The Digital Electronic Organ Used In These Videos

Some of the music of these Video subpages was recorded using a Baldwin/Viscount "Symphonia" digital organ (photo), an instrument manufactured in and imported from Mondaino, Italy during the 1990's (Baldwin first began importing Viscount organs and selling them as their own brand in late 1988).  This 5-manual console was a self-contained MIDI-capable product supplied with DS4 sampling technology and was a wonderful instrument in its day.  Produced in blocks of 50 at a time, it was the largest stock console Viscount ever built.  According to an extremely reliable source only one block was ever ordered for the United States, but all 50 of them were sold.  At the time, Viscount had a 3-manual organ of fixed design in regular production (model C350) to which one or two extra manuals could be piled on top creating a 4-manual (model C450) or 5-manual (model C500) console, respectively, while everything else, including the Pedal division, remained identical to the C350.  Production of the C450 and C500 models ceased in 1997 when Viscount turned to producing a line of strictly 2- and 3-manual church organs.  

  This console's sampled voices were sourced, separated, and stored by division on 6 separate "slave" computers, one for each division, all of which were governed by a 7th master computer.  Voices, couplers, and tremulants were brought on or retired by means of lighted drawknobs and lighted manual and toe pistons.  Lighted rocker tablets paired with an 8-position factory-set Crescendo indicator built into the rail above the top manual controlled MIDI, Voicing Variations, and divisional Reeds Cancel.  All drawknobs and rocker tablets remained in alignment in both on/off positions.  Output channel phone (1/4") jacks in the back of the console allowed for up to 3 separate outputs per division, thus as many as 18 separate powered speaker cabinets (3 for each division) could be added.

The console was equipped with a self-contained speaker system consisting of a pair of 12-inch drivers each powered by its own 80-watt (80W) amplifier.  While this 160W of console power amplification was satisfactory for quiet home practice, audio engineers know that when a single driver with no crossover tries to reproduce the organ's entire frequency range all by itself the mammoth movements it undergoes to generate the lowest sounds interferes a bit with its ability to reproduce the finer movements made in reproducing midrange frequencies.  The resulting intermodulation distortion typically robs the sound of some of its midrange clarity.  The solution is to send the main output signal stream from the console to a system of loudspeakers equipped with multiple crossovers which divides the signal into specific frequency bands and sends them to speakers of different sizes.

Because in this residence the console had to occupy part of a 12-foot square room restricted on one side by a floating interior wall it was decided to place it on an angle in one corner facing the middle of the room, partly to keep its considerable weight positioned directly over the beam in the basement and partly to allow for access to the back of the console for servicing.  This left a bit of remaining room, albeit restricted, on the top of the console for amplifiers and behind and on each side of it for external speaker cabinets.  

In this installation the specific combination of external ampliers/speaker cabinets is a non-factory mix of pre-owned and new equipment.  The incomplete interior wall on the RIGHT SIDE of the console provided the most space for external cabinets.  Here individual mono output signals from all 6 divisional channels were routed via 1/4" jacks in the back of the console to a 600W Peavey XR8300 power mixer having separate stereo main and mono monitor outputs each with separate 7-band equalization, and then amplified.  The stereo main output signal stream was then looped through a Samson S-Curve 215 15-band dual graphic equalizer, mixed with reverb, and then routed to a Velodyne Servo F-1800RII powered subwoofer having an internal amp rated at 600W (1000W max), a massive 18" driver, and a low crossover set at 40Hz.  This particular sub, which at one time was one of 15 identical units originally installed at Gesu Church in Milwaukee, functioned to reproduce those mammoth frequencies below the range of determinate musical sound by setting it to capture all frequencies below 40Hz which corresponds to E in the 16-foot octave, or the low E of the contrabass of the grand orchestra.  The audio stream thus filtered of its most extreme low frequencies was sent from there to a free-standing BSR passive sub retrofitted with a new Memphis 15" driver which captured all remaining frequencies below 120Hz.  The filtered signal from this sub was then routed to a pair of BSR Colossus R/L stereo cabinets each rated at 200W.  Each of these cabinets retaining its own original pair of BSR 2-1/4" ceramic tweeters but was retrofitted with new Memphis (15") and Pyle (8", 4") drivers.  A crossover network in each BSR cabinet divided the audio stream into 4 different frequency bands which were sent to each of its 5 loudspeakers designed to receive them (120-800Hz to the 15", 800-1200Hz to the 8", 1200-3400Hz to the 4", and above 3400Hz to both tweeters).  This arrangement comprised part of the RIGHT SIDE speaker system [See photo below] with a power consumption of 600 + 600 = 1200W, the entire organ plays through it, and it multiplies the audio power of the console nearly 7 times.

Since the power mixer's main output signal stream creates little if any intermodulation distortion its other output channel (monitor) was connected in series to two Peavey PV215 quasi 3-way trapezoidal enclosure cabinets each equipped with dual 15" heavy duty woofers and a 1.4-inch RX14 titanium tweeter driver mounted on a 60 X 40 degree coverage constant-directivity horn.  One of these cabinets was then connected in parallel with a Conn Model 145 electronic pipe unit equipped with four 6" X 9" oval speakers.  These 3 additional cabinets are also part of the RIGHT SIDE speaker system [See photo below].  Each of the Peavey cabinets are rated at 700W, have a single crossover frequency of 2.6kHz, a frequency response of 58Hz to 17kHz, and a frequency range of 40Hz to 21kHz.  The Conn electronic pipes were made to work with treble frequencies from about 200Hz up.  Both output channels (main/monitor) are set to play when the power mixer is turned on.  

Additionally, using the spare channel mono output jacks provided in the back of the console and some vintage pre-owned cabinets of various sizes, a REAR speaker system situated inside the extremely restricted triangular space measuring 3-1/2' x 5' x 6' behind the console also was configured.  Here the Solo, Echo, and Pedal signal outputs were routed to a 60W Choice Select Ultra ST2060 PA mixing amp and on from there to a pair of Sony SS-F6000P floorstanding 4-way tower speaker cabinets each rated at 180W and equipped with a 6-1/2" woofer, 3-1/3" mid-range loudspeaker, and 1" tweeter.  The output signal from this amp was routed separately by means of a special RCA cable with Y-splitter to a Sony SS-MSP1 powered subwoofer having a 50W amp and 7-7/8" bass reflex speaker with a frequency range of 28Hz-200Hz, high end crossover set at 150Hz, and maximum input power of 100W.  The Choir/Positiv mono output from the console was separately amplified using a 90W (45W X 2) Pyle PFA300 Class T amp and then routed to a pair of vintage Realistic MC-1800 cabinets each rated at 55W and equipped with a 7" midrange speaker and 1-1/2" tweeter.  Additional fidelity for the Swell and Great mono output channels was obtained using a 40W (20W X 2) Kinter TA2020-020 Class T mini-amp, and a 40W (20W X 2) Lepy LP-2020A Class D mini-amp, respectively.  The output stream from each of these was connnected to its own Awai SX-WNAJ50 3-way bookshelf speaker box equipped with a 6-1/3" sub, 4" midrange, and 4/5" tweeter rated at 75W.  This REAR speaker system [See photo below] having a power consumption of 60 + 50 + 90 + 40 + 40 = 280W, and, when used all by itself, provides a noticeable boost in amplified power that's handy when the organist, for practicing purposes, wants a larger but not the biggest sound.  The entire organ plays through it surprisingly well, and it nearly doubles the audio power of the console.  

A LEFT SIDE speaker system just for Solo, Echo, and Pedal divisions was also configured, but here the available wall space was even less.  This was made possible using a 250W Pyle Audio MPA-250B stereo amp which sends the signal stream to a Klipsch KSW 200 powered subwoofer having a 12" bass reflex driver, 200W amp, and crossover set at 40Hz, and its cabinet was placed along the wall between the piano and organ console where it just fit.  The signal stream also was routed to a pair of Acoustic Audio BR10 3-way Karaoke monitors each rated at 800W and equipped with a crossover network, 10" X 4" tweeter, 10" lower midrange, and one 4" upper midrange driver.  One of these monitors was stacked on top of the Klipsch sub and the other just in front of it.  The power consumption of this LEFT SIDE speaker system [See photo below] is 250 + 200 = 450W, only the Solo, Echo, and Pedal play through it, as stated, and it nearly triples the audio power of the console. 

In summary, the console now plays through its own pair of 80W internal amplifiers and dual 12" woofers supplemented with 9 more external amps [one 600W Velodyne, one 600W Peavey, one 250W Pyle, one 200W Klipsch, one 90W Pyle, one 60W Choice Ultra Select, one 50W Sony, one 40W Kinter, and one 40W Lepy].  These 9 additional amps power 44 additional drivers of different sizes housed in 17 separate floor cabinets -- 6 subwoofers (one 18", one 15", one 12", one 7-7/8", two 6-1/3") -- four 15" heavy duty bass woofers -- 8 lower midrange drivers (two 15", two 10", two 8", two 6-1/2") -- 12 upper midrange drivers (four 6 X 9", two 7", four 4", two 3-1/3") -- 14 high end tweeters (two 10" x 4", four 2-1/4", four 1-1/2", two 1.4" horns, two 4/5") -- all of which combine for a total audio power amplification of 160 + 1200 + 280 + 450 = 2100W, some 13 times more than the manufacturer provided to this self-contained console.

Needless to say, the player doesn't begin to use it all.  The goal here was not absolute power or sheer size but a symmetrical and proportioned sound having a much improved realism and sparkle throughout the listening space.  By combining new and repurposed materials like this which are matched to each other, multiplying amps and speakers of different strengths and sizes so they can be driven more gently, and using the ear to balance volume and treble/bass levels, equalization, and artificial reverb, a big, unforced sound with a punchy low end and a brilliant but not screeching high end results which much more closely approaches the real McCoy.  The important thing to remember here is that when there are multiple console mono output jacks one does not have to be a Kenneth Strickfaden to come up with some kind of space-effective, cost-effective, external speaker system for an electronic organ that brings out the very best it has to offer.  One has to hear it in person to fully appreciate the transformation this has made in the sound.  Truthfully, it turned this stock instrument with dated technology into one heck of a organ.

The 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.

Much of the success of the sound of this instrument depends upon how and to what degree the various divisions are tuned to the Great.  If tuned exactly true to the Great and each other the sound is lifeless, sterile, and artificial, but if they sound too far off pitch the tuning undulations, or beats, that result can be downright objectionable if not unbearable.  The trick with this organ to get it to sound with richness is to find that very narrow sweet zone which has each division tuned just barely different from the Great but not so far as to produce noticeable undulations.  The entire organ's pitch is adjustable up or down from A440 by means of a general pitch control knob.  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 under the bottom manual within reach of the organist's left hand.  Since the ear will tolerate a little sharpness but not the same degree of flatness, it was decided, using the ear to adjust the amount, to tune the Echo very slightly sharp and the Solo very slightly flat so that when the hands go to the Solo the Echo can be blended in.  Similarly the Swell was tuned barely sharp to the Echo, the Choir barely flat than the Solo, and the Pedal barely sharp to the Swell.  This was accomplished by drawing the loudest 8-foot reed in each division, coupling them one at a time to the Great Trumpet, listening carefully for the speed of the beats as the tuning knobs are turned up or down, and then checking what the full organ sounded like, the desired result being a rich and realistic sound that dies away without any noticeable beats.

In a real pipe organ the mistuned ranks (celestes) inserted by the builder typically are never drawn in fuller ensembles, but with a digi organ like this one some of these celeste stops, provided they're not too assertive and don't create a disturbing pitch "warble," might be included with discretion in fuller ensembles to simulate those minute pitch variations among real pipe ranks.  Hear again, the ear will be the best judge.  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 came with 2 percussion stops (Great Chimes & Solo Harp).  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 select from 168 equivalent ranks.  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 or "stop" 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, and thus without equalization very shrill, 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 1/4-inch 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 separate powered 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.

The type of technology used in this organ and certain peculiarities in its tonal design impacts on what ensuing generations of organists are accustomed to usually having at their disposal.  In particular, they note the total absence of sub and super couplers and miss the color possibilities these controls offer -- the relatively few manual suboctave stops of 16-foot pitch (only 5 in the whole organ) to make up for it -- the relatively few unison Pedal stops of 16-foot pitch (again, only 5) for an organ this large -- the relative over-abundance of independent Pedal stops of 4-foot pitch and higher -- and the non-programmable Tutti piston and Crescendo.  On the flip side, this was the only model in the series (by virtue of having an Echo division) supplied with a Vox Humana, Cor De Nuit, imitative String Celeste, Erzahler w/ Celeste, Festival Trumpet, and a separate Bombarde reed battery, all of which are highly desirable voices. 



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