Organ maker Noorlander in Lunteren

By playing hundreds of church organs, I've experienced how it sounds at the console in a church. These sounds I expect to hear also of a Hauptwerk organ in my living room and I have discussed these ideas with Kees Noorlander during a visit to its auditorium in Lunteren. The organs have here an excellent audio system. A chain of digital-analog converter, amplifiers and good speakers that are placed at the height of the ears of the organist. So, an organist hears the sounds, which corresponds to the situation of the church. A subwoofer in a very large enclosure ensures a smooth representation of the pedal stops the bass tones.

Sonnette III

My preference went to the Sonnette III, but with some changes to personal wishes. This could be realized here very well. The speakers deliver a transparent reproduction of pipe sounds. With customizing the samples piece by piece to the speakers, the sounds of the pipes of the church are reproduced accurately. That the sounds are reproduced by speakers is not audible, it sounds it completely similar to the sounds that come directly from the pipes of my pipe chamber organ. The adjustment per sample is an absolute must.

A logical and easy to execute method is described in the Hauptwerk Practical Guide.

Hauptwerk Organ

For decades, I've built organs for the living room. As church organ pipes are too powerful for a House pipe organ, I produced pipes with the same scale so the same sounds were heard, but with less volume due to a lower wind pressure. As an organist I would play at home with the same sounds. A house organ is limited by the lack of acoustics. These restrictions do not apply for a Hauptwerk organ. The sounds are the sounds of a church organ, which are stored along with the acoustics of the church in the samples.

The Hauptwerk organ has three keyboards connected over a MIDI connection to a computer, where the sounds of the pipe organs are digitally stored. A DAC (digital to analog converter) sends the sounds to the audio portion, where two active speakers of good quality care for the sounds are completely in accordance with the original sounds of the pipes. I get an even reproduction of the sounds by adjusting the samples on the speakers.

The sound gets more value when watching a movie, if it is recorded in surround. It gives the feeling to sit in the middle of the scenes. But surround cannot add anything to the playing of an organ. The organist in the church hears the sounds of the pipes on a short distance and further on the reverberation in the acoustics of the church, which are reflected from several directions. In my home these acoustics is reproduced by individual channels, which are connected to the Lexicon MX 300. The reverb is than a lot more realistic and it sounds like a natural transmission of the acoustics of the church.

Realistic sounds

The acoustics of many rooms with different sizes and different reflective properties are stored in the Lexicon MX 300. Every sound that is sent through this space sounds as if the Hauptwerk organ is really in this room. The acoustics is realistically present and sounds better than those which were recorded in the samples; they are more or less a compromise between sounds and hall.

The sample set of the Transept organ of the Laurens church in Rotterdam demonstrates this convincingly. The character of the pipes are completely audible in the Dry samples, every detail can be heard, because it is recorded on a short distance and no hall hides something. The sound goes directly to the audio equipment of the organ, and parallel to the Lexicon too, which let’s hear it over a separate channel. This corresponds to the situation in the church.

A second sample in the set is recorded at a considerable distance and the sound is mixed with the acoustics of the church as a Diffuse sample. On the ’mixes and noises' screen a slider can move the sounds from Dry to Diffuse. In the position Dry the direct sound is heard together with the beautiful acoustics from the Lexicon. When I move the slider on the 'Mixes and Noises' screen from Dry to Diffuse, the mixed sound of pipes and acoustics from the sample can be heard. The pipes sounds at a large distance and the character is bad. The beautiful acoustic sounds from the Lexicon are still there, but when it is turned off, only the poor acoustics of the sample remains.

In the Lexicon MX 300 the acoustics can be chosen from many rooms in different sizes and different characters, such as hard or soft walls, many or a few reflections, widely scattered or more focused. These effects can be regulated continuously. The acoustic properties of an unlimited number of churches are to achieve in this way.

With the acoustics of the Lexicon MX 300 the Hauptwerk organ simulates the church organ in the most realistic manner.


The lighting for the music desk and the pedal is built-in on this organ. Switching is done in an innovative way. There is a small sensor on the left side under the keyboards. A small movement with the hand along the sensor switches a row of LED lights above the music stand. At the same time, a second row of LED lights illuminates the pedal keyboard. Covering the sensor a few seconds makes the light dimming; releasing and covering it again makes the light brighter.

At the photo the lighting is visible when moving the mouse along it                             

Lexicon MX 300

Since my experience with the previous organ has taught me how valuable a separate hall system is, I've discussed my wishes with Kees Noorlander. He has good experience with the Lexicon MX 300, in which the acoustics of different areas in different sizes are stored. If the acoustics of a range of appropriate size is selected, there is no audible difference between the recorded reverberation from the church and the reverberation from the Lexicon MX 300.

The Lexicon MX 300 is built in the organ console. Separate speakers reproduce the reverberation. For practical reasons, these speakers are placed on the organ, but they may get without objection a less visible place.

The Lexicon MX300 is available at Orgelmakerij Noorlander.

                                                                              website Noorlander                                                                                                           

My previous organ has a Lexicon reverb system. I've discussed my ideas with various organist who has played my organ and we experimented with the reverb. The conclusion was that dry samples along with the reverberation from the Lexicon give an organ a more realistic reproduction than surround samples from the same sample set. There are sample sets of organs in churches with less acoustics and then it sounds more comfortable to select the acoustics of a small church in the Lexicon. This small addition is just a little more Hall, without harming the natural acoustics of the church.