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Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

Existing and forthcoming Hauptwerk instruments, recommendations, ...
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sclg

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Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

PostSat Mar 30, 2024 5:10 am

Anyone with experience of both like to comment on the various pros and cons?
Thanks
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larason2

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Re: Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

PostSat Mar 30, 2024 11:08 pm

I don't have experience of both, but I've been around the block for a while, and done a fair but of research on them. The Armley Schulze is in a class of its own, the romantic era masterpiece of one of its most creative English organ builders, but in a sense still a German organ adapted to Englishness. Many of the stops haven't been built for other organs, let alone available for Hauptwerk. Schulze himself said he'd never again make another echo flue oboe. At the same time it is a residence organ, but made for a very large residence! The acoustics at Armley are a bit interesting, because the transepts are so long and narrow. So you have to get used to it, you can't register it like any other organ that's ever been made. Still, it rewards those who get to know it with some great sounds you can't get elsewhere. So quirky, steeper learning curve, but amazing.

The Romsey Abbey is a pretty straightforward English Romantic organ made by a reputable English Romantic organbuilder, but that has been continually added to and modernized over the years, so leaning a fair bit more toward modernity. The specification isn't the same as the actual organ, it's been extended by duplicating ranks and so on. You can play just the original specification, but then you may miss some things you may have been accustomed to on an English Romantic organ. It's not a bad organ, but it'a not a masterpiece. Its acoustic is not bad, but also not great. The recording is very modern, but personally I prefer the warmth of older style recordings like the Armley. It's hard to trust Ricchard McVeigh's sound, because it appears he tinkers with it a lot, so if you think you're leaning toward this one, get a trial version and thoroughly listen to it on your setup. So modern, not quirky, less learning curve, but more vanilla. Many have said it's not a typical English cathedral organ, and I agree. It's a Neo Romantic organ with a modern flair, so you have to adjust your registrations for that a bit, and it doesn't have the smooth as butter blending or mystique of the great organs by Hills and Willis. But I'm sure it's perfectly serviceable, and if you're a Richard McVeigh fan, it might be cool to have the same organ as him! It has annoyed me to no end that he has steadfastly refused to post the specification on his site in any readable form, but if you sort of want to know what stops it has, you can pause the video at various points and squint very hard to try to make them out. I suppose you can also just go to the national pipe organ register site (but I am still annoyed!), and that doesn't show how they've extended the stoplist.
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pwhodges

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Re: Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

PostSun Mar 31, 2024 3:21 am

larason2 wrote:It has annoyed me to no end that he has steadfastly refused to post the specification on his site in any readable form,


It's as an image, at the bottom, next to the video. Clicking it (in my browser) enlarges it to full size:
Romsey sample stop lists

Paul
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sclg

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Re: Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

PostSun Mar 31, 2024 6:19 am

larason2 wrote:I don't have experience of both, but I've been around the block for a while, ...

Thanks for that detailed response. I'm indeed more after a large parish church type organ rather than a cathedral organ. (I have the Burton/Berlin Hill.) Something that would be a good fit for liturgical and accompaniment purposes.
Steve
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marcus.reeves

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Re: Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

PostSun Mar 31, 2024 9:43 am

larason2 wrote:Romsey Abbey is a pretty straightforward English Romantic organ made by a reputable English Romantic organbuilder, but that has been continually added to and modernized over the years, so leaning a fair bit more toward modernity.

I’m sorry to say that part of this is not true. Yes, Walker was a reputable organ builder but the organ has not been continually added to and modified. The only significant alterations post 1880 were the addition of an entirely separate nave organ and a tuba. The main organ is totally unaltered from its original specification. This is the listing on NPOR:

A very significant and distinguished organ of the period by J W Walker, tonally intact though with some alterations to the action.


I would agree that, in its original form, it’s not a typically romantic instrument perhaps mainly in the lack of strings but the flues and reeds (especially the oboe) are very much voiced in a romantic style. I know the organ well and can testify that Richard’s sampling is first rate. I would recommend downloading the demo and trying it on your system though. I recently bought Armley as well and although I don’t know it well yet, it is also a very versatile instrument. It’s definitely English but with a German accent. They are both fine instruments and excellent sample sets, highly recommended. If you want a bit more acoustic, then Armley is probably your best choice but you won’t be disappointed with either.
Best wishes,
Marcus
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Re: Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

PostSun Mar 31, 2024 10:49 am

Edmund Schulz was a German organ builder,who was commissioned to build several organs in England. The Lavender Audio site gives a good history of the organ at https://www.lavenderaudio.co.uk/organs/armley/history.html. The bright, forthright tone of the Diapasons, powerful mixtures and beautiful quiet stops, particularly the Lieblich Gedackt ,in Schultze’s instruments had a significant impact on English organ builders and the instruments they produced in the second half of the 19th century.

I have both sample sets and they are both excellent. The instruments are quite different in style and both located in large parish churches with a helpful acoustic.

Iain
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Re: Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

PostSun Mar 31, 2024 1:54 pm

Marcus, I accept correction in some aspects. I'm not totally aware of what was done when, though as it says the action was modified, and a whole nave organ and tuba was added. I would consider these modernizations at least in part, as while sometimes recordings of this organ sound very romantic, sometimes they sound a bit more modern. I think it's a combination of many things, the modern recording, how the new nave stops were made and scaled, the way the extensions were added for the sample set, how the tuba was made and voiced. At least the tuba is not too loud though! But there are different opinions of these things. I think it's a good organ, it just seems to have something missing for me to place it up there with the Armley or the Peterborough Hill. But it's true I've never played it, this is all going off recordings I've listened to online.
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JulianMoney-Kyrle

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Re: Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

PostSun Mar 31, 2024 7:15 pm

I have both, and I would agree with most of the detailed comments already posted.

They are both excellent and both well-recorded (that is, they both sound realistic in my system, which has 6 stereo pairs of studio monitors and a subwoofer in a large room). They are rather different, though. I think of the two I prefer Armley Schultz, but I may well feel differently depending on what pieces I was playing.

I, too, find it very annoying that Richard McVeigh expects customers to get their information by watching videos. I prefer to read, and if I quickly want to check whether I have remembered something correctly, a visit to a web page is much easier than scrolling around on YouTube, and I can take in the information at my own pace, which is much faster than having to watch something. I also find it rather annoying that the keys don't move on the console view when you play them, as I use this facility quite a lot with other sample sets while I am setting them up and for troubleshooting. I get the impression that Richard assumes that other people's minds work the same way as his and therefore doesn't see any reason to provide other ways of doing things.

I have a great many sample sets - too many, really, as some get played more often than others. Both Armley Shultz and Romsey Abbey are among the ones that I regularly use.
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marcus.reeves

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Re: Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

PostMon Apr 01, 2024 2:52 am

larason2 wrote:Marcus, I accept correction in some aspects. I'm not totally aware of what was done when, though as it says the action was modified, and a whole nave organ and tuba was added. I would consider these modernizations at least in part, as while sometimes recordings of this organ sound very romantic, sometimes they sound a bit more modern. I think it's a combination of many things, the modern recording, how the new nave stops were made and scaled, the way the extensions were added for the sample set, how the tuba was made and voiced. At least the tuba is not too loud though! But there are different opinions of these things. I think it's a good organ, it just seems to have something missing for me to place it up there with the Armley or the Peterborough Hill. But it's true I've never played it, this is all going off recordings I've listened to online.


There was a typo in my earlier reply - the organ is tonally unaltered, not totally! There’s a big difference between my intended statement and what I typed so sorry about that. :shock: The nave organ is certainly more modern and bold in sound, it needs to be in order to fill the large space, especially given that the main organ is so far from the nave. The extended version reassigns some of the nave stops, so that might explain why the sound is more modern to your ears. I recorded Henry Smart’s Postlude in C using the original organ, only bringing in the nave division at the very end so it gives you a (hopefully :lol:) good impression of what the original version of the organ sounds like. Given that Richard almost always uses the extended version (and I think a bit of extra reverb) it might explain the differences between the more romantic and modern recordings you’ve heard.
Best wishes,
Marcus
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Re: Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

PostMon Apr 01, 2024 4:32 am

JulianMoney-Kyrle wrote:Both Armley Shultz and Romsey Abbey are among the ones that I regularly use.

Thank you Julian.
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Re: Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

PostMon Apr 01, 2024 4:35 am

I have also tested Romsey. I like it very much and the recordings are first class. But I won't be buying it for one particular reason: You can switch off the action noises in the options, but if you pull a stop, these annoying noises sound with every note. Although it is the original sound of the organ, it disturbs me when playing. Als Alternative tendiere ich zu Armley Schulze und Peterborough.
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Re: Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

PostMon Apr 01, 2024 7:20 am

The key action noises have a volume setting on the sampleset's settings tab, and they can be routed to an empty group in rank routing just like the noise ranks in any sampleset.

Maybe you're still hearing the pipe attack sounds (which might include valve and tracker movements) when you turn off key action. You can change that by moving the listening position more toward the nave.
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Re: Armley Schulze and Romsey Abbey

PostSun Apr 07, 2024 6:02 pm

larason2 wrote:The acoustics at Armley are a bit interesting, because the transepts are so long and narrow. So you have to get used to it, you can't register it like any other organ that's ever been made. Still, it rewards those who get to know it with some great sounds you can't get elsewhere. So quirky, steeper learning curve, but amazing.

I kind of disagree with this statement. I have a part-time Hauptwerk business and have completed two church installs that primarily use the Armely as their default organ. The reverb in both the "close" & "near" perspectives (Lavender calls them Chancel and Nave respectfully) has been carefully trimmed to better fit the actual acoustics.

This set was chosen first on its own sampled merits but secondly, its hard to make a bad registration :) . Both churches have many visiting organist to sub in who are mainly collaborative pianist and or students with one semester of organ! Yes, I did regulate some of the stops, especially the Mixture V in the Great. The feed back I get from the music directors is they mainly use general presets to perform for a service but they feel comfortable to experiment with adding in more strings or a chorus reed.

If I may continue, both consoles are 3 manuals. I have configured the Armley's Echo organ to default to the Swell manual. There are "HW keyboard routing" tabs on the coupler rail for Echo Only or Swell Only in case the organist needs some separation however the top manual almost always gets treated as a 'super Swell' division/ The voices of these 2 divisions blend nicely and both are under expression.

Greenwood UMC in Indianapolis is a large 4 manual, 56 channel Hauptwerk installation. Their default set has become the Armley-Shulze. There are many YouTube videos available of their services and special services. The camera shows the console, the large touch screens are easy to identify the Armley.

Danny B.

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