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Ahlborn-Galanti finishing

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  • Ahlborn-Galanti finishing

    First time posting on the forum but I'm a longtime reader.

    In a month or so I'm leaving a church post where I play an Allen MOS-1 and assuming a music director position where I get to play an Ahlborn-Galanti Chronicler I that's about 20 years newer. I got my hands on the Ahlborn user manuals yesterday and I'm very excited to play with the tonal finishing features.

    Anyway, Ahlborn's instructions on finishing claim that a user can save different finishing settings to make the organ sound more French Romantic, Baroque, Evangelical, American, etc., depending on which setting is chosen. But I'm confused as to how to start going about this, besides simply experimenting and listening. The Chronicler offers control over things like pipe wind, articulation, release transient, reed harmonic presence, and voice level. If I wanted to make a Baroque setting, for instance, the only finishing I can think of would be to add more of a chiff to the articulation, but to try to come closer to a Cavaille-Coll sound I have no idea which of those parameters to alter.

    Hope this makes some sense...any guidance is appreciated.

  • #2
    Maybe one of our folks with some direct experience with A-G will chime in. In my limited experience with various European digitals, I have seen models that actually allow one to swap out the samples used, and thus customize the actual "suites" or "organ types." But I've seen other models that have vague tonal adjustments that supposedly make the organ sound more "Baroque" or more "French" or whatever, but in fact only modify the audio for more or less treble boost.

    But I know that Arie V, among others, has detailed knowledge of these AG models and can probably give you a clear answer and some guidance on making these adjustments.
    *** 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!


    • #3
      In the Chroniclers, the samples are the samples are the samples. It is indeed possible to swap samples, but it takes an EPROM burner and the right know-how, which is/was restricted to the top echelon of folks behind the engineering on those organs. There were region-specific versions of those organs for various countries in Europe, but in the US, the Chronicler I had one sample set with 2 or 3 slight variations depending on when it was built (the Great 8' Principal, 8' Gemshorn, and 8' Trumpet changed at least once each over the product lifecycle, as did the composition and balance of some of the mixtures).

      But as for "Baroque" or "French," that was simply a matter of tuning, harmonic presence (in reeds), chiff, wind, release transient levels, and of course tuning of the stops and within the stops, all of which I never thought got very close to changing it from one organ type to another. It will always sound mostly like a European classical organ, with some wonderful individual stops, perhaps less impressive in ensemble.

      Still, a giant step up from a MOS 1 Allen in every regard except perhaps for console build quality! I incidentally replaced a 1972 MOS 1 Allen with a Chronicler I at the first church I served out of college, and it was a night and day difference.


      • #4
        Thank you both.

        Michael, that's kind of what I assumed. I subbed on the AG in September before I applied for the job, and I was blown away by the complexity of the individual stops but less impressed with the ensemble, as you've said. I just found some advice Arie gave in another thread about fine-tuning the ensemble, which I'll try when I get some time with the instrument. Luckily the previous organist installed a Romantic Archive module, so that's a plus for adding some diversity to the mix--some nice solo reeds, strings, Flauto Mirabilis, Vox Humana, etc. I have to check with him but I don't think he ever did much with the voicing and finishing, so I'm thinking there's a lot I can do to polish it up.


        • #5
          You might consider contacting AG USA to see if 1) they can burn an EPROM for you and 2) if there are software updates available for the organ. Blessings.


          • #6
            "Updates" were pretty much restricted to changes elsewhere in the chipset that required alterations to the PROM on the CPU board that runs the instruction set for the VLSI chip. The Chroniclers aren't really software-based like later organs are.

            As for getting custom stop burns: I'd say good luck, given that the company struggles to support their newer organs consistently, but it never hurts to ask. It is the Christmas season!

            Originally posted by Horseshoe_or View Post
            You might consider contacting AG USA to see if 1) they can burn an EPROM for you and 2) if there are software updates available for the organ. Blessings.


            • #7
              Very much appreciate the responses.

              I only had to spend a few minutes on voicing and finishing when I realized the ensemble problem I was hearing: the guy who initially voiced the organ (in 1993) set the articulation (chiff) to maximum on the mixtures and upperwork, and minimized it on everything else. The effect was that whenever I'd use the principal chorus (most of my hymn accompaniments) it would sound like a brass player who couldn't tongue--the articulation was mushy. Only keeping the chiff on the stopped flutes improved the ensemble sound 90%. The voicer probably had a good reason for doing this but I find it baffling.

              Now to mess with the parameters. :->


              • #8

                I agree with you that the ensemble of the organ is not that great coming from the factory. But if you use all the levers that are in the organ, the organ can be transformed. Also, if the organ is attached to a full 6 channel audio, which is properly setup, the organ can be made to sound that much better.

                The Chronicler I, is perhaps the best model of the Chronicler line.

                I always, set the wind chest layout to C - C# split. The audio outputs are arranged in a L and R pair per division. It is best to have the speakers approx. 10' to 12' apart.

                Then work on the overall volume, and from there the stop level and then the scaling (treble bass balance).

                Once you are at this point, press the ensemble button on the programmer. Run it up to maximum. Then re-pitch thestops on the swell to be slightly sharp to the Great. As you increase in pitch (i.e. 2' stops, Mixtures, etc) bring them closer in line to the great high pitch stops. Then re-pitch the pedal stops to be flat to the great. And again bring the higher pitch stops closer in line with the great. What this does is bring some liveliness to the ensemble, without it sounding sterile.

                From there I worked on the the remaining parameters such as, articulation, pipe wind, fluctuation, harmonic presence, rank character, etc.

                That organ if properly setup and finished, should indeed sound very good.

                As to multiple finishings, remember that there is only one set of samples in the organ. What one can do is play with various parameters and store them as a finishing. What one can do is try to do a baroque organ, with a Kirnbeger, or re-balance as an eclectic organ. I usually do an eclectic finishing and make it the default finishing, in other words, the finishing that comes up when the organ is turned on. To save the default finishing, you will need to poke in the dealer code.

                Also, when doing voicings, sequences, combinations, I would suggest saving them to disc. You will need to some old fashioned floppy discs.

                One other thing, I would suggest checking the battery on the CPU board. These batteries are known to leak, and also die. If the battery has not been changed in over 10 years, it should be done. It is a hassle to do it, as it requires a soldering iron and some disassembly to do the job.