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Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

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Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

Postby dcaton » Tue Mar 27, 2018 6:46 pm

I just recently got my console conversion to a point where it's playable, and I only have one commercial sample set so far: the new St. Mark's Glendale. I bought this set because it was somewhat similar to the organ at my church that I practice on, and figured it would be a good starting point.

Everything works ok, but the swell and choir divisions are much softer than the great and pedal, to the extent that coupling either or both to the great has little effect.

Everything is routed through a single main output group, which feeds 12 monitors and one sub via an aux mixdown, so no ranks are given preferential treatment over any other. The swell shoes are generating the correct range of midi values, except that two of them only go down to 2 instead of 0, but HW seems to have no problem with that, Full open, they're sending 7F and the on-screen shoes follow the physical ones correctly.

Is it typical that a sample set needs to be adjusted to sound decent, or should things work reasonably well out of the box? The organ is in my garage (I'm still working on it) and no doubt the acoustics are horrible, but I think that would have more effect on the quality of the sound, not the relative level of specific divisions.

I also have the SP romantic demo set installed, and the swell and positive divisions are much softer than the great and pedal. Not to the extent as the SMG, but definitely in need of correction as well.

Am I missing something obvious here? I'm pretty certain there are no built-in volume level controls by division, so I'd have to adjust the level of each rank individually; an extremely tedious prospect at best.
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Re: Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

Postby mnailor » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:16 pm

I'm guessing the direct mics are closer to the GT pipes at the front of the chamber, while the SW is obstructed. Putting the sliders all the way to rear probably gives a better idea of the balance between divisions.

I just reduced volume levels on some of the GT flues until the other divisions weren't vanishing. It's not your audio. I find this large imbalance with several US and UK samplesets.
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Re: Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

Postby jharmon » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:24 pm

I have found this to be a frequent problem, particularly with the Choir/Positif. It would certainly save a lot of adjustment time in voicing if we could adjust the volume level for each division independently rather than having to adjust each individual voice. Is this possible for a future feature Martin?
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Re: Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

Postby dcaton » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:47 pm

mnailor wrote:I'm guessing the direct mics are closer to the GT pipes at the front of the chamber, while the SW is obstructed. Putting the sliders all the way to rear probably gives a better idea of the balance between divisions.

I just reduced volume levels on some of the GT flues until the other divisions weren't vanishing. It's not your audio. I find this large imbalance with several US and UK samplesets.

Are you referring to the direct and ambient sliders in the SMG set? Moving them both to the rear (bottom) silences everything. Moving them to various positions does not change the relative volume of the divisions.
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Re: Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

Postby mnailor » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:58 pm

Oh, well, I was trying to remember when I'm away from the organ. Sorry for the misinformation.

By "rear" I meant turn off the direct slider completely and turn up the ambient slider all the way to listen to the nave mics. That should be a good indication of the balance in most of the church.

The direct channels were mics closely placed in front of the chambers. The other channels were mics in the nave, so relative positions of pipes in the chambers would have less effect out there.
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Re: Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

Postby dcaton » Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:41 pm

mnailor wrote:By "rear" I meant turn off the direct slider completely and turn up the ambient slider all the way to listen to the nave mics. That should be a good indication of the balance in most of the church.

The direct channels were mics closely placed in front of the chambers. The other channels were mics in the nave, so relative positions of pipes in the chambers would have less effect out there.


Yes, after I wrote my reply and went back to the console I realized that's probably what you meant. Tried it, but it didn't make any difference except for the amount of reverb; the relative levels of the divisions are still way off and essentially unchanged. Hard to imagine that the relative levels of the divisions are really that great in person.

In any case, good to know that it's not a problem with my hardware or configuration. However, if I adjust the master level for the great/pedal, the swell/choir are basically useless and if I adjust the master level for the swell/choir, the neighbors will probably call the police if I use the great/pedal. :(
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Re: Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

Postby mnailor » Tue Mar 27, 2018 9:59 pm

I don't know that the imbalance is that unusual, I just dislike it personally. I'm used to playing music written for a French C-C organ where the G.O. fonds 8 are mild enough that the Rec. fonds 8 + Hb8 add a lot of color when the box is open.

So the GT diapasons 8 seem overbearing to me on American and English organs, although the right registration for a "French" GT fonds 8 probably should omit the first diapason, allowing the SW diapasons + oboe to be heard with the box open.

But I only had to lower SMG rank levels on the GT 8' flues, including their surround ranks, to get something like a workable balance for my tastes. So I only tweaked 6 rank levels.

The Pedal has quiet enough stops to work with SW and CH for softer registrations.
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Re: Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

Postby Gerryo » Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:11 pm

My guess is that the sample set represents the balances of the actual organ..this is a mid career instrument for E.M. Skinner. At this point there is not a sample set that represents Skinner is a truly mature form. (There just aren’t that many unaltered instruments to choose from).

On the Skinner organs I have played of this vintage, the Great First and Great Flute were quite large, and did not blend at all with the ensemble. I would suggest that you accept the advise previously given and simply alter the balance to something you prefer. At this time, I believe this to be the most representative sample of this builders art.

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Re: Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

Postby magnaton » Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:56 pm

dcaton wrote:Is it typical that a sample set needs to be adjusted to sound decent, or should things work reasonably well out of the box? .


Most sets that I have demo'd and purchased do indeed work reasonably out of the box. Individual ranks and notes many times will need to be tweaked for acoustical reasons or personal taste. I'm not familiar with the SMG Skinner but it does seem a bit odd that these 2 divisions are much softer.

To rule out any audio or HW config anomalies turn off your monitors and use just headphones and see if the volume discrepancy is still present. Try a different sample set like St. Anne's or one of Piotr Grabowski's donation founded sets for comparison (he has a couple 3 manual sets).

If you conclude that the amplitude variance is a characteristic of SMG set, I might suggest to launch a new HW Alt configuration and redesign your routing so that each organ division has it's own speaker pair or pairs (since you have 12 channels 8) ). Then you can adjust the volume up or down per division (Audio Group volume settings) to get them in better balance. Doing this will also give you a chance to compare an alternate multi-channel setup in contrast to your 12 channel array.

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Re: Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

Postby OrganoPleno » Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:25 am

Gerryo wrote:On the Skinner organs I have played of this vintage, the Great First and Great Flute were quite large, and did not blend at all with the ensemble.


My experience with this Sample Set is similar. In working out the Registrations for my "Piston Presets"... my nice soft String Voice uses no Stops at all from the Great Division. For my Flute Voices... the Great 8' Claribella and 4' Nachthorn pretty much dominate. The Great First Diapason does not enter until "Full Principals", where again it pretty much dominates.

All three of these loud stops are finally combined for my "Fortissimo" voice, along with pretty much everything else on the Instrument except soft sounds, strings and celestes.

Maybe just consider the "Great" division as almost a SOLO division... just bring it in when a bold contrast is called for.
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Re: Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

Postby ldeutsch » Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:07 am

I have the SMG sample set and it is an excellent representation of an EM Skinner organ. CLR has done a great job with this organ.

Having said all this, the first thing I did after installing it and playing it for a little while was revoice the Choir so most of the ranks are louder.

Although I am not familiar with the original pipe organ in this case, I have played enough EM Skinner instruments (or ones expanded from them!) to understand that the very quiet Choir was typical. I'm fairly certain that this is the case here and the CLR has captured the relative dynamics of the original instrument. Of course, even that statement has problems since the relative dynamics of the divisions is a function of where they are located in the hall and where the listener is ... The experience one gets at the console of a pipe organ can be quite different from a listener at various places in the building. With the SMG sample set, if you have enough memory to load both the close and ambient samples, you can change this a bit by mixing the two differently.

In my own home, my goal is NOT to recreate sampled organs exactly as they sound in their original locations but rather to use the samples to create a organ that sounds good to me in my living room and on recordings. Hence, I have absolutely no qualms about changing the voicing of the samples to suite my tastes. Chances are that you have to do this a bit anyway so that your room lamps don't rattle when certain low pedal reeds are played at specific pitches!

The Choir on this organ is fairly small so, assuming you have the Advanced Edition of HW, you can can louden it in a few short minutes using the voicing menus. Simply raise the overall volume (leftmost slider control) of each Choir rank by some fixed amount of dB. I would start with 3 dB for each and repeat the process until you reach a balance that sounds good to you.

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Re: Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

Postby mnailor » Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:32 pm

Finally got to check my rank level settings on SMG. I only adjusted two stops, or four ranks including GT and SURRGT. Clarabella -9 dB and First Diapason -3 dB. The rest seemed to be in reasonable balance to me.

Obviously this is a matter of opinion.
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Re: Swell/Ch/Pos Too Soft

Postby Lougheed » Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:19 pm

I've just installed the latest update and now do need to make some adjustments. The choir (and also the swell) do seem rather soft as compared with the great division. (I also have to do some voicing of some pedal stops to make the instrument "fit" my room).
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