Pipe organ in the living room

The sound of a pipe for a house organ is heard at close range and therefore the pipe must be made more carefully and voiced than a pipe for a church organ. When the wind from the languid reaches the upper labium, an underpressure is created that pulls the wind inwards. This results in an overpressure in the pipe that pushes the wind out again. This swirling wind gives an audible accent at the beginning of the tone and then the build-up follows to the full tone. When I voice the tone of a pipe I can influence all aspects of the tone formation and strive for the most beautiful sound.

The tones stored in the samples come from well-voiced pipes. To capture its sonic beauty, microphones need to be close to the pipes so that only the dry tone is captured and not the reverberation from the acoustics. Only DRY samples are able to convey the characteristics of the pipe tones. WET samples are recorded at a great distance from the pipes, where the tones are masked by the reverb. No sound beauty can be heard in WET samples.

The character of the sound depends on the way a pipe starts speaking. It is the articulation that the organist needs for his musical expression. The tone needs to start a little aggressive, send a clear signal that it has something to say. The accents differ according to the nature of the register; a Principal starts differently than a Stopped pipe or a Flute. The microphones must be a short distance from the pipes, in order to capture articulation and character well in the samples. By voicing, the character that appears too weak in the living room due to the lower volume can be brought back to the front.

When the volume for loud sounds is greatly reduced, a register of soft sounds will no longer be audible. Therefore, the differences between loud and soft registers should be reduced. The dynamics of the church are adapted to the dynamics of the living room.

In Hauptwerk 5, the method of voicing DRY samples differs not from Hauptwerk 4. A big difference, however, is the transmission of the reverberation of the church. This can be recorded with Impulse-Response technique and stored as an exact copy of the acoustics of the church in a memory of the Hauptwerk organ. Every sound processed through that memory undergoes exactly the same processes as the sounds in the church. This is the convolution technique, where sounds and reverberations are modulated on top of each other. The sample set only needs to contain the DRY samples.

In Hauptwerk 4, the reverberation of the church was transmitted by WET samples with recordings at great distances, so that both the sounds and the reverberations were far from realistic. I never wanted to use WET samples; the reverberation of a Lexicon MX300 gave better results. Now I need it no more, the Impulse-Response technique gives a perfect representation of the acoustics of the church.

Sound beauty of a House organ

The organ of the Martini Church in Groningen is known worldwide as one of the most beautiful church organs. Due to the aging of the metal of the ancient pipes, the structure of the molecules in the pipe corpus changes and this has a favorable effect on the resonances of the pipe. The sounds are soften and shining. The pipes of the organ in the Martini Church have an authentic sound beauty.

Jiri Zurek of Sonus Paradisi was surprised by the sound beauty of this organ and placed his microphones close to the pipes to capture every detail of the sound in the sample. The organ of the Martini church is a baroque organ, but even when music by romantic composers is played, the sounds are more beautiful than of specifically romantic organs. The organs built later lack the shiny sound of old pipes.

The sound beauty of the organ in Groningen can be heard as a subtle refinement of the sounds. It is stored in the samples, but with the loud volume of the church. That volume should be lowered to the level of the living room, but because a reduction has a stronger effect on the high than on the low tones, it limits the result. A voicing is necessary to hear the special characters in the living room.

The sample set of the Martini organ is the best example that voicing is needed to transfer the sound beauty of the church to the living room. When voicing, you can hear that the special properties of the sounds come to the front. As if they were muffled by a heavy curtain. The acoustics of the church have been copied with IR technology and turn the living room into an immense space. The full work sounds powerful yet transparent like a large choir. Thin tones sound with a delicate intensity.

My book Sound Beauty of a House Organ shows the voicings of each stop with many photos. By copying these literally, the organ sounds like in the church and the special characters of the stops are properly reproduced. It also gives the organist insight into the method. Since the sounds are output from other speakers, differences arise. With the insight obtained into the method, an even sound is again achieved. The new method has now been tested by various organists for six months and appears to be easy to follow.

This form of voicing should not be compared to the voicing of pipes. Years of experience and absolute hearing are required. The sounds in the DRY samples are from pipes that are already well voiced and need an adjustment to make them sound the same in the living room.

Reliable Sample Sets

The most reliable sample sets come from Jiri Zurek of Sonus Paradisi. In baroque organs, my preference is primarily for the new sample set of the organ of the Martini Church in Groningen as the most perfect set ever made.
Then of the Schnitger organ in Zwolle, the Bader organ in Zutphen and the Coci-Klapmeyer organ in Altenbruch. The Serassi organ by Piacenza has registers with sounds in a special style. Also carillon and small bells! It is a valuable organ to play alternately with the baroque organs. The Cavaillé Coll organs, St. Omer and the organ in Caen are highly successful sample sets.

Prospectum also supplies sample sets of perfect quality, including those from the Holzhey Organ in Weissenau. Recently there is a new sample set of the organ in Anloo. With an innovative technique developed by them, they deliver better sounds than was possible with Hauptwerk's technique. The samples can be used without any adjustment and let the church sounds in their full splendor, but with the volume that suits a living room. A sample set of Ansbach's Wiegleb organ is in preparation.

In the church the organist hears the sounds at a short distance and the reverb sounds in the rear acoustics. This gives space to the sound provided there is not too much reverb. The melody lines must not intersect. The organist has something to tell with the music, and as with the spoken word it must remain intelligible.

The sample sets of Helmut Maier (Organ Art Media) are recorded with microphones in an artificial head, a technique from 60 years ago. With its method, a huge acoustic is stored in the samples, to the disadvantage of the sound beauty of the organ. For this reason I have not installed sample sets of Helmut Maier in Hauptwerk 5.

For the same reason sample sets of Piotr Grabowski are not usable. Both sample makers I have made my arguments known, but they consider their products to be above all criticism and are not willing to discuss them.

This are the only useful voicings for samples:

Nr 2 All perspectives: overall: amplitude (dB).
Nr 4 All perspectives: overall: overall: brightness (dB).


Nr 5 All perspectives: overall: tremulant mod: pitch (pct).

Nr 6 All perspectives: overall: tremulant mod: amplitude (pct).

Nr 40 Output persp 1 (front 1/main): lo/hi EQ: transition freq (kHz; retrigger).
Nr 42 Output persp 1 (front 1/main): lo/hi EQ: high freq boost (dB; retrigger).


Martini church Groningen
Sound beauty of a House Organ

The sounds of the organ in the Martini church are carefully recorded in the sample set. The sounds correspond accurately to the sounds in the church. It's the best set ever made of an organ.

In this third book about the organ, I show a sophisticated voicing that makes the sounds in the living room sound just like in the Martini church. Another organ doesn't have the same speakers, so my voicing has to be adjusted for each organ. The new method I found for this was tested for six months and proved to be well understood.


The book will be sent free of charge if it is requested by name, e-mail address and full mailing address                     mail to:    John Boersma
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