to follow the capture pistons.

        MIDI capability and Card Readers co-existed on many ADC organs (MIDI was an option), and I believe on many if not most of the larger W4 MDS organs.

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        • #5
          In my long-winded tome above, I failed to mention another important advantage of MIDI over the card reader -- expression. All MIDI patches express right along with the other stops on the division to which coupled, making MIDI sounds act more like real "stops" on your organ.

          With the MOS organs, of course, the Alterable Voices were integrated into each division separately, and of course they expressed with the division to which installed. But with the ADC models, and the improved card reader system, Allen dropped the idea of having separate Alterables in each division in favor of having just one pair of Alterables for the entire organ. These were usually resident in the Swell division (or in the Solo division of larger organs), and expressed with the Swell (or Solo) regardless of which division they might be played from.

          You can see the case that was being built for the end of the card reader, as MIDI became widely understood and accepted as part of the organ world.
          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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          • #6
            My previous parish had the AE-50 connected to an ADC-3100. Fun little box. Even with its limitations (44 voices, limited polyphony in "Ensemble" mode) I could create some nice balanced sounds. As I recall, I created a decent 32' "Resultant" by transposing the box with a 16' of some sort (forget what it was) and mixing with a 16' Pedal stop. Not a big rumble, but it was a nice little touch.

            I remember trying to teach the 'new guy' how to use it when I left. He isn't an organist by a long shot, so I ended up just setting up a few basic registrations on the organ and a couple cards (wrote all of it down for him) for bass, until he learned to play the pedals. Wish it would have had a "Bass Coupler" but I think that didn't arrive until the late 80s.
            Allen MOS 1105 (1982)
            Allen ADC 5000 (1985) w/ MDS Expander II (drawer unit)
            Henry Reinich Pipe 2m/29ranks (1908)

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            • #7
              No worries. Do you know of the specific models I should look for? (I still want a 5 manual one)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                In my long-winded tome above, I failed to mention another important advantage of MIDI over the card reader -- expression. All MIDI patches express right along with the other stops on the division to which coupled, making MIDI sounds act more like real "stops" on your organ.

                With the MOS organs, of course, the Alterable Voices were integrated into each division separately, and of course they expressed with the division to which installed. But with the ADC models, and the improved card reader system, Allen dropped the idea of having separate Alterables in each division in favor of having just one pair of Alterables for the entire organ. These were usually resident in the Swell division (or in the Solo division of larger organs), and expressed with the Swell (or Solo) regardless of which division they might be played from.

                You can see the case that was being built for the end of the card reader, as MIDI became widely understood and accepted as part of the organ world.
                So I take it that MOS-series organs don't have cards and MIDI in the same unit?

                Comment


                • #9
                  To clarify, the original card reader was a prominent feature of MOS organs. In fact, the card reader was one of the big selling points when Allen introduced the digital organ in 1971. All but the smallest entry-level MOS models had a card reader, and by the MOS-2 era, the card reader was standard on all models at no extra cost. That original MOS card reader worked with a "blank" chip on the MOS board, allowing it to be programmed on the fly to add several additional stops via the cards. These newly-installed stops acted just like resident stops, following the couplers, expressing with each division, etc., but disappeared when the organ was turned off. As I said above, the ADC Card Reader is a somewhat different animal, more like a "floating division" that allowed only two card voices at a time to be programmed, and they coupled simultaneously to any division, not separately. And they always expressed with the swell or in some cases the solo. Battery backup on the larger ADC models so your programmed voices wouldn't disappear at power-off.

                  MIDI, on the other hand, was never even offered by Allen on MOS or MOS-2, as Allen hadn't even thought of MIDI back then. Nowadays, there are two or three companies that sell MIDI adapters that easily add MIDI to MOS or MOS-2 organs, but Allen has never offered such a device. There are some really great MIDI adapters for MOS/MOS2 organs that work really well and give these old organs pretty good MIDI functionality. Makes an older Allen organ a good candidate for a MIDI project.

                  The story is different with ADC Allen organs (1982-1989, approx). ADC models at first did not offer MIDI, but about the middle of the era, Allen came out with a MIDI translator board that could be added to any ADC model, giving it at least a rudimentary MIDI functionality. You can still get that translator from Allen, though it's a dealer-only item and somewhat pricey. But it's a quick way to make any ADC model connect to a MIDI module. Sometime near the end of the ADC era (someone correct me if I'm wrong), I believe MIDI became standard equipment, which is to say the translator board was included at no extra charge.

                  But it was with the introduction of the MDS system about 1989 or 1990 that Allen fully embraced MIDI. With an entirely re-designed console control system based on the "MN" board, MIDI was now fully integrated into the organ, with MIDI couplers in each division, the ability to send program changes via the pistons, and with MIDI stops now expressing automatically with the division to which coupled.

                  The MN board was a quantum leap for Allen, a sort of catch-up to what Rodgers had been doing with console control since the early 80's -- using a single CPU system to integrate the functions previously farmed out to three boards, the Console Multiplexer, the Capture Memory Board, and the MIDI Translator. With all these functions now integrated, it became possible for MIDI to work as we all wanted it to work. The MN concept was so good, it has remained to this day as the console control system in the current models.
                  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


                  • #10
                    MIDI didn't even exist as a standard until 1983, at the beginning of the ADC era, so there's no way anyone would have offered anything at the time of the MOS 1 or MOS 2 Allens in any case. All the current MOS MIDI kits by third-parties came on the scene much later.

                    I think the Allen ADC MIDI kit showed up around the same time as the second subgeneration of ADC organs in about 1986 or 1987, although it certainly backfit to the first. I remember my then church shopping an ADC-5000 in about 1985, and it wasn't yet obviously available.

                    It was still a novelty as late as 1990: when we were hawking Galanti organs in the late 80's, one of the selling features was standard, no-cost MIDI, although it was definitely available by that time as at least an option for most everyone else.

                    The perceived benefits of MIDI for an organ at the beginning weren't so much sound expansion, as the stylistically appropriate options were very limited. Very few affordable synthesizers or sound modules did the now-ubiquitous orchestral and choir sounds very well until at least 1988. It was much more about MIDI sequencing and scoring. We sold a few standalone hardware sequencers, and would always tell people how they could hook up to a computer and generate notated scores (no one ever did).

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                      The story is different with ADC Allen organs (1982-1989, approx). ADC models at first did not offer MIDI, but about the middle of the era, Allen came out with a MIDI translator board that could be added to any ADC model, giving it at least a rudimentary MIDI functionality. You can still get that translator from Allen, though it's a dealer-only item and somewhat pricey. But it's a quick way to make any ADC model connect to a MIDI module. Sometime near the end of the ADC era (someone correct me if I'm wrong), I believe MIDI became standard equipment, which is to say the translator board was included at no extra charge.
                      I don't know about the church organ models, but MIDI was standard in the theatre organs by the end of the ADC era. I have owned two of those organs, and the MIDI was a welcome addition.
                      Mike

                      My home organ is a Theatre III with an MDS II MIDI Expander.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I remember in the 80's when I was selling Allen, everybody wanted MIDI, or at least they thought they did, but nobody seemed to know what to do with it!

                        Rodgers and other companies seemed to have beaten us to the punch though. Rodgers had managed to retrofit MIDI into the workings of their Serial-Keyed technology, and some of the imported organs had MIDI too. I recall being at an Allen dealer meeting sometime back then and listening to sales people from various dealerships talk about how they were getting beat up over MIDI because Rodgers was crowing about it and we didn't have it. I think Allen rather reluctantly came up with the translator board to satisfy the clamoring.

                        If sequencing was the goal, you sure couldn't do much of that with Allen's translator board. The outgoing data contained nothing but the bare note-on/note-off information, so a sequencer couldn't record any stop changes or expression. But by 1990, with the MDS organs, Allen knew they were onto something. I don't know at what point the Expanders from Allen hit the market, but once they did, and people realized they could have those "orchestral strings" and such, the concept began to take off.

                        I went back in the early 90's to an ADC6000 that I'd sold to a church in about 1985 and put on the MIDI translator board and a tab or knob for each division. They bought themselves a Roland Sound Canvas specifically to get the orchestral strings, which they apparently played just about all the time. (and still do, I think)

                        Today, I've about come full circle. I thought orchestral strings were fabulous at first, but now I've gotten jaded by the sound and almost never use it. I do however use the Expander for a nice Festival Trumpet. I also like being able to have Chimes and other percussions on the swell instead of on the great now and then. Other than that, it's not something I find all that useful.
                        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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                        • #13
                          Great responses so far... though I personally was wondering if there are any model numbers I should look for. I've been seeing a lot of remarks on ADC-series and some on the MOS-series... any particular model numbers you'd recommend?

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                          • #14
                            Also, there is an organ on eBay right now that is pretty much on par with what I'm describing right now save for the fact that it only has four keyboards instead of five. It's completely out of my price range, but do you think I have a chance of finding anything like this:

                            http://www.--------/itm/MIDI-Organ-C...item3f5357abb5 , or are these rare units?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If I recall, a four manual Allen that looked just like the ebay one, was offered complete with speakers and in working order, on Craigslist for $10,000 last year. Perhaps this is the same one, with someone hoping to make more by selling in pieces. If so it's a real shame.

                              The five manual Rodgers console from Second Baptist in Houston just sold on ebay for $11,500. That organ was new in '87 if I recall. Presumably the church replaced it with a new console. Yes, I'm a little off topic, it's been a long week :-)
                              I'm so poor, my cats get free health care!

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