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Olé smoke..... PAB Pro - First impression from an amateur...

Existing and forthcoming Hauptwerk instruments, recommendations, ...

Olé smoke..... PAB Pro - First impression from an amateur...

Postby micdev » Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:29 am

First of all, a little about me.... 30 years ago I took organ lessons (2 years) with one of the best teachers/players in Canada; before my lessons I was playing organ by "ear" (had 6 months of piano lessons only a few years before). Then I went to college, began to work, family... basically didn't touch the organ for years. 5 years ago I bought a Rodgers 340, pratice some of my "theatre style favorites" then took some of my classical organ books and got hook once again to classical... discovered Hauptwerk 15 months ago... and began to take some organ lessons for the last six months. My level of playing... very amateur! Bach's 8 Little Prelude and Fugue, Widor 6th Symphony (first 2 pages... after hourssss of pratice), various easy organ pieces.

I only had the chance to play a few pipe organs (Casavant: 75, 92 ranks, on 10 ranks trakker for my lessons back then), one theatre organ (Wurlitzer) and a lot of electronic organs... That's it

Why this introduction... so you understand how "Amateur" I'm (I know that this description applies to some of you..), very far from being a pro... so here are my comments about the PAB sampleset.

Last week I downloaded the trial version; the comments (mainly before the release) and threads about this sampleset and it price left me "luke warm", but with the availabity of a free trial, I decided it to give it a try. For a little 13-15 stops organ, I was impress by the sound, quality of the trial version, so much that I bought it! The "soon" to be release Medium edition was perfect for my budget but finally went all the way to the Pro version.. hey you only live once!

Saturday I began the 35 Gb download... clicking on the links provided by Csaba, using Internet Explorer instead of a robust Ftp client as recommanded by Csaba. The next day... horror... all the files were only partially downloaded (some 500 mb to 1 gb of data missing)... so back to square one. Began the download once again sunday with FileZilla (took almost 12 hours), but it worked flawlessly!

Last night I installed the organ: 9 files (3-4 gb each) + 2 update files. Then the "clicking festival" began.

I have an XP64 machine with 8 Gb, so I must carefully select how I load the stops to make sure it fits into memory; thanks to the guidance of Rob (telemanr), I knew what to do:

All stops
No change necessary because it is the HW default
Memory compression mode: Lossless memory compression
Multiple attack/sustain sample handling mode: Load all available samples
Release sample truncation: Normal (full release samples)
Change necessary for all stops
Multiple sample loop handling mode: Load only loop which ends first (less realism, less memory) NOT the default

NOT All stops
* Maximum memory sample resolution: SEE BELOW
* Multiple release sample handling mode: SEE BELOW

14bit memory for the following stops (by stop number)

Extra Sounds

Multiple release sample handling : Load only default sample (less realism, less memory)

109, 120


So I clicked, and clicked and clicked to adjust the loading options for each and every stops... following Rob's "recipe"; I did changed a few things from his recipe; truncated each ranks @250msec (since I use it with convolution reverb) and loaded some of the pedals and 16' ranks in mono.... OUF, after all that clicking I finally clicked LOAD and went to diner... when I came back, I was expecting the worst (error message, crash...), but no, here it was, the console waiting for me to try it.

I pressed a few tabs to make sure everything was working and it was. I immediatly configured my crescendo pedal.

I move a little bit the pedal, hold a chord and hear some sound, but barely... it is so subtle, distant, I go to Organ Setting | General Ouput and increase the value; ah, now I can hear a lot better, I push a little bit the crescendo pedal... oohh nice (and I'm only at 20), a little more, ohoh... 32' pedals, reeds.. a little more... the room starts to vibrate... let's go all the way.... Woohoo... room is now "shaking", my heart starts to race, I'm surrounded by sound, feel the sound, see the lights of the console all on... then I ease back on the pedal until only a few stops remains engaged... Woho... excuse the expression, I don't want to offend anyone but I think I had my first "musical orgasm"

I now understand "anonymus" what he meant when he wrote on

WARNING: this recording is very demanding on the speakers, beware of the level (my Genelec monitors did complain a lot... huge dynamics and complex waveforms, I gess).

The dynamics range is impressive, we will now need some "audio compression algorythm within Hauptwerk". There are so many stops and couplers for "newbie" like me that I'm overwhelm by the choices.

Unfortunatly I was only able to play it for about an hour, but I'm truly impress; pros and purists will certainly find something wrong about it, discussing how such and such stop sound to harsch, to electronic etc etc, but for the rest of us, it is quite an instrument!

The Medium Edition at less than $400 for 45 stops will be a great all in one instrument for anyone buying Hauptwerk, then later on you can always upgrade to the Pro version.

Soon, 2 professional organists and an organ builder will come to my place; I'm looking forward to their comments... but for me, after spending only one hour with this sampleset I know that I will have hours of fun, exploring, experimenting and playing with it.

The IR I used with it was moderate (3-4 sec.), I'm looking forward to try it with a long IR (cathedral like), it will be spectacular I think

Is it like the Metz? Not at all... it is a completely different beast; I love the Metz, and this set remains a "standard", but it will now share my playing time with the PAB for sure.

For all of us, amateur, looking for a flexible, very well built instrument, I think that you can't go wrong with the PAB, no matter which version you buy. (Go for the Medium at least... and Csaba, please add a 32' rank to the Medium Ed).

Now, for the "pro" who own the PAB, can you share your combinaisons with me... I'm sure there are incredible sounds to get out of this complex instrument but don't know where to start.

Hope that this "amateur" first impression review will be useful to some of you; don't hesitate to download the Trial version... but don't forget, with the trial version you only have 13 ranks.... let's call it " a teaser" :-)

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An Elementary Introduction to Registration

Postby jcfelice88keys » Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:08 pm

Hello François,

Congratulations on taking the plunge and acquiring the PAB Professional Edition. As you correctly point out, the PAB is not the Metz, but rather an instrument completely unto itself. You will have many happy hours-to-years exploring the rich tonal palette this organ has to offer.

Hmmmm, ... so you discovered the wide dynamic range of the instrument, eh? Now you can understand why I have had to resort to some gain riding when attempting to compile an mp3 file that contains full organ, (although if you are not going to record to mp3, I would encourage you to shake your musical space to your heart's content!).

In your original posting, you had mentioned you would like some pointers in registration, especially for such an instrument with 92 speaking stops. I would like to oblige your request by furnishing you the fundamentals of registration; at the same time, what I am going to write may sound too "elementary" for some of the members here, and too "advanced" for others.

Pipe Length versus Octave placement
A good starting point is to recognize the lengths of pipes as indicators the "octaves" in which they sound. The most recognizable pipe length on the manuals is an 8' pipe. In this case, when you press middle C on your keyboard with an 8' pipe drawn, you will naturally hear middle C.

If you double the length of pipe, that is to say if you draw a 16' keyboard stop, and play middle C, the pitch you will now hear is one octave below middle C. On the other hand, as you divide the pipe length by succeeding factors of 2, (4', 2' and 1') and press middle C on the keyboard, you will hear pitches that sound one-, two- and three octaves above middle C.

In the end, this is why there are so many 8' stops on the PAB, because these sound as though you would expect them to, octave-wise: playing middle C on the keyboard gives you a sound in the octave that sounds like middle C as heard on the piano.

Unless you are going for some special effect, at least one stop per manual is most often an 8' stop. When you combine an 8' stop with a 4' stop and press one note, you will hear two sounds pitched one octave apart. If you combine one 8' + 2' stops, you will hear two sounds pitched 2 octaves apart, and so on.

The 16' keyboard stop is most often used when you have registered many stops in the same manual, and you need that extra "oomph" of sound that is heard one octave lower than the rest. This is done such that the overtones of the original stops remain in their correct octave, and you have that extra fullness of the one-octave lower sound being heard. (The usually incorrect alternative to sounding a 16' stop is to play the entire line down one octave -- but the overtones of the other stops are also shifted downward, and it simply sounds as though you are only playing one octave lower.)

Now before I go on with flutes, versus principals, versus mutation stops, versus reeds, versus strings, .... and how to combine them -- is this the sort of information you would like to receive?

If this is too elementary, please say so, and I shall stop at this point. I shall wait for your reply before deciding whether to continue or not.



P.S. to Csaba Huszty: Would a primer on registration be something that would be more appropriate in the IA Knowledge Base????
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Postby micdev » Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:08 pm

Hi Joe,

Thanks for your comments and introduction to registration. To help you better understand what I'm looking for I will give you some more info about my level of knowledge, organwise....

What you've explained (8', length of pipes, octave etc) is something I understand very well; having play a lot (mostly electronic, virtual) theatre organs, I also understand the way couplers (16', 4', Unison off) works. I also know, for example how to build a Cornet on an organ without that stop; I read Barbara Owen's "Registration for Baroque organs".

With the PAB, I can recreate the "classical registrations" that I know, but since there are many mixtures and stops that I hardly know, I'm sure there are some lovely registrations that can be created. Sometimes only 2 or 3 stops will create something wonderful.

Also, with the the 5 keyboards (even if I only have 3, with the couplers I can simulate in a way more keyboards), there is ways to build a crescendo just by moving from one keyboard to the other, coupling the first one to the second, moving to the third, coupling the 2nd to the first etc

I went a few months ago to a demo/event where the head organist of the Quebec City's Cathedral played the Metz. Marc D'Anjou ( ) was kind enough to give me his registrations file; even if I've been playing the Metz for more than 6 months, his registrations help me discover new ways to use the Metz.

With it wide palette of sound, the PAB must hide many wonderful registrations - there is I'm sure nice registration to build with the HautBois combine with some other stop(s). Sometimes, less is more! Also a better understanding of the use of flutes versus principals versus mutation etc is something I'm sure will help broaden my registration spectrum.

Your idea of a primer on registration is a good thing for sure, but I'm also thinking about a place where registrations could be upload by the "pros" and download from us, the "amateur". So after buying a new sampleset, we could easily have some good registration to use for that set.

In the meantime, I will keep exploring, I know that my ears will guide me, but with more than 90 stops to play with, there are millions of combinaisons possible....

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Postby Csaba Huszty » Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:24 am

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Csaba Huszty
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Postby [)Naeryl(] » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:34 pm

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