Retrofitting existing organ consoles
Posted 05 September 2006 - 21:30
I'm also fairly well versed in the amplifier/speaker area for electronic organs if anyone is interested in that.
John, I am!
BTW, a banner tells me this topic hasn't been posted in 120 days, which is surprising, since many today seem to be working on retrofitting electronic organ cases with MIDI capability to interface with MidiTzer, jOrgan, et al.
So I hope it gets read, and receives response, for inquiring minds DO want to know.
There are two separate designs, and my two current projects fall into both:
(a) completely gutting a console to create tabs and keyboards
to trigger MIDI events
(my console 1 - touring console for gigs)
(b) adding MIDI capability to existing electronic organs, to operate
as original electric organs in addition to serve MIDI capability.
(my console 2 - studio console that stays planted)
I'm working with a completely disemboweled Conn 650 solely MidiTzer
as well as a functional working Conn 650 console
to play as existing AND send MIDI stream to computer for MidiTzer
I also have a gutted Wurli 950-TA fitted with 3 new MIDI keyboards and a monitor/mouse instead of MIDI trigger tabs for MidiTzer / jOrgan.
And that makes me think of your comment about electronic organ amplifiers.
What do you feel is the best way to use the existing original amps and speakers within the console of an otherwise gutted organ console to receive line-level inputs from the soundcards of a computer running MidiTzer or JOrgan?
When the electronics are removed from the organ console cases, but the powerful amplifiers and speakers remain, the input wires with volume control pots, etc are forever altered.
The ones I have seen do not have simple "aux input" like a hi-fi or touring gig amplifier amp. It seems a pity to not use these amps/speakers simply because I cannot understand how to use these as stand-alone units.
Both the Conns (tube technology - those good ol' 12AX7's, probably) and the WurliTzer (MOS technology) were made to kick out a hefty sound to these speakers made for a wide sonic organ performance, including Leslie speakers.
Seems a pity not to use these.
I am seeking to remount these speakers into separate speaker cabinets, and would prefer to salvage their amps and speakers intact if possible.
Is this feasible?
Posted 06 September 2006 - 00:48
I noticed your post on the other thread but didn't have time to respond.
With my limited audio experience I would say that what you need to work out is the input sensitivity on the amplifier circuits. You could do this the technical way of setting up a signal generator and measuring everything or you could do it the trial and error way and just be careful and start off very low. Make up a connection lead from the audio out of your computer sound card to where you think you can tap into the organ amplifier system. Before connecting make sure all items are at minimum volume. Turn off power to all items and make the physical connection,power up the organ and the computer, bring the organ expression pedal up to about 1/3 then very gently bring up the volume of your computer sound card. If you get a good sound without distortion everything will be good and easy. If you get very faint sound or dramatic overload you will need to put a pre-amp in between the devices. If you get nothing at all you will need to go back to the drawing board and rethink where you are connecting into or get some other advice. If you need a pre-amp you could think about buying a kit from an electronics shop or a pre-made device from an electronics shop or audio shop.
I did this with my Yamaha E5AR and got very disappointing results. The Yamaha has a very strange large speaker that is not round. It had very poor low end response (much worse than my home stereo) otherwise it was OK and yes very strong. I would hope you will get better results with your Conn amp and speakers.
Posted 06 September 2006 - 04:23
Just gotta chack the guzinta.
The guzouta drives 8 ohm speakers, and those can be placed in new cabinetry. Even the Leslie speakers are rated at 8 ohms.
I am more concerned with recycling WurliTzer 950-TA amps.
There are two matched stereo amplifiers with RCA inputs,
for a total of four channels, marked Input 1,2,3 and 4.
It seems they are designated main, aux, presence and Leslie.
But between the amplifier's RCA "ins" and the 8 ohm "outs" there are circuit wires emanating and chassis plugs that were once wired to various plugs to to disconnect all the speakers when headphone jack was inserted, some wired plugs, long since removed, that interfaced with pedals and various other volume controls on the face of the console, including wires that added spring reverb channel circuitry inputs subsequent to the guzinta RCA "input" jacks.
Knowing which of these to short together or bridge or insert some sorts of variable resistors or pots might give them a song to sing again.
I realize I lack the skill to adequately explain this, but it seems tragic to trash otherwise good amps made to power these speakers, rather than keep them intact and remount them to sing the MidiTzer signals. I have several tour gig amps, but I'd like to preserve these if possible.
With my other projects calling me, I haven't removed these from the Wurli console, hoping there would be an easy "tab A into slot B" answer to enable this console to become a MidiTzer singing through these existing amps and speakers.
But I guess it's best to remove "the whole shootin match" and bench test as a contiguous whole and start from scratch.
Or, as they say, start from "Itch" since I don't have Scratch."
Posted 06 September 2006 - 04:37
I would suggest you try to find a service manual to sort it out to that level.
Once it is in the disconnected state you mention with no markings or indication of how it should connect you would be asking for trouble to try and guese it.
You may be able to find a local organ technition that recalls working on these organs or has a manual in his collection. Otherwise try to find one on the web or on http://organforum.com/
Posted 06 September 2006 - 10:05
I would suggest you try to find a service manual to sort it out to that level.
Totally man. It's with the cash. You wouldn't want to make a mistake and kill that lovely 'litzer now would you?
Posted 06 September 2006 - 12:50
in my situation with a gulbranson 600 connecting the audio outputs from a computer to the preamp of the console would be a difficult task, firstly there are many audio inputs in addition to signals being passed on to reverb units and other filters, on top of that there are many controls which are adjusted with variable resistors.
an alternative that i was thinking was to bypass the preamp and let the computer and software handle the issues of mixing, filtering etc and just send out what would be sent to the consoles power amp, which then goes to headphones/speakers. to do this, the computer would need to output audio on 4 discrete mono channels tibia leslie, pedal, a+b main, a-b main. obviously the first two are to the power amp inputs which go through to the leslie speaker and the subwoofer respectively, and the second two are amplified and passed to the main speakers.
obviously if the pc audio output is not enough for the consoles power amp, a customised preamp (4 channels) would be needed to boost the signal to get best results from the amp/speakers.
Posted 06 September 2006 - 15:51
The Miditzer produces MIDI out. By directing it to the appropriate synthesizer hardware you can get anything you want for sound and electrical levels. I believe the same is true in one way or another for the other virtual organs.
it would be great if miditzer and other software would send audio out which is suitable for the amp inputs of retrofitted consoles...
The FluidSynth that is bundled with the Miditzer may have confused you. It is the default configuration so that beginners will immediately hear the right sound with little effort. Even with that, it purely a function of the sound hardware on the computer and the amp input as to whether the two can be directly connected. Many sound cards have a Line Out that can be directly connected to a Line In on an organ console.
Posted 06 September 2006 - 16:35
it would be great if MidiTzer and other software would send audio out which is suitable for the amp inputs of retrofitted consoles ...
Ta-Da! ... It already exists! - simply use output cable from the existing computer soundcard output jack into sound mixer or direct to any amplifier.
The computer sound card output is what I use to output MidiTzer into various exisiting amplifiers and speaker systems - it works successfully! You can plug them into guitar "crate" amps, home theatre sound systems, professional mixer, or anything capable of a line level music input.
Now if I could just learn how to retrofit existing amplifiers already housed within the organ console to accept these computer soundcard output jacks!
Some models of electronic organs allow an aux input of some sort to play cassettes or CDs - Indeed some of the Wurli 950-TA models included a bulit-in cassette deck. That would be perfect for a MidiTzer add-on.
Since electronic organs were designed specifically to play organ sounds, it would make sense to configure their amplifier / speaker systems to accept these computer card outputs _in addition to / instead of_ the original organ electronic signals.
It is easy to remove the speakers ... eBay offers such organ speakers all the time ... and hook them up to any garden-variety hi-fi stereo or touring gig amplifiers. But it seems like a waste to sacrifice their corresponding amplifiers originally designed to power them, especially when some of them were designed to power Leslies and other potential channels of sound.
My Wurli has 4 discrete channels of matched full-range sound amplifiers with RCA input jacks designed to power 15-inch loudspeakers. Now if I could just get the input signal from the MidiTzer soundcard INTO these 4 amps to drive those speakers (sigh!).
Posted 07 September 2006 - 00:49
If your organ amplifiers and speakers are powered and working, you should be able to connect the sound card output direct to the RCA input using a cable you could buy from any audio shop for about $5.00. If you want to make your own you can find the wiring details on the web or I can sketch it for you.
My Yamaha had just 1x RCA input. This worked, however the bass response from the Yamaha speakers was awful so I don't use it.
If you don't know what each of your RCA inputs are connected to, just try them 1 at a time. Just be careful to only make the physical connections while power is off and always have all volumes at minimum before powering up. You will soon hear which is Leslie, reverb etc. and can chose which channels give you the sound you like. Miditzer will sound best if you can give it 2x balanced channels.
Posted 07 September 2006 - 03:47
If your organ amplifiers and speakers are powered and working, you should be able to connect the sound card output direct to the RCA input.
. . . And THAT's the beeg "IF!" . . . and the reason for this query.
That is precicely what I do with my current setup, and it works well.
The soundcards ARE up and working with my present installation:
(In fact, I have a third soundcard to install and troubleshoot just for the heck of it when I have time). Simple matter of blue and green plugs, and on Media XP, it isn't hard to configure the 5 or 7-channel playback.
However, for this separate, additional project, and encouraging some local folks to install MidiTzer in their ailing organ console shells, I was hoping for some way to rescue existing organ power amps and speakers to play back the soundcard output, rather than trashing and replacing these amps.
I appreciate your input.
I was hoping for a simpler way to configure the inputs of these amps.
At one time I was on the trail of someone with a similar organ to walk me through the process to verify the circuitry, but I'll probably follow your first suggestion, to remove the amps and speakers and set everything on the bench and keep pluggin' until I get something to work, or failing that, just trash these amps and run down to Guitar Center and pick up a coupla new ones.
That's what I get for trying to make a silk purse out of a proverbial sow's ear.
Just wish I had more hours in a day!
Posted 09 September 2006 - 15:00
what i asked was (now read slowly this time) how to setup the audio output from the pc (the two stereo out channels) to cater for a specific hardware audio input configuration which is not a "standard" audio system. at the simplest how to reconfigure windows quadraphonic output into 4 discrete mono channels - now don't repeat that it is already there because windows filters the sound for use with what is assumed to be a surround sound system.
for example as in the setup i described earlier say the two main channels are channel 1 and 2, the leslie speaker is on channel 3 and the subwoofer is on channel 4. if i play a tibia sound, i expect the sound to output through channels 1 and 2, but if i have tibia tremelo engaged, i require sound through channel 3 instead (that is how the leslie rotory speaker system works, right?) if i play a note with a pedal, i expect the signal through channel 4 (i am not sure if this is only channel 4 or in addition to 1 and 2).
my organ was built in the 70's, they knew about wave theory and developed the organ to take into account loud and quiet spots generated by multiple speakers - that is why the main channel is divided into main a+b and main a-b (this information i got from the service manual).
now the Ta-Da responses to my previous post simply tell me to combine all the output channels from the computer and connect them equally to the inputs to the amplifer which is not the question that i asked. i asked how to utilise the hardware which i have already to its full capacity with the features that are available - why would i want a simulated tremelo (which is not much better than a vibrato) by a synth when i have a fully functional leslie system.
if the Ta-Da responses were meaning that i connect each of the four pc audio outputs to individual audio input of the poweramp, that is an even stupider suggestion. think of it, a sound from the front left in one main speaker, the front right to the other main speaker, a sound from the rear right through the leslie and the rear right through the subwoofer. if this is a suggested work around for use with fluid synth, i would have expected alot more detail including settings for fluidsynth (and i don't think settings to this details are supported anyway)
i am sorry that this may upset those who did respond to my query, it is that i asked a question well beyond how to connect pc audio out to organ audio in and i assumed that the level of detail that i gave would have indicated what i was after, i was talking about specific audio channels on the organ indicating the contrast to the audio channels of a quadraphonic output from a pc.
i have not programmed audio output from a pc before, and i do not know if directing audio to specific audio channels is possible - but i assumed it was always done this way until recently with libraries which only required where the sound was coming from and the library would handle the channel mixing.
so to sum it up ... can the software and pc audio out be reconfigured to cater for the specific audio inputs which the power amplifers of my console have? as stated before the audio input channels of the console are main a+b, main a-b, subwoofer and leslie speaker.
Posted 09 September 2006 - 17:19
As you point out, the two parts of the configuration process are the difference between what happens at the programming level with those MIDI signals inside the computer and the output level where the MIDI stream leaves the soundcards go.
I was addressing how to plug the configured MIDI computer output into existing organ amplifiers, and that does not involve MIDI stream.
I hope to find many "Ta-Da" moments to bring simplicity to the process, so many more people can adopt cinema organ sounds today.
Since I have limited my software to MidiTzer to help promote it, I cannot speak of other systems. It is probably time for me to move on to JOrgan or something that is more flexible.
I do not use fluidsynth ... but multiple soundcards that are easily manipulated (as I have on my "Using Multiple Soundcards" website article) by simply configuring the Soundblaster MIDI channels to send to different outputs.
Console stoptabs address the existing computer control (configured by (a) SoundBlaster assignments and (b) the little yellow M in the MidiTzer screen).
The folks I seek to influence are more interested in simply plug and play.
So I cannot speak of other MIDI assignments that differ. Once I get my current project complete, I'll investigate alternative systems ... but hey, these work for me!
In my passion to bring back the sound of theatre organ to public awareness, to this point I sought a simple way to impress people to use MidiTzer. Since the monitor/mouse click is not friendly to performers, the MidiBox has been a Godsend.
Triggered MIDI events ... through MidiBox cards ... installed between my retrofitted console stoptabs and the MIDI DIN cable ... speak to the configured MIDI assignments in my computer soundcards.
I have selected a variety of discrete MIDI channel outputs from those soundcards into a variety of amps and speakers, and like you, prefer to use discrete individual sounds into maximized individual sound contoured systems ... it is more true pipe organ sounds than simply tossing all the outputs into a single output stream and subsequently splitting that amalgamated "stereo" channel into a 7.1 or 5.1 wannabee "theatre sound."
That is why I seek a way to use existing organ amps and speakers emanating from a plethora of individual sound sources.
I like the wraparound [Disneyland] "Tiki Hut" sound from discrete sources, and as you mention, the potential of separating tremmed stops to a channel for Leslie can be separate from a different organ "rank."
Although a particular organ stop channel must be capable to reproduce everything from 32'- to a 1'-stop ... I haven't found a way to send sub bass to maximized speakers and the upper registers to a higher frequency horn or tweeter. I bi-amp a lot. So I have a lot of questions as I dig into MIDI and the various ways people use it for organ.
This is tied in to the soundfonts, and I use Bruce Miles' exclusively as my defacto standard (again, to keep it simple enough to help promote).
Even here, I imagine it is possible to ignore the "tremmed" soundfonts (fortunately, he provides them discrete from his non-tremmed soundfonts) and simply send the non-tremmed soundfonts to a Leslie output. I'll look into that. There might be a way.
However, this is all controlled at the MIDI soundcard software level, not the OUTPUT control, so in my case, it's understanding the different roles of the Soundcard and the MidiTzer and simply setting up them to comply to my needs.
I continue to experiment, and that's why I documented the tedium details on my website, hoping someone comes with better solutions to help equip me to bring organ sounds back to a new generation.
Please keep us posted in your progress.
I am new to this, and eagerly devour all I can gather from guys like you who aren't afraid to post, share, query, confront, whatever. My background of choral / orchestral, is far different from organ MIDI. But I am limited to MIDI technology.
Although the 19-rank virtual 260 Balban MidiTzer gives greater flexibility, I have stepped back to the smaller 10-rank 216 virtual organ until I complete my present organ retrofit.
I have several discrete channels, since there is an A side and a B side on each SoundBlaster card. I am unable to comment on other cards or softsynth setups with different means to accomplish this (not enuff time). ANd I do not use softsynth or USB technology yet. As long as there are eunff SoundBlasters out there I'm happy for now.
Posted 09 September 2006 - 23:49
thanks for your reply, and thanks for not overreacting to the emotional parts of my post.
i have been
a software solution which has got me thinking is hauptwerk (http://www.crumhorn-labs.com/), a pipe organ simulator. but i have a few problems with it, firstly it is expensive. but the main issues i have with it are that it is proprietry software (closed source) and although this appears to be a philisophical issue, my concern with closed source is what happens if the developers interests change or the company goes bust. but my main issue with it at the moment is the need for a single monolithic computer in order to run the full featured system - there is mention of using a dual opteron system with 8GBytes of memory - you can buy a new computer for the cost of each of these opteron processors.
i was going to give an overview of a software alternative i was thinking of developing - but it would have gone too far off topic (it would deserve a new thread) and i don't think i have developed the idea enough to post at this time anyway - but to put it simply, a open source alternative to hauptwerk.
btw miditzer is a great piece of software, provides good sound and can be run on the "normal" level computers available today. my problems with it at the moment are only with regard to configuring it with the "strange" hardware that i currently have available (read my previous posts).
Posted 10 September 2006 - 04:43
You're cool! The more we discuss all the ramifications of MidiBoxing our organs, the closer we may come to some practical solutions. The ol' "groupthink" may help us bring the organ back to society.
"there's GOT to be a pony in here somewhere, don'tcha know!"
I'm glad there is no ceiling on either your creativity or your passion
Posted 10 September 2006 - 10:55
I do understand better now and started heading in that direction at first with my VTPO project as I figured it would save me a lot of money (not having to buy amps and speakers) and should have been made for the task. When I ran the audio through the original organ amp and speakers I was extremely disappointed with the sound. This was for 2x reasons. a/ the Yamaha has a poor amp and speaker system (probably part of the reason why I never liked their electronic organ sound) and b/ the Softsynth uses both channels of stereo to give true effect to the sounds particularly the tremolo-ed voices.
My home stereo gives a very pleasing sound to the output of Miditzer (I realise this is very subjective) however, I have very few opportunities to play the organ out loud (particularly with the emphasis on loud) as it is not appreciated to the same extent by other house residents. For this reason I need to make do with headphones most of the time.
It has been mentioned that Leslie speakers should be the best way to get the Tremolo effect. In the past I would have agreed. I never found an organ without a Leslie that gave a pleasing sound. The other side of the coin, is that I can’t enjoy playing a Leslie organ with headphones on, as you can’t get tremolo through the headphones. I do enjoy playing Miditzer with headphones. I find the sound very pleasing.
The Leslie speaker was invented to make an electronic organ simulate the tremolo pipe organ sound. Yes it was a much better effect than electronic waveform manipulation, but still a simulation of the genuine sound. It seems to me that the improvement in modern spatial sound generation as used in the Bruce Miles sound fonts has made great improvements in emulating the wonderful sound of a pipe organ with tremolo. There may be better ways to set up the audio of a VTPO, however on my limited budget, I am pleased with the results I am getting using headphones and my stereo.
I agree with the direction PK is heading in his thoughts in this area. Building new enclosures for existing speakers and using existing amps to drive them. These will be in stereo pairs for each sound card he uses. There has been quite a bit of discussion about amps, speakers and their positioning on the Miditzer Forum. http://www.virtualorgan.com/forum/ The other aspect that has attracted some discussion and experimentation is reverb options.
Posted 13 September 2006 - 06:30
When you get around to connecting the Conn 650 amps be carefull as there may be a dc bias voltage at their input. When my 650 was still 'whole' ;) I added an Alesis MicroVerb between the preamps and power amps. Found that one or the other (don't remember which) added the dc bias. Had to use a blocking capacitor to protect the reverb. Also improved the sound... only got junk out of the system without the blocking capacitor. The above advise 'may' save a SoundBlaster or two.... ;)
Bob (in nearby Corona)
Posted 20 November 2006 - 22:43
Haven't seen you in awhile, and wonder how your project with the organ retrofit is coming along.
I have recently altered my WurliTzer 216 soundfonts playback
from massive room speakers
to four near-field speakers
(like those old quadraphonics).
It is focused specifically to the organist
(for critical sound analysis and research)
rather than playing into a massive room.
TWO soundcards are installed in the computer,
each with TWO outputs (L / R, rather than stereo)
configured to the soundfonts (for Main / Solo chambers)
= four outputs altogether.
For the present, I am surrounded at the console with four separate speakers
2 in front (L main and R solo)
2 Suspended above (L main and R solo)
Each of these receive discretely separated sounds from the computer.
registered to appear from four separate corners about me.
Not unlike the early days of hi-fi stereo-quad with the ping-pong balls
bouncing back and forth and trains coursing past the microphones.
So the 216 MidiTzer OUTPUT plays like this:
FRONT (Soundcard 1)
DIA / CLAR / OCT TIBIA /OBOE /GLOCK
REAR (soundcard 2)
VIOL / CLST / FLUTE TUBA / VOX
(12th / 15th / PICC / Tierce)
So a maximum of only three ranks playing from eachy single speaker.
To set up my soundcard software,
ALL of Bruce's soundfonts are loaded
in BOTH soundcards in the
"Audio HQ" SoundBlaster software configuration
Specific ranks are later chosen by MidiTzer software.
(I do not use fluidsynth; nor do I use a central pan ...
These SoundBlaster Live! soundcards have "joystick" plugs
to plug my synthesizers into, avoiding an outboard midimerger).
MidiYoke software download merges the soundcard keyboards.
To configure my discretely separated channels:
MidiTzer yellow button / Output select:
I simply assign specific ranks of the loaded soundfonts
to each soundcard,
As listed above to:
(1) Left Front, (2) Right Front,
(3) Left Rear, (4) Right Rear
to separate the ranks into four separate amp speakers.
I haven't tried to send a non-tremmed soundfont to a Leslie.
but I'm certain it can be accomplished.
Since the tremmed and non-tremmed sound fonts are in two separate places
in the software configure, a subsequent project will be to send those tremmed
fonts to a separate Leslie amp, to see if that will work.
To create the separate tremmed sound as a dry sound
(which is "minus 50" for "Patch 2" in the MidiTzer "output")
should do the trick, unless I'm missing something.
The tibia tremmed is 68, Tibia dry is 18, etc.
There has been talk of the feasibility of sending dry sounds to a
Leslie speaker (instead of using imbedded trem soundfonts) on the
soundsfonts chatlist lately, so perhaps a solution is on the way.
There is room enough in a gutted Wurli for three keyboards,
replacing The little Barbie-Doll Orbit Synthesier with a full sized
MIDI keyboard. What have you decided to do with your Wurli 950?
Replacing original organ electronics with MidiBox Cores and DINs
is the perfect solution for more authentic sounds, and re-wiring the
25 pedal clavier (from 3 separate sockets to a single 25-pin printer cable
to send to a midiBox DIN) is not difficult
I'll keep you posted on our project with the 950 amps and speakers
- it could be perfect for the quad-system-cum-leslie you speak of -
All you need is MIDIbox DINs and replace existing manuals with 3
MIDIfied keyboards and plug in the MIDIfied pedals.
Trust all's well in your corner of the kingdom and your project is
progressing well – we have great respect for our antipodean friends.
Posted 07 December 2006 - 06:21
Posted 27 December 2006 - 17:50
I know from searching the web that there are not many practical solutions (in fact- none) of leaving the drawbar assembley in such a way that it can produce a midi signal from customisation, and still perform it's original task of powering the tabs on the host keyboard. If I am mistaken, please let me know. If I am correct, then please let me know, as I have a few ideas I want to throw in the discussion!!
Oh yeah. It would be nice if we all fot together to do a comprehensive WIKI page on all our findings, no?