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Thread: Allen System 603 thoughts

  1. #1
    f Forte rjsilva's Avatar
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    Allen System 603 thoughts

    Does anyone have any thoughts they can share about the Allen System 603? I saw one for sale recently and wondered how decent it was.
    Viscount C400 3-manual
    8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
    Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

  2. #2
    fff Fortississimo toodles's Avatar
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    It's MOS era technology, so that type of sound--it doesn't have the attack (chiff, etc.) effects that the late ADC organs have, but good basic digital tone generation. A little primitive digital sound artifacts, but a good digital reverb or acoustic environment covers that up nicely.

    It is one of the very largest 2 manual stoplists that Allen put together, and some were built with special EPROMs for certain reeds, like a Pedal 32' Contre Bombarde. Dual computers, so you can get celeste, and doubling for a better ensemble than the more sterile single computer models. Built like a tank.

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    f Forte rjsilva's Avatar
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    Thanks toodles. I heard a strange thing from an Allen technician, that this organ is not really better than a small analog from the 60’s—they have seen that old analog organ, which has a princess pedalboard and very limited stops (no reeds) which all sound similar, and 3 memory presets. I was extremely surprised this technician said what they did.

    This technician also said it has open contacts and therefore would require a yearly service contract.

  4. #4
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Not sure why a tech would be dissing a 603 in that manner unless it is one with a bad history. True, the open leaf-switch key contacts are subject to contamination, but there are thousands and thousands of Allen organs in use with leaf switches and they are generally reliable. They don't necessarily need annual service, but I do recall one MOS organ I used to service that did have some intermittent key switches that drove me crazy. Never did solve that problem, but the organ was destroyed when the church burned...

    Ditto to what toodles said. I have a 603 in the shop that was actually "given" to me in exchange for some speakers that I didn't need. It came in with some weird problems that had been created by a previous owner trying to either fix something or make some mods that didn't make sense to me. Once I removed the extraneous wiring and restored it to the factory setup it works perfectly. There is a thread somewhere with pics of that one and some descriptions of what I had to do to it.

    The only use we've made of this old 603 was to rent it to the Symphony Orchestra for a big program last winter. They had a concert of really "loud" numbers, such as "Also Sprach Zarathustra" and Holst's Planets, and the organ served to basically double the volume of the 75-player orchestra when it was needed!

    So yes, an old 603 is a huge organ, even though it's just four channels (or five with the optional sub or doubled pedal channel). As with all MOS organs, there are compromises because swell, great, and pedal all share the same channels, and stops lose their individuality in the ensemble. But MOS organs can sound very good indeed in a proper acoustic setting.

    One drawback is the massive size of the "D" console and the necessity of an external amp rack. It's not an organ for a small room!
    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
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    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  5. #5
    Administrator Admin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjsilva View Post
    This technician also said it has open contacts and therefore would require a yearly service contract.
    My MOS2 has open contacts. Zero problems with dirty contacts in the twenty years I've owned it. Cats crawling in the organ and bending the contacts is another story.

  6. #6
    fff Fortississimo davidecasteel's Avatar
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    Yeah--Allen needs to sell some kind of screen for the inside behind the expression pedals to keep cats from crawling into the organ. My technician who inspected/installed my 305-B warned about cats in the instrument--something about static electricity from their fur zapping the ICs.

    David

  7. #7
    pp Pianissimo John Vanderlee's Avatar
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    I may have mentioned this earlier, but this spring we installed a 603 in a needy church. With 4 speakers HC14, I think, and adding 2 Alesis miniverbs with Harrison isolators, the organ sounds tremendous. I went back once to change the card reader to LEDs and turn down the bass. organist and congregation are very happy.

  8. #8
    mf Mezzo-Forte Larrytow's Avatar
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    I've played at least one 603 over the years, and found it to be as everyone else says - A really big spec two manual MOS, which to my ears sounds good no matter what exact model one is. The one thing I recall most about this one was the speaker system was not HCs, but some other sorta flat panel type speakers. I'm pretty sure they were Allen, but I don't know what models they were. Some of them must have had bad surrounds though, because they were pretty ratty sounding with a full processional registration. Big reeds, and so on. I played it for a wedding, and so did not go climbing around to inspect things better. I ended up showing the regular organist there how some of the features worked, because she had never explored all / most of them.
    Regards, Larry

    At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 ! ), E-5AR ( X 2, 1 parts, 1 not ), D80 ( parts ), FX-1, FX-20, HS-7T ( parts ), EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen organs : T12-A, T-12B, ADC-6000D. Baldwin 626. Hammond Concorde. Lowrey CH32-1. A bunch of Synthesizers and Keyboards. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with VISTA ), Hammond A105, Baldwin 720T, Several small and medium size pipe organs of many sorts and builders.

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    f Forte rjsilva's Avatar
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    Thanks for the thoughts everyone! I appreciate it. Does anyone have an idea what, very generally, might be a fair price for it?

  10. #10
    pp Pianissimo John Vanderlee's Avatar
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    I paid $500 without speakers as-is. before adding reverb, speakers, new batteries, cleaning etc.

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