I've been the owner of a Consolo 372, the three-manual version, for more than two months now, and I'm very satisfied with it. It is a first class console, fit for professional use in every way. It would fit right in in any church, cathedral or concert hall (it even has a lockable roll top). Yet at €6,550 (or for the two-manual Consolo 260, €5,850), the price is competitive enough to allow it to be purchased as a practice instrument.
The console includes everything you need: three manuals, pedal, 72 illuminated stop switches, three swell pedals, keyboard pistons, pedal lights, organ bench and music stand. The craftsmanship is of the very highest quality, throughout, from the solid oak of the console and bench, to the professional-quality manuals and pedals. There is nothing provisory or makeshift about the Consolo - it is a real church organ console.
The Consolo 372 and 260 have been designed by SakralorgelWelt of Germany, owned and operated by the A-Diploma organist Peter Voitz, in cooperation with Content Organs of Holland. Content have been manufacturing and selling digital organs worldwide for over 25 years. The Consolo units are very similar in design to their D5600/D5800 organs, but are designed to operate solely as MIDI consoles, which of course is ideal for driving Hauptwerk (but they could also be used as an extra console for any MIDIfied church organ).
The Consolo 372 is about the size of a large upright piano (120x143x98 cm) and it weighs about 200 kilos in all, including the bench and pedal. There is a "split console" option to allow it to be transported even easier.
The keyboards are made by the well-known Italian company Fatar. They all feature tracker-action simulation (Drückpunkt) and the keytops are made of a plastic material which is similar in look and feel to ivory. The feel of the action is completely professional. The basic price includes the TP60LF; optionally you can get the TP60LW (wood kernel keys) or TP64LW (wood kernel and wooden tops), or UHT keyboards.
The pedal board is 30 notes, straight and parallell. Optionally, you can get it with 32 notes, concave and/or radial. The pedal is maintenance free (as are the keyboards) and uses reed switches.
The stop switches are 72 in number (or 60, for the Consolo 260), and of the manubrium variety. You push their bottom or top half to control the stop, and they illuminate to indicate which state they are in. At €52 extra, you can order magnetic strips with the stop names of your preferred organs, to be affixed above or below the stop switches. Changing organ stop names takes only a few seconds.
The Consolo 372 comes with three swell pedals. These are freely assignable to any manual that has swell expression. Furthermore, this assignment can be set or changed at the console and doesn't need to be done in Hauptwerk. You can also use one of the swell pedals as a General Crescendo, even if the virtual organ you have loaded doesn't implement it - you can program the crescendo yourself, for each organ (more about this further on).
The basic version also comes with 10 combination buttons, used to control the built-in Setzer combinations, Set, HR, 0 and Automatic Pedal change (AP) thumb pistons and five freely programmable reversible thumb pistons (F1-F5).
Playing the Consolo 372 is in all respects like playing a real instrument: everything you need is within easy reach and operates the way you are used to as an organist. In fact, it is easy to forget that you're not sitting at a real pipe organ console. The key and pedal action is actually better than that found in many real organs and organ consoles.
The Consolo units are designed to run Hauptwerk without an attached screen or screens, if you so wish. You can safely forget about the computer and just play as usual: the organ console looks like an organ console, not like a computer workstation. However, there is ample space on top of the console for computer screens, should you wish to use them for some special purpose (there is only one that I can think of, but more about that shortly). There is a LCD control unit which allows you to load different sample sets, adjust the tuning and temperature, assign swell pedals, and so forth.
The fact that the Consolos are designed to allow Hauptwerk to be run headlessly means that the Consolo is a pure MIDI control unit. Almost all communication goes from the Consolo to Hauptwerk, not the other way around. As a consequence, there is an independent combination system built into the Consolo, which supersedes that of Hauptwerk. All combinations are stored in the Consolo unit - normally, Hauptwerk's combination system isn't used at all.
There is a total of 880 Setzer combinations, organised in 8 lots (one for each fast-load slot in Hauptwerk) of 10 banks of 10 combinations per organ slot, plus the General Crescendo (which is programmable per organ). Thus each organ loaded has 100 available combinations plus an individually tailored General Crescendo.
These external Setzer combinations make the General Crescendo and Automatic Pedal Change possible (even for organs which do not have these features), enables combinations to work exactly the same way for all sample sets, and allows combinations to be stored and recalled very quickly using the thumb pistons. You can also add +/- pistons (thumb and/or foot) to move from combination to combination across each of the ten banks.
The disadvantage is, of course, that the Setzers are limited in number. One hundred combinations may not take you through an entire recital, if the programme consists of romantic or contemporary music, but there is an easy workaround: simply store the same organ in multiple Hauptwerk slots. Loading a sample set is much quicker now. Alternatively, you can still use Hauptwerk's combinations: just connect one or more of the F1-F5 buttons, or a couple of foot pistons, to Hauptwerks combination sequencer and you're set. You won't see the stops change on the Consolo, but you will have an unlimited number of combinations, should the 880 Setzer combinations not be enough. (Peter Voitz reports that we might someday see a firmware upgrade which will allow the Consolo to follow stop changes originating from Hauptwerk.) After ten weeks of use, however, I find that I'm only using the Setzers, without any problems at all.
Options include extra combination foot pistons and hand buttons, extra foot pistons to be assigned to any Hauptwerk function, and adjustable benches and music stands. Brass swell pedals and foot pistons are also available as options.
It has been a great pleasure ordering from SakralorgelWelt. Peter Voitz has shown great professionalism and has been very helpful far beyond what one would expect. A couple of questions I have had regarding servicing the unit has been answered with detailed explanations including photos of how to proceed. The Consolo 372 arrived exactly on time, was extremely well packaged and was easy to set up using the detailed Owner's Manual in English and German.
In all, I warmly recommend the Consolo 372 to anyone interested in a stylish, professional organ console at a very competitive price. The Consolo 372 and 260 are in my opinion eminently suitable for any type of public venue or for home use.