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  • speaker cabinets

    Hi,

    I've a couple of questions (more out of curiousity) regarding speaker cabinets for digital organs.

    1. Have any of you successfully designed and built from scratch your own speaker cabinets? I am thinking of building my own cabinets, starting with design software, choosing drivers, crossovers, etc. I also have my own woodworking shop. The design I have in mind is a 15" or 18" bass driver in its own enclosure to handle the 30hz - 64 hz range, and a two or three way cabinet for the 64 hz on up to 20khz range, with appropriate crossovers.

    2. What speakers have any of you successfully used, that were not manufactured by any organ companies such as Allen, Baldwin, Rodgers, Walker, etc?

    Thanks,

    Jan

  • #2
    Read the thread on Organ Subwoofer Design started by Bach-on, who is in the midst of a pipe organ augmentation. He built his own subwoofers and has plenty of good insights into the pitfalls and benefits of custom speakerbuilding.

    You mention 30 Hz, which is barely adequate to cover the bottom end of 16' stops. If you want to reproduce 32' stops properly, you need a response that extends below 16 Hz. This lowest octave is by far the most difficult to handle because no magic design or formula exists to make the speakers simple, small, or cheap. As I like to say, in subwoofers "there is no substitute for watts, cubic feet, and dollars."

    For the higher frequencies, homemade speakers are much more feasible. Commercial speakers from third parties often prove to be adequate as well, but one really needs to make objective frequency response tests to identify the good ones. What sets organ speakers apart from ordinary high-fi speakers is that the former can stand up to continuous use under full-power conditions, a requirement because organ music often includes sustained notes and chords.

    Lately, the biggest problem in using third-party speakers is that few are being made in the traditional form factor anymore. Rather than looking like overgrown bookshelf cabinets, they are mostly towers nowadays, which makes placing them in some organ installations very problematic. Going with a product from one of the organbuilders is almost a necessity to get good performance in a shorter, wider cabinet that can be hung tight to a wall or tucked into a short speaker chamber.

    If the tower style is not a problem, you might look at products by Polk and JBL. Some of them for the high-end home theater market are perfectly adequate for smaller organ installations, but you are not going to save gobs of money buying them versus going with an Allen, Walker, or Viscount product. Quality costs, but quality also pays in good sound and longevity.

    Comment


    • #3
      As Don points out, building speakers adequate for the lowest octave of the 32' pedal stops is a major project and often met with trouble if not downright failure. But if you only need to produce reasonable sound levels in a home setting or small church, and if you aren't aiming for response down to 16 Hz and below, you can probably proceed as you plan.

      Using good design software and standard construction methods, and with good-quality drivers available from sources like MCM and Parts-Express, you can build decent wide-range speakers with tolerably flat response, and these will probably perform about as well as cabinets you'd buy from Allen or Rodgers. (Possibly better than the very basic speaker designs used by some organ companies, whom I won't name, which may have little more in the box than a middling full-range driver, with or without a tweeter, sometimes with nothing more than a simple blocking capacitor as a crossover, if there is a tweeter.)

      And in truth, the drivers in most organ speakers, whether in premium-brand external cabinets or in the console-mounted speakers, are not exotic. Organ amps generally don't deliver more than 100 watts per channel, so you don't need to buy the kilo-watt woofer. But the "sustained output" nature of organ sound does call for better speakers than you would need just for a casual home stereo setup which might have to play "loud" but nevertheless doesn't stress speakers the way the long-sustained chords and pedal tones of organ do.

      As to your other question, I have used medium-range commercial sound speakers in organ installations (when the original speakers were not re-usable). Commercial sound speaker systems aren't usually designed to handle organ pedal tones, though, and the subs supplied by Rodgers, Allen, etc., are usually well worth hanging onto. But a GOOD live-performance type speaker (from the likes of Peavey or Yamaha or JBL or Community) can be perfectly acceptable for the rest of the organ sound range, provided the drivers are decent. All brands make good systems as well as poorer systems, and you get what you pay for.

      One thing to carefully consider when building organ speakers for a home or other small environment is directionality. The "beaming" effect of speakers is a negative even in a large church installation, but there it can often be overcome by forcing the sound to bounce off walls, ceilings, the interior of a chamber, etc., before reaching people's ears. But in a living room or music room you may not have a 30 foot ceiling or huge plaster walls upon which to throw the sound. So you need to think about designing the speakers in such a way that the sound doesn't come right at you.

      In building hi-fi speakers, we often disregard directionality, and indeed speakers that throw an ordinary hemispherical pattern straight out in front of the box are more or less the norm. But hearing an organ through speakers like that is not often pleasant, especially an organ that was designed to be installed in a church.

      Also, a typical Allen organ will have, let's say, just two audio channels, with the two channels delivering completely different sets of stops. This is not "stereo" but "dual-mono" sound. The organ may well sound better if both channels are delivered into the room from more than one location so that the sound of both channels is heard very evenly throughout the space. Not that you want to mix the channels together -- and in fact that could make for some real problems and destroy some of the organ's integrity. But you don't want the channels projected separately either, as that will hurt the "blend" that you should be hearing when you draw multiple stops.

      Anyway, have fun. And everyone will enjoy hearing how your project goes and seeing pictures!

      BTW, my current organ speakers in my small music room came from a Makin organ and I'm using them with an Allen. They aren't fancy at all, in fact the crossover networks are pretty rudimentary. But they sound OK. There is a woofer box with two chambers in it, each one holding a 10" woofer, fed through a 3.5 mH choke coil. There are a pair of separate mid/tweeter panels, each one having a 6" midrange and a 1" dome tweeter, with simple capacitor crossovers.

      I have the midrange and tweeters facing up at the 9' ceiling in the room, and the pair of woofers facing into a corner behind my desk. I'm not completely satisfied with the current setup, but I do get a fairly good room-filling effect without being aware of any beaming from the drivers.
      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


      • #4
        Originally posted by don60 View Post
        Commercial speakers from third parties often prove to be adequate as well, but one really needs to make objective frequency response tests to identify the good ones. What sets organ speakers apart from ordinary high-fi speakers is that the former can stand up to continuous use under full-power conditions, a requirement because organ music often includes sustained notes and chords.
        Lately, the biggest problem in using third-party speakers is that few are being made in the traditional form factor anymore. Rather than looking like overgrown bookshelf cabinets, they are mostly towers nowadays, which makes placing them in some organ installations very problematic.
        I've got some commercial speakers, 54-14000 hz, Peavey SP2-XT. They are 30" tall and have two drivers. they will take 300 W RMS single tone all day, with heat sinks internally. At 101 db 1W 1m sensitivity, 300 W would drive you out of your house pretty fast. Most Allens and Rodgers only produce 100 W/channel. I listen to organ LP's on the SP2-XT frequently. Current production SP2-G are even better, but not $250 on the used market. I test speakers with a piano CD, since I know what Steinway grand piano sounds like and most speakers are **** at reproducing that. The SP2 speakers at Farout Music are the best I've ever heard in this flyover state.
        Unless you're playing piano or glock midi stops, your organ likely doesn't produce frequencies above 7000 hz. I can't hear above 14000 hz so I don't worry about reproducing above that.
        Subwoofers, read bach-on's thread, he has developed a nice ported box using inexpensive 18" drivers. He's also done some testing. I've heard 32' stop at St. Boniface Louisville which uses a Petersen electronic speaker, and I've decided to do without 32' in my home.
        Allen speakers were specifically designed to de-emphasize the high frequencies since their earlier MOS1 models were a bit annoying in that range. If you're not amplifying an Allen MOS1 I'd stay away from those. Also, the seventies and early eighties Allen midrange drivers rot out the foam and scrape the coil insyulation bare. Plplplplpl! I've got hammond (roher?) 15" drivers from the sixties and peavey 12" drivers from late seventies that don't have that problem.
        city Hammond H-182 organ (2 ea),A100,10-82 TC, Wurlitzer 4500, Schober Recital Organ, Steinway 40" console , Sohmer 39" pianos, Ensoniq EPS, ; country Hammond H112

        Comment


        • #5
          I plan on combinibg a set of Meniscus MTM using (2) 6 1/2 in woofers and a 1" done tweeter with (2) 18" bass drivers. The bas drivers are Stereo Integrity units that were recently on sale fir somethibg like $139 bucks. I will probably go bi-amped with the satellites handling 80Hz on uo and the subs filling out the very bittim. I rhink for a gome it wull be MORE than enough. The link to the sats is:
          http://meniscusaudio.com/mandolin-ba...ch-p-1400.html

          The sats are $200 a piece (you build the box) and the boxes can be built with mdf and covered with fabric to keep the costs down. The subs are DVC at 2 ohms each, so wired in series thats 4 ohms which will then match the sats, http://meniscusaudio.com/mandolin-ba...1400.htmlwhich are also 4 ohms.

          They have cheaper ones and often surplus organ speakers can be had for little money. Still, most organ speakers are not particularly high fidelity, so it's not going to be difficult to put something together that sounds as good or better than what came with it. Also, the biggest advantage is that you likely only need stereo, and in a home you don't need near the power.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi,

            Thanks to all for your input. Here's a bit more background info on the project:
            My church (seating 2000 people, dead room), has a modest pipe organ of approximately 45 ranks consisting of Great, Swell, Choir, and Pedal divisions and a 4 manual/pedal console. A customized Ahlborn module with Cavaille-Coll specification is wired into the Solo division. The stops on the Ahlborn module are controlled by the Solo division's stop tabs as well. A couple of the module's pedal stops are wired in as well.
            The audio system currently consists of a 2 channel amplifier (200 watts/channel) and a pair of Technics SB-LV80 stereo speakers from the late 1990's. My plan is to expand the audio output of the Ahlborn module into 6 channels using the schematics I obtained from another technician.

            As just about anyone can imagine, the Ahlborn module voices are terribly underpowered compared to the rest of the organ.

            The Ahlborn module isn't used for any 32' stops, so that eliminates the need for subwoofers with extended range down to 16hz, along with the size of the cabinet. Access to the organ is through an approximately 18" x 24" trap door. Passage ways are at best, 16 inches wide.

            So all of these factors need to be considered into my designs.

            My plan is to build a pair of these cabinets and if they work well, build a second pair.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by janvds View Post
              Hi,

              I've a couple of questions (more out of curiousity) regarding speaker cabinets for digital organs.

              1. Have any of you successfully designed and built from scratch your own speaker cabinets? I am thinking of building my own cabinets, starting with design software, choosing drivers, crossovers, etc. I also have my own woodworking shop. The design I have in mind is a 15" or 18" bass driver in its own enclosure to handle the 30hz - 64 hz range, and a two or three way cabinet for the 64 hz on up to 20khz range, with appropriate crossovers.

              2. What speakers have any of you successfully used, that were not manufactured by any organ companies such as Allen, Baldwin, Rodgers, Walker, etc?

              Thanks,

              Jan
              Having spent a good portion of my childhood building speakers in our garage with my father, I think the main deciding factor for you is whether you have the fabrication skills and techniques already. Many people build speakers because they think it will be either cheaper or better than commercially available designs, and it often is neither UNLESS you are a good woodworker AND a good engineer. It sounds like you probably have the woodworking part down. It's up to you whether you have the other. Successful speakers are more than about frequency response, they're about the integrity and structural/dimensional suitability of the box, they're about the successful design of any crossover, the impedance response characteristics and interaction of a chosen set of drivers especially throughout the crossover ranges, and perhaps most importantly, about the time domain (phase) response of the individual drivers, the drivers as a set, the physical placement of the drivers, and the characteristics (once again) of how phase response changes with frequency, with impedance, and in interaction with the crossover or any other electronics.

              So the basic techniques are not that hard, especially if you have cabinet-making experience already. The sum of them all and getting them to synchronize properly and work together is much more challenging! If you're already a woodworker, it can be a fun project though, and there are a good number of available plans and user groups online that can help.

              As far as commercial speakers, really, the best choices will have a low "Q" or directionality factor, which means no CD horns, but strong high-frequency drivers to make up the difference of the lack of directionality. They'll also have a wide frequency response. Ideally, you want a box that can reproduce a manual 16' flue stop on its own, and can carry the pedal when paired with a subwoofer. This means frequency response into the thirties when it comes to hertz. True flat +/- 3dB response to 32 hertz is not necessarily critical if there's a subwoofer present, and even if there's not, it's enough to make lighter 16' stops work. But you definitely want solid, real response below 40 Hz in your main channels handling 16' flues, and subwoofer response into the twenties especially if there's 32' stops present.

              A lot of folks argue about having true flat 16 hertz response for organ subwoofers, but the reality is that kind of true response goes out the window anyway once you place the subwoofer in a room, in an organ chamber, or up against any sort of boundary. The principle that's really most important is the ability of the subwoofer to produce true response and significant acoustic power at very low frequencies for a long time. Organ tones are BRUTAL to many subwoofers because of their steady-state nature, even if their relative power is not that high.

              Unfortunately, this rules out just about all of your music-store PA speakers unless you have a really good subwoofer present! The best commercial choices that are not made by organ companies are higher-end home theater speakers (which must have both adequate frequency response AND power handling). This is actually what Marshall & Ogletree, arguably one of the finest electronic organ makers around right now does. The other option that is not talked about much here is commercial cinema speakers, which usually have both characteristics. But they're definitely expensive!

              Comment


              • #8
                On the Ahlborn module: we used to install those, and their very limited channel layout meant that when paired with even a modest pipe organ in a smaller room, they'd get run over very quickly by the pipes. Of course you can make them louder, but that's not really the issue. The issue is how much "air" you're able to move with the electronics even at moderate volumes, and paired with a pipe organ in a very large and dead room, you definitely have your work cut out for you. That's the secret of pipe organs- not sheer volume, but their ability to move lots of air.

                I would suggest you get as large of speakers as you can (15" woofers!), break the channels out as best as you can, power them well, and double up the speakers. This is not ideal from a purist standpoint of having single audio point sources, but it definitely moves a lot more air. This is an old trick that Allen used to do a lot, and while it was questionable from a pure acoustical physics point of view, it definitely made the thing sound bigger. That's the real goal, and that's what will match the module up to the pipe organ as best as possible.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Check Rhythmik Audio, http://www.rythmikaudio.com, for subs available as kits which will both sound good at 16 Hz and will allow you to build either a ported or preferably a sealed enclosure. They have the woodworking details on the site -- I found the depth allowance for the plate amp to be less than what was required probably due to amp changes or options which didn't find their way back to the drawings. The subs use a servo feedback technique and you aren't going to get the same results with less expensive amps and drivers. Still, I'd check out their design even if using more affordable drivers and amps.

                  EDIT: I built the DS1500 kit in a sealed enclosure with the H600XLR3 servo amp option. Painted exterior matte black with a laminate top.
                  Last edited by John Kinkennon; 01-13-2016, 01:50 PM. Reason: additional info
                  http://www.nwmidi.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi everyone,

                    Thanks for your comments.

                    I was able to find my manuals and serial numbers for Bass Box Pro and X over Pro, but alas, I can't seem to locate my software CD. I've emailed the publisher of the software to see if a replacement CD or download is available for a nominal fee, but no response just yet. So I guess my design work will have to wait.

                    Jan

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think michaelhoddy's advise is good: you really don't save much (if any) money by building your own speakers--often, you spend more--but you do have the ability to build better speakers (and sometimes much better speakers) for the same amount of funds.

                      Toodles.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by toodles View Post
                        I think michaelhoddy's advise is good: you really don't save much (if any) money by building your own speakers--often, you spend more--but you do have the ability to build better speakers (and sometimes much better speakers) for the same amount of funds.

                        Toodles.

                        That's not been my experience. Lets say you buy a pair of speakers for $1000. The store likely paid around $500 from the manufacturer. The manufacturer likely had to make them for $250 to get a profit. Of that $250, that includes labor and parts. Of the parts, that also includes the box. hardware and drivers. So in a $1000 pair of speakers you are getting about $80-100 bucks in drivers! Most organ speakers are heard and not seen which will allow you to build them out of MDF, and maybe cover them in fabric; plus, you can watch and get deals on drivers all the time. I bought some very good 18 inch Stereo Integrity woofer for $139 delivered! I will likely use 3 sheets of MDF for the boxes, paint them black, cover with fabric, and put some minimal wood trim top and bottom for cosmetics. I'll be into a pair of stereo subs for around $500 bucks! For dual 18s like that commercially you'd be into then more $1500-2000. A very good MTM satellite will run you about 200 bucks in parts plus box per channel.

                        Building ain't for everybody, but if you enjoy doing it, and you got the time, it's one place you can save some significant money!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Allen Church Speakers and Amps

                          Speaking of speakers, I have 15 Allen Organ Speakers available. 1-HC10, 6-HC12s, 1-HC16, 1-HC18, 4-HC20s, 2-EN-CHAMDS. Most have brand new speakers. Plus, I also have 13-S-100 amplifiers mounted in wooden rack. I am looking for someone to make a reasonable offer for the group. They are all available for inspection and pick-up only in North Carolina. Click image for larger version

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                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by janvds View Post
                            Hi,

                            I've a couple of questions (more out of curiousity) regarding speaker cabinets for digital organs.

                            1. Have any of you successfully designed and built from scratch your own speaker cabinets? I am thinking of building my own cabinets, starting with design software, choosing drivers, crossovers, etc. I also have my own woodworking shop. The design I have in mind is a 15" or 18" bass driver in its own enclosure to handle the 30hz - 64 hz range, and a two or three way cabinet for the 64 hz on up to 20khz range, with appropriate crossovers.

                            2. What speakers have any of you successfully used, that were not manufactured by any organ companies such as Allen, Baldwin, Rodgers, Walker, etc?

                            Thanks,

                            Jan
                            I do believe that speaker cabinet design should best be left to very highly trained professionals. I have seen far too many "home built" speaker arrangements that were just a mess.
                            As far as part TWO goes... I have had some very good results using JBL PRO series speakers. Of course even more important that which speakers are used...placement is really critical. Also don't forget that a really good set of amplifiers are also necessary. Some of the worst electronic organ installations featured cheap speakers and amps (some built by the organ manufacturer) and terrible speaker placement. -Organcny

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by cfisher View Post
                              Speaking of speakers, I have 15 Allen Organ Speakers available. [snip] I am looking for someone to make a reasonable offer for the group. They are all available for inspection and pick-up only in North Carolina.
                              Good advertisement for your first post. You know there is a Classifieds Section of the Forum? http://www.organforum.com/forums/ozz...lassifieds.php I would recommend you post your advertisement there.

                              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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