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Allen Renaissance R-230 -- Is this the Holy Grail?

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  • Allen Renaissance R-230 -- Is this the Holy Grail?

    Hooked up a U-Haul trailer and drove to a nearby state today to pick up that new organ I've been mooning over, and...


    My lifelong search for a permanent home organ may be over! Yes, I know what you're thinking. But REALLY. This time I have found the Holy Grail of home organs for me. Surely.


    A dealer friend got it in trade, the church having decided to replace it rather than keep after a stubborn intermittent problem, and he offered it to me in exchange for some speakers I needed to sell. I "think" I can fix anything that might be wrong with a digital Allen, so here's hoping I'm as good as I think I am, now that I've committed to it.


    It's a modest Renaissance Allen, R-230. At the low end of the "R" line, but its feature set and layout are nearly identical to the MDS-45 at church. Two-manual AGO console/pedals, genuine Allen wooden keys. Divided expression plus crescendo, same piston layout as the MDS. Moving tab action (not knobs, but that's ok).


    Typical Allen stoplist with all the essential classical stops/pitches. No 32' stop, but it has both Krummhorn and Flute Celeste on the great, stops I use quite often at church.


    Self-contained audio includes an ADC dual amp, the usual set of console speakers -- a 15" woofer, two 8" and two tweeters. It's a perfect living room organ, could hardly have chosen a better model if I'd picked it out myself.


    And get this -- it even has the same Expander in the drawer as the MDS-45! Have I found the Holy Grail or what? It also came with an Allen Smart MIDI Recorder, which I think I'll use at church with the MDS. Been thinking about finding one of those lately. Just a sweet deal all around, so far at least.


    I could still bring home the three-manual Johannus, but in reality two manuals are sufficient for the music I play, and I'm better off with one at home that "feels" like the organ at church, to make my practicing more effective.


    If I get this one fixed up, it will be my twelfth home organ, the tenth one since 2002. (I've averaged keeping an organ only about a year and a half the past 15 years.) Surely I'll be able to live with this one, though I've said that before. We'll see....
    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
    Wishing you the best John. Sounds like you have found the right organ for you. I too have a habit of changing out organs far to often. Lol

    Michael

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    • #3
      That's great! I'm excited for you.

      Looking forward to hearing some recordings... :)
      Viscount C400 3-manual
      8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
      Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

      Comment


      • #4
        That's great!

        I *think* the R-230 was the last to be made with the tabs??
        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
          Good for you, John. Very happy for you!
          I too look forward to some recordings should you make them, and maybe a demo of the stops?

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          • #6
            The small first-generation Ren (R-230, R-250) organs were the last tab organs, before everything went over to Lumitech.

            Renaissance is wonderful for close-range home use. The quality of the stops and the Virtual Acoustics make everything sound wonderful right at the console!

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            • #7
              How exciting - I'm definitely eager to hear more about how things go with the repairs and about the sound of the Renaissance organ. The constant itch for improvement is hard to ignore for some of us. A pending acquisition has me looking at my 4th instrument in 7 years!
              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)

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              • #8
                Glad to know I'm not the only one with the itch! You can't blame a guy for wanting a great-sounding organ at home these days, with such fine organs floating around out there at such low prices. It's a good time to be alive as an organ hobbyist, if not as a church organist :-(

                Got it playing today after a thorough cleanup. The problem that led to its being traded in seems to be audio only, unless there are troubles that didn't crop up today. The previous tech has already replaced cage, power supply, and MN board, so I'm assuming those important components are OK. But the ADC amps are indeed flaky. Most obvious is that the volume pots are very erratic and crackly. After exercising them quite a lot I was able to set them both in spots that didn't drop out (yet), and I used the Console Controller menu to adjust some channel levels to compensate for not being able to do it with the amp pots. Not fully satisfied, and I will certainly either renovate or replace the ADC amp before bringing it home.

                The Console Controller is mounted right on the keydesk to the left of the Great, and not in a drawer. It appears to have gotten the grape juice spilled into the buttons at some time, so I spent some time cleaning them up externally. May need to remove the CC from the desk and clean the residue out from under the switches. One of them has definitely lost its tactile feel. Didn't test to see if it still functions though.

                I was able to play it for a while using only the internal speakers. I hear a pretty decent balance of the stops, but it still seems to be sort of midrange-heavy without a satisfying bottom octave and lacking sparkle at the high end. I know DOVE allows a lot of adjustments in tonal balance, but I suspect that I'm not going to be happy with internal speakers alone. I've become spoiled by having speakers all around me with the past couple of home organs, so I'll probably be modifying this one pretty soon to spread the audio around.

                Speaking of which... Falling back to just two channels of audio may be another issue I'll have to address. This cage has four outputs, and DOVE makes it a snap to unmix the channels and send out two swells and two great/pedal channels. I have plenty of amps and speakers around, so look for me to give that a try. In spite of the excellent tone generation going on, you still need to have the stops coming from as many speakers as possible. Apparently this is more of an issue with hardware organs than with Hauptwerk, which folks seem to enjoy quite well with only a two-channel setup.

                A lot of things will need tweaking before I'm delighted with this little organ. I love the layout and the stop list, I think the individual notes of individual stops sound marvelous. But what I've heard so far is rather unimpressive. So lots of work to do.

                Here are a few pics I took at the shop this morning.
                Attached Files
                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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                • #9
                  And some pics of the stop rail to show the stop list and accessories:
                  Attached Files
                  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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                  • #10
                    Decisions, decisions... I'm trying to think through whether or not to convert this organ to four channels before bringing it home. Significant pros and cons both ways.


                    In favor of converting: Should sound better, getting the swell stops out of the main channels, less of the unpleasant out-phasing that is always going to be present when stops with different tuning bases share the same audio. Lock-step tuning is a thing of the past with Renaissance (though it is possible to put it back that way with DOVE), so every stop has a unique tuning curve, and thus there are subtle beats when any two stops are drawn, and it's worse when they share the same channel. Giving the great/pedal their own audio might let me put more oomph in the pedals too. And even in my small room, multiple sound sources should be more interesting than a flat two-dimensional audio field.


                    In favor of leaving it with two channels: Headphones -- left as a two-channel organ, I can easily construct a little headphone adapter, and I can use the existing relays to silence the speakers. It will be more complicated to do that if I convert, as I'll need another Univrel assembly to silence the second pair of speakers, and I'll need a mixer of some sort to combine the four channels into a useful headphone mix.


                    TBH, I dislike playing with headphones anyway. But now and then my wife has had all the glorious organ music she can stand and really needs me to quit or else put on headphones. So it's a necessary evil, if I'm to get a lot of practicing done, which is sort of the point of having an organ at home.


                    Maybe I should just bite the bullet -- get the best of both worlds by converting to four channels for those times when I can play out loud, and also install a simple headphone mixer that can be placed discretely somewhere (but where?)... Surely I'm bright enough to figure out a way to mute all four speakers. If nothing else I do have a spare relay in the shop.


                    But then, I'm eager to just get it home and start enjoying it, and it's bound to take a day or two to make all these mods. Guess I'll sleep on it.
                    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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                    • #11
                      Wow, John, what an amazing deal! I wish I could find a Renaissance organ by trading some speakers.

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                      • #12
                        I vote to convert to four channel and then come up with a headphone solution as time permits. If your wife complains, just say you received really bad advice from some insensitive fool on the forums... :) I see that I'm quite fortunate in that my wife not only doesn't mind my music, but she actually likes it despite the many hours of tedious piano and organ practise she hears nearly every day.
                        Viscount C400 3-manual
                        8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                        Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I am fortunate that my wife doesn't complain until I've really been at it for a while. She works hard through the day and wants to relax at night, so my playing in the evenings (the only time I'm at home most days) can be a little distracting, to say the least! So I will need headphones pretty soon, though I do see the point of making that the second step, as it should be.

                          Radagast, I am exceedingly lucky to have found this deal, and I know that my good fortune is at the expense of someone else's misfortune. It isn't common for these ADC amps to fail like this, to get so noisy and unreliable after only 15 years of use. So I understand why Allen service and the previous tech didn't zero in on this problem. But that is likely the reason it got traded in at such an early age. And I just happened to have collected a pile of speakers over the past few years, as several organs have come in with a copious over-abundance of speakers, and got installed with only half of them or less. So I've been looking for an opportunity to get rid of a load of them without resorting to ebay, and my dealer friend was just kind enough to take a bunch of them off my hands.

                          Funny thing, three or four years ago I went to a small church and worked on a very similar organ, Renaissance technology with self-contained audio, but with Lumitech tabs. I played it for a while, and thought to myself this is the organ I want to have at home some day. Little did I know that one would come up so quickly! You never know what is around the next corner.
                          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
                            Listening note: I keep feeling that there is a midrange hump in the sound, and wondering if it's a characteristic of the console speakers. I just now had a few minutes to sit down and play with it, and I'm pretty sure there are notes in the middle octave that are quite a bit too loud. I first noticed that when playing a triad starting on B-flat-2, the F-3 was so prominent in the chord it almost obscured the B-flat and the D. Thought it was just an illusion, but no, it's real. The notes starting at F-3 are either too loud or have a harmonic structure that over-dominates in a chord. And this seems to be true in more than one stop.

                            I've never heard that sort of thing in an MDS or ADC (or MOS, for that matter), so it must be a function of either the vastly different speaker crossover in this console (8 components in one channel, 12 in the other, versus the very rudimentary crossovers in earlier console speaker systems), OR it's a voicing issue that hasn't been addressed on this organ.

                            It just may well be that the standard set of samples used in the lower half of the Renaissance line has this built-in hump that can be tamed by a diligent voicer, but in reality few of the lower-cost instruments installed since 1997 actually got a professional voicing. So when you hear a typical smallish Renaissance that hump is there, and that may be what has led me over the years to have a bit of a distaste for Renaissance models. Many of them seem to have a "honky" quality that isn't appealing.

                            This gives me more stuff to work on before bringing home this beast. I need to try it out with different speakers and see if the problem really is just the internals. If not, I need to hook up the DOVE computer and see if I can flatten out that hump.

                            Anyway, just another thing I've picked up since bringing this organ into the shop. Most to come, I'm sure.
                            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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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                              This gives me more stuff to work on before bringing home this beast. I need to try it out with different speakers and see if the problem really is just the internals. If not, I need to hook up the DOVE computer and see if I can flatten out that hump.
                              John,

                              I thought Renaissance organs had the ability to re-flash the software and return it to factory specs? I would almost recommend that, and then work from a clean slate. It sounds like there may have been more than one reason for passing the organ on.

                              Also, what sort of speakers do you have connected? If they're all internal, what external equivalent would they have?

                              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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