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In search of the English Cathedral reverb, house organ gets reconfigured again!

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  • In search of the English Cathedral reverb, house organ gets reconfigured again!

    Being an inveterate and unrepentant tinkerer, I've changed my home organ setup again. Same Rodgers 580 organ, revised peripherals.

    The impetus was to get more realistic reverb than I was getting from the built-in reverb. I bought a Lexicon MX200 on the advice of several forum members, and I decided to give it a dedicated amp and speakers, as advocated by some of you, and I couldn't add any more speakers without doing some reconfiguring of the whole setup.

    To make room for more speakers, I had to give up the converted Conn pipes atop the console. Instead of the pipes, I now have four conventional speaker cabinets there. Two small but full-range KLH home theater speakers for the swell, and two old Radio Shack "mini speakers" from the 80's that I had put away a long time ago for the upper range of the great/pedal channels, crossed over at 500 Hz from the 12" woofers in the console kneeboard. These little Radio Shack units have sturdy 4" mid/bass drivers and quality dome tweeters. In their day they were considered quite elegant, but I hadn't listened to them in years. They do the job very well, and seem to be a good match for the woofers in efficiency.

    Moving the swell channels to the pair of KLH boxes freed up the "Makin" speaker set on the wall opposite the organ in my small nook. The nook is only about 9 feet deep, so the wall is not that far behind me as I sit on the bench. The set consists of a pair of woofers in a box in the floor, crossed over to a pair of satellite speakers that lie on their backs atop my desk hutch, facing up at the ceiling.

    The Lexicon reverb is fed from the organ's AUX OUT jacks, and sends its signal into a 50-watt stereo amp and the Makin speaker array. So now I have only "dry" sound at the console. And all the "wet" sound comes from behind and above me, but in the tiny nook with hard walls all around it seems to pretty much come from all around me. All in all, I think it is a good arrangement (until I decide to do it differently again!).

    My goal now is to find a way to create an "English cathedral" ambience. I've only been playing with it for a couple hours, trying out the different presets on the Lexicon. I want the sensation of being immersed in reverb as one experiences in a large stone church, and from what I hear so far, I believe that effect can be created by the Lexicon once I learn how to tweak all the parameters. It's also nice to be able to hear the dry sound from the main speakers without any reverb mixed in, though the difference is not huge. I'd probably be satisfied with the reverb mixed into the main speakers, but I haven't done enough tinkering yet to be able to make a judgement on that.

    Maybe I'll find this new arrangement satisfying for a while, though I have little doubt that I'll eventually find myself tearing into it again. Every time I do this, my wife asks me "How many more times are you going to have to re-combobulate that thing?"

    As many times as it takes, my dear!
    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

  • #2
    Buy a used Yamaha DSP-1 and use the Munster Cathedral setting with 6 seconds of reverb. You will consider it a "standard of comparison" for all other reverb systems. Buy on ebay or elsewhere, make sure you get the remote.

    Then, to tune it to an English sound, just adjust the treble cut-off (in the DSP-1) to how your ears think the treble sounds in an English Cathedral.

    If you RS small speakers are the Minimus-7, then you'll have some roughness in the response in the range of 2,000 to 5,000 Hz. The 4 inch woofer is used without roll off, and so there is some cone breakup in that range, and the tweeter's response isn't exactly perfect, but to be honest, for reverb is probably fine. You might try just adding a coil across the woofer to roll it off.

    Comment


    • #3
      #1 take-away from tinkering with your organ ... it may take some time to get it back to where it ought to be.

      I started this project a week ago, and after I'd attached the new speakers and pushed the console back to the wall, I discovered immediately that the great/pedal channels were now far too loud and the swell too soft. I lived with that for a few days, since it's such a pain to pull it out and take off the back.

      Today, when I had more time, I took off the back and set the levels to my liking (so I thought), then put it back together and hooked up the reverb. When I sat down to play, it's STILL too loud and shrill. I guess those Conn Pipes were doing a good job of smoothing out the sound or something. The volume was just perfect before I started messing with it.

      My wife already thinks I'm nuts. Now when I have to pull it out again, she'll KNOW I'm nuts!

      The only solution is to put some amps on an external rack that I can place within easy reach from the bench. Then I can make my adjustments when I'm actually playing as I normally do.

      So, next project = amp rack...
      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
        Interesting. Here in no particular order are some thoughts. I may quote from your o.p. Apologies in advance, for the fact that I am making this up as I go along... the main takeaway from your post is in my opinion this: "My goal now is to find a way to create an "English cathedral" ambience." this implies that you are not there yet. This then begs the question: well... what do you have right now? How does it (still) differ from where you want to be?

        IIRC the mixer that was recommended was the MX400, not the MX200. They differ. The MX200 is a bit cheaper and has essentially the same reverb parameters, but the MX400 has all that X2 and that is IMO important. I think you would be closer to your goal if you had a way of doubling the output of the MX200 through a 4 bus mixer OR using an MX400 with four outputs for a 'surround sound' soundfield. Or both! The user manual for both Lexicon units are downloadable PDF files on the Lexicon website and a mixer is shown in virtually every setup configuration for both. It really makes experimentation much easier.

        I have been in close communication with a salesman at Sweetwater Audio about the MX400. I asked him to get information from Lexicon about setting up a MX400 to simulate large Cathedral type acoustics but they have been quite vague about how their units reproduce specific reverberation parameters in seconds or milliseconds. This bothers me. But it is hard to imagine that they could not do it. One of those 'Large Hall' settings probably could do exactly what the 'Munster' cathedral setting on the DSP-1 can do. I couldn't (yet) get much information about output configuration on the DSP-1, but it was sold as a Home Theater reverb which implies a 'surround sound' four (or five?) channel output. Can't argue about the price. Use both!

        I think you are missing out by sending the Aux out to a separate amp and small speakers. If you sent everything out to reverb and folded the reverbed signal back into the console for amplification and used a ~50/50 mix of dry to wet signal you would get, I think, something much more akin to what happens to a real pipe organ inside a cathedral acoustic. I don't know the specifics of your organ, so can't advise HOW you do it, but you may need a mixer. Yes this means you would have no separate 'dry' output. I don't think that is a great loss! Not in a home. Since you already have the additional amplifier and speakers, I would use them. Leave them set up as they are and feed them from the output of the DSP-1 that you bought on Toodles' recommendation, or from the split output (via a mixer) from your MX-200. You will then have a reverbed front channel(s) and a reverbed rear channel(s). The front channel will be full range, and that is where most of the depth and realism will come from. But it won't hurt at all to have the rear fill coming in. You can use much less main (dry) signal in the rear, maybe none at all. Let it be mostly reverb signal. This is where a four channel reverb (or two separate ones) comes into its own. Good luck.

        Comment


        • #5
          Driving around today doing errands I got to thinking about the organ situation. I was actually pretty happy with the way I had it a month ago. I had the great/pedal channels playing through the internal console speakers and the converted Conn pipes. The swell stops went through a separate stereo amp into a good speaker setup on the opposite wall of the nook. The only reverb was the built-in digital reverb, and it was decent enough, just a bit too artificial-sounding, or so I thought. But I was mostly OK with it, just "wanting more" as we organists are wont to do!

          So it occurs to me that I could go back to something closer to what I had before I started this latest "upgrade" that isn't. But if I do, I will make some changes for the better. Here are some thoughts I'm mulling ...

          (1) I want to have more control over both the tone and volume of the great/pedal channels, since they are so vital. It's quite difficult to properly "voice" these channels using only the bass/treble/level pots on the audio board in the console, as the back must be removed to access them, which in itself changes the characteristics of the woofers. So I should quit trying to use the internal audio system, just set all the controls to the middle of their range, and do all my tonal adjustments on an external amp. I even have a nice multi-band EQ that I could place in the audio path ahead of the amp.

          (2) I do want to have separate speakers for the swell. It was said in an earlier thread that most people couldn't tell two channels from 20 channels in a home setting, but I do like the "idea" at least of having my swell division physically separate, even if in my tiny organ nook the speakers are so close together that I can't really tell where the sound is coming from.

          (3) Due to space constraints, and to keep it from looking any tackier, I don't want to set a pile of amps and such on top of the console. If there is to be something on top of the console it will be the pipes again or else some small speakers such as the Radio Shack Minimus-7's. The pipes probably do a better job (which I thought I'd never say) but they are quite visibly imposing in my small space. I'll have two amps, an EQ unit, and the Lexicon, and these units will occupy quite a bit of space. I think I need to buy or build a small rack that can set in the fairly narrow space I have between the console and the wall. I want to be able to reach over and tweak the controls while on the bench, so it can't be completely hidden away, at least not until I get everything adjusted perfectly.

          (4) The Lexicon, even with the steep learning curve and the daunting assortment of options and programs and controls, can certainly produce a better reverb than the 25-year-old reverb board in the organ. But the built-in reverb has the advantage of being totally integrated into the audio system, and its output is mixed into the four channels and into the headphone output. So perhaps I need to very gingerly "hack" the organ audio system so I can simply inject the Lexicon in place of the existing reverb. The schematic shows me that the pre-amp board sends a dry mono signal out to the reverb board, and that the reverb board sends back a wet stereo signal. The pre-amp board handles the mixing of the wet signal into the four output channels. All the audio flowing between the pre-amp and the reverb board is on a single ribbon cable, to which I can easily attach some ordinary patch cords that I can then run to the Lexicon.

          (5) I can still use the two 12" woofers in the kneeboard for the low frequencies of the great/pedal channels and direct the highs to the pipes and/or the Radio Shack minimus speakers with a simple passive crossover. The greatest deficiency is not getting as much real bass "oomph" as I'd like to have, as the 12" woofers in the somewhat cramped console enclosure can't really kick out 32 Hz at a chest-thumping level. Unless I can get the bass I want after I try the EQ unit, I may decide to add a separate subwoofer, which might have to sit under my desk or somewhere out of the way.

          So, if I get a little free time over the next week I may start working toward doing it up this way. For the next day or two I'll certainly be practicing on it just as it is and trying to compensate for the less than ideal situation. But of course that's what organists 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

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, I came in from dinner and basically reverted to my old setup. I didn't bring in the pipes yet, but I put the Swell audio back into the Makin speakers on the opposite wall from the organ, and I have the great/pedal channels sounding through the console's woofers and a pair of KLH speakers on top of the console. I removed the Lexicon for now, and went back to using the built-in reverb.

            I got my old balances back almost to where they were. I suspect that if I swapped the pipes back in for the KLH speakers, I would have it sounding exactly as it did before. I may do that tomorrow, or just leave well enough alone for a while.

            At this point, I'm thinking my greatest need is to add a subwoofer, since the lack of a solid bottom to the 16' pedal stops is more of a problem to me than anything else. Adding a sub would be a snap, since I already have a pair of cables running out the back that carry the great/pedal signals only. Maybe I'll sell something and feel like I can sink a couple hundred dollars into one of those Dayton subs from Parts Express.

            If you're reading this thread, you may be completely tired of hearing about my silly organ woes. I understand that! Just consider this a sort of personal blog, more for my own benefit than for anyone else's!
            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


            • #7
              Reading your "blog" is always instructional, in many ways. If nothing else it plants seeds of thought in the minds of those thinking of similar experiments. Keep going!
              Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Steinway AR Duo-Art 7' grand piano, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico grand piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI, Allen MADC-2110.

              Comment


              • #8
                John,
                As you may remember when I got my ADC 5300, I got creative with my reverb set up. I bought a "mixer" from Harrison labs, the one that has 8 or 10 channel (can't remember) input each with a dedicated output ( inputs from the cage outputs, dedicated unaltered outs of each mixer channel to their respective dry organ channel....6 or 7...can't remember that either) Also the mixer has a built in high/low pass filter for the 2 channel output....I believe mine is set for 250hz.....I use just the hi-pass 2 channels to feed my Alesis reverb unit and from there to a dedicated 200wpc 2 channel amp. The amp then feeds my array of Conn pipes that all have been upgraded with 4 way car audio 6x9 flush top speakers. Absolutely love it and it is the only way, in my opinion to set up a organ reverb.I'm impressed with the modified Conn pipes performance......when I set my reverb to "dry" mode and turn off the main speakers....they hold their own pretty good to the HC 15's

                Comment


                • #9
                  jbird, it's actually really simple :) Both the Large Hall and Arena settings can get about 6 seconds reverb (Arena can do more) with the Decay knob. Then you adjust the Variation knob to adjust the high frequency absorption. You can also use Pre Delay as appropriate.

                  Currently I use one processor (bypass the second one) and use routing option 2. It works best for my 4-channel setup, since the reverb will come out in stereo but everything is processed the same.
                  Viscount C400 3-manual
                  8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                  Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    jbird, I'm guessing you're back from your trip. Hope it was great!

                    Yesterday I remembered you got the MX200 and wondered if you had made any progress beyond what you've written above?
                    Viscount C400 3-manual
                    8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                    Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      John,

                      I'm also wondering, in relation to your recent trip, if your opinion has changed regarding this thread?

                      Somehow, I missed this thread the first time around--probably because I just read the thread titles when scanning unread threads, and wasn't interested at the time.:embarrassed:

                      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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        John,

                        Quick question. I am on the tail end of my vacation time, and wanted to set up my Conn Speaker Pipes with my ADC-5400 to record comparison sounds between stock and pipes.

                        I have:
                        • 2 tall sets of pipes, and 2 sets of small pipes I am intending to connect.
                        • I plan to connect:
                          • 1 large set (for the lower frequencies), and
                          • 1 small set (for the upper frequencies) to
                          • each channel of the Swell OR the Choir so I can make some direct comparisons
                        .

                        Will I be exceeding the ADC amplifier's ratings to have 2 sets (1 large and 1 small) on each channel? If I combine them with the stock HC-15 speakers (main + antiphonal), will I be exceeding the ADC amplifier's ratings to have all 3 speaking?

                        Thanks in advance. I forgot what Ohm(Ω) load 1 set of Conn Speaker Pipes carries, and whether that doubles or halves when combined with another. While I wait for your response, I'll search the Forum for the answer as well.

                        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

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          (1) Michael -- it's safe to connect two sets of pipes to each channel of the ADC amp, as these pipes present an ordinary 8 ohm load to the amp. Two of them paralleled on one amp presents a 4 ohm load, which is perfectly good for an ADC or S-100 amp.

                          Now, if you want to do direct comparisons, connect the two parallel sets of pipes to each of the Main outputs of your antiphonal relays, and connect one HC-15 to each Antiphonal output of the relay. The built-in resistor on the Univerel will keep the impedance from dropping too low if you should happen to get both pipes and HC-15 playing at the same time. But I suspect what you are wanting to do is to do an A/B comparison between the pipes and the HC. So that would be a perfect way to do it and no danger in doing it that way. Please report on the results. (Hint: you're probably going to notice right away that the pipes are not nearly as loud as the HC-15, but you may find the pipes add a very interesting sparkle and dispersion pattern to the sound.)

                          (2) rjsilva -- I laid the Lexicon aside and haven't touched it since I first got it and experimented a little. I was trying to get a lot of work done before my trip, and just couldn't spare any time to play with the unit. Maybe I will try it again now that I'm back, although I have another new "toy" coming in next week (the Johannus organ I mentioned on another thread). So, too many toys and too little time!

                          We did have a grand trip, though it was too long. If I ever take another ambitious vacation, I will only stay gone from home for two weeks. We got homesick after two weeks, and also got really tired from all the walking and climbing and sight-seeing. We were ready to sleep in our own bed and eat our own food! But it was a really fun trip, lots of interesting experiences and new places visited.

                          Here's a link to my photo album (sorry pics are VERY amateurish and were taken with my cell phone camera only.)

                          https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...1&l=d6762c2301

                          (3) I have indeed reconsidered my desire to replicate the reverb and sustain time of an English cathedral on my home organ. That's just TOO MUCH reverb for anybody! While I dearly loved the sounds I heard in all the cathedrals, I felt that they all had excessive sustain, too much to really enjoy the organ, and certainly too much to properly support congregational singing. So, I am going to be content with a little more mellow type of reverb ;-) But I do want to have plentiful reverb, just not so wild as in the cathedrals.

                          I may not decide which organ to keep at home for quite a while. In the near future I will be evaluating the Johannus that is coming in Tuesday, along with the present Rodgers Cheetah organ, and the big MOS system 603 (double computer) organ that recently came in and hasn't even been completely hooked up yet, and a tantalizing possibility that I might be able to get hold of an even newer Allen that would be much more similar to the organ at church than anything else I've owned or tried out.

                          So, once I decide what kind of organ I'm going to live with for the next few years, I will surely have time to experiment with different reverb setups.

                          That's about all I know about that right now ...
                          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
                            Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                            (1) Michael -- it's safe to connect two sets of pipes to each channel of the ADC amp, as these pipes present an ordinary 8 ohm load to the amp. Two of them paralleled on one amp presents a 4 ohm load, which is perfectly good for an ADC or S-100 amp.

                            Now, if you want to do direct comparisons, connect the two parallel sets of pipes to each of the Main outputs of your antiphonal relays, and connect one HC-15 to each Antiphonal output of the relay. The built-in resistor on the Univerel will keep the impedance from dropping too low if you should happen to get both pipes and HC-15 playing at the same time. But I suspect what you are wanting to do is to do an A/B comparison between the pipes and the HC. So that would be a perfect way to do it and no danger in doing it that way. Please report on the results. (Hint: you're probably going to notice right away that the pipes are not nearly as loud as the HC-15, but you may find the pipes add a very interesting sparkle and dispersion pattern to the sound.)
                            John,

                            Thank you so much for that information. I was unaware Allen's Univrel antiphonal relay had built-in impedance protection. That's a nice feature to be aware of!

                            Regarding the pipes, I'm going to record them using the same channel as the speakers. Because the Antiphonal Relay has some limited volume attenuation (via the sliding thingie on the relay), I'd rather have an apples-to-apples comparison between the two. I may have to experiment with the placement of the pipes vs. speakers, but I'll certainly start with them placed in the same spot, as well as the recorder placed in the same spot as well.
                            Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                            (3) I have indeed reconsidered my desire to replicate the reverb and sustain time of an English cathedral on my home organ. That's just TOO MUCH reverb for anybody! While I dearly loved the sounds I heard in all the cathedrals, I felt that they all had excessive sustain, too much to really enjoy the organ, and certainly too much to properly support congregational singing. So, I am going to be content with a little more mellow type of reverb ;-) But I do want to have plentiful reverb, just not so wild as in the cathedrals.
                            Artificial reverb of any sort has always turned me off. It always makes me wonder what people are trying to cover up. An Allen Renaissance (I think) with the Quad Suite was placed in a local church, and I've played a few concerts on it. The first thing I do is ALWAYS turn the reverb (Acoustic Portrait) almost totally off (I may keep it at Room or Small Hall). There's something about the sound being unnatural that has always turned me off--even when Tom Hazelton played the dedication concert on the organ. I felt like he was covering bad technique with reverb, though I'm sure that wasn't the case.

                            When I make recordings, I always record them as dry as possible so I can add any sort of reverb afterward. It's always more difficult to remove the reverb than add it!;-)
                            Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                            So, once I decide what kind of organ I'm going to live with for the next few years, . . . .
                            How's that working for you so far?B-)

                            John, one more question: Did you have any observations about the quality of the reverb in relation to pipe placement? I'm not familiar with the actual terminology of the various parts of the church, but I am curious whether the placement of the pipes (i.e. in one transept vs. at the foot of the nave) makes a difference or not. A local Hook & Hastings pipe organ, as well as the organ at St. Anne de Beaupré just north of Quebec City have the pipes at the foot of the nave (in the balcony where the people enter) both sound great, as does the organ at the Dom in Altenberg, Germany where the pipes are placed at the end of one transept. I haven't seen any placed over the altar yet, but I've wondered. At Kölner Dom in Köln (Cologne) Germany, the organ pipes are placed high on one side of the nave and/or where the nave and transept meet, but I never heard that organ, though.

                            You know--curious minds!

                            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

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Some great photos jbird, thanks for sharing! Looks like you saw some great stuff. I'll look a little more carefully later.

                              Just for your amusement I made a quick recording of the MX200 set on a 6 second reverb with a sort of cathedral sound. Please keep in mind that I just quickly setup the reverb and had trouble making a good wet/dry mix because the reverb speakers are powered separately and I'd have to make changes in gain to that amp and it's in an awkward place (I normally have a very small room reverb). Also, I just randomly chose the hymn so please excuse my playing. And my organ sounds unusually 'digital'—not that it's a great organ, but it usually sounds a little better than this.

                              It's definitely a lot of reverb! As you have already realised... :) But I thought it might give you something to think about. I can tell you the settings if you're interested.

                              https://soundcloud.com/user-65508924...x200-long-demo
                              Viscount C400 3-manual
                              8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                              Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

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