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How to Setup Hauptwerk Virtual Pipe Organ Using MIDI Keyboards and a Computer

In this article, I’ll show you how to set up a working Hauptwerk system using MIDI control keyboards.

Many home organists often dream of playing a wurlitzer theater organ or a church organ to take their playing to another level and provide personal enjoyment. This was very difficult at one time as you have to physically access the instruments to play them. Not like that anymore! Using modern computing, samples and MIDI, the home organist/enthusiast can now play either a Wurlitzer theater organ or a church/pipe organ without leaving home on a computer running Hauptwerk virtual organ software and can even be controlled from a MIDI keyboard. pedals or virtually any decent electronic/digital home organ that has a MIDI output.

Hauptwerk virtual organ software
Hauptwerk is software distributed by Milan Digital Audio and available from the Hauptwerk website. It is available in three versions free, basic and full edition. In this article, we will be using the FREE edition, version 4. Version 4 is about 2.2GB to download, so I recommend you download it on a fast internet connection. After you download Hauptwerk v4, you need to install it on your desktop, Laptop PC, MAC or MacBook laptop.

Requirements and prerequisites
Desktop requirements
I assume you have a decent, relatively modern computer that you can use to run Hauptwerk. Hauptwerk recommends a minimum Intel Core2Duo system with at least 2GB of RAM. An Intel Core 2 Duo system is the minimum recommended for this article, here I will use my existing E7500 Core2Duo based system as available. This is now considered a low to mid-range specification as Intel Core 2 Duos have been replaced by the Core i series processors. Hauptwerk recommends these Core I CPUs for the best performance, although I can assure you that using the FREE St. Annes Mosely organ that comes with Hauptwerk, my setup works fine. If you want to use larger sample sets, I’d recommend a Core i5 or i7, but since I’ll only be focusing on the FREE edition of Hauptwerk, an Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 is more than capable of doing the job.

If you want to run Hauptwerk on a larger scale and use the base or full version to run much larger sample sets, Hauptwerk actually recommends using an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor with 8-16 GB of RAM. This will require a 64-bit operating system, such as Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. If you already have a computer with 32-bit windows, you are limited to 3.5 GB of RAM, as this is a limitation of 32-bit software.

AMD processors are also compatible with Hauptwerk, I tested Hauptwerk on an AMD Athlon II x2 250 CPU with 2 GB ram and it runs fine. AMD is significantly cheaper than Intel and is a good alternative for someone on a budget.

Laptop PC requirements
I am running Hauptwerk 4 on my aging DELL Inspiron 640m laptop. There’s still life in this laptop, as it’s built on a 2.0GHz Core2Duo CPU with 2.5GB of DDR2 RAM. I recently upgraded, so if you have a DELL Inspiron 640m or 6400 with an older Core Duo CPU, you might want to replace it with a Core2Duo, which should improve performance somewhat.

To access the MIDI connection on my laptop I use an 11 USB MIDI interface available for a few quid through eBay. These aren’t really recommended by Hauptwerk, but I can tell you that they do a great job and are easy to set up. Windows automatically installs drivers for these MIDI devices.

As for the sound card of the laptop, I use the built-in sound using the Asio4all driver, which works great on the DELL SigmaTel built-in sound card. Ideally, a USB or FireWire solution would be better, such as the external M-Audio 2496 or M-Audio FireWire 410 interface. The EMU 0404 USB would also be a good choice. I would avoid the Soundblaster external Audigy USB NX as it doesn’t have ASIO!

MIDI keyboard controls
If you are not yet posing a digital or electronic home organ with MIDI, the M-audio keystation Es series controllers are good for Hauptwerk controllers.
I’ve successfully played Hauptwerk with the Wersi Arcus controller, although I can’t use a full pedalboard with it. For now, I have to settle for 13 voices.

MIDI Bass Pedal Board
If you’re not looking for a full-fledged church or theater organ pedalboard, there are a few alternatives, new or used.

Roland PK5-A 13 Note MIDI Pedalboard
Hammond XPK100 13-note MIDI pedal board
Hammond XPK200 20 note MIDI pedal board
Hammond PK25XKP 25 note MIDI pedal board
Studiologic MP-113 13-note MIDI pedal board
Studiologic MP-117 17 Note MIDI Pedal Board

Sound card – Audio interface
Hauptwerk does not recommend using Creative Audigy or Soundblaster cards, but I can confirm that the FREE sample set runs without problems on a Creative Audigy 2 Platinum card, so all is not lost if you have such cards. Hauptwerk recommends the M-Audio 2496 sound card, and since I have one on hand, that’s what I’ll be using for this article. They are now easy to buy used and can be had for around 25 on eBay. Now it’s time to install the sound card. Since there are so many different types, I can’t cover them all here as it is beyond the scope of this article, so please refer to your sound card manufacturer’s documentation.

Hauptwerk recommends using a good Hi-Fi system, or powered monitors will do just fine. I use a Technics receiver with Wharfedale speakers with good results. I’m only using stereo, not surround sound, but you can use surround sound if you want, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.

Control of the Hauptwerk
The most basic way to control Hauptwerk on screen is with a computer mouse. If you use Hauptwerk without a touch screen, I recommend a wireless mouse because the cable doesn’t get in the way.
The most common practice is to use a touch screen, although this may increase the cost a bit, but it is very intuitive and easy to use compared to a mouse

Assembling the bracket and placing the parts
On top of my Yamaha P-155 digital piano is the M-audio keystation 61ES, on its own stand. This is a good setup as it allows you to use bass pedals underneath. Photo coming soon…
The PC base unit should be placed on the right or left side of the Piano and M-audio 61, with the monitor on a suitable shelf.

Make sure your sound card is installed and fully functional, and your computer is connected and set up. M-Audio is easy to use as I only need to connect a USB cable to the computer and install the drivers. The keyboard is powered by USB, so no separate adapter is needed. I connect the P-155 to the MIDI-IN on the pedals, and the MIDI output from the pedals to the MIDI cable of the M-Audio 2496. MIDI is connected to the sound card ‘outside’ the pedals.

Installing Hauptwerk
In this article, I will assume that we are using Microsoft Windows 7, as this is the current version of Windows and is recommended by Hauptwerk. Download the FREE edition of Hauptwwerk 4 from the Hauptwwerk website.

Run the setup file you just downloaded and click Done when you’re done. You should now have a system that is ready to go, apart from the finer tuning of Hauptwerk’s MIDI hardware, i.e. telling the software what hardware you are using and what MIDI channels everything is on. This is now much easier in Hauptwerk 4, as the Hauptwerk developers have introduced a MIDI learning function that automatically recognizes your MIDI settings and eliminates the headache of manual settings.

Stay tuned for the second part of this article, MIDI setup. Next photos and videos!

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