Modern pipe organs include not only electro-mechanical assemblies, but also digital control circuitry. Many pipe organs are also augmented with digital tonal additions. As one Pipe organ builder posted on its website:
“Digital Additions – R. A. Colby can augment existing stoplists with digital pipework. Now that digital sampling systems have reached unprecedented levels of authenticity compared to the sound of wind-brown pipes, there is no reason for compromise in your new organ.”
While pipe organ builders embrace digital tonal additions, they are capable of supporting the technology for extended periods. Unlike electro-mechanical assemblies that can be repaired by general technicians, digital circuitry requires a commitment and ability from the organ builder to invest in future support. Pipe organ builders have not made this type of commitment nor have suppliers of their digital circuitry.
Product support challenges experienced by pipe organ customers are exemplified by an example that occurred in Florida, USA.
- The church purchased a 4-manual pipe organ with digital tonal additions from the pipe organ company in the early 1990s.
- In 2014 the organ was damaged during an electrical storm and a significant part of the organ did not operate.
- The customer was informed that the digital tonal addition circuit boards were defective. The pipe organ company contacted the supplier of these boards, who was unable to support the product, and the entire digital tonal addition package had to be scrapped.
- It cost in excess of $100,000 for replacement digital stops from yet another third-party supplier.
Long-term serviceability expected of church-organs is not available from most builders. Also, digital tonal sound additions sold through pipe organ builders often cost more than a tonal addition package directly from Allen Organ Company with its proven track record of long-term customer support.