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For over seventeen years the most stable and extensive resource on the Internet for pipe and electronic organs
The hub of this site is the Complete Articles page which gives you instant access to many detailed articles dealing with numerous technical aspects of both pipe and electronic organs. Use the Google search box below to quickly identify areas of interest. While browsing, why not also listen to over 4 Ĺ hours of music played on the three manual organ below and the Prog Organ virtual pipe organ here?
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!! NEW ARTICLE !! - Double ambience - the Achilles Heel of sampled sound synthesis
Sampled sound synthesis is used widely in digital organs and universally in virtual pipe organs. Usually the samples are recordings of actual organ pipes, and therefore manufacturers frequently claim that their products sound indistinguishable from the real thing. However this article shows that this is questionable for at least one reason - double ambience. This reflects the fact that the recordings are made in one room whereas the instruments are played in another. It is well known that room ambience imposes often gross distortions on the frequency spectrum of an organ pipe, and the distortion varies dramatically over distances of a few centimetres. Therefore when the ambiences of two rooms effectively in series are involved, the already-distorted waveforms in the memory of a digital organ will be distorted in a different way for a second time when the instrument is played. Aural examples of the effects of single and double ambience on reed and diapason tones are presented to illustrate the problem. Double ambience is in fact a wholly artificial listening environment which never arose in human experience until the advent of broadcast audio and recorded sound. Consequently it would unsurprising if our brains have not evolved with the ability to fully process sounds which come to us via two stages of ambience. If so, maybe this is one reason why some people find sampled-sound digital synthesis inherently unsatisfactory and why they can readily identify digital organs as those which do not use pipes
The picture above is of a test rig used for experiments on pipe organ valves, such as those described in the articles entitled Calculating Pallet Size, Touch Relief in Mechanical Actions and Response Speed of Electric Actions. These can also be accessed from the Complete Articles page where summaries are also available.
This electronic organ is a dual purpose instrument containing both "straight" and "theatre" voices, designed and made by the author. It is tuned to the author's Dorset Temperament with the addition of some impure octaves as described in Keyboard Temperaments with Impure Octaves. A full specification is available for download here (PDF file, 117 kB).
The things they say:
These recordings span some years and they were made in various rooms and auditoria. The older tracks were made using analogue equipment and some were recorded acoustically using microphones, hence the occasional noises due to piston thuds and page turns, etc. Other tracks were captured electrically. All are of real players performing in real time - no synthetic MIDI 'performances' here. I have not got round yet to normalising the volume settings of all the tracks so they are compatible with each other, therefore you might wish to adjust the volume between tracks depending on which ones you select. Do not be alarmed if some tracks appear to start with an excessive noise level - this simply means they were recorded at a higher level than others. Just turn the volume down to suit. In any case, it is a wise precaution to always begin playing each track at a low level to protect your audio equipment and your ears from unexpectedly high signal levels when the music begins. Although the instrument has 13 ranks of theatre organ voices in addition to its 'straight' sounds (see specification), copyright considerations preclude the inclusion of much theatre-style music here. Playing time 1 hour 35 mins approx.
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