Listning the sounds of the samples

At the place where the organist sits at the console, the microphones record the sounds. At the Hauptwerk organ the loudspeakers must play the sounds in the same place. Thus on short distance on both sides of the organist. The quality requirements that apply to audio playback are not applicable here. Active loudspeakers of good quality meet superbly.

By reducing the volume which has a different effect for high tones than for low tones, the tones must be adjusted. This adjustment compensates for the differences in the loudspeakers. Therefore speakers with Hi-fi specifications do not provide better playback than good loudspeakers in the middle segment.

Voicing is a mandatory requirement, because the loudspeakers are part of the voicing. This creates the unique ability to correct all deviations of the loudspeakers. The combination of samples and loudspeakers forms an unbreakable unit. With well-adapted samples the sounds correspond exactly to the sounds of the pipes.  


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.

Hearing loss can occur in the form of worse observing of certain tonal areas, but more often still occurs Tinnitus (ringing in the ears). In all cases, hearing damage is not curable.

In order to be able to judge sounds, it must be heard in relation to the environment. Compare it to a painter, he needs not only a light on his subject and a light on the canvas. The entire environment must be lit brightly to be able to assess colors and light contrasts.

Sounds must also be judged in a preferably large space. Listening with headphones lacks the scale.
In the Philips audio laboratory in Waalre, I have done many experiments with several persons. Helmut Maier of Organ Art Media listens to the samples with headphones and he strongly recommends listening to them on a Hauptwerk organ with headphones.
That's why I didn't transfer them to Hauptwerk 5. The quality is far below the norm.

The sample sets that were already present in Hauptwerk 4 will sound the same after the upgrade to Hauptwerk 5. The new possibilities offered by Hauptwerk 5 must first be activited.

The biggest change is the convolution reverb that can be put into use quite easily. After that, it became a completely different organ. The acoustics are so realistic that it sounds as if the Hauptwerk organ is now in the church, where the convolution reverb is recorded.

It is not comparable to the old state when WET samples had to take care of the acoustics. The sounds of each set seem to come from a new organ and it is a celebration to listen to all the old sample sets.
Sounds of a Hauptwerk organ

The sounds of Hauptwerk are pipe organ sounds set in a memory. The Hauptwerk organ reproduces these sounds with loudspeakers, without hearing any difference with the sounds of the pipes. However, only if strict conditions are consistently met.
The sound of the pipe must be recorded in the right place. The sound of a pipe begins with the articulation and then builds up to the full tone. This tone is not constant but fluctuates and brings the ambient air into resonance. These are characteristic features of pipes, which an organist hears at the console in the church and this is what he wants to hear at home from his Hauptwerk organ.

As the sounds are veiled at a greater distance by the hall of the room, the microphones must stand near the pipes. The end of the sound is performed in a certain way and is audible as a resonance. This whole process is recorded by microphones and is set as a sample in a digital memory.

The conditions for a good recording are: place the microphones in a short distance from the pipes to detect each characteristic of pipe. The recording should take longer than is required for playback, 8 to 12 seconds are common. In long-held tones, the alternating fluctuations and the breath of the wind are audible. If a sound has to take longer, the sample is repeated in a loop. The sample editor ensures that it is not stored audibly.

Short, staccato-played notes on the same key make the articulation sound different than the sounds played by legato playing and therefore several recordings are made one after the other. When the key is released, the organ switches to reverberation in the acoustics of the church, which is also included in the sample. Again, the sample editor ensures that it is not stored audibly.

Hauptwerk 5

Milan Digital Organ introduced Hauptwerk 5 at the end of 2019 as the new driver for Hauptwerk organs and that marked the end of Hauptwerk 4. Organists must now decide whether to upgrade their organ to the new version. It is a free choice, because the organ will continue to work with Hauptwerk 4. However, installing new sample sets and most of all the applying of the new capabilities is then excluded. Such as the convolution reverb as the most valuable improvement.

Although sample sets were licensed against illegal copying, hackers managed to crack this license. That's the stealing from the sample makers who have worked for a long time making a good sample set. Therefore, MDA has now secured the sets with the iLok system in Hauptwerk 5. De iLok consists of USB stick, in which the licenses of the sample sets are stored in.

Hauptwerk 5 has new valuable properties to make the sounds better according to everyone's preference. An organ is a musical instrument with different forms, therefore it is good, that it can be adapted to different preferences. Hauptwerk 5 has so many possibilities, that no desire has to remain unfulfilled. The sounds can be listened with two channels, but those who want a very extensive surround can choose for four, six or eight channels. The extensive possibilities to influence the sounds makes a very sophisticated intonation possible. The voicing is easier to perform than with Hauptwerk 4, which many organists will appreciate.

The acoustics of a church can be transferred entirely to the living room with convolution reverb. The highly advanced system can turn a digital copy of a cathedral's acoustics and then the Hauptwerk organ sounds like it has been moved to that cathedral. Convolution reverb had been for sale at an audio company for several years, but due to the very high price it was not bought by hauptwerk users. However, now that convolution reverb in Hauptwerk 5 is included it is a good reason for an upgrade. Only then do the sample sets of Hauptwerk 4 really sound like church organs.

A large number of sets which I had voiced for Hauptwerk 4, I now have provided with convolution reverb and the results surpasses any kind of acoustics I have previously tried with WET samples or with the Lexicon MX300.
Hauptwerk 5 comes with 18 reverberations, but Sonus Paradisi also offers a wide choice of reverberations from churches, from which a sample set was already available.

The new possibilities that Hauptwerk 5 offers has completely used Jiri Zurek of Sonus Paradisi in recording the sounds of the Martini organ. His goal was that the first sample set for Hauptwerk 5 also had to become the best set ever made.

I know the sounds of this organ well and I am surprised by every register that the samples convey all the properties so faithfully. The articulation of the pipe is the most important part of the sound and it is detailed in the samples recorded. The pipes are voiced to the acoustics of the Martini church and with these acoustics as convolution reverb it sounds perfect in the living room.

The organist of the Martini church, Sietze de Vries has reviewed every sample, every sound he knew of his organ, had to match the sound of the sample. The emotional value of the sound that the organist in the church is also reflected in playing in the living room. It will not have occurred before that the man who knows the organ best was involved in completing the samples. The sounds are perfectly stored in the samples.

I know the sounds of this organ as it sounds in the Martini church and I found it surprising to hear it in my living room just like that. Every nuance of the sound of a pipe can be heard clearly and so surpasses the sample set of the Martini organ each sample set.