The Baldwin C500 Organ Used In These Videos

The music recorded for certain selections on this Video page was performed using a Viscount "Symphonia" V/107 digitally sampled organ, an instrument sold in the United States during the 1990's under the Baldwin name as Model C500.  With 86 stops this was Viscount's largest stock model in regular production at the time, it was manufactured in blocks of 50, one block was ordered for the United States, and all 50 were sold mostly to churches and private residences before the manufacturer moved to a line of strictly 2- and 3-manual church organs and this model was discontinued.  It incorporated early DS4 technology which offered sampled voices sourced and separated by division.  These voices were controlled by 7 computers built into the console.  Six of these, one for each of the 6 divisions (Great, Swell, Choir/Positiv, Solo, Echo, Pedal), stored sampled sounds of real organ pipes which were made tunable by division.  These sound colors were brought on or retired by means of lighted drawknobs, lighted manual and toe pistons, and lighted rocker tablets which remained in alignment in both on/off positions.  A 7th master computer controlled all 6 divisional computers.

This instrument has a self-contained speaker system composed of two 12-inch (12") drivers each powered by an 80-watt (80W) amp, totalling 160W of power.  Since external amplification of each channel with a resulting strong R/L stereo effect was the objective, the signals from all 6 output channels were routed to a 600W Peavey XR8300 power mixer and converted to a R/L stereo signal, mixed with cathedral reverb, looped through a Samson S-Curve 215 15-band dual graphic equalizer, them routed to a free-standing 18" Velodyne Servo F-1800RII subwoofer powered by a 1000W amp with crossover set at 50Hz.  This sub was set to capture frequencies in the 32-foot octave and the bottom half of the 16-foot octave by filtering all frequencies from 50Hz down.  The stereo signal was routed from there to a free-standing 15" Memphis floor-firing sub which filtered all frequencies in the 50-120Hz band which captured the top half of the 16-foot octave and all of the 8-foot bass octave.  The remaining stereo signal was routed from there to a pair of BSR Colossus R/L stereo cabinets retrofitted with all new high performance Memphis (15") and Pyle (8", 4") drivers, with each cabinet retaining its own pair of original BSR tweeters.  A crossover network in these BSR cabinets divided and apportioned the signal by frequency bands to its own drivers (120-800 Hz to the 15", 800-1200Hz to the 8", 1200-3400Hz to the 4", and 3400Hz and higher to the tweeters).  By using several amps, driving each one gently, and assigning certain frequency bands to different portions of the speaker system, a powerful bass could be created while preserving mid-range clarity.

The Swell, Solo, and Echo channel output signals were additionally amplified using a 60W Choice Select Ultra ST2060 amp connected to a pair of Sony SS-F6000P floorstanding 4-way cabinets each equipped with a 6-1/2" driver, 3-1/3" driver, and tweeter.  The Choir/Positiv channel output signal was additionally amplified using a 20W Lepy Stereo Class-D Digital Audio amp connected to a pair of Realistic MC-1800 2-way cabinets each equipped with a single 7-7/8" driver and tweeter.  Total amplification in this instrument computed to 1840W generated by 6 amps which powered 24 drivers (one 18" sub, one 15" sub, two 15", two 12", two 8", two 7-7/8", two 6-1/2", two 4", two 3-1/3", and 8 tweeters).  Audio/video was captured using a Sony HD Handycam camcorder mounted on a tripod at a distance of 3-10 feet from the speaker system and elevated 7 feet above floor level.  

Most manufacturers of sampled organs, for marketing purposes, say they record (or sample) every note of every stop (not necessarily every rank).  They may even say that their original samples are 30 seconds long or even 60 seconds long.  They may even boast about what bit-rate, sampling rate, etc., they use.  In actual fact it is very hard to get all notes of a rank in a pipe organ to sample perfectly.  Most ranks have notes which are "off" either in volume or tone.  What they actually put into their instruments therefore is going to be something that is vastly reduced, so, just a basic sampling system doesn't really make a digi organ sound exactly like a pipe organ.  The behavior of a wind instrument also needs to be reproduced.  Therefore things like wind noise ("chiff") as pipes get on speech have been put into digi organs like this one but still they end up sounding a little too focused and straight.  The biggest problem manufacturers face is, what can be done at what price.  Companies experience periodic lulls in sales, there has always been serious price competition, and, in order to stay price-competitive, most sampled organs are seriously compromised.  The marketplace for digi organs is such that, most purchasers want more stops, more manuals, etc., rather than the very highest quality musical result.  This has everything to do with the way manufacturers must design their line of products.

The way the external speaker system of this instrument is configured and the specific way its divisions are tuned generates a signature sound unique to itself.  Great division tuning of this digi organ is fixed at true pitch with the entire organ's pitch made adjustable up or down by means of a general pitch control knob.  To get around sounding too sterile, plastic, and lifeless the other 5 divisions are made tuneable up or down to the Great by means of their own individual pitch control knobs, all of which are situated out of sight and under the console near the organist's left knee.  Since the ear will tolerate a little sharpness but not the same degree of flatness, this performer prefers to tune the Echo, Swell, and Pedal divisions slightly sharp and the Solo and Choir/Positiv slightly flat to the Great by very minute but differing amounts.  This helps to impart a random, chorus effect to the sound of coupled divisions without introducing any disturbing undulations, or beats.

In this organ, to more closely approximate the random chorus sound of a pipe organ, different divisions can be coupled to create full ensembles on the Great and Pedal where ranks of different pitches in the ensemble may be in tune (Great), others slightly sharp (Echo, Pedal), others a bit more sharp (Swell), others slightly flat (Solo), and others a bit more flat (Choir/Positiv).  And, while in a pipe organ mistuned ranks (celestes) are never drawn in fuller ensembles, in a digi organ like this some of these celeste stops, as long as they don't create a disturbing pitch "warble," might be included with advantage in fuller ensembles to simulate pipe ranks that need tuning.  In this organ all celeste ranks automatically draw the "mate ("mate" ranks are given their own drawknobs in this organ, save for the Echo Celeste), and, with manual division tremolos in this organ being adjustable for depth and speed, compound tones of great beauty are possible by coupling voices -- some mistuned (celestes), some tremmed, and some untremmed -- located in different divisions.

This instrument was supplied with 2 percussion stops (Great Chimes & Solo Harp) and 84 independent speaking stops representing 107 equivalent ranks of organ pipes.  The top octave of the Great Chimes (C#50 to C61) was wired to double back an octave, but, unlike the Chimes in many pipe organs, it did go all the way down to bottom C1 and thus represented 49 equivalent bars.  The Solo Harp ran all the way up to top C6 without doubling back and thus comprised 61 equivalent bars.  Every stop in this organ including Chimes and Harp was equipped with 2 voicing variations (A and B) controlled by tilting tablets which permitted the organist to expand to 172 different sounds.  The A voicing reflected more traditional voicing whereas on B the change in harmonic content in the strings and reeds resulted in a different tone, brighter in many cases, the open flutes changed to stopped, and the Principals and Diapasons became either brighter or more bland and flutey-sounding.

The Choir Hohl Flute on A, for example, is open with more harmonic content but stopped and hollow-sounding on B;  both A and B are good for solos, with or without Tremolo.  The Great Flute Celeste is awfully strong but good if it's turned down a bit.  The Great Rohr Flute is a big burbley flute full of color.  The Solo Gamba on B coupled to the Swell Principal, Viole, and Great Salicional on A is very French-sounding.  The Cromorne is also very French-sounding on A, more like a Clarinet on B.  The Bassoon on A is very realistic for an actual Bassoon and on B is brighter in the mid-range and rounder in the bass.  The Cor De Nuit on B is also very French-sounding.  The Vox Humana is quite good on A where it's mixed with a soft helper stop and on B it's all by itself.  The Principals and Diapasons on B are big, flutey, and lose some of their characteristic tone.  Save for being paired with the Tuba to add volume for carrying a line over the top of the full organ, the Solo Diapason (as it often is with many large pipe organs where it is inserted in the division having the largest chorus reed battery) is probably the most useless stop in the organ.

Each voice in this organ is independent with no unification or duplexing.  The Pedal Fourniture V is the only mixture in the organ which extends throughout the compass of its clavier without breaks and is thus of the proper class of mixture to adopt for this division.  All manual mixtures save for the Plein Jeu have one or more breaks.  The Swell Plein Jeu III is wired to sound through only the bottom half of the Swell manual's compass; from F#43 it drops back to replay notes from the previous octave and thus sounds with the same quality and strength of tone above that note.  All 5 manual 16-foot stops are wired to sound clear down to bottom C1 without breaking back to the tenor octave.  All 5 manual 2-foot stops and those of higher pitch either break back in the top of their compass or have "dead notes" which are unwired to sound above the limits at which a functioning pipe can be inserted in an organ.  These are as follows:


2' Super Octave G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes


2' Flautino G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes

1-1/3' Larigot doubles back from C#50 -- B60 over 11 notes (C49 and C61 are dead notes)

III Plein Jeu doubles back from F#43 over 19 notes


2' Doublette G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes

1-3/5' Tierce D52 -- C61, 11 dead notes

1' Sifflote G44 -- C49, G56 -- C61, 12 dead notes


2' Octavin G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes


2' Flautino G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes

This represents a total of 111 equivalent small pipes in the manual divisions which do not sound.  When this is factored we find an instrument capable of commanding the equivalent of 5,779 sounding pipes on the A voicing variation, and the same number on B.  This means that it would take a total of over 11K individual and separate organ pipes (11,558 to be exact) to make available to the organist the same tonal spread and range of pitches.

Three phone jacks per division provided in the back of the console allow all 6 divisional output channels to be sent to as many as 18 Viscount external speaker cabinets.  The console is Guild standard, supplied with Fatar premium keybords, MIDI friendly, and equipped with lighted MIDI rocker tablets for MIDI program changes by division which make it capable of storing sounds from an external sound module on its piston memory.  It may also be retrofit with Hauptwerk sample sets, should that be desired.  Separate divisional cancels which operate by pressing the various divisional labels situated at the top of the stop jambs are also provided.  The combination action is computer capture with 8 programmable memory banks.  Additional controls provided include Ventil tilting tablets which silence reeds or mixtures (duplicated with toe studs), a Pedal to Great (Automatic Pedal) reversible piston, a reversible Tutti piston and toe stud, "O pistons" which remember starting hand registrations, all the usual intermanual and manual to pedal couplers, a registered Crescendo shoe with 8 lighted positions, separate expression shoes for the Swell, Choir/Positiv, Solo, and Echo divisions, an All Swells to Swell piston which makes the Great and Pedal expressable through the Swell shoe along with all the other divisions, divisional Tremolos adjustable for depth and speed, adjustable Great, Pedal, and Master Volume, adjustable Brilliance control, transposer, pitch control, divisional generator tuning, and headphone jack.

One notes the absence of sub and super intramanual couplers and the presence of only 5 manual 16-foot stops.  Due to the type of technology in this organ, the Tutti and Crescendo are non-programmable.  One also notes that its designers evidently wanted the Pedal division to be fully prepared to solo an alto or soprano part; 4 Pedal stops are of 4-foot pitch and one is of 2-foot pitch.  The Pedal division is also a bit undersized perhaps for such a large organ, having only 16 stops altogether, but this organ was the stock 3-manual (model C500) manufactured at the time to which Solo and Echo manuals were simply stacked above the Swell.  The stock 4-manual organ (model C400) was built the same but lacked the Echo manual and its associated sound colors, which meant that only the 5-manual (model C500) was supplied with a Vox Humana, Cor De Nuit, Erzahler Celeste, Festival Trumpet, and a Bombarde reed battery with mixture.


GREAT (26 ranks)

16' Principal, 8' Principal, 8' Bourdon, 8' Flute Celeste II, 8' Salicional, 4' Octave, 4' Rohr Flute, 2-2/3' Nazard, 2' Super Octave, V Cornet, IV Mixture, VI Fourniture, 8' Trumpet, 4' Trumpet, Chimes, Tremolo

SWELL (16 ranks)

16' Lieblich Gedeckt, 8' Principal, 8' Gedeckt, 8' Viole, 8' Viole Celeste II, 4' Geigen, 2-2/3' Nazard, 2' Flautino, 1'1/3' Larigot, III Plein Jeu, 16' Contra Fagott, 8' Trompette, 8' Hautbois, 4' Trompette, Tremolo

CHOIR/POSITIV (14 ranks)

8' Principal, 8' Hohl Flute, 8' Dulciana, 8' Unda Maris II, 4' Principal, 4' Stopped Flute, 2' Doublette, 1/3/5' Tierce, 1' Siffote, IV Mixture, 8' Cromorne, Tremolo

SOLO (13 ranks)

8' Diapason, 8' Major Flute, 8' Gamba, 8' Gamba Celeste II, 4' Gemshorn, 4' Orchestral Flute, 2' Octavin, 16' Bassoon, 8' Tuba Mirabilis, 8' French Horn, 8' Cor Anglais, 8' Orchestral Oboe, 4' Tuba Clarion, 8' Harp, Tremolo

ECHO (18 ranks)

16' Dulciana, 8' Cor De Nuit, 8' Erzahler, 8' Erzahler Celeste II, 8' Echo Celeste II, 4' Flauto D'Echo, 4' Erzahler Celeste II, 2' Flautino, III Mixture, 16' Bombarde, 8' Festival Trumpet, 8' Bombarde, 8' Vox Humana, 4' Bombarde, Tremolo

PEDAL (20 ranks)

32' Contra Bourdon, 16' Principal, 16' Sub Bass, 16' Violone, 16' Lieblich Gedeckt, 8' Octave, 8' Gedeckt, 4' Super Octave, 4' Flute, 2' Block Flute, V Fourniture, 32' Contra Bombarde, 16' Fagott, 8' Trumpet, 4' Clarion, 4' Schalmei


Swell to Great, Choir/Positiv to Great, Solo to Great, Echo to Great, Swell to Choir/Positiv, Solo to Choir/Positiv, Echo to Choir/Positiv, Solo to Swell, Echo to Swell, Echo to Solo, Great to Pedal*, Swell to Pedal*, Choir/Positiv to Pedal*, Solo to Pedal*, Echo to Pedal*

(* with toe piston)



18 DIAPASONS -- Pedal Principal, Octave, Super Octave, Great Double Principal, Principal, Salicional, Octave, Super Octave, Choir/Positiv Principal, Dulciana, Unda Maris, Principal Octave, Doublette, Swell Principal, Geigen, Solo Diapason, Echo Double Dulciana

26 FLUTES -- Pedal Lieblich Gedeckt, Subbass, Gedeckt, Flute, Blockflote, Great Bourdon, Flute Celeste, Rohr Flute, Nazard, Choir/Positiv Hohl Flute, Stopped Flute, Nazard, Tierce, Sifflote, Swell Lieblich Gedeckt, Gedeckt, Chimney Flute, Nazard, Flautino, Larigot, Solo Major Flute, Orchestral Flute, Octavin, Echo Cor De Nuit, Flauto D'Echo, Flautino

6 STRINGS -- Pedal Violone, Swell Viole, Viole Celeste, Solo Gamba, Gamba Celeste, Echo Celeste

22 REEDS -- Pedal Contra Bombarde, Fagott, Trumpet, Clarion, Schalmei, Great Trumpet, Trumpet Octave, Choir/Positiv Cromorne, Swell Fagott, Hautbois, Trompette, Trompette Octave, Solo Bassoon, Tuba Mirabilis, Tuba Clarion, Cor Anglais, French Horn, Orchestral Oboe, Echo Double Bombarde, Bombarde, Festival Trumpet, Vox Humana

This instrument also plays host to a sound generator and rack-mounted control panel [photo below] of an early model Duet virtual theatre pipe organ MIDI-configured to play from the bottom 3 manuals and pedals of the console [See blog, Virtual Pipe Organ (VPO), Part II, for details].  The Duet, so-named because it's a complete organ rather than an expander module, is portable, easy to install, can be made to work with any MIDI-fied digi organ, pipe organ, or even a single keyboard instrument, and is available from Midi Concepts LLC.  It supplies a "total-package" III/24 unit theatre organ (minus console, keyboards, and relay) playable from the host keyboard rack system or console without having to disable the latter's own voices, controls, or self-contained speaker system when present.  This plug-in-and-play "turn-key" instrument is a stand alone Unit Orchestra fully capable of accompanying silent motion pictures all by itself.  It was designed by former Conn organ engineers and developers and supplies sounds of uncanny realism taken from Wurlitzer and Barton theatre pipe organs, sampled pipe by individual pipe, tremmed and untremmed, along with 11 pitched percussions, 11 untuned percussions (traps), and 8 effects (toys).  The compact control panel makes primary control available by means of 10 combination pistons positioned along the piston row at the bottom of the control panel; these piston buttons are separated into 2 groups of 5 pistons each, all programmable either as generals or divisionals to suit the player.  Ten separate memory levels are supplied, thus a total of 100 different combinations may be stored in piston memory.

The Duet's speaking stops, as with all theatre pipe organs, are grouped by the Duet into audience left (Main) and audience right (Solo) chambers which its sound generator logically converts to a L/R stereo output signal.  The way its output signal may be channeled through speaker positioning using a powered subwoofer, and by drawing certain unique voices included with Duet to combinations of other stops which add theatre depth and a feeling of spaciousness, the "surround sound" experience of a real theatre can be simulated by Duet with astounding realism.  Among Duet's other resources are 4 separate tremulants [Main, Solo, Tibia Clausa, Tuba/Diapason] beating at different depths and speeds, Sub, Super, and Unison Off coupler action, 5 Great to Solo ("Blackpool") couplers at various pitches, a Solo Pizzicato coupler operable on Great and Accompaniment, all of the usual chorus and color reeds including a "buzzy" Kinura, some highly imitative strings w/celestes, a couple of contrasting Diapasons, a very edgy and assertive Post Horn, a robust 32-foot Diaphone, some Double Touch stops for any keyboards so equipped, 3 separate Tibias, and a pair of Vox Humanas to die for.  These voices and features have proven to be a remarkable complement to this Baldwin organ which vastly multiply the tonal spread and power and permit the organist to create, combine, and simultaneously control a massively enlarged palette for coloration of sounds and dynamic shadings for dramatizing and nuancing the music.