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  • Allen Ensemble Unit

    Will a Allen Ensemble work well on my ADC 5300? I know my midi on my organ is note on note off with expressed volume on the audio of the Ensemble unit.

  • #2
    Are you asking about a stand alone box, or the one that is integrated into the console? There's one of the second type on EBay right now for a buy-it-now price of $500.

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    • #3
      Yes and no. The Ensemble is a great module with lovely sounds of all kinds, and it will let you set up and play a different MIDI sound from each division, just as you would expect. If your 5300 has MIDI on/off tabs for each division, you can of course pre-select a MIDI sound on the module and then that MIDI tab will become an "alterable" tab (in the manner of the card reader) that will turn the selected tone on and off just like any regular stop. This basic functionality makes the Ensemble a worthy addition to an ADC organ, and I know several folks who use one with an ADC organ and are delighted with it.

      What you can't do with your ADC organ is control the Ensemble with the pistons of the organ. On MDS and later Allens, each piston can be programmed to call up its own set of MIDI tones on a compatible Allen module, but that capability is not available on ADC or any other organ without the "MN" system that Allen developed for MDS models, which they continue to use with the current models. You can, of course, "set" the MIDI tab or knob into any of your combinations just like any other tab. You just can't use the pistons to change the Ensemble tones from the console.

      Also, the standard Allen ADC MIDI kit (if that's what is installed on your organ) doesn't transmit any expression data, so the only way to control the volume of the Ensemble is with the volume knob on the unit itself. Not a major problem if you are only using the Ensemble for a single purpose at a time, such as applying orchestral strings to one manual, or a Festival Trumpet to one division. It's a drawback only if you need the MIDI tone to track the volume of your regular stops and divisions.

      On the plus side, your CAN set up a series of "presets" on your Ensemble unit with your favorite sets of MIDI tones arranged into groupings that you wish to use regularly. Then you can use the up/down buttons on the unit to quickly select one of these presets without having to scroll through the whole list each time you want to get to a new sound.

      I love the Allen expanders of all kinds and think the sounds are all beautiful. The Ensemble is a particularly good choice with a wide variety of tones. If the price is right, you can't go wrong. And if you ever upgrade to an MDS or newer organ, the Ensemble with work even better.
      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
        Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
        Also, the standard Allen ADC MIDI kit (if that's what is installed on your organ) doesn't transmit any expression data, so the only way to control the volume of the Ensemble is with the volume knob on the unit itself. Not a major problem if you are only using the Ensemble for a single purpose at a time, such as applying orchestral strings to one manual, or a Festival Trumpet to one division. It's a drawback only if you need the MIDI tone to track the volume of your regular stops and divisions.

        I love the Allen expanders of all kinds and think the sounds are all beautiful. The Ensemble is a particularly good choice with a wide variety of tones. If the price is right, you can't go wrong. And if you ever upgrade to an MDS or newer organ, the Ensemble with work even better.
        If it is an Allen MIDI-kit, be sure to check the MIDI Channel settings (or play with it on the Ensemble). It is not the typical setup. My 5000 starts on Ch 2 - Swell, Ch 3 - Great, Ch 4 - Pedal. Why that is, I haven't the slightest clue. The 3100 at my previous parish was Ch. 1, 3, 4. And from my understanding, you cannot change that setup on the console.

        As for expression data, John is correct. However, you can (or should be able with the line-in on the console) set the volume knob on the Ensemble at a point of "balance" of the stops on the organ, so that everything does express together (within reason). You may have to adjust the Ensemble depending on the sound used though. I have an MDS Exp II on the 5000. I found a decent balance for standard playing, but I have to turn the knob down quite a bit to use the Orchestral Strings, or up for the Spanish Trumpet.
        Allen MOS 1105 (1982)
        Allen ADC 5000 (1985) w/ MDS Expander II (drawer unit)
        Henry Reinich Pipe 2m/29ranks (1908)

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        • #5
          Thanks for the replies/comments. I did put a offer in on the one on ebay.....Jbird, I'm ok with the limited MIDI action as long as I can at least program the divisional MIDI rocker switches with my pistons. I'm a novice when it comes to these classical organs.......and..most likely have a set up that I will never master in my lifetime. So just the ability that this unit could add some nice stops to my already current palette would serfice even though I would have to select voices manually.
          However, on my MIDI card Mixer, it does have the audio routed to a pot on the swell shoe. Also the audio of the midi device is "mixed" in with the swell channels. So what would have been the purpose of Allen installing this MIDI mixer card yet have divisional rocker tabs for the great and pedal as well?

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          • #6
            If I recall, that setup was specifically for expression control of the audio input. As was said, while there isn't expression DATA sent, the audio still has some "volume" control. The different MIDI channels are for data sent/received by each key. Meaning a key from the Great (say Channel 3) will send the data to the Ensemble, which then sends the audio of a selected sound (8' Gedackt, etc) to the swell audio channels and expression. I think all Allens are setup in that manner (at least the ADC and MDS organs I have played).

            John, did I forget something? Based off of a conversation I had about 10 or so years ago with an Allen guy.
            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
              Yes Organman you are correct that it is only the audio out of the Ensemble unit that would be expressed. I have included 2 pics of my midi audio mixer board and the swell shoe with the pot for the audio expression on that midi mixer card. The 2 gold plated RCA connectors on the mixer card are the wires coming going to/coming from the swell shoe pot
              Attached Files

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              • #8
                What I'm curious of, do you have MIDI rockers for each division? I have that on the 5000, but the 3100 I used to play had a basic MIDI rocker, and then under the Great to the right were three on/off switches for the separate channels/divisions. And they were not marked well. As I recall from left-right: Swell, Great, Pedal. But you either had to feel your way to it when playing, or quickly glance down to make sure you toggle the correct one!
                Allen MOS 1105 (1982)
                Allen ADC 5000 (1985) w/ MDS Expander II (drawer unit)
                Henry Reinich Pipe 2m/29ranks (1908)

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think I do but look at the pics I attached and see if the rockers state as such
                  Originally posted by organman95 View Post
                  What I'm curious of, do you have MIDI rockers for each division? I have that on the 5000, but the 3100 I used to play had a basic MIDI rocker, and then under the Great to the right were three on/off switches for the separate channels/divisions. And they were not marked well. As I recall from left-right: Swell, Great, Pedal. But you either had to feel your way to it when playing, or quickly glance down to make sure you toggle the correct one!
                  Attached Files

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Hamman View Post
                    I think I do but look at the pics I attached and see if the rockers state as such
                    Good question. As written, they could be interpreted as one MIDI channel/device being routed to any of 3 divisions, or three MIDI channels/devices being routed to a respective division. Where's John or Dave when you need them?;-)

                    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

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                    • #11
                      Judging from the pics, and from the way the Allen MIDI kit is normally installed, you DO have separate MIDI tabs for each division, even though they are up in the coupler rail. So, you can, as I remarked earlier, set up your Ensemble with separate patches for each division, then turn each one on independently with its own tab. You can set that tab into a general piston as well. You just can't change the voices via the pistons, as one can with MDS and later organs. You will have to set up your voices manually using the buttons on the Ensemble. This gives the Ensemble approximately the same functionality as the Card Reader, though perhaps a little handier.

                      As to expression, your organ evidently has been fitted so that any external device can be routed into the Swell audio channels and expressed by the swell pedal. That is certainly better than not being able to express the MIDI sounds at all. Just keep in mind that even if you are playing a MIDI sound on the great or pedal, it will be the swell expression pedal that adjusts the volume of it. Of course you must also set the volume with the knob on the Ensemble itself, so as to establish a "maximum" loudness for the MIDI voices.

                      As someone mentioned above, you need to be able to get to the volume knob because you will definitely want to turn it down for strings and up for a Festival Trumpet! I think it was only much later, perhaps only in the Vista module, that you can set volumes for the individual patches right in the unit instead of having to reach for the knob each time.
                      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


                      • #12
                        Thanks, John! This is good news although I would have been just happy with 1 division midi...now this opens up more opportunities! Most the time and especially with my card reader, I just have my favorite 2 voices and thats it....I usually don't constantly alternate......maybe as I learn the classical organ style more, I'll be more demanding...lol

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                          I think it was only much later, perhaps only in the Vista module, that you can set volumes for the individual patches right in the unit instead of having to reach for the knob each time.
                          I don't see why it wouldn't have those settings. As I recall, the AE-50 had settings in ENSEMBLE mode to set the volume of different layered voices. Would seem odd to have individual settings available on an older unit, but not the newer unit.
                          Allen MOS 1105 (1982)
                          Allen ADC 5000 (1985) w/ MDS Expander II (drawer unit)
                          Henry Reinich Pipe 2m/29ranks (1908)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You comment about mastering the instrument is similar to the one that always floats across my mind. I have chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Both contribute to a decline in my ability to learn. I have been a student for over two years now and finally things are starting to come together. It is amazing to feel it happen, well, at least on one of my good days.

                            One of my online favoirtes says the goal is not to master the instrument. The goal is to practice. Get out there every day, hopefully even more than once a day. Even when you are too tired, too sick, to whatever. Some nights I'm totally zonked and I find I actually play better then. So, make room in your life every day for practice and one day soon you will be surprising yourself.

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