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Allen from 1962

Started by Holditch, October 11, 2010, 12:07:02 AM

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I strayed across this video of a 1962 Allen organ and was very impressed, maybe you have seen it?

To me, this is producing as good if not better a sound than some of the modern digital equipment. I know it is hard to tell from an audio recording, but sounds pretty good

here is the link

Dubois is driving me mad! must practice practice practice


thanks for posting !
I haven't seen this video before but note that in the description they mention that the electronics takes up a lot of space ..... which probably means that there are many independent ranks of free phase generators. Since this is analogue electronics there are slight changes in the tuning of the oscillators which simulates the effect of many ranks of pipes.

regards Peter B

David Pinnegar


Thanks so much for posting this. This goes to show just what _good_ electronic design and clearly proper speakers can do. Bearing in mind that this was just analogue electronics, the current hype that apparently Hauptwerk is so wonderful it can overcome the limitations of mis-chosen speakers and still achieve realism must be questionable. If good speakers can make an analogue organ sound like this, then proper treatment of the Hauptwerk output can only be advantageous.

The bad news is that it lasted so long :-) but the good news is that it was so superb that it has inspired the building of a new pipe organ.

It's for this reason that I see electronics _well_ installed as being good for pipe organs in the long run.

Well installed does not include commercial electronics touts putting speakers behind the facades of pipe organs and removing pipework to do so: that is vandalism, plain and simple.

One of the saddest and most frustrating things I've seen in a while is the gravestone in Alderney Methodist Church:

. . . put to death by the installation of an unused 3 manual analogue Johannus.

Best wishes

David P



The analogue Allen organs used at least 2 ranks of free-phase generators on each manual (flutes and diapason/string)  There are some details in the late Alan Douglas' book "The Electronic Musical Instrument Manual".  The analogue organs sounded vastly better than the early digital Allens.

As the note on the clip says, the big problem is the age of the electronics - and the sheer scale of the things, making ongoing maintenance an issue.  (I used to own a 2m Jennings electronic organ which used valve generators - that really needed a complete rebuild with new capacitors to try and get some tuning stability, and the prevent the keying thumps caused by failed coupling capacitors allowing 300v DC into the keying and tone forming circuits.  I had to dispose of it as a small house + 4 children = lack of space!)

Many of these analogue organs are worth preserving for their unique qualities - and as examples of the technology of the era.

Every Blessing




Thinking more during the day about vintage free-phase electronic organs, I realized that another factor in the good sound is that the oscillators are not (normally) running continuously, but are triggered for each tone required - and frequently there's a time-constant attached to the speed of build up in volume (the tuned circuits used mean that frequency is, to a large degree, independent of supply voltage, so the keying circuit is pretty simple, as it needs to be given the number of iterations of it in even a fairly small organ.  This, of course, adds a further degree of realism as opposed to the instant "on" and "off" that was common in divider organs of the era, electronic switching being a costly option, and difficult to arrange so the the attenuation in the "off" position was low enough.

As to the picture that David posted of organ pipes is very sad - I suppose we should be glad that they're not hiding the speakers of the electronic replacement.  That's a practice that, in my opinion, is indefensible, and little short of fraudulent.  And even worse when speakers a placed inside old organ cases - sometimes with the installers damaging or destroying good pipework in the process - or where the case is retained simply to house speaker cabinets.  It's time the organ world got real about these dubious practices and organ advisers should ban them.  (I'm not too happy about the fake "pipe tops" that were part of the case wrok of many reed organs - that's equally false.

Every Blessing