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Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

A discussion forum for anything even marginally Hauptwerk-related.

Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby Neumie » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:11 am

If I remember right ... I don't have it here with me ... it seems the manual for my MIDI Rodgers organ is about fourteen pages or so. Large text with pictures. Not much to learn about the instrument, except for how to play the organ.

I've been procrastinating getting Hauptwerk going on my Rodgers for a long while. I finally downloaded the free version and had planned to buy a paid version right after getting it up to speed.

Well, as soon as I got it hooked up it became obvious that this requires use of the manual. It definitely doesn't set itself up or make itself obvious immediately after hitting "install".

Then I saw the manual! 231 pages of small print. This thing is more off-putting than a college textbook.

I still have the much more expensive option of buying a new turn-key standalone organ that would be ideal for someone who just wants to play - and not fuss with software.

What am I getting myself into here? Is Hauptwerk on the level of learning Finale or PhotoShop or Final Cut Pro? I'm the kind of guy who has actually made life decision based on how difficult the learning curve of related software is. If it takes the equivalent of two college semesters to learn it, forget it. Not how I want to spend my life.

Does Hauptwerk have a steep setup and learning curve? Or is this one of those things where 95% of the software is actually obvious in two hours and the 231 page manual is all mostly for very detailed lesser-used applications?
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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby Andrew Grahame » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:34 am

Hello Neumie,

Don't be put off by the size and complexity of the manual.

First - there's a "quick start" section (starting on Page 33) which will get you going fast.

Second - many aspects of the user guide may not be of immediate use to you depending on which version you are using. If you are using the Basic or Free versions you won't need to worry about the sections for the Advanced version.

Third - the manual is extremely well written. There's not a word out of place. Everything is well expressed, well illustrated with clear examples, and straight forward to follow.

Fourth - you have two main avenues of support. If using the Basic or Advanced versions you qualify for support from the software developers. For all versions there's the Forum - and you'll find that there's already a wealth of knowledge here for beginners. Remember we were all beginners once upon a time, and the Hauptwerk Forum community is friendly and very supportive.

Last but by no means least - welcome aboard!

Andrew
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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby ppytprs » Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:49 am

I don't think that Hauptwerk is difficult to use. But like many software applications, it depends what you want to get out of it.
It's not at all difficult to load up St Annes, assign your controls and get playing (unless you're entirely computer illiterate like some of my customers!). But to delve into some of the more advanced features might need a bit more thought.

My main point though was that for way less than the cost of a new Rodgers, if you couldn't or didn't want to figure it out yourself, you could pay someone to set up for you how you want it. And you'd probably end up with a more enjoyable system.
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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby josq » Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:05 am

Yes, Hauptwerk is easy to use, but a bit less easy to setup. It certainly is doable, but probably you will have to solve some riddles first using all the support that is available.

You may contact a professional Hauptwerk organ builder to prepare a stable configuration for you according to your wishes. In that case, your seller will take care of all the practicalities of setting up a Hauptwerk console, and upon delivery it will work as fine as your Rodgers.

Most of us on the forum however are DIY builders. This comes with all kinds of practical stumble blocks, as with any DIY project. But it is rewarding in two ways: it saves money and you learn a lot.
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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby mdyde » Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:19 am

Hello Neumie,

Very broadly speaking, and in most areas, I think we've managed to make Hauptwerk v4 nearly as easy to use as it would reasonably be possible to make any software that could do what Hauptwerk can do, and that could be compatible with as many different products (MIDI consoles and other MIDI devices, types of computer hardware, etc.), and that could be used in so many different ways (home use, installations in churches, for theatre organs, modern classical organs, historical classical organs with esoteric features, with multi-channel audio systems, headphones, MIDI sequencers/VST, etc.) as Hauptwerk can.

Because there are so many different types of hardware that people have and want to use with Hauptwerk, and because there are so many different ways that they want to use it, the user manual is inevitably big; Hauptwerk inevitably needs to be a very large piece of software that can do a lot, i.e. that can support a lot of complexity.

However, doing something basic with it, such as connecting it up to your Rodgers organ and playing a sample set in stereo from your Rodgers' keyboards, expression pedals and pistons (assuming the Rodgers has MIDI support), is very easy. The quick-start section in guide covers that (see pages 33-51 in the current v4.2.1 version of the user guide). Please also have a quick read through the 'Playing Hauptwerk live from a digital organ' section of the main Hauptwerk user guide (pages 179-180), which covers some important points to be aware of, as well as how to connect things up.

Of course, if you don't want to fiddle at all with computers, drivers, MIDI and audio interfaces, etc, then instead just buying a conventional digital organ will be simpler (but much more expensive and much less flexible).
Best regards,
Martin.

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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby organsRgreat » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:26 am

I'm trained as a musician; all that I know about computers I picked up as I went along, and by asking friends. I found Hauptwerk quite easy to set up – it has an “auto-detect” feature which does a lot of the work for you. For instance, if you want it to recognise a swell pedal, right click on the pedal on the console picture; a dialogue box crops up offering to auto detect the control for you. Move the swell pedal between its minimum and maximum positions, left click on “Done” and that's it! Assigning a particular manual as Great, Swell or whatever is done the same way. Hauptwerk works out the MIDI channel, and by pressing the lowest and highest notes on the manual you tell it where those are.

The only slightly tricky part is assigning stops to speaker groups, but if you start with just one pair of stereo speakers even that doesn't take long. The usual Windows conventions apply – you can “select” a whole group of stops at one go and assign them all to one output.

So far as I know a Rodgers organ is limited to the stops it's supplied with; one of the great attractions of Hauptwerk is that sample sets are available representing all the major schools of organ building, throughout the world.

In answer to your question as to whether Hauptwerk is “one of those things where 95% of the software is actually obvious in two hours” - YES!
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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby sjkartchner » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:33 am

It really depends upon how much you care to fiddle with the process. If you're primarily concerned with turning on the instrument and being able to play in just a few seconds, and are satisfied with the internal sounds of the instrument, then Hauptwerk may not be your cup of tea. If, however, you don't mind fiddling a bit with the software and hardware, especially in the installation and setup phases, and don't mind waiting for up to a minute or longer before being able to play the selected instrument, then Hauptwerk opens up a whole new world of sonic wonders, few or none of which are available with the typical electronic instrument.

I use both, primarily relying on the organ's internal sounds for practice and then firing up Hauptwerk when I want to use a particular instrument and am not pressed for time. Hauptwerk really is incredible if you're willing to invest the time and resources to make it work for your situation.
Stan Kartchner, Tucson, AZ USA
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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby profeluisegarcia » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:52 pm

Hello

This PDF Randall Mullin's booklet may help also:

http://www.randallmullin.com/Hauptwerk%20Experience.pdf
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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby Antoni Scott » Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:14 am

Not to sound negative, but INITIALLY Hauptwerk, for me (and I stress only for me), was NOT easy to use. This is stated in no way as to detract from the Hauptwerk program. As a owner of Hauptwerk for the last nine years I have valued the technology as one of the best things I have ever experienced. But it wasn't always easy and at times extremely frustrating.

To those owners that are relatively new to Hauptwerk, back when it was called Crumhorn Labs, it was a far more difficult for me to get my head around and in some instances next to impossible to understand. For instance, the Presets which could be assigned to any of the thumb pistons, required that you find the actual file associated with that preset. Instructions were impossible for me to follow so I just contented myself with manual stop changes by hand.

Help was sometimes available from Brett Milan who was able to, in his busy schedule, decipher the owners handbook into readable, understandable instructions that even I as a computer "dud" could follow. However, occasionally problems would arise that I didn't even know how to explain so as to get help.

So why would I continue to frustrate myself on a daily basis ? The answer is obvious. The Hauptwerk system was by far the best organ program out there, by far. Not only did it sound better but it was affordable. But of course I am not saying anything that everybody doesn't know already.

Fortunately, things got better as far as being "computer friendly". Software improvements were constantly being added to make using Hauptwerk easier. For me, the single-most important improvement was the "Auto-Detect" feature which vastly improved setting up presets, etc.

Even today, I cringe when I hear that Hauptwerk is upgrading their Software to a newer version. My biggest problem was finding someone in my area that was familiar with Mac's. Hauptwerk's founder, Martin Dyde, is extremely helpful and took the time to outline step-by-step everything that I needed to do for a successful installation of a Version upgrade.

Over the years I have become more and more familiar with the software even to the point where I experimented by building another Hauptwerk organ by retrofitting it into an old 1970 but still working three manual 66 stop Rodgers 990.

So is Hauptwerk actually easy to use. The answer is "yes and no". It depends on how good you are with computers to begin with, and how far you want to go with it. Its capabilities seem unlimited. I will say that Martin Dyde was correct many years ago by saying that a certain level of computer knowledge is required.
But as with anything, if the results are worth it, its worth taking the time to follow it through to the end.

Antoni
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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby John_Abson » Thu Mar 30, 2017 12:10 pm

Your query reminded me of the old saying 'if it isn't difficult, it isn't worth doing'. The perceived difficulty will of course vary depending on the starting point of the individual and what their aspirations are.

If you are put off simply because you think it might be difficult then you are probably better off spending a great deal more money on an off-the-shelf solution. If on the other other hand you like a challenge then I would certainly jump in, for three reasons: Firstly, Hauptwerk can cater for all ambitions from the very simple to the highly complex. Secondly, the simple can be achieved with a small and manageable cost and expanded as desired. Finally, and not least, Hauptwerk is extremely approachable considering its capabilities, and is also remarkably well supported by this community.

Give what you have a try and when you get stuck, just ask!
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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby RichardW » Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:15 pm

It is one of my basic rules of computer programs that the more a program does the harder it will be to use.

It is obvious, really. If a program does one thing then you can either run it or not. If a program does two things then you first have to run it then choose which of the two options you need. That is a whole extra section in the user manual!

Having said that, Hauptwerk is very easy to use for me now. I turn it on with one switch and need just two steps to switch it off.

If I want to use a different organ then I need to run the command to load a new organ.

Hauptwerk is capable of doing all kinds of things - more than I will ever need. However, I can see from the messages here that those features are used by some people.

Basically, the initial set up is where the difficulties were for me: installing Hauptwerk, installing sample sets, how many speakers do you have, how do you want to use them etc, how many organs do you need, do you have space to store them all and also space to load the biggest one into memory prior to playing?

The manual is very good and there is also help here to get you past the set up step. After that, it can be plain sailing.

Think of it like driving a car. Is it easy to drive to the shops? What if you have not learned how to drive yet?

Regards,
Richard
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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby scottherbert » Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:48 pm

I can TOTALLY relate! When I first got my Hauptwerk setup, I was not only a Hauptwerk newbie, but a complete imbecile with computers. With trial and (many) errors, I got it to work. What I mean to say is, If I can do it, a blind, one handed monkey can do it!!! :lol:

Granted, there are STILL many, many features that I can't, and choose not to use. But by golly, I can play different organs in my own home, and that's the whole point!!!

~S
"Life is just a dream, it is in death that we truly awaken!"
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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby profeluisegarcia » Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:54 pm

RichardW wrote: the more a program does the harder it will be to use

Regards,

I wonder if "the more a program does the most likely it will fail"? :?:
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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby RichardW » Fri Mar 31, 2017 2:31 pm

profeluisegarcia wrote:I wonder if "the more a program does the most likely it will fail"? :?:

Yes, that is also true.

As my father used to say about the options available on new cars: "If it hasn't got one then it can't go wrong!"


Regards,
Richard
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Re: Is Hauptwerk actually easy to use?

Postby Neumie » Fri Mar 31, 2017 3:46 pm

profeluisegarcia wrote:I wonder if "the more a program does the most likely it will fail"?


Original poster here.

I'm not inclined to worry about the program "failing" in the sense of constant crashes or bugs that cause the program to do things it was not intended to do. I'm sure if that was the case with HW, we would be reading about it. I don't see that as a frequent complaint here on the forum.

But doesn't it seem like, with all the genius that is poured into making various sophisticated programs do amazing things, that the one thing that is missing is for the programmer to ask - about each and every function and step involved, "Is this easily accessible and will it be instantly understood by someone who knows the art or science of the software's outcome?"

I do understand the concept of a sophisticated function in software that requires extensive learning, perhaps years of college, to execute. What I don't understand is why features of any software, regardless of how sophisticated or extensive, are hard to access or don't make themselves readily understood for what they are.

Example: Years ago I wanted to learn how to edit video. I bought Final Cut Pro (Apple's powerhouse video editor) and began the startup process. Days later, I was frustrated and still did not have a single edited clip. I did a little research and found there was a German editor called Casablanca whose number one selling feature was ease of use - without any compromises as to features. They specifically marketed themselves opposite Final Cut Pro and invited comparison. I bought a Casablanca and to this day have never once opened the manual. Everything was intuitive - and every feature that was unknown to me (almost all of them at the beginning) was so accessible that it invited playful noodling so as to understand what it did.

Today I consider myself a high-intermediate video editor ... and I taught myself the whole science on a program that I never read the manual for.

I believe that should be the standard for all software.

I don't mean to sound critical or unkind, as Hauptwerk is a godsend for aspiring and accomplished organists and the creators and community around it are very giving and cordial. But the fact that I put in almost two hours with the manual in hand and still have the organ's great manual triggering the bass pedals in HW tells me I'm in for a rough ride before this software is an invisible extension of my thinking.

Also, please note I'm not new to computers, not computer illiterate, and have used many other programs in the past. I understand preferences, settings, embedded menus, etc.

No piece of software should have a difficult startup curve. If it's written with "each feature is easily accessible and instantly understandable" in mind, why should any one step be "difficult"?

It's the same thing as learning music. If you have an exceptional teacher, he'll break everything down - even the most advanced concepts - further and futher into bite sized pieces that should never once leave you feeling overwhelmed with the week's lesson. If it's not readily understood or thoroughly learned in a week's time (assuming you're getting weekly lessons and putting in the practice time), my experience is that it's usually the teacher's fault, not the student's.

I've banged my head against a wall with some concepts (as presented to me by my teacher) for weeks or months at a time - only to have her repeat the same instruction in the same manner week after week.

Then I'll read one article that presents it differently and suddenly the whole thing comes together and I'm playing.

Regardless, the next week, my teacher is still presenting the information the same way with her other students.

Just like some software programs, year after year, still remain difficult to set up.

Why not just make ease of setup primary focus of the next update? Shouldn't all programmers be obsessed with ease of use, like they are with the inclusion of new features?

Isn't it terrible to think about losing even one potential genius writer, video editor, architect, or organist losing interest in the art and moving on to something else just because the software was too hard to set up and the functions were too hard to find?

With regards to HW, I don't hear a lot of complaints about the functions. I read where a lot of people say that there are many features they'll never use, but I don't read many complaints about wanting a certain feature and not being able to find it.

What I have read several times - and which is my experience exactly - is that setting up Hauptwerk is not entirely straightforward. In fact, the vibe I'm getting from this thread and the forum in general is that Hauptwerk is in part a community of survivors of the setting-up process. All the folks who couldn't figure out the prefs and settings are no longer with us.

I don't know yet if I'll be one of the survivors who get to enjoy HW every day. I'll give it another earnest effort and see if I have success this time.
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