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Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Buying or building computers for Hauptwerk, recommendations, troubleshooting computer hardware issues.

Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby 4AmericanClassics » Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:43 pm

I'm looking forward to my tax refund. I'm just getting started in Hauptwerk and would like to have the best computer I can get to run Hauptwerk. I would like to get some recommendations. Thank you.
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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby mdyde » Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:27 am

We have some general guidance on computer hardware in these documents (linked to from the 'Support | Prerequisites' part of the website):

https://www.hauptwerk.com/clientuploads/documentation/PDF/HauptwerkBackgroundTechnicalInfoOnComputerHardware.pdf
https://www.hauptwerk.com/clientuploads/documentation/PDF/HauptwerkPrerequisites.pdf
Best regards,
Martin.

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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby profeluisegarcia » Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:17 am

4AmericanClassics wrote:... and would like to have the best computer I can get to run Hauptwerk. .


...The best Mac you can afford.

Regards,
Luis
(MacBook 13 inches-16 RAM has been my choice)
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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby csw900 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:02 pm

In my experience HW will run just as well on a modern 64 bit Windows computer
(e.g. Intel i5 or better) as it does on a Mac. I have both available and there is no
noticeable difference in performance or sound quality. I use 8GB memory but the
ability to expand up to 32 GB should be on your shopping list. A modest size
e.g. 64GB solid state drive should also be on your list. Used exclusively for the organ
caches it will speed up loading of the organs.

I also recommend that you get a large touch screen monitor with your new computer
for setting stops.

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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby profeluisegarcia » Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:50 pm

csw900 wrote:I I have both available and there is no
noticeable difference in performance or sound quality.

csw900


Hello Csw: About sound quality, I have read several times complains about Windows internal sound card, so for HW it requieres to include an external sound card :?:
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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby mnailor » Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:08 pm

After a hard drive failure took out my 3 year old Hauptwerk computer, I replaced it with a Dell Precision Tower 3420 with small form factor, quad core i7 3.4 GHz, 64 GB RAM, and two 512 GB SSD drives. Windows 7 Pro to avoid possible driver support issues with Windows 10, but I may upgrade to 10 eventually.

This is very similar to the previous machine, a Precision T5600, but that one had 8 core Xeon and a mirrored pair of 1 TB HDD.

It performed really well. 64 GB memory because I use several samplesets that take more than 32 GB and one is around 60. I always load 24 bit samples when available and all surround samples.

I never used more than about 25% of cpu, so I saved money on the number of cores this time.

I changed to SSDs because loading a big cached sampleset took up to 20 minutes from the HDD. Mirroring didn't save me from a disk failure, so now it's unmirrored and I got a small NAS for external backups.

Windows does take some extra tuning, like shutting off the internal audio and disabling sounds from Windows, as well as turning off certain background tasks or scheduling them at night. See HW User Guide around pages 214-216. An ASIO audio interface is required. The user guide also covers hardware requirements.

I use Windows only because I can get more hardware for the money compared to Mac.

Update: I do have to reduce polyphony and/or realism somewhat on larger organs like Caen surround to compensate for only 4 cores.

Better Update: And then I realized I hadn't checked the CPU settings in BIOS on the new machine. After turning off speed step, the 4 core i7 handles Caen surround just fine with all Hauptwerk modelling features enabled (the defaults) and high polyphony. Oops.
Last edited by mnailor on Sat Feb 11, 2017 7:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby csw900 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:16 pm

To profeluisgarcia

I have also read bad reports about windows sound -- they are largely about older, low
cost PC's for which I always purchased a Creative sound card. This is no longer a problem
and if you buy a Windows PC with "HD Sound" built in you do not need any additional sound
support and it sounds just as good as a Mac.

Please bear in mind that this is my personal experience and even if you do need a purpose
designed sound card the PC + card will still cost much less than a Mac.

csw900

P.S. It is a good idea not to connect your HW computer to the internet. This applies
mainly to Windows 10 PC's to prevent unwanted background tasks from executing
as some of these tasks cannot be turned off.
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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby MrNhanduc » Fri Jan 27, 2017 5:07 am

csw900 wrote:In my experience HW will run just as well on a modern 64 bit Windows computer
(e.g. Intel i5 or better) as it does on a Mac. I have both available and there is no
noticeable difference in performance or sound quality. I use 8GB memory but the
ability to expand up to 32 GB should be on your shopping list. A modest size
e.g. 64GB solid state drive should also be on your list. Used exclusively for the organ
caches it will speed up loading of the organs.

I also recommend that you get a large touch screen monitor with your new computer
for setting stops.

csw900


64 GB SSD is not recommended these days. Install Windows and you can hardly fit 1 sample caches on it. 240/250/256 GB should be the minimum, on which Windows and some caches fit. 500 GB is what I recommend though (accompanied by 1 or 2 TB hard drive for the raw files), you need an extensive library to fill a 500 GB SSD with caches.
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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby mdyde » Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:45 am

csw900 wrote:I have also read bad reports about windows sound -- they are largely about older, low
cost PC's for which I always purchased a Creative sound card. This is no longer a problem
and if you buy a Windows PC with "HD Sound" built in you do not need any additional sound
support and it sounds just as good as a Mac.


Hello csw900,

I think it's important to point out that the way in which I understand that you use Hauptwerk is significantly different (and much less demanding in terms of performance and hardware) than almost all other Hauptwerk users (who're mainly professional and amateur organists who use Hauptwerk for intensive real-time practice), in that I understand that you use the Free Edition with one or two small sample sets primarily for playback of pre-recorded MIDI files, and that things like latency, polyphony and audio quality or realism aren't of particular significance to you.

To get acceptable performance (in terms of latency, polyphony and resilience to audio glitches) for real-time serious playing I would regard good-quality ASIO drivers as a basic requirement on the Windows platform. The freeware ASIO4All driver ( http://www.asio4all.com/ ) does sometimes make it possible to get acceptable performance from a PC's built-in audio output, but not always. Our advice to Hauptwerk users on the PC platform would be that a good-quality semi-professional/professional audio interface with professional-quality manufacturer-supplied ASIO drivers would normally be a key prerequisite for any kind of serious real-time audio use. (OS X has reliable low-latency drivers built in.)

These days I'd also generally recommend at least 512 GB as a minimum size for an SSD for serious use, since their prices have come down a lot and many modern sample sets of any size need lots of disk space (often several tens of GB each).
Best regards,
Martin.

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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby csw900 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:17 am

Hi Martin

I also use my Windows PC for playing other organs -- not just HW and can say that in my
experience "HD Audio" on a Windows PC has negligible latency.

The Maximum polyphony is fixed by the computing power of the processor and
an Intel i5 Windows PC has just as much or more computational capability than
the average Mac.

There are NO audio glitches inherent in a modern Windows PC.

Audio quality is just as good as a Mac you will certainly not hear any difference.

As I said above there is nothing to stop you adding additional professional audio
hardware and/or software if you think you need it and it will still cost much less than a Mac.
(Which certainly does not have professional quality audio hardware built in as standard.)
By the way, I also use an iMac and have not noticed that the audio is any better than
my Windows PC.

There is nothing to stop you buying a 512GB SSD if you think you need one. You
will certainly never fill it with HW caches unless you use a lot (around 50) of really big
sample sets.

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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby mdyde » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:50 am

Hello csw900,

csw900 wrote:I also use my Windows PC for playing other organs -- not just HW and can say that in my
experience "HD Audio" on a Windows PC has negligible latency.


My experience (on Windows 7/8/10) is that nearly all DirectSound drivers have latencies at least 40 ms (many double that, including minimal sufficient buffering to achieve glitch-free audio plus their internal latencies), and that they're much less resilient to audio glitches at high polyphonies than ASIO drivers; typically I find that PCs will achieve nearly double the polyphony reliably with good ASIO drivers, compared to DirectSound.

csw900 wrote:There are NO audio glitches inherent in a modern Windows PC.


Most PCs do work reliably for glitch-free audio 'out of the box', but some need some tweaking, swapping hardware/drivers, resolving DPC latency issues, etc. We need to help quite a few people to resolve such issues every week. For people that have the inclination, time and technical knowledge to troubleshoot such things themselves if, and whenever, they arise (as you probably do) it might not be an issue, which is great.
Best regards,
Martin.

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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby telemanr » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:59 am

I have about 20 organs both large and small. I have only 95GB free in my 512SSD. And organs are only getting more RAM and cache hungry with surround versions and sampled tremulants etc. And surround versions can often allow you to choose the listening position (at the console or out in the church) with just a stereo pair of speakers.
I do think one would be wise to pay close attention to Martin's suggestions.
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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby csw900 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:40 am

Martin

I would be interested to know how you have measured latency --
are your figures merely estimates or guesses?

I have never actually measured it myself because it is not easy.

I am happy if when I press a key I get sound out of the organ without any
noticeable delay. That is what I mean by negligible.

If you want to try an ASIO driver it is a free download. I have never found any
need for it.

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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby mdyde » Fri Jan 27, 2017 3:47 pm

csw900 wrote:I would be interested to know how you have measured latency --
are your figures merely estimates or guesses?


Hello csw900,

I haven't specifically measured the internal latency with DirectSound, but if using the same buffer size (e.g. 2048, which itself adds a minimum of about 48 ms at 44.1 kHz) with a semi-professional/professional audio interface with good-quality ASIO drivers, and then comparing that to the same buffer size with a DirectSound driver (whether manufacturer-supplied, or Windows' default) for the same device, then the difference in perceived latency when playing is very obvious -- notes sound noticeably more sluggishly with the DirectSound driver even with the same buffer size. My impression is that the overall latency is around twice as much with DirectSound -- a total latency feels like it's in the region of 70-100ms with DirectSound for a buffer size/latency of 2048. The same has been true for every audio interface I've ever tried.

(You wouldn't actually be able to try that test yourself with a buffer size of 2048 in Hauptwerk, since the largest buffer size it allows for ASIO is 1024, to avoid people accidentally setting the buffer size unnecessarily large, but I can try it here at 2048.)

The same may or may not be the case with ASIO4All for any given device, but it's unlikely that a third-party driver (ASIO4All) would be able to achieve lower latencies than a good-quality professional manufacturer-supplied driver, since latency with ASIO will be a critical benchmark on which audio interfaces are judged and purchased by musicians.

Also ASIO drivers (at least good ones) should report total internal latencies accurately, which is necessary for proper audio-to-MIDI synchronisation in MIDI sequencers. Hauptwerk's log shows their reported figures. DirectSound drivers don't provide such a means to know/query internal latencies (and thus can't give accurate MIDI-to-audio synchronisation in sequencers). ASIO drivers also support multi-channel operation properly, with synchronisation between channels.

But if the latency and performance of DirectSound drivers don't bother you for your purposes then of course that's fine.
Best regards,
Martin.

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Re: Best Computer for Hauptwerk

Postby csw900 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 11:35 am

Hi Martin

Many thanks for you informative information on Direct Sound.

However as I understand it this is an old standard which is no longer used on
Intel based computers. They now use High Definition Audio standard which
applies to the Intel Chipset used on Intel based motherboards.

This is the standard I am recommending in my original post above and I can
assure you and others that the latency using the standard driver (NOT ASIO)
is negligible according to my definition of "No noticeable delay".

As the same chipset is almost certainly used in Macs (which are now Intel
based) I rest my case that there is no perceptible difference between the sound
or playability of Windows and Mac computers.

My experience with these computers confirms this.

If you try to use ASIO driver with one of these computers you are likely
to ruin the sound. (Which could explain some of the problems HW users
have had with Windows PC's.)

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