Never listen with Headphones

Although listening to a Hauptwerk organ with headphones may give a good representation of the sounds, there is a great chance of hearing damage. This has been shown in research by the Erasmus University of Rotterdam and the Catholic University of Leuven. A large volume close to the ear observed causes permanent hearing damage. A lower volume but listened over a longer time has the same effect. Therefore, listening with two speakers at ear height is the best option.

The samples contain the loud sounds of the organ in the church, so listening to it with headphones will always cause hearing damage. For an organist, his hearing is of vital importance and it is unwise to use headphones. Hearing damage can occur in the form of poorer perception of certain tonal areas, but more often Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) occurs. In all cases, hearing damage cannot be cured.

There is a second reason for not using headphones. In order to judge sounds, it must be listened to in relation to the environment. Compare it to a painter who is not satisfied with a light on his subject and a light on the canvas. The entire environment must be brightly lit to assess colors and light contrasts.
For example, the sounds of a Hauptwerk organ must be judged in the largest possible space. The measure of space is lacking with headphones. In the audio lab of Philips in Waalre I was able to undertake the necessary experiments to prove this statement.

The samples of Organ Art Media are recorded by Helmut Maier from a great distance from the pipes and assessed with headphones. He strongly recommends that you also listen to them on the Hauptwerk organ with headphones. He has stored the long echo tails in such a way that they cannot be shortened. His samples differ greatly from the original sounds and cannot be improved by voicing them. He does not want to use convolution reverberation. The conversations I had with him have not led to a better quality, so I have written off his sample sets and not transferred them to Hauptwerk 5.

The samples of Piotr Grabowski are also recorded too far from the pipes and therefore leave much to be desired for the same reason. Grabowski feels he is above any criticism and consultation with him has proved pointless. Since the sounds were recorded too far from the pipes, the characters of the registers are not stored in the samples. The organs he has chosen do not have much sound beauty to offer either.
Piotr Grabowski also does not want to use an Impulse-Response technique for the reverb.

Convolution Reverb

The correct way to transfer the acoustics of the church to the living room is to make a copy of the church acoustics. It is a method that every musician knows. Recordings were made of each music theater by sounding a strong Impulse and feeding the acoustic reverberations to a computer as a Response. It stores the acoustic behavior in a memory. Any sound that is played through that memory sounds as if it has sounded in that space. Modulating the sound on the reverb is called Convolution. In this way a musician can study at home in the acoustics of the building where he will perform.

Hauptwerk 5 has Impulse-Response recordings. Jiri Zurek has recorded IR reverb from a large number of churches for use in Hauptwerk 5. By adding this reverberation to DRY samples, the living room has the acoustics of the church. The tones from the samples then undergo the same effects as the tones from the pipes in the church, they become fuller and shine. The organist recognizes the natural acoustics he is used to hearing from the organ in the church.

Surround is popular with hobbyists, until they become acquainted with a good reproduction of church sounds through convolution reverberation. The biggest disadvantage of surround is that after pressing a key the tone becomes slowly audible. Those who play from a sheet are less bothered by pressing the keys in a stable manner, but I often play composing and then I must hear the tone immediately. On my organ I have already set the latency to a minimum, otherwise even DRY samples are not fast enough.

Wonderful experience
It is a wonderful experience to discover the effects of these acoustics in the living room. The length of my room is limited to eight meters, but I hear the sounds at many times that distance. When I create a disturbance with a quick mouse movement, it sounds as if benches are falling over in the back of the church, hard blows followed by dull echoes. When I play a staccato with a flute register, thin flute notes move through an infinite space. A principal choir sounds broad and fills the entire space. The convolution reverberation gives my living room the dimensions of a cathedral. The convolution reverberation gives my living room the dimensions of a cathedral and a large space is realized in an overwhelming way.

Hauptwerk is a tool

Hauptwerk was invented by Martin Dyde in Birmingham. He is a technician who knows what an organ is, but has no idea how an organist uses it to make music. From a large distance Dyde records each pipe of the organ, so the samples contain more reverberation than tones. In that form he sold Hauptwerk to Brett Milan in America. One of the sample sets that Milan made was of the Hinsz organ of the Bovenkerk van Kampen (Nld). The samples give the player the feeling that the console is on one side of the church and the organ has moved to the other. It is the most notorious example of poor rendering by WET samples. Melody lines can no longer be followed and polyphonic play is impossible. An electronic organ is still preferable to these ghastly WET sounds.
                                     Hauptwerk is a tool - musical value it gets through creative use

Only a single sample maker understood that you have to place the microphones very close to the pipes in order to store the characteristics of the pipe tones in the samples. They are Dry samples without reverberation. The sounds from the WET samples cannot be used, but neither is the reverb. I played my first Hauptwerk organ with an Eminent, an electronic organ of which I used the MIDI technique. The organ had a Lexicon MX300 for the reverb, which gave the DRY samples a much better reverberation than the WET samples. I also provided my second Hauptwerk organ with a Lexicon. But now that is no longer necessary, Hauptwerk 5 has the beautiful convolution reverberation.

Sound and acoustics of Hauptwerk 5

Speaking of the pipe
In the church, the organist presses a key to open a valve. Immediately the wind flows into the pipe through the languid gap and collides with the upper labium. There is a violent movement in the wind current, accentuating the beginning of the tone. It is essential for the organist to hear the response of the tone immediately and at a short distance; it is a necessary condition to be able making music. Any nuance of the playing is lost if there is a delay between playing and listening. To be able to play the organ at home exactly like this, the microphones have to be close to the pipes to store the origin of the tone in a sample. The reverberation starts later, when the tone is reflected in the church. The sample therefore does not contain any reverberation and is stored in memory as a DRY sample.

The reflections in the acoustics create the reverberation that gives the tone more fullness. The reverberation starts as soon as the tone is heard and is repeated by reflections on increasingly distant objects. The resonance fills the tone, gives it more gloss and fills the entire room until the reverberation fades away in the distance. In Hauptwerk 5, a copy of the church acoustics is made using Impulse-Response technology and stored in the memory of the Hauptwerk organ. That copy gives the tone in the DRY sample the same effect as the acoustics of the church gives to the tone of the pipe.

WET samples
If the microphones are far from the pipes, the tones will be captured in the samples as WET samples with a long delay. The typical pipe characters cannot be heard and the organ sounds far from the organist. The reverberation that can be heard at the location of the microphones is recorded. Unfortunately, this is not the reverberation that makes the tone fuller and glossier. A good electronic organ does better, because there the tone speaks immediately and the reverb is always an Impulse Response recording.

Surround - an abomination to the organists !
Surround is popular with amateurs. It has a function with sounds that sound around; you can hear from which direction they come. When voicing pipes, I sit in the organ case and hear the pipes coming from different directions. That is surround sound. However, the organ case has the function of mixing all pipe tones and reproducing them as one sound source. Surround is meaningless and the slow, distant tones are an abomination to the organist.