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  • #31
    Originally posted by voet View Post
    When we hear that a large wealthy church is spending millions of dollars to get a new organ, it is easy to conclude that pipe organs are expensive. However there are reasonable alternatives available as we see on this forum all the time.
    You didn't say how many ranks the H&H that the church eventually bought had. No matter, I'm certain it cost about what it cost to purchase to install competently! That wouldn't be the case with a digital. I'm sorry, I simply can't get excited about 20+ or even 30+ rank instruments anymore. It isn't so much the raw rank count, it is simply the fact that the larger instruments plenum, the daily bread and butter tone that will be used for well over 60% of playing time, it is going to be ... 'better' on a 50+ rank (or the digital equivalent) instrument. I'll go way out on a limb and posit that a $20k re-homed pipe organ, with what it costs to install and prepare the space for its care and keeping, will allow the purchase of a re-homed digital organ more than twice the size. It might even allow the purchase of the much larger digital new. If there was an audible deficiency or some other compelling reason to favor the pipe instrument, that would be one thing. In 2018 that simply is not the case anymore.

    Comment


    • #32
      I should add that I agree the choice is not always cut and dried, with the moneyed folks buying pipes and the rest buying digitals. There are often a great many alternatives in any price range. Both pipe and electronic organs are available either new or used, priced over an enormous range. You might say the price range is all the way from "free for the taking" to "you better be filthy rich."

      Given that there are some 400,000 local congregations in the US, if every one of them either had a pipe organ to be maintained or suddenly wanted to buy one, there aren't enough pipe organ builders or tuners to meet the demand, not even a small fraction of the demand. And only a very lucky few would be able to pick up a good used pipe organ, as there are a finite number of them available, and a lot of them are either very old and in bad shape, or else of poor tonal quality and not very suitable for a church. There are, I'm sure, also a good many "gems" out there just waiting to be discovered. Removing, transporting, re-installing, renovating, and re-voicing an old pipe organ is not a cakewalk for typical amateurs, though many folks have apparently managed to do it with some success and satisfaction. So it's great if you can get manage it, but used pipe organs are not the solution for many churches.

      Used electronics are somewhat more numerous and available, for a variety of reasons -- churches going contemporary and wanting the organ gone, churches trading in still-functioning and quite decent digitals for a new one with more features or "better" sound, very nice classical organs owned by individuals who pass away and the heirs want to sell the instrument. Some of these are not worth your time, but there are some surprisingly good ones out there. Just today I was looking on ebay for a friend and in just a few minutes I saw a half dozen really nice and very serviceable Allen or Rodgers organs in the low thousands. Some of them quite large, comparable in stops and audio to organs costing $50K to $150K if new.

      So each church (or individual) in the market for an organ just has to consider all the options. If you absolutely want some pipes because you enjoy the sound and you are fascinated by the mechanisms, and you relish the challenges involved, and if the price is right, then pick up that used pipe organ and get to it. Do be aware that you may not always be in the picture, and you could be leaving your church with some costly maintenance to underwrite in the future.

      If you have very limited funds, a few thousand dollars at the most, I'd strongly suggest shopping for a good used electronic. Be sure to allow a good bit of money for getting it repaired and properly installed and voiced after delivery to your church. If you have $25K or more you can get a really nice used organ, one that is very nearly new. Just a little more money, and you can be in the market for a new entry-level model from a good digital builder.

      If you have $100K and the people are insistent upon a NEW organ, not even willing to consider a used one of any kind, then you probably need to consider a digital. And you can get a pretty decent one for that money. But that money put into a new pipe organ would only get you four or five ranks of the cheapest pipework imaginable, unlikely to be very satisfying musically.

      If you have a million dollars or several million dollars to spend on an organ, then by all means talk to a high-end pipe builder.

      My point is that no matter the budget, there are often many ways to go. And you can wind up with a good organ or a bad organ at any price point. So be careful!
      John
      ----------
      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
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by Leisesturm View Post
        ... If there was an audible deficiency or some other compelling reason to favor the pipe instrument, that would be one thing. In 2018 that simply is not the case anymore.
        Viscount C400 3-manual
        8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
        Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

        Comment


        • #34
          Yes, yes, and yes. But at this point you aren't just splitting hairs, you are trying to split a split hair. You aren't fooled ... of course you aren't. But could you honestly say that if you didn't know, couldn't know, what exactly the organ was, could you then say with certainty that it was not a pipe organ? I know from personal confessions that pipe organ techs tuning hybrid instruments cannot always tell which ranks are digital and which ones are the pipes! When listening to the full plenum of mixed technology, absolutely and totally satisfying in every way. Maybe hybrid instruments should be more prevalent, but I do think that time has passed. The digital sound is now completely able to carry itself without the need of an undergirdment of authentic pipe tone. IF the digital 'fails' to completely fool the experienced listener, it may not have anything to do with the inherent unfitness of the technology. How much budget was allocated to the audio amplification and sound dispersal (speakers) components? Lots of churches cheap out on the audio package. Speaker placement may be sub-par for one reason or another.

          Comment


          • #35
            There is in my area a large Ruffatti hybrid with the digital stops by Walker. I have played around with it a couple times trying in vain to positively identify the pipe vs digital stops. Other than the pipes in the facade, which include a loud principal and an en chamade trumpet, I simply cannot tell which stops are pipe and which are digital. And the acoustics are not really all that great where it is either. It's just that the Walker stuff is that well done, with plenty of audio power and creative placement of the speakers back within the pipe chambers. I know from the specs that more than half of it is pipe, but I just can't hear any difference that completely identifies any particular stop.
            John
            ----------
            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
            https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

            Comment


            • #36
              We have a style of cooking in our home that we call QISP—quality ingredients simply prepared. We are not fancy cooks, but we are fortunate to have a wonderful farmer’s market, with some very good organic suppliers. We also have some excellent butchers, bakeries and specialty markets. We are not fancy cooks. Dinner for us might be some heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella from a local farmer. We tend to eat what is in season and when we do go to a supermarket, we shop the perimeter. When we eat at a restaurant, we are often disappointed unless the establishment embodies the same standards as we do in our home cooking. As a result, we never eat at franchise restaurants, because restaurants that cater to the masses do not use the same criteria that we do in preparing our food. I realize that many people really like chain restaurants or they would not be so ubiquitous. And, to be honest, there are times that I will eat in one myself as a matter of expediency.

              The discussion of digital versus pipe is a bit like this. One poster on this thread has expressed a preference for digital organs because you can get a much larger specification than if you spent the same money on a pipe organ. I certainly feel there is a place for the digital organ, that is, in fact, what I have in my home. However, given a choice, I prefer the real deal.
              Last edited by voet; 08-09-2018, 07:44 PM.
              Bill

              My home organ: Content M5800

              Comment


              • #37
                For me the pipe organ was more than just about the sound it made and it was really the mechanical side of the instrument that was what encouraged me to take up an interest in the organ as I felt that it was an instrument that would relate to some of my other interests such as the steam engine.


                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q86rjnQ__KU

                Comment


                • #38
                  Love the sane and sensible comments in this thread. As Bill said: Given my choice of either, I would choose a real pipe instrument. Provided: I was not responsible for opening my wallet to tune, regulate or repair it. Pipes are still the best, but owning a pipe organ - especially a large one - can bankrupt it's owner over time. And I agree with John's views completely. The best electronics in a good acoustical space . . . no way can I tell which stop is digital and which is pipe, except for the obvious (chamades, etc.) I do believe the #1 thing that makes a good digital sound a tremendous sound (assuming a good acoustic space) is no more than two, three, maybe four voices at the most through a single amplifier. Even the stops in a good home digital organ can be breathtaking as single stops or 2-3 stop combos. But build up a registration, and the illusion falters badly. More speakers help a lot, but only more channels - and good speakers for each channel - will really make a digital instrument sound virtually the equal of a pipe organ.

                  Tony
                  Home: Johannus Opus 370

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Limiting the number of stops piped (pun not intended) through a single amplifier and speaker is certainly a key element in making a digital sound good. There is one large Walker organ, all-digital, in our area that sounds marvelous. Not sure how many stops and how many audio channels, but there is a large rack of amps, and a large array of speakers, so I'm guessing there wouldn't be more than two or three stops sharing any given audio channel.

                    That one truly works in that church, and nobody, except the most knowledgeable pipe organ fans, would have a clue that it is not a pipe organ. It might not fool many of "us" -- the elites who populate this forum -- but I'd venture to guess that 99 out of 100 people who ever hear it assume it's a pipe organ, because it totally fills the space, shakes the building when necessary, and has the brilliance and power and presence you associate with a really fine pipe organ. (The dead giveaway might be that it's always in tune!)

                    Same thing goes with the Ruffatti/Walker hybrid I mentioned above. Not one in a hundred people would ever guess that all the stops are not pipe. I doubt that even many of the church's own members know that it is a hybrid.

                    The Trinity organ ought to have sounded at least this good, given that M&O is generally believed to be even "better" at this than Walker, certainly more expensive. And they had a ton of speakers. I want to say there were close to 80 discrete audio channels, or maybe it was 80 stereo pairs. At any rate, the organ shouldn't have been held back by audio compression or straining.

                    But it's also possible that M&O didn't actually do as good a job as is generally assumed. What I've heard from Walker is so astonishingly good, it's hard to believe that anyone could really be all that much better. And it's possible that M&O bit off more than they could chew with this project, which was, after all, their Opus #1.

                    So it may not be entirely legit to measure the success of digital organs in general by looking at Trinity's experience.
                    John
                    ----------
                    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
                    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Leisesturm View Post
                      Yes, yes, and yes. But at this point you aren't just splitting hairs, you are trying to split a split hair. You aren't fooled ... of course you aren't. But could you honestly say that if you didn't know, couldn't know, what exactly the organ was, could you then say with certainty that it was not a pipe organ? I know from personal confessions that pipe organ techs tuning hybrid instruments cannot always tell which ranks are digital and which ones are the pipes!
                      Viscount C400 3-manual
                      8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                      Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        In a very large digital, such as the typical Walker, or this M&O under discussion, there are so many separate audio channels, and the acoustics of the building are usually so good, that the sound is going to have that "spread" and movement that we associate with a large pipe organ. Different frequencies coming out of the same speaker will actually be perceived as coming from different locations, as the ears take their cues from the reflected tones. Different surfaces, differently shaped areas of the wall and ceiling, a variety of distances between the speaker and the reflective surfaces -- all these factors will cause the sound to seem to come from more than one source.

                        When I was a teenager, the only "organ" in town was the Hammond C3 at the local First Baptist Church, and it was of course a purely monaural instrument, didn't even have a Leslie speaker. There were two 15" stiff-cone "full range" speakers mounted high up in the wall above the choir loft, nothing more. And that was in a 400-seat church. But I remember finding the sound of that organ amazingly rich and beautiful, though of course at that time I hadn't ever heard a real pipe organ in person. But I distinctly remember thinking that there must have been speakers all over the place, and being very surprised when I was shown by someone in the church where the organ speakers were located.

                        My point -- A big Walker (or even a good-sized Allen, Rodgers, Viscount, Johannus, etc.) with at least several audio channels can do a good job of simulating that "all over the place" effect of a pipe organ IF the audio system is adequate and the speakers are well placed.

                        Given what I have heard here in this place with very few extra nice organs, I don't doubt at all that the Walker in your church sounds awesome, and serves the church just as well as a real pipe organ would. And it isn't nearly as needy in the area of costly service.
                        John
                        ----------
                        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
                        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Holmes and Holmes
                          Bill

                          My home organ: Content M5800

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Went to the church to practice yesterday. Air temperature outside: 95*F. Air temp in the Sanctuary: 82*F. Don't know about anyone else, but in my previous church (and the one before that, and the one ...) the Reeds would have been unusable. Period. In the last church with the Great and Swell on perpendicular walls of the Sanctuary, coupling the Great and Swell under these conditions would have been ... unwise. I'm loving this Rodgers. I really am.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Leisesturm View Post
                              You didn't say how many ranks the H&H that the church eventually bought had. No matter, I'm certain it cost about what it cost to purchase to install competently! That wouldn't be the case with a digital. I'm sorry, I simply can't get excited about 20+ or even 30+ rank instruments anymore. It isn't so much the raw rank count, it is simply the fact that the larger instruments plenum, the daily bread and butter tone that will be used for well over 60% of playing time, it is going to be ... 'better' on a 50+ rank (or the digital equivalent) instrument. I'll go way out on a limb and posit that a $20k re-homed pipe organ, with what it costs to install and prepare the space for its care and keeping, will allow the purchase of a re-homed digital organ more than twice the size. It might even allow the purchase of the much larger digital new. If there was an audible deficiency or some other compelling reason to favor the pipe instrument, that would be one thing. In 2018 that simply is not the case anymore.
                              WOW... such certain opinion that the quality of a plenum is only dependent on how many ranks an organ has must be surely based on an extraordinary knowledge and enormous first hand experience of organs. Sorry but this qualifies as the most preposterous BS ever written here on this forum.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Havoc View Post
                                Sorry but this qualifies as the most preposterous BS ever written here on this forum.
                                Really? I lead a sheltered life, but I've seen some pretty boisterous statements here.
                                -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Project (forum thread)
                                -- 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ (forum thread)
                                -- 1999 Rodgers W5000C and Hauptwerk - spare W5000C for spares
                                -- Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112 - Roland RD300nx stage piano
                                -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

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