Ultra Tower speaker and PC-2000 subwoofer owner, Christian from Nevada, is an accomplished pipe organ voicing and service professional with a trained ear for keeping the complex and powerful instruments sounding their best. Known as the “King of Instruments” for the colossal size and ability to hit notes between 15 and 30,000 Hz, pipe organs require a very capable home audio system to handle the complexity, dynamic range and sonic impact of the music.
In the interview below, Christian shares insights on what goes into voicing a pipe organ, the qualities audio systems must have to reproduce pipe organ music faithfully and the powerful foundation and revealing soundstage his SVS speakers and subwoofer brought to his home audio experience.
For more information about Christian’s professional services, please visit: Christian Lentz – Pipe Organ Service and Consultation
-Left/Right Mains: SVS Ultra Tower Speakers
-Center Channel: SVS Ultra Center Speaker
-Subwoofer: SVS PC-2000-AV Receiver: Yamaha RX
-v481 Arranged biamp @8ohms for mains
-Rear Surrounds: Prime Elevation speakers
-AVR/PRE: Yamaha Aventage 880-Samsung 75” 4K MU6300
-Crown XLS 1502 LR-Crown XLS 1002 C-PS4Pro
-Lenovo Laptop streaming/cd/dvd
-A Dedicated CD player is on the list for needed source
Questions And Answers:
Q. When/why did you first start getting into high-performance audio?
A. As a child, I listened to music on the stereo in the family den. Occasionally, my father would get out the reel to reel. We had vinyl, cassettes…you name it. So music has always been a major part of my life. Through the years as my budget and living spaces allowed, I would have a system.
Q. Tell us a little bit about how you got started working with pipe organs?
A. My career in the pipe organ business began in Little Rock, AR over 14 years ago. I was singing in the Piano Bar downtown when the VP of Nichols & Simpson Organbuilders walked in. To make a long story short, we became friends, and I decided on a career change. I went from managing inventory for major retailers to apprenticing on how to voice organ pipes.
Q. What does voicing pipe organs involve?
A. Voicing is the art of giving pipes the ability to create sound. Every pipe in an organ needs to be manipulated to play the right pitch, volume, and tone. I’ll never forget the first instrument I was involved in. We spent months working on thousands of components for the Milwaukee project. I had the privilege of assisting in tonal finishing, this is where we adjust each pipe to fit the room’s acoustic in order to make the best sound possible. The first day I laid eyes on the organ prominently displayed in the sanctuary, I was hooked. I’ve enjoyed helping many organ projects through the years. No two are alike. I currently service, maintain, and sell instruments throughout southern Nevada and surrounding region.
Q. What was the impact of adding SVS Ultra Tower speakers to your system?
A. For starters…Wow, they look amazing.
They sound even better. Larger units are simply needed to efficiently produce midrange sound, these are key components to my overall plan.
The towers alone are capable of most organ tones, they handle complex harmonics with ease and don’t shy away from full organ in recordings. The upper work for organs can be harsh or shrill on tweeters, especially smaller units. The Ultra Tower speakers keep it clean and tight top to bottom. Good recordings with orchestra and full organ never sound muddy. In fact, the Ultras have revealed moments and details within many records that I have missed for years. The fact that they handle this complexity so well is a hint to their performance in other genres as every track played begs me to listen more. I’ve auditioned speakers several times the cost of Ultras that can’t handle the content provided.
Small speakers will have a hard time reproducing 8’ pitches simply due to limit of a small cabinet. The Ultra Tower is amazing at reproducing it.
Q. How has the PC-2000 enhanced your listening experiences?
A. The Ultra Towers loose out on the very bottom for organ output, as does any tower speaker produced, however the Ultras go down well into the mid 20Hz so they hand off lower content to the sub with ease. The PC-2000 beats the competition at digging down to 32’ pitches, especially for the cost. The difference it has made is astounding. I didn’t realize how much foundation was missing from my listening experiences. Yes, I had bass before, but now with the capability of the PC-2000, the bass line is clear, deep, present, full, and musical.
Q. What important qualities must an audio system have to handle orchestral music, and specifically pipe organs?
A. First, it’s important to understand that Pipe Organs are the King of instruments for good reason. The tonal resources available on a large installation can stretch beyond human hearing. Think of a pipe organ with 3,000 pipes as 3,000 omnidirectional speakers that are decoupled and out of phase. When we look in an organ we find pipes of various lengths and the length of a pipe determines pitch. So an instrument with a pipe of 32’ in length will dip down to 15Hz no fuss.
And on the other end with a length of less than a 1/4 inch (think pencil eraser) you get up into the 30,0000s easily along with all of the funky harmonics and partials that each pipe produces.
So in building a solid sound system we need units that can cover a broad spectrum without flinching. The true magic of organs is that they don’t “roll off”. Systems lacking the range can make an otherwise amazing organ sound bad and downright unappealing. We need units that can dish out a lot of energy and that stay out of the way.
Q. How did you first hear about SVS?
A. I moved to Las Vegas eight years ago and had to leave my awesome system behind in Little Rock. I had to start over as my budget would allow so I bought some Infinity Bookshelf speakers locally and was looking for a sub to match. Lots of googling and online reviews led me to svsound.com and It was then I learned about SVS subwoofers, their capable lines of bass monsters. This was also when I discovered how awesome the Ultra line could be. So after several years of researching and looking at SVS products I finally did something about it.
Q. Why is having a high-performance audio system important to you?
A. I use my ears for pipe organ service and maintenance as tools. They listen for anything and everything in between. I want a system that can produce even the smallest of details or nuance, one that can go all out and keep it together. Hifi is a part of my life and thus I need it professionally and personally.
Q. Anything else you’d like to share with the SVS community?
A. Along with pipe organs I deal with electronic instruments and can see SVS products becoming the foundation/mainstay for future installations. Pipe organs have evolved a lot through the years. Many installations are of hybrid design where several ranks of pipework are combined with digital supplement, so keep your eyes out for exciting things in the future!