Quick Start guide

Here you can find an explanation of some topics related to Hauptwerk sample sets.


To install the sample set, simply select File/Install organ and temperament… in Hauptwerk’s main menu and select downloaded file.

If a sample set is protected (currently only Düsseldorf, St. Lambertus), the installation process is a little longer. As it requires Hauptwerk 5 or higher to work, you should have an USB iLok key. First open iLok License Manager app and in the main menu go to Licenses/Redeem Activation Code and paste the license code you received in the e-mail (it can be found in My accounts/Downloads too). After redeeming the code, Hauptwerk relaunch may be required.

The most likely you would also need to get the latest Licensing Packages File (in case you get an error with message code: 1223). To do it, go to the Hauptwerk website, download and install the file (File/Install organ and temperament…).


Each played sample (pipe sound, key action noise etc.) takes some amount of CPU performance when playing. The more of stops engaged, the more notes played, the greater processing power required. Polyphony defines how many samples are currently playing. The sample not only plays when keys are pressed, but also when keys are released – then the release part of the sample is playing (the reverb of a room). That’s why the most challenging in terms of performance is playing full organ, playing many, fast notes (especially on a sample set with a long reverb).

Multichannel sample sets

Düren sample set Settings tab

My newer sample sets come in a multichannel format, meaning that the organ could be listened to from various perspectives. The usual ones are “close” (the closest sound to the organ case), “front” (the most balanced sound compromising direct and reverberant sound), “rear” (the most distant sound). It allows for more flexibility, but at a cost of higher requirements. Each loaded audio group multiplies CPU and memory requirements, so loading 2 audio groups requires twice as much performance/memory compared to a single one. Loading 3 audio groups requires 3 times more than a single one etc. Please note that different audio groups are provided as an options. Using all of them is not a guarantee of achieving the most satisfying sound.

The audio levels of each audio group can be set in the sample set Settings tab. Here are located master volume levels for each audio group and the volume levels for each division, so it is possible to achieve effects where one division sounds closer and different one further away. When trying different audio mixes (different proportions of audio groups) please note that our listening favors louder sounds (when comparing). It makes it a bit harder to judge objectively, which sound is for us really better.

The current implementation of multichannel sample sets in Hauptwerk isn’t the most intuitive. In the rank loading screen you will see multiple “ranks” related to one stop. The same thing is visible in the rank voicing window. It gives the ability to e.g. adjust volume or detune pipes in one audio group, which may be useful, but most users would prefer to have these controls linked. Now unfortunately there is no linking mechanism, so if you want to e.g. boost the volume of one stop, you have to do it for each audio group.

Volume levels

Audio, MIDI and performance window

Hauptwerk sends digital audio to your audio interface. In digital audio there is a limit of the loudest possible value, which shouldn’t be exceeded. Exceeding this limit in Hauptwerk results in very unpleasant audio spikes, so it is important to set the volume of the sample set to fit safely within limits. Each sample set has its own volume control – it is available in the main menu in View/Large floating panels/Audio, MIDI and performance. Use the arrows next to Audio meter to set the appropriate level. Play the loudest chords to find the safe level. By default my sample sets have the volume set rather safe for the default audio group mix.

Polyphony performance

Multichannel sample sets require higher polyphony compared to “normal” stereo sets. Playing e.g. 40 stop organ with 3 audio groups loaded, means it acts almost like a 120 stop organ with 1 audio group (basic stereo sample set). In Hauptwerk it is possible to set a polyphony limit in View/Large floating panels/Audio, MIDI and performance in Polyphony section.

If your CPU meter in the mentioned window doesn’t go red with full organ, but the Polyphony meter does, you should increase the polyphony limit (using arrows), to allow all pipes to sound. As when the polyphony limit is reached and the user plays a new note, some of the already playing notes will be stopped (muted). It is not desirable behavior.

If your CPU meter goes red and the sound stutters, you may:


The memory requirements for each sample set are listed on its pages in the Requirements section. Sometimes Hauptwerk during sample set loading, may report there is no memory left, even if in Windows Task Manager it seems there is. Then it’s good to close unnecessary open applications or perform a reboot.

In the organ rank loading menu, there is an option Memory sample resolution. 16-bit offers lower quality, but takes half of the memory, compared to 24-bit (the best quality). I don’t see any point using values other than these two. Probably the most noticeable difference between using 16-bit and 24-bit, is for 16-bit the presence of high frequency noise in the reverb (when releasing keys). Using 24-bit eliminates this issue.

Hauptwerk Audio mixer

Since Hauptwerk 5, Hauptwerk has had a very complex audio mixer. I won’t explain it in detail (at least for now), but rather its basic principles. I hope it will be enough for you, to understand it and master it by yourself. I will explain using the example of Hauptwerk 8. The default stereo configuration may be enough for many, but if you would like to use multiple audio outputs of your audio interface, then diving into Hauptwerk mixer is necessary.

Ranks (like “Principal 8 (rear)”) can be assigned to different mixer buses. For multichannel sample sets I think it makes sense to create buses for different perspectives, like e.g.: close, front, rear. It is possible to create buses per division (Hauptwerk, Positiv, Pedal) or combine two and make buses like: Hauptwerk (close), Hauptwerk (front) etc. These buses can be created (or rather the existing ones renamed) in General settings/Audio mixer bus groups.

The next step is to assign ranks to just created bus groups in Organ settings/Rank routing to audio mixer buses (when the sample set is loaded). You can select multiple ranks (using Shift key) and assign them (to the default “Rank output perspective 1”), so e.g. select all “(close)” ranks and assign them to “close” audio mixer bus or all “(close)” ranks of Positiv and assign them to “Positiv (close)” bus.

Once this is done, go to General settings/Audio mixer. Here you can, as the name suggests, mix different signals. To create a simple setup where one mixer bus goes to one audio interface output, select from the list on the left side the bus you’ve created. If your first bus was named e.g. “Pedal (close)”, then its name on the left side is written as “Primary 0001 ‘Pedal (close)'”. Here in Audio output (device) channel(s) section you can assign it to an audio interface output.

You may also like to make a little more complex setup and mix the sound from different buses in different proportions and then send it to the audio interface. For example you may have a surround setup and mix different ranks to different speakers, but for the headphone output have something different and something even different for the recording. By default in Hauptwerk 8, there are 8 master mixes and 8 intermediate mixes. You can send from “Primary” buses via “Sends” to both types of mixes, however from the intermediate mix you can only send to the master mixes.

Let’s say you would like to have more of “close” and “front” sample set audio groups in your front speakers and a bit of front and all of the rear in the rear speakers. First rename (in “Bus properties” section) existing master or intermediate buses to e.g. “Front speakers” and “Rear speakers”. Send them in “Audio output (device) channel(s)” to your audio interface, where your speakers are connected. Then go to your primary buses (e.g. “Primary 0001: ‘Brustwerk (close)'”) and in the “Sends” section on the bottom of the window, tick the checkboxes, to which buses they should be sent (you should see here “Front speakers” and “Rear speakers”). Set the level. 0,00 dB is unchanged. Higher value is louder, lower is quieter. In this window in the “Audio recorder” section you can select which signals should be recorded (by ticking checkbox “in this section”Records audio?”), when you record using Hauptwerk built-in recorder.