Author Topic: Hybrid Organs  (Read 15778 times)

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Barrie Davis

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Hybrid Organs
« on: June 22, 2010, 10:38:11 AM »
How do members feel about so called "hybrid" organs?

I have recently played one close to my home and the added electronic stops to the choir and pedal simply failed, or was this a question of speakers?

Allen/Collins built such an instrument at Truno but I have yet to see the stoplist and breakdown of the ranks in this instrument.

Barrie

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2010, 06:27:10 PM »
Hi!

This is a highly controversial subject and anyone who mentions it on a Pipe Organ forum elsewhere risks getting ejected from the forum. Not here - an Italian firm made units which are specifically intended for the augmentation of pipe organd and the Americans seem to do it  . . . and one gets the impression that enthusiasm for the organ is greater in the US possibly as a result of being able to experiment and discuss freely, the good and the bad alike.

What do you mean by "failed"? Didn't work - didn't make a sound? Or do you mean that it was poor quality and so did not work with the rest of the pipe instrument?

I understand that there is a hybrid organ at Groombridge on the Sussex Kent border and that it works rather well . . .

Best wishes

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Barrie Davis

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2010, 07:07:09 PM »
Ah by failed I did mean the sound was of poor quality.

Barrie

David Pinnegar

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2010, 07:45:26 PM »
Hi!

Poor quality - it's likely to be the speakers. The problem is that people think that "hi-fi" speakers should be used and at best then the organ sounds no better than an organ reproduced through a hi-fi system.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fe_eJ60PmtM  and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nrvPmirH7c
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2W2QdAOwhjY are fair examples in standard style whilst
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bi2pdYou-Rs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1YcEjz8Xro
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7onQgsLU9c
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cL8QDLv8vM
demonstrate a little of what I can do with the right speakers to "create" an instrument.

It stands next to a pipe organ with which I compare it with vicious criticality.

Concepts of hi-fi speakers and their suitability for organs are so very ingrained that many electronic organs suffer and hybrid organs will be poor as a result.

I'm aware that one maker of electronic organ signal sources recommends speakers such as:
http://www.mackie.com/products/hrmk2series/downloads/HR824MK2_Specs.pdf and such speakers, for hi-fi PA might be superb but they will most definitely not enable an instrument to sound better than a mere hi-fi system.

Thank goodness! Pipe organs benefit as a result, although bad electronics can turn people off the instrument as an instrument altogether. For this reason, electronics should be good, and the pipe organ should be competing against electronics on grounds of longevity, better investment strategy, and, however good the electronics are, pipe organs should win in being more "alive". From my observations, foundation stops of pipe organs are more alive than whatever electronics can muster, and Trompettes and Bombardes too. Perhaps higher aliquots and other exotic tone colours might add interest to an instrument electronically, but it's a bridge that should be crossed only with caution. . .

I advised on a large electronic organ project in the USA and the maker wrote: "I've recently had some deeply held preconceived notions challenged by another member of the Crumhorn Labs forum. He suggested a different set of drivers that would outperform the ones I've been using. Despite my skepticism, I researched the issue at length and . . . In a word, I'm impressed."

So it really is very much down to the speakers . . .

Best wishes

David P
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 07:56:30 PM by David Pinnegar »

revtonynewnham

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2010, 09:54:46 AM »
Hi

Hybrid organs are always going to be a compromise - and like everything else, there are good and bad.  The organ in St Peter's Addingham - http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=E01012 - is a fairly recent local example.  It's a rebuild of an 1861 instrument, probably by Wood Wordsworth, with further rebuilds by Laycock & Bannister.  In it's current incarnation, it has Electric action, and the substantial added electronics are the latest incarnation of the Bradford system.  On first hearing, it was very difficult to identify the digital stops - but on more extended listening, I could tell which were real and which were artificial - but for an electronic, it's pretty good.

The issues of keeping the electronics in tune with the pipes is a big problem (except in buildings where a steady temperature can be maintained).  Even installing the temperature sensors linked to tuning of the digital ranks isn't a complete solution - where do you position the sensor?  Main windchest? Incoming air supply? Ambient in the building? Inside the swell box?  All viable - but likely to give slightly different results, so manual tuning needs to be resorted to for anything critical. 

However, the sound of this instrument is good enough to demonstrate the superiority of well-voiced synthesis over sample-based digital organ technology - but that's a different issue.

Another local hybrid organ is Bradford Cathedral, where the pipe Nave division has been replaced with an earlier Bradford system (I'm not sure why - certainly church politics had a hand in the decision).  The Nave department there sounds good - but distinctly electronic to me - but not unpleasantly so.  It's certainly needed with a big congregation.  I played there for a funeral a couple of years ago - and the Nave organ was out of use at that time (a minor cable fault meant that only alternate notes played!).  It needed a lot of the main organ to lead a congregation of 150-200 - especially as they sang unusually well for a funeral.  The final hymn was "thine be the Glory" - I even used the chamade trumpet in that!

Hybrid organs have been around a long time.  Compton built one pre-war - see NPOR http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N01844  - not to mention their abortive experiment at Salford RC Cathedral - see http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N12617 .  A pipe organ built in soundproof chambers and relayed into the cathedral over loudspeakers!  Doomed to failure given the technology of the era - it would be difficult today.

The late Alan Douglas had a house organ with one pipe manual and one electronic.  (In more recent times, a friend of mine has a 3m digital organ, with a 3-rank extension pipe department added - and very nice it is too).  A Northampton firm of organ builders used to offer a hybrid organ with one pipe and one electronic department - the tuning problems with analogue electronics don't bear thinking about!

I think that hybrid organs definitely have a future - especially where space is limited, and the use that the organ is put to demands a larger specification - the danger comes where additional stops are added just to fulfill the organists/church's desire for something bug and impressive.

Enough for now - I've got a service to plan!

every Blessing

Tony

David Pinnegar

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2010, 11:11:24 AM »
However, the sound of this instrument is good enough to demonstrate the superiority of well-voiced synthesis over sample-based digital organ technology - but that's a different issue.

Dear Tony

It would be very interesting to explore that in another thread on the electronics section. Whilst the voices of the Viscount CM100 are VERY useful, I can't say that I'd like a whole organ built upon them.  Sample based - have you auditioned Hauptwerk? Personally I think a mix of techniques is best and then one avoids any signature of any particular one . . . Of course the proprietry manufacturers can't do that as each of them manufactures the best . . .

There's an analogy with the Tower of Babel here which I'll explore in the Atheists' Corner sometime. Can you second guess what I might be thinking of?

Best wishes

David P

revtonynewnham

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2010, 08:34:19 AM »
Hi

You're welcome to copy my comments into the electronic organs thread - or maybe I'll write something there if I ever find a few spare minutes!

I have auditioned Hauptwerk, and I have the free version available on my "organ" computer, but I've not yet got to grips with getting it properly set up.  I'm using the now defunct "My Organ" software (roughly equivalent to HW1) and MidiTzer - with 2 keyboards and a MIDI pedalboard (Description will be in the next EOCS magazine due out shortly).  As with any organ, the quality of the voicing is the ultimate factor - and undoubtedly, synthesis-based systems are far more complicated to voice effectively than the sample-based ones.  I've seen the software for voicing the Bradford organs, and the degree of control - and hence the number of variables - is immense - and among other things, allows adjusting every harmonic against time in the "attack" phase.

I'm not saying that sample-based systems can't produce good results, but I do wonder about taking sounds of pipes recorded in one environment and trying to reproduce them in another.  It's perhaps significant that Copeman-Hart - generally regarded as the Rolls-Royce of digital organs - also use synthesis-based technology.

I suppose I should mention that I know Drs. Peter & Lucy Comerford, the designers of the Bradford system pretty well.

Every Blessing

Tony

David Pinnegar

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2010, 04:11:31 PM »
As with any organ, the quality of the voicing is the ultimate factor - and undoubtedly, synthesis-based systems are far more complicated to voice effectively than the sample-based ones.  I've seen the software for voicing the Bradford organs, and the degree of control - and hence the number of variables - is immense - and among other things, allows adjusting every harmonic against time in the "attack" phase.

I'm not saying that sample-based systems can't produce good results, but I do wonder about taking sounds of pipes recorded in one environment and trying to reproduce them in another.  It's perhaps significant that Copeman-Hart - generally regarded as the Rolls-Royce of digital organs - also use synthesis-based technology.

Dear Tony

This is actually one of the important reasons for the existence of this forum, so that one can voice opinions feely without upsetting controlling vested interests.

On a forum devoted to sampling technology, the concept that speakers with differing idiosyncracies are an important part of voicing is a total anathema. Were there to be speakers without idiosyncracies, then there would be only one type and one manufacturer . . . and it seems pretty obvious to me that such characteristics can detract from, or be used to enhance the result. I think that they think that mentioning such things is a criticism of their technology which in which, of course, all factors are entirely controllable without requiring further control or modification at the electroacoustic stage. Some speakers fight with the fundamental requirements of reproducing organs whilst others work with the characteristic nature of organs to enhance the result.

There are, of course, two purposes for using reproducing technology, one for home practice, transporting one's living environment to a specific organ in its acoustic environment, and the other for being an organ transported as an instrument into an environment in which it performs. These two purposes require different treatments in terms of recording and reproduction, and confusion between the two leads to significant misunderstandings, or perhaps even those manufacturers have an awareness of the inherent problem you point out about transporting the sound of a pipe to sound in a different environment, and don't want attention drawn to it. However, solutions are only found if problems are capable of discussion.

Your comment about being able to control the attack phase of each harmonic is interesting and, potentially relevant. It is the attack that considerably assists the decision making process of the brain in deciding that a sound is real. When one hears gutteral syllables of singers through conventional studio monitors and hi-fi quality PA systems recommended by some manufacturers, one appreciates that such systems are not succeeding in reproducing reality.

It's lucky for the survival of the pipe organ that most manufacturers of electronics think that perfection is in the sophistication of their systems rather than any aspect beyond mere electronic control . . .

Best wishes

David P


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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2010, 08:33:54 PM »
Not to completely derail our train of thought here but Google plunked an interview with Cameron Carpenter into my inbox...

and here is the link...http://www.huffingtonpost.com/albert-imperato/cameron-carpenter----taki_b_623591.html

What is significant to this discussion is he is seeking $2 million buckaroos to build a matching pair of "touring virtual organs"...

for reasons given in the interview...

Eric
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revtonynewnham

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2010, 09:06:25 AM »

Dear Tony

This is actually one of the important reasons for the existence of this forum, so that one can voice opinions feely without upsetting controlling vested interests.

On a forum devoted to sampling technology, the concept that speakers with differing idiosyncracies are an important part of voicing is a total anathema. Were there to be speakers without idiosyncracies, then there would be only one type and one manufacturer . . . and it seems pretty obvious to me that such characteristics can detract from, or be used to enhance the result. I think that they think that mentioning such things is a criticism of their technology which in which, of course, all factors are entirely controllable without requiring further control or modification at the electroacoustic stage. Some speakers fight with the fundamental requirements of reproducing organs whilst others work with the characteristic nature of organs to enhance the result.

There are, of course, two purposes for using reproducing technology, one for home practice, transporting one's living environment to a specific organ in its acoustic environment, and the other for being an organ transported as an instrument into an environment in which it performs. These two purposes require different treatments in terms of recording and reproduction, and confusion between the two leads to significant misunderstandings, or perhaps even those manufacturers have an awareness of the inherent problem you point out about transporting the sound of a pipe to sound in a different environment, and don't want attention drawn to it. However, solutions are only found if problems are capable of discussion.

Your comment about being able to control the attack phase of each harmonic is interesting and, potentially relevant. It is the attack that considerably assists the decision making process of the brain in deciding that a sound is real. When one hears gutteral syllables of singers through conventional studio monitors and hi-fi quality PA systems recommended by some manufacturers, one appreciates that such systems are not succeeding in reproducing reality.

It's lucky for the survival of the pipe organ that most manufacturers of electronics think that perfection is in the sophistication of their systems rather than any aspect beyond mere electronic control . . .

Best wishes

David P

Hi

I would agree that a mix of technologies is probably the best way to go - using each for what it's best at.  Speakers are the real problem with electronic organs (and indeed, reproduced sound in general).  Human speech is generally regarded as the most difficult sound to reproduce accurately - as listening to many loudspeakers soon demonstrates!  Arguably, electrostatic speakers produce the most accurate, uncoloured sound - I still regret passing up the opportunity to buy a Quad 57 many years ago - but you couldn't use them on a e-organ - there just isn't the power handling capacity, nor the bass response, which illustrates that any loudspeaker design is going to be a balancing of compromises.

Interestingly, Copeman-Hart at least don't claim the their digital organs are better than pipes, nor do Peter & Lucy Comerford - I can't speak for the other builders.  A Rogers rep, several years ago, did try to say that their then current W-5000 (if I've remembered the model number correctly) was better than anything else - a totally laughable statement! 

Long live the pipe organ!

Every Blessing

Tony

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2010, 10:17:35 PM »
What is significant to this discussion is he is seeking $2 million buckaroos to build a matching pair of "touring virtual organs"...

Hi!

How very disappointing. No electronic organ is worth, nor costs, $1M. There's a lot of profiteering, hype and credulous people around. Digital stops are cheap, they should not be as expensive as making a rank of 61 pipes, and if they are, there are people "on the make". Mentioning this can ruffle a lot of feathers as people don't want to see the Emperor's New Clothes.

Best wishes

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KB7DQH

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2010, 08:02:56 AM »
Noack organs of Boston quotes a "finished" price of $20,000 per rank on a "fixed" organ...

Not a bad price, actually.  The Fritts instrument at PLU  cost just under a million US 1998 dollars...

Using a "hypothetical Hauptwerk" scenario, I am guessing that  a commercially-fabricated (not custom)
5 manual keydesk and 32 note AGO spec pedalboard, complete with MIDI thumb pistons, toe studs, swell and crescendo pedals, might run into  a couple thousand, including support stand.  A suitable computer capable of loading the largest sample sets and equipped with a multichannel high-spec soundcard could eat up another 3 to 5 thousand bucks.  This would INCLUDE the high-res touchscreen monitors!   That leaves $993,000 for sample sets, speakers, amplifiers, and associated wiring accessories... and a bench!

Now assume for a moment we employ the absolute best, no compromise, speakers and amplifiers  currently available in this hypothetical project...  One could still fill up a typical freight-carrying land vehicle with all the above I expect :-\...

And it still wouldn't sound like a pipe organ :o :o :o

There are just too many brilliant pipe organs built for a tenth the cost of the proposed traveling instrument that could be comfortably transported in a single full-length ISO shipping container :o
 

I think Mr. Carpenter could better spend the money rescuing a redundant Wurlitzer or similar instrument to his liking
and have it modified into something which could withstand the rigors of a traveling lifestyle...

Eric
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The objective is to reach human immortality葉hat is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

revtonynewnham

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2010, 09:34:16 AM »
Hi

The system that Carpenter wants uses multiple computers, as built I would guess by Marshall & Ogletree.  I have a demo CD of their Opus 1 - nice, but not as good as the real thing.

And again, the speakers are going to be an issue - he will need to invest significant funds for that alone.

Every Blessing

Tony

David Pinnegar

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2010, 10:53:07 AM »
And again, the speakers are going to be an issue - he will need to invest significant funds for that alone.

:-) Give me $100,000 to play with and I'd get an astounding outside rig to play with, and change to spare. That leaves $893,000 to spare . . .

Best wishes

David P

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2010, 10:08:47 AM »
One should take note in the following article about a currently under construction hybrid expansion of a pipe organ, that a pipe organ builder is working WITH the company doing the electronics...
http://dailyindependent.com/local/x1703944326/Pipe-dreams-come-true

Eric
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The objective is to reach human immortality葉hat is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

KB7DQH

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2010, 06:32:24 AM »
Another hybrid pipe/electronic organ in the news...

http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2682897
The objective is to reach human immortality葉hat is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

revtonynewnham

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2010, 09:13:00 AM »
Hi

Peter Collins has also recently completed another hybrid organ at Higham Ferrers Parish Church - see NPOR E01660, which shows which ranks are digital, but not the derivations of the handful of pipe extensions (that info isn't on Peter's web site).

Every Blessing

Tony

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Re: Hybrid Organs
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2010, 11:01:12 AM »
An article by an organ builder here in the US which explains a few things...

http://pipe-organ.com/whenapipeorgan.shtm

Eric
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The objective is to reach human immortality葉hat is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

 


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