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  • Need your help/opinions on Baldwin



    I'm new to this site and I was hoping to draw on your knowledge and expertise. I've been the organist/music director at my church for the last 21 years. For many of those years I've been playing an electronic Baldwin that has been holding up fairly well with only a few repairs over the last number of years (I'm not sure of the model number but it looks similar to a 640 that I saw photos of online...I'll double-check and post the model number). Here's my dilemma: we're planning to remodel the choir-loft this year and would love to free up some precious real-estate. Our parish inherited this organ and speakers from our local Cathedral when they installed their new pipe organ. This Baldwin came with a large platform of "mock-pipe" speakers and a separate, monstrous bass cabinet. (These "mock-pipes" I speak of are tall cylinders of various heights and diameters that are painted to look like brass and have speakers on top). I'd like to remove these speakers and free up some much needed space in the choir loft...and perhaps purchase some sort of cabinets that can be wall mounted. I had my local organ-repair technician give me a quote for new speakers and he said that I'd be looking at somewhere between $7500 and $10,000. WOW!!! Are my speaker choicesreally thatrestricted and expensivefor a Baldwin? If so, wouldn't I be better off buyinga newer used-organ that would be a bit more reliable and permit me to run it through our PA system (i.e. a digital)? If this is the better way to go, how do I get rid of our old organ? Is there really a market for these organs? Our current organ was installed in the choir-loft with the use of a crane...so this isn't exactly an easy removal process. </P>


    I don't know if this will effect your feedback, but I thought I'd give you some background information on my needs/playing style. I'm the sole organist and have been so for virtually the entire 21 years. Both the pastor and myself generally prefer a more contemporary style of music and I play the digital piano probably 60% of the time. I also play the guitar for some of the contemporary Christian songs that our parish seems to enjoy. For me, the organ is the instrument of choice for processionals, recessionals, etc...but not necessarily the backbone of our parish's music ministry. I do realize that my decision will impact future generations...so perhaps I need something that meets our current needs as well as the needs of a future organist (years from now!) who may have a more traditional/classical style.</P>


    I'll stop rambling now. Please chime in with any comments or opinions you may have. Thank you.</P>

  • #2
    Re: Need your help/opinions on Baldwin



    Shane,</P>


    A Baldwin 640 has 16 audio channel outputs, and that's why there are so many of those (somewhat silly) fake pipe speakers. There's nothing special about the speakers themselves, just inexpensive cone speakers in cardboard tubes. You could save some space by re-mounting them in plywood boxes, but actually that's a lot of trouble for such an unremarkable speaker set. You could replace them with ordinary sound-system speakers (except the bass cabinet, which needs to be big) and hang them on the wall if that would help.</P>


    A competent and organ-knowledgeable tech could consult the 640 service manual and see that there really are just a few discrete audio channels. The multitude of outputs come from a simple band-passing filter network, so there's not much value in keeping them all separate like that. A much simpler audio system of perhaps 5 or 6 channels could be created and could be played through a modern set of high-power amps and good quality commercial speakers.</P>


    An alternative, which I actually used for several years when our church had an old Baldwin 601, would be to mix all the channels down to a single mono mix. I did this because there simply was not room for the 10-channel audio system that the organ was designed to drive, and I sent that mono mix through an Alesis reverb and out into a stereo pair of high-power amps driving a nice stack of speakers. Sounded far better than the organ had sounded through its ancient and creaky old 10-channel system.</P>


    In your situation, though, there may be several good reasons to junk that old organ and replace it with a modern digital. You'll need a crane, of course, to get it out of the choir loft, but you could save a bunch of space and gain tremendously better organ sound with even the cheapest new digital organ. I know a church that replaced a big old Baldwin with a little Johannus Opus 27 recently. About the cheapest decent AGO church organ I know of. And it sounds like a million dollars compared to the old Baldwin, weighs about a fourth as much, and freed up a huge amount of space.</P>


    A modern digital will have outputs to feed it to the sound system, but that may not be wise, for numerous reasons discussed elsewhereon this forum. (Do you want that teenager in the sound booth "riding gain" andcontrolling your dynamics when you play a big postlude or, worse yet, when you play a lovely piece with quiet, almost inaudible sections followed by tutti?) A compact dedicated organ speaker system could be provided, wall-hung if necessary, and would be a far better solution.</P>


    Just some ideas. Hope this helps.</P>


    John</P>
    <P mce_keep="true"></P>
    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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    • #3
      Re: Need your help/opinions on Baldwin



      Because you want to make limited use of the organ, I agree with John that you want to go with a new digital. It will open up MIDI opportunities for the contemporary music you want to include. In this day and age, you can even play beautiful instrumental music from the Organ console. And your piano selections aswell! If your congregation is behind you and will fund a new instrument you'll gain the space you want and another 20 years of reliability! Putting a new sound system on the Baldwin only makes sense if you are financially limited to that option.</P>


      The bad news, no the Baldwin won't bring much on resale! Considering the weight you'll probably have to find one of us true organ nuts to be willing to pay the moving costs.</P>

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Need your help/opinions on Baldwin



        I would not recommend attempting to use the church sound system for the organ sound. First of all, that sound system is probably not designed (or able) to handle the power in the low frequencies that any good organ generates, and will either sound awful or actually destroy itself if subjected to them. Secondly, most church sound systems are deliberately set up to avoid stimulating the reverberation nodes of the building, so that speech is clearly heard; the frequency response may also have been tailored to clarify speech, since the primary function of the sound system is to project the words of the minister. Obviously, this is not good for the organ music. Finally, using the sound system does put the ultimate control of what your playing sounds like in the hands of persons who are almost certainly not trained in proper sound management or sympathetic to organ music.</P>


        David</P>

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        • #5
          Re: Need your help/opinions on Baldwin



          Sorry for the long delay. Thank you so much for all your wonderful advice. It's nice to know I've got so many more options than what I thought I had. I was really under the impression that my only option was the "Baldwin-style" speaker cabinets that our local organ tech recommended (at the exhorbitant price of ... if I recall correctly...was $2,500 per cabinet times 4 cabinets for a total of $10,000). And, in the end, I'd be powering these new speakers with the same ancient amplifiers. </P>


          I suppose my ultimate decisionwillbe dictated bybudget. I'll have to discuss finances with our pastor and make a decision based on what we can afford right now. In the interim, perhaps we can look at getting a new sound system for the existing organ (hopefully for less than $10,000!!) and use your "mono-mix" idea to get us up-and-running. This way, the sound system is already in place for when we get a new instrument. Then again, maybe I'll be surprised by his answer and I'll be shopping for an entirely new organ/sound system combo!!! We'll see.</P>


          Are there any special considerations for an amplifier/speaker combo for this setup? What would you recommend?</P>

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Need your help/opinions on Baldwin



            Shane,</P>


            Your best bet may be to engage the services of an honest and trustworthy organ tech in your local area. You'll need to find one who both appreciates and knows about these old Baldwins, and who is willing to think "outside the box" as far as a creative speaker set for it. Print out and show the tech my post above where I talk about the mono-mix idea. If you are looking at a fairly temporary solution and don't want to sink a fortune in this old organ, I'd sure recommend this approach.</P>


            But I can't really tell you what you need in terms of watts and speakers and placement of speakers without seeing the church and hearing the organ in it. You do need a competent local tech to help you. His services won't come cheap, but it will be worth every penny.</P>


            Best of luck! Keep us posted.</P>


            John</P>
            <P mce_keep="true"></P>
            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


            • #7
              Re: Need your help/opinions on Baldwin

              [quote user="shane"]

              S</p>

              In the interim, perhaps we can look at getting a new sound system for the existing organ (hopefully for less than $10,000!!) and use your "mono-mix" idea to get us up-and-running.  This way, the sound system is already in place for when we get a new instrument.  
              </p>

              [/quote]</p>

              At the risk of being jumped on, I don't think this "mono mix" idea is a good one, unless your auditorium is almost completely acoustically dead.  If you add some artificial reverb+stereo thing (which WILL sound artificial) and the room does have some reverberant character, it isn't going to work well.  Plus, the notion of using this sort of audio system with a possible new digital will waste the new instrument.</p>

              $2500 a cabinet for the new speakers recommended by your organ tech seems steep, but then I don't know what he's recommending. Even so, if you go that route now, you have a reasonable chance of being able to use those speakers with a new digital.  For 4 channels, you should be able to do better, and there's probably little or nothing wrong with using the existing audio amps.</p>

              To pile on to the notion of using the church's PA system, you don't even want to go there. </p>

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Need your help/opinions on Baldwin



                Unfortunately, I don't really know too much about the speaker cabinets he's recommending. From what I remember of our conversation, he claims there was a "guy" that still makes speaker cabinetsthat are appropriate for use with these old Baldwin organs. Admittedly, I don't know anything about the specs of these speakers...I was too distracted with the shock of the sticker-price to hear anything regarding number of speakers, cone size,etc.I don't distrust my local organ tech, however, it does concern me a little that he has a monopoly on the organ repair biz in our area. I don't know ofany other organ techs in the area that I can go to for a second opinion. I was definitely a bit concerned when I heard the price-tag of the speakers. </P>


                Recently my pastor has indicated that some funds have become available to renovate the choir-loft and asked me for my wish list. If possible, I'd love to recommend a new organ and sound system (in addition to the new paint job, choir seating, and removal of the old worn-out green carpeting) but I'm admittedly ignorant to the price-tag attached to such things. I also have no idea what I would do with our old organ (which I'm sure will be a concern of the pastor as well). How much would I expect to pay for a decent digital organ and a modern speaker/amp combo? I know it's nearly impossible to make such a recommendation with so many variables to consider...but how about a range? Our church has very good acoustics - a nice reverberant quality - and seats approximately 500. Here are a couple of photos for you to consider.</P>


                </P>


                </P>


                Thank you so much for all your help and patience with me. </P>

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