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  • Rodgers SW6 subwoofer?

    I recently visited a church with a Rodgers Artist 599.

    Although the organ was nice and I’d personally be quite pleased to have it, I was disappointed with the 32’ Bourdon. There was no subsonic sensation or movement like a real 32’ pipe or like the Walker at my church (or SVS subwoofer at home). There were two Rodgers bass speakers which looked relatively small and I’m pretty sure they were SW6’s. I just assumed the people who installed the organ didn’t use adequate bass speakers, however I came across this document:

    http://www.rodgersinstruments.com/up...20Pospisil.pdf

    It says the SW6’s should produce 16hz. But I can say with confidence that what I experienced was not 16hz. The bass response seemed to lose it around 28hz. It sort of appeared like the notes were getting lower in frequency going down the last octave, but I know what that’s supposed to sound/feel like, and that wasn’t it. I wasn’t sure if the Rodgers itself wasn’t producing the low frequencies or if it was the SW6 that couldn’t reproduce them.

    Does anyone have experience with the SW6 bass speakers? Can they actually do the lowest notes of a 32’ stop properly?
    Viscount C400 3-manual
    8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
    Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

  • #2
    That document provides a frequency response statement, but it gives no tolerance on the sound pressure level. Ideally, it would say 16 to xx,xxx Hz +/- 3 dB or something like that, and without a tolerance the response statement is not very meaningful.

    That said, response in the range of 16 to 32 Hz is very dependent upon speaker placement and the room geometry. The weight of the SW6 (68 pounds) hints that it is pretty small for a subwoofer for 16 Hz operation. You'd probably get better bottom octave response with a different subwoofer.

    "Doing 16 Hz properly" is all about the speaker and room as a system--even some headphones can go that low, but they are only "speaking" into your ear cavity.

    Comment


    • #3
      Toodles (as usual) provides a very succinct observation of the situation with the 599. I don't know what the speakers of a Trillium Masterpiece 908 are but I can make the observation that with the 32' Bourdon pulled, there is a peak of response around G or A above low C where structural damage to the Altar area seems imminent, but it quickly falls off to near inaudibility at low C. A lot of us forget that human hearing is commonly and repeatedly acknowledged to begin at 20hz. Most people cannot hear a 16'hz frequency no matter how loud it is. However, with sufficient speaker and amplifier resources, a similar level of physical response to what occurs around 20hz could be carried down to 16' and below. But the increase is very exponential. Either amplifier power has to be increased phenomenally, or cabinet size/driver area/ mass needed also increase pretty phenomenally. Conversely the 32' Bourdon could be voiced so as to reduce response around the output peak so there is a less apparent fall-off of response at cutoff, but as rsilva knows, that 599 isn't even trying to be in the same league as a Walker installation. It isn't even trying to be in the same league as a Trillium Masterpiece installation. But it looks to me like a pretty good alternative to a $350K pipe organ from a stock instrument organ company or the $1M an instrument with similar resources would cost from a front line pipe organ builder. I've come to enjoy having subwoofer response to my everyday music listening but quite by accident I've discovered that the bass from the subwoofer is especially intense in a small corner area outside of the listening room where no one ever goes. :-(

      Comment


      • #4
        The Fletcher Munson and Equal Loudness curves at this site are worth reviewing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fletch...3Munson_curves

        Note that the threshold of audibility is approximately 0 (Zero) dB at 1000 Hz, but about 75 dB at 20 Hz. That's about 5600 times as loud. Note that the audibility curves stop at 20 Hz. No wonder insanely large speaker area and cabinet size are needed to hear the bottom half-octave of the 32 Contra Bourdon.

        To my knowledge the easiest way to achieve performance at 16 Hz is with an infinite baffle--a very low resonance, large diameter woofer mounted in a wall between acoustically isolated spaces (room adjacent to garage, room with attic space above or basement below, etc.). It isn't always practicable for our music rooms, but when it is, it can produce excellent results.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for the responses toodles and leisesturm!

          To explain more, it wasn’t a case of the tone disappearing into not hearing it. It gave the impression that the organ knew the speaker wouldn’t do the lowest 10 or so notes so it instead was trying to fake it. Kind of like a Contra Violone, or the alternate Contra Bourdon on my organ (which isn’t even trying to do sub-32hz frequencies). But also not like those stops, it sort of seemed like it was trying.

          You may not have seen my post about this in another thread, so it’s worth saying that a while back I had hooked up my SVS 16-46PC+ to the Walker at my church in place of the Walker Quaker and it performed as well with the Contra Bourdon (it was at max excursion however while the Quaker obviously had more headroom). I’m thinking my SVS is overall smaller than the SW6, with only one driver.

          The Rodgers in question was in a church similar in size to mine (but higher ceilings) so there was plenty of room for low frequency development.
          Viscount C400 3-manual
          8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
          Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

          Comment


          • #6
            The elephant in the room here is that many digital organ builders seem to have forgotten or abandoned the idea of a 32' Bourdon that does what it's supposed to do. Most of us have heard a real 32' Bourdon and know the sensation of feeling the room, indeed our very own bodies, physically MOVED by the compressing and de-compressing of the air in the room at a rate as low as 16 times per second. There is just nothing like that authentic infrasonic feeling. Once you have experienced it, you won't forget it, and you will never be fully satisfied with an organ that can't do it!

            Once upon a time, electronic organ builders were happy to provide speakers with their organs that could actually duplicate the infrasonic compression/decompression of the atmosphere in a room by pipes, or come very close to it. Enormous woofers, such as the venerable Rodgers P1 and P2, were commonly found in premium organ installations, even in relatively small ones. Rodgers later used the P32 (which I think was also known as the SW18) over a long period of time. All of these cabinets were superb in their ability to move the volume of air required to shake the atmosphere in a fairly large building quite satisfactorily at the rate of 16 Hz.

            But somewhere along the way, organ companies were led to think that people didn't care that much about infrasonics, or that they could do it well enough using various shortcuts. For a while, certain builders were shipping that silly little "Sunfire" woofer with organs intended to be installed in 1000 seat churches. Seriously? About ONE cubic foot of enclosure contained one active 10" driver and one passive radiator, and an amplifier that supposedly could pump out 3000 watts or some such ungodly amount. It might have seemed like it was working when installed, but give it a few weeks to cook itself and emit a big puff of black smoke as it gave up the ghost.

            Other companies went off in other directions, using smaller and smaller cabinets with voodoo designs that supposedly could produce the power needed down below 20 Hz with magical ports and passive radiators, or by applying excruciating amounts of EQ, boosting the signal by many decibels down in the infrasonic range. You can make a woofer "seem" to be "loud" enough at 20 Hz if you EQ it enough, but there are limits to what the drivers can do, and limits to the amperage the amplifiers can deliver in real life musical events.

            But you know what? All that nonsense just doesn't work very well. The difference is clear to almost anybody except the marketing departments of these firms, apparently. If you can still find an analog Rodgers from the early 80's with a P32 subwoofer, go listen to that 32' Bourdon, then listen to the 32' Bourdon on any modern digital from one of the mass producers. There is no comparison.

            Walker seems to still offer some really big woofers if you want them. And M&O can provide Thigpen Rotary Woofers (or whatever they are called now) for a price. Allen has their SR-1 and SR-5 cabinets, though they more typically supply a rather puny B-20 as standard on the bass channels. But many other companies just don't seem to have any really big speakers to sell you any more. You just have to go looking for them on your own, I guess.
            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
              Hi,

              Must be the doldrums of summer. The annual subject of the 32' Bourdon, and why those bottom few notes are so disapointing to listen to.

              I would suggest those who are into this subject, read what has been posted on the forum concerning topic. Just remember the laws of physics haven't changed, so what has been written several years ago is still valid today.

              AV.

              P.S. why is the most important stop on the organ a Bourdon 32'. Why can't a Contra Bass do the job musically, or even a Contra Gemshorn. My experience with 32' stops have been more successful than the Contra Bourdon stop.

              Comment


              • #8
                Yes, it's something we seem to come back to over and over, but where would the fun be if we had all our issues settled and never had to rehash anything? There's no fun without some stirring of the proverbial pot!

                I think many of us are obsessed with the Contre Bourdon because we LOVE that feeling! Yes, musically a 32' Contre Violone can do the same pitches, and actually remain audible all the way down. But the Bourdon, with its heavy content of fundamental, just moves us more profoundly. In so many digital organs, this is one of the most painfully absent effects -- genuine palpable infrasonic movement.

                The big problem is always with the speakers. If an organ is going to have a 32' Contre Bourdon on the stoplist, the builder needs to provide a speaker that can produce the advertised effect in an actual room. Otherwise, he should just use a 32' string and admit that he's not going to even try to shake the house!
                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


                • #9
                  About a year ago I had the chance to play a huge Johannus American Classic organ in a rather large church.
                  This instrument comes with four 32' stops of which the Open Wood was my favorite.
                  The subwoofer that is supposedly standard with all large Johannus church organs is the 200 lbs. UL-5000 model with an onboard 800 watt RMS amplifier and an 18" driver.
                  At 20 Hz and below it shook the building and yes, you could feel the floor shaking.
                  Is it necessary to have the bottom half of the 32' octave ? I don't think so, as there is little to no musical content in that lower region, just a lot of rumble.
                  In addition, woofers with these capabilities cost somewhere near $5,000 installed.
                  Men just love the sub sonic regions of sound, women decidedly do not. I'm told that ladies' bodily organs can't tolerate these vibratiions internally but I digress.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks for the thoughts everyone!

                    What you said is very interesting jbird. I guess I hadn’t realised that many organ builders stopped trying. I agree, if there is a contra bourdon then do it right. I’d love to hear one of the older Rodgers you mentioned.

                    Yes, I like the shaking of the 32’ bourdon. Anytime I demo the Walker at my church I demo that, and everyone loves it (including children and females mrdc2000, not sure how anyone can’t love it?! :) ).

                    During services I have used it as a special effect in offertories or preludes. For instance, mixed with an 8’ bourdon and a quiet registration in the manuals. The lowest notes can really create a stimulating effect.

                    Hopefully if/when Modart releases their Organteq I’ll get a real 32’ bourdon at home. I have my SVS I can use or my Walker B2. One day...
                    Viscount C400 3-manual
                    8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                    Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I guess some like it and some don't! For me there is nothing else in the sound of an organ that compares to the sensation I get from those infrasonic waves. Makes my hair stand on end. YMMV.
                      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


                      • #12
                        A real 32 Contra Bourdon played at home with sufficient loudness will pop drywall nails and crack outside bricks if attached to that wall.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mrdc2000 View Post
                          A real 32 Contra Bourdon played at home with sufficient loudness will pop drywall nails and crack outside bricks if attached to that wall.
                          This could be handy for tearing down an old building! :-)
                          Bill

                          My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mrdc2000 View Post
                            A real 32 Contra Bourdon played at home with sufficient loudness will pop drywall nails and crack outside bricks if attached to that wall.
                            Do you mean actual 32’ bourdon pipes? :)

                            When I got my SVS subwoofer I was looking forward to listening to my organ CDs again ‘for the first time’. I didn’t realise what I was missing. Even besides just better quality bass overall, there are a some recordings which indeed do shake the walls some—one in particular, the Guillou recording of the Reubke organ sonata, the intro has some serious 32’ pipe usage. I don’t think the SVS can get loud enough to cause damage, or at least I hope not!
                            Viscount C400 3-manual
                            8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                            Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by arie v View Post
                              P.S. why is the most important stop on the organ a Bourdon 32'. Why can't a Contra Bass do the job musically, or even a Contra Gemshorn. My experience with 32' stops have been more successful than the Contra Bourdon stop.
                              I suspect (strongly) that it is because that is all most organs (digital or otherwise) built and sold in the U.S. have available! We (organists) don't choose the stoplist, and on none of the hundreds of instruments I've seen personally or viewed their stoplists in publication or online have 32' Contra-violones or 32' Contra-Basses. It's a 32' Contra-Bourdon or a 32' Contra-Bourdon and a 32' Posaune, and that's that. That large Johannus mentioned with four 32' stops is an extreme outlier in North America. But it probably has a 32' Contra-Bourdon as one of those four 32' stops.

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