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Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salisbury

Speakers, amplifiers, headphones, multi-channel audio, reverb units, mixers, wiring, ...

Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salisbury

Postby EricMcK » Wed May 09, 2018 2:49 pm

Hi folks,

The organ is a four-manual Classic Midiworks console powered by Windows 10, interfaced to speakers via a Roland Octa-Capture.

There are two pairs of speakers in the front, overhead the console; one pair to the upper right, and another pair to the upper left. Additionally, there's a pair of speakers mounted in the rear of the room. A subwoofer is also present at the front of the room.

I would love to know what the best practices are for splitting up the Hereford and Salisbury sample sets across this particular speaker array. Or do we need another pair of speakers? That's also an option. The sample sets will be the complete Hereford 64XL, and whatever the complete Salisbury is.

Disclaimer #1: This will be my first foray into setting up multi-channel audio. I have printed out pages 164-168 of the HW User Guide and will study them religiously, but even so, please be very specific and talk to me like I'm an idiot.

Disclaimer #2: I'm not sure if this is the right category to post this; please move if need be.

Thank you in advance!
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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby josq » Wed May 09, 2018 4:21 pm

What's your motivation to go for multi-channel audio? Multi-channel is good for some purposes but potentially bad for others. For example, it could be an excellent choice for a Hauptwerk installation in a church, but it might work detrimental if you want to reproduce the original Salisbury and Hereford acoustics.
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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby 1961TC4ME » Wed May 09, 2018 4:24 pm

If I'm reading your question correctly and you're wondering what might work best for ranks to send where, you might find this of interest.

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=14769

Marc
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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby EricMcK » Wed May 09, 2018 5:52 pm

josq wrote:What's your motivation to go for multi-channel audio?


Great question. The main motivation is to divide up the sound into different parts of the room. The organ has been running a stereo monitor pair and a subwoofer, and although they are 500w monitors, full organ on the current sample set (Mt. Carmel Skinner) overloads them. We've also reconfigured the room so the speakers can be placed up high in the corners, and not so in-your-face as they've been for the last couple of years. We aren't quite as concerned about re-creating the acoustics as we are about putting the different divisions more where they would be located in the actual organ.
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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby magnaton » Wed May 09, 2018 5:54 pm

Both sets you mention are wet and neither offer a "surround sound" variant so the rear speakers wouldn't be that useful unless you want to route only a big Tuba and or Chimes to them. It's a neat effect since in a real cathedral environment many times these stops are some distance from the console. If the rear speakers are identical make and model to the ones in front, they would be best served in front as part of the main audio source.

Keep in mind with the 4 HW Alt Configs available, you can create 2 or 3 routing designs (separate by organ division, group array using a algorithm to divvy up notes and ranks, other design like Marc's 'group by like sounding ranks') then take your time to audition the different setups by simply launching the respective Alt Config. 8)

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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby EricMcK » Wed May 09, 2018 6:00 pm

magnaton wrote:Both sets you mention are wet and neither offer a "surround sound" variant so the rear speakers wouldn't be that useful unless you want to route only a big Tuba and or Chimes to them.


The thought right now is to route the Solo divisions to the back, just for fun. On Mt. Carmel, I would route the Tuba and big Trumpet to the back.

The speakers are all identical.
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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby EricMcK » Wed May 09, 2018 6:02 pm

1961TC4ME wrote:If I'm reading your question correctly and you're wondering what might work best for ranks to send where, you might find this of interest.


Thanks Marc! I'm going to read that thread in great detail tonight.
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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby mnailor » Thu May 10, 2018 9:14 am

Since your front and rear speakers are identical, you might try putting them all in one audio group, and letting the pipes in each rank sound from anywhere. That works well in my setup for stereo samplesets, including Salisbury and Hereford, and rank routing is simple.
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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby B. Milan » Thu May 10, 2018 11:42 am

[Topic moved here]
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http://www.milandigitalaudio.com
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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby EricMcK » Thu May 10, 2018 11:44 am

mnailor wrote:Since your front and rear speakers are identical, you might try putting them all in one audio group, and letting the pipes in each rank sound from anywhere.


This is a concept I also saw in the User Guide, which I hadn't thought of before.

Here's another question - do you run your stereo monitor pairs off one channel, or separate channels?
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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby mnailor » Thu May 10, 2018 12:47 pm

Each stereo pair of speakers is one audio output, configured with two channels, L and R. Each audio output belongs to one audio group. L and R are two distinct channels in the ASIO driver, the audio interface, and the amplifiers. (I'm ignoring setting up mono audio outputs, which is an option.)

My L / R stereo pairs are separated with the console in between them so there is a stereo image, but I don't try for a front/rear image even on surround samplesets, instead mixing front and rear samples into the same audio groups. I have 3 groups of speakers, organized by identical make and model.
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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby josq » Thu May 10, 2018 5:39 pm

EricMcK wrote:
josq wrote:What's your motivation to go for multi-channel audio?


Great question. The main motivation is to divide up the sound into different parts of the room. The organ has been running a stereo monitor pair and a subwoofer, and although they are 500w monitors, full organ on the current sample set (Mt. Carmel Skinner) overloads them. We've also reconfigured the room so the speakers can be placed up high in the corners, and not so in-your-face as they've been for the last couple of years. We aren't quite as concerned about re-creating the acoustics as we are about putting the different divisions more where they would be located in the actual organ.


What kind of room? In a normal living room, 500w should be easily sufficient, but I guess we are talking about a much larger room here?

If we take the real Salisbury organ as an example, there are two organ cases on either side of the Quire: Swell and Choir on the south, Great and Solo divisions on the north side. Is that a situation you would like to recreate by placing a couple of speakers on either side of your room and routing the divisions accordingly? (This is certainly a possiblity within Hauptwerk).
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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby EricMcK » Thu May 10, 2018 5:45 pm

josq wrote:What kind of room?


It's a study, measuring roughly 20' x 20'. Not gigantic.

So far, just elevating the speakers up to ceiling level has made a huge difference in the quality of the sound. We could reliably re-create the Salisbury configuration, but we want certain ranks to speak antiphonally, such as the 8' tuba (and most of the Solo division).
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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby josq » Thu May 10, 2018 6:31 pm

In that case it could be worthwile to check if all gains in your audio chain are properly set. I am using a pair of 180W speakers in a ~200' x 100' living room and can get a louder sound than I need without overloading issues.
Is there clipping in Hauptwerk (audio level meter going into red) or in your speakers?

One very important consideration is the acoustics of your room. Basically, there are two paradigms:

1)
* Recreate the sound of the original sampled organ, including the original acoustics as recorded at the recording position
* Use wet sample sets (containing the original reverb)
* Use a stereo pair of high-quality speakers (or possibly surround) or headphones
* Minimize the influence of the acoustics of your listening environment
* Optimize for a single listening position

2)
* Create your own custom "pipe" organ based on Hauptwerk samples
* Use dry sample sets (containing as little original reverb as possible)
* Use a large array of speakers
* Benefit from the acoustics of the room
* Optimize for a large listening area

Many people compromise between those two paradigms, sometimes unaware, and with mixed results. For example, using a dry sample set in a dry room won't sound good (in your face) and using a wet sample set in a reverberant room neither (muddled "reverb over reverb" sound).

The (dis)advantages of a stereo pair versus a large array of speakers are a more complicated and nuanced subject. But unless your room has excellent acoustic properties, I wouldn't go for paradigm 2. And once choosing for paradigm 1, there is (theoretically) nothing to gain in going for multichannel audio, provided that you have a stereo pair of excellent quality. Rather, by introducint extra speakers, you will potentially create all kinds of mismatches in phase, stereo image and influence of room acoustics.

The most important consideration in paradigm 1 is the need to suppress or compensate the negative influence of the acoustics of your room. In most rooms, this influence is dramatic: particular frequencies can be boosted by more than 12 db, while other frequencies can be eliminated almost completely. I think it is by far the biggest obstacle towards realism and listening pleasure that Hauptwerk users encounter. The solution is not to be found in going for multi-channel audio but rather
1) place the speakers as close as possible (~3')
2) Apply room treatment (anything that absorbs or diffuses sounds, including curtains, book shelves, sofa's, large paintings or pictures on canvas, etc)
3) Use room correction software (!)

So maybe this is a different type of advice than expected. Feel free to take any route you like, but it is best to be aware of these issues (and, frankly, many more).
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Re: Advice request: multi-channel audio for Hereford & Salis

Postby EricMcK » Thu May 10, 2018 6:37 pm

josq wrote:Is there clipping in Hauptwerk (audio level meter going into red) or in your speakers?

The clipping is all in the speakers - HW never moves near the red. And the clipping only occurs when "tutti" is activated.

josq wrote:1)
* Recreate the sound of the original sampled organ, including the original acoustics as recorded at the recording position
* Use wet sample sets (containing the original reverb)
* Use a stereo pair of high-quality speakers (or possibly surround) or headphones
* Minimize the influence of the acoustics of your listening environment
* Optimize for a single listening position


Your option #1 is absolutely what we're going for. There's a lot of sound absorption in the room, and the wet sample set sounds really lovely.

josq wrote: And once choosing for paradigm 1, there is (theoretically) nothing to gain in going for multichannel audio, provided that you have a stereo pair of excellent quality.


Just to make sure I understand - you're saying that a pair of good speakers and a subwoofer is all that's really necessary?
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