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What Do I Need To Set Up a VPO?

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  • What Do I Need To Set Up a VPO?

    This is my very first post to this board so please allow me to explain what I want and ask your input as to what I need to buy. First of all, I've had it up to here with buying used organs to use as a practice organ at home. Most were older organs that were obviously on their last leg to begin with when I was foolish enough to buy them and pay to have them moved to my home. The most recent organ ( a Hammond Commodore) is living in its' last days and I have decided it's time to get with the times and move into the world of the virtual organ.

    For the past several months, I have been reading all I can find about the virtual organ and how it works, etc So far, it's so technical I know less now than when I first started. Since I am limited in both my knowledge about the VO and a virtually non-existent budget, I am on this site hoping somebody will give me some easy-to-understand ideas about exactly what I need and want, along with what each piece of equipment might cost.

    First of all, let me say that I need only a very simple organ set up. I need but one keyboard, no toe pistons, or any of the 'more technical' aspects of an organ but I do want a 32-note AGO pedal board.

    Will someone tell me exactly what I need to buy, and from whome I should buy it, and to whom I can turn for putting it together and making it work. I know enough about computers to do the usual things, but from what I've read so far, it seems that in order to get a VO up and running, a person must have an in-depth knowledge of computers. I have simply been blown away by the sound of some of the virtual organs. I am by far the least professional person on the planet when it comes to playing the organ, but the sound of the virtual organ far, far surpasses any electronic organ on the market today. I live for the day when I can own my own little VO and practice, practice, practice.

  • #2
    Watertownorganguy,

    One option that looks interesting to me is the virtual system from Mlnark. Here is a link to their site: http://www.smartorgan.eu/index-en.html They have sample recordings that sound really good. They also seem to have a modular approach that should enable you to have a one manual and pedal setup. While I do not know their prices, they claim to be "affordable." There are two one manual and pedal options in their offerings, one romantic and the other German baroque .

    There are many knowledgeable people on this forum who could advise better than I can about the specifics of setting this up. It also sounds like Mlnark will work with private individuals who want to "grow their own."

    Good luck to you.

    Bill
    Bill

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

    Comment


    • #3
      Watertownorganguy,
      What are your minimum requirements (#manuals, pedals, expression shoes, touch screens or moving stops or mouse, etc.)?
      What would you like to have (moving drawknobs or SAMs, several manuals, a crescendo pedal, etc.)?
      What is your budget?
      Where are you located?
      What equipment do you already have (computers, speakers, amplifiers, existing console, etc.)?
      What is your technical level (can you build the components or will you need to buy a console to midify, can you handle a soldering iron, etc.)?

      I don't blame you for getting lost in the VPO world. There are so many different options and possibilities that it get complicated really fast. Answering the above questions should help narrow things down.

      There are a handful of popular routes through VPO land.
      1. Buy a purpose-built VPO console ($5,000 to $20,000+)
      2. Acquire a fully midi capable AGO spec console and set it up to use the VPO ($400 to $10,000)
      3. Aquire and midify a non-midi console then set that up to run the VPO ($400 to $10,000)
      4. Build a VPO console from scratch ($200 to $10,000)
      5. Put together a console using MIDI capable parts ($200 to $10,000)
      Last edited by samibe; 04-13-2018, 03:17 PM.
      Sam
      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.

      Comment


      • #4
        Perhaps the least expensive way to go is to pick up an Allen MOS1 or MOS2 instrument. Add midi from Zuma or Harrison Labs. Then download Hauptwerk on to a laptop. The free version of Hauptwerk comes with only one classical organ and unfortunately, it is out of tune. You can find relatively inexpensive virtual organs to download on the Web. You may also find some Rodgers analog instruments that have midi and there are early Viscount, Johannus, and Baldwin digitals that you can buy rather inexpensively. In any of these cases, you can run the audio through the organ. Best of luck.

        PS. I have an AG3200 (three manual digital) that I am no longer using that I am asking $9000 for.

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        • #5
          In it's simplest form you need a keyboard that puts out a midi signal, a pedal board that puts out a midi signal. A sound card that has aiso capability (I bought one used on eBay for $70), some organ software (grande organ is free), and a couple pair of speakers to play it through.

          The midi keyboards is easy -- most modern keyboards output midi. There tricky bit is the pedalboard. They're either expensive or you will have to diy that one. There are several folks on the internet net that have done that.

          Otherwise you could take one of your old organs and convert it over step by step. I'm not an electronic genius but I managed to work my way through most of a conversion with just the pedals left to complete. Currently it's waiting on some other stuff, not that I expect it to be too difficult.

          Pick your poison -- there is plenty of help her. The cheapest is to get a keyboard with a midi out and then add the pedals later.

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          • #6
            I would also note that most modern keyboards also have a midi in as well. You may be able to put your pedalboard out into your keyboard in and then the keyboard out to the computer whereby both signals can come 'from' the keyboard. If that works, which it should, it would be about the cheapest easiest way to get to where it sounds like you are wanting to go.

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            • #7
              Do you have any friends/family who are saavy on a computer? It’s actually pretty straightforward for someone who is computer competent.

              I’d suggest you look for a MIDI enabled organ console and then ask or hire someone to help you choose a computer and set it the VPO for you. Probably your cheapest and easiest route.

              If you have the money for a newer digital organ (relatively), such as horseshoe’s AG3200, I think you’d find that they sound pretty great. Comparable to or better than a VPO.
              Viscount C400 3-manual
              8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
              Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by rjsilva View Post
                Do you have any friends/family who are saavy on a computer? It’s actually pretty straightforward for someone who is computer competent.

                I’d suggest you look for a MIDI enabled organ console and then ask or hire someone to help you choose a computer and set it the VPO for you. Probably your cheapest and easiest route.

                If you have the money for a newer digital organ (relatively), such as horseshoe’s AG3200, I think you’d find that they sound pretty great. Comparable to or better than a VPO.
                What do you think one of those AG3200 organs goes for? My guess is very few folk could afford to put that in their house to practice on!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kennyrayandersen View Post
                  What do you think one of those AG3200 organs goes for? My guess is very few folk could afford to put that in their house to practice on!
                  He said $9000 :)
                  Viscount C400 3-manual
                  8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                  Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I would start out with Grand Orgue. There are great free organs and some paid options. The money saved not buying a Hauptwerk license from the get go can be first invested in other equipment. And the free version is too limited.

                    I use Grand Orgue with two simple midi controller keyboards and push the stops on my iPad using Duet and screen mirroring.

                    Have got a Soundblaster Audigy with 7.1 channel output. Play usually only via headphones though but will one day enhance my system to have a 7.1 speaker setup. The Audigy is a great soundcard for a modest price with ASIO capabilities.

                    The only limitation with my system is the RAM. 12 GB will not allow for big organs in best sample playback quality.

                    The only item in my console setup missing so far is the pedalboard. This will be the most expensive item to acquire (no do-it-yourself building skills here). Meanwhile I am practising my manual playing skills. Lots of literature available for free.

                    Just get started with what you can afford. Don‘t wait until you can afford the whole package. Many hours of enjoyment to be had even without speakers nor pedalboard.

                    My whole setup cost me: $180 for two midi controllers (Alesis and Midiplus), $60 for the Audigy (not rellay necessary but sounds more defined than onboard sound) less than $30 for Duet app and an appropriate USB data cable for iPad (again, not necessary, but now I operate the stops via hand). PC, iPad, amd headphomes were already there. Grand Orgue, some free great organs, and free literature were downloaded.

                    You could have a practice organ up and running in a day provided you can get a midi controller keyboard locally. Leave the pedalboard for another day. Practice, practice, practice manualiter literature until then.
                    Last edited by musicmaker84; 05-01-2018, 07:28 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by musicmaker84 View Post
                      The Audigy is a great soundcard for a modest price with ASIO capabilities.
                      ASIO has been replaced by WDM/KS or WASAPI in GO.
                      Originally posted by musicmaker84 View Post
                      $60 for the Audigy (not rellay necessary but sounds more defined than onboard sound)
                      Is the soundcard using any kind of sound modification ("optimization") or is the quality difference of the D/A converters audible?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by e9925248 View Post
                        ASIO has been replaced by WDM/KS or WASAPI in GO.

                        Is the soundcard using any kind of sound modification ("optimization") or is the quality difference of the D/A converters audible?

                        next time I‘m firing up GO, I‘ll check the settings. Recall a bunch of different options for audio.

                        There are some reviews online that explain the chipset and audio capabalities in greater detail.

                        I cannot speak to the differences in quality of the D/A converters. To me, the sound is a tad clearer while I find Realtek’s onboard chipset muddier in comparison.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I would encourage anyone starting out with virtual organs to use ASIO drivers with a quality external USB interface from day one. The Mac is an exception to that rule as even the laptops will give you quality audio for two channels. The Hauptwerk basic edition is just $249 and well worth the investment. There is a huge online community of Hauptwerk users and a treasure trove of Hauptwerk recordings shared on contrebombarde.com. The $500 for a proper interface (not a sound card) and the best VPO software will not disappoint. Most of us go on to the $599 Hauptwerk Advanced Edition and it's rare to hear of an organist who regretted that choice.

                          I'm cheap in the sense that I design and build my own encoder hardware and wait for free to $500 Allen and Rogers 3-manual consoles, so don't think that I'm not careful about the costs.
                          http://www.nwmidi.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The o.p. mentioned some kind of Hammond in their o.p. What exactly kind of organ repertoire are we assuming? They also speak further to going to an uber basic one manual and pedal practice instrument because, at the end of the day, what they are after more than real organ functionality is real organ SOUND. Well... respectfully, if that is the case, the better strategy IMO is to source a local instrument in a nice church edifice and negotiate a reasonable fee (which may well turn out to be no fee at all) for regular access to their instrument. Any other plan of action that does not also include the expenditure of multiple thousands of dollars will end in disappointment. Period. Actually, its worse than that. The expenditure of multiple thousands of dollars will still not get the o.p. a pipe organ. However it can get the o.p. a very nice instrument for practice. It will not, cannot possibly, sound better than a fine pipe organ in a live acoustic. But if in response to the proper keyboard and pedalboard commands a reasonable facsimile of organ tone emanates from the speakers and the organist can use that feedback to further their technique ... I don't know ... isn't that about as good as it gets?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by steverose
                              My simple start began with my wife's old laptop with 3GB of ram. I started with Grand Orgue and a few free sample sets. I have never worried about a soundcard in a computer because I used a Focusrite Saffire 2i4 midi interface from the beginning. ($180)
                              Hi Steve. Can you give more info/block diagram/whatever? I'm trying to figure out how a 2i4 works as part of your setup; and what did you mean about 'not worrying about a soundcard'? I'm confused (which doesn't take much :-))

                              Thanks, Bill

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