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Small English Church Installation

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Small English Church Installation

Postby ajt » Sun Jun 13, 2010 9:34 am

I'm trying to put together a proposal for our PCC to convert our Copeman Hart console into a Hauptwerk setup - I think I know what I'm doing with the console side of things, but I'm not so hot on sound setups.

The current organ has 4 MOSFET amplifiers in it, 1 for each division, with a stereo pair of speakers for each division.

I could just re-use the amps and speakers, but one of the problems of the existing organ is speaker location - the swell and choir are right above the choir's (as in the people that sing) head, so they get deafened, especially as those two have the only colour; the great is a bland collection of noises at different pitches.

If I were to replace the whole setup, am I better off with lots of relatively small speakers, or a few large ones?

The church's acoustic is not abundant, but it's not dead. Another difficulty is that there isn't really anywhere to hide any speakers, except under the tower (at south-east end, openings onto sanctuary/choir and south aisle).
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby IanPounder » Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:27 am

I'd suggest at least trying the present amps / speakers. Copeman Hart equipment is well made, and they may well be fine. If they are too old and sound dreadful, you'll at least have tried to save some money! I'm assuming that as you say there are 4 stereo pairs of speakers that there are 4 stereo amps (=8 channels). Equally, they may be OK for now, but part of a future upgrade.

You'll need the Advanced edition of Hauptwerk for multi-channel output, of course (you'd probably want the voicing capabilities anyway) and a decent multi-output soundcard. The M-Audio Delta 1010LT gives good results and is excellent value for money. Then you can reduce the "deafening" problem you describe by routing ranks as you choose. C-H usually include a good subwoofer on the pedal channel(s), so it would be best to use their ped channel for ped, wherever the speakers are.

You could use a stereo pair and subwoofer as the minimum, but even in a small church I think this would be disappointing. By using more speakers in a multi-channel setup, you get a more realistic spread of sound and less IM distortion. "Relatively small" speakers would need suitable subs for at least the 16' stops, though, again, careful routing can reduce the need for these on some channels. David Pinnegar has made interesting use of large numbers of low-power speakers - see his various posts.
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby ajt » Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:32 am

Thanks for the reply. Yes, there is a fairly decent sub, as far as I can tell, but it's encased in a concrete shell, so no idea what specs are.

One of the drawbacks of the current system is the space between the 2 great speakers; they're either side of the central aisle, and split C/C#, sounds awful, as the distance is far greater than that of a normal pipe array, plus most of the congregation get the speakers "direct", rather than through the acoustic, which doesn't help with the pipe organ feel.

As you say, it's probably worth giving it a try; my reticence is that I don't really want to meddle with the old organ until the PCC have taken the decision to go with Hauptwerk - if they decide to repair the CH, then I'm going to accused of all sorts of things if I've been chopping wires.
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby engrssc » Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:50 am

As far as speakers, a couple thoughts. Can the existing spkrs, that are too close to the choir, be turned around, (given they don't have open backs) basically bouncing the sound off the wall behind them (if there is a wall). The, now, back side could be covered with (stained) wood or such so they would look ok.

The other thought, which may not be as effective, would be to build large horizontal louvers (similar to venetian blinds) in front of the speakers to deflect the sound upwards. Since those speakers are positioned where they are now, anything you would do to lessen the direct (in the back of your head) sound should be an improvement right away.

In some cases, I have also laid speakers on their back sides (facing upward) to help disperse the sound.

Rgds,
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby David Pinnegar » Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:01 pm

engrssc wrote:As far as speakers, a couple thoughts. Can the existing spkrs, that are too close to the choir, be turned around, (given they don't have open backs) basically bouncing the sound off the wall behind them (if there is a wall). The, now, back side could be covered with (stained) wood or such so they would look ok.

The other thought, which may not be as effective, would be to build large horizontal louvers (similar to venetian blinds) in front of the speakers to deflect the sound upwards. Since those speakers are positioned where they are now, anything you would do to lessen the direct (in the back of your head) sound should be an improvement right away.

In some cases, I have also laid speakers on their back sides (facing upward) to help disperse the sound.

Rgds,
Ed


Hi!

These sound quite sensible suggestions. But perhaps also you might look at the type of speakers - they might simply be too much point sources rather than having a relationship with the air around them. Such a speaker solved the problem of the swell diapason on my original Makin from Londonderry Cathedral. I used a cheap drive unit on the cabinet, open at the back, and mounted it at 45 degrees and this has acoustically modified the stop to sound very good. It's not the cure-all for all speaker solutions but it's interesting as is an MDF analogue of the an established design of upward firing speaker originally made out of heavy plaster. I have molds from which to do plaster copies which would isolate the choir below and affixed to the wall they would look like uplighters. The could be boxed at the back but really having them open at the back gives a natural spaciousness.

Over the coming week or so I'm going to be collecting a pair of interesting designs from Nottingham, and hopefully will have them to try out at the EOCS meeting on 3rd July to which anyone with a portable Hauptwerk setup would be very welcome to come and demonstrate what it can do and how it might sound with different types of speakers. This could be very interesting with one particular pair which really do bring one into the concert hall on the best of recordings.

Best wishes

David P
Last edited by David Pinnegar on Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby ajt » Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:52 am

Lots of great ideas, thank you everyone.

Here's the building:
Image

The existing speakers are on the left and right of the arch that you can see - on the left, immediately above the crucifix, on the right, same height, dirty brown boxes, and the box below is the bass cabinet, hidden behind the flower arrangement. That's great and pedal + choir trumpet. The swell and choir speakers can't be seen in this picture, but they are hidden in that black chunk of roof immediately behind the arch.

If I were putting a pipe organ in this building (nigh on impossible due to lack of height), I think it would have to be an extension organ, and it would basically be a single rank (8/4/2 extension) next to the altar for choir, then swell and great mounted at the top of the first arch.

Therefore, I'm thinking that modelling that in speakers would be a good plan.

My initial thoughts are (for swell and great) to put a few (4 per side?) speakers above the beam/lip you can see above the arches left and right, pointing towards the centre of the barrel roof and slightly forwards, and re-use the great/pedal enclosures for the bass end. For the choir manual, re-use the swell speaker enclosure that's hanging above the choir.

Feasible?
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby mdyde » Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:12 am

Hello Adrian,

If there's space, maybe the real thing could be feasible? E.g. this looks like a fantastic UK 3-manual organ (if quite large), in need of a home:

http://forum.hauptwerk.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=6937
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby ajt » Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:49 am

Unfortunately the only two places with enough height to accommodate a real organ are either smack in the middle of the central aisle or under the tower, neither of which are ideal for obvious reasons. (The pipe organ that was removed in the 80's was apparently in the tower). Elsewhere the maximum height is 11'.

I've looked at redundant organs over the last 3 years, and a few have come up that might fit, but in reality, it's just not practical. Where we have height we don't have depth, and vice versa, so it would have to be a small extension organ of maybe 3-4 ranks - very shallow and of minimum height.

I'm sure a real organ could be made to work in the tower space, but it would require very careful voicing, and thus the cost would shoot up. Redundant organs are cheap to acquire, but once you've gone through them properly to install them, you could get lucky with something that's mechanically perfect or you could end up with something that needs new soundboards, leather work, an action overhaul, etc; you never really know until you've taken the thing apart. Then it has to get used to the new climate, so everything could change, and you need to voice it to deal with the complete change of location.

Hence Hauptwerk, especially as the console we have is actually rather good (very good, in fact; very precise, very comfortable, nice and solid. Worst feature is the lack of weight on the swell pedals, but that's fairly normal for electronics).

When the current CH was installed, apparently the biggest barrier to making it sound good was speaker location, and this was restricted heavily by the then diocesan organ advisor. There aren't many places in the church where you can install speakers discretely.

Why didn't churchbuilders in the 12th century design them with 19th century organs in mind? Could they not predict the future? Useless people :)
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby mdyde » Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:06 am

Ah, well.
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby ajt » Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:38 am

mdyde wrote:Ah, well.


Well, hopefully it'll result in another sale for you, so it's not all bad. :D
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby David Pinnegar » Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:14 am

Hi!

If the instrument was originally in the tower (west or next to the chancel?) then why not put the speakers there?

There's a special sort of beastie which would throw the sound out of the tower space just as it might emanate from a swell box . . .

I have not yet tried these with organs yet, having another preferred type of speaker in mind but I'm hoping these will be ready to demonstrate to EOCS on 3rd July with anyone's Hauptwerk setup if they would like to bring it . . .

Best wishes

David P
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby dhm » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:09 pm

ajt wrote:Worst feature is the lack of weight on the swell pedals, but that's fairly normal for electronics.

I think you'll find the resistance on the swell pedals is adjustable - particularly if they came from the same source that does consoles for most of the digital custom-builders nowadays). PM me if you need more info.
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby ajt » Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:08 pm

David Pinnegar wrote:If the instrument was originally in the tower (west or next to the chancel?) then why not put the speakers there?


'tis an option, certainly. One I want to try out.

The speakers you posted look quite amazing - are they as big as they look (3' tall or so?) ? I can't see me getting a faculty to get those installed anywhere; there is nowhere to hide them.
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby IanPounder » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:26 am

My initial thoughts are (for swell and great) to put a few (4 per side?) speakers above the beam/lip you can see above the arches left and right, pointing towards the centre of the barrel roof and slightly forwards, and re-use the great/pedal enclosures for the bass end. For the choir manual, re-use the swell speaker enclosure that's hanging above the choir.

Feasible?


Yes, certainly worth trying the beam position; but when you say 4 speakers each side, this will only be an advantage if they are all separate channels - there's not much point in doubling up speakers on the same channel. So, in effect, you already need 4 stereo channels on the beam for the Sw and Gt, plus another for Ped, re-using existing speakers. If the enclosure in the Choir is mono, you then let the Ch down, though I think you said there was a Sw speaker there as well, which might be usable as the other half of the stereo. However, you are then up to 6 stereo channels, for which you would need enough soundcard outputs and power amps (or use some powered speakers). However you do it, it's going to be quite expensive - though I don't know whether that's a consideration. The multiple speakers should give a good result, but not necessarily in the first positions you try.

From your first description, I assumed that the C-H had 4 stereo channels; is it in fact stereo for Gt and Ped, and mono for Sw and Ch (often the case in older electronics)? This might make using the existing power amps less attractive.

I would love to try David's horn speakers, but even in a large church I can't think where they could go. At home, it would be even worse!
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Re: Small English Church Installation

Postby ajt » Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:46 am

I think, but I don't know for sure, that it's stereo for everything but pedal.
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