Search:
Submit Search


Interfacing multi speakers

Connecting Hauptwerk to MIDI organs, sequencers, ...

Interfacing multi speakers

Postby JohnNicholson » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:25 am

I have the full multi-channel edition of Hauptwerk and I would like to improve my sound system from the normal PC surround sound. Ideally I would like to explore 16 to 20 channels, for a multi division four manual midi console. I guess I will need some new audio sound card. What do people suggest as the best way to set about doing this? I want to have each tonal division of the organ using different speakers placed in different parts of the room so as to have the best three dimensional effect.
User avatar
JohnNicholson
Member
 
Posts: 49
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:03 pm
Location: North Wales (Bangor)

Re: Interfacing multi speakers

Postby mdyde » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:07 am

Hello John,

This topic has a very, very high-level overview of multi-channel audio:

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=16236#p121927

With regard to audio interfaces with 16+ channels, I'd recommend looking at the MOTU 24Ao:

http://motu.com/products/

It has 24 balanced analogue audio outputs and can be connected to the computer via USB (or AVB, if a recent Mac). It's a recent model that's popular with Hauptwerk users and has an excellent balance of cost-to-quality for an audio interface with that many channels. I have two MOTU 16A units (a sister model of the 24Ao) and they work and perform very well for me on both Macs and Windows.
Best regards,
Martin.

[Please use email or the Contact page if you need to contact us privately, rather than private forum messages.]

Image
User avatar
mdyde
Moderator
 
Posts: 10475
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2003 2:19 pm
Location: UK

Re: Interfacing multi speakers

Postby magnaton » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:27 am

Hello John:

You'll need a audio interface. Most of these have moved away from being a "card" to an external device that you connect by USB, Firewire, or Thunderbolt (Apple). To learn more about them and their role with HW, review page 14 in the HW 4.2.1. User's guide and or search the forum for "audio interface".

For 16 to 20 channels, your selection will narrow to MOTU (16A or 24Ao models) or Cymatic Audio LP 16 audio interfaces. Be careful as once you hear Hauptwerk through an high grade DA interface and complimentary audio you'll be hooked. For me it was like going from cassette tape to HD Compact Disc!

Danny B.
User avatar
magnaton
Member
 
Posts: 246
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:28 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Interfacing multi speakers

Postby josq » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:04 am

If you want to upgrade from standard pc audio, yes, then you'll need an audio interface anyway.

But why going for 16 or 20 channels, or even more? Personally, I would opt for (and currently use) 2 high-end near-field monitors only (or 4 for surround), and pay a lot of attention to speaker placement and use room correction software.

Quality vs quantity... See here for my opinion and some discussion about it: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=16393&p=123247
josq
Member
 
Posts: 662
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:11 pm

Re: Interfacing multi speakers

Postby sonar11 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:50 pm

josq wrote:If you want to upgrade from standard pc audio, yes, then you'll need an audio interface anyway.

But why going for 16 or 20 channels, or even more? Personally, I would opt for (and currently use) 2 high-end near-field monitors only (or 4 for surround), and pay a lot of attention to speaker placement and use room correction software.

Quality vs quantity... See here for my opinion and some discussion about it: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=16393&p=123247


Josq, the reason we go for multiple channels is to get clarity; "quality vs quantity" is a well known saying, but it doesn't work here for multiple channels.

A speaker that is trying to reproduce 300 pipes, is going to sound much worse than 10 speakers reproducing 30 pipes. There is far less distortion, the sound stage is far bigger, and the volume increases much more realistically as you add ranks.

If you were listening to a CD with a woman singing and a guitar playing, then yes, 2 high quality monitors can do the job really well. But if you could split the CD into two pieces; guitar on one, singing on the other, and then play the guitar through 2 speakers and the singing through 2 speakers, your sound quality would still increase. We can't split sounds in CD's, but we can in HW, that's why it works so well here.
sonar11
Member
 
Posts: 599
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 4:03 pm

Re: Interfacing multi speakers

Postby josq » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:50 pm

sonar11 wrote:
Josq, the reason we go for multiple channels is to get clarity; "quality vs quantity" is a well known saying, but it doesn't work here for multiple channels.

A speaker that is trying to reproduce 300 pipes, is going to sound much worse than 10 speakers reproducing 30 pipes. There is far less distortion,


True... in principle! It is a nuanced issue, and less (harmonic) distortion definitely can be an advantage of many speaker channels. But... does it outweigh the disadvantages?

the sound stage is far bigger
- I consider this a disadvantage (in the case you want to have an authentic reproduction of how the microphones recorded the organ in its original acoustics). What was recorded at a single position, will be smeared among many speaker positions. You'll destroy the original stereo image.

and the volume increases much more realistically as you add ranks
. Not sure how to interpret this one. A single pair of good speakers can generate sufficient volume for a home situation, and therefore does not have to involve any compression, right? The volume increase can therefore be perfectly proportional to the real situation. So, for now, I disagree :wink:

Now, some more disadvantages. Most speakers have an optimal position: at ear height, at about 1m distance, a stereo pair forming an equal-sided triangle with your listening position, tweeters pointed at your ears. The more speakers you have, the more you'll have to place some at increasingly suboptimal positions.

A speaker interacts with your room, you'll get all kinds of reflections and resonances. There is nice room correction software to correct for these issues, which is perfectly doable for a single speaker pair. For a surround set-up it becomes a bit more involved, but still doable. But as the number of speakers increases, it gets harder, more complex, and more time-consuming to implement room correction.

Now, if authentic reproduction is not your main concern, it could be perfectly valid to go for many speakers (for example, in the case of church installations). But most Hauptwerk users will be mainly interested in reproducing the exact sound of famous organs in their homes. For them, I would recommend to start with a single high-quality speaker pair, extend with a subwoofer and an extra pair for surround, and when they have optimized all that and have money to spare, they can experiment with a lot of extra channels. But that's just a recommendation.

And the distortion issue? It is still there, but buying extra speakers is not the only way to diminish it... buying higher quality audio is another way, I would say.
josq
Member
 
Posts: 662
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:11 pm

Re: Interfacing multi speakers

Postby sonar11 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:22 pm

josq wrote:
sonar11 wrote:
Josq, the reason we go for multiple channels is to get clarity; "quality vs quantity" is a well known saying, but it doesn't work here for multiple channels.

A speaker that is trying to reproduce 300 pipes, is going to sound much worse than 10 speakers reproducing 30 pipes. There is far less distortion,


True... in principle! It is a nuanced issue, and less (harmonic) distortion definitely can be an advantage of many speaker channels. But... does it outweigh the disadvantages?

We first have to agree on what the disadvantages are :)

josq wrote:
the sound stage is far bigger
- I consider this a disadvantage (in the case you want to have an authentic reproduction of how the microphones recorded the organ in its original acoustics). What was recorded ad a single position, will be smeared among many speaker positions. You'll destroy the original stereo image.

The stereo image is not destroyed at all; you're still producing a single pitch recorded in left/right through 2 left and right speakers, you're just changing which speakers that stereo image is projected through. It doesn't destroy the stereo image anymore than moving your speakers a few inches around does.

In addition, you are assuming that the mikes don't move during a recording, whereas I'm almost certain (especially for front and direct recordings) that they do. So already while recording the exact position of every pipe in relation to other pipes is lost. Then, keep in mind that for many smaller organs, you just get a wall of sound while listening to the real thing anyway; you can't detect pipe location unless you get real close, or the organ is separated into multiple "pieces".

Finally, keep in mind that you can physically aim the speakers at you location, such that they all project sound at your head; your ears will still interpret the sound as coming from the same location; that is how speakers work anyway, if they have a separate tweeter and separate mid driver and separate bass; internally they are separating the physical location of pipes: a 2' will come from the tweeter, an 8' from the bass or mid. By the time the sounds reach your ears, it all sounds like it comes from the same location.

josq wrote:
and the volume increases much more realistically as you add ranks
. Not sure how to interpret this one. A single pair of good speakers can generate sufficient volume for a home situation, and therefore does not have to involve any compression, right? The volume increase can therefore be perfectly proportional to the real situation. So, for now, I disagree :wink:

I would suggest you try it sometime ;) There is a huge difference in how the volume builds in 2 channel vs 8 channel. The sound is much fuller and livelier.

josq wrote:Now, some more disadvantages. Most speakers have an optimal position: at ear height, at about 1m distance, a stereo pair forming an equal-sided triangle with your listening position, tweeters pointed at your ears. The more speakers you have, the more you'll have to place some at increasingly suboptimal positions.

That is a danger, yes, but this depends highly on your speaker and how close you sit to them. My Atoms have excellent horizontal dispersion, but less vertical dispersion (so I place them all on the same height). My Kef's have a stunning dispersion in all directions due to the uni-q driver (all frequencies other than bass come from the same pinpoint location), but they have a darker flavour compared to the AMT tweeter which is more airy and lush, so I don't use the Kefs for organ music. In any case, there is no issue with dispersion if you choose a good monitor. I tested some m-audios and they had very poor dispersion, moving your head around would instantly sound different, so I brought them back; but perhaps I didn't give them enough time to break in as others seem to enjoy them very much.

josq wrote:A speaker interacts with your room, you'll get all kinds of reflections and resonances. There is nice room correction software to correct for these issues, which is perfectly doable for a single speaker pair. For a surround set-up it becomes a bit more involved, but still doable. But as the number of speakers increases, it gets harder, more complex, and more time-consuming to implement room correction.

Indeed, room correction is terribly important. I prefer to tame the room itself, rather than use software; since software only corrects bits and pieces and only in certain physical locations. Correcting the room (bass traps etc) makes the sound sound good in the entire room, and then you also don't have the complex multi-channel configuration issues either that a software setup has.

josq wrote:Now, if authentic reproduction is not your main concern, it could be perfectly valid to go for many speakers (for example, in the case of church installations). But most Hauptwerk users will be mainly interested in reproducing the exact sound of famous organs in their homes. For them, I would recommend to start with a single high-quality speaker pair, extend with a subwoofer and an extra pair for surround, and when they have optimized all that and have money to spare, they can experiment with a lot of extra channels. But that's just a recommendation.

And the distortion issue? It is still there, but buying extra speakers is not the only way to diminish it... buying higher quality audio is another way, I would say.


You're certainly welcome to your opinion, and as long as we're both happy with our setups then all is well :) I would encourage you to experience the difference a multi-channel setup can make though. There are compromises in every setup, but having tried both setups I will never move back to a 2/4 channel setup.
sonar11
Member
 
Posts: 599
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 4:03 pm

Re: Interfacing multi speakers

Postby sonar11 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:46 pm

Just a further comment (and I will stop after this); getting back to the CD example.

What do you think would sound better to you as a listener. 2 speakers in their optimum position, reproducing a 20 player orchestra, or 20 individual speakers set in the location of each player, each speaker only playing back the sound of that single player?
sonar11
Member
 
Posts: 599
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 4:03 pm

Re: Interfacing multi speakers

Postby josq » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:49 pm

sonar11 wrote:We first have to agree on what the disadvantages are :)

Agreed! ;) But making comparisons is not easy. My reasoning is partly based on the assumption of a limited budget. Let's say you have room to spend $4000 on speakers only. The quality difference between a $200 speaker (20 pcs) or a $1000 speaker (4 pcs for surround) can be very significant. But if budget is unlimited, the picture becomes quite different. If one day I could afford to spend $20000 on 20 $1000 speakers, I'd gladly do it! But I'll need to do it the right way, because I have no doubt it is easy to spoil things.

josq wrote:
the sound stage is far bigger
- I consider this a disadvantage (in the case you want to have an authentic reproduction of how the microphones recorded the organ in its original acoustics). What was recorded ad a single position, will be smeared among many speaker positions. You'll destroy the original stereo image.

The stereo image is not destroyed at all; you're still producing a single pitch recorded in left/right through 2 left and right speakers, you're just changing which speakers that stereo image is projected through. It doesn't destroy the stereo image anymore than moving your speakers a few inches around does.

OK, I guess there are 2 strategies here: cycling mono ranks among multiple speakers using one of the Hauptwerk algorithms, or assigning each stereo rank to a specific stereo pair. Am I right that you use the second strategy?

In addition, you are assuming that the mikes don't move during a recording, whereas I'm almost certain (especially for front and direct recordings) that they do. So already while recording the exact position of every pipe in relation to other pipes is lost.

Except for (semi)-dry recordings, that would be bad recording practice? When listening to a real German/Dutch organ, you often can identify if the Rugwerk, Hoofdwerk, or Bovenwerk is being played. This experience would get lost if the mics are moved during the recording.

Finally, keep in mind that you can physically aim the speakers at you location, such that they all project sound at your head; your ears will still interpret the sound as coming from the same location; that is how speakers work anyway, if they have a separate tweeter and separate mid driver and separate bass; internally they are separating the physical location of pipes: a 2' will come from the tweeter, an 8' from the bass or mid. By the time the sounds reach your ears, it all sounds like it comes from the same location.

Good argument. Your experience is that you cannot discern from which speaker pair a rank is sounding?

I would suggest you try it sometime ;) There is a huge difference in how the volume builds in 2 channel vs 8 channel. The sound is much fuller and livelier.

I'd gladly try it using an array of equivalent high-quality speakers. But before starting such an expensive experiment (hopefully somewhere in the far future), I would like to understand your experience... what's the physical basis of this phenonemon?

I tested some m-audios and they had very poor dispersion, moving your head around would instantly sound different

I have M-audio DSM3 as front speakers (excellent, but unfortunately not available anymore) and BX8a as rear speakers (not as good as the DSM3). For the DSM3's I can partly confirm your experience, but I'm not moving that much while playing, so to me it is ok to have it optimized for my playing position.

Indeed, room correction is terribly important. I prefer to tame the room itself, rather than use software; since software only corrects bits and pieces and only in certain physical locations. Correcting the room (bass traps etc) makes the sound sound good in the entire room, and then you also don't have the complex multi-channel configuration issues either that a software setup has.

Good point. Depends on how well you are able to do physical room correction. In my case, not too much, my console is situated in our living room... So software correction is the way to go for me (although I have to compromise on the sound elsewhere in the room). But I think physical and software correction are complementary because both provide only partial solutions.

You're certainly welcome to your opinion, and as long as we're both happy with our setups then all is well :) I would encourage you to experience the difference a multi-channel setup can make though. There are compromises in every setup, but having tried both setups I will never move back to a 2/4 channel setup.

Yes! I appreciate your thorough comments, and I'd be happy to hear from you again! Just dreaming: it would be nice to have some kind of workshop where we could test and optimize all kinds of speakers, set-ups, room correction strategies, etc to get a better feel of all the possibilities... and difficulties.
josq
Member
 
Posts: 662
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:11 pm

Re: Interfacing multi speakers

Postby JohnNicholson » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:30 pm

Gosh!
Thanks to everyone for such an informative and interesting debate. I did not realise that there are so many points of view on this matter, but clearly it will cost some money to buy a suitable audio-interface as suggested.

The debate between Josq and Sonar11 may be very relevant. I am sure the issue of contention is very much about the intended scale and purpose of the system. I did not explain my aim with this project. Although I live deep in the countryside, a long way from any neighbours, my aim is not to build a huge noisy organ on a rock stage. I have built the four manual midi console from bits and bobs collected from Ebay over the last six years or more, and it will be used in my main living room. I already have a two manual and pedal basic set up in my office to prove to myself that Hauptwerk does work, and it plays through a very old Cambridge sound system - probably 25 years old.

My plan is to continue to build an ultra low budget sound system using secondhand amps and speakers I have collected, and some new 12 volt ones that can be bought on Ebay or a few pounds. I have some 18" Ambassador speakers that must be much older than I am, for the Pedal organ, and some Compton speakers.

I have also experimented using a Phillips home theatre sound system to read music from Concert Hall from a USB stick and it seems these small amps do very well plus a ghetto blaster sub-woofer amp as used in cars for the pedals. Vannou's playing on the Bedos reeds sounds fantastic!

My aim is to make my VPO very three dimensional, so the main divisions will be stacked Werk prinzip style, Brust immediately above the console, Bombarde above that, then Great, and above that Swell and finally under the ceiling an Echo and String organ. On the opposite wall behind the organ bench will be the Choir and Positive organ and also a Spanish division, and a Solo organ. Then the Phillips theatre system may be used with some delay and reverb to create a cathedral like acoustic in the room, and at the far end will be some state trumpets, and more solo stops.

All this on four manuals?
The top keyboard will have eight or ten divisions each with 3 stops, and these can also be coupled to any of the other keyboards and pedals. All the stops and tabs have 12v solenoids, which are controlled by an Arduino. The whole console operates on 12 v from a car battery. So it is easy to run 12v to the many small amps. The Great and Pedal organs will have larger amps.

The computer I now use for the full version of Hauptwerk is quad core, 64 bit RAM, and it has optical and the wide sort of USB sockets. I assume the optical will be best to send the multi-channel signal to a box that splits it up to separate analogue channels, each of which can go to it's own amp.

John N
User avatar
JohnNicholson
Member
 
Posts: 49
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:03 pm
Location: North Wales (Bangor)

Re: Interfacing multi speakers

Postby josq » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:53 pm

What kind of sample sets are you using/planning to use? Do you want to have an authentic representation of certain organs? Or are you rather interested in creating your own favorite organ sound using samples as the raw starting material?
josq
Member
 
Posts: 662
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:11 pm

Re: Interfacing multi speakers

Postby sonar11 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:35 pm

josq, continuing the discussion but don't feel like snipping all the quotes out.

Think of a tower speaker vs a bookshelf (same brand/model line). The tower sounds fuller, with "more presence" and volume + liveliness playing the same organ sounds, vs a bookshelf. Do you agree? I have seen this time and time again in home theatre usage as well as music playback, and many people on forums over the world observe this effect. Towers just sound better, as long as you are sitting a suitable distance away such that the different location of tweeter/bass does not get noticed. This is quite often just a few feet, depending on the tower speaker. The one area they are slightly less good vs a bookshelf, is in pinpoint imaging, due to the tweeter/bass driver separation. If you sit 1 foot away, you will very much notice the different drivers. If you sit 10 feet away, nobody in the world can possibly hear that difference. So there is a point where you can no longer hear the different location of drivers, they all converge to a point by your ear. Generally, 6 feet or more is more than enough in my experience.

So this is the same effect with multiple speakers in HW. A tower speaker is essentially 3 or 4 bookshelfs stacked on top of eachother (one bookshelf per driver), with each driver playing different sounds. Internally, the tower crossover would send the high frequencies (2ft pipe) to the tweeter, and an 8' bourdon to the bass or mid range driver(s). Whereas with HW, instead of dividing the sound by frequency, we divide by entire pipe; the tower speaker is a little cruder in execution, but it's essentially doing the exact same thing as multi-channel hw is doing, and none of us really notice or care about the very miniscule imaging that is lost.

However, the clarity gained is immense. Some samples are massive; recommendations of polyphyony of > 4000 pipes. Having 4 channels available, means that a speaker which was previously playing 4000 pipes, can now play 1000 pipes. Or, a speaker that was playing full range of texture can now play just reed, or just strings, or just flutes etc. Or, a speaker that was playing 16' - 1' can now play just 16 - 8' etc etc.

So I don't deny that you lose a few points in terms of imaging, but we need to balance that against what you gain. In my experience, you lose (say) 3 points for imaging, but gain 30 points for clarity. Numbers are pulled out of thin air, but hopefully you catch what I mean there; what you lose is far less than what you gain.

Your point about 2 quality speakers vs 8 junky speakers; definitely true, you need to reach a point first where the speakers you are buying are very good and can "stand on their own" as high quality. But after that, each successive pair you add to your mix only helps (in my experience). A number of people in these discussions seem to think that 1 pair of high quality speakers is the "end game", and that is what I disagree with. You can gain even more quality and clarity by adding additional high quality speakers.
sonar11
Member
 
Posts: 599
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 4:03 pm

Re: Interfacing multi speakers

Postby mdyde » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:51 am

JohnNicholson wrote:The computer I now use for the full version of Hauptwerk is quad core, 64 bit RAM, and it has optical and the wide sort of USB sockets. I assume the optical will be best to send the multi-channel signal to a box that splits it up to separate analogue channels, each of which can go to it's own amp.


Hello John,

If you do get one of the MOTU 24Ao (or MOTU 16A) interfaces that I mentioned, then it would connect to your computer via a USB 2.0-compatible socket (the wider type of USB socket that you mentioned). The MOTU interface then has balanced line-level analogue audio output connections for each of its 24 output channels (16 for the MOTU 16A) which you would connect to your amplifiers. (The 24Ao accepts either DB-25 or Phoenix connectors for its analogue outputs, whereas the 16A is more conventional and accepts balanced 1/4-inch jacks.)

Traditionally, many audio interfaces have used FireWire instead of USB, but FireWire is gradually becoming obsolete these days. Thunderbolt is another means by which some recent audio interfaces connect to computers, but Thunderbolt is mainly used on Macs.

You wouldn't use the optical output on your PC's motherboard for connecting an external audio interface.
Best regards,
Martin.

[Please use email or the Contact page if you need to contact us privately, rather than private forum messages.]

Image
User avatar
mdyde
Moderator
 
Posts: 10475
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2003 2:19 pm
Location: UK


Return to Audio / MIDI interfacing

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests