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PSZ - Caen - Exciting times.....

Existing and forthcoming Hauptwerk instruments, recommendations, ...

PSZ - Caen - Exciting times.....

Postby micdev » Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:46 pm

I think that we are truly living in some exciting times… I’m not talking about the 21st century or the financial crisis, but I’m talking about this week for Hauptwerk users.

Hauptwerk is becoming with each upgrade closer to the real thing, adding useful functionalities; my MAC friends finally have a 64-bit version and the sample set producers are introducing new sample sets, exciting one, sound wise, features wise and price wise.

Things are moving rapidly; I joined the Hauptwerk community about a year ago, been what him it since about 16 months and the leap it took is huge. All of this being said, I want to comment a bit 2 new sample sets that were released (or soon to be) this week. (I won’t talk about the Salisbury…. We will have plenty of time for that in the upcoming months).

Before someone call me bias I want to clearly state what I do within this Hauptwerk community. Just like all of you, I’m a user who bought HW for the fun of playing something as close as possible as the real thing; I’m beta-testing sample sets for Inspired Acoustics, beta-testing Hauptwerk for MDA, experimenting with convolution and impulse responses, using Jiri Zurek’s IRs from Sonus Paradisi, make a lot of demos of Hauptwerk and it sample sets (from various set producers) and promote Hauptwerk to the French Canadian organists and French speaking market and at the same time try to help the best I can some other Hauptwerk users. I love Hauptwerk and it sets and wish a long live to this wonderful virtual organ environment.

This week, almost at the same time 2 exciting but totally different sample sets were released, the Caen Cavaille-Coll and the PSZ.

CAEN Cavaillé-Coll

The Caen was first announced (after a rumour that turned out to be exact) in September 25th 2008; Sonus Paradisi is a well known set producer among the Hauptwerk community, Jiri Zurek having produced so far 20 sets (often in different acoustics – dry/wet/surround).

The Caen with it 55 speaking stops is quite large and will use all the ram and cpu you can throw at it… thanks to Hauptwerk many loading options (compressions, bit rates) it will fit within a 8 GB system (possible to load only parts of the organ within computer with less memory). 8 GB is now becoming I believe the norm for the newer large sample sest (The release of Mac 64 is perfectly timed for this release). The upcoming Salisbury will probably be “happy” within 16 GB and the PAB, release last December, while loading within 8 GB is another sample set that can use a lot of memory if available.

Jiri Zurek is so far the only sample set producer offering “surround” sample set, using 2 different samples per rank, one for the front channel and another one for the rear, adding presence, providing a more spacious sound. To promote it surround edition, Jiri is offering the upgrade for almost nothing; even if you don’t own a computer powerful enough, eventually you will get a new one (sorry, that’s the way technology works ;-) and you will be happy that you spent a few more $$$ for the surround edition.

While I didn’t play/hear live this set yet, based on my experience with the Freiberg Surround, I’m sure that the surround version of the Caen will be spectacular and add a lot of realism to the whole acoustic.


At the same time that the Caen was released, the availability of the PSZ (for release on April 3rd) from Inspired Acoustics was announced.

Inspired Acoustics is a new comer as a sample set producer for Hauptwerk, but have been around the sampling world since 2002, being the producer of the Notre-Dame de Budapest sample set for Gigastudio 3. In December 2008 they released the PAB organ, a 92 ranks, recently built pipe organ, residing within a concert hall in Budapest. The PAB is available in 5 editions (ranging from 15 ranks to 92 ranks with various additional functionalities in each successive edition). A sixth edition to be released will contain additional functionalities.

For their second offering, IA (Inspired Acoutics) is presenting a nice 17 ranks baroque organ from 1778, the Pusztaszabolcs, or the PSZ (easier for those of us not Hungarian…). The PSZ is in a way similar to the PAB, with a lot of attention to details: 3D control screens, tracker sounds (not only on attack but on release too – user selectable), blower and stop sounds (once again user selectable), wind stability on the fly adjustment (where available… sorry my US friends), historical and extended version, high quality recording, and the same combination system that was introduced with the PAB.

I can hear some of you…. “What!... a combination system on a 1778 organ!”. Yes, a full, modern, 2009, combination system. This system is based on a mix of 8 pistons and something similar to frame advanced; when you don’t have your own personal organist assistant next to you this is a blessing!

Csaba Huszty and his team to listened to what many of have been asking for a while: an historical organ in it original form… 45 notes keyboards compass/18 notes pedalboard – “Short octave”, no combination system, and an extended version (no need to reload another version of the organ, just click a control and you switch between the historical/extended versions), with 54/30 notes extended compass and the combination system.

In December I bought 3 CMK keyboards “midi velocity compatible”; well the PSZ is velocity-sensitive, offering 2 velocities for all the pipes, and believe me on some notes (just like what you get on a real pipe organ) it does make quite a difference. Darryl Wood from Classic Organ/MidiWorks.Ca should bundle this sample set with every CMK keyboards he’s selling.

Earlier I said “Csaba and it team …. listened to what many of us asked”; while beta-testing the set I wrote to Csaba: “Since you are offering an extended edition with all kind of “sinful functionalities”, why not add another one”. I asked for 2 additional couplers: Great/Pedal & Positive/Pedal. While I’m not sure it will be included into next week version, a free upgrade will be available soon after to add these 2 couplers greatly expending the pedal division, adding even more versatility to the instrument.

But what about the sound? Well, it is a 1778 baroque organ…. With all it quality, warmth and at the same time it nice defaults… You can hear the pipes sing, the air passing thru it length; unlike modern organs, some pipes may speak more slowly than it neighbour, breath a little more, but this only adds to the “live, real feeling”; I'm sure that if I had some pipes over my console, people would be sure that they were the one playing. A Metz or now the Caen (and some other sets) have huge impressive acoustics, but no one, when they hear it will thing that you have in your music room such a big organ (unless your music room have the dimension of a cathedral!). With the PSZ, you could fool a few... a nice reverb adding some presence.

All in all a lovely, charming baroque organ with some modern functionalities to help us enjoy our playing, while retaining the characteristics so typical of organs from that era, and for those with less powerful computers, you will be happy to know that you can enjoy this latest sample set offering all the bells and whistle that HW 3.21 is capable of. The PSZ can load on a 2 GB computer (dry+release truncated) or a 3 GB wet.

I’m telling you, this week is a good week; 2 great sample sets, totally different in style/era/size and price…. There is something for everyone here I’m sure. For me, I'm afraid it will be an expensive week ;-)

I want to take this opportunity for thanking all the sample sets producers that, even with the hard actual financial situation, keep producing great products, with innovations and bringing all of us closer to the real thing.

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