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The purpose of this blog is to help pianists learn to become true organists. Many individuals believe that if you play the piano you can play the organ, but the instruments differ greatly. While this blog is specifically geared towards members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, much of the information shared can be utilized by all. I hope that the information I share here will help you become an effective organist in your ward, stake, or other congregation.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Which organ is best--Johannus, Allen, or Rodgers?

August 7, 2010 Update: Please be aware that the organs are changing soon, so I believe this information will be out of date within the year. However, for general information, these reviews may still have some value to you, so I will leave this post up.

If your LDS church organ is quite old, or if you are getting a new building in your area, someone needs to choose an organ for the chapel. A couple of years ago I, too, had the opportunity to choose an organ when two of the chapels in my stake were approved for a new organ. Three of us, all organists, went on a tour of chapels in our area so that we could decide from experience which organs to choose.

Here is my review of the three organs that were available two years ago from the Church:

Allen

Allen has long been my favorite brand of organ. I even own an older Allen in my home. As of this writing, the model that is being installed is the AP22. Here's a link to the owner's manual: http://www.lds.org/cm/pdf/OrganManual_Allen_Model_AP22_eng.pdf

Allen AP22

Prior to my initial trial of the organs, this one was by far my favorite. The Swell 2nd voices, Great 2nd voices, and Pedal 2nd voices give many different registration options. I had grand visions of my prelude and postlude pieces--they would be varied and beautiful.

Unfortunately, the standard installation settings left a lot to be desired. After installation, the sound was far too soft. Additionally, the balance between the great and swell was so far off that even with the swell volume all the way up and the great all the way down, I still could not solo on the swell, as the great was much louder. Coupling the swell to the great had no effect whatsoever in hymn accompanying. Fortunately, in my new stake center we were able to have the installer back out to bump up the volume quite a bit, and to better balance the swell with the great. Now the organ balances the congregation beautifully.

As far as the second voices are concerned, instead of two separate Flute Celeste II stops, I would much prefer another Flute 8' option, as the flutes are limited on this organ. I would love to see an octave coupler on the Great and/or Swell. Another concern I had was that these voices might be confusing to a beginning organist who doesn't have access to a trained organist to show him/her the ropes.

My overall opinion is that this is a good organ when properly installed. It really has a beautiful sound and two different voicings to choose from: American Classic or Classic. A trained organist will probably have fun with this organ, and I feel that this organ is best suited in a building with a trained organist who can teach beginning organists how to use it to its fullest. Otherwise, all the bells and whistles will go unused. However, if you choose this organ, it's very important to make sure that your installer will adjust the volume and balance to your satisfaction, as mine did.

Rodgers

I will admit that I was never a Rodgers fan. The model that was installed in one of my former stake centers around 2000 sounded off to me. I didn't like the sound of the various stops and had a hard time finding registrations that I liked. Imagine my surprise when I fell in love with the sound in a new chapel! http://www.lds.org/cm/pdf/OrganManual_Rodgers_Model_788L_eng.pdf It was beautiful, rich, and filled the chapel. I learned later that the installer tweaked the settings for the chapel it was installed in. This is key, I think, with any of the organs, as I'm mentioning in each review.

Rodgers organ

This organ is pretty basic--it doesn't have a lot of fancy bells and whistles, but has a nice solid sound for regular hymn accompaniment. There was a lack of nuance in the reeds, but overall I was pleasantly surprised.

I'd recommend the Rodgers for most chapels, especially if your stake lacks a trained organist, but I would not recommend it for a stake center--I like more bells and whistles for stake center installations. It would work just fine if that is your decision. If you have an accomplished organist they may feel the stop selection is the most limited of the three.

Johannus

The Johannus is a newcomer to the organ world. http://www.lds.org/cm/pdf/OrganManual_Johannus_Model_WM44_eng.pdf I've actually had the opportunity to play model WM44LDS the most of these three. Initially, the installation was much too soft (a common theme, I'm learning) and I was not a fan of it in a chapel, thinking the organ was small, cheaply made and better suited for home use. After having the installer back to make some adjustments (that are now standard on their installations) it quickly became my favorite of the three. It even comes with an instructional DVD.

Johannus WM44 series

This is a smaller organ, but it packs a big sound when properly installed. I like the variety of stop colors, but my very favorite feature of this organ is the Octave (Swell to Swell 4') coupler. Another great feature is that unlike most organs where you push the bottom of the rocker tab to select a stop and the top to deselect it, the Johannus will select or deselect in either place.

Overall, I think the Johannus is essentially a good blend of the Allen and Rodgers. The stop list is such that with the octave coupler it has a great range of voicings to choose from, both for prelude/postlude and hymn accompaniment. As always, proper installation is key.

Although it wasn't my favorite at first, the Johannus is now my number one recommendation for all chapels. It's not too confusing for a beginning organist, but has enough bells and whistles to keep an accomplished organist happy. You can't go wrong with this little organ.

In Conclusion

What did I choose and why? For the retrofit in my old stake center we chose the Allen. It is located in the center of town and is used for many cultural events, so we wanted an organ with the most variety of stops. The Allen, with all of the second voices, fit the bill. The other building houses long-established congregations from the center of town. We felt the Rodgers best suited their more traditional needs. For my new stake center, I was waffling between the Johannus, which I love, and the Allen, with all the voices, but before I could make my recommendation our stake presidency learned that the decision for an Allen had been made before the stake split.

You really can't go wrong with any of these organs. It all comes down to personal preference and proper installation. My recommendation is to see which installer will be the most willing to work with you and choose that organ.

Good luck!

73 comments:

  1. I read, with interest, your comments regarding organs provided to the LDS Church. Given the high popularity of the Allen AP-22a among LDS organists, it would seem most do not share your assessment of that instrument. It was difficult to understand why, even though the Allen at your stake was ultimately adjusted to your preferences, you dwelt on the sound of the instrument before that adjustment. Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to note that the organ can be adjusted to a wide variety of preferences? Further, you cite the Crescendo pedal as indication of a potentially confusing design. This is especially difficult to understand since the models currently offered by Rodgers and Johannus also include this feature. Please explain.



    Your readers may be interested to know that the design of Allen organs supplied to the LDS church is done in conjunction with the LDS Musical Instrument Selection Committee. This Committee includes organists of the Salt Lake City Tabernacle, LDS Central Purchasing staff and other notable Church members. The Committee offers considerable input regarding the instrument’s stop list, approves its final specification and dictates the voicing for Stake and Ward installations. Should the Committee agree with your design ideas, Allen would then design those changes into future custom organs presented to the Church.

    Barry Holben,
    Vice President,
    Allen Organ Company

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    1. Thanks and hello Barry .....I am Julius Odia Etinosa..I am not LDS, ...but Catholic and believe we all serve God through Christ......A young Organist living in Nigeria ( west Africa) ........Im one of your Biggest fans in Nigeria. How can we get a suitable Allen Organ for our Church -CATHOLIC CHURCH OF DIVINE MERCY , LEKKI LAGOS ......? My Email is =
      askforetin@yahoo.com

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    2. I'm very sorry to say that I would not tell anyone to buy an Allen because the way the sound has gone down hill so much. If they where still analog I mite then tell someone to buy an Allen The only Organ that That I tell people to buy that is if it's not a pipe organ is Johannus and then Rodgers.

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    3. I also wouldn't tell people to buy an Allen organ because the computer in the organ of our church crashed three times, before it sounded right and truly was useable .

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  2. Thank you for your response! I've always enjoyed playing Allen organs.

    A few years ago, I played an AP16 almost exclusively and really enjoyed it. My comments regarding the crescendo pedal were more geared towards the fact that the AP16 had two expression pedals and no crescendo pedal, and the crescendo pedal has been re-added with the AP22. However, you are correct in stating that all three organs have a crescendo pedal, and I will edit my post accordingly.

    "It was difficult to understand why, even though the Allen at your stake was ultimately adjusted to your preferences, you dwelt on the sound of the instrument before that adjustment." Lost in an edit, an earlier draft mentioned more on this subject. I've had the opportunity to play the AP22 in two separate retrofit installations, in addition to a new construction, and it was far too soft in all three instances. My building is the only one that has been properly adjusted. Of the three organs, the Allen was the only organ with a volume issue across the board, so I felt it was important to mention. I do understand that the specs come from Salt Lake, and that a lot depends on the individual installer. For the record, all three were in the same county, so they were mostly likely installed by the same individual.

    I freely admit that of these three organs I've played the Johannus the most. I haven't had a chance to play the AP22 much at all. However, I am excited to have the opportunity to practice on it throughout this next month.

    I may come back and edit this post after I become more familiar with the AP22.

    Thank you for your additional comments. I think it's very important for my readers to hear all different sides of each issue. If you'd like to prepare a guest article I would be happy to publish it.

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    1. Who can stand to play any of the new Allen organs? As far as I'm conserened the older the Allen organ is the better it sounds. I will admit that I do like the card reader on them.

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    2. Love the card reader and wish I could get a replacement for a Chryslogott (sp?). Organ is a 301 from about 1979.

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  3. I'd be happy to create a guest article. PLease provide me a few topics that you think would interest your readers. Also, if you'd like to send those thoughts to me directly or if your readers have any questions that they'd like to have me answer directly, you can e-mail me at bholben@allenorgan.com
    I look forward to hearing from you.

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  4. Hello

    Part 2:

    In my order of preference, Hauptwerk is sublimely excellent and natural sounding; I have heard some very very impressive demonstrations of Hauptwerk. In my view, Hauptwerk represents ultimate perfection. The Johannus Studio II is an excellent practice instrument for home use and very good value for money, although some features are irritating; for example, reverberation is not applied to the Great "Bourdon 16' " but to the other stops of the Great, and the pedal 16' stops also lack reverberation. This is soluble by tapping an analogue signal from the Studio II headphone socket and passing via an external reverb unit followed by a graphic equalizer before driving active external loudspeakers (15 inch driver units in reflex configuration with an array of tweeters).


    Cont/...

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    1. I don't think you know what you are talking about, I have never heard an organ with the Name Johannus on it that I didn't love. If fact most people can't even tell that a Johannus organ is not a pipe organ.

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    2. a real pipe organ eclipses any and all of these digital dogs! the difference should be immediately apparent unless you have no sense of hearing!

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    3. Totally agree with Pipeman; however, a pipe installation is demanding of maintenance and care must be taken to avoid huge temperature and humidity variations.

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  5. Hello

    Part 1:

    I have a digital sampled organ that I constructed myself from an array of Akai 3000 sampler units driven from quality midi keyboards and a full 30-note pedalboard that I also built myself. I also own a Johannus Studio II for practice. I also own a Content Expander Exp 440 which I use for external venues with a quality midi control keyboard (e.g. for simulating a chamber organ continuo) where portability is important. I am also aware of Hauptwerk PC-based software sampled organs.


    Cont/ ...

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  6. Hello



    Part 3:

    My own built instrument based on Akai 3000 Samplers sounds is as good as Hauptwerk (not surprizingly as the sampling principle is probably similar to Hauptwerk and based on sampling real pipe organs) with long samples (e.g. 30 second samples, sometimes as much as 60 seconds with loop-back, each note being sampled individually).

    The Content Exp 440 is no longer manufactured by Content (I believe this firm now uses sampling for its instruments) and I suspect the Epx 440 expander is based on the now obsolete Bradford synthesis system; the sounds generated by the Content Exp 440 expander are a bit synthetic, somewhat similar to earlier examples of Allen instruments circa 20 to 30 years ago, but sufficient for continuo backing at concerts using flute and principal stops.

    Cont/ ...

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  7. Hello

    Part 4:

    I had considered buying an equivalent Allen instrument instead of the Johannus Studio II. Allens offerings are in my view rather too big, too expensive and I do not like their sound - seemingly lacking realism (i.e. sound samples are over processed in my view before being downloaded to organ computer data memory). The big Allen installations such as Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York are pleasant to hear but not as good as Hauptwerk from my experience. I was extremely unimpressed at the Allen concert organ of Carlo Curley which I heard live on a couple of occasions circa 10 years ago; Carlo Curley is a fantastic musician, but his Allen instrument really let him down dreadfully, namely a horribly synthetic electronic sound was generated by his instrument and the full organ sound was nothing short of dreadful. To be fair to Allen, their new sampled instruments are most probably an improvement on this older technology which may possibly be 20 years old in the case of Carlo Curley's concert instrument that I heard. A have an LP of the early Allen organ from circa 1970 (around Apollo 11 moon-landing time), and electronic characteristics of the sound were discernible in Carlo Curley's concert instrument.

    Cont/...

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    1. I must say I agree with what you have to say. I would much more like to listen to a Johannus than Allen any day. Because Johannus much more like a pipe organ than Allen.

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  8. Hello



    Part 5:

    All in all, it seems to me that Hauptwerk is the very very best. Why? Because Hauptwerk samples real pipe organs and do not make the mistake of many digital organ manufacturers of then doing a whole load of post-sampling processing which removes the life-blood of the sound to result in a dead lifeless processed sample for reproduction. The Hauptwerk sampling includes all the subtle nuances of the original pipe sound, including natural variations from pipe to pipe as found in a real pipe organ. This characteristic of preserving the real natural pipe organ variations pertains also to the instrument I built myself and its Akai 3000 samplers.

    Cont/...

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    1. You really should log onto you tube and listen to some Johhannus organ. The people of Holland put a lot of time and fine craftsmanship into these organs, and anyone who say they are cheaply made is dead wrong.

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  9. Hello



    Part 8:


    Other organs, for example from Viscount (Italy) leave me unimpressed, namely a terribly boxy type sound. Roland manufacture some instruments which seem OK for home practice use; I heard a good example of a Roland instrument some years ago at Skt. Katerina Kyrka i Stockholm (?)which sounded very convincing and pleasant.

    As aforementioned, Hauptwerk seems to be the ultimate and clearly employs the most appropriate sound sampling methods. No doubt, Allen could be as good as Hauptwerk if only they could get their sound sampling improved.

    With sound sampling increasingly used in contemporary digital organs, the difference between the different makes of digital organ will eventually depend upon sampling techniques and methods used and the quality of the sound system. That places a severe burden on the competences of the sound sampling engineers. Seems like Hauptwerk have some extremely gifted and competent staff to do their sampling !

    Thanks for reading my comment.

    Tim

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    1. Tim if you like Rolland you would also like Rodgers because Rodgers is a Rolland company.

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  10. I would like to echo the author's thoughts on Allen organ installations in Utah. Far too many Protege or Renaissance models I have played have voicing issues, including even the Marriott Center Q405 organ when it was first installed. Older Allens (meaning AOC or MDS) gave the local dealer very limited control over voicing, and most of them are fine. I think, when it comes down to it, what we are dissatisfied with is the local dealer's voicing preferences.

    Generally, I have noticed that these newer Allen installations feature a Great that is much louder than the Swell or sometimes even the Pedal. After some thought, I've concluded that the dealer does this deliberately so that an organist can play prelude on the Swell and hymns on the Great without touching the expression pedals (not that I agree with that reasoning).

    Alternatively, the dealer may do this to produce an effect similar to 4-channel MDS organs where the Swell speakers are aimed in toward the stage while the Great/Pedal speakers face out. The chapel I've been in for the last two years is this way, and I have never fully adjusted to having a "louder" Swell than Great. Of course, the congregation doesn't perceive it that way.

    By comparison, the local Rodgers dealer does a better job at voicing, and I think that partially explains the strong preference for Rodgers organs in our area. (Of course, it helps that the Rodgers model costs a little less than the Allen model, according to the local facilities maintenance group.) Rodgers organs may be easier to voice from the console due to their Parallel Imaging technology, but I'm not sure on that.

    As for Johannus, I have too little experience with them to offer any thoughts on voicing. However, I want to clarify one thing the author said. They may have the smallest consoles, but they actually offer the most stops. They have no secondary voices (unlike the Allen or Rodgers models), but they do offer alternate sample sets (like the Allen). They also use the most speakers (6.1, instead of 4.1 like Rodgers or 4.0 like Allen), though their speakers are smaller than the other builders'.

    Regardless of the dealer, however, I feel it important that ward organists try to be on-site when a new organ is installed in their building. Typically, the dealer only sends out one person to install the organ, and voicing really requires two. The ward organist will want to sit in the middle of the chapel and have the dealer go through every stop, including the often-forgotten secondary voices and sample sets. That way, the ward organist can check the balance of all the stops against each other and end up with a better-than-usual result.

    As a side note, I agree with Tim that Hauptwerk has become the sound to beat. The big debate in the home organ market is no longer Allen vs. Rodgers vs. Phoenix vs. Johannus, etc. It is all of them vs. Hauptwerk. And if Hauptwerk decides to enter the church market... Well, we'd have to see what happens.

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    1. Huh. As I read my old post, I feel I was a little heavy-handed. I tended to write heavy-handed back then. I've done my best to build good relationships with the local dealers in Utah over the years, and I've come to respect just how difficult it is to voice an organ from the console, which is what they have to do. So I wish to apologize if any of them have been offended by my old post.

      Its interesting that I was complaining before about Allen installations where the Swell was too soft in comparison to the Great. I've now played two older Rodgers models where the Swell was too loud for the Great. So, my earlier comments were aimed at the local dealers, but I'm now thinking that manufacturer defaults might be the biggest culprit.

      One interesting thing I noticed at a BYU Organ Workshop was that the Rodgers deal faced his speakers somewhat away from the audience, while the Great/Pedal speakers faced directly out. I found that interesting, but until tonight while thinking about the too-loud-Swell organ I currently play, I hadn't put the two together.

      Another interesting example is the large Johannes in the new multi-stake center near BYU campus. Its Swell and Choir speakers are hidden in alcoves and face the back wall, while the Great and Pedal speakers face right out to the audience. Imagine trying to voice that well! And although Johannes sent their best tonal finisher for that installation, it didn't turn out ideally.

      Actually, both the Johannes and Marriott Center organs share something in common: they were both initally voiced with hardware issues. In one case, the organ was on the wrong power (110V when it was designed for 220V). In the other, the organ had some issues with speaker cable connectors. In both cases, the repairs altered the sound to the point where revoicing was required. So, there are many factors that can mess up even the best tonal finishers.

      I still believe what I said before about being there when the organ in your chapel is voiced. I've been trying to make sure I'm there when my current ward's organ is voiced. Ultimately, it takes at least two to voice an organ well--even a digital one.

      (Or if you're lucky, you can voice an organ with playback capabilities. Then you get lots of exercise while you make an adjustment, hit record, walk around listening, and then guess how much more you need to adjust it and repeat... yeah, not ideal, but that's how I managed to voice a couple of instruments myself.)

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    2. I'd like to make one more amendment to my old post. The stake I now live in has two Rodgers 790c organs. Both were recently reset to factory defaults when their backup batteries died. I discovered that in their default states, the Swell divisions of both organs were quite a bit softer than the Great divisions. To get the balance I wanted, I had to set the Swell at +3.75dB higher than the Great. I have played LDS Allen models where the Swell is significantly softer as well.

      I spoke to the facilities maintenance manager in my area who told me that the Church had the organs voiced in a certain way. If that is accurate, then perhaps the Church's MISC intended for the Swell to be voiced much softer to serve as a prelude manual, in case a beginner organist was called who did not know how the expression pedals worked.

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  11. The organ in the BYU Marriott Center was voiced by one of the country's best organ designers and tonal finishers in consultation with the organ faculty here at BYU, not by the local dealer.

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    Replies
    1. I happened to re-find this post today. I know it has been years, but I wanted to clarify. Yes, the Marriott Center organ was originally voiced by one of Allen's best tonal finishers. However, it was re-voiced by the local dealer not long after. In fact, it was re-voiced multiple times: first for a master class held in the truck loading area underneath the Marriott Center's chairs, and then again when it was moved to the deJong Concert Hall temporarily for its premier recital; and naturally, again when it was moved back. I never got to play it in its original state, unfortunately, so I cannot vouch for how much it had changed. I only know that the most recent time I played it (back in 2011), I felt things were a little imbalanced, and that those imbalances reminded me of many of the AP-22s I had played in local chapels.

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  12. I've been involved with electronic organs in LDS churches for over 30 years, in the UK. I remember the old valve Compton 363 organ that I spent so many hours practising on in the 1960's and 70's in my ward building. Around 1980 I heard an early Johannus Organ at a trade show, and knew that this was the next step for our chapels. In 1982 we installed a Johannus 230 in our Stake Centre, an analogue instrument - this was a big improvement to the Livingston Organ that it replaced.

    The early Johannus Organs served the church well, being powerful enough for the smallest Ward meetings to a stake Conference. Content Organs were also being installed from the mid 80's onwards, an improvement on the Johannus 220 and 30, but of course they still didn't sound like the real thing! But after 10 years they were all quickly outdated by the first digital organs - and began to sound very dated.

    At a side by side demonstration at Lichfield Chapel in April 1992 a small group of LDS organists, including Clay Christiansen from SLC heard and played all that the UK organ market had to offer at that time. We decided on the Content D1600, and early digital model - a much better sounding/ powerful instrument than anything else in the room that day. The organ also represented very good value for money.
    These organs became the standard installations for all UK meeting houses, with upgraded models being installed over time. They are giving sterling service to this day.

    The story thus far does not have a good ending though, organs are no longer installed in UK LDS churches - keyboards are deemed sufficient for our needs. Suffice to say, the meeting houses with organs value them very much.

    As for the future of these pipeless instruments, I agree that Haupwerk are by far the market leaders in every respect. The others have alot of catching up to do!!

    Mark Burton

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  13. Three years ago, a new Allen organ was installed in the Jordan North 5th Ward chapel, North Jordan Stake, in West Valley City, Utah. It sounded harsh and full of static to me, and I experimented with the settings for several hours, to no avail. My husband called Summerhays music, which had installed it, and their guy came and examined it and played it and said everything was fine. Even my husband liked the sound, but I had to put my fingers in my ears as the tech played. I asked to be released as ward organist, but even listening to it every Sunday set my teeth on edge. After a year, I started attending the Spanish branch in our Stake, which meets in the stake center, where they have a wonderful old pipe organ. Recently, my husband and I moved our memberships to the Francis Second ward in Kamas Valley, where we own another home. The chapel there has a new Rogers Organ, and it sounds great to me.

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  14. Listen to a Phoenix. Then decide.

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    1. Very good advice.

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    2. Information here:
      www.phoenixorganssouth.com
      www.phoenixorgans.com

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  15. If you come to France... in Provence for exemple...you'll be able to play Historic Organ ST MAXIMIN , Haupwerk Hoffrichter 4 manuals in Cassis, and Allen ADC 8300 (1989 /3 manuals) in Venelle/Aix en Provence, and the Cochereau Organ in Roquevaire.
    Welcomme - Philippe DUFOUR.

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    Replies
    1. My recent experience with Hoffrichter is long delays due to alleged lack of specialist electronic parts. If you purchase Hoffrichter products, it is advisable to agree specific delivery dates with the firm or its representive. Kienle in Germany stocks Hoffrichter and operates from smart commercial offices. The UK representative seems to operate from his private residence and appears to have no commercial offices.

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  16. While I have always liked Allen's, the AP-16 I now play doesn't sound as good as the Rogers 780c in my last ward, and when accompanying a choir, it's not loud enough.

    The first time I heard the AP-16 it sounded terrible to me. But it was the then organist using a "bad" registration. There is some imbalance in the voicing of this particular instrument (one of the 2' stops is way too loud, and the mixture IV is too soft), but with proper registration it sounds pretty good, though not as good as my home organ (an MDS-317), which I had professionally voiced last year.

    I've never had the opportunity to hear a Johannus organ, so I can offer no opinion on them.

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  17. I have just finished a survey of our Rodgers Trillium 790C organ here in E. Tenn., and after about two years it now has many, many dead or weak notes on both Swell and Great, and the F2 and D3 is dead on all but two of the ten pedal ranks, plus the 32ft and 16ft ranks are totally silent. Was this from day one, or gradual I don't know. Let's hope someone attends to it soon. This blog is very worthwhile, especially since I had high hopes for the Johannus WM44 before the Rodgers replaced our wonderfully sounding old analogue Saville. Beginning organists should benefit greatly from your postings.

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  18. Copeman-Hart in the UK is particularly good, of similar quality to Hauptwerk but somewhat more expensive because of fine cabinet work. Allen organs are in my view not a patch on Copeman-Hart instruments. It seems that many electronic organ manufacturers sample sounds, over-process the samples leaving them electronic-sounding and lifeless and then subsequently try to "voice" the sounds in a manner akin to a pipe organ. The result is often a disaster as elucidated in the foregoing.

    Where Hauptwerk wins is by appreciating the original pipe voicing applied to the pipe instrument being sampled, and simply reproducing the sampled sound without a whole load of "revoicing". Thus, Hauptwerk keeps the vitality and realism in the original sound. The fact that a major company like Allen has not "twigged" on this basic simple issue rather makes me think that their large corporate culture has taken the firm down an unpromising path of synthetic electronic sounding instruments.

    Hauptwerk is the best, alternative Copeman-Hart or Phoenix. Their instruments are simply breathtakingly realistic.

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  19. I believe that Hauptwerk, wet (original reverbof sample organ) with the proper amount of channels (56 I believe) and amps can sound as good as the original instrument within the original building. More than one instrument sample within one single instrument, despite all of the hype given is just that.Hype. If you want Cavaille Coll, then get that instrument. That instrument in St. Sulpice will sound different than one from Notre Dame.Even if David Roth plays both and the same music.There are enough stops on a Cavaille Coll organ in enough ranges, divisions, foundations, principals, reeds,strings to satisfy all organists. The only thing that that organ will not sound comfortable with is theatre. If you want to develop an atmosphere of spiritual grandeur, Hauptwerk does the trick. You will believe that you are in the presence of an actual pipe organ no hype intended.

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  20. We will undoubtedly experience, after key patents have expired, that the long-sampled Hauptwerk-type solution will become generic, even amongst the known digital organ manufacturers. Hauptwerk has an outstandingly good reputation. What will ultimately happen when buying from Content, Johannus, Rogers, Allen et al. is that the choice will rest more on the build quality of the consoles and loudspeaker systems; the digital sample technology will be assumed to be faultless. In the good "olden days" of vinyl records (LPs), technical production quality was an important criteria just like performance quality. Now in the World of CD's, people take for granted that the recording quality of the data medium is faultless.

    Any contemporary electronic organ manufacturer which does not employ some form of sampling technology, or Bradford system equivalent based on sample sounds, will be wiped off the market by the competition. Nobody in the classic organ World likes electronic sounding organs, when a pipe organ type sound is desired. If one wants an electronic sound (!), there are now excellent Hammond B3 clones, for example for Gospel choirs and such like !

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  21. Hauptwerk's acceptance is increasing, wherein one can build a top-quality instrument for little money, especially if one is prepared to adapt a good second-hand console by adding MIDI scanning hardware thereto, then install a suitable PC equipped with Hauptwerk sofwtare and one or more sample sets and finally add a suitable sound system including power amplifiers and speakers. For best response, I advise including one or more graphic equalizers before power amplifiers so that one can compensate any speaker resonances and provide a "lift" for low frequencies approaching 20 Hz to compensate for speaker response limitations. Another issue is to many channels and use large speaker cone areas to avoid Dopplar coloration, esepcially at high sound intensities. Reflex speaker arrangements work well, especially when directed upwardly towards a loft of a church, so that the congregation receives scattered reflected sound (just like real organ pipes with open tops which project sound upwardly towards the loft).

    More importantly, if one constructs one's own instrument as aforementioned, one is not beholden to any given electronic organ manufacturer, some of which may go broke and bankrupt in the coming years. If one constructs one's own instrument as aforementioned, one can replace component parts for maintenance in a modular manner, allowing maintenance many years into the future, just like a real pipe organ can be updated and rebuilt, century after century ! If one buys a standard organ model from a contemporary manufacturer, one is at the mercy of the organ manufacturer whether or not post-sale support continues to be provided. Hauptwerk is thus not only technically the bext, but enables modular instruments to be build using contemporary off-the-shelf hardware that enables updating and maintenance to be provided decade after decade, for example as better PC hardare becomes available.

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    1. It is interesting to me that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Organists now tour with a Hauptwerk organ. The news article I read on it said it had three sample sets, and I believe Rob Stefanussen (a Utah-based organist who posts lost of YouTube videos demonstrating Hauptwerk) helped them design it.

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  22. Hauptwerk's acceptance is increasing, wherein one can build a top-quality instrument for little money, especially if one is prepared to adapt a good second-hand console by adding MIDI scanning hardware thereto, then install a suitable PC equipped with Hauptwerk sofwtare and one or more sample sets, and finally add a suitable sound system including power amplifiers and speakers. For best response, it is advisable to include one or more graphic equalizers before power amplifiers so that one can compensate any speaker resonances and provide a "lift" for low frequencies approaching 20 Hz to compensate for speaker response limitations at such low frequencies. Another issue is to employ many channels and use large speaker cone areas to avoid Dopplar coloration, esepcially at high sound intensities. Reflex speaker arrangements work well, especially when directed upwardly towards a loft of a church, so that the congregation receives scattered reflected sound (just like real organ pipes with open tops which project sound upwardly towards the loft).

    More importantly, if one constructs one's own instrument as aforementioned, one is not beholden to any given electronic organ manufacturer, some of which may go broke and bankrupt in the coming years. If one constructs one's own instrument as aforementioned, one can replace its component parts for maintenance in a modular manner, allowing maintenance many years into the future, just like a real pipe organ can be updated and rebuilt, century after century ! - for example, if a given power amplifier, a given speaker, a given MIDI scanning module becomes unreliable, one just replaces with off-the-shelf units. If one buys a standard digital organ model from a contemporary digital organ manufacturer, one is at the mercy of the organ manufacturer whether or not post-sale support continues to be provided for many years into the future. Hauptwerk is thus not only technically the absolute best, but enables modular instruments to be built using contemporary off-the-shelf hardware that enables updating and maintenance to be provided decade after decade, for example as better PC hardare becomes available.

    Hearing Hauptwerk, the present contemporary digital organ manufacturers have some catching up to do. My advice to contemporary organ manufacturers is to "bit the bullet" and simply implement their own versions of Hauptwerk in their instruments, rather than trying to continue into the future with their legacy systems which, on the whole, are inferior to Hauptwerk.

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  23. Consider Phoenix Organs.
    www.phoenixorgans.com

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  24. The problems I have seen with both Hauptwerk and Johannus as well as Phoenix Organs is that they are notoriously difficult to fix - they have a very limited lifespan. At the end of the day surely we all want to sit down at an organ, turn it on and play it. Hauptwerk is a mish mash product which is not backed up by a manufacturer of long standing, Phoenix organs are again, in my experience, badly built and often not finished to a decent standard and Johannus are cheap and do not seem to take long term quality seriously.
    At the end of the day what I want is an organ that I sit down at, turn it on and it feels and looks quality.

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    1. Recently, Content Organs in the Nederlands is doing some very exciting work. Their Cantata 246, and the cheaper Celeste 236, are outstanding value for money and sound very similar to Phoenix and Hauptwerk. The Content Organs start up quickly on power-up, not like Hauptwerk that takes a long time to uplaod sample sets. The Content Organs are well built and their earlier instruments have provided longer reliable service in churches, chapels and such like.

      I am not an agent for Content Organs, but am very impressed with what this firm is doing.

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    2. Hauptwerk can be implemented so that it is ready immediately on application of power, for example by using fast-access non-volalite data memory or fast parallel-loading disc drives. The issue boils down to: many contemporary digital organ manufacturers are skimping on computing power and sample size to maintain profit margin and/or to keep costs low, whereas best quality dictates many long samples as used in Hauptwerk. Eminent and Viscount seem to use synthesis techniques, but these also suffer from insufficient data to create a truly authentic pipe organ sound.

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    3. QUOTED: "The problems I have seen with both Hauptwerk and Johannus as well as Phoenix Organs is that they are notoriously difficult to fix - they have a very limited lifespan. At the end of the day surely we all want to sit down at an organ, turn it on and play it."

      I would be very interested if you could actually give some factual information to backup these claims. Phoenix Organ has a good reputation for building a excellent and dependable organ with pipe organ quality consoles using the same suppliers for stop controls, keyboards, pistons and toe-studs as any top of the line pipe organ builder. As for repairs, the Phoenix is easy to repair with more over-the-counter, openly available components than any other organ builder.

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    4. Hauptwerk software can be uploaded again onto a PC if a problem develops. If the PC develops a fault, it can be replaced or repaired. Hauptwerk is sufficiently versatile that it executes on many different PC platforms. I agree with you that proprietary hardware and software, for example from Phoenix, Johannus and similar, is extremely difficult to fix. This is where Hauptwerk provides a very major advantage in relation to maintainability other a longer period of time.

      Phoenix could go bust, likewise Johannus, Content, Allen or similar. Provided you have a master copy of the Hauptwerk software, it can be reloaded, reconfigured and so forth.

      It would be advisable for the contemporary electronic organ manufacturers to begin to move in the direction of Hauptwerk.

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  25. I am not sure if anyone will read this post considering I'm late jumping on this bandwagon, but I would love advice if someone does see it..... Thank you ahead of time. In our stake we have an Allen, a Rogers, a Johannus and an AMAZING pipe organ (which I love :), can you tell? ) I am grateful for the opportunity to play all of them on a regular basis..... However, we have had Nothing but problems with the Johannus since day one. In fact, we have had instances where the tech comes and by that afternoon it is having problems again. The screen on the organ goes blank, and you have to turn it off and back on several times before you can try to set any stops again. It has frozen on several organists in the middle of hymns, meaning your hands come off the keys but the organ still holds the chord and the organ looks like a casino with all the lights flashing as if you just won the lottery. Lol it has cut out and shut off during hymns, and the list goes on and on.... I should mention that this building is new, and the tech had to work on it prior to the building being dedicated.... To me, there is an issue.... Lol would love feedback. Thank you. =)

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    1. Where is your organ located? It sounds like you got a lemon! I haven't heard of those issues being a problem for others. If you email me at ldsorganistblog at gmail dot com, I can put you in touch with someone who can help you.

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    2. I earlier had a Johannus Studio II which was absolutely faultles in its operation over many years. It seems a general practice is to employ IDC ribbon cables and such likes in contemporary organs to reduce cost. In a cold damp church, things like IDC cables can oxidize and cause real problems. As kindly stated by MusicalMom above, it seems like you are unlucky to have a Johannus with an intermittent problem. It may be difficult to trace the problem. I understand that instruments from Allen are overbuilt (big and heavy), but are probably rather more robust when subjected to challenging conditions in cold and damp churches. However I do not like the sampling done on Allen instruments, neither Johannus - all a bit synthetic really. A good old pipe organ is simple robust technology ...

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  26. It has been explained to me that the LDS Church has negotiated "flat" pricing with Allen, Rodgers, & Johannus corporate and the local dealers (who are responsible for delivery, installation and voicing) don't receive as much "commission" on LDS Church installations. Because of this, many dealers will drop off the organ and plug it in and spend very little time adjusting the organ for the specific room acoustics. When I moved into a new Ward I personally paid the local Allen rep to come out and adjust the organ. He spent a couple of hours balancing the volume and it sounds GREAT! So, regardless of which organ you purchase, please consider paying the local dealer a little extra to voice the organ for your space. It will make ALL the difference!

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    1. After a new install in a stake center a few years ago, the Allen organ was far too quiet, with an unbalanced swell and great. I had the FM group bring the installer out and we re-voiced the organ. I love the rare times I get to play that install versus the same organ in my ward's building (that unfortunately is not our stake's building, so I can't have it re-voiced).

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  27. We have went through 3 electronic organs since 1976 in the chapel I attend. In 1975, the stake presidency approved a 4 rank Wicks. Nothing elaberate. I wonder after all these year, how nuch the Church could have saved if Central Purchasing would not have nixed the pipe organ? Now, we are looking at electronic # 4! What a drain on tithing funds!!

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  28. I don't know if any of you have heard a kid by the name of
    Gert van Hoef. He is a Dutch prodigy about 20 who just began to play at the age of 13.He is now 20 but he is on Youtube and plays Dutch pipe, Johannus and Eminent organs. It might pay for anyone looking at organs to hear him and listen to the organs he plays to give you an idea of organs in the Netherlands. Pipe versus digital.

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  29. I have a question about how to get an LDS organ repaired? Our building has a Rogers T787. I do not play but my daughter is taking lessons to learn to play the organ. For the last 3-6 months the organ has had a high pitch whinning sound so loud at times that it has not been used for sacrement meeting. I don't know if it has been reported to fiscal facilities or not. Any suggestions on church procedures on how to get this problem repaired would help. This happened a year ago and they just unplugged it for a day and plugged it in only to have it start whinning again. I would like to have a written out plan to hand to the bishop on how to get this repaired. Thank you

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    Replies
    1. The Rodgers T787 is a very fine organ. I am lucky enough to have one in my home. This model is nowhere near old enough to need replacing. You must get hold of physical facilities about this. You might also consider, depending where you are located, calling the Rodgers dealer near you. Describe the problems to them, and they may be able to tell you what the problem might be. Then, you can intelligently talk to your bishop and physical facilities.

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    2. Elsie is right. Go through your Bishop or Stake President. The FM Group can bring out the organ technician to repair the organ. Make sure they let you know when they will be there so you can be on hand to make sure the repair is done correctly.

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  30. I'm wondering if you have information on how to request a new organ for our church building. That sounds like what Mike and Marla (above) need to do. I was told at the BYU Organ Workshop last week that we can request a new one if the current one is over 25 years old.

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    1. Your Bishop and/or Stake President need to contact the FM Group and ask them to request a new organ. It's all up to your Priesthood leaders.

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    2. The Facilities Maintenance manager in my area said that an organ has to reach 33 years old before it can be replaced, unless something renders it inoperable.

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  31. To my ear, the Rodgers organs sound more pipe-like, principally because they use stereo instead of mono to produce the digital sounds, unlike either Johannus or Allen. Of course, if the organ is not voiced properly to it's building, all bets are off!

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  32. Hello Elsie

    Suggest considering investing in a Hauptwerk-based system. Advantage is that it can be upgraded later, and more sample sets added as they become available. Truly versatile and superb quality.

    Contemporary digital organ manufacturers do not provide such updating as available for Hauptwerk, so their instruments have a limited effective lifetime before better technology succeeds them.

    However, not worth investing too far into the future, as Fukushima Dai'ichi is presently a much bigger pressing issue, subject to massive media coverup, and could end all life on Earth in the next few decades. Choice of organ is thus not a big issue - like rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic whilst the Titanic sinks !

    Suggest a good Hauptwerk digital: see www.pcorgan.com

    Thanx

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  33. I have installed a number of Viscount (Baldwin used to put their name plate on models in the US, though built in Italy--a common practice in this day of global marketing) around the lower half of Minnesota. With every installation there has been an overwhelming comment or similar: "This organ has the fullness and grandeur of a large, well-designed pipe organ!" I don't know how limited the LDS is in purchasing other instruments besides Allen, Rodgers and Johannes, but it could be a worthwhile investigation. I have a large Viscount 3-manual instrument in my home, and I have played many pipe organs--including having a go at the famous Skinner at Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. I won't say that the popular digital organs out there do not sound like a pipe organ. Many installations fool many an ear. However, only the Viscount with it's physical modeling (beyond digital sampling) seems to have the polished sound of some of the best pipe organs I have played. At my job, I play both a modest but lovely Moller pipe organ and a two-manual Viscount. They are virtually side-by-side in the 850-seat worship space. It is truly amazing that both stop-by-stop comparisons and ensemble registrations (up to Tutti) are nearly impossible to discern which instrument is being played. These Italians have something the others do not!

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    1. Viscount Physis uses numerical modelling and is only as good as the parameters of the modelling. Vortex air flow in the mouth of an organ pipe is extremely complex. The only way to capture such audio information is via sampling, as per Hauptwerk. Physis modelling enables less memory to be used, relying more on brute computing power to synthesize waveforms in real-time. In contradistinction, Hauptwerk relies heavily on data memory, with potentially less exacting processing requirements. Hauptwerk is thus likely to be more accurate and authentic, although Physis will generate very acceptable and impressive results.

      However, what is ignored is that the speaker system is the weak link. All speakers cause a degree of sound colouration which is not experienced with a real pipe organ. The colouration arises on account of complex vibration modes (Eigenmodes of loudspeaker diaphragms, as well as Doppler phase shift causing intermodulation distortion between a plurality of concurrently rendered tones via the loudspeaker diaphragm.

      Electronic components have a limited lifetime and all digital organs have to be considered as "consumables". In contradistinction, pipe organs last for centuries and all constructed in low-tech which is easier to maintain in the long run; electronic organs often use highly special proprietary parts which become outdated and obsolete.

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    2. disclaimer: I'm an ex-Rodgers engineer that left the company in 2011. My views do not represent those of Rodgers, nor do I have anything to gain from this post.

      Just to clarify, all digital organs these days originate from samples, just like Hauptwerk (HW). The main difference in my view between HM and a conventional digital organ like Allen / Rodgers / Johannus is this. A conventional digital organ is designed to allow the installer to voice the organ for the specific room it's located in with a huge degree of flexibility. And this voicing process is as much about audio psychology as it about physics. It is therefore truly an art form and a good installer will make all the difference. HW is effectively recording the room and the work of this installer, albeit awesome installations with great voicing. But once you record the room and the installer's hard work into a sample, you can't take it out. Maybe it'll work in the room / venue / speakers you intend, maybe it won't.

      But I think the key point here is get an experienced installer who can voice your organ. That's the way to get the best result. And I'm certainly not the only one on this post who says this.

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    3. I agree with you. I am an organist here in germany and have the opportunity to play numerous pipe organs, from smal one to realy impressiv great organs with 53 stops. Viscount phys instruments are the only electronic organs i know , which provides this clear living sound. As i played viscount UNICO the frist time i was surprised to get the same result as provided by one of the best pipe organs in southern germany , i know. This was true for pieces from Buxtehude, Bach and Lemmens (i.e march triumphale)

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  34. Please do not buy a DMP Classical Organ. The product is defective. The sales persons Chris and Adam are crooks they are like Bonnie and Clyde. We are beyond disappointed.

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  35. I know this is a very old thread, but recent events have come up that make this a pertinent topic again. On January 4th, Roland announced that it was selling the Rodgers brand to the Van de Weerd family, who own Johannus, Makin, and Copeman Hart. The sale was completed on January 16th, and after much searching, I found an official press release on Roland's website confirming it.

    News on exactly what this means has been quite sparse. Rodgers has committed to continue providing parts and honoring warranties for previous models through Roland, which implies that only the name and not the technology has been sold. On the other hand, the Van de Weerd family stated that Rodgers would remain a separate USA-based brand that builds American Classic style organs. I've also heard that Johannus' higher end organs are being discontinued in the US, though I've been unable to verify it.

    So, I'm wondering what, if anything, this means for LDS organs going forward? Does anyone have any thoughts?

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  36. Rodgers warranty is here: http://www.rodgersinstruments.com/rodgers-instrument-corporation-musical-instrument-speaker-and-amplifier-limited-warranty

    It appears you are good for at least 10 years. And that's just in warranty repairs. They'll very likely stock parts for out of warranty repairs well beyond that as well.

    disclaimer: I'm an ex-Rodgers engineer that left the company in 2011. My views do not represent those of Rodgers, nor do I have anything to gain from this post.

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  37. Hauptwerk (Milan Audio) is just getting better and better. There are now some absolutely fantastic sample sets. Content Orgel in Nederlands now produces a fabulous range of Hauptwerk-compatible consoles, likewise Hoffrichhter Orgel and others. In comparison, Johannus, Copeman-Hart and Makin provide old-generation technology that is not a patch on Hauptwerk. We have some Makin instruments local to us (old technology) which sound electronic and absolutely awful (everything in-phase when organs on full chorus). Even their sound engineer, when consulted, seemed to know very little about correct positioning of speakers and appropriate sound projection. Moreover, the Johannus instruments use a lot of chipboard and MDF in their construction, even for some of the more expensive models. In comparison, Content Orgel seems to use high-quaity solid wood components on many of their instruments.

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  38. Please visit www.pcorgan.com

    Forget Johannus, Makin and Copeman-Hart ! There is much much better technology available elsewhere. See Hoffrichter Orgel GmbH, Content Orgel, and many others.

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    1. I have now built digital sampled organs for many years, hand-crafted, in solid wood. They are all modular construction for easy maintenance and updating; extremely advanced speaker systems are also employed in my instruments. When I see the build quality of many commercial organs from major manufacturers, I am simply horrified with some of the bad design choices that are made, not to mention widespread use of chipboard.

      Hauptwerk, from experience, with a really good sound reproduction system, is the best that can contemporarily be done, other than having a real pipe organ.

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  39. I realize that this is off topic from the initial post, but it came up, and I can't resist responding. I have a pipe organ in my home (11 ranks) and I can say without reservation that there is no math that can make a pipe organ cheaper than an electronic one. Pipe organs are better, and they cost more. A lot more.

    Obviously, any specific numbers can be disputed, but the basic math is irrefutable. Let's say you spend $20,000 on an electronic organ and it lasts 25 years. According to the Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America, one can expect to spend $200,000 for a medium size church organ. (apoba.com/resources). Then you have to tune it twice a year - say $600 a pop. So in 100 years, the pipe organ has cost $320,000 and the electronic organ has cost $80,000(in non-inflation adjusted dollars). That's presuming that neither needed a repair, and I promise you that the pipe organ will at least need releathering in that time, which will cost more than any repair one might do on an electronic organ. Double the cost of the electronic organ, and the math doesn't change.

    The men who are making these decisions are sitting over there in a forest of organ pipes. They know exactly what it takes to maintain them.

    I get the popularity of Hauptwerk, but as long as each installation has to be designed and maintained individually, I don't see how it is a practical choice. And with so many variables, some of them are going to go terribly wrong. Like someone said, if they ever go into church organs, there will be something to talk about.

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