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Allen System 603 thoughts

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  • Allen System 603 thoughts

    Does anyone have any thoughts they can share about the Allen System 603? I saw one for sale recently and wondered how decent it was.
    Viscount C400 3-manual
    8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
    Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

  • #2
    It's MOS era technology, so that type of sound--it doesn't have the attack (chiff, etc.) effects that the late ADC organs have, but good basic digital tone generation. A little primitive digital sound artifacts, but a good digital reverb or acoustic environment covers that up nicely.

    It is one of the very largest 2 manual stoplists that Allen put together, and some were built with special EPROMs for certain reeds, like a Pedal 32' Contre Bombarde. Dual computers, so you can get celeste, and doubling for a better ensemble than the more sterile single computer models. Built like a tank.

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    • #3
      Viscount C400 3-manual
      8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
      Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

      Comment


      • #4
        Not sure why a tech would be dissing a 603 in that manner unless it is one with a bad history. True, the open leaf-switch key contacts are subject to contamination, but there are thousands and thousands of Allen organs in use with leaf switches and they are generally reliable. They don't necessarily need annual service, but I do recall one MOS organ I used to service that did have some intermittent key switches that drove me crazy. Never did solve that problem, but the organ was destroyed when the church burned...

        Ditto to what toodles said. I have a 603 in the shop that was actually "given" to me in exchange for some speakers that I didn't need. It came in with some weird problems that had been created by a previous owner trying to either fix something or make some mods that didn't make sense to me. Once I removed the extraneous wiring and restored it to the factory setup it works perfectly. There is a thread somewhere with pics of that one and some descriptions of what I had to do to it.

        The only use we've made of this old 603 was to rent it to the Symphony Orchestra for a big program last winter. They had a concert of really "loud" numbers, such as "Also Sprach Zarathustra" and Holst's Planets, and the organ served to basically double the volume of the 75-player orchestra when it was needed!

        So yes, an old 603 is a huge organ, even though it's just four channels (or five with the optional sub or doubled pedal channel). As with all MOS organs, there are compromises because swell, great, and pedal all share the same channels, and stops lose their individuality in the ensemble. But MOS organs can sound very good indeed in a proper acoustic setting.

        One drawback is the massive size of the "D" console and the necessity of an external amp rack. It's not an organ for a small room!
        John
        ----------
        Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
        Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
        Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
        Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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        • #5
          Originally posted by rjsilva View Post
          This technician also said it has open contacts and therefore would require a yearly service contract.
          My MOS2 has open contacts. Zero problems with dirty contacts in the twenty years I've owned it. Cats crawling in the organ and bending the contacts is another story.
          -Admin

          Allen 965
          Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
          Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
          Hauptwerk 4.2

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          • #6
            Yeah--Allen needs to sell some kind of screen for the inside behind the expression pedals to keep cats from crawling into the organ. My technician who inspected/installed my 305-B warned about cats in the instrument--something about static electricity from their fur zapping the ICs.

            David

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            • #7
              I may have mentioned this earlier, but this spring we installed a 603 in a needy church. With 4 speakers HC14, I think, and adding 2 Alesis miniverbs with Harrison isolators, the organ sounds tremendous. I went back once to change the card reader to LEDs and turn down the bass. organist and congregation are very happy.

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              • #8
                I've played at least one 603 over the years, and found it to be as everyone else says - A really big spec two manual MOS, which to my ears sounds good no matter what exact model one is. The one thing I recall most about this one was the speaker system was not HCs, but some other sorta flat panel type speakers. I'm pretty sure they were Allen, but I don't know what models they were. Some of them must have had bad surrounds though, because they were pretty ratty sounding with a full processional registration. Big reeds, and so on. I played it for a wedding, and so did not go climbing around to inspect things better. I ended up showing the regular organist there how some of the features worked, because she had never explored all / most of them.
                Regards, Larry

                At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 ! ), E-5AR ( X 2, 1 parts, 1 not ), D80 ( parts ), FX-1, FX-20, HS-7T ( parts ), EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen organs : T12-A, T-12B, ADC-6000D. Baldwin 626. Hammond Concorde. Lowrey CH32-1. A bunch of Synthesizers and Keyboards. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with VISTA ), Hammond A105, Baldwin 720T, Several small and medium size pipe organs of many sorts and builders.

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the thoughts everyone! I appreciate it. Does anyone have an idea what, very generally, might be a fair price for it?
                  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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                  • #10
                    I paid $500 without speakers as-is. before adding reverb, speakers, new batteries, cleaning etc.

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                    • #11
                      Viscount C400 3-manual
                      8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                      Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        705 is a very nice model. There was a thread some time ago about the purchase and installation of a 705. It's a MOS-2 model, thus incorporating a number of refinements over the MOS-1 603, though not the drastic changes that came with ADC technology.

                        The 705 has the same "doubled computer" design as the 603, so every stop has "chorus," and celestes can be created in any tone color using the celeste tuning tab. In addition, the 705 has the interesting "mixture computer" setup that Allen used on just a handful of MOS-2 models -- 705, 1105, and possibly another larger or custom model.

                        The 705 is a "six-channel" organ. It plays through four regular audio channels, driving HC-12 speakers, and these four channels all include great, swell, and pedal stops. Two additional channels reserved for mixtures play through their own two amplifiers and a pair of PP-3 speakers (or two PP speakers per channel).

                        Because the mixtures get their own dedicated computer system, they can be more complex and more developed than the standard MOS mixtures, with variable breaks in the scale. When voicing, you have the ability to tailor the sound of the mixtures to your liking independent of the rest of the stops.

                        The 705 of course includes all the niceties of a full-size MOS organ, such as a comprehensive double-memory capture system, card reader, deluxe "D" console. Expression is NOT divided though, since, as typical in MOS organs, all three divisions use all the computers and all the channels. No MIDI, since that was not available at the time. But MIDI can be very easily added using a quickly attachable interface that our own Admin's company sells.
                        John
                        ----------
                        Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
                        Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
                        Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
                        Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
                        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks for the info jbird! Apparently this 705 (or 603) has what I'm assuming is an external amp rack which is disconnected. If I were to go see this organ it'd need to be reconnected. I'm sure I could figure out where things go with no problem, but it'd be nice to have an idea before going. Where would the connectors for the amp rack go in the organ? Is it pretty obvious?
                          Viscount C400 3-manual
                          8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                          Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Normally on large MOS organs there are coax cables carrying the audio channels to the rack, and these coax cables are hard-wired at the console end, or at least attached by lugs to screw terminals underneath a metal cover in the floor of the organ. So you'll probably find a coiled up bundle of coax inside the console, along with a control cable that also goes to the rack and serves to send a 12 volt turn-on signal to the power relay on the rack. There may be more than one wire in that control cable, such as antiphonal relay wires or possibly "delayed" 12 volts to operate remote mutes, if they are used on this particular organ.

                            So you should only need to connect the ends of the coaxes to their corresonding amplifier inputs on the rack (they should be numbered for reference), then connect the control cable to its terminal strip on the rack (should be marked clearly or else color-coded). It isn't hard to do as long as the numbers or labels haven't been removed by accident.

                            Be sure NOT to turn on the console until you locate the control cable and make sure that the +12 spade lug is NOT touching the ground lug or any other lug! I failed to do this once, and blew the fuse on the 12 volt power supply in the console.

                            Best to make sure everything is hooked up before you plug in the AC power cords.

                            If the speakers are unhooked from the amp rack, you'll need to connect them. All channels use HC-12 cabinets except the two mixture channels, which use one or two PP-3 speakers each. If there are relays on the rack, you can ignore them and just connect the speaker cables directly to the amplifier output terminals.
                            John
                            ----------
                            Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
                            Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
                            Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
                            Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
                            https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks jbird!
                              Viscount C400 3-manual
                              8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                              Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

                              Comment

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