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Newbie question re Allen MDS-8 battery and pedalboard issues

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    Newbie question re Allen MDS-8 battery and pedalboard issues

    Partly due to the wealth of information available on the forum (THANK YOU!!!) I have just become the delighted owner of an Allen MDS-8 bought privately from the original owner. I've tried to search to see if my questions have already been answered, so my apologies if they were & I just didn't find it.

    First, the organ needs a replacement battery--the indicator light is flashing, and it doesn't remember combinations added to the memories. I know the ADC models had a battery that was unfortunately placed. Was this an issue with the MDS series, or should it really just need the battery swapped out and that's it? The manual says that's a job for a tech, but is it really something an owner shouldn't attempt? The organ was a real bargain (otherwise, I could not have afforded one so recent) but getting it did require a bit of a budget stretch, so if I can avoid unnecessary expense without risking harming the organ, I'd like to. I don't know much about electronics, but my husband is competent.

    The other thing I notice is that the lowest 14 pedals have a decay or echo to the sound instead of cutting off cleanly. That's going to make it harder for me to judge the accuracy of my releases as I practice, for sure. Again, can we do anything about that, or is it time to look for a technician?

    And last, I do know the organ would sound best if voiced to my room, but I'm assuming it's not worth what I presume would be a bit of an expense, as I have only been taking lessons since February, and am practicing rather than performing in my small space. But while I have tried to educate myself, I still don't really understand what voicing actually does, other than adjusting the volume of the organ to the space it's in.

    Thanks in advance for the help! And I'm open to any other advice I might not know I need, too!



    Welcome to the Forum. I hope you continue to participate here for a time to come.

    A few questions about your organ before I can help. Our techs can probably figure it out on their own, but I need help. Regarding the pedal sustain/reverb, does your organ have Reverb or any other ambiance processing? If so, that can probably be adjusted and corrected. If your organ is of the generation of MDS organs which have the console controller, the issue can be fixed there.

    There were 2 generations of MDS organs. The earlier organs were 1/2 ADC technology (card readers, basic note on/off MIDI, etc.), while the later organs were more robust (console controller, and full MIDI implementation, etc.). The answers you seek depend on whether your organ is early or late MDS.

    Voicing is where the organ is adjusted to match the space it is in. On Allen organs (of the earlier MDS era), it involves setting the levels on each logic card inside the organ. Each card (or section of a card) has Bass, Treble, Mid, and Gain controls on it. Others here can provide the voicing instructions for you. I'm not sure if the later MDS organs had switched to computer laptop voicing or if that came with a later generation of Allen organ.

    Either way, the answers you seek need to come from a member who is familiar with the specific generation of organ you have. Sorry I couldn't help you more.

    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 & 4 Pianos


      Michael, thanks! I haven't played an organ that had reverb before so that was not on my radar. It does have a general tab for reverb, and when I engage that, all the pedals sound just like what I described in the lower section. So, apparently the reverb is kicking in on that lower section even when the tab is not engaged.

      I did forget to mention that the organ has the Allen Smart Recorder box that came with it, though I am not currently using it. The previous owners used it to play pre-recorded hymns, though they knew you could record yourself as well. But on the back of the box, there is a printed paper sticker that says, "This product contains SmartMIDI tm" That must have come from the dealer; the couple had no idea what it meant. The organ itself has tabs for Midi on Great, Swell, and Pedal individually. Also, there are a few blank tabs, one in the Great, and three as a group by themselves. No idea if that's related or not. Does any of that help determine if it's an early or late model? I'm afraid I only researched Midi far enough to decide it was unlikely to be included on something I could get. The serial number is AK-13484, on the the off chance that helps.



        Hi Sharon,
        You listed 3 issues: battery backup, pedals, voicing.
        1. Battery - It's been a while since I worked on an MDS but If someone doesn't beat me to it, I'll check my service manual & get back to you about the Lithium battery.
        2. Pedals - Any chance the pedalboard is just not seated properly when the organ was moved? As you probably realize, there are no wires or connections, just magnets that key the notes. The pedalboard is put in position, then raised slightly on each side to seat it in indentions to hold it in place. Maybe the bass end is out slightly?
        3. Voicing - Adjusting the 2 channels of the amp is probably all you need! Use a full organ setting with both expression shoes wide open. One person plays full chords, another turns the amps up or down.

        Your MDS 8 has full MIDI functionality (called SmartMIDI by Allen). I am not aware of any MDS that does not have full MIDI capabilities. Only ADC had just note-off and note-on I believe. You have acquired a fine organ!
        Last edited by Organkeys Jones; 08-14-2019, 04:34 PM.


          Do you have the manual for the organ? If so, it will say if you have a console controller or not and if it does will have some instructions for changing the reverb settings. IIRC MDS organs have a little coin or AA battery that maintains the capture memory. I think it is in the cage which is the main reason for the "tech only" caution. If you are careful it shouldn't be difficult to replace. See this topic for better instructions:
          The voicing procedure for an MDS organ is not very difficult. There have been a couple of topics on the subject recently that will apply to your MDS-8. I'm not sure voicing is as much about balancing the sound of the organ in the room (at least for the ADC and MDS organs). It's a bit more like setting everything close to typical and then tweaking a bit to taste. Follow this topic (and a couple of the linked topics in it) for good voicing instructions:
          Home: Allen ADC-4500 Church: Allen MDS-5
          Files: Allen Tone Card (TC) Database, TC Info, TC Converter, TC Mixer, ADC TC SF2, and MOS TC SF2, ADC TC Cad/Rvt, MOS TC Cad/Rvt, Organ Database, Music Library, etc. PM for unlinked files.


          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            I'm not sure voicing is as much about balancing the sound of the organ in the room (at least for the ADC and MDS organs). It's a bit more like setting everything close to typical and then tweaking a bit to taste.
            I'm sure it is. When I move my ADC organs from one space to another, the acoustical properties are sometimes vastly different. One space will have all hard surfaces, while yet another has carpeting everywhere, which absorbs the high frequencies.

            I use the voicing controls to overcome deficiencies in certain spaces. For large, carpeted areas, I need to boost the high frequencies for clarity, while in a live environment, both the top and bottom end need to be tamed, as they take on a life of their own. I also use presence projectors (a speaker with a mid and a high) to enhance the highs in a particularly dead space.

            A pipe organ voicer (hopefully) does it only once when the organ is installed, and presumably never moved, while digital organs can be moved more easily.


          • samibe
            samibe commented
            Editing a comment
            Michael, I agree for major differences between spaces that the voicing controls may need to be adjusted significantly to get the organ to sound right. I was mainly referring to dealing with notes that stick out because they match some of the room's resonant frequencies. The voicing controls on an ADC and MDS just aren't fine enough to do that. That also means that voicing is not a huge long drawn out task. It takes only a few minutes to set everything close (in the middle for everything except W) and then the fine tweaking takes a bit more time (30-60 minutes) but still not hours or days of work.

          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            Agreed, Sam.

            A minor correction I just learned about, though, when I got my ADC-8000. With the larger organs, Allen provided region gain controls for the pedals to help solve the issue of the room affecting certain frequencies in the pedal stops. The phenomenon is seldom present with manual stops.


          The battery is on the MN board. If yours has the MN-1 board (the original), the battery is a type 123 lithium, often found in Walmart or Walgreens. A commonly used camera battery. It can be removed from the board by pulling it out with some force, straight out from the "U" shaped metal bracket that holds it in place. Be sure to put the new one in with the same orientation of the plus and minus terminals.

          If your MN board is a later version, it probably uses the very common and cheap CR2032 (or BR2032), a "coin cell" about the size of a quarter that simply slips out of the holder. Use a small wooden stick (like a popsicle stick) or a plastic spoon handle to remove it so you don't short out anything while prying the batter out.

          Once you replace the battery, you should go through the "re-initialize" procedure described in your owner's manual. This will reset the piston assignments, MIDI parameters, and other configurable items to the factory defaults. If you don't do this, there could be anomalies, such as some of the pistons not setting all the stops, etc. However, according to the factory, SOME of the MN boards actually do not need a reset, as they revert to the factory defaults whenever the battery is removed. Read your manual and see what it has to say about that.

          As to the pedals, good advice above about the placement of the pedalboard in relation to the console and the switch rail. Be sure the organ is sitting on a level floor and that the pedal board is firmly seated into the sockets on either side.

          Voicing on the MDS models is basically identical to voicing on the ADC organs. There have been a great many discussions of the procedure on the forum, as well as detailed information about the routine maintenance (i.e., "exercising" of the pots) that is so essential to getting the best sound from an Allen with voicing pots.
          Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
          Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
          Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
          Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches