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.

Impulse Response reverb replaces Surround

Hauptwerk 5 has made real acoustics possible. In the church there is a powerful Impulse of the entire tone area. The reflections are sent as a Response by microphones to a computer, where it is stored in a memory. It is a complete copy of the church acoustics and is stored in the Hauptwerk organ. The tones from the samples then undergo the same effects as the tones from the pipes in the church; they become fuller and get shine. This is called the Convolution reverberation. The organist at the Hauptwerk organ recognizes it as the natural acoustics he perceives on the organ in the church.

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 quickly 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.

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

The sounds of the samples in a Hauptwerk organ are tones of a pipe organ, which are recorded at a short distance per pipe. The short distance is essential to be able to record an exact copy of each pipe tone with all its characteristic features. If the distance is larger, the tone will be mixed with reflections from the acoustics, but this has now been avoided; they are DRY samples.

By pressing a key on the organ, the valve opens and the wind flows through the languid gap into the pipe and collides against the upper labium. There is a violent movement in the wind that gives the beginning of the tone an accent. The organist sits close to the organ and hears the tone immediately, which is necessary to be able to make music. Pressing the keys should coincide with hearing the tones which are coming in rapid succession. The play of rhythm and phrasing, originate under the fingers of the organist in the church and the same immediate response and tone building must also take place in the living room at the Hauptwerk organ.

Due to the reflections in the acoustics, the surrounding air is brought into resonance; the tones become fuller and get more shine. Hauptwerk 4 brought the reverberation with WET samples to the living room. WET samples are recordings that are made at a great distance from the organ. What the sample contains is not of great value, the pipe tone is too vague at that distance and the acoustics do not have the effect that the development of the tones can be heard.

By making more WET recordings that were reproduced as surround through speakers to the back of the room, an attempt was made to suggest room-wide acoustics. It remained a suggestion, because from each speaker you can hear from which direction the sound is coming. While acoustics have the property of being everywhere, without an identifiable direction.