THE WERSI TECHNOLOGY
The analogue organs of yesteryear generated their sounds using a variety of different electronic circuits. Modern digital instruments by contrast produce their sounds from digital samples. A digital sample is a recording of an actual instrument that is then stored away in digital format in a computer file. Theoretically we need only record one note from across an instrument’s pitch range since the processor that is used to reproduce this sound can speed up or slow down the sample to obtain all the other notes. In practice however the tonal content of a sound often varies across the octaves so for a more accurate representation we sample a number of notes within each octave and use the processor to fill in the missing notes. Other digital instruments will employ some kind of dedicated processor to perform this and other tasks on the instrument but the WERSI range of organs is unique in that it utilises a conventional processor configuration, such as you would find in your desktop PC or laptop, running a standard version of the Microsoft Windows operating system. This gives us a number of advantages. It means that the instrument is easily upgradeable, new functions and features can easily be incorporated simply by updating the software. Maintenance and repair activities are made simpler since standard computer components are employed, and the hardware can be upgraded as computing technology advances without having to purchase a completely new instrument.
Sitting on top of the operating system is the applications software that WERSI call the Open Art System (OAS). The OAS controls all the functions of the organ via a touchscreen display in the centre of the console. It scans the keyboards to determine which keys have been pressed. It enables sounds to be selected, combined, edited, stored and recalled as presets. It can modify sounds by adding effects such as reverberation and chorus. It allows special effects such as cymbal crashes, drum rolls, car horns, whistles etc. to be utilised. It controls the operation of the drum and accompaniment units. It incorporates both a digital and MIDI recorder for making backing tracks and a DVD player for making performance CDs. It includes a comprehensive set of mixer and equalisation controls for adjusting the tonal characteristics of the instrument and provides for the incorporation of a number of standard PC based plug-in software modules that offer additional sounds and features. The OAS also contains an extensive set of built-in optional software packages such as enhanced church, theatre organ and accordion sound sets, drum sets, sound editing and style composer software etc. that can be installed simply by purchasing an activation code.
The heart of the instrument is the computer motherboard together with its associated computing components such as the hard disc and memory. Early models also employed a hardware unit known as a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) to generate and modify the sounds contained in the digital samples. Later models implement this using a software Sound Engine. Upon switch on the organ loads the operating system, the OAS and all the digital samples files from the hard disc into memory. The Sound Engine then accesses these samples and processes them to produce the required sounds. Also incorporated into the instrument is the OX7 hardware unit which generates the sounds for one of the drawbar systems on the organ. This processor based technology is designed to synthesise all the sine waves required for the various drawbar pitches. Finally we have a stereo amplifier with a range of inputs and outputs. On the input side we can connect microphones and stereo line-in signals for amplification and feed through to the instrument’s internal speakers. On the output side there are three distinct and separate line-out stereo outputs to which can be assigned different sections of the organ e.g. main organ sounds, accompaniment unit, drum unit. This provides a great deal of flexibility for performance playing and recording.
All this technology is very impressive but what playing features and facilities does it provide and how does it all sound. This showcase presentation explains in detail all the significant features of the instrument. Each is accompanied by one or more pieces of music in an appropriate musical style to show how a particular feature can be used. If you are unfamiliar with the WERSI brand I hope you will find this interesting and informative. If like me you are still exploring the seemingly endless possibilities of the instrument either as a new or established user I hope it will increase your understanding of the instrument, unleash your creativity and greatly enhance your playing enjoyment.