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Caen - Cavaillé-Coll
Sonus Paradisi

 

NOTE: A new version of the Caen, Version 2 was released in July 2011 - This new version is based on the same recording as the original Caen sample set. Release tails were reworked, re-voicing of some stops. Subtle modifications, still, an improvement and increased clarity to the sound. A well worthy and inexpensive upgrade. Download the demo version of Caen V2(3.5Gb) - Right-click and select SAVE AS.

Released in March 2009, the Caen-Cavaillé-Coll organ from Sonus Paradisi is a great addition to the Hauptwerk sample library. While there is already a few Cavaillé-Coll available for Hauptwerk, the Metz from Milan Digital Audio being the most popular, this one brings something that no other set has, a surround version.

Milan's Metz has been (and still is) a successful set; it was the first set I bought, the one that helped me realise my dream... get a great sounding organ in my house. At first when I read about the Caen availability, I didn't see the need to buy it since it was almost the same organ (don't forget, I'm an amateur, and I'm sure that a professional would identify many differences among the two organs).

The original Caen was built by Cavaillé-Coll, has 3 manuals, one expressive division, the Récit, it is a larger organ than the Metz (38 vs 50 ranks). In it "virtual version and extended edition is available for both organs, growing to 48 ranks for the Metz vs 55 ranks for the Caen. Extension are "virtual pipes" created from original sound material; for example, thru software manipulations we can create a 32' Bombarde rank from a 16' Bombarde. While the result may not be as "good" as recording a real rank, when well done, this is a very nice addition to a set, and Jiri did a great job to expand a bit the Caen. (note: In the latest version V2, the Contre-Bombarde 32 was revoiced and have even more punch, growling than in version 1)

Already owning the Freiberg surround set, I knew that the surround option was adding a more envelopping sound (of course you will need 2 rear speakers to enjoy it) and could only imagine what this Cavaillé-Coll will sound like in my music room. After of few months of listening demos and reading some first impressions from other Hauptwerk users, I finally bought it and didn't regret it.

The beauty of Hauptwerk is that you can own many similar organs and they will each bring you something different; just like listening to similar organs in different venues, you will recognise the caracter, style of the organ, but the acoustic, clarity of the sound will be different and it is exactly the case with the Caen.

Jiri Zurek recorded the Caen closer to the console, giving you a clear, direct sound while at the same time providing a large acoustic. With the surround pack, you are "virtually" surround by the sound; nothing beats the release of a full chord Tutti... listening to the sound naturally decay... wonderful.

Just like all Cavaillé-Coll, you will need to get use to activating the foot lever (Grand orgue ventil) to activate the Grand Orgue stops; the same thing for the reeds, you need to activate the "rappel d'anches" or reeds levers for each division.

The surround add-on pack is not a gadget but a true enhancement and is a must... if your computer can handle it. Basically adding surround double the memory and polyphony needed (since each rank is loaded twice, once for the front channel, once for the back)

Before the release of Hauptwerk 3.30, even an i7 had problem processing all the polyphony of the Caen surround register with a large registration, playing a fast, complex piece, but luckily 3.30 solved that problem and a QuadCore PC will gracefully manage it. You still will need a lot of ram; while it is possible to load the Caen (non surround) within an 8Gb computer (16bits/compression enable/full loops and releases) you will need a lot more as soon as you want to use the surround pack. A 12Gb will be able to load the Caen surround, and a 16GB will be a better choice.

Once again, I should stress the importance of voicing the organ to your listening environment; being such a massive instrument with powerful and low pedal ranks, you will need to spend some time to make sure that everything is well balance. Of course if you're using headphones you won't need to go thru all that voicing stuff.

Hauptwerk Advanced Edition offers a voicing page that will allow you to control many paramaters on a note by note basis; Sonus Paradisi is offering an additional voicing functionality, independant from the one offers in Hauptwerk. The controls work on a rank basis and allow you to change the tone of the rank. Please, be careful while using both voicing utilities, while you can easiy undo the voicing you did, you might affect the overall balance of the ranks and end up not liking the organ. They must be used to fine-tuned the sound to your listening environment and audio system, remote standing waves, dips and peaks for some frequencies because of the interaction of the sound with the room.

This set is a much have for everyone looking for a French symphonic organ; while it is possible to use the Metz on a 4Gb computer, this set will require an 8Gb computer (for the wet version) and at least 12Gb for the surround version. A wonderful addition to the Hauptwerk library.

Listen to some demos on Sonus Paradisi website and on Contrebombarde.com or these 2 from youtube.

 

 
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