Organ for theLiving room

Considerations when choosing

Sample Sets
Register and Voicing screens
Organ cabinets
Sample system

Choice: Hauptwerk or a simple software system

In addition to Hauptwerk, there are also systems such as Cecilia, LiVE or Sweelinq. Jiri Zurek describes it as simple emulation software for amateurs who know the organ sound as they hear it downstairs in the church far away from it. It escapes them that the organist plays the organ at a short distance and thus has a completely different experience of the sounds. The simple software's menus are easy to understand and self-explanatory. Rather than exactly reproducing every characteristic of the organ sound, this alternative makes the organ sound like amateurs are used to.
The files are small because only part of the sound is saved; the details are missing. This is evident from the loading time, which takes no more than a few seconds.

Real richness of sound cannot be expected from the simple software, because the full sound is not stored in the small files and will therefore never be heard. The full sound is present in good Hauptwerk samples, of which the large files require much more loading time. Then the organ sounds at a short distance and grows in the acoustics to the full sound, only to die out in the distance. That is the sound experience of the organist.

Noorlander has exchanged Hauptwerk for its own system called Sweelinq. The system is of the same order as Cecilia and it shows in the small files that are loaded in a few seconds. Yet he claims that his Sweelinq is equivalent to Hauptwerk. I suggested testing his system, but he wouldn't allow it. An offer to teach him more about the formation of sounds in a pipe organ was haughtily rejected; he knew all about organ sounds. A friend of mine had installed Sweelinq on his organ and invited me to play it. I did not spend a lot of time on it, they are not sounds that inspire to play.

I saw a demonstration of Sweelinq on Youtube, where more and more registers were drawn, without hearing a noticeable increase in volume. I added the same stops on my Hauptwerk organ and heard the sounds increase in power and fullness.

With Cecilia, the user is given the choice of simple software for a low price or the better quality of Hauptwerk at a higher price. That distinction is not made at Noorlander and also not at Johannus.

Johannus announces a new organ with the sounds of the Vater-Müller organ of the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. It is said to be the best organ ever made by them, but the price was not mentioned. Johannus makes sample sets that can only be used in their own LiVE organs. The quality corresponds to Cecilia, the loading time is short. Switching to another organ set only takes a few seconds. In an email I asked for details of the new organ and what the price is. The organ must cost almost 60,000 Euros.

In a telephone conversation with their sales manager, I wanted to know what the added value was of the Vater-Mülller samples. Is it based on the simple LiVE system or can I expect the same quality as Hauptwerk. This man also testified that he did not have a great knowledge of organ sounds. The registers of this organ were stacked (?) and thus it became audible where a register was located in an organ. He turned out not to know that all the sounds of an organ mix within the cabinet and then come out as one sound. The loading time of this set was six seconds and then it is clear to me that this organ is also based on the simple LiVE system.

Choose only top-quality audio for the organ sound

The built-in speakers of my Hauptwerk organ are bass reflex cabinets, where the bass port is on the back. The sounds that come out of it reflect in the organ case and cause frayed sounds at the low tones. By moving the speakers to a place on top of the organ case, the low tones were already displayed considerably better; even with tones in the treble, the difference was noticeable. If this Hauptwerk organ had been designed with more expertise, these errors would not have occurred. As a comparison, I used my pipe organ; this is next to the Hauptwerk organ. A real improvement was only audible after a trial with other speakers, so I asked to provide top quality loudspeakers. Apparently that was too difficult, I was referred to other companies.

It was part of my craft as a pipe maker to design and to voice pipes to the sounds I imagined when designing. I now use my expertise to make the sounds from the samples sound just like the sounds from the pipes. I have an absolute hearing, but often it is not possible to get the sounds from the samples to sound optimal, because the audio part of the Hauptwerk organ is of insufficient quality. Not only the loudspeakers, but also the digital-to-analog converter and the amplifiers have to meet high standards.

Every voicer knows that the organ sound is an interplay between Gravity, Brilliance and Poetry. Brilliance is the clarity of the sounds and Poetry can be regarded as lovely. Gravity is a term that is not easy to translate. Sometimes the tonic is indicated by it, but that is not correct. A sound can be fundamental, but has no Gravity. It is difficult to store the sound of pipes with good gravity in the samples, only Jiri Zurek can do that.

Sonus Paradisi
has always delivered good quality sample sets, but with the new sets even more attention was paid to a good reproduction of the low tones, resulting in an audibly better Gravity. The files were bigger and took more time to load, but the result Jiri Zurek achieved was great; the best ever stored in samples. To reproduce the sounds from these perfect samples, the speakers must be of top quality. A quality that Noorlander could not or did not want to deliver and that is why I have been looking for an organ builder who has mastered his profession.

Hauptwerk samples reproduce the tones of pipes

As a professional pipe organ maker I designed sounds and for this I calculated the scales of the pipes, cut the metal and soldered it. Then I voiced the pipes until I hear the sounds I imagined when designing. Because the acoustics in the living room are lacking, the sounds of a pipe organ do not come into their own and then a well-built Hauptwerk organ is the best option, provided a sample contains the full tone of the pipe with all the details. The tone should be recorded at short distance from the pipe for 10 to 20 seconds. It's called a DRY sample. A tone is not constant but fluctuates and that makes the tone lively. The fluctuations must be present in the sample and should not be imitated by a wind model.

The sounds from the samples must be voiced, because they are sounds of a church organ that need an adaptation to the living room. I have written several books for this that I make available for free. An organist can rehearse his concerts at home with a good Hauptwerk organ or use it as a teaching organ for his students.

Hauptwerk is a full-fledged organ with real sounds; sounds with Gravity, Brilliance and Poetry. Gravity is a deep resonance of the tone. Poetry stands for the sweetness of the sound, which is especially apparent in solo playing. Brilliance features a wide sound range with clear tones, like a complete string orchestra with violins, violas and cellos.
That is what an organist needs at a concert to show his interpretation of the music.

I know how pipes should sound because I've made and voiced thousands of them. If the sounds of the church organ are properly stored in the Hauptwerk samples, the sounds in the living room are equal to the sounds of pipes. Not every supplier of sample sets succeeds in making good samples. The good sample sets can be found on my website. All the details of the sounds are stored in the samples and that requires a large file. Only then does Hauptwerk sound like a pipe organ.

For years I have been working on making the sounds from Hauptwerk samples sound like pipe sounds. I have described my experiences in books and they are available to every user for free. The new Samples Sets from Sonus Paradisi have become significantly larger files and that can be heard in sounds that show all the characteristics of the pipes. I like to draw attention to the better quality, because these sounds are similar to the sounds of pipes.


I have found the best organ builder: Wim de Borst of the company Sonarte in Capelle aan de IJssel. Organist and organ builder who took organ lessons from his early childhood and had a great interest in the sound formation of pipes. How this sound can be reproduced uniformly by Hauptwerk depends on making good choices with every part of the audio system. I was happy to be advised by him and we found every part that can meet high requirements. I made a preliminary design, which is pictured above. It is not a photograph, but a montage of a large number of parts of Sonarte organs.

The housing in which the speakers are mounted ensure optimal playback. Placing these in the organ case would affect the sounds, so I put them on the case. That is also the best place, because there are at the height of my ears.

Amateurs will place very different demands on their organ. They do not want to see loudspeakers but opt ​​for an impressive cabinet with many draw registers, although then the best place for the loudspeakers is lost. They spend capital on the visible parts of an organ; they want an iconic organ. Although iconic only has to do with the looks and nothing to do with the sounds. For amateurs, it should look like an organ.

For me it has to sound like an organ and for that I choose an audio installation that meets the highest requirements. The best digital-to-analog converter, loudspeakers and amplifiers of the high-end class and perfect samples. It is a hefty investment, but then there is no difference between reproduction through loudspeakers or through pipes. My pipe organ, set up next to the Hauptwerk organ, makes a comparison possible.