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Why replace a pipe organ with an electronic?

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  • #31
    Re: Exit Casavant, Enter Allen

    [quote user="soundboarddude"]


    With that being said, it was one organ. With all the pipe organs that I have ever heard or played, one of them was worse than a digital organ.




    Now, don't get me wrong. I hate electronic organs just as much as the next guy... even in a room with great acoustics! At St. Matthias', even with blending pipes with electronics, the pipes just soared above the electronics, and it's easy to tell what's digital... and that's a nice Allen/Reuter hybrid with the latest Allen technology. However, it still can't compare to real pipes.




    In my opinion, digital organs will never be able to live up to a good pipe organ. Sure, the recordings will get better, but the sound itself can't be reproduced accurately. What sounds better... a recording of a pipe organ, or that pipe organ live? Of course a pipe organ heard live is going to sound better! Why? Because you can feel the music... you can hear the breath of the pipes... something electronics will never be able to give.




    [/quote]




    Keep looking and you will find more than one pipe organ that is inferior to a good digital.




    I have seen several instances when pipe purists heard a well installed digital or a digital with pipes, and experts could not tell the difference. The quality of the installation is important on both pipes and digital organs.




    The weakest link for a digital organ is the audio system. I believe that the next great advance in digital organs will be speakers that act more like pipes, specifically in SPL and radiation patterns. If and when that day comes, it will be a sad day for you purists.




    I still think the ideal solution is a pipe/digital hybrid. You get some ranks of real pipes and a much bigger stop list, especially in getting bigger pedal stops. The room required is smaller, the maintenance lower (than a purely pipe organ of equal size). You are much more likely to be able to get a floating string section on a digital than pipe. The reason being a church is more likely to spend the money on the basics on a pipe organ, than on the extra icing.

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    • #32
      Re: Exit Casavant, Enter Allen

      [quote user="soundboarddude"]


      And of course pipe organ makers are NOT a for profit business are they?




      Some day I wish to start my own organ building company, mainly for the fun of it. I'll probably have another (or several other) job(s) to make enough money to survive, because there's quite a bit of competition for not enough demand.




      I think what NYCFB is referring to is that pipe organ builders are not in the business specifically to make money, as Allen (or other electronic organ builders) might be. I'd be willing to say bet that most pipe organ builders (especially some of the smaller companies) do it because they love doing it, not because they're trying to make money on it.




      [/quote]




      If someone is in the market just to make money, digital organs are a poor choice. The market has been shrinking for decades. It is a little disingenuous to accuse digital organ companies of JUST being in the industry to make money. I think they love organ music as much as anyone else. And more than one digital organ company is quite proud of offering real pipe organs, too. I think Rodgers has a large all pipe organ in Texas.




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      • #33
        Re: Exit Casavant, Enter Allen

        [quote user="radagast"]

        [quote user="NYCFarmboy"]Allen is a for-profit business. [/quote][/quote][/quote]

        Its all personal opinion.

        I agree on your last point... for a church that does not want their music to be centered around the organ then I agree 100%, they DEFINATELY should get a Allen and give their pipe organ to a church that appreciates real music, not fake.

        No use casting pearls before swine.

        "the quick/easy solution of today" robs future generations of the ability to enjoy the music of the same instrument their forefathers enjoyed. That is not stewardship, that is theft.

        My opinion only.

        Comment


        • #34
          Re: Exit Casavant, Enter Allen



          Agreed that speakers are still the weak link. The downfall of speakers is that they fire direction in one sound. It's a very obvious affect. Whereas the pipe sound seems to disperse around a room fairly well as it plays in a circular pattern.




          Phoenix (I swear I'm not a Phoenix dealer ... for as much as I talk about them some may wonder ...) has built the acousticubes to account for this problem. http://www.phoenixorgans.com/Acousticube%20Brochure.pdf(need Adobe to view). For those not willing to follow the link ... their cabinet has a speaker on each of the 4 sides to put the sound out in multiple directions from one speaker (versus the straight line approach A/R/J use).




          From my trips hearing various organs I can tell you I picked up on the difference immediately. It was a vast improvement. Additionally, their sub-woofers were a vast improvement over Allen's. I tried a 32' open wood and I wasn't even sure it was playing. It was pathetically weak. The room (which was a horrible acoustic, granted) just swallowed it up. Whatever Phoenix uses for their sub (http://www.phoenixorgans.com/Model%20151600.pdf) it packs quite a wallup! You do FEEL it. I played keyboard in a musical and got to do a thunder section. I had a 15" speaker and believe me ... when they are done right they will do some serious shaking.




          OK ... onto the profit question. Small organ shops need to make enough profit to keep the lights on and food on the table. The difference between them and the A/J/R crowd is that the others have shareholders. So not only do they have to make enough money to pay the bills ... they require more profit to satisfy investors/owners/parent company/etc. So both require profit. But some require more profit (or at least better profit margins). Then they need even more to develop new technologies, processes, et cetera to stay ahead of their competition. Lastly, there's always that pesky marketing budget. So both are for profit ... some just need more than others to stay alive.




          Next up: Maintenance. A digital organ is a computer and speaker/audio system hidden inside fancy wooden boxes with keyboards and various switches. Given enough time ALL computers and speakers WILL FAIL. It is inevitable. Just as it is inevitable that leather will rot, pipes will be damaged, et cetera. However, I don't think I have enough information to judge whether periodic refreshes of a digital organ are cheaper than a pipe organ. I would imagine so because at that point you are replacing some electronics and speakers which is MUCH less labor intensive than rebuilding a pipe organ. Do any of us really have the experience to speak on this?




          Last thought: I think we do need to bear in mind that each church's situation is unique. When deciding to purchase a new or replacement organ there are a myriad of factors to consider. Side by side a GOOD pipe organ beats a digitial everytime in terms of sound quality ... there's no question. Anyone arguing otherwise is foolish. You give Casavant 50 ranks and Allen or Phoenix or Rodgers 50 ranks and Casavant will come out ahead every time. Period. BUT each church has different finances, musical requirements, physical space, time frames, et cetera. This also applies to individuals with pipe organs or toasters (I use the term affectionately). So please do remember that all have various circumstances they are operating under.

          Comment


          • #35
            Re: Exit Casavant, Enter Allen

            [quote user="Bombarde32"]


            Agreed that speakers are still the weak link. The downfall of speakers is that they fire direction in one sound. It's a very obvious affect. Whereas the pipe sound seems to disperse around a room fairly well as it plays in a circular pattern.




            Phoenix (I swear I'm not a Phoenix dealer ... for as much as I talk about them some may wonder ...) has built the acousticubes to account for this problem. http://www.phoenixorgans.com/Acousticube%20Brochure.pdf(need Adobe to view). For those not willing to follow the link ... their cabinet has a speaker on each of the 4 sides to put the sound out in multiple directions from one speaker (versus the straight line approach A/R/J use).




            From my trips hearing various organs I can tell you I picked up on the difference immediately. It was a vast improvement. Additionally, their sub-woofers were a vast improvement over Allen's. I tried a 32' open wood and I wasn't even sure it was playing. It was pathetically weak. The room (which was a horrible acoustic, granted) just swallowed it up. Whatever Phoenix uses for their sub (http://www.phoenixorgans.com/Model%20151600.pdf) it packs quite a wallup! You do FEEL it. I played keyboard in a musical and got to do a thunder section. I had a 15" speaker and believe me ... when they are done right they will do some serious shaking.




            OK ... onto the profit question. Small organ shops need to make enough profit to keep the lights on and food on the table. The difference between them and the A/J/R crowd is that the others have shareholders. So not only do they have to make enough money to pay the bills ... they require more profit to satisfy investors/owners/parent company/etc. So both require profit. But some require more profit (or at least better profit margins). Then they need even more to develop new technologies, processes, et cetera to stay ahead of their competition. Lastly, there's always that pesky marketing budget. So both are for profit ... some just need more than others to stay alive.




            Next up: Maintenance. A digital organ is a computer and speaker/audio system hidden inside fancy wooden boxes with keyboards and various switches. Given enough time ALL computers and speakers WILL FAIL. It is inevitable. Just as it is inevitable that leather will rot, pipes will be damaged, et cetera. However, I don't think I have enough information to judge whether periodic refreshes of a digital organ are cheaper than a pipe organ. I would imagine so because at that point you are replacing some electronics and speakers which is MUCH less labor intensive than rebuilding a pipe organ. Do any of us really have the experience to speak on this?




            Last thought: I think we do need to bear in mind that each church's situation is unique. When deciding to purchase a new or replacement organ there are a myriad of factors to consider. Side by side a GOOD pipe organ beats a digitial everytime in terms of sound quality ... there's no question. Anyone arguing otherwise is foolish. You give Casavant 50 ranks and Allen or Phoenix or Rodgers 50 ranks and Casavant will come out ahead every time. Period. BUT each church has different finances, musical requirements, physical space, time frames, et cetera. This also applies to individuals with pipe organs or toasters (I use the term affectionately). So please do remember that all have various circumstances they are operating under.




            [/quote]




            I fully agree that a great pipe organ cannot be matched by any digital. For instance, I have only heard one digital organ (and it wasn't Allen, Johannus, or Rodgers) that could sound close to a Cavaille-Coll organ. I used to be a die-hard Allen enthusiast. I bought a video from them called "Howard Goodall's Organ Works". It is an excellent and entertaining British documentary about the history of the pipe organ. When they came to the Cavaille-Coll era, they featured both the St. Denis and St. Sulpice organs. Wow! I was blown away. I heard Allen's Cavaille-Coll style organ and was very disappointed. That began my re-evaluation of Allen. Ironic that it started with something Allen sells on their website.




            Marshall & Olgetree also use dipole speakers. However, I think what is needed is something like the Bose Personal Amplification system. I don't think it has the right frequency response for an organ, but something like it. In addition Bose makes something called the Acoustic Wave Cannon. Something like that could be developed that could handle bass frequencies low enough for an organ.




            Yes, digital organs will fail. I still don't think the cost of repair or replacement equals the cost of repairing or refurbishing a pipe organ.




            As far as the subs that Allen uses, it probably depends which one you heard. They have supposedly developed a really powerful bass system in their Legacy line, with a prodigious amount of Sound Pressure Level.




            Comment


            • #36
              Re: replacing a pipe organ with...?

              Hi all,

              See my previous posts related to this topic.

              here

              and

              here


              Comment


              • #37
                Re: replacing a pipe organ with...?



                Odellorgans, like your posts. Very well stated. As I said earlier, hands off my Casavant, Allen!




                P.S. I've never played on one of your organs before. Looking at your website they must be lovely. Although I don't live anywhere near Connecticut, if we ever do head near there, I hope you won't mind the visit. We were in Ohio not too long ago, and I missed an opportunity to visit Shantz. Darn! I would have liked to have visited them very much!

                Comment


                • #38
                  Re: replacing a pipe organ with...?

                  [quote user="ReedGuy"]

                  Odellorgans, like your posts. Very well stated. As I said earlier, hands off my Casavant, Allen!




                  P.S. I've never played on one of your organs before. Looking at your website they must be lovely. Although I don't live anywhere near Connecticut, if we ever do head near there, I hope you won't mind the visit. We were in Ohio not too long ago, and I missed an opportunity to visit Shantz. Darn! I would have liked to have visited them very much!

                  [/quote]

                  Reedguy, thanks for your compliments. Guests are always welcome at our shop. Just let us know when you might be in the area.

                  You might be interested in these other posts:

                  here, here and here.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Re: Exit Casavant, Enter Allen



                    >JUST BECAUSE AN ORGAN IS PIPE DOES NOT MEAN IT IS AUTOMATICALLY SUPERIOR IN SOUND TO A DIGITAL. BELIEVE IT OR NOT,THERE ARE SUCH THINGS AS BAD SOUNDING PIPE ORGANS. AND I DON'T MEAN BECAUSE THEY ARE IN DISREPAIR<




                    Allow me share a recent experience. I visited the small community church were I grew up and "got religon", and which I had last seen when I was in 7th grade (1/2 century ago). At that time they had had a hammond church console with quarterfoils, so based on the age of the building, it must have been a model D, or perhaps a CV. When the secretary let me into the chapel, I found a technician tunning their pipe organ,a welcome change.




                    I learned from the tech that it was made from two small donated pipe organs, total of about 10 ranks. They were played from an analog Rogers console. Isat downon the bench as invited, and played. Theplenum was not bad at all, but asI broke it down to the individual stops,I found that except fordifferent volumn levels of each, all the flue pipes sounded very much the same... it was a hollow, flutey string,sort of a gemshorn, whether a principal, rhoreflute, dulciana,celeste, or nazard. LaterI wondered if the installer only knew of one way to voice, and this was his/her idea of making the ranks blend? ( I was aware of which ranks were augmented from the Rogers and which were pipes. The Rogers' voices were at least distinct!)




                    I remember a few years back in another part of the country also running into a small organ, exclusivly pipe, that suffered from a same commonality of voice. Anyone else see such a thing?




                    But anyway, Yes there are organs that would be improved by electroninc replacement, IMHO, heresy though it may seem. That does not mean that I think allsmall organs should be toasters ( or should we say amplified computers) I look forward to a lot more discussions in this forum on practical minimum organs, but the success of same is in the hands of skilled voicers and scalers, not in us writers of dreamy specifications.




                    I confess to being at one time inmy life (early 60s)one of those salesman who convinced churches with anaemic 3 rank pipe organs to buy Conns, Thomases,and Wurlitzers, but we always found a good home (usually a house) for the little things.




                    Lee

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Re: Exit Casavant, Enter Allen

                      I've always admired the sort of unsung meat and potatoes pipe organs from 70-80 years ago, like the Hall organs. They were not made by organ "artistes", nor were they precision hewn from stellar top-grade materials. Nevertheless they could lead a service and sounded pretty good in the process, and were still reasonably reliable if not as technologically developed as the big guns.

                      I'd love to someday open up shop and build instruments that stand a chance of picking off some of the many ancient electronics that are due for replacement around here. If it means resorting to construction practices like using gum rubber tuning for key channels instead of carving them out of solid wood so be it.

                      - N

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                      • #41
                        Re: Exit Casavant, Enter Allen



                        If one is comparing an ailing orunkempt or poorly maintained or poorly voiced or two small donated pipe organs that were badly combined or poorly whatever elsethensurely under those comparisons, the digital would sound better.




                        That is the same as saying would you like the new Mercedes or the old rust bucket clunker K car in the back! Blimey, almost anything would be better than that!




                        But I'm reffering to a well maintained, properly voiced, etc. etc. etc. pipe organ versus an electronic. So hands off my Casavant, Allen! Put some of the world's best and finest pipe organs side by side an Allen. My apologies, but in my opinion, there is no comparison. But please do not take this statement to mean thatI poo on all electronic organs, or that I hate them, etc. I just have my preference, that's all.

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