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Thread: How does a church digital organ sound different than a church pipe organ?

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    Newbie mrcatlover1989's Avatar
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    How does a church digital organ sound different than a church pipe organ?

    Does it at all?

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    Senior Member Clarion's Avatar
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    In my experience, modern digital organs often sound FAR better than many pipe organ installations I've been subjected to!

    BAD installations are common, whether pipe or digital. Both are critically dependent upon the ability of the installer and voicer! With mass produced assembly line stuff, the guys who unload your new organ off the truck, are often the same ones who set up and voice your new organ!
    2008: Phoenix III/44

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    Senior Member davidecasteel's Avatar
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    I'm told that discriminating ears can hear the difference, even with well-installed instruments, but the average person today would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between a pipe organ and a very good digital electronic properly installed.

    I suspect the greatest source of difference in sound between pipe and electronic organs deals with the dispersion of the sound. Pipe organs have thousands of individual sound sources and the sound percolates among the pipes between the source and listener. Electronic organs have much fewer sound sources (speakers) and this has an effect on the way the sounds reach the listener. For good reason, the best-sounding electronic organs tend to be those with many channels of sound and lots of speakers.

    David
    Last edited by davidecasteel; 04-20-2013 at 05:45 AM.

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    Senior Member radagast's Avatar
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    Depends on the organs. There is nothing like a great pipe installation but just because an organ has pipes doesn't make it automatically better than digital.

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    Newbie holmesuser's Avatar
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    Having been around theatrical pipe organ installations, I'd rather have a pipe organ over an electronic unit any day.

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    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by holmesuser View Post
    Having been around theatrical pipe organ installations, I'd rather have a pipe organ over an electronic unit any day.
    Bruce,

    I read one of your posts in another forum. First, let me say, "Welcome!" It's great having more knowledgable people around.

    I agree with your assessment above, but with caveats. I'd rather have a pipe organ that: Is in tune, plays as intended, has not been "altered" to "improve" the sound (by someone's assessment), and has sufficient variety to be interesting. Of course, the same is true of digital instruments, but the issues can be different with a digital (as mentioned previously in this thread). Provided the digital installation has been done well and the pipe organ is also well-maintained, then I'd prefer a pipe organ over a digital installation.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 4 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DKC / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

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    Newbie holmesuser's Avatar
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    Thank you, Michael.

    I'd been allowed to "help" with the repairs of a 3/24 pipe organ, and I had a ball. The guys in charge could tell that I was truly interested, and were glad to have some extra hands in the process. I was able to help track down some electric issues, too. I got to help out with 2 other local installs after this one. Plus, I got paid for them!

    If I had room for one, I'd own a pipe organ. As is, I have 2 Allens.

    Have you ever been in the pipe chambers when they are being played? Wow. The sound goes right through you. I love it.

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    Junior Member rohrlover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by holmesuser View Post

    Have you ever been in the pipe chambers when they are being played? Wow. The sound goes right through you. I love it.
    i have had that pleasure, too. On one Austin I worked on, the organist would usually be present, which was no problem. He couldn't, however, be within sight of a console without sitting down and playing it. He would use ranks in the other chamber so as not to blast me out, and improvise some really good stuff. I considered it a real bonus to have the music while I was working!

    I've also been in theater organ chambers while the organ was played. That was interesting, but usually too loud for my ears.

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    Newbie holmesuser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rohrlover View Post

    I've also been in theater organ chambers while the organ was played. That was interesting, but usually too loud for my ears.
    I always use ear plugs. Im 55, and can still hear 15,750 cps... the frequency of the horizontal section of a tube television set.

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    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
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    Holmesuser,

    I may have to hire you to help when I get around to building the addition to install my pipe organ. Sounds like you're useful!
    Quote Originally Posted by holmesuser View Post
    Have you ever been inside the pipe chambers when they are being played? Wow. The sound goes right through you. I love it.
    Yes, I have been in the chambers while the organ is being played. The major difference (besides the amplitude) is that the sound of the air moving around you (true Surround Sound) is so much more of an experience than the air simply moving toward you as you sit outside the organ chambers. These people with their Surround Sound systems on their entertainment centers have no idea!

    BTW, my wife and I will be visiting relatives in Asheville in early July. I still want to see the Biltmore organ up close--and play the Luray Caverns organ--and . . . . You get the idea.

    In answer to Mr. Catlover's original post, though, the sound from a digital is generally more directional unless, as David said before, the sound is dispersed appropriately. Phase cancellation can be more of a problem with a digital if not considered carefully. A pipe organ on the other hand, tends to move the air around the pipes, and they interact with each other, generally blending better. Of course, that is where the voicing of the organ comes in. Phase cancellation can theoretically happen with pipe organs as well. Both instruments can be installed/voiced badly, and both can be installed/voiced well.

    Another thread on this Forum discussed the sympathetic vibrations that can occur (both constructive and destructive) between pipes within the chamber. I don't think that is possible with the digital instrument because the frequencies are produced electronically. Consequently, they will sound different based on that fact alone.

    Hope this clarifies a bit better.

    Michael

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