Pipe Organ Sounds Best When Out Of Tune

A user asked why sample sets sound somewhat out of tune. He did not like it out of tune, he wanted to have perfectly tuned organ instead.

Yes, every sample set sounds out of tune now and then. It's intentional and it's good that it's a little out of tune. Because the organ doesn't sound good when you have everything perfectly in tune. 20 years (and more) of experience and reactions of thousands of users proved to me, that an organ needs some "chorus effect" to sound convincing. Every organ in the world is always a little bit out of tune. Even at the moment when the organ builder leaves the room after several days of tuning. My experience tells me that random variations in the pitch of individual pipes on a reasonably well-tuned organ are often +-5 cents, but often much more, such as +-15 cents.

Therefore, there is a stong reason why every sample set is intentionally set to sound a little bit out of tune, to make the sound more natural and convincing.

But if you prefer perfectly tuned organ sound, you can achieve it in the Hauptwerk software. How?

  1. Turn off the pipe Coupling and Pipe Detuning on the Mixer tab (if available).
  2. Select the "Fine" option for the Mixtures tuning on the Mixer tab (if available). This is important, because the originally recorded mixture samples are often beating (undulating) slightly. Fine tuning offers digitally corrected samples of mixtures for those who like it this way.
  3. It is important to use some Hauptwerk temperament, such as Meantone or WellTemperament. If you use the "Original Organ Tuning" it will be out-of-tune slightly. Do not limit yourself to the Original Organ Tuning. Use the Hauptwerk "Temperament" menu to find a suitable temperament chart for your sample set.
  4. And also you can turn off the Wind model, which can cause some pipes to be out of tune slightly. See the Organ Settings / Organ Preferences menu and its Wind model tab to switch it off.

In any case, I invite you to study the Hauptwerk software, to learn about its various functions, because there are many ways allowing to change the sound of a sample set to tweak it to your liking.