Marshall & Ogletree uses a process it calls "PipeSourcing" to capture the sounds for its organs. Traditional digital organs take one pitch sample, loop it, and use computer processing to alter the single note to produce as much as an octave of notes. The resulting library of samples is extremely limited, usually lasting no more than several minutes. For PipeSourcing, a 15- to 20-second recording, taken from the finest pipe organs available, is made for each note. Ogletree explained that the company uses "multiple ruler-flat microphones to capture the sound of every pipe from several vantage points simultaneously." As a result, Trinity's digital organ features nearly 30 gigabytes of sample data that would take 33 hours to play in its entirety.
Another unique touch employed by the Opus 1 is called "Chamber Sounds." These embellishments help complete the illusion of an actual pipe organ by faithfully reproducing the sounds of an organ's leather bellows filling with air, the swell box opening and closing, the mechanical noises of draw-knob mechanisms, and other sounds inherent to whatever style of organ is being simulated. In fact, two tower speakers at either end of the church are dedicated to nothing but wind-noise and chamber sounds.
Filling any large space with music takes a lot of sound, and pipe organs aren't bashful when it comes to bellowing out the notes. Reproducing that same output level - and creating an organ with highs capable of reaching to the very heavens and bass that mines the very depths of you know where - required the right speaker system. Douglas Marshall and David Ogletree auditioned many models, but they ultimately selected Definitive Technology.
Ogletree explained, "Real organ pipes don't just radiate forward. They fill the chamber in all directions and turn the space around them into part of the instrument. To reproduce that spatial depth at Trinity, the speakers would have to do the same. It was very important that the Definitive speakers were bipolar, since they radiate both forward and to the rear."
Marshall added, "These bipolar speakers are very true to the way pipes interact with walls around them. Plus they have a very neutral sound with a nice wide range, capable of handling a large amount of volume without sounding harsh. In our comparative listening tests, they were the easy winner."
John Sciacca began his career as a custom installer in 1998 at Custom Theater and Audio in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, where he still works. He's still trying to figure out how to get the members of his family to turn the lights off when they're actually in the house, let alone from hundreds of miles away.
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