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  • MDS-45 - MDS-39 Instrument Questions

    Hi all,

    There's an Allen MDS-39 instrument locally for sale and I found some data from prior postings on the forum, however the seller is reporting that the console is too deep for my front door. I'm curious if anyone can confirm whether Allen used the same console for this model. It has the internal speakers if that matters. The old forum posting says 32" but the person listing the instrument said 38" which would be a no-go as far as I could see. It looks like the T console on my present ADC, but with a third manual and drawknobs like the ADC-3160 which I believe is still 32".

    For that matter, any commentary on upgrading from an ADC-2160A to the MDS-39 regarding sound quality would be appreciated. I was hoping to eventually nab a Renaissance model, but they are rare on the used market and substantially more expensive when found.
    Corey

    Allen MDS-41-S with MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Schulmerich Carillon Americana - 61 notes Flemish / Harp / Celesta / Quadra / Minor Tierce
    - MIDI Retrofit finally underway & Moller console in need of refurbishment
    Schulmerich Campanile Digital Carillon (Cast & Harp)

  • #2
    The Internet Archive of the Allen website from 1996 indicates this console is 32" deep without pedals. I believe the console is the "M" console which was derived from the T console, but the lid extends over the end panels, and is a bit taller.

    It's unlikely that Allen would have used a custom console while still using the MDS-39 model number.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for that tidbit! It didn't dawn on me to search the internet archive, but that agrees with the prior listing that was here on the forum. The seller is re-measuring as well and will most likely confirm the 32" dimension.

      So with that sorted, now I need to mull over the improvements to the instrument itself. The biggest I know are - Drawknobs, 3rd manual, Full MIDI, Ensemble vs card reader, melody coupler, additional voicing options (not sure about the value), Potentially better reverb? Current instrument has the ADR-4.

      From comparing the stoplists, it seems like the MDS is a bit better laid out for stops, has a single 32' in the pedal division, separate string/celeste - but is otherwise fairly similar size. I don't honestly know much about the different MDS technologies as they compare those before them. I'm versed in the MOS vs various ADC setups.

      While I'm at it - does anyone want to venture a value on what they'd consider the instrument worth in today's marketplace?
      Corey

      Allen MDS-41-S with MIDI-DIVISION-II
      Schulmerich Carillon Americana - 61 notes Flemish / Harp / Celesta / Quadra / Minor Tierce
      - MIDI Retrofit finally underway & Moller console in need of refurbishment
      Schulmerich Campanile Digital Carillon (Cast & Harp)

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm sure others will chime in who actually have experience (I have very little experience with Allen organs except a MOS2 and an old small analog!), but I've consistently read on the forums that the MDS models were very good in sound quality, a nice upgrade over ADC (except for the ADC-x300 models). I think jbird has even said he doesn't see a significant improvement in models beyond the MDS (not sure if that applies to Allen's latest). I'm guessing it'd be a nice tonal upgrade over your 2160, in addition to the other items you listed.
        Viscount C400 3-manual
        8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
        Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

        Comment


        • #5
          Corey,

          I don't think you can go wrong with this one. It looks like it has the console controller, and will also handle the Expander. From that, you can get additional 32', as well as other sounds.

          From the advertisement I've seen, it appears the price is very fair, but that wouldn't keep me from negotiating anyway. Many churches just want the organ to be used. Since it's close, I'd suggest you go for it. I'd love to have it, but the timing isn't right.

          Best on your search!

          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


          • #6
            I owned an MDS-38, the predecessor to this model. It had the card reader. There is quite a bit of borrowing between the pedal and great in this organ, though that didn't seem to me to be a particular problem.

            The MDS smaller models, including this one, have a "celeste tuning" that is hidden--drawing the viola celeste turns it on, and if that's done in the Great, the choir got celeste tuning, too.

            This model has, I believe, a Contre Trompette 16 in the swell, and I personally prefer the Basson--it's of better blend to the reed chorus.

            In many ways, this is a 2-manual organ stretched to 3 manuals; the flexibility of the voicing suffers from that. Also, because of the internal speaker system Allen put nearly all of the bass containing stops (16 ft and 32 ft) in the channel that goes to the woofer. So they all voice together.

            It lacks a flute celeste which is one of my favorite stops, preferring it to even a string celeste if I can only have one, and there is no reed on the Great.

            The console controller is very useful, especially since it gives lots of MIDI flexibility. I would definitely want an expander or ensemble unit to flesh it out just a little.

            And on the MDS-38, the spitzflote 4 on the great could not be tamed to my ears--it was useless as a result; perhaps it's better on the 39 or was related to my installation. The Harmonic Flute 8 on the great was perhaps the best single electronic stop I have heard--simply lovely.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for all the commentary! This organ actually has the Ensemble included with it, so I should be good to go there. My understanding is that grants two extra voices per channel, unlike the prior MIDI options which can do one - and it may also have a more robust list of stops that can be added. The way I've heard it explained in the past is that it can make up for some of the shortcomings of the instrument, and it works in conjunction with the capture action.

              I'm not surprised at your assessment, as I think the stoplist isn't much more robust than my 2m ADC, which also has borrowing. Would the stops still be routed the same way if the model used external speakers? My intention would be to convert to using external speakers since I have some lingering around here, too. I might be able to sell the ADC with the 4 smaller speakers since it lacks a 32' stop and it would be more effective if being used in a home for space considerations. But I'm gathering the channel configuration can't be modified.

              It makes me curious if this instrument has newer hardware than the 38, or if they simply ditched the card reader and re-arranged the stoplist a little bit.
              Corey

              Allen MDS-41-S with MIDI-DIVISION-II
              Schulmerich Carillon Americana - 61 notes Flemish / Harp / Celesta / Quadra / Minor Tierce
              - MIDI Retrofit finally underway & Moller console in need of refurbishment
              Schulmerich Campanile Digital Carillon (Cast & Harp)

              Comment


              • #8
                Both the MDS-38 and the MDS-39 were an effort by Allen to get a low-cost "3 manual" with a "32 foot stop" into the line-up, and as has been said, were really a 2-manual framework stretched and borrowed around to cover 3 manuals and pedal. This was no doubt in some part due to the lower-cost Euro-digitals on the market like the Galanti Praeludium III and the (later) SL300.

                The MDS-38 was an early (W4) MDS, while the MDS was the later (W5) MDS replacement, so the quality of the tone generation did definitely improve between those two generations.

                Comment


                • #9
                  That makes a lot of sense. I do still feel as if the third manual would add versatility even if the instrument isn't as robust as a fully equipped 3 manual. It would be nice to have even one 32' stop again. It feels like this instrument would leave me somewhere between where I started with my ADC-6000 and my present ADC-2160A. Regaining a third manual, Tutti, 32' - and moving up again to full MIDI support and also to my first drawknob instrument.

                  I figured that this might have been a later MDS with its lack of a card reader, so I suspect the tone will be improved over the early and MADC I've been accustomed to. I hope this ends up working out!
                  Corey

                  Allen MDS-41-S with MIDI-DIVISION-II
                  Schulmerich Carillon Americana - 61 notes Flemish / Harp / Celesta / Quadra / Minor Tierce
                  - MIDI Retrofit finally underway & Moller console in need of refurbishment
                  Schulmerich Campanile Digital Carillon (Cast & Harp)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I would say the ensemble is an improvement over the card reader, since it can do more stops per division. Quality of those voices is probably better, too.

                    Over an MADC, such as the ADC 2160, the MDS-39 is a real improvement. I do not believe you can reroute the stops, though external speakers are easy if you have them. If it has antiphonal relay cards, then you just connect the speakers--usually Allen has the console speakers as the "antiphonal" and uses the external speakers as "mains"--a single connection on each antiphonal card handles this, though it has to be soldered. I recommend that approach. If the organ does not have antiphonal relays, you could either get some and install them, or just change the wiring to the externals.

                    If in good condition and affordable, I'd say go for it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well, I did not end up getting the MDS-39 (turns out it went to the flipper, to be relisted at almost *3 times* the auction end price?!) but I am now looking at an MDS-45-D and an MDS-41-S. Open to any commentary on these instruments, their values, and the differences between them.

                      From what I can tell the MDS-45 is older tech with the card reader and obviously only 2m. I'm not sure if the MDS card readers were all the sample-based version or if some still used the older ADC waveform style cards which I'd think are a step back from my 2160's cards.

                      The MDS-41 appears newer, larger stoplist and 3m - also has drawknobs and is probably a bit more desirable for various reasons.
                      Last edited by CarillonBells; 07-01-2017, 08:36 AM.
                      Corey

                      Allen MDS-41-S with MIDI-DIVISION-II
                      Schulmerich Carillon Americana - 61 notes Flemish / Harp / Celesta / Quadra / Minor Tierce
                      - MIDI Retrofit finally underway & Moller console in need of refurbishment
                      Schulmerich Campanile Digital Carillon (Cast & Harp)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        CarillonBells,

                        Figures about the FF.:'( In any event, the MDS-41S would make the better instrument. You can find the manual at Allen's website. If I'm not mistaken, the MDS-41S had full MIDI implementation, whereas the MDS-45 may or may not have had full implementation. John (jbird604) can tell you for sure, as he has an MDS-45 he plays at church presently. When he thought it was entirely down due to a lightning strike (long story elsewhere on the Forum), he used the MIDI implementation for church services.

                        Hope that helps.

                        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
                          All MDS instruments had full MIDI implementation.

                          The MDS-45 had, of course, 2 manuals, with 2nd voice percussion on the great to give good harp, chrysoglott, celesta, chimes, and harpsichord; 2nd voicing on the Swell had instrumental Oboe, Clarinet, Flute, and Brass--maybe another one, too. The card reader was same as the larger model ADC organs; i.e., it read the waveform from the card and interpreted it. It was among the first group of MDS instruments offered.

                          The MDS-41S had, of course, 3 manuals; it did not have a card reader, but if it had an MDS expander added you can get some additional voices that way. It had sub and super octave couplers on the Swell to Swell, Great, Pedal, and Choir (no sub to the Pedal). These were accomplished not by actual coupling, but by having a second set of sub and a third set of super voices for the swell, so the Sub and Super couplers provide distinctly different voices. This avoids some of the obnoxious effects that sub and super couplers can have if pitches get too high or low. Whether or not you consider that to be valuable is up to you. I think it's probably better.

                          The Fanfare Trumpet (or whatever it is called) on the Choir is loud if used alone, but if any other stop is drawn, it becomes lower volume. This is done by a volume control, not by an additional voice (if I remember right).

                          The 41S is one among the models where Allen switched from 32' Contra Bourdon stops to Contra Violone. The 45 has the Contra Bourdon.

                          Both are fine models.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I concur with the above. I love the MDS-45 at church, but the 41 has all kinds of advantages, and is even open to some audio expansion, if you should ever want to do that. As mentioned, the "coupled" swell stops are in fact different stops, though in the stock arrangement they are simply mixed in with the regular audio system. It wouldn't take much to give them their own amps and speakers, thus making them even more useful for adding to the power and ensemble.

                            The 41 is "W-5" technology, which was the final stage of the MDS system, so it was as good as it gets. In many ways, W-5 organs sound just as good as anything you can buy today, though they still lack note-by-note and rank-by-rank voicing, which is the real advantage of Renaissance technology.

                            One small downgrade from the 45 to the 41 concerns the number of tone generator channels. Our 45 has the stops distributed across twelve internal TG sections, so the stop groups are quite small. Some groups are only three stops, so you have a great deal of latitude in adjusting the tone in detail. The 41, using W-5 technology, has eight stops in most of the groups, so you don't have quite the flexibility in making fine adjustments. However, the balances among the stops are already about as perfect as you could want, so this is a minor quibble.

                            The Contre Violone is of course not the same kind of 32' stop as the Contre Bourdon. But it's still a wonderful stop to have.

                            Either organ is a good one, with full MIDI implementation and the capability of controlling any Allen Expander from the pistons, a very nice feature, and having the Expander voices express with the division to which they are coupled, also very 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

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              As always, I greatly appreciate the help and frank commentary that I find here on the forum. This of course brings up questions because I love learning more about the nuance of these instruments. Were there two MDS revisions (early/late) or three? My understanding is there is still some type of battery backup in the MDS-45, and I'm curious to know more about that as I'd probably relocate it like on other instruments. I'm also curious why they used the older card reader, as I feel like that might be the one loss moving from the ADC-2160A.

                              Because I was able to negotiate a good price on the MDS-45, it is presently at my residence waiting to be moved inside. That said, I've also been in talks with the owner of the 41 and it isn't a done deal yet. I figure I wouldn't have a problem finding a new home for the 45 if the 41 works out, otherwise I'll still have a good instrument. It likely would have been snapped up for resale if I hadn't moved quickly!
                              Corey

                              Allen MDS-41-S with MIDI-DIVISION-II
                              Schulmerich Carillon Americana - 61 notes Flemish / Harp / Celesta / Quadra / Minor Tierce
                              - MIDI Retrofit finally underway & Moller console in need of refurbishment
                              Schulmerich Campanile Digital Carillon (Cast & Harp)

                              Comment

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