I bought my 3 manual Eminent organ in April 2005. I took some advice from my organ tutor (Simon) in buying the organ. We looked at many different makes and models especially looking at value for money.Simon and I looked at several different organs before buying the Eminent organ. He bought the Eminent organ because it sounded much more like a traditional English pipe church organ rather than a European sounding one. The sound made by the Eminent is synthesised in several stages to give a attack on the notes (the chiff) followed by the sound. Having looked and listened to other makes that just used recorded sounds, the Eminent organ sounded much better and could be voiced to fit the local environment.I chose the 3 manual version of the Eminent organ known in the uk as the Alpha 300/32 so that I could grow into it. I also decided that if I was only going to buy one organ then I might as well get what the kids and I wanted, rather than getting a smaller Eminent organ and then having to upgrade the Eminent organ to a 3 manual eminent organ in a few years time. We didn't put many toe pistons on the Eminent organ as we didn't think that in the first few years we would need many of them, but all the capacity is there and if we need more generals then we can add them. Once the toe piston board has been fitted then other pistons can be added cheaply. That's around about £40 per piston. I chose a radiating concave 32 note pedal board.
Each manual has eight thumb pistons, the Pedal has four toe pistons, and there are eight general thumb and toe pistons that control the entire organ. There is also a continental setting piston that was never set up - I could not get the company back to do the voicing that I had paid for. When you purchase the organ, any of the stops from the library can be put onto the organ, and the others can be loaded into the adjustable stops. We used the set that were recommended, but my friend Simon had a different set on his Eminent, so he has 2 different sounding open diapasons on his Great and a stopped diapason as well. His swell and great tabs are in an inverted position. One of the nice things about the 3 manual Eminent organ is that we could choose all the stops. In addition to these stops there are others which can be selected. We went for the selection in the brochure since we did not know enough about organs then. The company we bought the organ from Cathedral organs and our organ tutor suggested a good range of stops (above) which seem to be a good choice. I also bought some special voicing software to go with the Eminent organ so that we can change the sounds of any of the stops. At £500 it was not cheap.
Sometimes we connect the laptop up to the organ. The organ has its own built in sequencer, but we can do more to the 3 manual Eminent organ when we use the different software on the laptop. The Eminent organ has some music in the sequencer library that cannot be changed. All the other memories can be modified. There are lots of additional stops that can be added to the alterable stops which makes this a fantastic organ to use. Because they are all located in firmware they can be loaded extremely quickly and easily. The organ features an Autobass, which couples the lowest pressed key on the great, to the pedal so that the pedals do not need to be played. This has helped the odd pianist who has used the organ.The Organ also has a Transposer - 3 semitones up and down. The Eminent Organ also has 12 different Tuning Temperaments selectable by the organist at will but as yet I have not mastered these. All these controls are keys on the manuals + a piston to activate them.
The Maestro Tonalis Software is patially in German so it is hard to use. Although the Software will run in English some of the bits of the Maestro Tonalis software stay in German. The software comes with some very good videos, but unfortunately they are in German as well.
There is a manual in English and also hundreds of additional stops that can be downloaded and added with the software. Once the manual was available changing the organ was simple.
The Eminent organ is great fun to play. The Eminent organ sounds realistic. Using the built in programmed pistons on the A channel I can increase the volume using the advance button. For special pieces I can set any of the other channels up B - P. It has a bank of extra stops that can be programmed in to give a wider range of stops than purely connected to the built in stops. The sounds are of a typical English church organ. With the Maestro Tonalis Software it is possible to make sounds like the Wald flute which cannot be bought on an electronic organ that we have seen. As delivered the organ would not play the cornet V down below tenor C. Using the Maestro Tonalis Software I created these stops. The oboe on the swell was also too quiet for a really good solo stop so using the software we changed this. The organ plus this software make the Eminent organ a great toy to play with. As well as a great organ the Eminent organ is also a very nice piece of furniture. We played extra to have a really nice solis wood roll top since we pull this down whenever we are not playing the organ. The Eminent organ is made largely from solid light oak unlike many other more expensive organs we looked at. The only thing we regretted has not buying an adjustable height bench as for a while my son could not do heal and toe on the foot pedals. In fact we still struggle with a few of the notes, but and the bench is pulled in and pushed out to now account for my longer legged sons.
The Eminent organ is next to my older Yamaha HS8 Organ. That used to a big machine but it is small companred to the Eminent organ. The difference in the amplification shows how much better richer and fuller the sound is from the Eminent organ. Now there is a Ringway instead.
One of the good things using the laptop connected to the Eminent organ is that I can get the sequencer to play some of the other parts whilst I practice on the part that I am learning. We can slow down the speed of the music, but it all stays at the right pitch just for longer. As I get better then I can start to play faster on the Eminent organ until I can play the tune at the correct speed. We are still having problems setting the stops via midi. It is still rather hit or miss.
The organ stops can all be changed to a continental setting, but can also be adapted to become any stop like those on a Wurlitzer organ. Like many other organs, the Eminent organ can have its pitch changed to suit some other instruments. It also has a more powerful tremolo switch which can be used to make the organ sound more like a theatre organ.
The music stand can move in and out. this is a very useful feature to help with the reading of the notes.The Cornet when it was delivered would not play below Tenor C. I liked this stop, so using the Maestro Tonalis Software I was able to create a reasonable sounding Cornet on all the notes. The oboe on the swell was not a good solo stop as it was voiced too low. Again using the Maestro Tonalis Software I was able to change the level of the oboe to a better level, so it is now slightly louder and more equivilent to the clarient on the Choir Manual. Using this software I can voice the organ on my own without the need to call in Cathedral organs to do this for me. One extra we bought was a channel on the swell and choir expression pedals. This records the settings of these pedals via the midi, so the playback can also change the loudness of the swell and the choir. We also bought some toe pistons. We only have 4 at present. We don't use them very much. As we become better we can have more installed. The four toe pistons we have are Advance, Swell to Pedal, Great to Pedal and Swell to Great. They seem to be more than sufficient at the moment.
The Eminent organ is very versatile. I enjoy the organ in its classical mode and in its theatre mode playing all types of music. My son likes playing classical organ. The organ sounds just as good pretending to be a theatre organ.The organ has a very good set of 5 amplifiers which gives a good sound. The C and the C sharps come from different sides of the organ giving the same type of effect as found on a pipe organ. As an extra we could buy a better very low note speaker system to make the 32ft notes sound more realistic. This might frighten the neighbours.