SOPP604: I saw your article about your Hauptwerk setup at home which was very helpful and I’m now in the process of replicating your setup
Vidas: Hello and welcome to Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast!
Ausra: This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better organist.
V: We’re your hosts Vidas Pinkevicius...
A: ...and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene.
V: We have over 25 years of experience of playing the organ
A: ...and we’ve been teaching thousands of organists online from 89 countries since 2011.
V: So now let’s jump in and get started with the podcast for today.
A: We hope you’ll enjoy it!
V: Let’s start episode 604 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Francois, and he writes:
“Good day Vidas and Ausra,
I hope you are well and you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.
My name is Francois, I live in London and I came across you on the Hauptwerk Facebook group as well as YouTube. Thank you so much for all the wonderful videos and music that you two post, it really is an inspiration. I also saw your article about your Hauptwerk setup at home which was very helpful and I’m now in the process of replicating your setup. I received my keyboard stand over the weekend and today two of my three Nektar Impact GX61 keyboards were delivered. I’m only using the basic Hauptwerk subscription as I haven’t played organ in about 20 years and I need to get back in the saddle, so to speak. The peddle board will have to wait for now as it is a bit pricey.
I would like to get a bit more info and help on your sound setup. I see you have Presonus Eris E4.5 monitors in your list of equipment. Are they good for reproducing a good sound especially in the 16’ and 32’ registers? How do you connect them to your Apple, do you connect them using an audio interface? I’m running on Windows 10 on a Dell laptop and any guidance and advice will be appreciated.
Sorry for all the questions, but I really like your setup and I know that if you are happy with it then I will definitely be happy.
Thanks again for your amazing videos and for sharing your talent with us. Much appreciated.
V: So, what are some things that first come to mind, Ausra?
A: Well, thank you very much, Francois, for such a nice letter! We really love to hear it! Basically, I think this question is addressed to you, Vidas, because you are our technician, sort of to say, I’m just playing it.
V: Do you like playing it?
A: Well, yes, I like it a lot lately.
V: So we can talk a little bit about our setup in terms of audio. We have this post about our Hauptwerk setup so that people can read it, but before we discuss audio, we need to clarify some things. This is probably a question that Francois posted a while ago when we didn’t have the fourth manual, right?
V: And at the time, we were still using a MacBook Pro laptop, and now we have a Dell tower setup, so running on Windows 10, just like probably Francois is, in terms of operating system. Right Ausra?
A: Yes, true.
V: So, the sound for Macs is definitely better than the sound for Windows, therefore if I used in the past my MacBook Pro, I didn’t have to use any external sound cards or interface. Their internal soundcards are beautiful and work very well, except our laptop has only 16 GB of RAM, so that was enough for, let’s say, medium sized sample sets, but not enough for large sample sets. Right, Ausra?
A: So, yes! But basically, if you want to play larger instruments, you have to have more space on your computer.
V: More memory!
A: Yes, more memory.
V: Memory, meaning operating memory. Space, you can have an external disk, like we have an external drive, and we have all those sample sets loaded onto that external removable USB powered disk or drive, and then it’s just plugged into the Dell computer all the time; we don’t remove it. It has 4 TB of space, so it’s pretty large. You can do that, too, for any of the larger sample sets that you require, but you still need to figure out the RAM requirements. Right Ausra?
A: Yes, because that’s what gives you the opportunity to practice on various instruments, not only one or two.
V: Larger instruments such as the Rotterdam sample set that we have, or the Billerbeck Dom sample set. I guess there are some ways to run those larger sample sets on 16 GB of RAM machines, but then you have to disable many, many stops that are taking up a lot of RAM, such as stops with tremulant. When they record each pipe, each stop in the row of those pipes, those sound engineers record in several ways. So one of the ways is the normal stop, and then another way is to draw the tremulant out and play the same pitch with tremulant. Imagine, it’s very memory consuming.
A: Yes, it is! And remember we had that problem with that sound delay!
V: Yes, that’s because when we switched to Windows to the Dell computer, we didn’t have the external card yet, and therefore, we noticed the sound delay. Basically we pressed the key, and the sound would appear only after, let’s say, a couple of short moments.
A: Yes, and it was really frustrating, because you would never hear what you play at the right moment!
V: It reminded me sometimes of a bad pneumatical action instrument. You know, when the sound really is late. It’s called latency, actually, and you can actually adjust this latency within the Hauptwerk setup, but it wasn’t enough with the internal sound card that the Dell computer has, so we ordered an external sound card, and it works now more or less ok. Right, Ausra?
A: Yes, I got used to it now. It doesn’t bother me anymore.
V: Still, we had to adjust the latency a little bit, because you can do minimal, instantaneous latency, right? But then there is a danger of sound glitches. Basically, if you play many stops together or many keys together, like 4 parts in one hand, 4 parts in another hand, or even if you play with organ duet texture like we do with Ausra, then you use lots and lots of sounds at the same time, and then if you have minimum latency, like zero, instant latency, then there are some sound glitches, like sound truncating sounds. And this is not nice! Right, Ausra?
A: Yes, it wasn’t really nice when it happened.
V: Especially when playing very loud.
A: That’s true.
V: I thought maybe that it was a Presonus loudspeaker thing, but it’s not! It’s this latency adjustment. So I adjusted, made it a little bit bigger, so now there is this minimum delay, still, it’s almost invisible, but now it can manage large amounts of sounds almost without any glitches.
A: Yes, now it works actually pretty well.
V: Yeah, we got used to it. It was frustrating at first, right Ausra?
V: The pedal board. Yeah… I understand why some people first invest into keyboards and only later invest in the pedalboards, because our pedalboard costs what… about 1500€. That’s about more than 10 times as much as the Nektar Impact GX61 keyboard.
A: But you know, if I would have to pick out one part of our Hauptwerk, yes all this setup, my favorite part would be that Viscount pedalboard. I really like it. It’s actually really good.
V: Understandable, that’s why it’s pricey. It’s a Viscount 30 note pedalboard, and it’s very convenient, elegant, and reminds me of a real organ. It has springs, and it has resistance like a real organ, whereas the Nektar keyboards are very resistance-free. No resemblance to any tracker action instruments. So, that’s why they are very cheap, quite reliable, right? They will last for a long time, probably, and quite affordable for starters. Right, Ausra?
A: Yes, true.
V: But down the road, probably, everyone’s dream is to have a tracker action keyboard, even on the Hauptwerk setup.
A: Yes, but actually, that first Nektar keyboard has served us for a few years already. Because remember, you bought it in order to be able to compose using the Sibelius program.
V: Yeah, and that’s why I stuck to Nektar brand, because our first midi keyboard controller was Nektar! It worked pretty well for Sibelius purposes, and I didn’t actually look for anything else. So, it’s very affordable and good for starters. Our students have been also acquiring Nektar keyboards as well for their practice. Hopefully they will set up some Hauptwerk capability with their computer, and practice from home.
A: Yes, that’s the nice thing about it.
V: Yes. Before we end, maybe we could actually talk about the Presonus monitors. Do you hear low sounds on those monitors?
A: Yes, but maybe not as well as I would do in like a real church in the real organ.
V: So, they’re also quite affordable as you see in the pricing in the example, and they reproduce all the range of sounds pretty well, but if you want like 32’ stops to be able to be heard, then Presonus works, too. Obviously, we hear those Subbass sounds and 32’ Trumpets and Posaune Stops, definitely there is no silence when you play those low stops, but probably they would sound more realistic if you had something else more suitable for extra low sounds. But for our purposes, it works pretty well. Right?
A: Yes, I think it works well.
V: So, I guess this answers Francois’s question. And please send us more of your questions, guys, we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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Our Hauptwerk Setup:
Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.