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Allen organ MDS 40s

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  • Allen organ MDS 40s

    Hello all you Allen organ tech’s. I need some help... I’m the proud new owner of a MDS 40s that has been sitting silent for the last 15 years. The church decided it was time for it to go since they have gone happy clappy on Sunday morning. The question I have is this instrument is going into my media room and is coming with 8 huge speakers. Can the organ accept smaller speakers and if so can someone advise the best ones to look at. I have chatted with the dealer but he wants to sell me some and has not been any help. The instrument is arriving in January and I am needing some options.

  • #2

    Full disclosure–I'm not an organ tech, but I'll give it a stab. First, are the speakers doubled (only requiring 4), or are there 8 discreet channels? Since it's a 3-manual, there might, indeed, be 8 channels of audio.

    Allen made some smaller speakers which might fill the bill. The HC-13 speakers are a smaller profile, and if I recall correctly, there are also HC-8 speakers available that may fill the bill. With each alternate speaker, you may have to re-voice the organ as the speakers were all different sonically and for specific situations. For any channel that doesn't have any 16', the really small presence projectors may actually work in some situations. You will need at least one HC-12 for the 32' Contre Bourdon (if it's a 32' Contre Violone you may be able to use an HC-14 or HC-15). For the 32' Reed, you will only need one of the larger speakers, rather than a smaller one.

    Check my gallery photos for some of the options available ( I don't have all the options there, but some.

    Also wait until others have weighed in, as there have been several alternate manufacturers suggested over the years.

    Hope this helps get you started.


    P.S. Welcome to the Forum. I hope you continue to participate here for years to come.
    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


    • #3
      The MDS-40S brochure indicates it has 8 internal channels mixed down to 4 channels for the "standard" installation. I suspect the church had an antiphonal or used doubled speakers to get to the 8 speakers.

      You should be able to use just for of the speakers for a "main" installation. Since the organ has a 32 ft Contra Bourdon, so two of yours ought to be HC-12s. A doubled speaker system is rarely needed in a home installation, so you could have an antiphonal if you wanted.

      The HC-13 is a smaller version of the HC-14/15 but uses a 12 inch woofer instead of 15-inch, in a significantly smaller cabinet. You'll still need the larger HC-12 for the channel with the 32 ft. stop. I don't think I have ever seen HC-13's for sale--maybe your Allen dealer has some used ones.

      Don't forget you can stack the regular speakers so you have a smaller footprint. You can paint the cabinets to match your wall color if you want them to blend more if they are not finished wood.

      You can s


      • #4

        Thanks for the reply. I am thinking it’s a a 4 channel since there are 4 speakers in the front and 4 in the back for The antiphonal. I was wondering if high end tower speakers would be a option. I have the specs for the hr100 speakers the dealer had suggested but when I talk to the technician at the store he is asking what the wattage the organ is speaking at which I do not know.


        • #5
          I'm sure you can't use the HR-100's on all channels, since the bass response would be limited.

          The usual Allen speakers for this model would be a combination of HC-14/15 (same model, just one has furniture finish and one is utility finish) and HC-12. These are very wide range response going from 32 Hz (for the HC-14/15) to nearly 20k Hz and down to 16 Hz with some roll off at the low end for the HC-12. I don't know of any typical high end tower speakers that would go as low with full power as the Allen speakers. Even the average home subwoofer doesn't really support the organ bass requirements as well as would be desired.

          The commercially available speaker systems that can work well with an organ are not only extremely rare, they are very likely larger than the Allen cabinets. Even in a church installation it is best if the speaker cabinets can be as small as possible--there's no advantage to shipping a heavier and larger cabinet than necessary. Allen build their cabinets to be about as compact as possible to fit the need.

          You can figure the organ is speaking at 100 watts per channel, though actual power is probably less than that.


          • #6

            Thank you for the info. I am gathering the speaker issue is going to be harder that expected.


            • #7
              In spite of all the techie details, you may not have to worry about all this too much. As toodles points out, the 40s is just a four-channel organ, so you only need four speaker cabinets for an ordinary installation. Two speakers carry the swell channels (which need separate speakers since the swell features sub and super couplers, therefore can put out quite a bit of power). And two others carry the combined great/pedal/choir.

              And you can stack them 2 by 2, each stack having only an 18" square footprint, so probably do-able. And as he said, the channel with the 32' stop in it needs to remain an HC-12 speaker, the others are not critical as to type, though the second great/pedal channel should be an HC-14/15 or possibly the other HC-12, if you wish. (In a home install, you're not overly worried about output level, so the added efficiency of the 14/15 over the 12 is not significant.)

              The other two channels, which carry only the swell stops, would probably be just fine coming through some smaller speakers. While many purists prefer keeping Allen brand speakers, even if downsizing to HC-13 cabinets, others (myself included) have used a variety of other speakers with Allen organs with good results. After all, you have a large latitude in voicing with the bass and treble controls on the MDS cage outputs, so you can probably compensate for the differences in tonal balance among different speakers. But you can't compensate for really BAD speakers, which may not even cover the full audio range or which may have a big ugly midrange emphasis.

              Bottom line -- if you can make room for four of the incoming HC cabinets, I'd suggest two HC-12's for the great/pedal/choir channels and two HC-14/15's for the swell channels unless you can get some very fine smaller cabinets to try out.

              If you can place these four cabinets some distance from the console you'll probably enjoy the sound more. Or face them away from you or even up at the ceiling so the sound can bounce off something before it gets to your ears.
              *** 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!



              • #8

                Does anyone have a copy or PDF file of the MDS-40S brochure? It would be fantastic, being that I have one at my church, and would love to have one on file. Thank you!