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Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

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Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby UndaMaris » Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:10 am

I have a recent two manual digital organ. Last year I was researching various options to upgrade to three manuals and better sounds. I looked at Hauptwerk but the consoles on the market seemed very expensive. I made a start by buying the advanced edition and four wonderful sample sets. These I loaded into my MacBook Pro and linked it to my midi-capable digital organ. I was amazed to find how smoothly everything went. I also discovered that not only could I control the software from my keyboards and pedals, but that by simply cancelling all the organ stops and leaving the organ in normal (as opposed to Hauptwerk) mode, I could also apply reverb from the digital organ. Finally, I discovered that a simple audio cable from the computer to the organ's line-in allowed me to play the sound back through the organ's internal speakers.

I'm now about to upgrade to a three manual digital organ from the same maker, safe in the knowledge that I can repeat the above procedure. What I can't understand is, if you go down the route of buying a specially made console for Hauptwerk, or build your own from good quality parts, the cost is very much higher. A final advantage of using Hauptwerk with a midi-capable digital organ is that, should something go wrong with your Hauptwerk set up, or your computer, you have the organ's own built in sounds to fall back on.

Can anyone tell me why dedicated Hauptwerk consoles, without sounds and electronics, are so much more expensive than off the shelf digital organs?!
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Re: Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby John_Abson » Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:30 am

I think the main reason is that many (not all) Hauptwerk dedicated consoles are built to pipe organ standards utilising pipe organ hardware (keys, pedals, stop actions etc), and on a low volume basis (ie more or less individually). A new 32 note organ pedalboard, without swell pedal, toe pistons, contacts or wiring, can set you back upwards of 1500 GBP. Same goes for the wiring and integration of the midi encoder/decoder cards. Moveable console stop actions, where fitted, add a big multiplier to the expense, especially as many VPOs have extensive stoplists which no organist can resist making use of. Many (not all) digital instruments are built in production volumes with component and integration costs consequently reduced, hence the lower costs. And, of course, I haven't started on computers and the audio side.

One of the truths (and attractions) of the Virtual Pipe Organ is that you can start off with very satisfying low cost solutions and develop as you go along. It's therefore very accessible initially. Another truth is that organists are never satisfied and always want 'that extra stop' :D

My personal opinion is that buying a turnkey VPO solution can be expensive, but for those with the skills and time to build/develop themselves offers a wonderful hobby - as well, of course, a great musical instrument.
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Re: Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby mnailor » Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:01 pm

The cost of a digital organ vs a vpo console can vary enormously depending on what features you want and quality of things like keyboards and pistons.

I bought a decent 3 manual digital organ 13 years ago for over 30,000 USD, not including external sound system. Later I started using it as a Hauptwerk MIDI controller.

After a couple of years of frustration about conflicts between the two combination systems and not being able to use the drawknobs with the pistons, not enough pistons, reaching for the touchscreen on top of the console because the mostly useless stop jambs were in the way, decreasing support and parts availabilty from the manufacturer exiting the business in this country, and the stupid ROM battery failing and requiring a factory part every couple years, I decided to buy a VPO console to replace it. I was always afraid the motherboard would croak and leave me with a heavy piece of useless furniture.

Last year I bought a prebuilt with assembly required 4 manual console from Organ Technology, and keyboards and pedalboard from Classic MIDI Works for less than 20,000 USD. It could have been done for less if I'd the expensive skipped wood core keyboards. This has 80 pistons, 16 toe studs, and 3 expression pedals. Of course, that cost doesn't include the computer, audio interface, and sound system which I just moved over from the digital organ.

It is a big improvement, and I have less concern about getting parts going into my dotage I mean retirement. And certain French classical dialogues that call for 4 manuals now work without fumbling around to jab the right piston...

More on topic, I haven't seen Allen or Rodgers offer anything in the US for as low a price as you can build a similarly sized VPO console, but I haven't checked some of the other digital organs lately. If you're happy with yours, that's great!
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Re: Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby ArnoldOrgans » Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:26 pm

As discussed above there are a lot of variables in different consoles and builders. Our most affordable 3 manual institutional console in turn key form would be under $12,000. This includes the computer, Hauptwerk license, sample set, speakers and lighted rocker tabs engraved to match. In our area it's the most affordable option on a new organ of its size.
Of course with this being said most customers choose higher end console designs and options raising the price. It is important to keep in mind the type and quality of components the builder is using. In my area the other affordable consoles use lower quality keyboards, rocker tabs, thumb pistons, toe pistons and console construction.
Also keep in mind the serviceability and warranty. We offer a 15 year console warranty and guaranty lifetime serviceability.
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Re: Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby magnaton » Thu Aug 24, 2017 4:03 pm

I too am a little confused about this post. I'm not sure what you used for comparison as you didn't give any specific examples of what "off the shelf" 3 manual organ compares to what custom MIDI console.

Okay, so I'll throw out some details. In 2010, I was quoted $24,500 for a new self contained (no external speakers) Allen Protege' L-10. A Rodgers 568 was $22,900. I've seen prices of beautiful and ornate consoles from Dutch builders like Noorlander and Mixtuur and they can be pricey but I'm thinking that is on the high end. They are most likely built to order.

Prices can vary pending on the build and material quality as well as inherit features. For example balanced, wood core keyboards and moving drawknobs are top tier components and are expensive regardless who you purchase from. That's why so many newer organs have 3rd party keyboards and lighted drawknobs or lighted rocker tabs.

Speaking of quality, many older Rodgers and Allen organs are built to last with excellent attention to details. They have moving SAMs and wood core keyboards. Almost all Allen classical organs have this superior build until about the mid 1990s. Then the quality started to vary between their tiered model offerings. The same for Rodgers but started about 12 years earlier. Case in point, if one is patient enough, you can find an older 3 manual, pre-MIDI organ console from one these builders in decent shape. MIDI encoders can be added to all areas (manuals, pedals, swell, pistons, stops, toe studs) and you still come out way ahead in the cost to value category. In fact here is on on eBay starting at $300!

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Re: Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby dhm » Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:35 pm

We are currently offering a German-built 3-manual HW console for just under GB£5,500.
This includes the keyboard block with a full complement of thumb pistons for divisional and general combinations and couplers, pedalboard (R/C-32) with 10 toe pistons + 2 swell pedals, flat-packed wooden stand + bench. Add a PC, pair of touchscreens, pair of studio monitors + a sub, HW licence and a couple of sample-sets, and you'll still get change out of £10,000.
And it's so much simpler than trying to make do with a pre-existing digital console costing 2-3 rimes as much.
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Re: Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby adrianw » Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:49 pm

I'm guessing Unda Maris is writing from a British or mainland European perspective. The two high-volume market leaders - Johannus and Viscount / Domus - certainly offer excellent value for money with their basic 3 manual lighted-tab consoles with multi-channel integral speaker systems listing from about 8,000 euros. (Including pedalboard and bench). They can be had even cheaper - discounts are achievable by haggling and/or choosing an ex-demo instrument

Secondhand consoles are even more compelling. I EBay-ed my perfect 5-year old Johannus Opus 30 (the Johannus entry-level 3-manual) and got about half what I paid at £3,500. It cost me much more than this (and a great deal of time and effort) to refurbish my current 40-year old drawstop console with new MIDI controllers, keyboards, pistons and some SAMs. (Not to mention the cost of HW, sample sets, computer, reverb unit, studio monitors etc). I enjoyed the project and am proud of the result (I now have a fine piece of furniture) but I must admit it does the same job and doing it really made no economic sense.

For unfathomable reasons North Americans have been prepared to pay much, much more for organs so the market has traditionally been completely different, and different considerations will apply.

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Re: Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby Antoni Scott » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:25 am

To Unda Maris:
Since I have considered the same (cost of the Hauptwerk dedicated console), and based on my personal experience, maybe I can add some helpful insight. The commercially available consoles suitable for Hauptwerk can be expensive. Even the entry-level minimalist console shells cost upwards of $2500. Then you have to add a bench, pedalboard, balanced expression pedals and toe pistons. If you are willing to spend some time to convert an existing pipe or early electronic organ console, you can save a great deal of money and have a nicer end result (in my opinion). Despite the obvious savings I was still willing to purchase a minimalist console, etc. had not a delay in console availability from the supplier made me reconsider. Time was important to me so I started to look for alternatives.

One of my first "experiments" was to take a 1980 vintage Schantz console which was complete with pedalboard, bench, toe pistons, thumb pistons and three balanced expression pedals. I got it all for $400 !!!
Converting it from analog to digital was relatively straight forward. Artisan electronics furnished all the digital conversion hardware necessary and at a very reasonable cost. The final result was a conversion that was a fraction of the cost of Hauptwerk kit or Hauptwerk ready consoles. Basically you are trading time for money. In my case it was a fun project because the end result was an attractive console that allowed me to enjoy my Hauptwerk.

The above Schantz experiment gave me the confidence to try a few more conversions for friends, etc. The Schantz /Hauptwerk used the computer monitors for stop jambs. Some of my purist organist friends suggested that the computer monitors took away from the tactile feel of stop changing. I agreed. My next project took a Rodgers 990 that had 66 stops and 20 couplers. This console was originally destined for the dumpster so I felt good about the fact that it was re-purposed. You can contact organ builders for availability of used consoles. Sometimes there is a bargain on E-bay. For example, there was a magnificent four manual electronic organ console with at least 80 stops plus couplers for $2000. It had everything you would need.

There are advantages and disadvantages to computer monitors vs original stops. The arguments are both valid and will never change. My personal choice is the computer monitor.

If anyone wants a more detailed explanation of how to convert a console for Hauptwerk use, they can e-mail me privately.

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Re: Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby 1961TC4ME » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:24 am

I don't know, looking at what dhm or Arnold organs has to offer I can't say a dedicated console is 'more expensive' than off the shelf digital organs and if I were out to buy a decent console that would certainly do the job and I wasn't in to doing any DIY project, I'd certainly look at what they have to offer. Just about any way you cut in, when you compare, it's going to be apples and oranges depending on who you talk to and what they ultimately want and can justify. To me cost or the expense is in the eyes of the beholder and as we know, if you want it bad enough anyone can justify in their own heads what's a reasonable figure to pay and what isn't. You want that new Corvette, you got the money and you can justify it? You're going to go get it!

Some might say paying $5500 is ridiculous and the next will say that's a smokin deal. It also depends on how much of the work you can and are willing to do yourself or maybe you have no desire to go that route. I started with a freebie complete Allen console sitting in an elderly lady's home, dragged it home and over time have totally gutted, replace the original keyboards with a stack I built out of 3 M-Audio's I robbed out of their cases, I use a Korg Nano-key for registration changes, midi-fied the pedal board, and it all works flawlessly and does the job. No fancy draw knobs or toe pistons but it has both crescendo and swell pedals, again from parts robbed from the M-Audio keyboards. Besides labor to refinish and modify the console to accept three manuals vs. the original two manuals, I've got about $1000 tied up in it. Then of course there's the computer and audio equipment.

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Re: Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby Antoni Scott » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:59 am

Just before posting this response I looked on E-Bay to see if there were any bargain Hauptwerk organ console donors available. Just this moring I saw two 3-manual organs, an Allen and a Baldwin, both for $300 each, both complete with pedal-board and bench.

If one decides to convert a console to digital (I'm assuming both these consoles are of the older transistor technology) suitable for Hauptwerk, each keyboard, pedalboard and stops will have to be wired to a digital scanning board. Artisan (I've dealt with them several times in the past) offer reasonably priced digital scanning boards, called the HV-64P, for $90 each. Classic Midi offers similar functioning boards but are much more expensive. Each HV-64P board has 64 inputs, one for each note of the keyboard plus a few spares. You will need at least four of them. The pedal board, with its 32 contacts, 1-32, will leave 32 contact points left over that can be used for thumb pistons, toe pistons, stops (if you decide to use the console stops that come with the organ), etc.

It doesn't take much math to figure out that you can save a lot of money, IF you have the time to undertake such a project. An old Rodgers that I converted, had each keyboard already wired so it was just a matter of "ringing-out" each wire and attaching it to the correct number HV-64P input. Bottom C, is input #1, bottom C# is input #2, etc. It couldn't be easier. The nice thing about Artisan's boards is that the contact points are spring loaded so that you dont need to solder anything and the wire to board contact is rock-solid.

In addition to the HV-64P boards there are some other conversion boards that are required, plus a small, very small, 5 volt power supply. All of the HV-64P boards are "Daisy-chained" and end up to a USB plug that goes into your computer. The bottom line is that you can have a very nice Hauptwerk ready console without spending a fortune. In the above two cases I figure I could convert either one of them for less than $1500. This would leave alot left over for a bigger computer and a lot of sample sets.

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Re: Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby James » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:40 pm

I use the Artisan system and am very happy with that company. They have a 3 manual conversion kit for $650.00, and a 2 manual kit for $550. The kits have everything (mostly) for converting a shell with pedal board to a midi console. As Antoni posted, you would gut the console and wire up the keyboards and pedal board. There are a lot of extra inputs for pistons. The wiring does take time, of course, but the savings can be substantial. I used the three manual kit to convert a 3 manual Allen with complete success. I donated the old Allen innards to the local Allen repair person to give to churches that needed the parts to keep their old organs functioning. Even if a local high school tech student is hired to do the wiring, the results are worth the effort.
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Re: Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby Sandy Hackney » Fri Sep 01, 2017 8:21 pm

Dear friends,

A few years back I bought a used Rodgers C440. I wondered what MIDI meant....One day I read about Hauptwerke. Hmmm, I had an old computer downstairs. I brought it up, hooked it up and downloaded the trial version from our friends. In FIVE!!! minutes I was playing!! Well, later of course I bought a custom computer from Organ Technology, near field monitors, many sample sets, and on and on.

The point? Get yourself any sort of console with AGO pedalboards and a MIDI set up. By pass the internal speakers and stops and go totally HW.

I saw a nice set up on eBay just now with a starting bid of $100!

Go for it. Forget all that custom stuff...well, it is your choice. But to get to the heart of the matter, find a suitable used console with pedals and MIDI and get going. The music is what counts.. Right?!

Happy days and also, you will find lots of friends right here on this forum.
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Re: Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby cham-ed » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:40 am

That would be my advice also. I found a 1960's Rodgers that had died electronically. They wanted to pay me for removing it. I declined that but they did pay to haul it to my house. Took all the Rodger's electronics out except for the power supply which I partially reused. I used the Rodgers key board and pedal board wiring to connect to a MIDI keyer, which worked out very easily. They also gave me a Walker dual speaker cabinet and two S100 amps, which I used, saving a lot of money.
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Re: Cost of Hauptwerk dedicated consoles

Postby engrssc » Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:39 am

Sandy Hackney wrote:I saw a nice set up on eBay just now with a starting bid of $100!.

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