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  • Adding MIDI to an Allen - unusual question

    Hi all. I'm thinking of midifying my Allen ADC 2110. The good news is that I have a background in electrical engineering, so I feel confident that I can solder it up just fine.

    But then I had a chat with my organ repairman. He's a great guy, but he also has a close relationship with the Viscount dealer and wants to put a new Viscount in my house. I don't blame him--they look like beautiful organs, and I wouldn't mind having one if they cost less! He told me this morning that he's seen six or seven people gut their old Allens and add midi, but then when they hook up Hauptwerk, only a single 8' stop plays on the manuals and pedals. He said that his customers then regret making the switch.

    What do you all think about this? It doesn't make sense to me. If I solder a separate wire to each key contact and pedal reed switch, it seems like a no-brainer that the midi encoders would be able to figure out that there are separate notes, and Hauptwerk should work just fine. I realize the keys and pedals are currently matrixed, but I can cut all those wires and solder new ones. Am I missing something?

    Edit: I do not plan to midify the stop tabs. I would just use a touchscreen to select stops. Actually, I will also midify the pistons and toe-studs too.

  • #2
    Absolute nonsense.
    -Admin

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

    Comment


    • #3
      I midified an Allen 1105 years ago. I did not take the Allen hardware/software out rather I added midi. Back then, midi modules were few and therefore, I needed the Allen stops too. I think that is still a good approach today. Add midi but leave the Allen stuff intact. If you don't want to blend the Allen stops with your midi touch screen application, just unplug the amps or disconnect the speakers. Hopefully you know that Hauptwerk is not your only option for software. Jorgan and Grandorgue are free and Great Organ is less expensive. Good luck on your project and ignore the tech.

      Comment


      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        Horseshoe,

        You added MIDI to your Allen over a thousand years ago? I've got to hear more about that!

        Michael

      • jbird604
        jbird604 commented
        Editing a comment
        Michael, you are so wicked!

    • #4
      Thanks. Do those other software options sound as good as Hauptwerk?

      Comment


      • #5
        Allen does have a MIDI kit for the 2100 series organs, however it is expensive and must be purchased through a dealer. There are other MIDI boards out there as well. There is no reason to gut the Allen. There are other people on here that MIDIfied their Allen's. All you have to do is search. There is no reason that only one 8' stop would be working. As said above, there are other options other than Hauptwerk and they work great, I tried all of them and have been using them with no problems. It seems to me like your repairman is trying to make a sale.
        Last edited by you795a; 07-04-2020, 12:55 PM.

        Comment


        • Admin
          Admin commented
          Editing a comment
          While there are many third party options for midifying keyboards, if you want to preserve the Allen voices, you'll need to either use Allen's retrofit kit, or add another set of contacts to the keyboards. There are no solutions that I'm aware of that allow you to share the same key contacts between the internal Allen electronics and a MIDI encorder, other than Allen's.

        • you795a
          you795a commented
          Editing a comment
          Admin, you are correct about no other third party options to preserve the Allen electronics other than the Allen retrofit kit. I was thinking the keys were bussed but they are matrixed.

      • #6
        Grande Orgue is very similar to Hauptwerk in its design and capabilities. They both started from the same software base. jOrgan is a bit less advanced and doesn't have the extensive voicing and adjustment features of the other two. The advantage that Hauptwerk has is that it is commercial product that is supported by the developer and is more of a turnkey solution, as VPOs go, than the others. There are also many more sample sets, both free and commercial, available than from the competition. This disadvantage to Hauptwerk is that is a commercial program that you have to pay for and that it has a burdensome copy protection scheme. I'm a Hauptwerk owner and am very satisfied with it, but I don't like copy protected software because of the risks involved relying a third party hardware and service provider for the life of the product. If I were sticking my toe in the VPO waters today, I'd definitely be giving Grande Orgue a more detailed look than I did ten years ago when I purchased Hauptwerk.
        -Admin

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

        Comment


        • #7
          Originally posted by sraevsky View Post
          Hi all. I'm thinking of midifying my Allen ADC 2110.
          [snip]
          But then I had a chat with my organ repairman. He's a great guy, but he also has a close relationship with the Viscount dealer and wants to put a new Viscount in my house. I don't blame him--they look like beautiful organs, and I wouldn't mind having one if they cost less! He told me this morning that he's seen six or seven people gut their old Allens and add midi, but then when they hook up Hauptwerk, only a single 8' stop plays on the manuals and pedals. He said that his customers then regret making the switch.

          What do you all think about this?
          I think he's trying to sell you an organ, and it's absolute hogwash! John (jbird604) has a thread on midifying his Allen organ, and the organ sold out from under him because he didn't alter the original organ at all (other than to add MIDI). He's now MIDIfying a Rodgers console to replace the Allen. Personally, I've never heard what your dealer is saying–ever, unless the person didn't know what they were doing.

          In the multitude of counselors, there is safety–Proverbs. I have added MIDI to my ADC-4300, and will be also adding it to either the ADC-8000 or ADC-5400. So far, I've had no issues with adding MIDI to an Allen.

          Michael
          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)
          • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

          Comment


          • jbird604
            jbird604 commented
            Editing a comment
            It is true that my old MOS organ could be MIDI-ed without losing the native Allen stops, using a special adapter built just for MOS-1 organs by Harrison Labs. A similar product exists for MOS-2 organs and MDC models.

            Unfortunately, for ADC and MADC models, like the one you have, these third-party boards do not work. These developers said some time ago that they were planning to develop an adapter for ADC organs, but to my knowledge they did not.

            So, the only viable way to add MIDI to an Allen ADC or MADC model is with the Allen MIDI translator board, which is quite pricey. It's a simple board that integrates directly into the data stream in these organs. The installation is simple enough for anybody to do if they can move a few cables and possibly attach a few wires to some stop tabs or REM outputs on a board. But it's just kind of ridiculously expensive. There are all kinds of third-party MIDI encoders out there that can MIDI up a console by attaching to each individual key, and these only cost two or three hundred dollars. The Allen device costs several times as much, and I don't see why. It's just a few IC's on a small board, along with a few odd items in the kit.

            But this is the only way I know of to do the job, if you really want to keep the Allen voices working. You might be better off to just get an old dead organ console to use as a base and leave the Allen alone. Sell it and recover the cost of building the MIDI organ.

        • #8
          Interesting feedback from everyone. I do not want to keep the Allen voices--they sound digitized and very non pipe-like. I'm looking forward to more realistic pipe organ sound from a VPO. Looks like I have more homework to do on Grand Orgue. Thanks for the input.

          Comment


          • #9
            If preserving the native Allen sounds is not important to you, then certainly the Allen console is a fine one to use as a base for your VPO. The key and pedal contacts are easily accessible for wiring to a standard encoder, and the quality of the keyboards and pedals themselves is unsurpassed. Even my ancient 1975 MOS organ still has the original pedal board felt and keyboard bushings and such and plays just fine. Pistons on your 2110 are also of the highest quality, and with the 2110 you have a full set of them, generals, divisionals, and all the extras. And the console itself is of much higher quality than most.

            If you wish, you can even MIDI up the stop tabs and save the DM-3 capture action. The sense contact for the DM-3 is a separate reed switch on the tab assembly, not connected to the reed switch that turns the stop on and off, so you could keep the capture action working if you find it adequate.

            However, as I'm just now discovering in my exploration of Grand Orgue, the capture facilities available in the VPO programs like this are far and away more flexible and useful. For example, in Grand Orgue you have 1000 memory positions to fill in the piston sequencer. You could theoretically set up the entire sequence of registrations you'd need for a very elaborate program and never use them all. You only need ONE physical piston to operate it -- a "next" button to move to the next registration in your program. Everything else can be easily done with your mouse or touch screen as you set up your program.

            Of course you might also enjoy having some general purpose pistons for everyday playing, and that's where the existing pistons could come in handy. The drawback to using the stop tabs though is that you find it very hard if not impossible to match up the tabs with the stops on many if not most of the sample sets you'll be using.

            It's a fun pursuit though.
            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


            • #10
              You are certainly right about the quality of the console. I was thinking hard about getting a new Johannus, but I ultimately could not part with my console (which also has some nice custom toe studs).

              I would be interested in hearing whether there are any real downsides to Grand Orgue. For example, is there a delay between keypress and sound? I read something about GO being slower than HP on another forum, but that could be computer specific. Also, does it sound inferior to HP with a comparable sample set?

              Comment


              • tbeck
                tbeck commented
                Editing a comment
                For any VPO you need to optimize your PC in order to minimize latency. I use GO on Linux Mint 20.04 and have no problems with latency.

                I haven't done a side-by-side comparison with HW, however, listening to HW on Contrebombarde, and playing my various sample sets, I can't hear any great loss of sound quality. Sound quality might be different for someone who has very finely tuned ears, but I'm perfectly happy with the sample sets I play.

              • Admin
                Admin commented
                Editing a comment
                There's not going to be much, if any, difference in the sound quality of a given sample set between HW and GO. It's possible that there could be a difference in the way the samples are handled internally in the two programs, but I doubt that anyone could discern a difference in sound even with a direct A/B comparison. The audio gear - DAC, amplifiers, and speakers, will have a much greater impact on quality.

                As for latency, this is affected by how the samples are processed, and one program may be more efficient than the other, but, again, external hardware- MIDI and audio interfaces and their respective drivers- will also contribute to latency.

              • jbird604
                jbird604 commented
                Editing a comment
                For my project I bought a refurbished Windows computer. The processor is an i7 with 16GB RAM and 2TB hard drive, running the current build of Windows 10. It cost about $150, I think, plus another $125 or so for touch screen monitor. In that ballpark anyway.

                When I first loaded Grand Orgue there was more latency that I wanted, but all I had to do was update my drivers and tinker with settings. Stuff like buffers and such, I don't even remember now. But it was simple, and I got it down to a few milli-seconds and it is totally undetectable to me. For a while I was playing GO stops in combination with the native Allen stops, and there was no noticeable difference in the attack speed.

                I also recommend that you read the "Glitch-Free" document here on the forum and try to eliminate from Windows the various default routines that can interrupt the computer and divert it from the task of making music. That's a different topic, but it does pay dividends, and can cut the boot time down to about 30 seconds if you get rid of all the extraneous garbage that Windows normally loads on startup.

            • #11
              Admin,

              Could your MIDI adapter help with a MADC organ, or is it just for ADC organs? (https://zumagroup.com/midi-stop-controller/)

              Michael
              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)
              • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

              Comment


              • Admin
                Admin commented
                Editing a comment
                It worked with any Allen with a DM capture system, but I'm no longer manufacturing them.

              • myorgan
                myorgan commented
                Editing a comment
                Too bad! I have 3 organs with the DM capture system that could use such a card. Now that you've brought it up, I remember your post about the sum of the parts exceeding the value of the board.

                Michael
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