When I started this blog over two years ago, the first church I wrote about was First Congregational Church in downtown Columbus, Ohio. The Minister of music there is Timothy Edward Smith. For the last two years, I have had the great privilege of singing in his chancel choir.

Smith has had, as nearly all pipe organists have, a dream to create a retreat just for organists. Why would organists need a retreat? A pipe organ is not something that a musician can tuck under her arm and then head for the hills for some quality time with. Most other musicians can do that to one degree or another, and only the luckiest of organists can house a pipe organ at home. Uninterrupted practice at the organ where they work is hard to come by.

Nearly all organists dream of having a retreat all to their own to rehearse, to create, in peace. So does Smith. Fortunately for organists, Smith formed a not-for-profit corporation, and with tax-deductible contributions, began to make this dream a reality. Please visit the website for this project here. I think it is a visionary idea. I think Smith is uniquely gifted with the not only the drive but also the talent it takes to make this vision a reality. I hope you can help, no matter how small your contribution is, or what form it takes. Thanks for checking this out.

There's a short descriptional video on YouTube that you may enjoy.

Have you heard the saying, "Life is what happens to you when you're making other plans"? I think that's what's happened to me in the last year since I last posted here. I used to work for Adelphia (news), which, poor choices made by management aside, was the best job I've ever had. I was a senior network engineer covering Ohio and parts of four surrounding states. I was both challenged and productive. My superiors were bright, honest and fair, and my peers always supportive. This was a very happy combination, professionally. We built and managed a remarkable network serving millions of people. For a few years in my life, I was happy. However, the people whom all we employees relied on did some very bad things, and were ultimately convicted of fraud and conspiracy and sentenced to prison in 2005. It seems they will finally go to prison, as they continue to fight the sentence, even today believing that they did no wrong. Myself, I think that taking over two billion dollars and then trying to hide that fact (how do you hide that much? how do you even spend that much?) and even after being convicted and sentenced to prison, still think you didn't do anything wrong, can only be a result of greed and ego on an unimaginable scale. It's not at all a pleasant thing to think about, for me.

The resulting bankruptcy resulted in tens of thousands of families living in real uncertainty as we all waited for the courts to decide what the fate of Adelphia would be. Adelphia was mostly sold to Time-Warner and Comcast. Some people were let go, but many were kept. I ended up at a desk job in Columbus, in optical transport. This is where I am now, and it consumes all my time.

Yes, I miss working for Adelphia, but now I have new challenges. Some of those challenges are: how to keep my pipe organ in good shape (impossible), finish the restoration of the Estey Style-T reed organ I have been working on for a year, and most importantly, how to keep up what I love most, music and recording.

Unfortunately for my dear reader, keeping this blog up-to-date (upgrades included!) has been pretty much dead last on my list. So that's why there's been nothing here for nearly the last year.

However, I do have a new toy. I have a Fostex FR-2. I bought it a few weeks ago. I was recording a hymn sing with over 300 strong singers. I was recording using the Marantz PMD-660. The AT4050/cm5 microphones did so well (bless them) that they completely overloaded the mic pre-amps in the PMD660. What a shame! That was pretty much an unforgivable sin for the PMD660. As much as it pains me to part with hard-earned savings, I plunked down a few bucks on an FR-2. Don't get me wrong, the PMD660 is extremely worthwhile for certain applications, and I will continue using it. It is small, light and very useful.

Aside from having far superior mic pre-amps, the FR-2 has the ability to record at up to 192kHz and at 24 bit quantization. The benefits of recording at 24 bits were never so clear to me as they were after I made my first field recording with it. So, yes, I have a sound sample for you. It was recorded at 44.1kHz, at 24 bits. I normalized the whole file and then dithered it to 16 bits. There was nothing else done to the wave file. I wish it was longer, but I want only to demonstrate the FR-2, not give away the lovely anthem performed by my client.

FR2-sample.ogg, vorbis encoded, 664kB, 0:34

I don't believe I've ever mentioned this here before: I'd like to offer my recording services to you. No matter who you are, I believe I am prepared to produce for you you the finest recordings possible. I record choirs, accompanied and unaccompanied, and pipe organs exclusively. I rarely do anything else. I believe that, as a musician, I bring a unique sensitivity to the demands that music of that type present to the recording engineer. If you want to hear more of my work, or have a discussion, I encourage you to please email me at andrew "at" Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to record for you. If you send me mail, be patient. I do want to hear from you, but may not be able to reply immediately.

Thanks for listening!

I've composed a page that shows you how to build my amazing High-accuracy Binaural Pressure Zone Microphone, the HBPZM. It's a fun project that should take less than an hour, and I promise you, will amaze you with its ability to capture audio which when heard through headphones, is indistinguishable from reality.

A clip made with this mic is forthcoming. I promise. No, really – I just need to replace the mic batteries and record something.

– Well, shucks. I have made a few recordings with the old mics, and found that over the years, these two mics have become extremely noisy. So much so, that I don't want to inflict them on you. However, I have used two Behringer Measurement mics in place of the tie clip mics, and I think it works fine. See what you think. (p.s. The main focus on this clip is not supposed to be my keyboard playing!)

interruption_(binaural).mp3 (1:44, 2507k, mp3, stereo, 192k encoding)


I have no new noises to post this time. I want to write about what will likely become my new church home. I recently moved to the Columbus, Ohio area. One of the first things I wanted to do when I got here was to find a chuch that had not only an excellent music department, but an important pipe organ, too. My previous post should make it clear that I delight in pipe organs. I want to be as close to them as possible for as long as possible.

The very first church I went to was recommended by a few good friends at my last church home. It is the First Congregational Church, UCC, in downtown Columbus. I visited this wonderful place Sunday. They have two pipe organs, A Beckerath up in the rear loft, and a 1931 Kimball (opus 30324) up front behind a screen. The Kimball was recently completely renovated. Both are large organs, 3 and 4 manuals respectively.

I arrived a little late. I thought they started at 10:30. I must have confused them with another church I wanted to visit. Went I walked in the rear entrance, I heard a soft, distant rumbling noise, a noise that is unmistakable to a serious pipe organ enthusiast. No, it wasn't music. I followed the sound down a hallway. Louder. Down a flight of stairs. Louder. Down another short flight into the sub-basement. Very loud. Around a corner and through an open door into a small pitch dark room. Roaring loud! Flick the light switch and there it is: the massive Spencer blower for the Kimball organ. What a way to meet a pipe organ, first by its blower. It was immaculately clean. This organ has been renovated recently.

The Beckerath has a feature I haven't seen before. Each draw knob is sequentially numbered. Perhaps there is a combination action that is programmed with stop numbers.

There were at least 300 people there. Scott Hayes from Muller organs, also music director at First Baptist Church in Springfield, played organ. (Tim Smith the Minister of Music and Artistic Director was on vacation). Scott's prelude was "Alleluyas" by S. Preston.

We were treated to a few truly fascinating pieces played by a saxophone quartet led by Kelley Gilbert. Handel's "Sarabanda" and for the postlude (where everyone is sitting and listening instead of getting up and leaving) a refreshingly fun piece called "Gaguenardise" by J. Francaix. They were flawless in every respect. One doesn't hear near enough saxophone quartets.

I am delighted to learn that OSU records and re-broadcasts recitals and performances there on the WOSU stations. Their Lessons and Carols service is broadcast live.

If I'm fortunate, I'll have a small, somehow noise-related audio clip to post regarding this amazing church soon.


Well, here we are. I just got this working today. You should be able to reach me at andrew at Anyone can write comments, but they are subject to moderation. Click Register here or on the right to get an account.

Everything on is copyright andrew macgregor, 2005 , unless otherwise noted.