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

In this article, I will tell you how to setup a functioning Hauptwerk system, using MIDI controller keyboards.


Many home organists often dream of playing a wurlitzer theatre organ or a church organ to elevate their playing to another level, and for personal enjoyment. At one time this would be very difficult as you would have to have physical access to the instruments in order to play them. Not so anymore! Through the use of modern computing technology, samples and MIDI, the home organist/enthusiast can now play either a Wurlitzer theatre organ, or a church/pipe organ without leaving home using a computer running Hauptwerk virtual pipe organ software, controlled from either MIDI keyboards with pedals or practically any decent Electronic/digital home organ that has MIDI out.

Hauptwerk Virtual Pipe Organ Software

Hauptwerk is software distributed by Milan Digital Audio and available from Hauptwerk’s website. It is available in three versions Free edition, basic and FUll edition. We will be using the FREE edition, version 4 for the purposes of this article. Version 4 is around 2.2GB download, so I would recommend downloading on a fast-ish internet connection. Once you have downloaded Hauptwerk v4, it needs to be installed on your desktop PC, Laptop PC, MAC or MacBook laptop.

Requirements and Prerequisites

Desktop PC requirements

I will assume that you have a decent, relatively modern PC that you can use for running Hauptwerk. Hauptwerk recommend a minimum of an Intel Core2Duo system with 2GB RAM installed at least. For this article Minimum recommended is an Intel Core 2 Duo system, I will use my existing E7500 Core2Duo based system here, as I have it available. This is considered low to mid-range spec these days, as the Intel Core 2 Duos have been replaced by the Core i series processors. Hauptwerk recommend these Core I CPUs for best performance, although I can assure you that my setup runs fine, using the FREE St. Annes Mosely organ that is supplied with Hauptwerk. If you want to use larger sample sets, I recommend using either a Core i5 or i7, but as I will be only concentrating on the FREE edition of Hauptwerk, then the Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 is more than capable of doing the job.

If you are intending to run Hauptwerk on a grander scale, and use either the Basic or Full version for running much larger samplesets, then Hauptwerk really recommend that you use an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor with 8-16GB RAM. This will require a 64bit operating system, such as Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit. If you already have a PC with 32 bit windows, it will be restricted to 3.5GB RAM as that is a limitation of 32bit software.

AMD processors will also be OK for Hauptwerk, I have tested Hauptwerk on an AMD Athlon II x2 250 CPU, with 2GB ram and it runs well. AMD are considerably cheaper than Intel, and a good alternative for someone on a budget.

Laptop PC requirements

I run Hauptwerk 4 on my aging DELL Inspiron 640m laptop. This laptop still has life in it yet, as it is based on a Core2Duo CPU running at 2.0ghz, with 2.5GB DDR2 ram. I upgraded it a while ago, so if you have a DELL Inspiron 640m or 6400 with an older Core Duo CPU, it maybe worth swapping it out to a Core2Duo, which will upgrade the performance somewhat.

To achieve MIDI connectivity on my laptop, I use a 11 USB MIDI interface, available for a few pounds via eBay. These aren’t really recommended by Hauptwerk, but I can tell you that they do the job just fine, and are easy to setup. Windows automatically installs the drivers for these MIDI devices.

Regarding the soundcard on a laptop, I use the on-board sound using the Asio4all driver, which works brilliantly on my DELL’s SigmaTel on-board soundcard. Ideally a USB or FireWire solution would be better, such as the external M-Audio 2496 or the 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 has no ASIO!

MIDI Keyboard Controllers

If you don’t already poses a digital or electronic home organ with MIDI then M-audio keystation Es series controllers are good for Hauptwerk controllers.

I have successfully played Hauptwerk using my Wersi Arcus as a controller, although I cannot use a full pedalboard with this. I will have to be satisfied with 13 notes for now.

MIDI Bass Pedal Board

If you are not looking for a full-blown church or theatre organ pedalboard, then there are a few alternatives available, either new or used.

Roland PK5-A 13 Note MIDI Pedalboard

Hammond XPK100 13 note MIDI pedalboard

Hammond XPK200 20 note MIDI pedalboard

Hammond PK25XKP 25 note MIDI pedalboard

Studiologic MP-113 13 note MIDI pedalboard

Studiologic MP-117 17 Note MIDI pedalboard

Soundcard – Audio Interface

Hauptwerk do not advise using Creative Audigy or Soundblaster cards, but I can confirm that the FREE sample set runs without problems on the Creative Audigy 2 Platinum card, so all is not lost if you have one of these cards.Hauptwerk recommend the M-Audio 2496 audio card, and as I have one of these to hand, this is what I will be using for this article. They are easy to buy second-hand now, and can be bought on eBay for around 25. Now is a good time to install the soundcard. As there are so many different types, I cannot cover all here as it’s beyond the scope of this article, so please to refer to your soundcard manufacturers documentation.


Hauptwerk recommend using a good Hi-Fi system or powered monitors will also be good. I use a Technics receiver with Wharfedale speakers with good results. I only use Stereo and not surround sound, however you can use surround sound if you wish, but this is not covered here in this article.

Controlling Hauptwerk

The most basic way of controlling Hauptwerk on the screen is with the PC mouse. If you are using Hauptwerk without a touch-screen, I recommend a Wireless mouse as the cable won’t get in the way.

The most common practice is using a Touchscreen although these can bump the cost up a bit, but it is very intuitive and easy to use compared with a mouse

Assembling the Console and Situating the Components

I have my M-audio keystation 61ES on top of my Yamaha P-155 digital piano, on it’s own stand. This is a good setup, as it allows for bass pedals underneath. Photo coming soon…

The PC base unit I position to the right or left side of the Piano and M-audio 61, with the monitor on an a suitable shelf.

Connecting it All Up

Make sure your soundcard is installed and fully functioning and your PC is all connected and setup. The M-Audio is easy to use as I only need to connect a USB cable to the PC and install the drivers. The keyboard is USB powered so it doesn’t need a separate adapter. I connect the P-155 to MIDI-IN on the pedals, and MIDI out of the pedals to the MIDI cable of the M-Audio 2496. MIDI is connected ‘out’ of the pedals ‘in’ to the soundcard.

Installing Hauptwerk

For the purposes of this article, I will assume that we are using Microsoft Windows 7, as it’s the current Windows version, and recommended by Hauptwerk. Download Hauptwerk 4 FREE edition from the Hauptwwerk website.

Run the setup file that you just downloaded, and click Done, when finished. Now you should have a system that is ready to go, aside from the finer points of setting up the MIDI hardware in Hauptwerk, 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 introduced a MIDI learn function, that automatically detects your MIDI settings, and takes the headache out of setting it up manually.

Stay tuned for part two of this article, setting up MIDI. Photos and videos to follow!

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