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Oloron-Sainte-Marie vs. Bégard (vs. St. Eucaire?)


Hello. I'm really torn choosing between these two (maybe three, although I don't much like the sound of the St. Eucaire set) sample sets and I'm not in a position to get both (yet), unfortunately. I've tried the demos of both Oloron and Bégard (and like both for different reasons) and a few things stand out:

Oloron:

• The pedal Soubasse 16' is rather loud in the bottom octave and sticks out. Is this still a problem balance-wise with the full set?
• The acoustic, whilst beautiful, is huge and sometimes things seem to get lost. Do you find Oloron transparent enough for practice?

Bégard:

• The tremulant is much narrower and shallower than Oloron's. I guess this is just a
• There's no Voix Humaine. Is that a deal-breaker for some repertoire?
• There aren't many (only 1!) recording of it on ContreBombarde yet. Is this because it's still quite new or because everyone chose Oloron (or Caen/Metz/St. Omer etc.) for a reason I'm missing?

Anyway, I'd love to hear your opinions on this as it would seem that we're now rather spoiled for choice on excellent Cavaillé-Coll (Mutin in some cases) sample sets and it's really hard to choose! Many thanks in advance for your advice!
by EdG7
Aug 5, 2020 10:49 AM

Replies (10)

RE: Oloron-Sainte-Marie vs. Bégard (vs. St. Eucaire?)

Sorry, the partial sentence that begins "I guess this is just a" is meant to read "I guess this is just a matter of personal preference." Please excuse any other typos. I should have proofread my post more carefully!
by EdG7
Aug 5, 2020 11:15 AM

RE: Oloron-Sainte-Marie vs. Bégard (vs. St. Eucaire?)

I used the trial sample sets for both Oloron-Sainte-Marie and Bégard for long enough to go for Oloron without hesitation. I did do some tweaking to the Soubasse you mentioned as well as some other minor tweaking to balance the grand Orgue reeds more to my taste. If you are planning to use this for practice only there may be better sample sets. But you can adjust the recording position to get a more direct sound if you prefer that. I ended up adjusting mine for mostly “rear”. I found this was what I wanted from the sample set- a surprisingly full tutti yet the strings with Flûte harmonique seem to float in mid air. I also have Caen from Sonus Paradisi and that’s definitely my favorite French sample set. The Bégard set just seemed to have some strange balance issues and wasn’t as overall smooth and elegant as Oloron.
by CorDeUtah
Aug 5, 2020 04:19 PM

RE: Oloron-Sainte-Marie vs. Bégard (vs. St. Eucaire?)

Cochereau wrote:

I used the trial sample sets for both Oloron-Sainte-Marie and Bégard for long enough to go for Oloron without hesitation. I did do some tweaking to the Soubasse you mentioned as well as some other minor tweaking to balance the grand Orgue reeds more to my taste. If you are planning to use this for practice only there may be better sample sets. But you can adjust the recording position to get a more direct sound if you prefer that. I ended up adjusting mine for mostly “rear”. I found this was what I wanted from the sample set- a surprisingly full tutti yet the strings with Flûte harmonique seem to float in mid air. I also have Caen from Sonus Paradisi and that’s definitely my favorite French sample set. The Bégard set just seemed to have some strange balance issues and wasn’t as overall smooth and elegant as Oloron.

Thanks for your detailed response, Cochereau. Having used the demos of both a bit more, I agree with you about Oloron being much smoother than Bégard. I've played with the recording position as you suggested and have a sound I'm much happier with. I won't just be using this for practice, so I want something that sounds good for recording too, which Oloron seems to be able to achieve with the excellent adjustment settings for the various recording positions.

I'd love to get Caen, but at the moment it's a little out of my price range and I'd rather get a smaller Cavaillé-Coll for now. May I ask what you did to the Soubasse exactly to get it to blend better? Was it just a bit of volume adjustment or something else? I'm still new to the voicing settings in HW and don't really know where to start. Thanks again!

by EdG7
Aug 6, 2020 05:17 AM

RE: Oloron-Sainte-Marie vs. Bégard (vs. St. Eucaire?)

I downloaded the demos of both Oloron and Begard and thought they were very similar, at least to my ears (with and without hearing aids). However, I really liked the sound of the voix humaine (the only 8' reed with the Oloron demo), and used it, with other stops, as a solo for some pieces. About that time I listened to Lebreure-Wely's "The Hymn of Nuns," on CB, which specifies vox humana for accompaniment, learned it and like to play it with this unique sound. So when it came to buying one, I bought Oloron and still really like it. I don't think I hear any difference between the demo and complete set, but can't go back to the demo to compare.
by johnhoopes
Aug 6, 2020 02:08 PM

RE: Oloron-Sainte-Marie vs. Bégard (vs. St. Eucaire?)

The Oloron is more musical and exciting.

The St. Eucaire is dry and benefits from a little reverb added.

The Oloron has very loud trumpet reeds; but you could turn them down to your taste, I guess.

The Begard doesn't inspire me, with my sorry to Piotr.


There is a new C-Coll type organ of Bonn-Buhl by Pipeloops (there may be a demo version)

There is the Mannheimm organ by Inspired Acoustics in Fnrech Romantic style (there is a demo version)

There is the Dudelange organ by Voxus (no demo version)

There is the Aix-en-Provence organ by Organ Art Media

There is the St. Omer organ by Sonus Paradisi (demo still available?)


Good luck!


by adri
Aug 7, 2020 06:40 AM

RE: Oloron-Sainte-Marie vs. Bégard (vs. St. Eucaire?)

johnhoopes wrote:

I downloaded the demos of both Oloron and Begard and thought they were very similar, at least to my ears (with and without hearing aids). However, I really liked the sound of the voix humaine (the only 8' reed with the Oloron demo), and used it, with other stops, as a solo for some pieces. About that time I listened to Lebreure-Wely's "The Hymn of Nuns," on CB, which specifies vox humana for accompaniment, learned it and like to play it with this unique sound. So when it came to buying one, I bought Oloron and still really like it. I don't think I hear any difference between the demo and complete set, but can't go back to the demo to compare.

Thanks for your response, John. I agree, Oloron's Voix Humaine is lovely. I too heard Léfebure-Wely's "Chœur de Voix humaines" a few years ago and fell in love with the sound of the stop, which is one of the main attractions of the sample set for me, as it sounds like it was for you too. I'm glad to hear you still like the sample set; perhaps I'll go with Oloron as people speak so highly of it and I am enjoying the demo version. Thanks, Ed

by EdG7
Aug 7, 2020 11:42 AM

RE: Oloron-Sainte-Marie vs. Bégard (vs. St. Eucaire?)

adri wrote:

The Oloron is more musical and exciting.

The St. Eucaire is dry and benefits from a little reverb added.

The Oloron has very loud trumpet reeds; but you could turn them down to your taste, I guess.

The Begard doesn't inspire me, with my sorry to Piotr.


There is a new C-Coll type organ of Bonn-Buhl by Pipeloops (there may be a demo version)

There is the Mannheimm organ by Inspired Acoustics in Fnrech Romantic style (there is a demo version)

There is the Dudelange organ by Voxus (no demo version)

There is the Aix-en-Provence organ by Organ Art Media

There is the St. Omer organ by Sonus Paradisi (demo still available?)


Good luck!


Thanks for those suggestions, adri. I think I will definately stay away from St. Eucaire and having listened to/played the demo of Bégard more now, I agree that it doesn't seem to be quite as good as Oloron.

Thank you so much for alerting me to Bonn-Buhl - I saw a video of this organ from Fraser Gartshore recently and thought to myself that it would be brilliant if someone sampled it, not realising that someone already had! It's definately one to consider I think. I might do the trial they offer for it. Thanks again for you help!

by EdG7
Aug 7, 2020 11:46 AM

RE: Oloron-Sainte-Marie vs. Bégard (vs. St. Eucaire?)

EdG7 wrote:

Thanks for your detailed response, Cochereau. Having used the demos of both a bit more, I agree with you about Oloron being much smoother than Bégard. I've played with the recording position as you suggested and have a sound I'm much happier with. I won't just be using this for practice, so I want something that sounds good for recording too, which Oloron seems to be able to achieve with the excellent adjustment settings for the various recording positions.

I'd love to get Caen, but at the moment it's a little out of my price range and I'd rather get a smaller Cavaillé-Coll for now. May I ask what you did to the Soubasse exactly to get it to blend better? Was it just a bit of volume adjustment or something else? I'm still new to the voicing settings in HW and don't really know where to start. Thanks again!

I think you’re smart to go with Oloron, for your budget it’s the best choice available right now. For the Soubasse, I adjusted the amplitude voicing setting to get rid of some of the boom or heaviness that I felt it had. Depending on how you listen to it- by speakers or headphones you might need to play around with a few of the other settings while holding a particularly bad note.

I also loudened the Plein Jeu because when it was added at the proper time in the buildup it mad absolutely no difference. These voicing concerns are not any sort of criticism of Piotr because he has done an excellent job of capturing the sound judging by other recordings of the organ on YouTube etc. I assume you’ve already downloaded the free Friesach sample set from him? I’ve really enjoyed that organ.

by CorDeUtah
Aug 8, 2020 01:41 PM

RE: Oloron-Sainte-Marie vs. Bégard (vs. St. Eucaire?)

Cochereau wrote:

I think you’re smart to go with Oloron, for your budget it’s the best choice available right now. For the Soubasse, I adjusted the amplitude voicing setting to get rid of some of the boom or heaviness that I felt it had. Depending on how you listen to it- by speakers or headphones you might need to play around with a few of the other settings while holding a particularly bad note.

I also loudened the Plein Jeu because when it was added at the proper time in the buildup it mad absolutely no difference. These voicing concerns are not any sort of criticism of Piotr because he has done an excellent job of capturing the sound judging by other recordings of the organ on YouTube etc. I assume you’ve already downloaded the free Friesach sample set from him? I’ve really enjoyed that organ.

Thanks for the voicing tips, Cochereau - I'll make sure to listen through my speakers and through headphones to try to find something that works for both.

I think you're definitely correct in saying the pedal Soubasse is representative of the real organ and I think many C-Cs of this time had just the one 16' flue to work for both loud and soft registrations (although I might be wrong in saying that).

I have tried Friesach and enjoyed using it, although I found it especially great for baroque music and modern music. Having said that, I ended up buying Armley 57 Stop to serve as my main go-to sample set as I wanted the bigger, romantic sound and also something that would suit English repertoire better. Piotr's work is, nevertheless, some of the best, I think and I'm most grateful to him for offering the majority of his sets for free. Thanks again for all your help, Ed

by EdG7
Aug 8, 2020 06:19 PM

RE: Oloron-Sainte-Marie vs. Bégard (vs. St. Eucaire?)

I was very pleased to hear about the release of Oloron and Bégard, and I think they are very fine sample sets. It seems that your mind I probably made up as to which one you would like to go with, however, I wanted to write some words in defence of St. Eucaire, which I think is a very fine sample set as well.

St. Eucaire has the definite disadvantage compared to both Bégard and Oloron of being only 4 channels as opposed to 6. However, if you don’t have a multi channel system, this is unlikely to make much of a difference. Like Bégard, it also does not have quite as nice an acoustic as Oloron (which is very pleasant and “live,” in my opinion). Also like Bégard, I don’t feel St. Eucaire’s Plein Jeu is very typical of Cavaillé-Coll’s mixtures. St. Eucaire doesn’t have a flute Traversiere like Oloron, of which Cavaillé-Coll’s examples are a very fine stop. Also, Oloron has quite a few more “grand” stops, such as the 16 foot principal, the 5 rank Plein Jeu, and 2 loud 4 foot stops, which would give it a more powerful Grand Jeu.

However I think that St. Eucaire also has some definite Pro’s. For one it is the least expensive, and while the difference between the 3 isn’t very much, I definitely think that St. Eucaire is a real bargain at this price. I also think that the pedal division of St. Eucaire’s has quite a bit more options with the different 8 foot stops, and is more flexible. I also think St. Eucaire has the best selection of stops out of the 3, containing the Voix Humaine, Contrebasse, Salicional, Cor de Nuit, and Nasard (Oloron has a Voix humaine, but none of the others. Bégard has a contrebasse and salicional, but none of the others). Having heard a number of recordings of all three, I think that St. Eucaire’s stops are a bit better blended overall. On the demos, I found that Oloron’s key action noises are a bit too loud for my tastes, though they could be adjusted if you have a copy of Hauptwerk Advanced.

I have a summary below:

Oloron Pros:
-Recording in 6 channels
-Very pleasing and “live” natural reverberation
-Only organ with a Flute Traversiere stop
-Principal 16’ and 5 rank mixture on Grand Orgue, two loud 4’ stops give a powerful Grand Jeu
?Oloron Cons:
-Most expensive (201.68 USD)
-Pedal division with few relative options
-No “Salicional” stop
-No “Contrebasse” stop in the pedal
-Loud action noises


Bégard Pros:
-Only organ with a “Flute a Cheminee” or “Flute Creuse,” or “Sesquialtera” stop (but not original Cavaillé-Coll)
-More Neo-Baroque style (which can be seen as a pro or con, depending on viewpoint)

Bégard Cons:
-More expensive than St. Eucaire
-Mixtures and many stops not original Cavaillé-Coll
-Pedal division with few relative options
-Natural reverberation not as pleasing
-No “Voix Humaine” stop


St. Eucaire Pros:
-Least expensive ($115 USD)
-More diverse and flexible pedal division, with more options at different volume levels
-Only organ with a “Cor de Nuit” or “Nasard” stop
-Better blend among the stops

St. Eucaire Cons:
-Recording in 4 channels
-Natural reverberation not as pleasing
-“Plein Jeu” not typical Cavaillé-Coll

Again, this is my opinion, just thought I would share it in case anyone else is considering one of these organs in the future. Though not perfect, I still think St. Eucaire is a fine sample set, and I still enjoy it on a regular basis. Also of note, Les Deutsch has published a custom CODM file combining Oloron and Bégard that looks very interesting. I have also published 2 custom CODM files for St. Eucaire that turn it into a French Classic instrument, or a more modern style instrument with a lot of stops as well.
by Larason2
Sep 18, 2020 12:57 AM

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