Organ Simulator at the lobby of Palace of Arts Budapest

Entel’s audio R&D division Inspired Acoustics installed a unique Organ Simulator in the lobby of the Palace of Arts, Budapest. The development lasting for many years from today was a result of the cooperation of Palace of Arts, Budapest and Entel. The exterior design of simulator was made by award-winner Gábor Zoboki, Dániel Lakos and the Zoboki-Demeter & Associates Architects who designed the original building and similarly to the original pipe organ, it was built by the Pécsi Organ Building Manufacture.

The Organ Simulator, as a first of its kind, showcases the 92-stop Pécsi-Mühleisen instrument of the Bartók Béla National Concert Hall thoroughly. Equipped with a large touch-screen, the simulator summons the real organ both in its exterior and interior design. Original sounds of the pipe organ can be played on the simulator while experiencing the rich multimedia content of the custom designed interface. Upcoming concerts, movies, animations on how the organ works, rehearsals and recordings, quiz games and interactive demonstrations can be found in the software.

The Organ Simulator reproduces the first (Grand Orgue) and the second (Positiv) keyboard and the pedal board of the original instrument, but sounds from all five manuals can be heard. The console has 12 drawbar stops switching combinations that were specifically selected by László Fassang to all the keyboards and the pedal to showcase the most interesting parts. The drawbars on the left side creates a 6-stage crescendo from the quietest sounds to Tutti, while the combinations accessible on the right side shows stop presets from different styles and era. These sounds can be freely combined together so it works similarly to the real organ, but with fewer switches. Using the sweller pedal an even more gentle and continuous control of the organ sounds was made possible.

Developers at Inspired Acoustics recorded all notes of the Pécsi-Mühleisen organ of the Bartók Béla National Concert Hall one-by-one chromatically. Preparations prior the 66-hour high-resolution multichannel recording effort took about 2 years, and the sampling process ended up in obtaining about 640 GB of raw data. Prior to the pipe sound recordings, detailed room acoustic measurements were also made in the concert hall and in the pipe organ as well helping the post processing and the recording. A special room acoustic configuration was set by using the measurement data of Inspired Acoustics and the experience of the acoustic experts of Palace of Arts Budapest but opinions of professional organists were also taken into account. Determination of the optimum positions of the microphone was also helped by prior calculations. Post processing the samples to remove the organ engine noise one-by-one manually took about one year afterwards. 19508 samples were obtained with the notes and acoustic releases and by combining these, the Organ Simulator uses 7380 sound samples. The Simulator today features the original concert hall acoustics of the real pipe organ and runs a special version of PAB Pipe Organ Samples on Hauptwerk.

The exterior of the Organ Simulator is special in many ways. The unique futuristic metal-covered pedal board is a special design of the Pécsi Organ Building Manufacture. The ellipsoid wooden bench is adjustable in height and is also second to none. The semi-transparent ghost pipes made of perforated metal look different in daylight and in the evening. Although real organ pipes cannot be touched, these pipe imitations are solid and can be experienced by hand. No special expertise is required to use the Organ Simulator.

The sound samples can be played at any time, even during listening to music or concert recordings. Since the tuning of the samples exactly matches the real organ (442 Hz), it is possible to play or improvise together with a recording or orchestral work, realizing an organ-karaoke.

In daily operation four people can listen to the sounds of the Organ Simulator at a time using industry-standard professional headphones freely either in standing or sitting position, but there is an additional output on the back side for loudspeakers supporting events.

Apart from showcasing the instrument with the rich multimedia interface custom designed for the Organ Simulator, the many sound possibilities and playability allows even holding smaller concerts and rehearsals in the lobby.

The opening ceremony of the Organ Simulator was held at the lobby with many guests on 18 May 2009. After the speech of Palace of Arts Budapest deputy director András Csonka and Entel CEO Dr. Gábor Huszty, László Fassang himself showcased the instrument. The Hungarian National Television's news portal, National Radio (m3 Bartók), the Governmental Culture portal, the Fidelio classical music portal and IT-related web portals reported about the event.

Everyone is invited to the lobby of the Palace of Arts Budapest to try out the Organ Simulator!

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