Sep. 27, 2020

Virtual Pipe Organ (VPO), Part IV

(con't from Part III)
Theatre/cinema organists know that the melody of a song dictates the volume pattern, thus having the instrument fully expressive becomes an absolute necessity in theatre/cinema organs whose entire tonal forces, save perhaps for its longest Diaphone pipes, are placed in enclosed chambers; in addition, a means for expressing the entire instrument through a single shoe also becomes a necessity.
Duet therefore has been engineered to express through a single master volume pedal, and the fact that it's on its own pedal endows the host console with new powers of compound flexibility and expression.
Duet is only available upon special order from MIDI Concepts LLC (additional information and pricing options can be found online at, but the pedal selected for its expression is the owner's choice.
This unit generates a R/L stereo output signal, thus, to express it, a stereo volume pedal is needed; while the player remains free to choose what they want to use, Duet's designers recommend using an Ernie Ball 6167 25K Ohm Stereo Volume Pedal (photo) to express this unit's voices.
This is a high-quality pedal which happens to be the same size as a conventional Swell shoe (4 X 10 inches), is of rugged steel construction, has a smooth action matching the resistance of a built-in console shoe, and functions as a potentiometer between Duet's sound generator box/Boosteroo and the power amplifier driving the organ's external speaker system.
NOTE: In some applications a small, portable T613-BNC Boosteroo made by Upbeat Audio may be necessary to connect Duet's sound generator box to this pedal to double Duet's speaker output signal without distorting [See blog, Virtual Pipe Organ (VPO), Part III]; the Boosteroo comes with three 1/4-inch output jacks, one of which is used to connect with Duet's pedal, and runs on two AA batteries which provide up to 120 hours of playable life without replacement.
This Ernie Ball pedal is equipped with twin 1/4-inch stereo input and output jacks which receive and send, respectively, the audio stream; the only question it poses is deciding where and how to place it.
Most host consoles provide enough space for this pedal to sit atop one of the expression shoes and still leave enough vertical room when the organist's shoes are removed for the right foot to work it through its whole range of movement.
In the privacy of one's own home, for practice purposes, one solution therefore is to place it "piggy-back" on top of a fully depressed Solo shoe (photo); the pedal's weight and non-skid rubber feet keep it stable in this position, and, provided the right foot is happy wearing just a sock for practice, it becomes a non-issue, and no construction is necessary.
While this keeps the Solo shoe from moving it does not completely neuter expression of the Solo stops in instruments which have a Master Swell coupler; in such a case they still can be expressed along with the entire organ using the adjacent Swell shoe.
Obviously, when it's important to wear shoes during practice, this will not work, and it may be necessary to alter the console from factory design and remove one of its expression shoes to make room for Duet's pedal.
In the event Duet is ever removed from the host console for connection to some other instrument, the process is fairly simple; all that's really required is for the Midi assignments of the sound generator's memory stick to be reconfigured for the second instrument; this is done by sending the memory stick to Midi Concepts LLC along with the second instrument's Midi implementation sheet (if there is one) and remitting the required payment to cover costs; the disassembly and reconnection of Duet's sound generator box, pedal, and control panel poses no real challenges.
Some audio cables are needed to connect Duet's stereo volume pedal; when used with a host console as described above the length of these audio cables to and from the pedal should be about 15 feet, and their pathway would be as follows:
The single speaker output jack on Duet's sound generator box accepts a male 3.5mm stereo plug, and the other end of this cable requires a splitter ending in a pair of 1/4-inch male plugs for connection to the pedal's stereo input jacks; this cable, when the sound generator box sits atop the right side of the console and the power amp/mixer sits atop the left, will snake down and around the right side of the console to drape along the top row of toe pistons before squeezing inside the console to reach the pedal's input jacks.
The pedal's output jacks will then carry the stereo audio stream over an audio cable having two 1/4-inch male plugs on the pedal end (two separate single-end male plugs will also do); these will snake outside the console to emerge on the left side, draping above the top row of toe pistons on their way up the left side of the console to the stereo input jacks of the power amp/mixer.
This manner of placement works to keep these cables out of the way of the organist's feet and hidden as much as possible.
When set up in this fashion the elevation difference between Duet's pedal and the organ's remaining shoes is not that critical; as long the player can work Duet's pedal easily and efficiently and adapts quickly to it "by feel," it's a small matter -- a small price to pay to have Duet express with the host instrument in a readily usable way.
Under a skilled hand, Duet's sound transports the listener to the fabulous Fox Theatre at curtain time.
(con't in Part V)