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Martin Cooke

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I realise that this is sensitive, but what's the current ranking of electronics do people think? Are Viscount and similar multi-produced ones to be avoided altogether? I am thinking that for home use, (three manual) a Wyvern or Phoenix would be good but what about Makin/Johannus? Does anyone have recent experience of some of these? I'm particularly interested in Phoenix - they seem to represent good value for money. Not sure if I've got the hang of producing a link to this huge 5-manual Wyvern but it's worth a look. If the link doesn't function, go to Anthony Bogdan in google.

Martin.

 

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Wyvern and Phonenix use the same technology, although the samples are different. The phoenix system is totally different to ALL the other manufacturers which are just sampled instruments, despite various manufacturers' claims.

 

Without getting too technical, the Phoenix system has a different 'clock speed' for every note. All other electronic organs are synchronised to a single clock in the computer which is why when stops are added together, on these instruements, they do not seem to add like pipes. It really doesn't matter how much sampling 'power' you have, if the inital generating system is all synchronised to the one 'clock'.

 

Each note on each stop in a Phoenix system organ is genererated in completely free space, with a completely independent computer, not synchronised or dependant upon any other note or stop. Even on a moderately sized three manual, you will find over 640MB of generating power. This, together with a PROPERLY designed audio system of several hundred watts (often thousands) is what makes the difference!

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I realise that this is sensitive, but what's the current ranking of electronics do people think? Are Viscount and similar multi-produced ones to be avoided altogether? I am thinking that for home use, (three manual) a Wyvern or Phoenix would be good but what about Makin/Johannus? Does anyone have recent experience of some of these? I'm particularly interested in Phoenix - they seem to represent good value for money. Not sure if I've got the hang of producing a link to this huge 5-manual Wyvern but it's worth a look. If the link doesn't function, go to Anthony Bogdan in google.

Martin.

 

 

That Wyvern monster is a Bradford system based organ - i.e. all the sounds are generated (think synthesized) from something like 24 tones, whereas their new ones (which use the Phoenix system) are all sampled from real organs.

 

I'm currently researching toaster builders for my new church, and Phoenix seems, so far, to be offering me what I want, although I haven't talked price yet, except with one company (who shall remain nameless) who wanted us to pay them to come tell us what they could offer us, tantamount to charging us to allow them to sell us something.

 

I'm intrigued by bombarde32's statement of "over 640Mb of generating power". Assuming that MB means megabytes, all that is is storage. i.e. how much space is used by samples. No power or generation involved.

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I did a lot of research, including visits to hear recent installations, before recommending my church (St. Mary's, Charlton Kings) to commission a custom built instrument from Wyvern Organs. Having approached Wyvern early on, Phoenix would not counter-quote as they have an agreement not to bid against each other (Wyvern are effectively selling the Phoenix system under license.)

 

Now these things are very subjective, but to my ears the Wyvern/Phoenix sound is way above all of the competion with the possible exception of Copeman-Hart. However, Copeman-Hart, in our experience anyway, will come in at about double the price. Personnally my view is that Phoenix are the best and most exciting producers of digital organ sound in the world at the moment, but they are not yet able to point to the proven history and customer base that can reassure a wavering PCC.

 

I would discount all other "Builders", unless "Cheap and cheerful" is the only consideration. Rodgers, in my opinion, offer a very good product if you're happy to go with American tastes and an off-the-peg solution. Don't expect much in the way of customisation, forget all hope of a clarinet on a 3M instrument, and expect to pay more than the price of a better Phoenix/Wyvern of similar specification.

 

I'm very happy to demonstrate, and give unrestricted access to, our superb custom Wyvern instrument (installed spring 2006) to anyone interested.

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Guest Lee Blick

Wow that five manual looks huge but beware of huge organs! What are you really getting from a spec like that?

 

There is an excellent 3/4 manual Wyvern Concerto which I played at their salesroom not too long ago. I was very impressed with it.

 

I think Copeman & Hart are overpriced for what they offer. Personally I would go for Phoenix.

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I'm also looking into buying one at the moment. A reasonably sized 3 manual is my preference. Although I'd like very good sounds, to me, the touch is of equal importance. I recently played a (to be unamed manufacturer) two manual instrument in a music shop, and to be quite frank, it was like playing one of those Bontempi keyboards from the 70s, all plastic and a springy release on the keys that virtually bit your fingers off!

 

Anyone on any advice on touch?

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I'm intrigued by bombarde32's statement of "over 640Mb of generating power". Assuming that MB means megabytes, all that is is storage. i.e. how much space is used by samples. No power or generation involved.

 

 

Each stop (which will contain a maximum of 61 samples - or 32 for the pedal) is stored on a tone-card. Each tone-card is capable of holding 64MB of samples. Most of the current organs contain at least 10 tone cards, thus equating to 640MB of samples available. The generation is unique to each note of each stop, which is why only ten stops are available on each card. It is possible to get more samples upon a pedal card as you very rarely play more than six notes at once!!!!

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I did a lot of research, including visits to hear recent installations, before recommending my church (St. Mary's, Charlton Kings) to commission a custom built instrument from Wyvern Organs. Having approached Wyvern early on, Phoenix would not counter-quote as they have an agreement not to bid against each other (Wyvern are effectively selling the Phoenix system under license.)

 

Neil, you are indeed correct - Wyvern do use the Phoenix 'system' and the organ's SYSTEM is generally installed by one and the same person! However, that is where Wyvern and Phoenix part company!

Wyvern's consoles and cabinet-work are manufactured by a well-known pipe organ console builder in England, in a facility owned by Wyvern.

 

The Wyvern Phoenix organs are custom built from the ground up. Sometimes a good quality second-hand console is used which can save a good amount.

 

The whole organ is manufactured in England from instigation/design to final voicing, by a small but very knowledgeable team of British people. The samples used are not available to any other builder and are all obtained from fine identifiable British instruments. All samples are taken by the in house technicians/musicians and are not pinched/borrowed or obtained in any other way.

 

No other company can offer this unique level of 'Bristishness' if that is what matters to you, and the resulting sound which a 'toaster' can make.

 

It does make a huge difference to the final result!

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Each stop (which will contain a maximum of 61 samples - or 32 for the pedal) is stored on a tone-card. Each tone-card is capable of holding 64MB of samples. Most of the current organs contain at least 10 tone cards, thus equating to 640MB of samples available. The generation is unique to each note of each stop, which is why only ten stops are available on each card. It is possible to get more samples upon a pedal card as you very rarely play more than six notes at once!!!!

 

 

Fair enough - being a proper geek, I still argue that that 640MB is still not generating power - it's storage. The tone generation being done by the card using the stored sample. It matters not - just me being pedantic :lol:

 

I'm assuming that you (bombarde32) and I have met fairly recently ?

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No other company can offer this unique level of 'Bristishness' if that is what matters to you, and the resulting sound which a 'toaster' can make.
Does that mean that Phoenix is the better choice if you want French colour and Wyvern for British? Or isn't it that simple?
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Does that mean that Phoenix is the better choice if you want French colour and Wyvern for British? Or isn't it that simple?

 

 

From what I've seen and heard, the technology is the same. If you can tell either company what you want and they have or can get samples to match, then you can have whatever you want - bombarde32 will be able to tell you more.

 

I recently looked at a Phoenix that was entirely based on Hill samples.

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Guest Psalm 78 v.67
There is an excellent 3/4 manual Wyvern Concerto which I played at their salesroom not too long ago. I was very impressed with it.

 

Are Wyvern's "Standard Spec" instruments "customizable" if there is such a word? The Concerto, for example, and the Toccata, have a Clarinet on the Great in a 3 (and 4) man scheme, which doesn't ring true with me however good the sound. Also, the Concerto has a 16' Corno di Bassetto on the Solo whereas I would prefer it to be at 8', also an 8' string on the Solo but no undulant. Is it possible to specify alternative dispositions? I also find the website's statement that the Pastorale 220 has a "typically English spec" a little strange having studied the Swell spec....

 

I did a lot of research, including visits to hear recent installations, before recommending my church (St. Mary's, Charlton Kings) to commission a custom built instrument from Wyvern Organs.

 

I've looked at the spec, and am interested to see 2 Chimney Flutes on the choir at 8' & 4'. Do they differ at all tonally, and is there a pipe-organ precedent for this duplication of names at different pitches on the same department? (I have seen a "Cathedral" (Eminent) toaster with an 8' Chimney Flute and a 4' Rohr Flute on the same manual which annoys me intensely!! Incidentally this is at a local crem, and I have lost count of the number of members of the public who have stood near the console at a packed service and asked me - facetiously or in all seriousness - whether the sound of the Chimney Flute really comes out of the chimney!)

 

No one has mentioned Eminent yet on this thread - what are peoples views?

 

I recently played a Viscount 1-manual no pedal, but with pedal stops on an "autobass" facility, and was most impressed, and felt it compared more than favourably with the Wyvern equivalent.......

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Are Wyvern's "Standard Spec" instruments "customizable" if there is such a word? The Concerto, for example, and the Toccata, have a Clarinet on the Great in a 3 (and 4) man scheme, which doesn't ring true with me however good the sound. Also, the Concerto has a 16' Corno di Bassetto on the Solo whereas I would prefer it to be at 8', also an 8' string on the Solo but no undulant. Is it possible to specify alternative dispositions? I also find the website's statement that the Pastorale 220 has a "typically English spec" a little strange having studied the Swell spec....

 

Yes they are, although the range of organs to which you refer are NOT the phoenix generation system although they are still very good! You may specify exactly what you want. Some customers prefer them with the clarinet on the choir and a clarion or a festival trumpet on the Great.

 

The pastorale 220 was an adaptation of an existing Dutch organ, which initally was rather unsatisfactory.

It has now been completely re-voiced using British samples, although the stop names are the same, the two instruments are completely different. There will be a Pastoral 226 coming out shortly with a different specification which is going to be along these lines.

 

Pedal Organ (6 Speaking Stops)

 

Sub Bass 16

Octave 8

Bass Flute 8

Choral Bass 4

Mixture (19.22.26.29) IV

Bassoon 16

Mono Bass -

 

Great Organ (10 Speaking Stops)

 

Open Diapason 8

Hohl Flute 8

Dulciana 8

Octave 4

Harmonic Flute 4

Twelfth 2-2/3

Fifteenth 2

Cornet (12.15.17) III

Mixture (19.22.26.29) IV

Trumpet 8

Tremulant -

 

Swell Organ (10 Speaking Stops)

Bourdon 16

Stopped Diapason 8

Gamba 8

Voix Célestes (II rks) 8

Flute 4

Nazard 2-2/3

Piccolo 2

Sesquialtera (17.19.22) III

Contra Oboe 16

Cornopean 8

Tremulant -

 

Couplers

 

Swell to Great

Swell to Pedal

Great to Pedal

Great and Pedal Pistons Combined

 

This will be a lovely instrument where a church has absolutely nowhere to install an external speaker system.

 

 

 

No one has mentioned Eminent yet on this thread - what are peoples views?

 

There is one in Southampton - it is truly awful (in my opinion) with a cheap and very nasty console.

 

UGH!

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I think this is very much a case of horses for courses, but for what it is worth, I bought a standard Viscount about 6 years ago and am utterly delighted with it. I have recommended it to two well known professional organists, and each has bought one after just a few minutes playing on mine.

 

It does depend what you want, though.

 

I was looking for a reasonably affordable, reliable, 2 manual home practice instrument to slot into a small bedroom and appreciate that my needs would be different if I wanted an organ to support a large church with all of its needs, or as an out and out recital instrument.

 

My essential concern was to have one clear, musical flute on each manual that I could practice on for hours without my ears getting tired or bored, and a crisp action.

 

Anything else, frankly, was a bonus.

 

The Viscount fulfils these basic criteria superbly. To be honest, the Viscount is a great deal more comfortable, enjoyable and musical to play than many pipe organs I come across. It is nice, I admit, to have a comprehensive specification although I do not often use it for practice purposes. It is also nice to have a good combination system, but I could live without it.

 

The other registers sound excellent, and although I cannot match some of the technical information being bandied about here, the reproduction and the building of the choruses is uncannily realistic.

 

The action is exceptionally precise and well weighted ; that was a very important consideration for me.

 

I have played it every day for 6 years without a moment's trouble.

 

In terms of gadgets, each stop can be revoiced or tuned, which I suppose is useful, although I do not use it.

 

It has a transposer, and I have found this extremely useful when playing continuo in baroque groups with lower pitch.

 

It also has a digital playback system, which I find invaluable for listening (critically, I should add) to my own performances. I would not be without this.

 

I do not like to speak less than well of other instruments, but I ought to say that I regularly play a number of large, fairly recent Copeman Hart installations ; I find them uncomfortable to play, I find the action very difficult to play with any degree of sensitivity or precision and I find the sounds they make dull and lacking in distinction. For my money, the Viscount knocks these instruments into a cocked hat.

 

I am sure that the technology has come on in leaps and bounds since I bought my instrument, and the other instruments mentioned above are superb, but for what my opinion is worth, my Viscount has never been anything less than a delight for me.

 

Hope that helps - good luck in the search !

 

M

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I've looked at the spec, and am interested to see 2 Chimney Flutes on the choir at 8' & 4'. Do they differ at all tonally, and is there a pipe-organ precedent for this duplication of names at different pitches on the same department? (I have seen a "Cathedral" (Eminent) toaster with an 8' Chimney Flute and a 4' Rohr Flute on the same manual which annoys me intensely!! Incidentally this is at a local crem, and I have lost count of the number of members of the public who have stood near the console at a packed service and asked me - facetiously or in all seriousness - whether the sound of the Chimney Flute really comes out of the chimney!)

 

No one has mentioned Eminent yet on this thread - what are peoples views?

 

I recently played a Viscount 1-manual no pedal, but with pedal stops on an "autobass" facility, and was most impressed, and felt it compared more than favourably with the Wyvern equivalent.......

It was a bit of an accident that both flutes on the choir and labelled "Chimney Flute", but the two flutes that we have got work beautifully together, and indeed the whole choir organ with its Cornet Separee is a joy. Wyvern tend to put several samples on the sound cards for each physical stop control so that you can choose the one you really like when the organ is voiced in the church. This means that in practice you may well end up using a sample that isn't an exact match for the name on the stop knob. In our case, for example, I believe the sample which I finally chose for the "Fanfare Trumpet" is in reality a tuba. The manual touch I also find very good, its quite firm and not at all spongy.

 

At my previous church we had a brand new 3-decker Viscount on hire when our (3M HNB) pipe organ was restored in 2000. My views on this instrument might well be actionable were I to commit them to print, and the same line of reasoning prevents me from expressing my opinion of the Eminent instrument I tried when researching at Charlton Kings.

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No one has mentioned Eminent yet on this thread - what are peoples views?
Our cathedral has one which it uses alongside its three-manual pipe organ (the latter is a semitone sharp, hence the toaster). It must be around 10 years old by now, so technologically speaking is out of the ark, yet the tone is extremely effective and convincing. what tends to let it down are the transients, which are naff in the extreme and make French toccatas sound ludicrously "boopy", but slower pieces come off OK. No doubt modern models are much improved in this respect. It has to be said that the acoustics are totally superb - probably the best (for choirs) that I have come across anywhere.
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Each tone-card is capable of holding 64MB of samples.

 

It seems a little strange that these cards (presumably essentially just storage) are only 64mB? Why do the manufacturers not use higher capacity storage media, now that it has become so cheap, one wonders. After all space and heat dissipation should not be a problem in a console environment for that part of the circuitry. Perhaps the range of access times do not match the clock speeds necessary for adequate use of sampling?

 

One is aware, thinking of space used, of the amount of storage capacity available in, for example, zSeries mainframes where the 'box' is relatively empty.

 

Would not the scope affirded by the use of greater storage density be an advantage in terms of the range, variety, and quality of sound produced?

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One is aware, thinking of space used, of the amount of storage capacity available in, for example, zSeries mainframes where the 'box' is relatively empty.

 

The price of which is also nice :lol:

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Without getting too technical, the Phoenix system has a different 'clock speed' for every note. All other electronic organs are synchronised to a single clock in the computer which is why when stops are added together, on these instruements, they do not seem to add like pipes. It really doesn't matter how much sampling 'power' you have, if the inital generating system is all synchronised to the one 'clock'.

 

This also allows every note of every rank to be tuned independently. I believe this makes a big difference to the end result, when compared with other sampled systems which tend to allow only complete ranks to be tuned relative to one another.

 

JJK

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Neil, you are indeed correct - Wyvern do use the Phoenix 'system' and the organ's SYSTEM is generally installed by one and the same person! However, that is where Wyvern and Phoenix part company!

Wyvern's consoles and cabinet-work are manufactured by a well-known pipe organ console builder in England, in a facility owned by Wyvern.

 

Both Phoenix and Wyvern (for custom instruments) get their consoles made by Renatus. So there is really little difference between a Phoenix and a Wyvern Phoenix apart from samples.

 

Phoenix seem to have access to a wide range of samples. My 3m Phoenix has 3 independent sets - english, french and german - and I was not restricted on choice. I guess that Wyvern would have a similar range.

 

JJK

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Both Phoenix and Wyvern (for custom instruments) get their consoles made by Renatus. So there is really little difference between a Phoenix and a Wyvern Phoenix apart from samples.

 

Phoenix seem to have access to a wide range of samples. My 3m Phoenix has 3 independent sets - english, french and german - and I was not restricted on choice. I guess that Wyvern would have a similar range.

 

JJK

 

 

I think the question really you want to be asking is which supplier offers u something in terms of reliability and is going to last more then 10 years? The Viscounts are cheap and nasty instruments. Here in Birmingham where I am all three Crematoria has one. And in the 8 years ive played mine the pedals have packed up on numerous occasions contacts worned down. Keys clicking stick notes ! Bulbs blowing and fuses ! A instrument to be avoided at all costs. We had enough problems finding a Organ repair bloke to sort these out and each time a fault needed putting right it has prove expensive. Personally I like the Makin Custom series . They are not standard specs u can more or less have what u want. My one issue with Digital organs is the Swell or Pedals never seem to be big enough. often a weak full swell or not loud enough Contra Bombarde . I still think the Phoenix system dosent have enough channels for the audio separation . should be at least 30 channels ! And the other vexed question I had with the Wyvern System was it couldnt play more then ten notes on the manuals ! I would want a organ that looks durable and reliable not some cheap nasty thing which should go on the bonfire after a couple of years lol

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I still think the Phoenix system dosent have enough channels for the audio separation . should be at least 30 channels !

 

I agree with you about channels - the more the better. Although you can have 30 or more channels on the phoenix system (and other systems), of course it costs money - mainly in amplifiers and speakers - and takes up space. And therefore starts to erode the key advantages of digital organs!

 

JJK

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A instrument to be avoided at all costs. We had enough problems finding a Organ repair bloke to sort these out and each time a fault needed putting right it has prove expensive.

 

You should try Royston Orme in Tettenhall, Wolverhampton - a very handy chap. If you want his contact details, PM me, and I'll put you in touch.

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