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Topic: Pipe Organ Samples

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  1. #1
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    Question Pipe Organ Samples

    Hello, all!
    I know this has been discussed a little bit, but after searching, I have not quite found what I am looking for.
    My question is: how do the latest and greatest pipe organ samples for softsamplers (GS, Kontakt, etc.) match up to the latest and greatest digital samples from Allen Organs? I am not debating the superiority of real pipes of course, but only sample to sample. I could not find any information on the sampling technique or even sample lengths for Allen. So anyone who is in the know, I'd appreciate any input.
    I am asking for my church, which has an old Allen (not sure which model, but it has MIDI out). We are thinking of outputting the MIDI data from the organ to GVI or some other VST.
    Thanks!

    ~Chris

  2. #2

    Re: Pipe Organ Samples

    Disclaimer: No pipe organ authority here

    The Notre Dame de Budapest organ that comes with both GS and GVI has a convolution of the source hall which could be removed to get the dry(er) sound, which could then reverberate naturally in your space. If you've already got GS or GVI you should check it out.

  3. #3
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    Jun 2004
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    Chicago IL Northwest Suburbs
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    Re: Pipe Organ Samples

    Quote Originally Posted by fizbin
    Disclaimer: No pipe organ authority here

    The Notre Dame de Budapest organ that comes with both GS and GVI has a convolution of the source hall which could be removed to get the dry(er) sound, which could then reverberate naturally in your space. If you've already got GS or GVI you should check it out.
    Hey, guys! Thanks for the replies. I do have GVI currently (and GS3, and GPO), which comes with a few of the NDB GS programs. I find them quite impressive, and as fizbin said, it includes both dry (very dry) and Gigapulse cathedral reverb.
    Lee, thank you for your input. I do understand the reverb-in-sample vs. natural real space issue. My question was more as question of the quality of the samples themselves. I have some experience with GS samples, but I know next to nothing about the ones that Allen uses (or the ones they have used in the past, which might be more applicable since we have an older model organ). If can give me any more input, I'd appreciate it.

    ~Chris

  4. #4

    Re: Pipe Organ Samples

    Quote Originally Posted by Galleddrim View Post
    Hello, all!
    I know this has been discussed a little bit, but after searching, I have not quite found what I am looking for.
    My question is: how do the latest and greatest pipe organ samples for softsamplers (GS, Kontakt, etc.) match up to the latest and greatest digital samples from Allen Organs? I am not debating the superiority of real pipes of course, but only sample to sample. I could not find any information on the sampling technique or even sample lengths for Allen. So anyone who is in the know, I'd appreciate any input.
    I am asking for my church, which has an old Allen (not sure which model, but it has MIDI out). We are thinking of outputting the MIDI data from the organ to GVI or some other VST.
    Thanks!

    ~Chris
    I can only talk about Theater Organ samples, but this should be of interest. The latest sample sets available for theater organ users are primarily for the organ relay/sample player software called Haptwerk. There is a freeware version of this available at Hauptwerk.com where you can get not only the player software as freeware, but several sample sets of both classical and theater organs. There has been an interesting thread on the Virtual Theater Pipe Organ forum (VTPO) recently on differences between high end Allens and VirTual organ programs using sample sets. The consensus seems to be that since those in the 'hobby' or software synth field are able to react more quickly to advances in technology than the big organ companies and can actually have more advanced instruments at less cost. The samples for sample players then, are regarded as more advanced, but read on.

    Even a few years ago, Allen utilized 'sample stretching' to make one sample play over several notes, and many samples were mono. Those of us with a bunch of tech savy in the audio area know that stretching can distort the harmonic content of notes so treated, especially where formant frequencies are concerned. Allen seems to like to take their samples with pipes in 'quiet rooms' on voicing machines for the ultimate in noise reduction from the get-go. The result is the most squeaky clean sample set possible requiring the minimum of post processing noise reduction, but what is lost is 'chamber ambience' which is the effect of reverb, bounceback and slapback effects within the organ chamber itself. If you are not placing your instrument in a large room or not trying to duplicate one through reverb, the effect can be a 'dead' or two-dimensional sound, even with a multi-channel setup. My theater organ, 3 manuals 23 ranks, is designed to sound like a pipe organ would sound in a studio-sized 14' x 18' room with two chambers feeding into it. You will hear a little boumceback from the pipes being enclosed within the chamber walls, and just a bit of reverb from the room itself, which I leave natural. I am not trying to duplicate a 4000 seat motion picture palace here.

    There is, however, also the issue of sample quality. The ancient computer axiom of 'garbage in-garbage out could not apply more aptly. Allen and other commercial manufacturers have the money behind them to hire pipe organ voicers to tune and regulate the ranks of pipes before they are sampled. What you get for your big bucks is samples of pipes that have just been voiced, tuned and regulated, unless for some historical reason this is undesirable. I have purchased sample sets for Virtual pipe organs which, even though expensive in themselves, were samples of pipe organ ranks that obviously had not had a voicer's or even a tuner's touch before sampling. In many of the sample players there is the facility to fine tune, but if you pay four-figure prices for a sample set, should you have to do that?

    Another issue, hotly debated in the Virtual Theater Pipe Organ world, is the conccept of sampled tremulants. With pipe organ samples, there are two ways of applying tremulant or vibrato: The first is to take the un-tremulanted samples and use facilities within the sample player to provide pitch, amplitude and timbre modulation. The other is to provide a second set of samples, recorded with the organ's tremulants turned on. Hence, memory requirements double.

    For most classical organ applications this is not a very important point since except for some romantic music and on certain solo stops, tremulants are relatively insignificant. They are extremly mild and can be credibly duplicated for the most part using the synthesizer techniques described above. These techniques have the advantage in that, exactly like the pipe organ, the tremulant of each pipe is precisely in sync.

    Although fairly insignificant in the classical organ, the tremulant is EVERYTHING to the theater organ. The principal rank of the theater organ, the Tibia Clausa, relies heavily on how it takes to a tremulant. Another equally important and basic rank to the theater organ is the Vox Humana. The performance of this rank under tremulant is also paramount to the overall sound of the theater organ. Theater organ tremulants are much more intense than those in the classical organ, and much more difficult to model in terms of the pipe's pitch and tonal reaction to the interruption of wind supply. Manufacturers such as Allen use techniques to apply a synthesized effect of tremulants to samples that were taken with tremulants off. The jury is still out on how effective these are on theater ranks, since the pipe's reaction is so varied and multi-phasic that it is an extremely difficult effect to synthesize. The effect also changes within the range of the stop. The advantage in the synthesized approaach, however is that all notes on a given tremulant (theater organs typically have a number of tremulants for different ranks, of varying speed and intensity) are perfectly in sync, as in the pipe organ itself. However, I have heard examples of these synthesized tremulants on expensive commercial sample sets costing thousands of dollars that pale in comparison to sampled tremulants. If I could have gotten a refund on the sample sets, I would have.

    Nearly all the problems of corectly modeling a tremulant are solved with using the sampled-trems technique. This is available only on sample sets for sample players, and may just be starting to be used to an extremely small extent by commercial organ manufacturers. With this technique, a second set of samples is taken with the pipes on tremulant. Additional memory is required but this is no longer an issue with the cost of memory being what it is. All the nuances of a pipe's reaction to tremulant are captured, they do not have to be synthesized. It is very much akin to reproducing a sound using sampling techniques themselves versus analog synth techniques. Sampling techniques do not have to produce all the mechanism to make the sound as synthesis does, it merely plays back a recording of the sound itself. The only disadvantage is the issue of trem sync. No two notes played together will have their vibratos in exact sync because 1. They may not have been started at the same time and 2. All the pipes were most likely not sampled with their attack in the exact same phase of the tremulant cycle, so they never could be exactly in phase. Some people claim to be able to hear these imperfections, others do not, and still others note that the variance in trem cycles throughout a rank adds an additional depth to the sound, in the same way that orchestral players and choruses never have their vibratos in sync.

    So there you have it, The newer sample sets for various sample players may well have the advantage of advanced technology and some recording/playback techniques that major manufacturers have yet to react to, but there could be other basic quality issues in their sample sources.

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