from Samples to Pipe Sounds

Pipe organs for the living room

Many years was designing organs for the living room my speciality. The pipes of a church organ are not suitable in the living room, but it is possible to get the same sound if the pipes are made especially for the living room. The diameter scale remains the same, but with a lower wind pressure and a to the lower wind pressure adapted upper lip, the sound is made less powerful and the pipes will produce the same sound spectrum. Each pipe (sound source) must be voiced in the living room.

Samples contain the sounds of church organ pipes, that now at a lower volume let hear a completely different sound. It corresponds to the church organ pipes which are not usable in the living room. Again, an adjustment is required to listen to the same spectrum of sounds. Hauptwerk offers all possibilities to facilitate this adjustment.


The sounds are displayed with speakers, but the speaker here has a different function than in audio equipments. The requirement that the speaker should display a wide sound field evenly is not applicable here. The sample contains the sound in the church and is too loud for a living room. It is a physical law that lowering the loud strength affects the sound spectrum (see Fletcher-Munson curve hearing) and therefore Hauptwerk offers an extensive control panel to voice each sound independent of each other. This compensates both abnormalities in the samples as deviations from the speakers. At several organs of friends I have adjusted the samples under various conditions. Good active loudspeakers (bass plus treble speaker, including amplifier) plus a good subwoofer are sufficient for optimal reproducing of the sounds of the samples.

The size of the room where the organ is played, proved to be an important factor. It is impossible to play the Sample Set of an organ from a cathedral in a small room to hear sounds that give the illusion of a large church.
A for any organist comprehensible method for the adjustments of the samples is described with text and many photos in the Hauptwerk Practical Guide.

Everyone who requested the Hauptwerk Practical Guide gets it free, but I ask to inform me about the results. I use that in new editions of this book, so I keep the book always up to date and add it to the knowledge of all the users.

Free to request with a mention of the E-Mail address and the complete postal address.
                                                           John Boersma


The booklets show the positions of the voicing sliders of the samples. After my voicing I have compared the sounds to the original organs.  


The books are free to free request with the full postal address. 


Send an e-mail to:

                                                John Boersma
No difference between pipes and speakers

At Johannus Orgelbouw in Ede, there is the Monarke organ with sounds both from pipes as samples.

The case shows an organ with beautiful-sounding pipes. Of these pipes, samples are created, displayed by speakers in the chests organ next to it. Through careful voicing the samples sound alike as the pipes, although this is now displayed by the speaker. Both organs are played with the keyboard of the chests organ of which the keys are divided arbitrarily with the pipes or with the samples.

Each organist who thinks he is able to hear the difference between a sound from a pipe or a speaker is invited to play the organ and to determine whether a speaker or a pipe is the sound source. Even though I have an absolute pitch, also trained for many years by the voicing of pipes, I was not able to hear a difference. Just by covering the labium by hand, I could determine whether a pipe was heard or that it came from a speaker.

Although this organ was here for many years nobody succeeded in making the difference between speakers or pipes. The speakers are of good quality, but no special speakers with HiFi qualifications.

This proves that by good voicing the sound of a speaker is equal with the sound of a pipe!

     A mouse click on a book leads to the page about the sample set
Samples intonieren
      auf Deutsch
 Samples intoneren
Sounding samples like Pipe tones

The most important feature of a pipe is the articulation, so the way a sound starts speaking.  In many sets it is recorded too weak in the samples. It can be corrected with the Transient (transition frequency and boost). It is a correction of the sample and is not dependent on the speakers or to the surroundings of the Hauptwerk organ.  A large number of owners of a Hauptwerkorgel I have helped with the voicing of their samples. I have experienced that the transient corrections in my organ are equal for each organ. Corrections of brightness and amplitudes differ to a large extent per organ.

The tonic of f3 of the Octave 2' is 5588 Hz, an overtone is absent or very weak. The small pipes produce in fact only tonics and the voicer must have a great skill get tonics from the small pipes, harmonics do not occur at all. A one foot stop at this point don’t sound higher, since it is repeated here to an octave lower. Both pitch and manufacturability of small pipes set limits here.

Audio playback higher than 10,000 Hz is so pointless; these tones will not be found in an organ. Also not in the reeds, where the sound, as the Principal, is determined mainly by the formant. Formants amplify the resonance of the characteristic tones; they strengthen them and weaken the tones that fall out of the formant.

A sample forms a entirety with the speaker. Replacing the loudspeakers means adjusting all samples again.


Hauptwerk User Guide

The program Hauptwerk is supplied with the User Guide. It is an incomprehensible book; just the technical jargon of the producers of Hauptwerk.

Every day I write and read English and I have no problems with that language, but studying the User Guide didn’t gave me the information that I needed for getting know the Hauptwerk program; it is not a manual. Since there are no further publications about Hauptwerk, only one possibility is left: to try actually in practice any operation of the book.

I've found all the procedures and I can explain it in understandable texts and images. Step by step I learned all about Hauptwerk in practice. That I described in the first book about Hauptwerk, which has become a real practical book. To translate this book into German and English was the next step. The practice book is now rewritten on the basis of new views.