Samples are sounds of a pipe organ

Hauptwerk is intended to allow the sounds of a church organ to be heard in the living room. Pipe tones are stored in the samples; they are tones that are formed in a complicated process. From the start of the tone through building up to full strength to ending the tone, there is a special way of generating a tone, which is specific to a pipe organ and has no resemblance to other musical instruments. A series of tones make up a register, each note showing the character associated with that register, only their pitches differ.

The organ builder voices each pipe to ensure that the character remains the same within certain limits. Exactly equal is not possible, not even desirable. Some unevenness gives liveliness to the sound and enhances the musical value. The voicer has the choice between a high degree of equality or intoning a pipe to its optimum.

The Hauptwerk organ reproduces the sounds from the samples with loudspeakers, just like electronic organs. To make an audible difference, high demands must be placed on the sample making process. Few sample makers are able to store a high-quality church organ in the samples in such a way that a high-quality organ also sounds in the living room. A lot of reverb obscures the character of the pipe sounds and then there is little difference with electronic organs.

Large files reproduce the sounds audibly better!
It is very important that the tone of the pipe is fully memorized from the start, to the tone build-up by the fluctuating wind, to the distinctive way of ending. Storing all properties requires a large memory, so the sample set must be a large file! Proper reproduction of the tone is only possible if the entire character is captured in the sample.
                              What is not in, it cannot come out!

The four organs described above, all from Sonus Paradisi, are stored in large files and take a few minutes to load the samples. But then a perfect pipe organ also sounds from the speakers, where I use my own pipe organ to compare.

Wind model
The wind model that should make electronic organs sound less rigid is also present in the sample sets in Hauptwerk. I don't use it because it sounds too artificial. It is also not necessary with good sample sets, because the fluctuations of the natural wind behavior in the pipes can already be clearly heard. It makes the artificial wind completely unnecessary.

Schnitger-orgel Martinikerk Groningen

Two conditions determine the value of a sample set. 1. An organ with a reputation for being of great musical value. 2. Samples in which all the characteristic properties of the pipes are carefully stored. Striking staccato, portato and legato makes a pipe sound different and those differences should be clearly audible in the sample.
The Schnitger organ of the Martini Church in Groningen has sounds that are colorful and relaxing.
A pipe with a relaxed sound will already let the tone be heard by blowing lightly. With increasing pressure, the full volume will sound. How the wind flow from the languid reaches the upper labium is crucial for the speaking and the timbre. The timbre of the Martini organ has the character of the North German Baroque. At that time, the organ builders knew how to voice pipes of great sound beauty. That craft was lost, but was rediscovered in the last century.        see: Organ Martini chuch

Rudolf Janke-orgel in Bückeburg

With knowledge of the craft, a few organ builders have now built new organs. The sounds of Jürgen Ahrend's new organs are equivalent to the historical sounds.
His colleague Rudolf Janke built an organ in historic style for the Stadtkirche in Bückeburg. This organ is new, but the sounds have all the characteristics of the Middle German Baroque style. Rudolf Janke shows that he masters the traditional way of building organs. His refined voicing was highly valued by experts. In addition to transparent clarity, the sounds have deep Gravity. This is clearly audible in the flute registers when playing Bach's Trio Sonatas.  see: Orgel in Bückeburg

Baroque organ Prytanée France

The organ from 1640 in the Prytanée in France is a Baroque organ with sounds that fit well with the Middle German sounds. The organ of the sample set corresponds almost entirely to the Couperin organ of the VU University in Amsterdam. The organ in the Prytanée plays at very low wind pressure in a church with excellent acoustics. This principle is especially common in Italy; by choosing the wind pressure low, the sounds are relaxed. The beautiful acoustics ensure that the sounds can be heard evenly throughout the large room. There is no sample set whose sounds sound so relaxed and mellow without any adjustment. Still, by voicing the samples I was able to improve the sound beauty considerably. The result was surprising; from each tone the character now came out clearly. The details of the response and tone shaping can be heard perfectly, better than I've ever heard in a sample.                                               see: Orgel Prytanée

Authentic North German Baroque Organ

Antonius Wilde built the organ in 1598 for the St. Jacobi Church in Lüdingworth, which was later expanded with a Positive by Arp Schnitger. A good Gravity and a singing clarity provide a vocal sound here. The human voice is the measure and the overtones form a Formant; that is a coloring by a group of overtones that remains the same per pitch, like a vowel that remains recognizable regardless of the pitch.
In the time of the Renaissance, the tones of an organ met the requirements and inspired Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck to compose his music.       see: Schnitger-Wilde orgel  

Nederlands     Duits
Tones of a pipe organ

When I play my organ I prefer to choose one of the organs on this page. I know the church sounds from my own plays and there is no difference audible when I play them at home on my Hauptwerk organ.

There are two main conditions for making this possible:

a. The tone of the pipe must be stored in the sample with all its properties
b. The house organ must have a top audio system to reproduce the pipe sounds
c. The choice of the sample system
                                               Hauptwerk or Sweelinq ?

Pressing a key and pipe tone must coincide

Pressing the key activates a mechanism that opens the valve and let the pipe sounds. A mechanism with intermediate links is easy to make, but works with some delay. A direct connection between key and valve is constructively more difficult, but is still preferred because the tone responds immediately to key pressure.

To play an instrument, a musician must immediately hear the tone, whether it be a violin, flute, or piano. It cannot be otherwise with these instruments; they are in the immediate vicinity of the musician. With an organ there is more distance between keys via the valves to the pipes, but here too the delay must be minimal. An organist would prefer to play directly on the valves.

Amateurs who prefer a multi-channel organ should play more often in a church to hear the difference between a real organ with one source of sounds and a room full of loudspeakers that are all sound sources.


The samples are reproduced in the Hauptwerk organ with some delay – the latency. This latency can be reduced if computer performance is taken into account. On my organ I have greatly reduced the latency and although it is about milliseconds, the touch is much more pleasant. Now every nuance of my playing is immediately audible in the rapidly changing tones. This is only possible with DRY samples; it makes no sense to do this with the slow WET samples.