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pipe organ controls: Syndyne vs Peterson vs??

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  • pipe organ controls: Syndyne vs Peterson vs??

    We currently are doing a major overhaul of our 3 manual + pedal 1875 Henry Erben organ (electrified in 1923). The stop action and combination action are going to need upgrading, so I'm interested in hearing from people who have experience with digital systems versus traditional ‘analog' systems. ALSO we're looking at comparing new draw knobs: Klann vs OSI vs Syndyne vs? Thanks.

  • #2
    I know you are on a budget but these critical things stand out to me:

    1) Will you be buying and installing it yourself or using the services of a local pipe organ firm to do that?
    2) If you are doing it yourself, will the manufacturer sell it directly to you and support you through the programming and installation? What about warranty?
    3) When you are no longer around to take care of it, who will do so or will this be an orphan installation when something goes wrong in the future?

    Some companies do not sell to individuals and require technical training in order to provide the product. You can understand that they incur much more support time with a one-off purchase by someone who is not familiar with the product. An individual may not know standard installation practices that could mean the difference between survival and an insurance claim if there were a nearby lighting strike. Or could damage electronic circuit boards by mishandling them. And then there are the challenges to specify and debug the initial programming if it does not work out of the box.

    New England does not lack for reputable pipe organ companies that do this kind of installation routinely. Each company has a preferred vendor of such systems based on prior relationships, features, price, reliability, support quality when something goes wrong, etc.

    If you can't afford to hire a professional to do the whole job you might be able to strike a deal to do some of the work (especially the wiring, backplanes, etc.) and leave the installation of the actual circuit boards and programming to those with experience with the product so you can have a full warranty.
    Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Steinway AR Duo-Art 7' grand piano, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico grand piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI, Allen MADC-2110.

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    • #3
      AllenAnalog We would be hiring a pipe organ firm to do the installation. However I'm concerned with reliability, so am wondering if some forum members have experience with various systems.

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      • #4
        In that case I would pick the pipe organ firm you trust to do a good job at a fair price and let them use the relay system they have experience with. Perhaps get quotes from two or more organ companies and let them tell you why the system they use is the best for your application. Most firms do not like to support multiple brands of organ relay and it is local support that is important here, not necessarily the opinion of people on a global forum.
        Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Steinway AR Duo-Art 7' grand piano, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico grand piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI, Allen MADC-2110.

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        • #5
          Since the 1970s, when I built a custom designed TTL based multiplexed switching system for my 10 rank home pipe organ, I've had the opportunity to install an early Classic System on a large theatre organ, a Syndyne system for a 12 rank church organ, a Peterson system for a 53 rank Casavant and, currently, a Casavant with a Syndyne combination action and an (old school) Devtronix switching system.

          In all cases the systems work well, have proved reliable and support has been excellent. But when a friend asked me for a recommendation for his three manual home pipe organ, without hesitation, I recommended Syndyne. He had no trouble acquiring the necessary boards from Syndyne, and with the help of his son (an electrical engineer) successfully installed the complete system. The system I recommended, and which I installed 12 years ago, has now been relegated to Legacy status but I would still use it, if available.

          What I liked about that system was that you figure out what boards you need, wire them up, by following the instructions in the excellent documentation, and then configure the organ by programming the boards using some DIP switches. It was perfect for a home organ installation because the system can always be easily expanded and modified as one's instrument grows by adding more boards or reconfiguring the existing system.

          I can't speak to Syndyne's latest offering, but I am leery of some of the newer systems that are highly computerized and leave you totally dependent on the manufacturer. There is something to be said for some of the older systems such as the Devtronix system we are refurbishing. The company is long gone but the circuitry is trivially easy to understand and all the parts are still widely available.

          If you can attract someone with experience in digital electronics to your team, I would not necessarily discard the idea of doing the work yourself, which will result in considerable savings.

          BTW, I really like the looks of Syndyne's drawknob units but have no experience with them.

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          • #6
            I am installing a Syndyne MS8460 system in a 1924 Moller to control the combination action. It has been very easy to install and program. In the past, I used what is now their Legacy system and have never had any problems with any of them. The newer system uses a LCD display to set the system up making it very easy to program.

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            • #7
              Pipeorganbuilder Could you share what the cost of the Syndyne MS8460 is, including typical installation cost? It will help give us a ballpark idea of how much $$ we'll need to raise. Thanks.

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              • #8
                I posted the same question over at MuscaSacra forum and here's the thread (so far). Feel free to add more comments:
                -----
                https://ssosystems.com/

                SSL. Never, ever had one bad experience after innumerable hours playing on instruments they control. Simple, no ugly LCD screen, just what you beee.

                CharlesW September 26

                We went with Peterson and never had any problems. NO LCD screen, either. Gained 120 channels of memory and many more finger and toe studs.

                GerardH September 26

                Ours has Peterson. It has caused us some trouble once or twice, including cutting out during an orchestral concert, but otherwise has been very serviceable.

                ServiamScores September 26

                Have used them all and they've all been flexible. (I like peterson's interface the least, second only to Walker's byzantine controls. Try subbing on a walker and changing the memory level bank. Good luck figuring it out on your own without help!)

                Do some research; I cannot remember which of the three (Artisan, I believe) allows for custom scoping, which is a neat feature I used a lot in grad school. I tried looking up the spec of the organ I played, but it doesn't say what system it's running, and its been about 6 years since I played that organ.

                (For those who aren't sure what I mean: you can define exactly what parameters any given piston or toe stud controls, so if you reallllllly need a general right *there!* or a reed ventil right *here*, or whatever the case may be, you can do that. You enter the scoping function, and pull out all the stops you want that piston to control, and set it. Once you've exited out of that mode, you can then set a combination to that piston, and only the scoped stops will be affected.)

                Gamba September 26

                ServiamScores

                100% agree about the utility of the Scope feature! Happily, all the major control companies include it now; sometimes it is called Range.

                CharlesW September 26

                What I liked about the Peterson was that it behaves like a standard, traditional combination action. I did not want, nor would I have paid for, a sequencer. I have generally considered those somewhat "gimmicky" and wondered if they could eventually be a source of maintenance issues. If I had so many registration changes I needed a sequencer, I would get a registrant.

                ServiamScores September

                "I did not want, nor would I have paid for, a sequencer."
                If I had to guess, I'd bet you're in the minority here.
                Sequencers are invaluable if you plan on doing any sort of recital work. They are also useful during liturgies: take a long setting of a Gloria, for instance, where you might change registrations at major sections. Just kicking “next” is very useful. You only have to practice a single motion, rather than reaching for various specific toe studs or pistons in the heat of the moment.

                Honestly, I think sequencers are an absolute must on any modern instrument with a combination action. Almost all modern builders are placing ➡️ studs adjacent to the swell pedal these days.

                You also need to think about any organist who may inherit your instrument after you. You may not use that particular feature but it's good to have it included so that the person after you has the flexibility if they want it. I have seen many organs in my life that were very peculiar as a result of the incumbent at the time of installation. There is no swell oboe 8 because there is a 4' flute celest the pedal… don't do that, lol. Similarly, I'd advise against a principled stand against sequencers, which are becoming de rigeur on modern instruments.

                CharlesW September 27

                Along with the sequencer, would come the recorder. I didn't need it either, since there is a prohibition against recorded music during mass. I was in a situation during the console rebuild where I needed the money elsewhere to fix problem areas. There was a fixed amount of money and that was all that was available. I had some ranks a formerly Baptist organist had messed with during a rebuild/releathering during the mid-nineties. I also had a mixture that could rip nails from the floor and which overpowered everything else on the organ. I spent the money on more important things like revoicing and making the instrument more useable.

                "They are also useful during liturgies: take a long setting of a Gloria, for instance, where you might change registrations at major sections. Just kicking “next” is very useful"

                Careful you don't make the congregation sea sick with all those registration changes.

                These days, I think you may be fortunate to have any mechanical or electrical aids. The trend seems to be to get a tracker pared down to no accessories other than a pedal to open/close swell shades. I have seen some of those historic approximations to the point the instrument is almost unplayable without an army of registrants and assistants. The key things are do what works best for you and what fits the allocated money you have available.

                MBennett September 27

                I have used the Peterson ICS4000, but while Peterson's customer service/tech support is excellent, the product is sort of dated. One of my organ builder friends said he's had a lot of bad luck with SSOS/SSL and one of my friends has had to have the processor on their organ replaced several times because half the organ would go out or certain octaves of the manuals would just stop playing. Another friend had his organ rebuilt and used the IOTI Virutoso system, and he raved about it.

                ServiamScores September 27

                These days, I think you may be fortunate to have any mechanical or electrical aids. The trend seems to be to get a tracker pared down to no accessories other than a pedal to open/close swell shades. I have seen some of those historic approximations to the point the instrument is almost unplayable without an army of registrants and assistants

                This is indeed a problem. I certainly understand the desire for historically-informed builds, as well as for tracker actions, however I will never understand the desire for completely analogue stop control. It really does hamper the instrument. I teach on a north-german-styled T&B, and while the instrument is an absolute gem, it is very hampered by the lack of electronic stop control. I cannot teach any of those more-advanced registration & manual changing techniques to my students, because there is no combination action, and it's impossible to do without registrants, as you say. The instrument would be substantially more flexible in performance if it had modern stop controls, and it would still be as north-german-baroque as ever.

                CharlesW September 27
                If it isn't French, it isn't a real organ. LOL.

                I know exactly what you mean. I watched a video of Daniel Roth playing the Reubke 94th Psalm. Two registrants were pushing and pulling stops, operating pedals, all the while Roth was playing and barking orders to them on what to do next. Feet and hands were flying everywhere. While some of those old organs are beautiful, they are often very difficult to play. Some modern aids would be helpful, to be sure.

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                • #9
                  I would certainly recommend Opus-Two (https://www.opustwoics.com/). It is in my mind the most stable, and much more mature than other systems. It was the control system chosen for both Wanamkers and Boardwalk Hall but also many instruments even as small as one rank. It can be as simple or complex as you'd like, and the pricing is good. You can view all of the components and their cost on the website.

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                  • #10
                    We're using Uniflex on our Wurlitzer pipe organ.
                    -Admin

                    Allen 965
                    Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
                    Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
                    Hauptwerk 4.2

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                    • #11
                      Correct me if I'm wrong: I think the Wanamaker instrument has Peterson ICS-4000.
                      http://apoba.com/downloads/prospectu...oducts_inc.pdf

                      What do you think? Thanks!
                      -John S.

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                      • #12
                        It has since been replaced/extended by Opus Two: https://www.opustwoics.com/wanamaker

                        Atlantic City is the same deal: https://www.opustwoics.com/atlantic-city-midmer-losh

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