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Recording an Allen ADC 6000

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  • jbird604
    replied
    To add to what Michael wisely says, another major reason why the organ is not compatible with a house sound system -- organ tone needs to "bounce" or "roll around" in the room in order to emulate the effect you get from a pipe organ in a well-designed church. To make this happen, we place the organ speakers so that they direct most of the sound upward at the ceiling or outward toward walls or even back toward a reflective surface. Organ tone does not sound good when it comes "straight" out the speakers aimed toward people's ears, nor does it produce the musical and visceral effect of a true pipe organ.

    This is the opposite of what a house system does -- a house system works to MINIMIZE reflected sound, to send the sound as directly as possible into the ears of the listeners with minimum "smear" from bouncing and rolling the sound through the room. This is essential for the clarity of speech, but is deadly to organ tone.

    In certain rare cases I have acceded and let an organ get installed this way, but that is only when it is fully understood by everyone (especially the player) that the organ will no longer function as a "pipe organ replacement" instrument, but will simply now be another minor instrument in the "worship ensemble" or whatever they call it. The organ is reduced to making some little unobtrusive noises to go along with the guitars and drums and such. Certainly an awful thing to do to a good organ, but sometimes we're talking about some old clunker organ being used in a music program where they wouldn't know what to do with a real organ anyway. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it is simply the wrong thing to do to an organ if you want it to sound like an organ!

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  • Melos Antropon
    commented on 's reply
    Paul:

    What Michael said - in spades.

    Tony

  • myorgan
    replied
    Paul,

    If you can provide the model number, it will help us help you. Depending on the genre of Allen Organ, audio was handled in vastly different ways. Therefore, the advice we give is entirely dependent on the exact circumstances of your instrument you're attempting to connect to the sound system.

    I might also mention that connecting a church organ to a sound system in a church is an entirely bad idea for several reasons:
    • The organ produces tones which exceed both ends of the audio spectrum that most (if not all) church sound systems are incapable of reproducing.
    • The organist needs to be in control of his/her sound so (s)he can blend appropriately with the music program. If that control is relegated to a teenager in a sound booth listening through a pair of headphones rather than live audio, it is impossible to list how many levels of "bad" that will result. The organ becomes a point of contention in the service vs. an enhancement supporting worship. Think of how so many drummers have had to be placed in an enclosed box to continue being part of the service.
    • The organ will NOT be a simple stereo input (or output). In order to reproduce the organ sound in a believable manner, the organ sound needs to come from as many sound sources (speakers) as possible. Think of relegating your home theatre surround sound system to simple TV audio. It would be a waste of resources, as well as degrade the resources you have.
    I hope this helps you better understand some of the basic concerns with putting organ sound through a church's sound system vs. through a system designed specifically to reproduce organ sound.

    I look forward to hearing more about your new organ.

    Michael

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  • paulhoffmann
    replied
    Thank you for these Information. I want to learn more about Allen's technology of and "thinking" behind their organ sound system. Actually it is not about an ADC-6000 but a new model that should be connected to a very sophisticated sound system to be installed in a church.
    Especially I am interested in what signals can be accessed separately and whether it is possible to access individiual pipe sounds (Hauptwerk enables this).

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  • myorgan
    replied
    Originally posted by paulhoffmann View Post
    There are 7 independent channels. What signal are assigned to these channels? Are they assigned to the manuals (2 x 3 = 6) and the pedal (1 x). Or are they assigned to certain stops? Are there separated channels for reverb? Or do they have some special multichannel surround layout?
    Paul,

    Could you send me a private message regarding your specific needs? I have an ADC-6000 and probably have what you need.

    Depending on the organ's original configuration, two channels are assigned to the Swell, two channels are assigned to the Choir, and the remaining three are assigned to a combination of the Great and Pedal stops. If you have an ADC-6000 with reverb, it depends on the type of reverb you have installed. If it is the standard Allen reverb, the signal is usually fed back into the audio stream of each channel, so both the original sound and reverb sound come from the same speaker.

    The ADC-6000 is (to my knowledge) not capable of surround sound as we currently understand it. However, to an extent it is capable of surround sound, depending on speaker placement. That said, it is generally not good practice to place the speakers at different distances from the intended audience due to possible phase interference.

    Hope that helps.

    Michael

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  • advent_music
    replied
    You'll be wanting the cage chart from Allen. It shows which cards produce which voices and the output each is assigned to. If you can't find it inside the organ, Allen will send you a PDF. I have an ADC-6500 and sent a request to Allen on their web contact page along with the serial number and they sent me the chart very quickly.

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  • paulhoffmann
    replied
    There are 7 independent channels. What signal are assigned to these channels? Are they assigned to the manuals (2 x 3 = 6) and the pedal (1 x). Or are they assigned to certain stops? Are there separated channels for reverb? Or do they have some special multichannel surround layout?

    Leave a comment:


  • myorgan
    replied
    Originally posted by AllenAnalog View Post
    There are two more amplifier channels in this organ and a mysterious silver box in the audio system. That's a two-channel D-40 amplifier on the shelf to the right of the upper S-100 amp.

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  • jbird604
    replied
    The way you chose to do it (right at the cage) is probably the best you could have done. Since all the sounds are generated in the cage, you can be sure that you are getting all the stops, regardless of how they may be distributed among all those amps. I'm certain that the 6000 is and always was a "seven channel" organ, though most of them were installed with at least one extra amplifier, which was for "bass boost" and drove a subwoofer. But in order to sample the organ properly, you only need the seven outputs from the cage.

    Perhaps the extra amps in that one were put there just to drive a set of separate reverb speakers or something. Doesn't really matter though, since you've already got the full signal coming into your mixer.

    There is no concern about your Y-cables affecting expression, as all expression is handled inside the cage, before the signals go through their final pre-amp stage. So that signal emerging from the cage is certainly recorder-ready. There "might" be some post-cage options installed, such as special tremulant units or reverb generators, and you won't of course be picking up whatever those external devices contribute to the sound, except with the microphones. But that is a minor consideration, given that you only want to add a little bit of extra organ sound to the mix.

    Oddly enough, it used to be more common for sound engineers to complain to me (as the guy who installed a good many Allen organs back in the 80's and 90's) that when they tried recording their choir, they were getting TOO MUCH organ in the microphones, not too little! Not sure why, except that in a great many churches the organ speaker chambers happen to be directly above and behind the choir, and with the choir mics often hanging right over the choir, they were getting a big load of organ sound too, being so close to the chamber openings.

    In recent years, I have heard the opposite though -- sound operators claiming that they don't get any organ at all in the mics, and wanting a line out so they can mix it into their recordings or broadcast. I often find in such cases that the organist is an older person or sometimes just very insecure or barely competent and really isn't playing loud enough for ANYONE to hear the organ, even in the church itself. Or (worst case) the church's music director has intentionally toned down the organ so much (by turning the speakers around backward, or by making the player keep it very soft) because he or she doesn't like the organ anyway, and wants a piano or (God forbid) the "band" to be heard instead of the organ.

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  • LanceR
    replied
    Well, the deed is done. No harm done, that I'm aware of. We will be having a full run-through of our Christmas Concert tomorrow evening, so I'll find out if I've added any noise to the system then. I didn't hear anything significant, but not being an organist I couldn't really put it to the test. My most important goal is to do no harm. I am prepared to remove what I put in place if there is any thought that I've degraded the sound. I decided to use my rca taps where the 7 channels came out of the card cage. I am going to go with only the 7 channels for now. My small mixer only has 8 channels so I have to leave at least one channel behind for now. I'll just have to see how this works. I will adapt as needed or toss the whole thing.

    I see where one side of the D-40 dual channel amp is one feed to the backside of the mysterious silver box and a second feed is one of the 7 lines from the card cage (I think I traced it correctly. It is somewhat difficult to trace some of these cables since I don't want to move them). Those 2 must be summed because the third line (the one visible in one of my earlier photos) runs into the quad channel amplifier. I'm guessing this is some type of mixer for delay or reverb for one of the instruments?

    I am aware that capturing the direct signal out is very different than capturing the live sound. I realize that the building's acoustic characteristics are as equal a part of the sound as are the speakers and how the organ itself is played. I am trying to beef up the live sound by a little bit. I know that I am not good enough a sound tech to match the sound of the live organ by adding reverb and other effects in post-processing.

    Below are some more photos I took. The keyboards and the pedal photos are self-explanatory (I think). The very small keyboard at the organist's left elbow is a Schulmerich Carillons (or chimes as our organist calls it). There's a photo of the D-40 amp and the before and after with my RCA splitters. I bought fairly cheap cables just to prove the concept. If this seems to work for our organist I will buy some serious shielded cables. For now I made sure to bundle and route my cables away from anything that looks to be high-voltage. The proof will be in the pudding. I will follow up with any results, good or bad.

    I love the build quality and attention to detail that went into the construction of this organ. It truly is a work of art. I imagine the workers that built this organ went home with a smile on their face, knowing that were building something that would be loved and appreciated for a timespan that might even outlast them. This organ is still going strong after 34 years!

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  • Leisesturm
    replied
    What John said. That mixer is certainly up to the job of adding some ambience to the lines coming out of the organ, but AllenAnalog raises an interesting point about the channel count. You want to get them all or not at all. So you really want to know 'exactly' what is what. Given that the question is being asked at all ... eesh ... I'd be leery. Allen's are squirrely about 'y'ing outputs off pre-amps and sometimes it messes up expression signals and sometimes not. I don't know about this model in particular. But it seems to me that although there are 2 dozen speakers, if there are only 9(?) channels then there are only 9 sources of unique information. 9 microphones placed in close proximity to 9 speakers carrying unique channel information could be fed to the mixer to add 'presence'. FWIW, as a musician, if not as an organist, for an archival recording of a performance with choir I would want to hear it as the soundboard technician heard it. Hopefully the soundboard heard it as a listener also heard it. If it is organ shy then that would be instructive I would think. Rather than boost the organ in the recording process have the organist throw on the Tuba Magna. Just kidding. But I think our good sound technician is pretty long suffering. It's great to want to go above and beyond the call of duty but, really, there is a LOT of work involved in getting 9 channels of organ properly available to the mixer regardless of whether its microphones or direct. If the problem can be solved by using more organ resources in the first place, that is what I would be recommending.

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  • jbird604
    replied
    Usually the stock response to this kind of inquiry is "just don't." And I do get a shiver when a typical sound person mentions opening up the organ console to "tap into" something. They are normally up to no good.

    But in this case, I can see the logic. I still think the sound that's going to be picked up at the input to the seven amps isn't going to be real "live" organ sound, as the sound of an organ is a complex entity, developed in the open space into which the organ speaks. The unadorned signal at the amp input is the "raw material" of the sound, but is only one component of it. At least you will get SOME "real" organ sound picked up by the microphones to help augment the crude and raw signals your seven organ lines will provide.

    I trust that you will be using very high quality shielded audio cables between those organ amps and inputs to your mixer. I have all too often discovered that even a well-trained sound engineer's efforts will introduce some hum or interference into the organ's amps and speakers, since your direct connection to the amp input not only feeds you a signal to work with, but simultaneously, of course, opens the door for extraneous noise and especially hum to be fed back to the amps via your cabling. Also be absolutely sure that there is no phantom power going down those cables from the mixer into the organ!

    You must be sure that the trimmers and faders and various tone controls on the seven inputs channels are carefully adjusted so the resulting signal coming out of the mixer correctly matches the balance of the organ stops as they come out of the organ speakers. If you don't get this right, the recorded sound of the organ will be out of balance, with some stops or some frequency ranges exaggerated and others diminished in relation to how they should be balanced. This is an ART as much as a science, and represents the work of the organ voicer who installed the organ to begin with.

    Bottom line though, and I speak from experience, the sound you'll get on your recording may well be quite uninspiring and ugly. I have tried recording my own organs at home over the years using both the "direct out" method and the "microphone" method. There is no comparison in the quality of the results. The direct-from-line-out recordings are always lacking in life, seem harsh and flat, no matter how I try to equalize them, pan the signals around, add reverb, or whatever. It just doesn't sound "natural" and your organist may well be disappointed and just ask you to simply record with the mics and pick up whatever organ sound you can, even though the choir will dominate.

    BTW, just a bit of experimentation with microphone placement might yield surprisingly good results. If those mics are right over the choir, you might get a much better blend of organ and choir if your mics are pulled back 40 or 50 feet.

    Good luck!

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  • samibe
    replied
    I wonder if there might be a way to split off the mono signal that gets sent to the reverb so that you get a 'pre-mixed' organ signal (rather than having to capture and edit all of the audio channels separately).

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  • LanceR
    replied
    Larry

    Thanks for the info. The more info the merrier! I am going to head to church in a bit. My cabling supplies came in from Parts Express so I have a fun afternoon ahead!

    I will take more photos of the rest of the organ, if anyone is interested in seeing any other parts of it.

    Lance

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  • AllenAnalog
    replied
    There are two more amplifier channels in this organ and a mysterious silver box in the audio system. That's a two-channel D-40 amplifier on the shelf to the right of the upper S-100 amp. You can see the gray input cables on the right, the two volume controls, and the twisted pair speaker cables on the terminal strip. So we have quite a mashup of three different generations of amps with a total of 9 channels. I'm not sure what the silver box mounted on the underside of the shelf holding the two S-100 amps does. You would have look at the markings on the box and trace the RCA cables connected to it to determine its function.

    The three S-100 amps should be type 13 models, which do not have the additional preamp stage. The second RCA jack should indeed be paralleled with the one in use but take a look at the chassis - there should be some markings on it indicating the function of the two inputs.

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