SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 2011: For over half a century, Rodgers Instrument Corporation has been designing and manufacturing church, concert, and home organs that strike a magical balance between the deep traditions of so elegant an instrument and the cutting edge technologies that can make organs accessible to a wider audience. Recently, Rodgers signed Novo Group of San Francisco as the new dealer for Rodgers organs in Northern California. With almost thirty years of parallel experience in the acoustical/audio/video integration business, Novo Group principal Art Yeap made a small tweak to the standard Rodgers installation protocol: he added an 8-in/8-out Symetrix Jupiter 8 processor between the organ outputs and the amplifiers. The addition allows him to make a number of small adjustments that sum to a noticeably more balanced and musical whole.
Rodgers organs are found throughout the world in places both prestigious and intimate. For example, Carnegie Hall boasts a celebrated Rodgers organ that was dedicated by Virgil Fox, the most famous organist of the last century. At the other end of the spectrum, Rodgers organs can be found in the homes of many organ enthusiasts. However, the vast majority of new installations performed by Novo Group go into churches. Most are between two and four manual (i.e. keyboards) and based on proprietary digital synthesis technology. “Not only does Rodgers’ digital synthesis seek to capture the intentional attributes of organ sound, but it also seeks to recreate the anomalies and imperfections,” said Yeap. “For example, a Rodgers organ is continuously detuned in slight and random ways to recreate the nonlinearities of a pipe organ in the context of ever-shifting atmospherics.”
Each organ has multiple unbalanced stereo outputs that correspond with the ranks or sets of each division. In addition to the advanced processing capabilities that it gives him, Yeap inserts the Symetrix Jupiter 8 right at an organ’s output (and housed within the organ chassis!) to provide a true balanced output to the amplifier. “I’m still flexible, but after so many decades working with sound, I do have some strong opinions,” Yeap laughed. “The amplifiers that are standard with a Rodgers organ run close to their limit. So I replace them with Crown XLS-series amplifiers.” Because the amplifiers are sometimes quite remote, the balanced line is guaranteed to be quieter and more reliable.
Once inserted and housed, Yeap loads the “Line Processor 1” app onto the Symetrix Jupiter 8 and uses Symetrix’ simple PC-based software to dial in the perfect speaker sound given the idiosyncrasies of the room that the organ will live in. His baseline processing includes high-pass filtering for those divisions that don’t have low bass and overall limiting to protect the loudspeakers from the potentially more powerful amplifiers. At volumes within the range that the factory speakers are capable of producing, the limiter lets signal pass unaffected. The limiter only kicks in at higher volumes.
“We selected the Symetrix Jupiter processor for this application because it is incredibly transparent, easy to use, and competitively priced,” said Yeap. “Its noise floor is below that of the organ itself and I have no qualms about an additional AD and DA conversion because it’s so faithful. The Jupiter’s app paradigm is simple to use, and even though I’m comfortable with the more complex open-architecture platforms out there, the Jupiter’s simplicity makes installation fast and painless. I just set my laptop on the organ, connect to the Jupiter via Ethernet, and dial it in.” Because the Jupiter powers up without hassle, Yeap can tie it into the master power for the entire organ system. The client doesn’t even need to know it’s there.
“The combination of additional processing and more amplifier headroom makes for a noticeably better organ sound,” said Yeap. “In fact, one of the Rodgers factory personnel who has been working with the organs for decades paid us an unsolicited compliment. He said our installations are the very best he’s ever heard a Rodgers organ sound. I’d say we’re doing something right!”
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