The Viscount "Symphonia" model

Digital Electronic Organ

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Some of the music of these Video subpages was recorded using a Viscount "Symphonia" model digital electronic organ (photo), an instrument manufactured in Mondaino, Italy beginning in late 1988 and for the next 9 years was imported into and marketed in America by Church Organ Systems under the Baldwin brand name.  This 5-manual instrument was a MIDI-compatible product equipped with DS4 digital sampling technology and a modest but independent self-contained speaker system.  Manufactured in blocks of 50 at a time, the Symphonia was the largest stock console Viscount ever built.  Only one block of 50 was ever ordered for the United States, but all 50 of them were sold.  At the time, Viscount had a 3-manual stock console of fixed design in regular production (Baldwin C-470) to which one or two extra manuals could be piled on top creating a 4-manual (Baldwin C-480) or 5-manual (Baldwin C-500) version, respectively.  Everything else, including the Pedal division, remained identical among all three models.  Production of the C-480 and C-500 ceased around 1997 when Viscount turned to producing a line of strictly 2- and 3-manual products, and it was around this time that Viscount engineers developed a less expensive 3-manual version (Baldwin C-400) having fewer and different stops than the C-470, couplers transferred from piston to drawknob control, and a solid wood rack to replace the C-470's clear plexi-rack.  The C-500, being in limited production for only about 9 years (1988-1997), sold for around $90K at the time it was phased out of production.   It is thus an extremely rare find these days.


When it has been determined that the time has come to upgrade the sound of an older, dated instrument and money is no object, one of the first things to come to mind would be an all-Artisan conversion employing Hauptwerk software or something similar.  When this is not possible the sound can still be sculpted and improved by gradually connecting the console's output jacks, a stage at a time, with a series of power mixers, amplifiers, effects processors (reverb units), external speakers, and subwoofers of various sizes, brands, and manufacturers, possibly supplemented with an external voice module and Conn speaker pipes, if something like that can be found.  This can be a viable solution when there seems to be no other path forward financially.  The following narrative describes an application of this and how it created a very noticeable and significant improvement in the sound of the instrument.

    

  In this particular application the instrument's sampled voices are sourced, separated, and stored by division on 6 separate "slave" computers aboard, one for each division, all of which are controlled by a single master computer.  Voices, couplers, and tremulants are 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 are built into the rail above the top manual controlled MIDI, Voicing Variations, and divisional Reeds Cancels.  All drawknobs and rocker tablets remain in alignment in both on/off positions.  Standard TRS (1/4" phone) jacks in the back of the console allow for up to 3 separate mono outputs per division along with a pair of special combined mono outputs for Great/Choir-Positiv/Pedal and Swell/Solo/Echo, all for connection of external powered speaker cabinets.

The console's self-contained speaker system consists of a pair of 12" woofers each powered by its own 80-watt (80W) amplifier having a combined maximum audio power of 160W.  The console is supplied with adjustable factory reverb, 2 tremolos speed controls [Swell/Echo + Great/Choir-Positiv/Solo], and 2 tremolo depth controls [Swell + Choir-Positiv].  When a single master-of-all-work 12" speaker like this attempts to reproduce the entire frequency spectrum all by itself we find that the mammoth movements it makes to generate the lowest sounds creates interference with its ability to reproduce the finer movements needed for midrange and higher frequencies.  The resulting intermodulation distortion robs the midrange and treble of some of its clarity.  The solution is to divide the entire signal stream into various frequency bands which can be sent to speakers of different sizes specially built to best reproduce frequencies in those ranges.  In this application the sound is sourced and separated using a non-factory mix of new and pre-owned equipment into 3 external speaker systems:  1) MAIN/MONITOR, 2) AUXILIARY, and 3) MANUAL/PIPE, where each system makes its own contribution to the overall sound of the instrument.

1.  The MAIN and MONITOR channels are configured to create the biggest sound possible and receive individual mono output signals from all 6 divisions of the instrument through jacks in the back of the console.  These connect with a Peavey XR8300 power mixer supplied with dual 300W amps controlling MAIN and MONITOR channels, each of which is supplied with its own built-in 7 band dual graphic equalizer (EQ) which in this application is set flat for both channels save for negative boosts of -6dB at 2kHz and -12dB at 4kHz and 10kHz. The output signal from this power mixer loops through a DOD 231 series 31-band dual graphic EQ which adjusts both channels identically to boost these frequencies:  20Hz +12dB, 25Hz +9dB, 31.5Hz +6dB, 40Hz +3dB, 12.5Hz +3dB, 16KHz +6dB, 20KHz +12Hz, all other frequency bands flat, +6dB input gain both channels.  After looping through the EQ and the mixer adds its own onboard Peavey reverb its MAIN output signal is then routed to a Velodyne Servo F-1800RII powered subwoofer having an internal amp rated at 600W, an 18" driver, and cutoff set at 40Hz.  This massive sub is side-firing, has a frequency response all the way down to 16Hz, and, in this application, its cutoff is set at crossover at 40Hz to reproduce all those infrasonic frequencies below the ear's ability to hear determinate musical pitch.  The remaining signal thus filtered is sent from there to a free-standing BSR passive subwoofer retrofitted with a Memphis 15" floor-firing driver which captures all remaining frequencies from 40Hz up to 120Hz.  The outgoing signal from this sub is then routed to a pair of BSR Colossus R/L stereo cabinets each rated at 200W.  These cabinets retain their own original pair of BSR 2" ceramic tweeters but were retrofitted with new Memphis (15") and Pyle (8", 5") drivers.  A crossover network in each BSR cabinet divides the audio stream into 4 different frequency bands which are 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 5", and above 3400Hz to both tweeters).  Positioned to the right of the console this system disperses the sound to the right side and rear of the room.

The MONITOR output signal from the Peavey power mixer is routed separately to a single Peavey PV215 3-way trapezoidal enclosure PA cabinet equipped with a pair of 15" heavy duty woofers and a 1.4-inch RX14 titanium tweeter driver mounted on a 60 X 40 degree coverage constant-directivity horn.  This cabinet is rated at 700W through 4 Ohms, thus it is not connected in parallel with any other cabinet in order to keep a minimum load of 4 Ohms on the Peavey power mixer.  It has a single crossover frequency of 2.6kHz, a frequency response of 58Hz to 17kHz, and a frequency range of 40Hz to 21kHz.  Positioned behind and to the right of the player it points the sound to the right side of the room.  A spare MONITOR output jack at the power mixer is connected to a Sony SA-WMSP1 powered subwoofer equipped with a small 50W amp and single 8" bass reflex speaker.  This unit also is side-firing, situated behind the console, and disperses sound in that direction.  The MONITOR channel can be made to play all by itself by not turning on the Velodyne sub, but when the MAIN channel plays it always joins with the MONITOR to provide an expansive sound and a very realistic, pervading bass.  These channels have a total maximum combined audio power of 300W + 300W (Peavey) + 600W (Velodyne) + 50W (Sony) = 1250W, and, as stated, all of the console's factory voices play through them.

An Allen MDS-Expander II external module also is MIDI-connected to speak through the MAIN/MONITOR speaker system and plays through the instrument's Swell, Great, Choir/Positiv, and Pedal keyboards.  Its voices therefore are equalized and mixed with reverb at the Peavey power mixer.  The Allen is a stand alone add-on unit which can be MIDI-assigned to play on any organ's two or three bottom manuals and Pedal.  Its supplemental voices include classic organ stops, mutations, and ancient reeds, theatre organ ranks, percussions, and orchestral and other keyboard instruments.  As many as 4 voices out of the 99 program numbers onboard may be accessed simultaneously.  In this organ selected Allen voices are assigned to individual Viscount MIDI rocker tabs situated in the rail above the top manual controlling Swell, Great, Choir/Positiv, and Pedal divisions which then can be captured and stored on general or divisional pistons.  The four selected voices programmed on Allen Channel 1 and this organ's Memory One [German Baroque] are:  Sw 8' Trompette, Gt 8' Quintaten, Ch/Pos 16' Quintaten, Ped 16' Dulzian.  The four selected voices programmed on Allen Channel 2 and this organ's Memory Two [French Romantic] are:  Sw 4' Viole, Gt 8' Clarinet, Ch/Pos 16' Clarinet, Ped 10-2/3' Principal].  Much experimentation using the ear was involved in selecting these specific voices for what they supply to complement the tones of the factory voices in the divisions and the critically important roles they play through coupling in the buildup to full organ.  Among its many features this module's voices and flexible tuning has been of significant use in providing greater tonal spread, realism, and something of the same sound world known to composers.  It increases the number of speaking stops in this organ to 92, raises the number of available equivalent ranks to 123, adds fire and life to the fuller ensembles, and makes playing the instrument now a complete adrenalin rush [the module in this application is adjusted to play very slightly out of tune with the main console -- sharp by just one Cent (1/100th of a chromatic semitone) to more closely approach the random tuning characteristics of real organ pipes].     

2.  The AUXILIARY speaker system is a special one supplied with 2 channels.  The first channel makes use of a single mono line out jack from the console for just the Pedal division.  This Pedal output signal is routed to a Roland KCW-1 powered subwoofer rated at 135W with cutoff set at 40Hz.  Situated behind the bench this sub, when turned on all by itself, functions to add bass strength to the Pedal stops to help offset the enormous power of the MANUAL/PIPE speaker system and during quiet practicing when only the console's internal speaker system is on.  The second channel is supplied with special reverb and makes use of 2 special jacks at the console which send mono line output signals for Pedal/Choir-Positiv/Solo and Great/Swell/Echo to yet another DOD 231 series 31 band dual graphic EQ with input gain and sliders controlling frequency bands boosted exactly the same way at its counterpart in the MAIN/MONITOR system.  This signal is routed from there to an Alesis Nanoverb 18-Bit Digital Effects Processor having a dynamic range and frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz.  Here the signal is mixed with "Nanoverb Hall 3" Alesis reverb and then routed to a 2 x 50W Sunbuck AS-22 mini-amplifier with its bass control set at max and treble set flat.  The bare wire outputs of this mini-amp then relays this equalized, reverb-enriched signal stream for the entire organ to a) another Peavey PV215 3-way trapezoidal enclosure passive PA cabinet which is identically equipped as the one used with the MONITOR channel, and b) a Sony SS-U4033 passive 3-way floorstanding cabinet rated at 100W, 140W peak, equipped with an 8" woofer, 3" midrange, and 1" tweeter.  Positioned behind to the right and left of the player, respectively, these  cabinets face and disperse sound throughout the room and function to add additional power and spatial ambience to the sound.  The total maximum combined audio power of this AUXILIARY speaker system is thus 135W (Roland) + 100W (Sunbuck) = 235W, and, as stated, the entire organ -- all 5 manuals and pedal minus the Allen voices -- plays through it.

   3.  The MANUAL/PIPE speaker system is another special one and draws the most power to operate.  It has 3 separate channels, the first two of which operate together, and supplies special pneumatic and spatial effects to the sound of the manual divisions minus the Allen voices.  The first channel begins with a powerful 2400W Rockville RPM80BT 8-channel power mixer which receives signal from each of the organ's 5 mono outputs for the manuals and combines them into a single mono output signal.  With its own built-in 5-band EQ set flat save for negative boost of -6dB at 2kHz and -12dB at 8kHz, the signal is then mixed with reverb and routed to a Klipsch KSW200 powered subwoofer equipped with a floor-firing 12" bass reflex driver and 200W amp with cutoff set at its highest [120Hz].  The output speaker terminals from this sub are wired to send the remaining low-end-filtered Rockville signal to two pair [Models 145-2, 145-3, 146-1, 146-2, all silver finish] of Conn speaker pipes.  Each of these 4 sets of pipes are rated at 8 Ohms, equipped with four Cletron 6" X 9" oval speakers wired in series parallel, and engineered to operate from 200Hz [around 8-foot tenor A] on up.  These units disperse the sound to the rear and far right of the room.  An 8 Ohm line output jack from the Rockville directly routs signal to a Sony SA-WM200 powered subwoofer equipped with an 80W amp and 8" bass reflex driver.  Its frequency response down to 28Hz covers all notes down to 16-foot C, and with its variable crossover set at maximum cutoff [200Hz] all notes from 8-foot tenor A (corresponding to 16-foot middle A) on down are strengthened.  This sub is side-firing, situation to the right of the console, and disperses sound in that direction.  Both sets of this sub's wire output terminals send the remaining low-end-filtered Rockville signal to an additional pair [Models 145-1, 146-2, both gold finish] of Conn speaker pipes.  Each set of these pipes is equipped with the same four speakers wired the same way with an 8 Ohm load to operate from 200Hz on up.  These units disperse the sound to the rear of the room.

NOTE:  The Conn pipe array speakers were just one of a number of attempts to improve the sound of early analog organs.  These are strictly treble units made up of narrow scale, cylindrical, anodized aluminum pipes of different diameters and lengths tuned to sympathetically resonate with the notes of the chromatic scale.  The Conn theory was that each specific frequency passing upward through all pipes would find its own pipe and make it resonate.  At close range these units impart to manual stops a detectable but subtle brightness of color, a finespun but discernable edge to the strings and reeds, dispersion of sound vertically to the ceiling and from there to all four corners and throughout the room, and an extremely rapid but detectable buildup and decay of sound when keys are pressed and released, respectively -- effects which can be heard but not counted.  Used all by themselves the results can be disappointing from across the room when compared with conventional speakers, but that is not what they were meant to do.  When used in conjunction with existing speakers the sound becomes omni-directional which adds ambience and more depth as the sound seems to emerge from all around and every corner of the room.  CAUTION:  THESE ARE STRICTLY MIDRANGE AND UPPER MIDRANGE UNITS WHICH NEED TO BE SHIELDED FROM ALL EXTREMELY LOW BASS FREQUENCIES [BELOW 200Hz WHERE POSSIBLE].  This can be accomplished easily enough by filtering the incoming signal stream through a powered subwoofer with cutoff set at its maximum [120Hz or higher].  The result is a subtle enhancement of upper partial tones of all manual speaking stops and the addition of the aforementioned pneumatic effects which, again, are noticeably audible and cannot be duplicated by ordinary direct beam loudspeakers.

A spare unused 8 Ohm output line from the Rockville is connected to a JBL Sub150 subwoofer equipped with a 150W amp, 10" bass reflex driver, fixed crossover, and frequency response of 35Hz-180Hz.  It functions to provide bass to this MANUAL/PIPE speaker system.  A single spare set of bare wire output terminals from this sub also connect with a Klipsch Quintet III center speaker rated at 300W max at 8 Ohms.  This unit is equipped with a pair of 3-1/2" woofers and a single 3/4" Micro Tractrix horn tweeter, crossover at 2700Hz, reproduces frequencies from 125Hz-23kHz, and functions to support the highest frequencies. 

The maximum audio power of this first channel of the MANUAL/PIPE speaker system is thus 2400W (Rockville) + 200W (Klipsch) + 80W (Sony) + 150W (JBL) = 2830W, and it functions to strengthen and enrich the sound of manual voices throughout the entire playable frequency range.

The second channel of the MANUAL/PIPE speaker system is completely pipeless and begins with a line out jack at the Klipsch subwoofer.  The Klipsch line out sends its low-end-filtered Rockville signal to a 250W Radio Shack MPA-250B amp.  A pair of wire output terminals from this amp then route the signal to a pair of Sony SS-F6000P floorstanding 4-way tower speaker cabinets each rated at 180W and supplied with a 6-1/2" woofer, 3-1/3" midrange speaker, and 1" tweeter.  Positioned behind the console these passive cabinets disperse the sound in that direction.  Another pair of wire output terminals from this amp sends the same signal to a pair of Acoustic Audio BR-10 3-way Karaoke speaker cabinets each having a crossover network, 10" X 4" horn tweeter, 10" lower midrange, and 4" upper midrange driver.  Positioned on top of the console these passive cabinets disperse the sound directly at the player and from there to the rear of the room.  This second channel of the MANUAL/PIPE speaker system thus has a maximum audio power of 250W and functions to supply additional strength and dispersion of midrange and treble sounds throughout the room. 

The third channel of the MANUAL/PIPE speaker system employs a separate 60W Choice Select ST2060 amp which can receive signal from as many as 3 mono output jacks at the console [Swell, Solo, and Echo were selected].  With its bass and trebles controls set flat the mixed signal from these 3 manuals is routed to a pre-owned specially custom-built PVC pipe speaker box created in Lodi, California by the McCurdy Corporation designed to work with larger speaker pipes.  This unit is of singular construction and composed of 12 general purpose 3-1/2" diameter PVC [polyvinyl chloride] cylindrical pipes all of the same diameter [3-1/2"] bundled together and positioned vertically on end over a wire baffle situated above a round opening in the top of a square, hollow wooden box, inside of which is mounted a single upward-firing, passive 12" Radio Shack woofer wired to play all frequencies arriving from the amp.  This PVC pipe unit is positioned behind the console and disperses sound in that direction.  The pipes are painted in a metallic gold leaf color, cut to various lengths determined by their locations over the speaker cone, and engineered to sympathetically resonate with fundamental low midrange and upper bass frequencies generated by the 12 chromatic semitones from about 8-foot tenor A [200Hz] on down to bass A [100Hz].  The longest pipe of this unit when in operation also was found to resonate very strongly as a 2nd harmonic at tenor Bb pitch.  Thus, although this unit comes with only 12 pipes, it's practical upward range extends one more semitone to about 226Hz, overlapping slightly the lower limit of the Conn model 146 speaker pipes.  Employing this channel for the Swell, Solo, and Echo stops, the effects of gradual buildup of sound, gradual decay of sound, vertical dispersion of sound, and enhancing upper partial tones are extended an octave below the Conn pipes without noticeable midrange break.  The RCA audio out jacks of this Choice Select amp also connect to a pre-owned Sony SA-WM250 powered subwoofer equipped with a 100W amp, 8" front-firing bass reflex speaker, and crossover set at 100Hz.  This unit is also situated behind the console and disperses sound in that direction.  An additional pair of bare wire output terminals from this sub are connected to an Acoustic Research C225PS center speaker rated at 120W at 8 Ohms.  This unit is equipped with a pair of 5-1/4" woofers and a single 1" polycarbonate tweeter and functions to bring out midrange and high frequencies.  The maximum combined audio power of this third channel of the MANUAL/PIPE speaker system is thus 60W + 100W = 160W, only the Swell, Solo, and Echo stops play through it, and it functions to extend the downward range of the Conn pipes and to enrich and strengthen the tenor octaves of unison stops supplied to these divisions.

The maximum combined audio power of all three channels of this MANUAL/PIPE speaker system is thus 2830W (Rockville/Klipsch/JBL/Sony) + 250W (Radio Shack) + 160W (Choice Select/Sony) = 3240W, and it functions to enrich and strengthen all manual voices. 

To summarize, the instrument now plays through 3 separate reverb systems [factory, Peavey, Alesis] and 3 separate external speaker systems powered by 11 add-on amplifiers, a pair of 31-band DOD equalizers, and 72 individual speakers, 8 of which are subwoofers, all ranging through 18 different sizes from 18" down to 3/4".  Among the 26 external cabinets involved are 6 separate sets of Conn speaker pipes and a single special set of custom-built PVC speaker pipes.  Playing the instrument now with ALL external speaker systems running at full tilt involves reconnecting 2 power supplies and throwing 15 switches each time, the maximum combined audio power computing to 160W (internal) + 1250W (main/monitor) + 235W (auxiliary) + 3240W (manual/pipe) = 4885W.  The speaker array as presently constituted breaks down as followsone 18" Velodyne SUB, one 15" [passive] Memphis SUB, six 15", one 12" Klipsch SUB, one external 12", [two internal 12"], one 10" JBL SUB, one 10" Roland SUB, two 10", two 10" X 4" horns, three 8" Sony SUBS, three 8", twenty-four 6" X 9" ovals, two 6-1/2", two 5-1/4", two 5", two 4", two 3-1/2", two 3-1/3", one 3", four 2", two 1-1/2", four 1", and one 3/4".

The goal of this project was the creation of improved ambience and realism from an older digital sampling technology point of departure and the striving for an unforced yet more realistic pneumatic tone quality and enhanced dispersion of sound throughout the room in the most cost-effective and space-effective way possible.  By hunting down new and repurposed electronic units like this and cobbling them so they complement each other, by configuring the various mixers, amps, and speakers accordingly, and by carefully testing using the ear to adjust the volume and balance, treble/bass, equalization, and artificial reverb separately for the speaker systems and their respective channels to get the sound exactly right individually, the combinational tone generated by using more speakers like this with most of them gently driven has created very satisfying results in a home instrument.  One has to really hear it in person to fully appreciate the impressive transformation these various extensions, retrofits, add-ons, and adjustments have made.  The full organ is very large but unforced, smaller combos are more realistic, individual stops have definition, and with the midrange and high end equalized to where the Conn pipes provide a significant portion of the treble resonance, any annoying piercing shrillness at higher frequencies is eliminated.  At extreme volumes the sound is thrilling but devoid of any annoying electronic squeal and, as with a real pipe organ, the sound can be listened to for long periods of time without cloying upon the ear.   

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.

With its Echo (5th) manual and rack so far away, intramanual couplers absent, and the crescendo shoe non-programmable, there are certain challenges to playing this organ, but its sound stands or falls on whatever external speaker system(s) are provided and how the various divisions are tuned to the Great and coupled with each other.  If tuned exactly true to the Great and each other the sound is dead and lifeless, but if too far away from the Great the beating is objectionable.  The trick is to find that sweet spot which has each division tuned just barely different from the Great but not enough 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 Echo and barely flat 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 for beats, and adjusting divisional tuning knobs accordingly.

In a real pipe organ the mistuned ranks (celestes) inserted by the builder typically are never drawn in fuller ensembles, but in an organ like this some of these celeste stops, provided they're not too assertive and don't create a disturbing pitch "warble," may be drawn with advantage in fuller ensembles to simulate those minute pitch variations among real pipe ranks.  With this organ some trial-and-error experimentation is needed, it's a bit tricky, but the ear is still the best judge as to how much of this may or may not be good.  In this organ all 8-foot celeste stops automatically draw the "mate" rank tuned true which is given its own drawknob, 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.


As for the tonality of individual stops, the Great Principal is extremely big like an English First Open.  When a leaner chorus is desired the Salicional may be substituted which is more like a Third or Fourth Diapason in strength; on B it's voice is stringey with a prominent 12th.  The 16-foot Principal is also big and on B inclines to a dull tone with less harmonic content. The Flute Celeste is awfully strong but good if the Great volume is turned down all the way.  The Rohr Flute on A or B is a big, burbley flute full of color and good for solos in its lower range.  The Trumpet, as expected, is loud and bright.  In the Swell the combination of Principal and Viole is very French sounding.  The flutes are all good and available at 6 pitches.  The reed chorus stands on a very strong Contra Fagotto, a milder Trompette, and a loud, dull toned Hautbois which lends strength to the chorus.  The Principal in the Choir/Positiv is a 2nd Open in strength.  The Hohl Flute on A is strong and open, and on B it's stopped and hollow-sounding with less harmonic content, good for solos on A or B, with or without Tremolo.  The Cromorne on A is very French-sounding, on B more like a Clarinet.  The Solo Diapason is big, of large scale, neutral in tonality, and of little use save as a helper stop to a big reed, its primary function, adding desirable power to the Tuba without appreciably affecting its tone.  The Gamba is good and identical on A or B.  The Gemshorn and Octavin are both very bright and assertive.  The Bassoon is very realistic for an actual Bassoon; on B it's brighter in the midrange and rounder in the bass, something rather typical for all 23 reeds in this organ.  The Orchestral Oboe, as expected, is thin and keen, an excellent solo stop, and also comes in handy when coupled for adding definition to a chorus.  The Cor Anglais is very big and dull in tone.  The Echo Cor De Nuit on B is very French sounding.  The Erzahler is most beautiful on A, thinner and brighter on B.  The Bombarde chorus is full of harmonic content but a bit tame in strength.  This division has a wonderful Vox Humana, a real "Vox to die for;" on A it's mixed with a soft helper stop, and on B it sounds all by itself.  The Pedal Principal is like a big English Open Wood, and on B it's dull and flutey in tone.  If a lean full organ is desired it may be left out and the less assertive Violone substituted.  The Pedal Fagott is extremely strong and dominates when introduced.  The Schalmei is very nasal, good by itself in Pedal solos with the Clarion preferable in the full organ.  Curiously, the Contra Bourdon is not a flute voice; instead it's tone, being an exact match to the Violone, is best used that way, i.e. as a "Contra Violone."  When supplied with sufficient external amplification, equalization, and subwoofer speakers  this stop, along with the Contra Bombarde, is very realistic and valuable in adding depth and gravity to all fuller ensembles.

Each voice in this organ is independent with no unification or duplexing, and the Pedal Fourniture V is the only mixture stop in the organ without breaks.  All others have one or more breaks, and the Swell Plein Jeu III sounds only through the bottom half of the Swell manual -- at F#43 it drops back, thus, above that note it sounds more assertive than expected.  All (6) 16-foot manual stops run clear down to the bottom without breaking back.  Voices of 2-foot pitch or higher either break back in the top octave or end at the top with a few "dead notes." 

GREAT

2' Super Octave G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes at the top

SWELL

2' Flautino G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes at the top

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

CHOIR/POSITIV

2' Doublette G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes at the top

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

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

SOLO

2' Octavin G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes at the top

ECHO

2' Flautino G56 -- C61, 6 dead notes at the top

This represents a total of 111 equivalent small pipes in the manual divisions which do not sound.  When this is factored in, 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 pipe organ of 11,558 separate individually voiced pipes to make available the same tonal spread and range of pitches.  The Allen module on Memories One and Two adds the equivalent of another 430 sounding pipes, representing the equivalent of an instrument commanding nearly 12K [11,988] pipes. 

Phone (1/4") output jacks, three per division. provided at the back of the console allow it to send as many as 18 separate output signals to external amps and 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 biggest challenge with performing solo repertoire on this instrument is settling upon a scheme for drawing and coupling the voices to approach something of the sound world the composer knew.  It works well for the player when the premise is that the Solo is part of the Swell; this makes for a massive voice palette for coloration of sounds and a massive dynamic palette with compound flexibility and expression for nuancing the music.  If the player's hands happen to go to the Solo, it works well to have the Echo blended in. The same can be said for coupling the Swell to both the Great and Choir/Positiv and coupling the Choir/Positiv to the Great.


This organ of 84 stops, for its size, is overly supplied with assertive upperwork (octave stops and higher) and undersupplied with manual Doubles (there are only 6 in the whole instrument, however all of them go all the way down to bottom C without doubling back).  Being somewhat deficient in manual suboctave tone means that when drawing the full organ pretty much all manual Doubles need to enter and the percentage of upperwork demand reduction.  The Great sub coupler, in particular, an essential element of the sound universe known to 19th and early 20th century French organists, especially Franck, Widor, and Vierne, a coupler which had much to do with the way they notated their compositions, is entirely lacking.  Without it, big final spread chords above middle C sound thin and less sonorous when performed exactly as written -- in which case it might benefit to experiment at changing the manuscript mentally by adding a note to the bottom of the final left hand chord or with the right foot high in the pedal to help provide the missing gravity.  As stated, in an organ like this with divisional tuning, voices from different divisions including even a celeste or two may need to be drawn and coupled in combination to get something of the same random chorus effect of a pipe organ.  Individually some of the voices are quite beautiful and very useful on A Voicing, on B Voicing, or both.  Then again, some of them are so dull or shrill in tone that they have little use on A or B, dated technology being largely responsible.  Curiously, the Pedal division of 16 stops, relatively few for an instrument of this size, is supplied with 6 stops of superoctave (4-foot) pitch or higher but only 5 stops of that all-important unison (16-foot) pitch. 

STOP LIST

[*Allen expander module additional ranks]

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, [*8' Quintaten, 8' Clarinet]

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 [*8' Trompette, 4' Viole]

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, [*16' Quintaten, 16' Clarinet]

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, [*16' Dulzian, 10-2/3' Principal]

COUPLER PISTONS

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*

*Manual to Pedal couplers duplicated with toe pistons

RIGHT SIDE EXTERNAL SPEAKER SYSTEM SHOWING  VELODYNE/BSR SUBS (center bottom), BSR COLOSSUS CABS RETROFIT WITH NEW DRIVERS (center top), AND CONN PIPES SITTING ATOP PEAVEY CABS

CONSOLE SHOWING ALLEN MDS EXPANDER II VOICE MODULE SITTING ATOP LEFT STOP JAMB SUPPORTED BY A GREEN FLORA-FOAM BASE

CONSOLE LEFT STOP JAMB

CONSOLE LEFT STOP JAMB

CONSOLE RIGHT STOP JAMB

CONSOLE RIGHT STOP JAMB

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