Soundfonts (sf2)

Soundfonts, or sound fonts, are synthetic instrument stamps, or not. The Soundfonts generally come together in the form of a bank to answer the classification of General MIDI instruments. These banks are managed by an independent routing system, such as VirtualMIDISynth, the easiest to install under Windows. It allows to bypass the bad system that Microsoft has never wanted to evolve, and that must be the oldest of our computers. This system also works under Linux.


The Soundfont system


Logo sf2This system of E-mu is not new, but it has freed itself of its defects of yesteryear, with the rise of the new computer systems. In fact, the loaded bank is stored in the RAM, and the busy space was a problem at the time, as was the latency time, that is, the time taken by the processor to perform the calculations. Successive formats (.sbk) have been used, including a compression system (.sfArk), to retain only the last one (.sf2). These problems are no longer topical, and when using MIDI, it would be a shame to do without soundfont banks, as they improve its sound quality.

Soundfonts is the sound equivalent of textual fonts. When the Midi system plays a C on the score, and this is to be played by a trumpet, all the parameters relating to the C-play will be sent to the synthesis system, asking it to be routed to The number of the instrument corresponding to the trumpet. The synthesis system and its trumpet instrument will be responsible for synthesizing a signal that can be interpreted by the production system (the sound card) and at this stage this signal is the equivalent of that sent by a real microphone to the recording or the " amplification. It presents itself at the input of the sound card, or other sound system, and will be treated as any incoming stream, then routed to the speaker output, or headphone, finally to our ears.

This path will be repeated for all the notes present on this measurement time, up to a limit, that determined by the number of instruments that will be able to do so at the same time. For the current GM standard, they are 16 channels to be routed and mixed in a stereo environment. Channel 10 is specifically reserved for percussion and drums, in a perfect world that it is not, for some. Each note then represents a percussion.

In case of failure other than the cochlea, the problem is always either before or after the sound card. If it is before, then it will be either before or after the synthesis system and so on. One always goes back to its source by a simple tests, which make it possible to progress rapidly towards this problem. And that's how you see that the source Midi file was empty.

The Soundfont system offers a wide range of instruments, which are usually non-synthetic samples. These audio sounds in Wave format are directly recorded in the studio, and optimized from a microphone ideally positioned. For an instrument, each note is recorded, then the collection forms the whole instrument, which will come after multiple adjustments, join the other 127 of the bank GM. And the same goes for the drums and percussions section. The quality increases the size of the bank.

This system, which represents the equivalent of a synthesizer, also makes it possible to build its own bank, and even to house its own recordings. It is mainly used in sequencers, or recording software, and can be managed from any external MIDI instrument. It is therefore possible to use the sounds of fonts, live, from a keyboard, pads or any interface communicating in MIDI. Finally, we find instruments to the unit, which are specific to the stamps of the instrument being processed. A violin can be presented in the form of a bank, which treats only this instrument, by declining it under its violin types, for example. The same is true for the drums, where each element is listed in a collection, in order to find the precise timbre of the snare drum, which can then be added to that of the charleston already chosen. In the case of a recording, it will be possible to assign the 16 channels to the single battery, thus refining the rendering by the multiplication of the configurable choices.

We can build up a few specific banks, and keep them on hand. For pop, for example, drums, bass and tablecloths are three banks, which once constitute offer the speed of selection and use, which is suitable for the composition and the addition of the guitars to be played by -above. Then it will always be time to improve the battery with specialized software, such as EZdrummer.

These banks can be used to replace the GM bank under Windows, via an interface that allows them to be managed as VirtualMIDISynth, the simplest solution.

For a basic installation under Windows, follow this guide.

For Linux Soundfont Linux, the Soundfonts of a free Swami Project editor and, to go further in Mapping / routing -> Mao Linux Linux

Finally, for weight problems, a lossless compression system offers a solution: sfArk SoundFont Compression


The control systems of Sounfonts


  • CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth

Whether to play Midi, Karaoke or use it for games, VirtualMIDISynth will change the sound rendering of files. Easy to install on Windows, this controller will support the management of Soundfont banks (Improve quality of MIDI). In normal use, one chooses a bank, and it remains permanent, as much to download one of quality.

  • Synthfont system : a system that goes beyond the simple management of Soundfonts banks. The suite of interfaces proposed, allows a detailed and complete management on all hardware.
  • BASSMIDI drivers : and their audio libraries, or utilities that extend the possibilities. An indispensable English site, to be seen before choosing.
  • sfz by Cakewalk : this sampler software now free, reads the sf2 and sfz banks, or is used as a tool for Standalone or VST. (See the FAQ)
  • Take 1 : download on this page, under two versions for Standalone or VST. Unless you find it on the website of its famous editor Terry West Productions
  • Munt Project : finally note the project Sourceforge of this synthesizer software platform, Roland MT-32 emulation.

GM Soundfonts Banks


To make your choice, here is an mp3 recording from noon, made under the same conditions, with the different banks below:

James Bond (Theme) for Brass:
CrisisGeneralMidi - SGM v2 - Titanic - Arachno - FluidR3

Once upon a time in the west (Theme) more difficult, with hearts and violins:

CrisisGeneralMidi - SGM v2 - Titanic - Arachno - FluidR3

To download these banks and more: : bkmaf.com/soundfont


Find instrumental Soundfonts?



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