The Baldwin C500 Organ Used In These Videos

The instrument used to make the residence recordings posted on this Video page is a Viscount "Symphonia" digital organ.  Built in Italy during the 1990's, this was a stock 5-manual model in very limited production.  It was made available in the United States initially under the Baldwin name as model C500 and, a bit later, under the Church Organ Systems name before it went out of regular production around 1997.  Probably less than 20 of these models were likely ever to have been sold in America.  The instrument used in these videos was manufactured in the mid-1990's and represents one of the last ever to be built.  

This model incorporated early DS4 technology which offered sampled voices sourced and separated by division.  These voices are governed by 7 computers built into the console.  A single master computer controls 6 "slave" computers, one for each division (Great, Swell, Choir/Positiv, Solo, Echo, Pedal), all of which store sampled sounds of real organ pipes.  These sounds are brought on or retired by means of lighted drawknobs which remain in alignment in both the on and off positions.  Desired sounds are recalled from the memory of each division by selecting the required divisional drawknob or combination and depressing its respective keys.

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 too straight, too focused.  The biggest problem manufacturers face is, what can be done at what price.  At the present time most companies are experiencing periodic lulls in sales, there is serious price competition, and in order to stay price-competitive most digi 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.

To get around sounding too sterile, unvoiced, plastic, and lifeless the 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.  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 tolerate so well 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 installation and for these videos the 6 divisional output signals of the instrument are sent to an external power mixer where they are amplified, colored individually, combined, mixed with cathedral reverb, looped through a 15-band dual graphic equalizer, then sent as right and left stereo signals to an external stereo speaker system equipped with 4 additional amplifiers and a crossover network which directs specific frequency ranges to specific drivers.   

This organ is supplied with 84 independent speaking stops comprising the equivalent of 107 separate ranks of organ pipes.  There are also 2 tuned percussion stops (Great Chimes and Solo Harp).  The top octave of the Great Chimes (C#50 to C61) is wired to double back an octave, but it does (unlike the Chimes in many pipe organs) go all the waydown to bottom C1 and thus represents 49 equivalent bars.  The Solo Harp runs all the way up to top C6 without doubling back and thus comprises 61 equivalent bars.  Every stop in this organ including Chimes and Harp is equipped with 2 voicing variations (A and B) controlled by tilting tablets which allows the organist to expand to 172 different sounds.  The A voicing reflects more traditional voicing whereas on B the change in harmonic content in the strings and reeds results in a different tone, brighter in many cases, the open flutes change to stopped, and the Principals and Diapasons become 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 -- a "Vox to die for" as they say.  On A 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 for carrying a line over the top of the full organ, the Solo Diapason in particular has little use on A or B -- probably the most useless stop in the organ (as it often is, in many pipe organs where it is inserted in the Solo division).

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 tops 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 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 and equipped with Fatar premium keyboards and divisional MIDI tilting tablets which make it capable of being retrofitted with Hauptwerk or other MIDI programs and external devices, should that be desired.  It is also provided with separate divisional cancels which operate by pressing the various divisional labels situated at the top of the stop jambs.  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 Tutti piston, "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, 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 designers of this instrument evidently wanted the Pedal division to be fully prepared to solo an alto or soprano part.  Four (25 per cent) of its 16 Pedal stops are of 4-foot pitch and another is of 2-foot pitch.  The Pedal division is thus supplied with as many superoctave stops as 16-foot unison stops and is also a little undersized perhaps for such a large organ, but this model started out as a stock 3-manual to which Solo and Echo manuals were simply stacked above the Swell.  A stock 4-manual model was also manufactured at the time which stacked only a Solo manual above the Swell.  The same Pedal stops were deemed sufficient for all three models however, which also minimized manufacturing costs.


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/Positive to Great, Solo to Great, Echo to Great, Swell to Choir/Positive, Solo to Choir/Positive, Echo to Choir/Positive, 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)