1. Arachnosoft

    Arachno SoundFont

    Version 1.0

    Copyright © 2003-2014 Maxime Abbey

  2. Cliquez ici pour consulter cette documentation en français

    English Documentation

    Cliquez ici pour consulter cette documentation en français

    Version 1.2 (Revised on 12-04-2012)

    Layout inspired by Luke Sena's Titanic SoundFont manual


1. Introduction / About Arachno SoundFont

Arachno SoundFont is a General MIDI-compliant bank of 128 instruments ("presets") and 9 GM/GS drum kits, aimed at enhancing the realism of your MIDI files and arrangements. It's meant to be used with a SoundFont 2.x-compatible MIDI synthesizer, either hardware (e.g. Sound Blaster Live!/Audigy/X-Fi) or software (like SynthFont, BASSMIDI Driver or CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth). This documentation will explain you how to use Arachno SoundFont bank, from loading it into your SoundFont synthesizer, to the playback and recording of MIDI files.

This SoundFont project has first started somewhere in mid-2003, as a modified version of the Magic SoundFont, by Dennis Deutschmann, for my own MIDI listening purposes. Acquiring solid SoundFont editing experience over the years, I replaced many of its original presets with new samples and instruments from various sources, giving birth to my own custom SoundFont bank, Arachno SoundFont. After leaving this bank unmodified for over three years (since May 17, 2007) for many reasons, I finally found the time to write this documentation and release it for the first time on the internet, as "freeware" work.

Important licensing information

Writing this document was mandatory for me, as most portions of this bank actually come from other sources (SoundFont and GigaSampler libraries, third-party synthesizer samples) that deserved to be credited properly, although I've been unable to remember where I found a few presets and samples, here and there. I hope that the authors of the uncredited samples will pardon me! Everything is described under the huge Preset list section below.

You're free to use Arachno SoundFont in any of your projects. But, please be aware that this bank is primarily distributed for private, non-commercial purposes only, as it uses portions from other authors. If you want to use it for commercial purposes, please obtain a written consent from the original authors credited in the Preset list and Copyright information and credits sections.

English-speaking readers, please note that this documentation may contain much grammar, syntax or other language mistakes. As I'm French, English is not my native language. If you have ANY suggestion to do on this particular point, even for the most ridiculous language glitch, don't hesitate to do so! See Contact me. Thanks for your comprehension!


2. System and software requirements

Here is a list of what you will need to use Arachno SoundFont on your computer. These requirements are based on my own experience with SoundFont hardware and software, and should be quite realistic.

Minimum requirements:

Recommended:

Be careful! Native/hardware SoundFont support is not available on all Sound Blaster cards, even if named Live!, Audigy or X-Fi. Only those carrying the above-mentioned processors (EMUx0Kx) actually come with hardware SoundFont support.

Moreover, the overall quality of SoundFont reproduction is extremely variable, depending of your soundcard, OS, and most importantly, drivers. The About drivers section will give you some advice, based on my own experience, to choose the best driver for SoundFont playback.


3. Decompressing Arachno SoundFont's sfArk file

Arachno SoundFont is being distributed as a sfArk file, a file compression format optimized to reduce the size of SoundFont banks.

For your convenience, sfArk is provided in the original ZIP archive (in all OS versions), but you can also download the latest version of the archiver from the sfArk website.

This section will cover the decompression process on most operating systems.

Important note: if you're experiencing any difficulties to extract the Arachno SoundFont from the sfArk file, you can go to Arachnosoft - Maxime Abbey's Website, the official Arachno SoundFont website, to download an alternate version of the original ZIP file which provides the SoundFont in an already decompressed SF2 format.


1. sfArk decompression process on Windows

  1. First start by decompressing Arachno SoundFont's master ZIP file, then install sfArk for Windows, just like you'd do for any other application.
  2. Then, you'll be able to decompress the sfArk file by right-clicking on it and selecting the Decompress with sfArk command,
  3. Or, from the main interface window, using the File > Open... menu to open the file, and clicking on the Start button.
  4. Then, simply place the resulting .sf2 file wherever you want.

2.sfArk decompression process on Windows

3.sfArk decompression process on Windows


2. sfArk decompression process on GNU/Linux

Many years ago, Melody Machine released a basic port of sfArk under GNU/Linux, named sfArkXTc, to decompress sfArk files. It quickly became an outdated product, and the program being now unsupported, no updates will be released.

Fortunately, Jean-Paul from Le Blog du Gnou wrote a great tutorial to help you decompress Arachno SoundFont with sfArkXTc. With his permission, you'll find this tutorial below for your convenience. Many thanks to Jean-Paul for his support!

Installing the GNU/Linux libraries required to run sfArkXTc

First of all, the sfArk port being really old now, it needs some third-party GNU/Linux libraries which might not be included on all recent GNU/Linux distributions such as Ubuntu.

Here is the procedure to install them on a GNU/Linux distribution based on the APT package manager (such as Ubuntu or Debian). On other GNU/Linux bundled with another package manager (e.g. YUM), you'll have to use a similar procedure with the appropriate command related to the package manager.

  1. Start by running the Terminal. On recent GNU/Linux desktops, you can use the search bar located on the border of the screen, and input "terminal" to find it. Click on the Terminal icon to run the application.
  2. Install libstdc++5 by copying and pasting this command into the Terminal window: sudo apt-get install libstdc++5
  3. Your administrator/root user account password will be asked. Type it into the Terminal window without worrying about the lack of asterisks to show your input (they're hidden on Terminal windows) and validate by pressing the Enter key.
  4. Download process of the library should start, followed by the installation process itself.

1.sfArk decompression process on GNU/Linux

2.sfArk decompression process on GNU/Linux

Your GNU/Linux distribution might come with a more user-friendly GUI for package installation, such as Synaptic on Ubuntu. Refer to the documentation of your GNU/Linux distribution for more information.

Decompressing the Arachno SoundFont master ZIP file and the sfArkXTc compressed file

The ZIP decompression process should be quite straightforward and easy to complete on any modern GNU/Linux distribution.

  1. Just like Windows, you should be able to extract the contents of the ZIP file by right-clicking on it from any file explorer application, and selecting the Extract here command.
  2. Then, go into the extracted folder and browse to the sfArk subfolder.
  3. Just like you did with the Arachno SoundFont ZIP file, extract the sfArkXTc.tar (Linux).gz file to obtain the embedded .tar file, and repeat the procedure to extract this .tar file and obtain the sfArkXTc executable file (without extension).

1.sfArk decompression process on GNU/Linux

2.sfArk decompression process on GNU/Linux

3.sfArk decompression process on GNU/LinuxsfArk decompression process on GNU/Linux

Running sfArkXTc to decompress Arachno SoundFont

  1. From the file manager application, using your mouse, drag and drop the sfarkxtc executable into the Terminal window to automatically fill it with the path to the executable file.
  2. Repeat the same operation with the Arachno SoundFont .sfArk file.
  3. You should now have the Terminal window filled up with the two paths concatenated, enclosed with simple quotes and separated by a space character.
  4. Press the Enter key to start the decompression process.
  5. After running this process successfully, it'll tell you that the .sf2 file has been created.

1. 2.sfArk decompression process on GNU/Linux

sfArk decompression process on GNU/Linux

3.sfArk decompression process on GNU/Linux

4.sfArk decompression process on GNU/Linux

5.sfArk decompression process on GNU/Linux

sfArk decompression process on GNU/Linux


3. sfArk decompression process on Mac OS X

A port of sfArk for Mac OS X is also included in the original Arachno SoundFont ZIP file.

However, just like the GNU/Linux port, it's a very old application built for the older Apple PowerPC processors. Therefore, you'll only be able to use it on Mac OS X up to Snow Leopard (10.6), either on true PowerPC processors, or with Rosetta on Intel-powered Mac machines. Therefore, if you're using OS X 10.6 or earlier, the application should run without any hassle, regardless of the processor you actually have into your machine.

Newer versions of the Apple operating system (Lion 10.7 and afterwards) dropped any PowerPC support, so you'll not be able to decompress sfArk files on these OS versions using the application provided by Melody Machine.
If you're in such a situation, you can download an alternate ZIP distribution from Arachnosoft - Maxime Abbey's Website, the official Arachno SoundFont website, which provides the same exact version of Arachno SoundFont, in an already decompressed SF2 format.

Installing sfArkXT under Mac OS X (up to 10.6 only)

  1. Start by decompressing the Arachno SoundFont ZIP file by simply double-clicking on it.
  2. Then, browse to the sfArk subfolder in the decompressed archive and double-click on the sfArkXT (Mac OS X).zip file to decompress it. You'll obtain a new folder named sfArkXT_OSX_104.
  3. Browse to this subfolder and double-click on the sfArkXT application file. A warning might tell you that it has been downloaded from Internet; click on the Open button.
  4. If you're running an Intel-powered Mac, a dialog window will then tell you that you need the Rosetta system application to open sfArk (as it is an old application for PowerPC processors). Click on Install to process.

1. 2.sfArk decompression process on Mac OS X

sfArk decompression process on Mac OS X

3.sfArk decompression process on Mac OS X

sfArk decompression process on Mac OS XsfArk decompression process on Mac OS X

4.sfArk decompression process on Mac OS XsfArk decompression process on Mac OS X

Decompressing Arachno SoundFont from sfArkXT

  1. Once sfArkXT has been installed, you can double-click on the Arachno SoundFont .sfArk file to open it.
  2. From the sfArkXT window, click on Start to browse for the Arachno SoundFont .sfArk file (or select the Open command from the File menu in the application menu bar).
  3. You'll then return to the sfArkXT window filled with the path to the Arachno SoundFont .sfArk file. Then, click on the Start button to obtain the .sf2 file.

1.sfArk decompression process on Mac OS X

2.sfArk decompression process on Mac OS XsfArk decompression process on Mac OS X

3.sfArk decompression process on Mac OS XsfArk decompression process on Mac OS X


4. Installing Arachno SoundFont

Once you have decompressed Arachno SoundFont into a plain SF2 file using sfArk, you can proceed with the installation of the SoundFont on your software or hardware MIDI synthesizer.

Depending of the operating system and hardware (or software) you'll use with Arachno SoundFont, you may have to use specific drivers or settings for best performance. Please read further on for more information about recommended drivers or tweaks, depending of your needs.


1. Hardware SoundFont synthesizers

Hardware SoundFont support has been offered on Creative Sound Blaster soundcards since the AWE32. The SoundFont 2.x (sf2) format, introduced in 1998, has been supported since the first Sound Blaster Live! soundcard.

As I've first built and tested Arachno SoundFont on my Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 soundcard, I personally recommend to use it on the EMU10K1 range of soundcards (like SB Live!). Later on, I also found that the latest versions of the SynthFont software synthesizer were pretty solid as well (read further on for more details). Nowadays, I also own a second generation (PCI-Express) X-Fi-based soundcard (Auzentech X-Fi Forte 7.1) on which I can also share some experience.

However, I never had the occasion to extensively test Arachno SoundFont on an Audigy soundcard (EMU10K2) as well as on the first generation of X-Fi (PCI) cards (EMU20K1), so you'll only find limited information on this hardware here.

Important note: Most of the information mentioned here only apply to the "NT" variants of Microsoft Windows (2000, XP, Vista, 7) as I don't have any significant experience with hardware SoundFont support on Windows 9x variants (95, 98, Me), Mac OS or Unix/Linux.


1. About drivers

Symptoms:

Creative Labs is sadly known for producing randomly buggy drivers for their soundcards. Over the years, I've experienced several painful bugs and flaws with SoundFont reproduction. Depending of the hardware and operating system combination, these glitches may be more or less annoying, and more or less difficult to fix.

The most annoying (and frequent) glitch I always experienced with hardware SoundFont synthesizers is related to polyphony. When playing a moderately complex MIDI file using a "big" SoundFont file (more than 32 MB), rendering may suffer from "dropouts"; concretely, it means that some notes are simply skipped, or muted, when there are too much sounds to be played at the same time, even more when using the biggest (polyphony-hungry) instruments.

Another bug often reported by SoundFont users: playing with SoundFont often leads to unwanted noises (e.g. clicks, pops, clipping...), even when playing a few notes with the most basic instruments. I have only experienced this one on a first-generation X-Fi soundcard so far (PCI bus, EMU20K1), but it seems that it has also affected many Audigy users. I never had this problem with my Sound Blaster Live! or Auzentech X-Fi Forte (second-generation, PCI-Express bus, EMU20K2) soundcards. As far as I know (and read), it sounds like a PCI-bus related issue.

Fixes and workarounds:

For a Sound Blaster Live! or E-MU Audio Production Studio soundcard (EMU10K1 processor), the best drivers I can recommend for SoundFont use are the latest official drivers from E-MU (summer 2003). These drivers fixed the above-mentioned "dropping notes" issue, but "clicks" can be heard instead (on parts where you'd have note dropouts with previous drivers). Still not perfect, but this is the best workaround I could find. Moreover, these drivers can be used with the usual Creative applications (e.g. AudioHQ) if you install the E-MU driver package first, and the Creative package afterwards (don't forget to uncheck the Drivers checkbox in the setup program to avoid replacing E-MU drivers with the Creative variants).

As I never owned any Sound Blaster Audigy soundcard (EMU10K2 processor), I can't tell you if the above-mentioned issues have been partially or totally fixed with the latest drivers available. However, according to Luke Sena's Titanic SoundFont documentation, these issues have been almost fixed back in late 2003 (revision 383 at this time). If you have any experience to share about SoundFont support on Audigy cards, don't hesitate to drop me a line: Contact me

About Sound Blaster X-Fi soundcards (EMU20K1/EMU20K2 processors), I'm afraid I never found any decent driver out there to address the above-mentioned issues. Even with the latest drivers from Creative or Auzentech, I still experience annoying note dropouts. As with previous soundcards, the problem has been submitted to Creative a long time ago, but, as far as I know, nothing has been done yet! If you have any experience to share on SoundFont support with X-Fi cards, don't hesitate to do so as well. My best recommendation would be to participate on Creative forums: there's an open thread about the note dropouts issue on X-Fi cards. We need more contributions to show Creative that we NEED this fix as soon as possible! See Creative Labs Support Forums: MIDI/SoundFont problems with X-Fi for more information.

As an alternative to official drivers, but for EMU10Kx cards only (Live!, APS, Audigy...), I strongly advise you to check out the Kx Project drivers, which have been developed by an independent team, to offer an alternative solution to those who are exasperated by Creative's inability to fix the most annoying known problems with their drivers. These drivers offer interesting features for musicians, but may lack some of the "user-friendly" side of the official drivers. Unfortunately, these drivers are not available for X-Fi cards.

Registry tweak: loading huge SoundFonts on older versions of Windows

On older versions of Windows and Sound Blaster hardware, you may experience some difficulties to load Arachno SoundFont.
These can be caused by a memory limitation of the operating system known as the paged pool size.

You can try to solve this issue by changing the PagedPoolSize in the Windows registry.
This information is provided by Luke Sena, from the Titanic SoundFont manual. Many thanks to him!

WARNING: modifying the Windows registry improperly can lead to serious software failures that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Use the information provided at your own risk, and only if you know what you're doing.

  1. Open the Start/Windows menu, and select the Run command.
  2. Type regedit and validate your input by clicking on OK or pressing the Enter key.
  3. Once the Windows Registry Editor has been opened, navigate through the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management section.
  4. Locate the PagedPoolSize key on the right side of the window, and double-click on it to change its value.
  5. Select Hexadecimal in the Base group of fields, and change the value given in the Value data field from 0x00000000 to 0xffffffff.
    Note: use the Find... search option from the Edit menu if you can't locate the PagedPoolSize key.
  6. Close the Registry Editor window and restart your system for the changes to take effect.

2. Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound card

This section will show you how to load Arachno SoundFont on a Sound Blaster soundcard.

Sound Blaster Live!/Audigy/Audigy 2 soundcards (AudioHQ)

  1. Open AudioHQ, either from the system tray icon near the clock in the Windows taskbar, or from your Start/Windows > All Programs menu (e.g. Start > Programs > Creative > Sound Blaster Live!/Audigy).
  2. Open the SoundFont panel by clicking or double-clicking on the corresponding icon.
  3. Go to the Options tab, and
    • select the hardware synthesizer on which you want to load Arachno SoundFont.
    • adjust the SoundFont cache slider so that there's enough free space to load Arachno SoundFont. You need at least 150 MB of available memory space.
  4. Go back to the main Configure Bank tab, and click on the Load button to add the Arachno SoundFont.sf2 file on top of your existing SoundFont(s).
  5. To save memory, I strongly recommend you to select the old SoundFont(s) from the stack, and use the Replace button to load the Arachno SoundFont.sf2 in place of the existing files.

1.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound card2.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound card3.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound card

4.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound cardLoading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound cardLoading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound card

Sound Blaster X-Fi soundcards

  1. Open the Volume Panel, either from the system tray icon near the clock in the Windows taskbar, or from your Start/Windows > All Programs menu (e.g. Start > Programs > Creative > Sound Blaster X-Fi).
  2. Open the SoundFont Bank Manager panel by clicking or double-clicking on the corresponding icon or label.
  3. Click on the MIDI Devices button, and select the hardware synthesizer on which you want to load Arachno SoundFont.
  4. Click on the SoundFont Cache button, and adjust the SoundFont cache slider so that there's enough free space to load Arachno SoundFont. You need at least 150 MB of available memory space.
  5. Click on the main Bank button, then on the Load button to add the Arachno SoundFont.sf2 file on top of your existing SoundFont(s).
  6. To save memory, I strongly recommend you to select the old SoundFont(s) from the stack, and use the Replace button to load the Arachno SoundFont.sf2 in place of the existing files.

1.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound card2.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound card

3.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound card4.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound card

5.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound cardLoading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound cardLoading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound cardLoading and using Arachno SoundFont on a sound card

If you get errors while loading Arachno SoundFont into memory:

  • First ensure that you have properly adjusted the SoundFont cache slider under the Options or SoundFont Cache panels, to allow enough free memory to load Arachno SoundFont.
  • If you can't adjust the slider properly (e.g. maximum value reached) or if you're using dynamic cache option (newer drivers only), make sure that you have enough memory installed on your system (see System and software requirements).
  • Try to remove previously loaded SoundFont banks from memory, using the Clear/Remove button from the Bank/Configure Bank button or tab.
  • If you're using Windows XP (or older Windows version), you might also need to apply the registry tweak described in the About drivers section.

3. Sound card settings

Finely tweaking the settings of your soundcard is mandatory to obtain the best sound output, and most importantly, the sound that will better suit your tastes and needs.

Important notes:

  • Depending of your operating system and hardware/software, remember to select the synthesizer on which you've loaded Arachno SoundFont, as your default MIDI output device. As a result, it will be automatically picked up to reproduce MIDI data on software which don't offer such an option.
  • To use SoundFonts on X-Fi cards, I deeply recommend you to switch to Audio Creation Mode. The screenshots shown in this section are related to this mode.

Mixer and volume settings:

  • The first advice would be to mute all inputs you don't use, as inputs produce random noises (hiss, buzz...) even when nothing is plugged in the corresponding audio ports.
  • Secondly, set all volume sliders (especially MIDI and Master Volume) to reasonable values to avoid distortion and clipping.
    A good value would be like 50%/60% if you don't need high output volume, and 75%/85% if you need more.
  • I would also recommend to keep Bass and Treble sliders on midrange values (e.g. 50%), unless you have some specific audio equipment (e.g. high output subwoofer).
    Remember that older soundcards, such as Sound Blaster Live!, might suffer from distortion if the Bass slider is set to a high value.
Sound Blaster Live!/Audigy/Audigy 2 soundcards (AudioHQ)
  1. From AudioHQ, open the Mixer window by clicking or double-clicking on the corresponding icon.
  2. You can then adjust all settings mentioned above from the main Mixer window.

1.Sound card settings2.Sound card settings

Sound Blaster X-Fi soundcards
  1. Open the Mixer window (e.g. from the first icon button available on the system tray panel).
  2. You can then adjust all settings mentioned above from the Mixer and Effects window.
    • On Sound Blaster X-Fi cards, you can (and will have to) adjust volume and balance sliders separately for all 16 MIDI channels of the hardware synth(s) you're using, from the 3DMIDI tab.
    • The Monitor tab on the right blue panel of the window can help you to adjust output volume properly.

1.Sound card settings2.Sound card settings

Environmental sound effects (EAX)

All SoundFont-enabled soundcards come with an integrated audio processor that can add effects to all outputs, including MIDI. You should first try to play with the predefined environments provided by Creative (e.g. Auditorium, Concert Hall, etc.) to check if the effects suit your taste.

Additionally, Arachno SoundFont also comes with custom EAX settings for Sound Blaster Live! soundcards, that I always use to play MIDI files. These settings should also be compatible with Audigy variants.

Importing and setting EAX parameters on a Sound Blaster Live!/Audigy/Audigy 2 soundcard (AudioHQ):
  1. From AudioHQ, open the EAX Control Panel by clicking or double-clicking on the corresponding icon.
  2. Click on the Import environment icon, located on the top-right-hand-corner of the window.
  3. Select one of the files provided with Arachno SoundFont.
  4. You can then select the newly imported environment from the dropdown list.
  5. Don't hesitate to customize and finetune these settings if you want to.
    You can save and export the modified settings using the top-right-hand-corner toolbar.

1.Sound card settings2.Sound card settings

3.Sound card settings4.Sound card settings

5.Sound card settings

Note: if you have some setting files you'd like to share, feel free to do so: Contact me

Setting EAX parameters on a Sound Blaster X-Fi soundcard:
  1. EAX settings can be found on the Mixer window (e.g. from the first icon button available on the system tray panel).
  2. From the left part of this window, in addition to reverb and chorus (which are permanently inserted), you can add two other insertion effects using the dropdown lists.
  3. You can customize any of these four effects by clicking on the ... buttons.
  4. From the Effect Editor window, you can set all specific effect parameters, and save all your modifications under a custom preset name.
  5. Once you've setup your effects, you'll have to enable them on all your MIDI channels, from the 3DMIDI tab, by moving up the round buttons corresponding to each effect to the right (+ side).
  6. Check that the Mute muttons corresponding to each effect, on the Master Auxiliary Effects section, are not enabled.
  7. Last, check the master Enable EAX effects checkbox on the EAX tab from the right blue part of the window, and set the global effect threshold using the corresponding slider.

1.Sound card settings

2.Sound card settings3.Sound card settings4.Sound card settings

5.Sound card settings6.Sound card settings7.Sound card settings


2. Software SoundFont synthesizers

If your soundcard doesn't offer any SoundFont-compatible synthesizer, you can use a software synthesizer to reproduce MIDI files with a SoundFont bank. Among all software synthesizers and music editors available on the market, many are compatible with SoundFont technology.

This documentation will cover usage of the Arachno SoundFont with the following software synthesizers:

  • SynthFont, which offers a complete interface to manage, play, edit and record your MIDI files using SoundFont technology;
  • BASSMIDI Driver, which installs itself as a dual MIDI output device on Windows (two synthesizers), that you can use to play any MIDI content from any application on your computer (multimedia players, games, websites).
  • CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth, very similar to BASSMIDI Driver (it uses the same BASS SoundFont engine), which also installs itself as a MIDI output device on Windows, to be used from any application.

From my own experience, they are the most complete and accurate software SoundFont synthesizers available today. And, most importantly, they're FREE.


1. BASSMIDI Driver: system-wide dual SoundFont MIDI output device


1. About BASSMIDI Driver, two MIDI output devices available from any application

BASSMIDI Driver is a software SoundFont synthesizer, based on the BASS SoundFont rendering engine from Un4Seen Developments (hence its name).

It installs itself as a new MIDI output device on Windows, so it can be used from any MIDI-enabled application or game which renders MIDI data through an output MIDI port. It doesn't require any specific MIDI hardware or software; the only requirement being a computer running Windows, with enough RAM to load the SoundFont, and a reasonable CPU for realtime MIDI reproduction.

BASSMIDI Driver comes with a small setup interface to configure the very few options offered by the software synthesizer: master volume control, default system MIDI device (depending of your Windows version), and a dedicated tab to load the SoundFonts into the synthesizer.

One of the biggest strengths of BASSMIDI Driver is its ability to reproduce some XG or GS effects when playing MIDI files produced with Roland or Yamaha synths. Moreover, it can reproduce most MIDI files with the same overall quality as a hardware SoundFont synthesizer (like those provided with Creative Sound Blaster cards), without any limitation related to polyphony! It means that it can reproduce very complex MIDI files without suffering from note cuts or dropouts, like a hardware synthesizer, as long as you have enough RAM and CPU power to do so.

However, you should note that BASSMIDI Driver works in dynamic caching mode (regardless of which caching mode you've chosen for your Creative hardware synths), which may result to some perceptible latency while loading some big presets on MIDI files using many Program Change events to switch, while playing, from one instrument to another on a given track.


2. Installing and configuring BASSMIDI Driver

The setup process of BASSMIDI Driver is quite straightforward.

  1. Download the latest version of the software from the BASSMIDI Driver website.
  2. Run the setup program just like you'd do for any other software. If you're upgrading a previous BASSMIDI Driver version, a system reboot might be required.
  3. Once installed, find the Configure Driver application in the BASSMIDI System Synth folder created during setup in your Start Menu > (All) Programs folder and run it.
  4. From the SoundFonts tab:
    • click on the Add button to browse for the Arachno SoundFont.sf2 file. You can add as much banks as you want, and reorder them if necessary. Presets from the banks located at the bottom of the list will override those at the top.
    • Once you're done with the SoundFonts list, click on Apply to save the changes.
  5. You can then switch to the Advanced to customize some additional settings:
    • Adjust the Volume slider to a value which prevents sound clipping or distortion according to your sound hardware.
      Warning: on some older BASSMIDI Driver versions, this setting might have no effect.
    • You can also specify the default MIDI synth used by any application which will rely on the automatic/default MIDI output device setting (MIDI Mapper).
      Warning: On some Windows versions (e.g. Vista, 7, 8), this setting might be ignored or blocked by the operating system.

3.Installing and configuring BASSMIDI Driver

4.Installing and configuring BASSMIDI DriverInstalling and configuring BASSMIDI Driver

5.Installing and configuring BASSMIDI Driver


3. Some guidelines to use BASSMIDI Driver

Once setup process has been completed, BASSMIDI Driver can be used from any MIDI application as a new output device for MIDI rendering.

Note: I mainly use BASSMIDI Driver with vanBasco's Karaoke Player. As a result, this document will only give you some advice for MIDI playing purposes, based on my own experience.

Recommended MIDI settings for vanBasco's Karaoke Player and BASSMIDI Driver

Settings to adjust on the MIDI tab from vanBasco's Configuration window (right click on main window or press Alt + S):

  1. First, select BASSMIDI Driver (port A) or BASSMIDI Driver (port B) as the output device, depending on which one you've previously used to load Arachno SoundFont.
  2. Then, adjust the reset mode according to the MIDI file types you're going to listen to:
    • If you're going to listen to GS (Roland) or XG (Yamaha) MIDI files, select the appropriate mode. This will enable BASSMIDI Driver's XG/GS effects emulation, which can sound quite good on many XG/GS MIDI files, although XG/GS effects support is limited compared to the real Roland/Yamaha synths.
    • For all other cases, you should select Windows reset mode. It will slow down the overall MIDI loading process and thus, switching from one MIDI file to another may be quite sluggish, but using the other GS/XG modes with non-GS/XG MIDI files might lead to some volume/effects settings being mistakenly kept between two MIDI files while playing them continuously.
    • General MIDI should give similar results, but as it can also lead the synthesizer to mistakenly consider the default drum kit channel (#10) as a melodic channel, I don't recommend you to use this reset mode unless the Windows reset mode is giving bad results.
  3. DISABLING the Start from the first note option is strongly recommended, so the synthesizer can have enough time to load all instruments from the MIDI files before starting playback. Enabling this option might lead to some glitches or "smashed" notes at the very beginning of the file.
  4. You can leave or set other settings as you wish.

Some guidelines to use BASSMIDI Driver

Things you should consider while using BASSMIDI Driver as playback MIDI device

Reminder: these facts are based on my own experience and might not be applicable to all versions of BASSMIDI Driver, or Windows itself.

  • The synthesizer works in dynamic caching mode (regardless of what you've chosen for your Creative hardware synths) to prevent excessive RAM usage with instruments you're not using. This caching mode may result to some perceptible latency while loading some big presets on MIDI files using many preset/program change events to load a given instrument in realtime while playing.
  • Playing MIDI files at the maximum volume (128), combined with the overall master output volume of BASSMIDI Driver, may result in sound clipping or distortion. Be careful to adjust vanBasco's MIDI volume slider to a reasonable value (e.g. 75) as well as the BASSMIDI Driver master volume setting from its configuration program (see above) according to the behavior of your sound hardware in such situations.
  • Switching output from BASSMIDI Driver to VirtualMIDISynth (and vice-versa) while playing MIDI data can hang the application using them. To avoid this, you should first stop MIDI playback, or switch to another output device, before switching once again to VirtualMIDISynth or BASSMIDI Driver.
  • On older versions of BASSMIDI Driver, seeking through a MIDI file (especially backwards) may crash the MIDI player.

2. VirtualMIDISynth: another system-wide SoundFont MIDI output device


1. About VirtualMIDISynth, a MIDI output device available from any application

CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth is another software SoundFont synthesizer, which is very similar to BASSMIDI Driver: it also installs itself as a new MIDI output device on Windows, and thus, can also be used from any MIDI-enabled application or game.

Just like BASSMIDI Driver, VirtualMIDISynth uses the same BASS SoundFont rendering engine from Un4Seen Developments to produce sound. Therefore, you'll hardly notice any difference between these two solutions while playing files; however, each synthesizer comes with its own design choices and extra features which might help you to choose which one you'll need.

Here is a summary of all significant differences I could find between two given versions of each synthesizer:

BASSMIDI Driver 3.19VirtualMIDISynth 1.6.2Comments
Number of MIDI output devices21Just like Creative cards, BASSMIDI offers two MIDI output devices (A and B), so you can load different SoundFont combinations and switch between them while playing MIDI content. Useful for comparison purposes.
Memory management (caching)DynamicStatic or dynamicWith dynamic caching, MIDI instruments/presets are being loaded on-the-fly, while data is being played, just before they're going to be used, whereas static caching preloads the whole SoundFont bank in memory the first time the synthesizer is being initialized. As a result, dynamic caching offers better memory usage, but can lead to some audible latency or pauses when some instruments are being used; on the other side, static caching requires more memory (the size of the SoundFont bank itself) and is slower to load at first, but offers much smoother MIDI playing or recording.
Volume controlMaster onlyMaster or track-by-trackFrom its Configuration window, BASSMIDI Driver offers a single master volume slider to adjust the volume of the overall synth from any application, whereas VirtualMIDISynth offers this feature in a separate mixer window, opened while playing MIDI data.
Rendering settingsLimitedNumerousWhile BASSMIDI Driver offers a limited range of adjustable rendering parameters (interpolation and buffer length), VirtualMIDISynth comes with a huge number of settings to finetune the rendering options depending of your system configuration (audio output device, hardware or software mixing, sample rate, buffer length, polyphony limit, disabling effects...) which can really be helpful if your computer is experiencing some issues with software synthesizers.

At first, reading this table might lead you to think that CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth is much better than BASSMIDI Driver. Actually, my advice would be to install both synthesizers on your system, as BASSMIDI Driver offers two separate synths, less latency and does not suffer from any issue while rendering MIDI files - whereas VirtualMIDISynth, although using the same BASS engine, can occasionally suffer from some "orphan" notes (which aren't being cutoff at the right time).


2. Installing and configuring VirtualMIDISynth

Just like BASSMIDI Driver, the setup process of VirtualMIDISynth can be completed within a few minutes.

  1. Download the latest version of the software from the CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth website.
  2. Run the setup program just like you'd do for any other software. If you're upgrading a previous VirtualMIDISynth version, a system reboot might be required
  3. Once installed, find the Configure VirtualMIDISynth application in the CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth folder created during setup in your Start Menu > (All) Programs folder and run it. You can also open this application by right-clicking on the VirtualMIDISynth icon created in the system tray when MIDI data is being played (in the Windows taskbar, near the clock) and clicking on Configure.
  4. From the SoundFonts tab:
    • click on the + button to browse for the Arachno SoundFont.sf2 file. You can add as much banks as you want, and reorder them if necessary. Presets from the banks located at the bottom of the list will override those at the top.
    • Once you're done with the SoundFonts list, click on Apply to save the changes.
  5. You can then switch to the other tabs to customize some additional settings:
    1. From the MIDI Mapper tab, you can specify the default MIDI synth used by any application which will rely on the automatic/default MIDI output device setting (MIDI Mapper).
      Warning: On some Windows versions (e.g. Vista, 7, 8), this setting might be ignored or blocked by the operating system.
    2. On the Updates tab, you can tell the software to check if there are any updates available from the official CoolSoft website, and schedule an automatic checkup process.
    3. From the Options tab, you can:
      • indicate if you want the MIDI Mixer window to be popped up while playing MIDI data, useful to adjust playback volume (if not, it'll remain available as an icon in the system tray)
      • tell which audio device you want to use to output sound from the synthesizer (if you have several devices installed on your computer)
      • tell the synthesizer to load the whole SoundFont bank into memory before playing MIDI on the synthesizer the first time it's being loaded. As said above, this option can greatly improve the overall playing process; I hugely recommend you to enable this feature if you have enough memory to do so;
      • enable or disable hardware mixing, and/or adjust the synthesizer process priority for better rendering and/or performance
      • change the language displayed on the synthesizer's windows
    4. On the Shortcuts tab, you can learn and customize some keyboard shortcuts which can be useful while playing MIDI data (especially for the MIDI Panic feature, to cut off all notes in case of buggy rendering).
    5. From the Advanced options tab, you'll find most of the rendering engine options. You might have to adjust them to obtain the best performance depending of your system configuration:
      • performance-oriented settings: disable integrated MIDI effects, mixer's VU-meters, stereo rendering or force 8-bit rendering
      • quality-oriented settings: maximum polyphony (simultaneous notes) count, sampling rate or buffer length

3.Installing and configuring VirtualMIDISynth

Installing and configuring VirtualMIDISynthInstalling and configuring VirtualMIDISynth

4.Installing and configuring VirtualMIDISynth

5.1.Installing and configuring VirtualMIDISynth5.3.Installing and configuring VirtualMIDISynth

5.4.Installing and configuring VirtualMIDISynth5.5.Installing and configuring VirtualMIDISynth


3. Some guidelines to use VirtualMIDISynth

Once setup process has been completed, VirtualMIDISynth can be used from any MIDI application as a new output device for MIDI rendering.

Note: just like with BASSMIDI Driver, I mainly use VirtualMIDISynth with vanBasco's Karaoke Player. As a result, this document will only give you some advice for MIDI playing purposes, based on my own experience.

Recommended MIDI settings for vanBasco's Karaoke Player and VirtualMIDISynth

Settings to adjust on the MIDI tab from vanBasco's Configuration window (right click on main window or press Alt + S):

  1. First, select CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth as the output device.
  2. Then, adjust the reset mode according to the MIDI file types you're going to listen to:
    • If you're going to listen to GS (Roland) or XG (Yamaha) MIDI files, select the appropriate mode. This will enable VirtualMIDISynth's XG/GS effects emulation, which can sound quite good on many XG/GS MIDI files, although XG/GS effects support is limited compared to the real Roland/Yamaha synths.
    • For all other cases, you should select Windows reset mode. It will slow down the overall MIDI loading process and thus, switching from one MIDI file to another may be quite sluggish, but using the other GS/XG modes with non-GS/XG MIDI files might lead to some volume/effects settings being mistakenly kept between two MIDI files while playing them continuously.
    • General MIDI should give similar results, but as it can also lead the synthesizer to mistakenly consider the default drum kit channel (#10) as a melodic channel, I don't recommend you to use this reset mode unless the Windows reset mode is giving bad results.
  3. DISABLING the Start from the first note option is strongly recommended, so the synthesizer can have enough time to load all instruments from the MIDI files before starting playback. Enabling this option might lead to some glitches or "smashed" notes at the very beginning of the file.
  4. You can leave or set other settings as you wish.

Some guidelines to use VirtualMIDISynth

Things you should consider while using VirtualMIDISynth as playback MIDI device

Reminder: these facts are based on my own experience and might not be applicable to all versions of VirtualMIDISynth, or Windows itself.

  • Playing MIDI files at the maximum volume (128), combined with the overall master output volume of VirtualMIDISynth, may result in sound clipping or distortion. Be careful to adjust vanBasco's MIDI volume slider to a reasonable value (e.g. 75) as well as the master VirtualMIDISynth volume setting from its MIDI Mixer window (see opposite) according to the behavior of your sound hardware in such situations.
  • Switching output from BASSMIDI Driver to VirtualMIDISynth (and vice-versa) while playing MIDI data can hang the application using them. To avoid this, you should first stop MIDI playback, or switch to another output device, before switching once again to VirtualMIDISynth or BASSMIDI Driver.

Some guidelines to use VirtualMIDISynth


3. SynthFont: integrated SoundFont MIDI player, editor and synthesizer


1. Information about SynthFont, software MIDI synthesizer, editor and player

SynthFont is a software synthesizer aimed at reproducing MIDI files using SoundFont banks, on any soundcard, even those which are not SoundFont-compatible. The only requirement being a computer running Windows (or a Windows-compatible software layer like WINE on other operating systems), with enough RAM to load the SoundFont, and a reasonable CPU for realtime MIDI reproduction.

SynthFont software has been declined in several variants: the main SynthFont synthesizer (simply named SynthFont), a VST variant to be used with VST (Virtual Studio Technology) host software like Cubase, and SyFon, which installs itself as a system-wide MIDI synthesizer to be used as MIDI playback device on any audio player or editor. This documentation will only cover the main SynthFont software.

SynthFont comes with an integrated MIDI file browser and player, which allows you to modify many settings of a MIDI file (volume, balance, instruments...) to enhance playback, and save all modifications as an "arrangement" file, that can be reused later. The playback can be sent to your speakers or recorded as an audio file (e.g. WAV, MP3).

One of the biggest strengths of SynthFont being its accuracy. From my own experience, it can reproduce many MIDI files without significant flaws, with the same overall quality as the hardware SoundFont synthesizer provided with Creative Sound Blaster cards - and, most importantly, without any limitation related to polyphony! It means that you can reproduce very complex MIDI files without suffering from note cuts or dropouts, like a hardware synthesizer, as long as you have enough RAM and CPU power to do so.


2. Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on SynthFont

Here are the first basic steps to follow in order to use SynthFont with Arachno SoundFont.

  1. First of all, download the latest version of the software from the SynthFont website.
  2. Once installed on your computer, launch the main SynthFont.exe application to show the main window.
  3. From the File menu, choose Set default SoundFont file and select Arachno SoundFont.sf2.
  4. The software might ask you if you want to use Arachno SoundFont with the currently opened file. Answer Yes to All.
  5. If asked, select the default drum kit to use in MIDI files which don't specify any explicit drum kit.
  6. Then, you can select a MIDI file, either from the 1 Files / Folders tab, or by using the File > Open MIDI/Arrangement File command.
  7. You can then choose to create an arrangement file for this MIDI file; that way, any setting you'll modify to play the opened file (SoundFont bank, preset assignments, volume and balance changes, etc.) will be automatically remembered the next time you'll open the file.
  8. Once you've selected a MIDI file, click on the Play to speakers button to play the file using Arachno SoundFont.
  9. The Play Control toolbar will then appear while the file is being played with Arachno SoundFont.

3.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on SynthFont

Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on SynthFont

4.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on SynthFont5.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on SynthFont6.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on SynthFont

8.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on SynthFont

9.Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on SynthFont


3. SynthFont settings and advanced use

SynthFont has many features you can play with. This section will help you to use it in a somewhat advanced manner.

Note: this document will only cover parts of all features available. For more information on all SynthFont features not covered here (e.g. Piano Roll, MIDI events...), please refer to SynthFont's official documentation or website.

Setup and options

First of all, I recommend you to start by setting some synthesizer playback options:

  1. Open the Synth Options window by clicking on the Setup and Options or Synth Options buttons.
  2. On the Synth Engine tab, there are some options you should look at:
    • There is a Main output volume section with a slider. If MIDI playback suffers from "clipping" (distortion due to high output volume, shown by red VU-meter bars on the Playback volume section), you should lower this value below 1.00.
    • As Arachno SoundFont has been optimized for the Sound Blaster Live! soundcard, I recommend you to check the Use SoundBlaster Live!/Audigy scheme for envelope hold, decay and release checkbox, until you notice strange effects on some instruments during playback.
  3. Validate settings by clicking on the OK button.

1.SynthFont settings and advanced useSynthFont settings and advanced use

2.SynthFont settings and advanced useSynthFont settings and advanced use

Playback-oriented features

Most SynthFont features are related to MIDI file playback enhancement. You can apply most of them on individual MIDI tracks while listening to the file, so you can hear the results instantly.

Volume, balance and preset replacement

First, you can change the instruments/presets used in the MIDI file, to experiment different sound combinations (e.g. replace a clean guitar with an overdriven guitar sound).

Start by specifying whether the track must be rendered using the internal SoundFont engine, a VST instrument or external MIDI device.

  1. If you've setup some VST instruments or external MIDI devices/synthesizers in the Setup and Options window, you can choose to use a VST instrument or external MIDI synthesizer for the selected track by clicking on the VSTi or MIDI Out column header buttons.
  2. If you've chosen VSTi or SoundFont rendering engines, you can select a new SoundFont file or VST instrument by right-clicking on a track and using the Assign SoundFont File or Assign VST Instrument commands.
  3. If you stick with SoundFonts, you can choose a new preset for the selected track by right-clicking on the program name in the MIDI Program column and choosing the Assign New Preset command.

1.SynthFont settings and advanced use2. 3.SynthFont settings and advanced use

Then, choose the MIDI program (instrument) used by the track to play notes. You can either pickup one of those declared in the MIDI file, or override them.

  1. If the selected track uses several MIDI programs (instruments) within the same MIDI file (program changes, e.g. a switch between Accordion and Harmonica in the middle of the song), you can pick one of these MIDI programs by using the Select (or dropdown) button on the right of the MIDI Program column.
  2. In any case, you can replace the MIDI program currently used on a track by selecting this track and clicking on the MIDI Program column name.

1.SynthFont settings and advanced useSynthFont settings and advanced use2.SynthFont settings and advanced use

Moreover, you can also adjust volume, balance, or mute/solo some tracks to "isolate" playback of some instruments.

  1. To adjust volume, balance (pan position) or other MIDI track parameters, select the parameter you want to modify with the dropdown header button on the right side of the window, and adjust track sliders to change the parameter's value.
  2. To mute or solo a track, right-click on the track and select Solo track or Mute track.

1.SynthFont settings and advanced useSynthFont settings and advanced use2.SynthFont settings and advanced use

VST effects and instruments

Another interesting feature is the support of VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plugins. Using VST plugins, you can add various sound effects (reverb, chorus, compression, flanger, phaser...) while playing back the MIDI file, or replace some SoundFont presets with VST instruments.

If you don't have any VST plugins to play with on your computer, you can download some on websites like KVR Audio.
Then, you can follow the steps below to use them on SynthFont.

Declaring and loading VST effects
  1. First click on the Add Fx dropdown button in the Output VST Effects ("Fx") section.
  2. A dialog window will inform you that no VST effects have been setup/chosen yet. Click on OK to proceed.
  3. From the VST Effects tab of the Setup and Options window, you can add or delete VST effects to use with SynthFont.
    • Start by clicking on the Add file button.
    • Select the .dll file of the plugin you want to use.
    • If the plugin is supported by SynthFont, it'll appear in the grid, with vendor and product name information.
  4. You can add several effect plugins, and choose to chain them to combine all the effects while playing back your file, either from the VST Effects tab (using the Add to chain button) or from the main window (recommended).
  5. Validate the plugin list you've built by clicking on OK.

1. 2.SynthFont settings and advanced use

3.SynthFont settings and advanced useSynthFont settings and advanced use

Adding VST effects on playback
  1. From the Output VST Effects ("Fx") section of the main window, you can efficiently manage all effects used on playback for the MIDI file you've loaded. You can quickly add any effect declared in the Setup and Options window by using the dropdown list of the Add Fx button, or delete some effects with the Drop select or Drop all buttons.
  2. You can also choose the order of the effects in the list ("chain") with the arrow buttons on the right side of the section.
  3. If you want to temporarily disable an effect from the chain, uncheck the checkbox near its name.
  4. More importantly, you can edit the VST effect settings by clicking on its name from the list.
  5. At last, if you're satisfied by your VST effects setup, you can choose to save and apply it on all MIDI files you'll open in the future by clicking on the Set Default button.

1. 2. 3.SynthFont settings and advanced use

4. 5.SynthFont settings and advanced use

Arrangement recording features

You can now choose to render the MIDI file with all these settings applied as an audio file, to playback it outside of SynthFont.

  1. First activate the recording function by using the Play to File button.
  2. A message will invite you to check that you've applied all playback settings you want to hear in the resulting file, and reminds you that the recorded part is delimited by the two Start and Stop green arrow markers on the Playback Progress bar.
  3. You'll then get access to the Save audio options window. Here, you must indicate where to save the resulting audio file, and the recording quality options:
    • Specify file type, depending of the codecs available on your system and those supported by SynthFont (uncompressed Wave audio, MP3, FLAC, OGG...)
    • Indicate if you want to record each MIDI track/channel as a separate file (very useful if you want to do further mixing).
    • Set the recording and compression quality settings, depending of the previously chosen file format.
    • Note: I recommend you to record in uncompressed Wave format first, and encode the resulting file later, with an external encoder software.

1. 2.SynthFont settings and advanced use

3.SynthFont settings and advanced use


5. Usage and examples

The Arachno SoundFont is mainly suited for MIDI file reproduction, meant to be loaded on a SoundFont synthesizer to listen to MIDI files.

Although not being its primary goal, Arachno SoundFont can also be used as a sample bank in many SoundFont-compatible audio and music editors.

Using Arachno SoundFont for music and audio production

There are many, many DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) available on the market, like Reason, Cakewalk Sonar, ModPlug Tracker/OpenMPT or Logic, to name a very few, which offer native support for SoundFont files. There are also many virtual samplers and synthesizers supporting this technology, which can often be associated with these DAWs: E-MU Emulator X, Kontakt, HALion, sfz, (VST)SynthFont, TiMidity++... Given the huge amount of audio software available, this topic will not be covered in this documentation.

Reminder: You're free to use Arachno SoundFont in any of your projects. But, please be aware that I can't recommend any commercial use of Arachno SoundFont, as it uses sounds from other libraries or authors that might not authorize commercial use of their work. Refer to the Preset list and Copyright information and credits sections below for copyright and license information.

Using Arachno SoundFont to play MIDI files

If you're using Arachno SoundFont with the SynthFont software synthesizer, you don't need anything more to play MIDI files, as SynthFont comes with its own built-in MIDI player. See Loading and using Arachno SoundFont on SynthFont and SynthFont settings and advanced use sections above for more information.

If you want to play MIDI files outside SynthFont, the best MIDI file player I know remains vanBasco's Karaoke Player. It has many features specialized in MIDI file reproduction, one of the most impressive being its ability to switch between different MIDI synths while playing a MIDI file, to compare rendering between MIDI synths. Besides this feature, it can also mute or solo some MIDI channels while playing to focus on a particular instrument, or display karaoke information from compatible MIDI files. Associated with a system-wide SoundFont synthesizer (hardware provided by your soundcard, or by some software synthesizer solution like SyFon), it's a must-have for any MIDI enthusiast.

Sample MIDI files

Arachno SoundFont comes with several sample MIDI files you can play with, to test some particular presets. These are either original MIDI tracks (from video games or other media) or MIDI reproductions ("covers") of famous songs, movie and video game soundtracks.

Although having been selected for their good compatibility with Arachno SoundFont, some of these files might sound strange on a SoundFont synthesizer, especially those carrying advanced effects, such as Roland GS or Yamaha XG tracks.

Some of these files are explicitly mentioned in the Preset list section; for your convenience, these files have been also summed up in the list below.

Important: all these files have been made by various composers, which are named and credited on all files' names (unless unknown).
These files are provided under a fair use principle for personal listening and demonstration purpose and remain the exclusive work of their original authors. The Für Elise cover MIDI file is distributed with written permission from its composer, and those I've composed come with a separate license file, also provided in the original archive.

List of all example tracks mentioned in the Preset List section

Track typeTitleAuthorMIDI file composerPresets/instruments extensively used in the given example
MIDI cover of an original digital audio track MIDI coverThe Legend of Zelda (5)Koji KondoVarious composersOrchestral Harp, Choir Aahs, Brass Section, Ocarina, Crystal
Track composed by Maxime Abbey (Arachno SoundFont's author) Original MIDI trackArabian Feelings (4)Maxime AbbeyMaxime AbbeySynth Strings 2, Sweep Pad, Sound Track, Star Theme
MIDI cover of an original digital audio track MIDI coverSuper Mario Bros. (4)Koji KondoVarious composersSlap Bass 1, Slap Bass 2, Timpani, Brass Section
Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack) Original MIDI trackDOOM (3)Robert C. PrinceRobert C. PrinceOverdrive Guitar, Timpani, Square Wave
Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack) Original MIDI trackDuke Nukem 3D (3)Lee Jackson & Robert C. PrinceLee Jackson & Robert C. PrinceOverdrive Guitar, Square Wave, Metal Pad
Track composed by Maxime Abbey (Arachno SoundFont's author) Original MIDI trackGreen Hills (3)Maxime AbbeyMaxime AbbeyPoly Synth, Atmosphere, Brightness
Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack) Original MIDI trackRise Of The Triad (3)Lee Jackson & Robert C. PrinceLee Jackson & Robert C. PrinceOverdrive Guitar, Square Wave, Metal Pad
Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack) Original MIDI trackDescent (2)Parallax SoftwareParallax SoftwareEcho Drops, Synth Drum
Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack) Original MIDI trackDOOM - E1M3 - Dark Halls (2)Robert C. PrinceRobert C. PrinceSynth Bass 1, Bowed Glass
Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack) Original MIDI trackDOOM - E2M2 - The Demons From Adrian's Pen (2)Robert C. PrinceRobert C. PrinceHalo Pad, Goblin
MIDI cover of an original digital audio track MIDI coverFür Elise (2)Ludwig van Beethovenforelise.comGrand Piano, Bright Piano
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackGenesis/Phil Collins (2)Genesis/Phil CollinsWarm Pad, Synth Drum
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackHaru No Umi (2)Miyagi MichioShakuhachi, Koto
MIDI cover of an original digital audio track MIDI coverJazz Jackrabbit (2)Robert A. AllenSteven Bloom / MaliceXMarimba, Orchestra Hit
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackJump (2)Van HalenSynth Brass 1, Poly Synth
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackOh, Susanna (2)Stephen FischerHonky-Tonk Piano, Banjo
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackPeer Gynt (2)Edvard GriegPizzicato Strings, Strings Ensemble 2
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackAxel F. (1)Harold FaltermeyerSynth Brass 1
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackBitter Sweet Symphony (1)The VerveTremolo Strings
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackBoléro (1)Maurice RavelFlute
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackDance of The Sugar Plum Fairy (1)Piotr Ilitch TchaïkovskiCelesta
MIDI cover of an original digital audio track MIDI coverDonkey Kong Country - DK Island Swing (1)David WiseAlluro95Acoustic Bass
MIDI cover of an original digital audio track MIDI coverDonkey Kong Country 2 - Lava - Hot-Head Bop (1)David WiseDave PhaneufStar Theme
Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack) Original MIDI trackDOOM - E1M5 - Suspense (1)Robert C. PrinceRobert C. PrinceGuitar Fret Noise
Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack) Original MIDI trackDOOM - E1M8 - Sign of Evil (1)Robert C. PrinceRobert C. PrinceSynth Drum
Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack) Original MIDI trackDOOM - Message / Victory (1)Robert C. PrinceRobert C. PrinceClavinet
Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack) Original MIDI trackDOOM II - Message / Victory (1)Robert C. PrinceRobert C. PrinceHalo Pad
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackElle Attend (1)Jean-Jacques GoldmanSteel String Guitar
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackEvery Breath You Take (1)Sting & The PoliceMuted Guitar
Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack) Original MIDI trackGruntz (1)Monolith ProductionsMonolith ProductionsAgogo
Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack) Original MIDI trackHeretic (1)Kevin SchilderKevin SchilderSynth Strings 1
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackInsomnia (1)FaithlessPizzicato Strings
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackJamey Turner (1)Jamey TurnerBowed Glass
Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack) Original MIDI trackLands of Lore (1)Frank KlepackiFrank KlepackiAgogo
MIDI cover of an original digital audio track MIDI coverNintendo/Sega (1)Various authorsVarious composersSquare Wave
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackOrinoco Flow (1)EnyaAtmosphere
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackPulp Fiction - Misirlou (1)Dick DaleClean Guitar
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackScotland The Brave (1)Public domain / Unknown authorBag Pipe
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackSledgehammer (1)Peter GabrielShakuhachi
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackStevie Wonder (1)Stevie WonderClavinet
MIDI cover of an original digital audio track MIDI coverSuper Mario Bros. 3 - Ending Credits (1)Koji KondoJILostIce Rain
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackTake The Long Way Home (1)SupertrampHarmonica
MIDI cover of an original digital audio track MIDI coverTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1)Keizo NakamuraJohn N. EngelmannBass & Lead
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackThe Entertainer (1)Scott JoplinGrand Piano
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackThe Final Countdown (1)EuropeSynth Brass 1
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackToccata (1)Johann Sebastian BachChurch Organ
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackUshuaïa (1)Serge Perathoner & Jannick TopShakuhachi
Digital audio track (CD, MP3...) Digital audio trackX-Files (1)Mark SnowWhistle

6. Preset list

You'll find here the very huge part of this documentation: a list of all presets currently available in Arachno SoundFont, both melodic instruments and drum kits.

For each preset, you'll find some various information (bank numbers, program number, size, version number) along with the preset name (as declared in this bank), and, most important, comments towards the instrument build process, and my own rating of the overall preset, to track progress made on each instrument with the different releases of Arachno SoundFont.

If you're interested by the SoundFont creation process, I deeply recommend you to read the comments I wrote about the instruments you like.
For each preset, I'll explain why I had to spend more or less time on it, and how I ended up choosing it, or building it from scratch.

Sample sources and credits

This section delivers valuable information on the sources I've used to build the instruments (other SoundFonts, GigaSampler, miscellaneous sound banks, own work...) to credit original authors' work.

These sources are identified with an icon, describing the origin of their samples:

SoundFont sample bank format: the source is a SoundFont 2 sample bank.

GigaSampler sample bank format: the source is a GigaSampler sample bank.

Downloadable Sounds Level sample bank format: the source is a Downloadable Sound Level sample bank.

Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler: samples have been directly extracted from a software or hardware sampler or synthesizer.

Waveform-type sample: samples have been extracted from various sources as simple waveforms.

 An highlighted source name means that the samples have been produced by me.

Usage examples

Some presets come with track suggestions you can listen to test them (listed in the Usage and examples section above):

Digital audio track (CD, MP3...): suggests that a digital audio track (e.g. MP3, audio-CD) uses the described instrument.

Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack): the example is an original MIDI track which makes use of the described preset.

MIDI cover of an original digital audio track: suggests that there is a MIDI reproduction ("cover") of a digital audio track which makes uses of the described preset.

 An highlighted example name refers to a track I've composed myself.

Ratings

The rating is also some important information, as it indicates how much I appreciate each individual preset. A low rating meaning that I may/should replace the preset by a better pick in future revisions/versions of Arachno SoundFont, unlike other presets with a higher rating:

1 out of 5 - Very poor: Very poor instrument. Bad sampling quality, approximate loop points (clicks), short samples... such low-rated instruments usually come straight from a bare sound bank, without further editing on my own, after being unable to find a better pick anywhere, and don't deserve to be included in this bank as they don't match any of my minimum quality criteria. Should be replaced as soon as possible!

2 out of 5 - Mediocre: Mediocre instrument. Suffers from strong inconsistencies or below-average quality. This rating usually comes with presets on which I tried to spend some time, without really being able to obtain a nice sound. A replacement would be really, really appreciated.

3 out of 5 - Average: Average instrument. No major flaws with such instrument, but nothing really exciting as well. May suffer from a lack of expressiveness and depth when used as solo, but remains useable on most arrangements. Would greatly benefit from a complete or partial replacement.

4 out of 5 - Good: Good instrument. Great for many uses, including solos and complex arrangements. Nice overall quality, coming either out-of-the-box from its original sound bank, or with significant further editing to get an original and deep sound. No plans to replace such instruments.

5 out of 5 - Excellent!: Excellent instrument! Presets rated with the top mark are among my favorites, because of their excellent sound quality, originality and/or all time spent to achieve comprehensive editing/programming. Your best pick for any use, as solo, background tone or within an arrangement. Don't expect me to replace such presets, until you find THE absolute pick.

Don't hesitate to send me comments about this preset list and the instruments, especially for those missing information about the sources, or those with a low rating (if you have some advice or suggestions for a nice replacement). See Contact me.

Your help and feedback will always be appreciated!

#0 - #7 Pianos
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #0Grand PianoGM: Acoustic Grand PianoSize: 6,759 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good This piano comes from a quite popular Stereo Grand Piano SoundFont available on many websites. I first got it from MagicSF and applied some minor tuning afterwards. I'm not a piano expert, but I found it to be quite straightforward and working on a very large number of MIDI files, so I never needed to replace it. Moreover, I think that its size is a nice compromise between quality and polyphony savings.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF | SoundFont sample bank format Stereo Grand Piano
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Grand Piano" preset Für Elise | Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Grand Piano" preset The Entertainer
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #1Bright PianoGM: Bright Acoustic PianoSize: 7,072 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! An excellent-sounding piano from Roland XP-series synths (Roland 64-Voice XP-30 Piano SoundFont), great for rock and fast-playing songs. It uses velocity-sensitive layers, so it may sound strange on some MIDIs using low-velocity notes mistakenly, but thinking that it could harm its versatility, I never wanted to correct this initial behavior.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Roland 64-Voice XP-30 Piano SoundFont
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Bright Piano" preset Für Elise
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #2Rock PianoGM: Electric Grand PianoSize: 14,133 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Initially, this piano came from an XP-50 Piano SoundFont and was a nice addition besides the two other pianos. However, I found that it sounded a little weak on some MIDIs when played within an ensemble, so I sampled a Rock Piano preset from my Korg X5DR and duplicated the two existing layers with these new samples to obtain a more original and richer-sounding piano preset.
Sources:This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Rock Piano | SoundFont sample bank format Roland XP-50
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #3Honky-Tonk PianoGM: Honky-tonk PianoSize: 6,057 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The original Honky-Tonk piano preset found in MagicSF was too weak for my needs. Looking for better samples on the internet, I found a bank containing samples from a Kawai K-2500, including a very nice and original-sounding Honky-Tonk piano with chorus effects. Therefore, I decided to use it as my Honky-Tonk preset, keeping the original layers and tuning - I simply replaced the old samples with these new ones. Afterwards, I found that my previously-sampled Korg X5DR Rock Piano had a similar-sounding tone, so I decided to add it on this preset using the same layers and settings. Sounds very nice on the few country MIDIs I have.
Sources:Kurzweil K2500 | This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Rock Piano
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Honky-Tonk Piano" preset Oh, Susanna
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #4Electric PianoGM: Electric Piano 1Size: 862 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! In the world of General MIDI Electric Piano presets, you'll usually find recurrent types of presets, inspired from the most famous brands and sounds (e.g. Yamaha DX7, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Roland...). I first tried to use such famous sounds as my first electric piano preset. They were excellent for solos, but too expressive to use in a General MIDI environment. So, I ended up mixing two original-sounding piano sounds, with discrete but straightforward and strong tones: an Electronic Piano preset from Johannes Roussel, and a Roland U-2O Electric Piano preset. Sounds nice on many, many MIDIs I have, an excellent compromise between the discrete and somewhat toy-sounding Electric Piano preset of a Roland Sound Canvas and the strength of percussive pianos like those I mentioned before.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Johannes Roussel | SoundFont sample bank format Roland U-20
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #5Crystal PianoGM: Electric Piano 2Size: 1,114 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! For this preset, I wanted a more biting piano sound, with a distinct and clear overall tone, but I also wanted to apply the same rules than with the previous preset (best compromise between solo and General MIDI playing capabilities). After trying several combinations, I finally kept the original "Crystal Rhodes" piano preset from MagicSF (percussion, strength), and mixed it with the Roland U-20 Electric Piano preset I already used for the first Electric Piano preset (for better General MIDI integration).
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Crystal Rhodes | SoundFont sample bank format Roland U-20
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #6HarpsichordGM: HarpsichordSize: 1,390 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! I first used a harpsichord preset from the German8 Harpischord SoundFont. I liked the original sound, but found that it sounded too weak and discrete in many MIDIs, classical or not. So I decided to add some new layers to obtain a richer sound. I first tested Campbell's Harpischord SoundFont, a very nice pick, but ended up by choosing a better-known General MIDI sounding preset, "MT 8'I", probably sampled from a Roland Sound Canvas module.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format German8 Harpsichord | SoundFont sample bank format Harpsichord MT Clavicembalo 8'I
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #7ClavinetGM: ClavinetSize: 993 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! For the Clavinet preset, I had a somewhat strange need: I wanted a preset that could sound awesome for solos (such as MIDIs from Stevie Wonder's famous songs) but also when used as a General MIDI preset (additional piano), like in the "Message / Victory" track from "DOOM" (the famous FPS game by id Software), which required a preset with a long decay. Therefore, I mixed the excellent "Hohner Clavinet" preset from the famous self-named SoundFont ("Stevie Wonder" part) with a rather basic clavinet tone from Creative's standard SoundFont banks (for the "General MIDI" feeling and purposes). Sounds rich and versatile in many, many situations.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Creative | SoundFont sample bank format Hohner Clavinet
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Clavinet" preset DOOM - Message / Victory | Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Clavinet" preset Stevie Wonder
#8 - #15 Chromatic Percussion / Mallets
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #8CelestaGM: CelestaSize: 82 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Lacking knowledge about the sound of a "real" Celesta, I kept the original from MagicSF, which correctly suited my needs. This preset works pretty well on many MIDIs I have, and I don't remember of any sensible tuning I made on it, apart from some reverb effects to add some strength, although it may suffer from a lack of clarity.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Celesta" preset Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #9GlockenspielGM: GlockenspielSize: 80 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Same remarks than with the Celesta preset. The original from MagicSF worked pretty well, so I kept it, after trying some realistic Glockenspiel banks which were too heavy for General MIDI purposes.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #10Music BoxGM: Music BoxSize: 403 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good The Music Box was a real headache to choose and build. The banks I tried were either too expressive to be used as a General MIDI instrument, or too bland to be distinctively heard in a mix. After switching from many presets, I first settled on a quite basic Music Box sample for a long time, until I remembered that the Music Box preset I had on my old FM OPL2/OPL3 AdLib/Sound Blaster soundcard offered a quite cheesy and interesting sound. As a result, I sampled it from an old SB card to add some tone on the original preset, and completed it with bowed vibraphone sounds I first used for the "Bowed Glass" preset (read further on). Sounds nice on many MIDIs, but may sound a little weak on orchestral/classical music pieces relying on "real" Music Box sounds for solos.
Sources:This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Sound Blaster/AdLib OPL FM | SoundFont sample bank format "Bowed" Clean Vibraphone
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #11VibraphoneGM: VibraphoneSize: 137 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good This preset comes from a "Clean Vibraphone" SoundFont. It offers soft and sweet tones, suitable for most MIDIs, but may sound a little weak on pieces requiring more percussive vibraphone sounds. You may also find the vibrato effect to be too strong for your needs. Actually, after trying to decrease the strength of this effect, I found that the instrument somewhat lost its original feeling, so I left it "as-is". May have to finetune it to find the best compromise, but works anyway.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Clean Vibraphone
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #12MarimbaGM: MarimbaSize: 436 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good For the marimba, I experienced the exact same issues than with the Vibraphone and the Music Box. I needed a strong-sounding instrument, but thought that the most realistic banks I found were too "percussive" for General MIDI use. So, I chose to use a soft "MoonMan" marimba SoundFont preset. It remained my only marimba sound for a long time, until I wanted to add some original tone to it. I then remembered that the famous Roland D-50 Marimba sound I heard in music tracks from the "Jazz Jackrabbit" game had a very expressive sound, while not having too much percussion. So, I mixed it with the original preset, and obtained a very interesting sound. Although I actually love this preset, I must admit that the lack of percussive effect may be an issue for most classical and orchestral MIDIs.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MoonMan | Waveform-type sample Roland D-50
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Marimba" preset Jazz Jackrabbit
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #13XylophoneGM: XylophoneSize: 1,269 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Choosing a good xylophone was an interesting experience. It was an easy task at first, as there was a quite famous set of Xylophone SoundFonts available on the internet, the "Campbell" xylophone SoundFonts, already present in MagicSF. So, choosing the source was a piece of cake. But it became a headache when I had to choose between the different variants offered by the Campbell collection: either "Steel", "Wooden" or "Large" xylophone, each one offering an extremely rich sound, but not suitable for every MIDI. Actually, I used to switch between the "Wooden" and "Large" presets from time to time, but it was quite tricky... I had to acquire some SoundFont editing experience before building an "hybrid" variant, mixing my two favorite "Wooden" and "Large" presets to obtain a suitable General MIDI instrument while remaining extremely rich and strong. I never had to revert back to another instrument since then!
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Campbell | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #14Tubular BellsGM: Tubular BellsSize: 168 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Unlike many other presets, the Tubular Bells found in the most basic SoundFonts (including those from Creative) usually sound quite good for General MIDI purposes. As a result, I never needed to search for a replacement over the existing one. That said, when I found an interesting tone in the FantaGM SoundFont, I decided to layer it with my existing preset to get a richer tone. I also thought of using some famous sounds for this preset (e.g. bells from Roland D-50/Korg M1/Gravis UltraSound bells) but they sounded too "synthy" to be used for real tubular bells purposes. Anyway, now that I own a real Korg M1(Rex), I think that its Tubular Bells presets could be a perfect replacement, rich and realistic, even for today's standards...
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format FantaGM | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #15Dulcimer (Santur)GM: DulcimerSize: 457 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good This is the original Dulcimer preset from the MagicSF, itself coming from a "Hammered Dulcimer" bank from E-mu Systems. Pretty good in my opinion, after trying a few realistic-sounding banks, not really suited for General MIDI use. Works well for many purposes, although it could be replaced with a richer-sounding preset (more layers, better samples...). My own Roland SC-8850 has a bunch of very interesting Dulcimer/Santur/Zither presets to play with...
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Hammered Dulcimer | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
#16 - #23 Organs
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #16DrawBar OrganGM: Drawbar OrganSize: 1,089 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Drawbar organ preset, also known as "Organ 1", "Draw Organ" or "Hammond Organ" in many GM banks, is usually a quite underestimated preset. As its usual sounding tone can be easily obtained with short or low quality samples, many banks usually offer basic samples for this preset. I didn't want to follow this trend. I wanted an original tone, while retaining the sound we're all used to hear on this preset. So, in order to add strength to the basic preset I had, I grabbed one of the very few "original" presets among GM SoundFont banks I tried, from famous Frank Wen's "Fluid" bank, and layered both with a "Full Organ" preset I sampled from my own Korg X5DR. Results in a very useable sound for GM purposes while being richer than most other GM banks.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Fluid | This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Full Organ
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #17Percussive OrganGM: Percussive OrganSize: 5,810 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Let's talk about the second organ preset, known as "Organ 2", "Perc Organ" or "Percussive Organ" in GM banks. At first, I kept the original preset from MagicSF, a decent preset with a separate percussive part. But when I discovered that my Korg X5DR had a percussive organ preset which was very close to the famous Korg M1 PercOrgan preset, I sampled it and layered it above the existing preset to obtain a much more interesting instrument, suitable for all uses, although I might also improve it by sampling from the "real thing", my own Korg M1(Rex).
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF | This source uses samples which have been recorded by me PercOrgan
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #18Rock OrganGM: Rock OrganSize: 1,073 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Here is the third organ preset, "Organ 3" or "Rock Organ". Unlike the two other presets, I initially had no idea about the ideal sound for this preset, as almost all banks offer a different sounding organ on this slot. I first found and picked a Rock Organ SoundFont by Campbell, with a nice percussive attack for solos, but difficult to integrate in most MIDIs. So I added an organ sample from Johannes Roussel to get some deep tones, but it wasn't enough. As most banks choose to include a famous Hammond organ here (B3, Leslie...), I grabbed a nice B3 Rock Organ preset and layered it on the existing ones to complete the instrument with a new major tone, making it a very nice pick for many purposes.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Johannes Roussel | Rock B3 | SoundFont sample bank format Rock Organ
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #19Church OrganGM: Church OrganSize: 611 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good The church organ from MagicSF used quite realistic and space-saving samples, but the preset itself suffered from some issues, so I spent some time on this one to get a full sound. Reverb offers a nice feeling to this instrument... it could be replaced with a more realistic SoundFont named "Jeux d'Orgues", but the amount of work required to adapt one of its numerous presets as a GM-working instrument was too important for my modest Church Organ needs.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Church Organ" preset Toccata
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #20Reed OrganGM: Reed OrganSize: 284 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good I must admit that I have no idea about the real sound of a reed organ, so I kept the original from MagicSF, which works great for General MIDI purposes (even as an harmonica/accordion replacement). I did some tuning on it, but nothing worth mentioning here.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #21AccordionGM: AccordionSize: 1,209 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Unlike the previous preset, I perfectly know how should sound an Accordion, but not only because I'm French! Therefore, I searched for better samples and finally found a nice bank containing extremely realistic "Akordeon" (note the spelling) samples. The sound is perfect and does a great job with many files, but I don't really know if the preset parameters (decay, release, attack, etc.) would be really suited for fast accordion playing parts. If I had to change something on this instrument, it would be on that side.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Akordeon
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #22HarmonicaGM: HarmonicaSize: 78 KBVersion: 1.0
3 out of 5 - Average One of the few instruments that I'm not really satisfied with. I couldn't find any decent Harmonica samples on the internet, and wasn't convinced by those offered on my sound modules either, so I ended up mixing the "DF Synth Harmo" part of my Reed Organ preset with a very basic Harmonica preset from Creative banks. Works in most cases after some tuning, but nothing really exciting on the samples side... maybe I should try some kind of synth Harmonica like the excellent preset from the Yamaha DX7, used in Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It"...
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Creative | SoundFont sample bank format DF Harmonica
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Harmonica" preset Take The Long Way Home
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #23BandoneonGM: Tango AccordionSize: 557 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Unlike the other accordion, I don't have any clue about the sounding expectations of this preset. So I kept the original "Concertina" accordion from MagicSF and layered it in multiple parts to obtain a fuller sound. Works pretty well on many situations anyway, with a good sound, so...
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Concertina Accordion | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
#24 - #31 Guitars
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #24Nylon GuitarGM: Acoustic Guitar (nylon)Size: 1,844 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Nylon guitar is a difficult preset to build, because of the compromise between good realistic sounds (attack, decay, fret noises...) and GM-friendly preset tuning (nylon guitar being sometimes used for strange purposes in some MIDIs). After spending many time to test a lot of guitar SoundFont banks, I finally found an awesome bank named "Maesro Velocity Nylon Guitars" by Mats Helgesson, offering extremely great samples, but not perfectly suited for GM purposes. So I spent some time to tweak it while retaining the original velocity settings. Works extremely well on parts and solos requiring realistic sounds (checkout Manuel Ferre's nylon guitar MIDIs on the internet...), on a full range (from bass to highest octaves), the drawback being that it may sound too strong on some MIDIs requiring discrete background guitars.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Maes(t)ro Velocity Nylon Guitars
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #25Steel String GuitarGM: Acoustic Guitar (steel)Size: 2,057 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! This preset would have been very painful to choose and build, if I had not found Frank Wen's steel guitar from his famous Fluid SoundFont. An awesome pick, with nice metallic string sounds and interesting preset parameter choices (decays, reverb, chorus). I kept it as is, because I simply love its sound... although it may sound very harsh on some MIDIs requiring softer guitars.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Fluid
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Steel String Guitar" preset Elle Attend
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #26Jazz GuitarGM: Electric Guitar (jazz)Size: 372 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good The best SoundFont I found to be used as a jazz guitar (a Gibson L-5 Jazz Guitar bank by ncs) offered great sounds but was a little too soft to be heard in most MIDI files. So, I added a bare jazz guitar from Creative's basic SoundFont to get some "picky" sounds, and spent some time on tweaking and tuning to blend both presets. The result sounds rather satisfactory for my needs, either as additional bass or secondary guitar, but I don't know if it can really be used as a solo jazz guitar.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Creative | SoundFont sample bank format Gibson L-5 Jazz Guitar
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #27Clean GuitarGM: Electric Guitar (clean)Size: 2,439 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! I'm among those who feel sick and tired to hear the same boring Sound Canvas toy-sounding clean guitars on every bank around there. It seems that MagicSF's author, Dennis, was sharing the same point of view, as he chose to include an excellent, different-sounding clear guitar preset from "Joe's Clean Electric Guitar" SoundFont bank in MagicSF 2.0. I actually tried to find a replacement for it, as it sometimes sounds strange with some MIDIs that would require a more basic Sound Canvas-like preset, but never found anything better. I got used to hear this sound on every MIDI and I simply love it. I don't even remember doing any further tuning on it! Simply awesome on many points, especially on the lower and higher octaves.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Joe's Clean Electric Guitar | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Clean Guitar" preset Pulp Fiction - Misirlou
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #28Muted GuitarGM: Electric Guitar (muted)Size: 101 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good I first used the Muted Guitar preset from MagicSF for a long time, and found it to be quite satisfactory in most cases. But, as an avid Amiga module file listener, I remembered of a quite overused (and nice-sounding) muted guitar sample that I simply loved. So I included it as an additional layer, which radically changed the original tone of the preset. I love the resulting preset... but as I couldn't find a better source for this muted guitar sample, I was forced to use the original, low-quality 8 KHz sample from the Amiga module sampleset, which is too weak to sound rich on the lower and higher octaves... the next step would be to find the original source (sampler, synthesizer, real guitar?) of this preset to obtain an higher-quality sample.
Sources:Waveform-type sample Amiga | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Muted Guitar" preset Every Breath You Take
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #29Overdrive GuitarGM: Overdriven GuitarSize: 10,387 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! WARNING: you're now reading the story of the BIGGEST instruments available in this bank: the overdriven and distorted electric guitar presets. BIG size (10-11 MB), BIG number of samples, layers and regions, BIG polyphony requirements... for a BIG sound (I hope, at least). And as you may have guessed, it also required a BIG amount of time to build, test, tweak and tune... I could nearly write a book about these single presets, given the countless number of hours, weeks and even months I spent on both of them. But to remain concise, let's sum up its build history...
  • take the most interesting electric guitar banks I found over the internet: |<amac Guitar (already included in MagicSF), DSCo Dist Guitar, Jackson's Distortion Guitar for both overdriven and distortion presets,
  • for the overdriven preset, add some awesome sound banks like a Fender Stratocaster or a 60s Heavy Guitar, plus a guitar preset from RealSound GS and a Zillion Overdriven guitar sample from "Dear Old Friends" (a tracker sound module by Octopvs),
  • imagine that you simply can't choose between all of them, each one having its own interesting tone,
  • SO, find a LOT of time to mix all in a single preset with countless tweaking and tuning phases,
  • add a couple of background sound effects (harmonics, basic overdrive) on each preset to differentiate it from the other one (overdrive/distortion guitar) and tweak both so some guitar banks can be heard more than some others depending of the preset/notes used,
TEST, TEST, and LISTEN to them on countless MIDI files from nearly every possible source (game music like DOOM/Duke Nukem 3D/Rise Of The Triad, real electric guitar parts, bare MIDIs using these presets as bare clean or melodic guitars),And voilà, you've got the electric guitar presets from the Arachno SoundFont. Made to sound good, handy and versatile in every possible situation, sometimes melodic, sometimes harsh, sometime discrete, sometimes explosive, but almost never wrong. One thing is for sure: unless these presets are being barely copied into other SoundFont banks, you'll never find the same guitar presets elsewhere!
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format 60s Heavy Guitar | SoundFont sample bank format DSCo | SoundFont sample bank format Fender Stratocaster | SoundFont sample bank format Jackson's | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF | SoundFont sample bank format RealSound GS | Waveform-type sample Zillion Overdriven Guitar | SoundFont sample bank format |<amac
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Overdrive Guitar" preset DOOM | Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Overdrive Guitar" preset Duke Nukem 3D | Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Overdrive Guitar" preset Rise Of The Triad
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #30Distortion GuitarGM: Distortion GuitarSize: 11,357 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The distortion guitar preset's story is tied to its overdriven sibling, as largely explained above. If I had to sum up the differences between both, I'd say that this preset logically drops the overdriven parts (Fender Stratocaster, 60s Heavy OD, Zillion) to focus on distorted sounds (|<amac, Jackson's, DSCo's, and the Mega Sound Bank basic-but-dirty-sounding distortion guitar preset) and integrated SoundFont effects to achieve a sound more suitable for distortion parts, while remaining close enough to its overdriven cousin for mixing purposes, with the same strengths (versatility, rich and original sound) and weaknesses (high polyphony requirements).
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format DSCo | SoundFont sample bank format Jackson's | SoundFont sample bank format Mega Sound Bank | SoundFont sample bank format |<amac
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #31Guitar HarmonicsGM: Guitar harmonicsSize: 15 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! After spending some initial hours on the electric guitar presets, I quickly found a nice guitar harmonics sound in the Mega Sound Bank, basic, straightforward and compact, perfect to sit in this Guitar Harmonics preset slot. I tweaked it a little bit to be useable as a single preset, but although it could be enhanced with some naturally-simulated harmonics effects (e.g. square and sine waves) it remains an absolutely nice all-purpose preset, a perfect companion for the electric guitar parts. Even sounds good on MIDIs using it as a melodic preset! Awesome efficiency for a bare 15 KB preset.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Mega Sound Bank
#32 - #39 Basses
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #32Acoustic BassGM: Acoustic BassSize: 1,428 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good My initial pick for the acoustic bass preset is an "Acoustic Bass" SoundFont bank by J. Mehrtens, which sampled it from a Roland XP-10. A quite decent instrument I kept for some time, until I found that my Korg X5DR offered an awesome acoustic bass preset I decided to sample and integrate on my bank's preset. The resulting sound is more than interesting and works well, but it could be easily enhanced with some other interesting acoustic bass presets from other synths like my Korg M1(Rex), or more realistic samples.
Sources:This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Korg X5DR | SoundFont sample bank format Roland XP-10
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Acoustic Bass" preset Donkey Kong Country - DK Island Swing
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #33Fingered BassGM: Electric Bass (finger)Size: 587 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! MagicSF included a quite rich-sounding and realistic preset as its fingered bass preset, but it suffered from a big lack of versatility on many MIDIs because of its realism. Therefore, I decided to revert back to a more conventional synth-sounding fingered bass which I used for a very, very long time... until I got my Roland SC-8850. I must admit that I've always been fond of the Roland Sound Canvas' fingered bass preset (even from that absolutely crappy Microsoft Software Synthesizer...) so I simply sampled it from my sound module. Works extremely well on many, many MIDIs (Sound Canvas!) although I sometimes regret the originality of the "Rick's Sub" bass used in MagicSF.
Sources:This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Roland SC-8850
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #34Picked BassGM: Electric Bass (pick)Size: 342 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good I had a problem with the Picked Bass preset for a long, long time. Finding a good base was quick and easy, as MagicSF already included the best I could find, the "Janszen Ibanez Picked Bass" SoundFont. But, don't ask me why, I found that it sounded strange when used in a GM environment while sounding awesome as a solo bass. I tried to tweak it in every possible way, adding more conventional-sounding samples from Creative's banks, lowering the original's volume, playing with layers... and never got good results... until I mistakenly removed all original regions (note ranges) and samples from this Ibanez bank, except the central one (C#5) which thus became "stretched" through ALL the instrument note range (C0-G10) previously handled by dedicated samples. And, again, don't ask me why, but for the first time, I found this preset to sound very nice with most MIDIs (thanks to the basic Picked Bass preset from Creative), while retaining its strong initial Ibanez tone for solo purposes. Could absolutely be better-built, but until then, I keep it.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Janszen Ibanez Picked Bass
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #35Fretless BassGM: Fretless BassSize: 1,529 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good The Fretless Bass preset followed the same path as the Fingered Bass: I had an awesome-sounding initial preset in MagicSF (probably from the same author/bank collection) but could never find a way to make it sound good as a GM preset. So I ended up by mixing a bunch of several Fingered Bass presets: a good-sounding Fretless bass preset from a source I can't remember (surely from a quite known GM bank), a self-sampled Fretless Bass from my Roland MT-32 (this synth has some decent presets), Aspirin 160 GM bank, and even the bare Fretless sample from Microsoft Software Synthesizer (GM.DLS). Works quite well with a very decent sound, although it could be improved on some points (starting with the replacement of the GM.DLS sample with a higher-quality Sound Canvas sample) to please your subwoofer!
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Aspirin 160 | Downloadable Sounds Level sample bank format Microsoft Software Wavetable Synthesizer (GM.DLS) | This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Roland MT-32 | Unknown source
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #36Slap Bass 1GM: Slap Bass 1Size: 854 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! After testing many different-sounding slap basses, I chose the J.G. Pronk Slap Bass preset, for its chorused, nice-sounding samples, perfectly suited for General MIDI purposes. I simply layered it with a more basic preset from Creative's banks to enhance its GM versatility and mixing capabilities. Simple and straightforward. I don't really need to search for a replacement, but it might not be a bad idea anyway.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format J.G. Pronk
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Slap Bass 1" preset Super Mario Bros.
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #37Slap Bass 2GM: Slap Bass 2Size: 846 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! For the second slap bass, I wanted something with a bigger sound. MagicSF included a very interesting-sounding slap bass sample in this slot, with a very thick "bap" sound, so I kept it, even after trying some other interesting sounds sample banks. I simply added the J.G. Pronk slap bass as a new layer for some more depth, and it did the trick. Fits very nicely in many, many MIDIs, and perfectly complements the first slap bass in all situations, although it might be interesting to enhance it with even bigger-sounding samples.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format J.G. Pronk | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Slap Bass 2" preset Super Mario Bros.
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #38Synth Bass 1GM: Synth Bass 1Size: 75 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good The first synth bass was a pretty simple deal: I only wanted a so-called "Moog"-style bass. These basses being made with raw wave samples, they usually sound good on the most basic sound banks, including Creative's banks and Microsoft's Software Synthesizer wavetable. So I simply kept the original found in MagicSF for a long, long time, which works pretty well in all situations. However, I wanted to add some originality to it... and as I liked the Synth Bass 1 preset from the Gravis UltraSound bank, I borrowed it and softly mixed it with the original to add some tone. But nothing expressive, it's not the deal. This synth bass has to remain "synthy" and not sampled. I'm quite satisfied with it; if I had to improve this preset, I'd try to rebuild a new one from scratch using basic waves and stronger effects, just like a real analog synth.
Sources:Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Gravis UltraSound | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Synth Bass 1" preset DOOM - E1M3 - Dark Halls
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #39Synth Bass 2GM: Synth Bass 2Size: 1,107 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! This Synth Bass 2 slot is sometimes called "Fat" bass in some GM banks. So, my goal was simple: I wanted a FAT, SYNTHETIC and original sounding tone. So I first picked a quite soft fat bass preset from an unknown source as a basis. Then, I grabbed a dirty and short "distorted guitar" sample from a very old Amiga (SoundTracker) module for its tone (renamed as "Monster Bass"). This setup remained as-is for some time, until I found that the Mega Sound Bank had a very interesting short-but-strong synth bass preset that I layered on top of the others. And to complete this setup, I added the GUS bass sample already used in Synth Bass 1 preset, and I ultimately sampled the awesome, classic-sounding Synth Bass 2 preset from my SC-8850 to get a whole master-sounding tone with the wanted fat feeling. I also tried to sample this preset from my Yamaha MU1000 (which has an equally-awesome fat bass) but it was more difficult to mix than its rival from Roland. This instrument perfectly suits my needs, even while used outside its default scope, as a high-octave melodic instrument, for example.
Sources:Waveform-type sample Amiga | Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Gravis UltraSound | SoundFont sample bank format Mega Sound Bank | This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Roland SC-8850 | Unknown source
#40 - #47 Strings
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #40ViolinGM: ViolinSize: 1,927 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good On the internet, Strings sound banks are pretty popular and most are absolutely well-sampled. Among free banks, there is a collection, named Cadenza, which offers some of the most versatile presets for GM or solo purposes. So, I naturally picked it for my violin preset, and added it above the already decent Solo Violin used in MagicSF did. But, to add some originality to it, I also found another very interesting "Stavi" violin bank, and layered it on top of Cadenza. Sounds awesome in many situations, for both solos and mixes, although it may sound too strong on files relaying on discrete string sections, or too slow on some fast pieces.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Cadenza | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF | SoundFont sample bank format Solo | SoundFont sample bank format Stavi
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #41ViolaGM: ViolaSize: 891 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Nearly the same build rules than with the Violin here. A part from the Cadenza collection layered with the Viola variant of the Solo Violin used before. Nice sound overall, perfectly playable besides the Violin in a mix, although it might not always appear like a real, authentic-sounding solo viola, and might also suffer from the same "too strong" and "too slow" drawbacks of the violin.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Cadenza | SoundFont sample bank format Solo
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #42CelloGM: CelloSize: 1,698 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Again, exactly the same guidelines than with the Violin and Viola, with the same strengths and weaknesses. A mix between a Cello from Cadenza and a Cello from the "Solo" collection. Nice bass sounds that can be used as replacement where a contrabass could sound too strong.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Cadenza | SoundFont sample bank format Solo
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #43ContraBassGM: ContrabassSize: 830 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Once again, another good-sounding mix between Cadenza and Solo collections, great in many situations except for a very few MIDIs requiring simpler instruments. Just like its three other string siblings, it can be played besides them without any major difficulty.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Cadenza | SoundFont sample bank format Solo
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #44Tremolo StringsGM: Tremolo StringsSize: 2,451 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good The tremolo strings section is mostly the same preset than the Strings Ensemble 1 (see further on) with some vibrato/tremolo effects inherited from the base Creative SoundFont banks. The string ensemble has been made from samples already used in MagicSF, including "Kurzweil PC88 Marcato Strings"; the tremolo strings have an additional layer of "Fantasia Strings" from an unknown source. Pretty well working, although these strings may sound too quiet on lower octaves, even if they can always be spotted in a mix when used as background strings.
Sources:Waveform-type sample Fantasia | SoundFont sample bank format Kurzweil PC88 | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Tremolo Strings" preset Bitter Sweet Symphony
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #45Pizzicato StringsGM: Pizzicato StringsSize: 1,307 KBVersion: 1.0
3 out of 5 - Average Pizzicato strings have been one of the most difficult strings to build. I first tried to enhance MagicSF's base preset (consisting of Pizzicato strings from the Unison bank) with some other fancy but catchy synth strings (e.g. Roland JD-990 pizzicato, famously heard in Faithless' "Insomnia", Pizzicato from Yamaha MU synths, and even some "Pizzagogo" from the Roland D-50) but got mediocre results, despite their nice tone. So I reverted back to more classic pizzicatos, and finally found a set of nice-sounding samples in some non-SoundFont bank (maybe GigaSampler) I can't remember anything about... Mixed with some pizzicato from Microsoft Synth, they sound coherent and full, but require high polyphony... moreover, the samples are rather noisy (hiss) and this preset has some bugs/flaws (bad notes) with some SoundFont synths (Audigy, X-Fi) I never had with my Live!. So, nice overall working sounds, but needs to be replaced with higher-quality samples (e.g. from Roland or E-mu Emulator X) and programming.
Sources:Downloadable Sounds Level sample bank format Microsoft Software Wavetable Synthesizer (GM.DLS) | Unknown source
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Pizzicato Strings" preset Insomnia | Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Pizzicato Strings" preset Peer Gynt
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #46Orchestral HarpGM: Orchestral HarpSize: 3,100 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The orchestral harp preset could have been named "Harp Ensemble" in this bank, as it has been made from numerous mixed layers of two harp presets: a famous Yamaha Clavinova Harp SoundFont, and a Roland "Celtic" Harp inherited from MagicSF (probably sampled from a synth like Sound Canvas). I don't have plans to replace this preset, as I simply love both sounds mixed together (never been able to choose between Yamaha and Roland harps) and the result works extremely well on all situations, from the lowest octaves to the highest notes, with punchy "pluck" sounds and nice tones with catchy reverb effects.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Roland Celtic Harp | SoundFont sample bank format Yamaha Clavinova
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Orchestral Harp" preset The Legend of Zelda
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #47TimpaniGM: TimpaniSize: 123 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good I must admit that I've always been a huge fan of Roland Sound Canvas' Timpani preset. Probably because of its extensive use in DOOM's soundtracks, and even more on Super Mario Bros. games from the Super Nintendo gaming console. Because of this influence, even after trying to use real orchestral timpani sounds on this preset (there are some very nice-sampled SoundFont banks available), I wasn't satisfied by the result until I went back to that good old and short timpani sample from Roland. I used a sample from Unison here, and I resampled it to cover the highest octaves for some MIDIs which may use it as a melodic instrument. Works very well despite of its oldschool sound. Wouldn't suffer from a replacement with higher-quality samples from a real Sound Canvas, though (SC-55, or mix between SC55 and SC-88 timpanis).
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Unison
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Timpani" preset DOOM | MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Timpani" preset Super Mario Bros.
#48 - #55 Ensemble
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #48Strings Ensemble 1GM: String Ensemble 1Size: 2,426 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! As mentioned before, the string ensemble has been made from samples already present in MagicSF: a set of decent strings from an unknown source layered with strings from a "Kurzweil PC88 Marcato Strings" SoundFont bank. Pretty solid combination, with a strong sound from low to high octaves, easy to insert in a mix or use as solo without eating too much polyphony.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Kurzweil PC88 | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #49Strings Ensemble 2GM: String Ensemble 2Size: 2,426 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The slow strings preset is exactly the same than the first ensemble, but with a longer (slower) attack. These strings usually do the trick, especially as bass background strings, unless some MIDIs use these slow strings as a fast attack instrument instead of picking the first string ensemble for that matter.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Kurzweil PC88 | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Strings Ensemble 2" preset Peer Gynt
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #50Synth Strings 1GM: Synth Strings 1Size: 130 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Finding "synth" strings for this preset has been quite tricky. In some banks, you have the usual string ensemble being filtered to sound more "synthetic" while remaining deep enough, but such presets lack the "synthetic" tone sometimes expected here; on other banks, you have the exact opposite, e.g. some very basic raw-wave strings (sampled or not) which would better sit into the "Saw Wave" preset. So I made a deep search to find the best compromise between the two worlds, and finally found this "Matrix In a Room Jupiter Strings" SoundFont bank from E-mu Systems, which was exactly what I was looking for: a small instrument with a synthetic tone, not too deep, not too cheap, perfect to sit as background in a mix or to be used in combination with some synth brasses, pads or leads. Although I sometimes miss the "synthetic" side of strings found in analog/FM synths (Yamaha OPL/AdLib/Sound Blaster included), this preset has proven to be very useable in many situations, even if it might sometimes sound too weak.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Matrix Strings
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Synth Strings 1" preset Heretic
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #51Synth Strings 2GM: Synth Strings 2Size: 866 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! This second synth strings preset has been however quite easy to setup, as MagicSF already used a very nice and original instrument in this slot: "Digi Strings". The problem was that these strings actually had a percussive sound at the very beginning of each sample, which was rather confusing on many MIDIs, unless used as a solo melodic instrument. Finding a workaround was easy, though: increasing the initial attack delay totally removed that "pluck" sound without resulting in too slow strings, and keeping that nice "digital" tone. Moreover, that attack sound actually came in handy to build some nice pad and lead sounds (e.g. Star Theme, read further on), so, it really was a nice pick.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Digi Strings | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:Track composed by Maxime Abbey (Arachno SoundFont's author), which makes use of the "Synth Strings 2" preset Arabian Feelings
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #52Choir AahsGM: Choir AahsSize: 765 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Finding good choir aahs was difficult. MagicSF already had a decent preset here, originating from Nando Florestan, but I wanted to check if I could not find better. There were better-sampled banks, but they weren't good enough to be used as a GM instrument: either male choirs, good for lower octaves, or female choirs, good for higher octaves, but never for all range, whereas MagicSF's preset had male voices on the beginning and female voices on the end side, while remaining polyphony-friendly and not too "synth-sounding". However, a replacement might be needed, as the sampling quality (loop, frequency) could be much better for solo purposes, even if I tried to enhance the preset by layering it twice.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF | SoundFont sample bank format Nando Florestan
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Choir Aahs" preset The Legend of Zelda
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #53Voice OohsGM: Voice OohsSize: 2,423 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Ooh Choir preset represented the same deal. I first tried to get some better-quality sampled voices, but I actually found that those included in MagicSF (dubbed "Orchestral Oohs") were original enough to be kept in a GM bank. The voices were quite realistic; I was fed up with those "tuuuh" toy voices offered in most basic sound banks. Anyway, after finding some higher-quality Ooh voices from a Kawai K-2500 sound set, I tried to use them as a replacement preset, but found that they lacked some of the natural "breath" (not to say "hiss") tone expected in such preset. So, I mixed both sounds and was very satisfied with the results. Nice for solos and accompaniment purposes, on both low (male) and high (female) octaves.
Sources:Kurzweil K2500 | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #54Synth VoiceGM: Synth ChoirSize: 1,554 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! In the "Synth Voice" preset name, there is a major word: "Synth". So, while you can usually find many different combinations of voices in this preset, I found that the most popular sounds expected here were coming from the mainstream Roland Sound Canvas or Yamaha MU synths. But, even after borrowing a nicely programmed Yamaha-sounding synth vox preset from Frank Wen's Fluid, I thought that it lacked some originality... Knowing that many Gravis UltraSound users where fans of that hugely famous and overused Fairlight CMI IIx "Arr1" sound sitting in this slot on their soundcard, I decided to layer it on top on the existing, more conventional preset to obtain a discrete, but nice 80's background tone. Simply love the result, although it could be improved by lowering layer count to save polyphony, or getting a better-sampled version of that Fairlight voice sample (also found in some Roland synths), as the original CMI IIx had a rather low sampling quality for today's standards.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Fluid | Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Gravis UltraSound
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #55Orchestra HitGM: Orchestra HitSize: 228 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good I wasn't satisfied with all the orchestra hit samples I found in sample banks, as they almost all lacked the original sound I was looking for. I was, however, fond of that massive orchestra hit sound used in a lot of Amiga modules, including those from the "Jazz Jackrabbit" soundtrack. Unable to find a better source, I first tried to use the raw 8 KHz sample from these Amiga modules. Despite of its very low sampling quality, I actually found that it was working in many situations, after trying to enhance it by layering it multiple times and adding some integrated effects. So I kept it as is, until I found that my Korg X5DR had a very interesting orchestra hit preset, that I sampled and layered on top of it, to add some depth to the instrument. The result is quite satisfactory, although it could be easily enhanced by sampling one of the many presets available on my SC-8850, such as "Impact Hit".
Sources:Waveform-type sample Amiga | This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Korg X5DR
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Orchestra Hit" preset Jazz Jackrabbit
#56 - #63 Brass
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #56TrumpetGM: TrumpetSize: 713 KBVersion: 1.0
3 out of 5 - Average This trumpet preset, from Nando Florestan, was the best I could find, based on my rather poor knowledge of brass instruments. This one sounds decent in most situations, although better as a GM instrument rather than a solo instrument. There must be some nice replacement presets available nowadays, but as I'm not a trumpet expert (and fan), I never really tried to replace it with a better pick.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Nando Florestan
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #57TromboneGM: TromboneSize: 149 KBVersion: 1.0
2 out of 5 - Mediocre This Trombone preset is undoubtedly one of the weakest available in this bank, if you consider that it's one of the very few presets on which I never wanted/needed to spend any time, because of a big lack of knowledge, needs and interest in that kind of instruments. The few MIDIs pieces I have with trombone or tuba sections being rather well-mixed, even a weak instrument sounds good for that purpose. Moreover, the sampling quality itself is not among the worst of the bank, so I'm keeping this preset, unless someone with much better knowledge of brass instruments suggests me a nice replacement.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #58TubaGM: TubaSize: 230 KBVersion: 1.0
2 out of 5 - Mediocre I'll make the exact same comments about this Tuba than with the Trombone preset. Lacking any knowledge about this instrument, I never needed to spend any time to get a replacement to this original preset from MagicSF. The sampling quality is acceptable for GM purposes and the few MIDIs I have to test this preset sound okay with it, thanks to nice mixing qualities. Again, if someone has a great suggestion for a replacement with MIDI samples, I'd be glad to consider it.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #59Muted TrumpetGM: Muted TrumpetSize: 302 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Unlike all other brass presets, I had a precise idea on what I should get for a Muted Trumpet preset. And, fortunately, MagicSF already had a nice pick in this slot, an "HRM" Muted Trumpets SoundFont from the public domain (unknown author). The sampling quality of this muted trumpet preset is good, and the instrument is very polyphony-friendly, resulting in a nice and efficient-sounding piece for many MIDI files. I never wanted to search for a replacement either because of my poor knowledge in trumpet instruments, but I don't have any problems with this one.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format HRM Muted Trumpet | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #60French HornsGM: French HornSize: 2,923 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Choosing the French Horns preset was a real challenge for me, as I got mistakenly used to the French Horns preset used on my previous Ensoniq ES1373-based SB soundcard, which offered nearly the same sound than... the Brass Section preset! As a result, my ear was wrong each time I tried to understand why all French Horns presets I was finding sounded so different compared to what I was used to hear in this slot... I had to force myself to listen to many MIDIs featuring this instrument with other sound banks, to ultimately know which kind of sound I had to pick up. After correcting my bare knowledge on this point, I finally picked up the French Horns preset from Frank Wen's Fluid SoundFont, a very good instrument, with nice realistic tones and extensive programming, as most presets from Fluid. Great for solos and orchestral mixes, I never had to search for a replacement since then.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Fluid
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #61Brass SectionGM: Brass SectionSize: 335 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Being used to the Brass sounds used in many, many soundtracks from Super Nintendo games ("The Legend of Zelda", "Super Mario Bros."), I've always been satisfied with this simple brass section preset inherited from MagicSF, which offers almost the same tone than the classic Sound Canvas SC-55 while sounding slightly superior on the sampling side. I tried to find some replacement presets, but could not find anything better for GM use. However, some years later, without trying to get a sound close of a real brass section orchestra (which would be difficult to use in a mix), I think this preset would be worth replacing with more recent versions of the Brass Section offered by my SC-8850, offering a much richer (stereo) sound for both solo and mixes.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Brass Section" preset Super Mario Bros. | MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Brass Section" preset The Legend of Zelda
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #62Synth Brass 1GM: Synth Brass 1Size: 3,061 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Synth Brass section has been much more difficult to build. When I read "Synth Brass", I usually think of the best pop-rock tracks of the 80's, which made extensive use of that kind of "new age" instruments: Van Halen's famous "Jump" lead brass, Harold Faltermeyer's unforgettable "Axel F." lead melody from the "Beverly Hills Cop" movies, Europe's "Final Countdown"... So I first tried to grab these kinds of sounds to use in my bank, with no luck. Each time I tried to do so, the result had nothing to do with the sound of these previously-mentioned tracks, too dry most of the time... so I gave up and went back to the usual layering of the most interesting samples I could find for this instrument, including an excellent-sounding sample set of "Roland Jungle" synth brasses from a source I can't remember of. The resulting preset works great in countless MIDIs I have, including game MIDIs and some transcriptions of the previously-mentioned tracks.
Sources:Roland Jungle
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Synth Brass 1" preset Axel F. | Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Synth Brass 1" preset Jump | Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Synth Brass 1" preset The Final Countdown
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #63Synth Brass 2GM: Synth Brass 2Size: 3,117 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Unlike the previous preset, I absolutely had no idea of what I should fit in this "Synth Brass 2" slot. From what I heard in other banks, this preset usually hosts a more discrete synth brass preset suitable for background accompaniment. But, being rather unsatisfied with that kind of unexpressive instruments, I kept the original pick from MagicSF, a very nice synth brass from the Elka Synthex synthesizer, famously used by Jean(-)Michel Jarre for his Laser Harp-like sounds. This preset might not be best-suited for all purposes because of its very particular tone, but I simply like the idea of using such famous sounds for a MIDI program/preset usually left behind all the others.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Elka Synthex | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
#64 - #71 Reed Instruments
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #64Soprano SaxGM: Soprano SaxSize: 2,191 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good First saxophone of the section, this Soprano sax has been borrowed from Frank Wen's Fluid SoundFont, as I could not find any better sampled instrument; because of my lack of knowledge towards saxophones, I based my search criteria on the sampling quality, and Frank's pick was the best I got. This sax seems to sound good in most mixes, but I don't have any clue about its realism nor playing capabilities. As for the brasses, I'm open to any advice or comments about this instrument from a saxophone player or expert.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Fluid
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #65Alto SaxGM: Alto SaxSize: 3,778 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Second saxophone, this preset comes from a nameless 12 MB Alto Sax bank from the public domain (unknown author) which offered several nice presets of alto saxophones (Soft, Medium, Hard, Layered...). I chose the Medium variant to include in my bank, as I felt it was the most suitable for General MIDI use. Once again, I'm not a saxophone expert, so any comments on this pick are welcome. Based on my own tests, this sax works in most situations.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Public domain
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #66Tenor SaxGM: Tenor SaxSize: 4,500 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good The third saxophone also comes from a nameless public domain Tenor Sax bank, weighting 9,5 MB, from an unknown author. As with the previous one, several variants were offered (maybe the same author?), but this time, I picked up the "Hard" version, to distinguish it from the Alto. Any other suggestions are welcome as well.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Public domain
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #67Baritone SaxGM: Baritone SaxSize: 16 KBVersion: 1.0
1 out of 5 - Very poor Well, here, I must admit that my total lack of knowledge about saxes had a huge impact on this preset. I'm such a newbie, that I never managed to find any difference between the very few Baritone Sax banks I found, and the basic (crappy?) one from Creative banks. Even worse, I found that this bare Creative sax preset of only 16 KB had some interesting sound in some MIDIs, unlike more complex-sampled saxes! As a result, I kept this tiny saxophone preset as-is without never needing to work on it, as I don't have any significant files to test it with... so, this poor little preset will get the worst rating of the whole bank, as its quality does not meet any criteria I observed for all the other picks (reasonable size, average sample length, good sampling quality, originality, expressiveness, minimum amount of time spent on tuning/tweaking...). As a positive note, I can barely (and ironically) say that its low polyphony requirements will enable you to play several thousand notes simultaneously! So, more than with any other instrument, you'll have guessed that I need your help on this one. If you have any interesting Baritone Sax MIDIs or sample banks to share, do not hesitate to do so!
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Creative
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #68OboeGM: OboeSize: 919 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good At least, a reed preset I could choose with some minimum knowledge on what sound I should get! The choice was made easy because of the few Oboe banks available on the internet... among them, the "Natural Oboe" bank by Dalibor Grubacevic from Lord Song Studios (Croatia) felt superior in many, many ways. Less than a megabyte and a single layer for a greatly sampled oboe, although the frequency chosen (22 KHz) might have been better. Works great on orchestral and game music MIDIs (e.g. Legend of Zelda) and effectively sounds natural for my untrained ears.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Natural Oboe
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #69English HornsGM: English HornSize: 723 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good I don't really know anything about the English horn, except that I've often heard it in many Celtic and Irish MIDIs... Based on these files, I picked up the only decent English Horn SoundFont I could find (from Sonido Media) and mixed it with some basic horn SoundFont I got from FantaGM and Creative banks. The result is quite interesting and offers original tones, although I'm almost sure that this horn section will not be the most realistic you'll ever hear!
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Creative | SoundFont sample bank format FantaGM | SoundFont sample bank format Sonido Media English Horn
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #70BassoonGM: BassoonSize: 1,224 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Well, for the bassoon, the free SoundFont offer was rather limited, so I ended up borrowing another instrument from Frank Wen's Fluid bank. As usual, a very nicely built instrument, although quite polyphony-hungry because of a high layer count. The sound of this instruments appears to be quite realistic for both solos and ensembles, and is quite close to the other great bassoon SoundFont I got from Ethan Winer & Nando Florestan, but I prefer Frank's variant... don't ask me why!
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Fluid
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #71ClarinetGM: ClarinetSize: 1,281 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good My recipe for the Clarinet preset is very simple: take the 2 most decent Clarinet banks I could find (the "Angel Pure" Clarinet and Wang Tao's "WT" Clarinet), be totally unable to choose between these two, so mix them in a single instrument, and voilà, you've got the Arachno SoundFont Clarinet! Pretty decent for most usages, although I'd not qualify the resulting instrument as the most realistic sounding clarinet ever.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Angel Pure Clarinet | SoundFont sample bank format WT Clarinet
#72 - #79 Pipe Instruments
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #72PiccoloGM: PiccoloSize: 275 KBVersion: 1.0
3 out of 5 - Average Because I did not find any Piccolo sound bank, I had to pick up one from the GM banks I've got. Among all, the Piccolo preset from Unison got my vote. A simple, non-invasive sampled instrument with a sweet sound. Might not be the most realistic, but suits most, if not all, of my modest Piccolo needs.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Unison
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #73FluteGM: FluteSize: 2,193 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Flute included in MagicSF had a decent and interesting sound. However, it lacked some kind of dynamism and expressiveness, so I decided to test some single flute banks to find an enhancement. This enhancement came as an anonymous but awesome "Vibrato Wind Flute" SoundFont. This instrument was more than realistic and offered a sweet sound, but was too expressive for GM use. Thus, I simply grabbed some parts of the instrument and kept a few layers to add them on top of the MagicSF flute. Results in a nice-sounding instrument, with sweet and quite realistic tones, reminiscent of those I can hear on my SC-8850 sound module.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF | SoundFont sample bank format Vibrato Wind Flute
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Flute" preset Boléro
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #74RecorderGM: RecorderSize: 58 KBVersion: 1.0
3 out of 5 - Average The Recorder is not the most popular flute variant among SoundFont banks. It wasn't a major issue, as a few search sessions led me to James Bowden's Recorder SoundFont, which offered decent sounds and several presets. Mixed with a bare Recorder font inherited from MagicSF (probably coming itself from Creative's base banks), the sound is more than correct, although it might have been sampled with higher quality.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format James Bowden | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #75Pan FluteGM: Pan FluteSize: 641 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The very basic Pan Flute offered by MagicSF sounded quite bland to be heard in a mix, not to mention as solo. As I've always been a huge fan of those "percussive" pan flute sounds used in many, many Amiga modules (Jazz Jackrabbit game soundtracks come to mind), I quickly discovered that this flute came from the hugely famous Korg M1, the percussion sound heard at the beginning being a specificity of a famous stock preset named "Pan Mallet". So, I got some high-quality samples, and added it to the existing preset, as this sound alone wasn't always adapted to all situations in a GM environment.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF | Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Pan Mallet
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #76Blown BottleGM: Blown BottleSize: 71 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! MagicSF included a very interesting pick as its Blown Bottle preset, with a nice realistic tone. But I also remembered of an equally interesting sample from Gravis UltraSound factory bank sitting in this slot. So, to enhance it furthermore, I chose to add this sample to the initial preset to get an interesting tone. As the Blown Bottle preset is almost always used in MIDI files as a backup flute sound, it will be a nice companion for the other flutes. More than a hypothetic real "I blow on a glass bottle" sound, I think.
Sources:Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Gravis UltraSound | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #77ShakuhachiGM: ShakuhachiSize: 653 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! When I read "Shakuhachi", I don't think about any traditional Japanese song played with authentic instruments. Shame on me! No, I only think about the most famous shakuhachi sounds found on the best samplers and synthesizers from the 80's: the E-MU Emulator Shakuhachi (used on Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" or the main soundtrack from "Ushuaïa", among others) and the Roland shakuhachis, with three major and different-sounding variants coming to mind: the D-50 Shaku, its little brother from the MT-32, and the U-20 Shaku (identical on the Sound Canvas line). Dennis already had the excellent idea to use the D-50 variant in MagicSF, but being unable to choose between all variants, I tried to mix all of them. The E-MU shakuhachi was quickly excluded, because of its famous twisting and bending sound, unusable in a GM environment. That left me with the "original" D-50 shaku that I completed with the U-20 variant (preserving its interesting loop points for vibrato purposes) and a little preset from Music Man GM-GS bank for the complementary GM tone. I'm fully satisfied with this instrument and extensively used it on "Arabian Feelings", one of my own tracks.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF | SoundFont sample bank format Music Man GM-GS | Waveform-type sample Roland D-50 | SoundFont sample bank format Roland U-20
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Shakuhachi" preset Haru No Umi | Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Shakuhachi" preset Sledgehammer | Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Shakuhachi" preset Ushuaïa
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #78WhistleGM: WhistleSize: 360 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good I remember having spent countless hours on the internet to find a nice whistle sound, with no luck. There were interesting banks available, but none of them sounded very realistic while playing several MIDI files covering one of the most famous soundtracks featuring this instrument, Mark Snow's "X-Files Main Theme" soundtrack. I even found a bank featuring a human whistling sound! I gave up and kept a bare whistle preset, unless I finally found an interesting variant on my own Korg X5DR, so I sampled it. I'm still looking for something that would sound absolutely perfect while playing an X-Files MIDI file, although I know that mastering techniques are difficult to render in a SoundFont instrument... My Roland SC-8850 has interesting presets, but the X5DR preset does the same job.
Sources:This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Korg X5DR
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Whistle" preset X-Files
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #79OcarinaGM: OcarinaSize: 42 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Just like the whistle, the ocarina is not a very popular preset among free SoundFonts... maybe because most people are satisfied with the most basic Ocarina presets made from raw sine waves. I kept such a basic preset, until I found that my Roland MT-32 had a very interesting Ocarina preset, more expressive than all other cheap-sounding presets around. I sampled it as an additional tone and was satisfied with the result, tested on MIDI transcriptions of Nintendo's "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" soundtracks.
Sources:This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Roland MT-32
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Ocarina" preset The Legend of Zelda
#80 - #87 Synthesizer Leads
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #80Square WaveGM: Lead 1 (square)Size: 3 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Let's begin with the famous square wave, your best bet to reproduce old console and computer game music through MIDIs. This Square Wave preset is the most efficient preset of the whole bank: with only 3 KB of wave samples, it offers an awesome lead for all your chiptune needs and synthetic music. This is basically the Square Wave from the Creative sound banks, that I have tuned and tweaked to sound richer as a solo instrument while remaining versatile enough to be used in music requiring true square waves. Mainly tested on game music inspired from Nintendo/Sega, or game soundtracks from DOOM, Duke Nukem, Rise Of The Triad... honestly, I don't remember of any MIDI file sounding wrong with this preset, just like on my real Yamaha or Roland synths. One of my all-time favorites.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Creative
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Square Wave" preset DOOM | Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Square Wave" preset Duke Nukem 3D | MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Square Wave" preset Nintendo/Sega | Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Square Wave" preset Rise Of The Triad
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #81Saw WaveGM: Lead 2 (sawtooth)Size: 1,293 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Unlike the Square Wave, this Saw Wave preset, initially built with basic raw waves from Creative banks, sounded a little too weak for my taste, although perfectly useable for chiptune music. So, I tried to strengthen it by using waves from free FM sample banks by Analoguesque, sampling the Saw Wave preset from my Yamaha MU1000. Much better now for solos while keeping its capabilities for chiptunes, although I'd have preferred to stick with plain raw waves to obtain the same results.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Analoguesque | SoundFont sample bank format Creative | This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Yamaha MU1000
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #82Synth CalliopeGM: Lead 3 (calliope)Size: 473 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Calliope has been a real pleasure to build. I knew exactly which kinds of sounds I wanted for this preset, as I've always been fan of the Calliope preset from the Roland D-50, as well as the sample used in the Gravis UltraSound bank. So I started to mix both of them, but the D-5O footprint was overwhelming on the samples I got, so I chose to use the U-20 variant instead. This worked quite well. To enhance the "windy" effect, I added a part of shakuhachi. This is a nice preset, although I should retry to sample it from my own D-5(5)0 with lower velocity to obtain a softer, but higher-quality sample than the U-20 patch I used here. Same remark concerning the GUS patch, finding the original synth used to sample this patch would really help to get a better sample.
Sources:Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Gravis UltraSound | Waveform-type sample Living Calliope | SoundFont sample bank format Roland U-20
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #83Chiffer LeadGM: Lead 4 (chiff)Size: 155 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good The chiff lead from the Gravis UltraSound has always been my favorite among all those cheap flute sounds you can usually find on many GM banks. So, I got this sample and mixed it with the discrete part of my Pan Flute preset to obtain a more "windy" effect. Works great and has a nice tone, although I'd also really like to find the original synth used for the GUS patch to obtain a better copy of this sound.
Sources:Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Gravis UltraSound
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #84CharangGM: Lead 5 (charang)Size: 3,899 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! As far as I know, the Charang preset often consists of a soft distortion guitar preset mixed with a Clavinet attack. As a result, I borrowed some layers from my Distortion Guitar preset and mixed them with the Hohner Clavinet layer I used before. I even kept the original Charang used in MagicSF for a more cheesy effect. The result is more than interesting and produces nice sounds on MIDIs mistakenly using the Charang as a lead guitar. Of course, this preset can be nicely mixed with the original electric guitar presets as a whole ensemble.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Hohner Clavinet | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #85Solo VoiceGM: Lead 6 (voice)Size: 241 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The solo vox usually sitting on this slot often consists of a synth voice mixed with some pan flute. But I never liked such a mix on any GM bank, so I decided to keep a plain light voice preset here, that can be used as a secondary voice preset without any problems. I didn't notice anything wrong with this choice on the few MIDIs which extensively rely on this preset. Unfortunately, I don't remember from which bank I got this preset...
Sources:Unknown source
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #865th Saw WaveGM: Lead 7 (fifths)Size: 572 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good MagicSF had a strong saw wave preset here, but it was a 7th chord, not a 5th. Lacking SoundFont editing experience at the beginning, I ended up rebuilding a new ensemble using samples I already used before, except for a set of "Electric Strings" inherited from MagicSF. Works as expected, but I think that I should retry to correct the original chord used in MagicSF as its overall quality was interesting.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #87Bass & LeadGM: Lead 8 (bass + lead)Size: 27 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! I wasn't satisfied with any Bass & Lead preset I found in GM banks, so I built my own using the same layers than my Synth Bass and Saw Wave presets. Works extremely well, with punchy and catchy analog synth strings, and sounds close to other presets in this bank, so it can be easily used with other instruments in a mix.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Creative | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Bass & Lead" preset Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
#88 - #95 Synthesizer Pads
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #88Fantasia (New Age)GM: Pad 1 (new age)Size: 861 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! I can't imagine a Fantasia pad to be anything else than THE patch which originated the integration of a Fantasia (aka. "New Age") slot in the General MIDI specification: the awesome Fantasia pad from the most impressive synth ever, the Roland D-50. So, I logically tried to use it as my Fantasia pad. You can't imagine the headache involved with such a preset... the original pad was not suitable for GM use because of its natural detuned bell attack. So I had to soften it with other samples... I tried dozens, hundreds of different combinations and tweaks... and after a VERY, VERY huge number of tests, I finally found a combination of layers suitable for "everyday use" while staying close to the original sound of the D-50... The final mix consists of the D-50 sample (of course) strengthened by the raw "Fanta Bell" sample used in it (from a Roland U-20), but NOT detuned (to soften the natural detuned bell of the original sample), the Fairlight voice used in the synth voice preset (for the 80's tone), the original Fantasia patch from the Gravis UltraSound (nice oldschool sound) and a bunch of saw wave for the "string" side of the pad. I'm quite proud of the overall result, although I sometimes regret that it can't sound as expressive as the original...
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Fanta Bell | Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Gravis UltraSound | Waveform-type sample Roland D-50 | SoundFont sample bank format Roland U-20
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #89Warm PadGM: Pad 2 (warm)Size: 130 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Warm Pad simply consists of the Synth Strings preset on which I applied significant filters to make it sound... warm. The result should be what you can expect from this pad slot, and works extremely well on all MIDIs I could test it with, starting with MIDI soundtracks from Westwood Studios' games like "Lands of Lore" or "The Legend of Kyrandia" series.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Matrix Strings
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Warm Pad" preset Genesis/Phil Collins
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #90Poly SynthGM: Pad 3 (polysynth)Size: 54 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Poly Synth pad from MagicSF was based on a very well-programmed saw wave, offering a rich sound in all situations. However, after listening to this preset on more conventional MIDI sound banks like Sound Canvas, I noticed that this pad usually comes with some kind of flanger or phaser effect, which was missing here... so I revised it further on to obtain such effect and a wider sound. I simply love this pad, extremely handy in many situations, either solo or mixed, and I often use it on my own MIDI compositions.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:Track composed by Maxime Abbey (Arachno SoundFont's author), which makes use of the "Poly Synth" preset Green Hills | Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Poly Synth" preset Jump
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #91Space VoiceGM: Pad 4 (choir)Size: 411 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Space Voice pad is often a high-reverb ("spacey") version of the Solo Vox or Synth Vox presets, with a long release rate when played from a keyboard. I followed this guideline, but being unable to choose between my Solo Voice and Synth Voice preset for the base tone, I mixed their most significant parts and added the required effects and raised the release rate. The result is really convincing and can be used without any problem as an additional synth choir preset.
Sources:Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Fairlight | SoundFont sample bank format Fluid
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #92Bowed GlassGM: Pad 5 (bowed)Size: 439 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Bowed Glass pad has been quite difficult to build. At first, having only heard of this preset from my old OPL3 SB card and my Ensoniq ES1373-based soundcard, I had a wrong idea about the expected sound of this preset, which should reproduce, as far as I know, the sound obtained while surrounding the edges of drink glasses with the fingers. Anyway, I ultimately managed to mimic this sound using a base Bowed Glass sample from TS-Station, slow-attack versions of vibraphone sounds and... a FM bell sound sampled from the first tracker software I used to compose music with OPL2/3 soundcards, FM-Song, developed by my friend Achraf Cherti. You should note that the MIDI file I used as a benchmark for this preset is DOOM's E1M3 soundtrack MIDI, which extensively relies on this patch as its lead instrument.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Clean Vibraphone | Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler FM-Song | SoundFont sample bank format TS-Station
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Bowed Glass" preset DOOM - E1M3 - Dark Halls | Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Bowed Glass" preset Jamey Turner
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #93Metal PadGM: Pad 6 (metallic)Size: 17,303 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Metal Pad is often an ensemble of "plucky" string instruments (e.g. acoustic/clean guitars) without the initial attack sound. So I tried to follow this rule with many presets I had already used, and finally led to a mix between my third Piano Preset, Steel String and Clean guitars and Dulcimer. It gave decent results... but when I integrated the FM bell I sampled from FM-Song for the previous Bowed Glass preset, I found that it had the exact "metallic" tone usually wanted here, so I added it on this preset and... whoa! I'd never have imagined that such "simple" FM sound could have such an influence on this already hugely layered preset... actually, it is responsible for that major metallic tone expected in the final instrument. Tested with MIDIs from Duke Nukem 3D and Rise Of The Triad, it works perfectly.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Steel String Guitar | Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler FM-Song | SoundFont sample bank format Hammered Dulcimer | SoundFont sample bank format Joe's Clean Electric Guitar | This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Rock Piano
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Metal Pad" preset Duke Nukem 3D | Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Metal Pad" preset Rise Of The Triad
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #94Halo PadGM: Pad 7 (halo)Size: 89 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Halo Pad usually consists of a synth strings patch with a very audible (and intentional) windy, "hiss" effect, often mixed with synth voices. After searching for nice ideas in other GM banks, I found this so-named "Roland Halo Pad" in some bank, but can't remember where... however, I found that it offered an interesting tone so I kept it, although Roland Halo Pads from Sound Canvas usually come with more hiss. I think that I should try to replace this sample with a new one from my own Roland SC-8850, which often sounds slightly better. Mainly tested on DOOM and DOOM II MIDI soundtracks ("E2M2", "Message").
Sources:Roland Halo Pad
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Halo Pad" preset DOOM II - Message / Victory | Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Halo Pad" preset DOOM - E2M2 - The Demons From Adrian's Pen
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #95Sweep PadGM: Pad 8 (sweep)Size: 3,325 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Sweep Pad from MagicSF was too weak for my needs. On the meantime, the best sweep pad I ever heard was from the Roland D-50 and its "Spacious Sweep" preset. I got some samples of this preset, added them on my bank and, whoa! My pad became a very rich and deep instrument instantly. Of course, not as spacious as the awesome original, but don't forget that it must remain GM-friendly... and it is. A very, very nice preset!
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF | Waveform-type sample Roland D-50
Examples:Track composed by Maxime Abbey (Arachno SoundFont's author), which makes use of the "Sweep Pad" preset Arabian Feelings
#96 - #103 Synthesizer Effects
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #96Ice RainGM: FX 1 (rain)Size: 57 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! I never understood what was the initial purpose of this "Ice Rain" pad, or the sounds expected here. Many banks use a strange bending xylophone preset associated with some synth strings to mimic "ice rain", but I never found any real and interesting use of it. Hopefully, MagicSF showed me the good path: the "Aurora" pad from the Gravis UltraSound. The only useable pad I ever heard on this slot! I kept this sample in my bank, until I found that this "Aurora" pad was actually sampled from a marvelous pad from the Korg M1, named "MagicOrgan", so I quickly replaced it with this higher-quality original version. Actually, a few MIDIs use this preset efficiently. A nice one I could find is a MIDI cover of Super Mario Bros. 3 "Ending Credits" soundtrack.
Sources:Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Korg M1
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Ice Rain" preset Super Mario Bros. 3 - Ending Credits
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #97Sound TrackGM: FX 2 (soundtrack)Size: 665 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! As with the Fantasia preset, the Soundtrack slot in the General MIDI specification is an obvious tribute to the Roland D-50 self-named preset. So I used samples from this synth, once again, to enhance the initial pad made with a copy of my Synth Strings preset... And, once again, I experienced some difficulties to fit such an expressive preset into a GM bank. After extensively using that GUS/Fairlight CMI IIx choir for other presets, I was aware of its background tone capabilities. So, I tried to use it as an additional tone provider for that Soundtrack pad, and obtained a very interesting, "spacey" sound, after playing with reverb settings, which allowed me to soften the impact of the D-50 sample while keeping its interesting tone. A very useable pad overall!
Sources:Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Fairlight | SoundFont sample bank format Matrix Strings | Waveform-type sample Roland D-50
Examples:Track composed by Maxime Abbey (Arachno SoundFont's author), which makes use of the "Sound Track" preset Arabian Feelings
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #98CrystalGM: FX 3 (crystal)Size: 1,594 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Getting quickly bored with those toy-sounding Crystal presets found in many banks (often consisting of bare chimes sounds), I deeply searched for very original sounds to fit there... and I found two replacements: an awesome, D-50-class-sounding Crystal preset from a Kawai K5K, and the Crystal preset from the Roland U-20 used in the Unison sound bank. The K5K preset being too expressive and the U-20 preset sounding too discrete, I mixed both along with some other significant bell pads and mallets I previously used (D-50 Crystal Bell and Fantasia, U-20 Fanta Bell, Celesta and Vibraphone) to obtain a very deep, strong and large all-purpose sound. I'm also very proud of that one!
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Celesta | SoundFont sample bank format Clean Vibraphone | Waveform-type sample Crystal Bell | Waveform-type sample Fantasia | Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Kawai K5000 | Waveform-type sample Roland D-50 | SoundFont sample bank format Roland U-20 | SoundFont sample bank format Unison
Examples:MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Crystal" preset The Legend of Zelda
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #99AtmosphereGM: FX 4 (atmosphere)Size: 2,584 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Knowing that the Atmosphere pad was usually a string-based bass pad with strong attack sounds (mainly from an acoustic guitar like the Nylon), I spent a huge amount of time to mix the most significant tones and instruments I already used: Nylon Guitar, Clavinova Harp, U-20 Electric Piano for the attack and background strings, and synthetic strings (Matrix Strings and Digi Strings from Synth Strings presets, Electric Strings from the Sweep Pad) for the main string texture. But I also wanted to include the D-50 in this mix, as this synth is known for its "atmospheric" pads... so I picked up some other very well-known pads from the D-50: Pizzagogo (extensively used in the famous "Orinoco Flow" by Enya) and Nylon Sphere. Results in a very gorgeous and deep pad I used on my "Green Hills" track.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Digi Strings | SoundFont sample bank format Electric Strings | SoundFont sample bank format Maes(t)ro Velocity Nylon Guitars | SoundFont sample bank format Matrix Strings | Waveform-type sample Nylon Sphere | Waveform-type sample Pizzagogo | SoundFont sample bank format Roland U-20 | SoundFont sample bank format Yamaha Clavinova
Examples:Track composed by Maxime Abbey (Arachno SoundFont's author), which makes use of the "Atmosphere" preset Green Hills | Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Atmosphere" preset Orinoco Flow
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #100BrightnessGM: FX 5 (brightness)Size: 3,898 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Once again, this Brightness pad has been a very exciting preset to build. I knew of two pads that would perfectly fit this slot, usually hosting an ensemble of synth voices and strings mixed with some chimes: the Brightness pad from the Gravis UltraSound bank (dubbed as "Fresh Air"), and another famous preset from the D-50 named "Staccato Heaven". So I mixed both of them (after sampling the "Fresh Air" sample from my Korg X5DR, from the same family of its originating synth) with the most significant synth voices and strings from my bank, to obtain another deep and gorgeous pad I love, and also used on my "Green Hills" track.
Sources:This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Korg X5DR | Waveform-type sample Roland D-50 | Waveform-type sample Staccato Heaven
Examples:Track composed by Maxime Abbey (Arachno SoundFont's author), which makes use of the "Brightness" preset Green Hills
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #101GoblinGM: FX 6 (goblins)Size: 148 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Just like with the "Ice Rain" pad, I never found any useable pad to fit here, except, again, from the Gravis UltraSound (dubbed as "Unicorn"). So I used it as my "Goblin" pad and completed it with filtered synth voice layers (for the expected "goblin" effect). The result is more than satisfactory, although I never found the original synth used to sample that "Unicorn" patch, maybe a Korg... The next step would be to find and resample it to achieve higher quality.
Sources:Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Gravis UltraSound
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Goblin" preset DOOM - E2M2 - The Demons From Adrian's Pen
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #102Echo DropsGM: FX 7 (echoes)Size: 1,406 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Echo Drops are an ensemble of synth and real human voices with significant attack, decay and release filters to obtain some kind of "natural reverb" effect. For this preset, my benchmark was a MIDI soundtrack from "Descent", "Lunar Military Base" (Episode 1, Level 3), which uses it as its lead introduction instrument. I first used the two natural choir presets I had (Aahs and Oohs) and completed them with the conventional Synth Voice preset, but something was missing, even after applying the right filtering parameters. So I also added that Fairlight choir sample I also used in the Synth Voice preset, but with significant volume increase, to make it appear as the main tone. The result is simply awesome, 80's like, and will please all Gravis UltraSound fans used to hear this sound as their Synth Voice preset.
Sources:Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Fairlight | SoundFont sample bank format Fluid | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF | SoundFont sample bank format Orchestral Oohs
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Echo Drops" preset Descent
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #103Star ThemeGM: FX 8 (sci-fi)Size: 995 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Last pad of the section, the Star Theme is usually a simple mix between the Clean Guitar preset and some synth strings. I don't really like this idea, so I made my own. When I worked on the Dulcimer preset, I found that it might sound interesting with some reverb settings, so I first added it here. Then, I remembered of that "Digi Strings" I used as my second Synth Strings ensemble, featuring an interesting "spacy" metallic tone and that attack sound I had to hide, so I also added it to the preset, with the full attack sound... The result was pleasant, but lacked some kind of originality. I then remembered of a quite massive sound I used to hear in many Amiga modules and discovered that it was actually sampled from another very famous synth from the 80's (with the Korg M1 and Roland D-50): the "Thrang" preset from the Yamaha DX7. Featuring a very space-like sound, it perfectly integrates with the two previous sounds for an awesome result. I tested it with many MIDI covers of the "Lava - Hot-Head Bop" level from "Donkey Kong Country 2" and used it as lead instrument on my "Arabian Feelings" track.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Digi Strings | SoundFont sample bank format Hammered Dulcimer | Yamaha DX7
Examples:Track composed by Maxime Abbey (Arachno SoundFont's author), which makes use of the "Star Theme" preset Arabian Feelings | MIDI cover of an original digital audio track, which makes use of the "Star Theme" preset Donkey Kong Country 2 - Lava - Hot-Head Bop
#104 - #111 Ethnic Instruments
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #104SitarGM: SitarSize: 713 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! When I started to build my own SoundFont, I was simply replacing some presets with better picks, without any further editing, as I didn't have any experience with SoundFonts. I remember the Sitar as being the VERY FIRST instrument I tried to edit. Actually, the only decent Sitar I found was a "Natural Sitar" preset from an anonymous SoundFont bank (already chosen by MagicSF), but it suffered from an octave transpose issue: it was 1-octave too low for General MIDI use (C3 was actually the expected C4 note). So it was my very first editing task! Nothing really complicated, so I wanted to go further and tried to layer a basic sitar preset from Creative banks to obtain a more conventional sound... And voilà, I've got my very first custom instrument! I'm pleased with this one, although I could also try to use the interesting sitar sounds offered by my Roland SC-8850, or the original synthy sound from my Korg M1(Rex).
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Creative | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF | SoundFont sample bank format Natural Sitar
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #105BanjoGM: BanjoSize: 596 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Banjo has been a very easy instrument to choose, as MagicSF had a custom preset (made by the author himself!) which sounds very, very good, natural and realistic. I tested it on very few country MIDIs (including, of course, a cover of the traditional "Oh, Susanna" American song) and the result was impressive, so I never had to search for a replacement. Many thanks to Dennis for this nice instrument!
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Banjo" preset Oh, Susanna
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #106ShamisenGM: ShamisenSize: 41 KBVersion: 1.0
1 out of 5 - Very poor This Shamisen preset is a shame. Sorry, it was too easy! It's the exact same story than with the Baritone Sax preset: I didn't have any idea on the sound it should produce, I never found any SoundFont covering this instrument, I didn't have any MIDI files to test it with, so I never needed to spend any time on it, so I kept a bare Shamisen preset from the base Creative banks, as I didn't really notice any difference between this and a more complex preset available in other banks. As a result, this preset is only here to fill the slot and has to be replaced by a decent preset as soon as possible, following advice from traditional Asian music experts. I should first try to play with the nice ethnic instrument section of my SC-8850 to get some basic knowledge...
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Creative
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #107KotoGM: KotoSize: 72 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Unlike the Shamisen, I had some basic knowledge on Koto sounds, as this instrument (along with the Shakuhachi) is often used in traditional Japanese music, or modern tracks featuring some Asian-inspired parts. I also had much more MIDIs to test it with and a few SoundFont base for comparison purposes... and the most interesting I could find was the koto preset from MagicSF itself. So I kept it, very useable and polyphony-friendly. But it would really benefit from a replacement, to get some stereo image and depth. My Roland SC-8850 features a nice preset I should try to sample and test with a traditional song like "Haru No Umi"...
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Koto" preset Haru No Umi
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #108KalimbaGM: KalimbaSize: 23 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good I didn't find any significant Kalimba SoundFont, but I knew that the Korg M1 had an interesting preset, as I was used to hear it in many Amiga module files. So I simply grabbed the sample from this synth without needing to go further. This instrument works quite well in all MIDIs I have, although it might not be the most realistic you can find nowadays. May need to be resampled from my own Korg M1(Rex) for higher-quality results.
Sources:Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Korg M1
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #109Bag PipeGM: Bag pipeSize: 18 KBVersion: 1.0
3 out of 5 - Average I'm not really satisfied with this Bag Pipe preset. As with the Harmonica, I knew what kind of sounds I wanted and desperately tried to find a good bagpipe SoundFont, with no luck. So I went back to the original basic preset from Creative SoundFont banks and spent some time tweaking its layers to obtain a richer sound and smoother transitions between the lowest and the highest notes. An acceptable instrument overall, but quite weak for solos and "Scotland The Brave" (Scotland National Hymn) covers... I later found that my SC-8850 has a very interesting and much better preset here (along with some other nice Irish/Scottish instruments) so I'll have to sample and try it, although I think that it might be hard to sample...
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Creative
Examples:Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Bag Pipe" preset Scotland The Brave
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #110FiddleGM: FiddleSize: 73 KBVersion: 1.0
2 out of 5 - Mediocre Here is another preset which doesn't really deserve to be in this bank: no originality, obvious lack of realism, and no further tweaking/programming. I have some ideas about the sound of a real fiddle, and even found a bunch of nice and original Fiddle SoundFonts, but could not succeed in their integration as GM instruments. So, I kept a bare violin-like preset here, and tried to tweak it for basic MIDI fiddle needs. Can work for most basic purposes, but really needs replacement. I don't even think that my SC-8850 could help me for this one...
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Creative
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #111ShannaiGM: ShanaiSize: 308 KBVersion: 1.0
2 out of 5 - Mediocre This Sha(n)nai/Shennai preset appears somewhat controversial to me. Being unable to find decent Sha(n)nai banks on the internet, I first kept some bare fonts from Creative (like most GM SoundFont banks do) until I realized that I might obtain a more interesting sound by using existing (and more popular) oboe SoundFonts. So, I did. One thing is for sure, the result, despite being technically interesting, is not realistic enough to be used in MIDI covers of traditional music from India... but can work for the few GM files you might have featuring this instrument as a background tone (hence the "controversial" feeling I have towards it). If you have some advice to share for a replacement, feel free to do so.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Creative | SoundFont sample bank format Natural Oboe
#112 - #119 Melodic Percussion
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #112Tinkle BellGM: Tinkle BellSize: 133 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good I don't really know what a Tinker/Tinkle/Twinkle Bell is or should be, but MagicSF already had an interesting preset here, with an original and sweet sound, so I kept it after checking that they were not any significant bell SoundFonts available. Works nicely on the few MIDIs I have featuring this instrument, so I don't really need to replace it, but if someone has advice to share for a replacement, I'm open to all suggestions.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #113AgogoGM: AgogoSize: 48 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Another preset straight from Fluid. After testing many presets and drum kits, this is the best I could find. Very nice and bright sound, suitable for many uses. Of course, I also integrated it in my drumkits to remain coherent. Tested on some game MIDIs from "Lands of Lore" or "Gruntz" as a melodic instrument and, of course, on many, many other MIDIs with the drumkits.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Fluid
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Agogo" preset Gruntz | Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Agogo" preset Lands of Lore
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #114Steel DrumsGM: Steel DrumsSize: 47 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good The Steel Drums have been quite tricky to pick. Most banks I got used quite warm steel drums that lacked a strong percussive sound for most of my needs. So I reverted back to more basic steel drums. I don't really remember where I got those I finally used, but they're rather basic and most probably come from the usual E-mu/Creative banks. Anyway, they're working quite well on most MIDIs, although my tests were conducted with game music like "Super Mario Bros." or "The Secret of Monkey Island" rather than traditional Caribbean MIDIs.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Creative | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #115Wood BlockGM: WoodblockSize: 8 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good I got this Wood Block from the drum kits I already had selected. This is a typical Roland Sound Canvas wood block I always liked. However, unlike most banks which use a reduced pitch scaling to stretch the sample from the lowest octave to the highest without significant tone changes, avoiding out-of-tune notes, I kept a classic layout, with a C5 note sounding like a real C5, and a C1 note sounding like a very low C1 note. The lack of realism is not an issue: this choice is usually better to use the wood block as a melodic instrument, which is the purpose, from my opinion, of such preset (otherwise, you should use the usual wood block from drum kits). The drawback being that this preset may sound strange on some MIDIs requiring a preset with a reduced pitch scaling.
Sources:This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Roland Sound Canvas
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #116Taiko DrumGM: Taiko DrumSize: 16 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good As with the wood block, I decided to apply a conventional pitch scaling on the Taiko Drum, as I think it's a better choice for use as a GM melodic instrument. Sample-wise, I kept the original taiko from MagicSF which was okay for me. However, unlike the wood block, I don't have any real choice criteria for this instrument, so it may not be the best available, even after layering it twice to get some depth.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #117Melodic TomGM: Melodic TomSize: 227 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Once again, a preset from Frank's Fluid SoundFont, with a great sound and a very nice stereo image. But, to remain coherent with the two other "melodic drum" instruments, I also applied the same conventional pitch scaling to cover a full range of notes. It was even more important for this particular preset, as the melodic tom is more often used in MIDI files as backup percussion than the two previously mentioned presets, from what I've noticed. May also sound strange on some MIDIs because of this programming choice, but I simply love its strong sound each time I hear it!
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Fluid
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #118Synth DrumGM: Synth DrumSize: 181 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! This Synth Drum has been a real nightmare, for a very stupid reason: I was obsessed by its use on DOOM's E1M8 music. On the AdLib/FM DOOM soundtracks, this instrument had a very melodic sound, with very different notes between low and high octaves and a real FM melodic tone. When you listen to this track in MIDI format, the usual synth drum, often a bare noisy synthetic tom from drum machines, is absolutely not suitable in this situation (even more if you consider that this preset is also associated with a reduced pitch scaling as explained before). So I spent many, many hours to build an instrument, based on the most "melodic synthetic" toms I had in my drumkits, to obtain a suitable preset for this MIDI (and this one only...), but I also needed to make it compatible with all other MIDIs requiring a more conventional sound, so I had to spend more time, even added a Fairlight sample to enhance the overall tone... but here it is. Original and versatile, I'm very pleased by this one. Works nicely with soundtracks from the "Descent" game, too.
Sources:Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Fairlight
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Synth Drum" preset Descent | Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Synth Drum" preset DOOM - E1M8 - Sign of Evil | Digital audio track (CD, MP3...), which makes use of the "Synth Drum" preset Genesis/Phil Collins
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #119Reverse CymbalGM: Reverse CymbalSize: 177 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Another pick from Frank's Fluid here. A nice, bright cymbal, suitable for many uses. This time, I didn't use a conventional pitch scaling, because lower notes would have produced unusable sounds: a reverse cymbal consists of a slow attack, so this attack would have been amplified if the sample had been stretched as-is to the lowest octaves, resulting in no immediate sound when you'd have pressed these low notes on your keyboard. I'm quite satisfied by this preset, although I'd be curious to try the same with a "normal" cymbal sample associated with some specific parameters to make it sound reverse (e.g. a quick attack sound when the note is being triggered, then almost mute the sound to restore it progressively through the end).
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Fluid
#120 - #127 Acoustic Sound Effects
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #120Guitar Fret NoiseGM: Guitar Fret NoiseSize: 34 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good On this preset, I wanted a quite noisy Guitar Fret Noise, and after some extensive search, I found this nice little noise from Mega Sound Bank. Quite original sound, even working on DOOM's E1M5 music, which uses it in a strange manner (I never really understood which kind of sound effect was expected here!), and, of course, as a real fret noise on complex acoustic guitar MIDI music.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Mega Sound Bank
Examples:Original MIDI track (from a video game or other soundtrack), which makes use of the "Guitar Fret Noise" preset DOOM - E1M5 - Suspense
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #121Breath NoiseGM: Breath NoiseSize: 225 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! From what I've noticed, this preset usually holds the noise of someone blowing on a pan flute... even if I found a bank where this preset had... a sample of real human breath! But, personally, I needed a more melodic preset, just like the one you could find on the Gravis UltraSound, which was much more like a secondary synthetic pan flute/shakuhachi. So I got the main tone from here, and completed it with layers from my Pan Flute preset. Might not work perfectly with MIDIs requiring a simple, short "blow" noise here, but I prefer this "secondary flute" capability.
Sources:Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Gravis UltraSound
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #122Sea ShoreGM: SeashoreSize: 139 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Finding a real seashore sample which doesn't sound like a bare water noise coming from a bucket was a real little challenge. Having found absolutely nothing interesting anywhere, I searched for separate sound effect samples on specialized websites, and finally found this decent sample. Although the sampling frequency could be better (16 KHz), the sound is interesting, neither too short nor too long (with loop), and realistic, for use as a beginning or ending effect, or ambient background noise in easy listening songs.
Sources:Unknown source
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #123Bird TweetsGM: Bird TweetSize: 302 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! For the Bird Tweet preset, the challenge was exactly the same than with the Sea Shore. All bird tweets I found were bare, very short single "tweeeet!" noises without any background noise abilities. After looking on sound effect hosting websites, I found this very nice, realistic stereo birds sample, with an easy loop. Perfect for ambient backgrounds! Unfortunately, as with the Sea Shore, I don't remember from which website I got this one...
Sources:Unknown source
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #124TelephoneGM: Telephone RingSize: 236 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! For the Telephone Ring, one of the least used presets in the General MIDI implementation, if not THE least (from what I've noticed), you have two choices: either the digital telephone ringtone, easy to sample but not really associated with the usual telephone sound effect, or the more conventional oldschool "rrrrrrrrriiiiiiinnnnng" telephone sound from your grandma. I chose the second for this bank. This one comes from Frank Wen's Fluid bank, but I've resampled it and added a loop point to make it "ring" forever until you release the note on your keyboard, then the noise stops with the characteristic "bell" noise. Couldn't be more realistic, eh? But if you have any MIDI file using this preset accordingly, I'd be glad to hear it!
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Fluid
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #125HelicopterGM: HelicopterSize: 25 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Apart from "Airwolf" soundtrack MIDI covers, I've never seen any real use of this preset, but, well, I spent some time on it anyway! I got tired of those useless Helicopter presets sounding like bare machineguns... I kept the original preset from MagicSF, which was okay, and finetuned it to slightly enhance its melodic and "windy" side with some filters. Nothing really exceptional though... but do you really need to use this preset as an orchestra instrument?
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #126ApplauseGM: ApplauseSize: 251 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! I found interesting samples for the "Applause" preset, as the interpretation of what an "applause" sound should be can be very large... but, although the nice "Concert Applause" and other real-life-hand-clapping-and-people-whistling samples I found were more than realistic, they weren't really suited for GM use, which is, undoubtedly, the only purpose of this instrument... so I borrowed, once more, a preset from Fluid, which was the best compromise between realism and GM compliance I could find.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Fluid
Melodic instrument MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #127Gun ShotGM: GunshotSize: 144 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Aaaaaah, that final Gun Shot preset... the last of the GM specification, but so much time spent on it, because of that crappy old OPL/FM-optimized MIDIs using it as snare drums, which prevented me from using some nice and funny cowboy-like "yeeeha" gunshot samples (or their siblings from the Tex Avery/Warner Bros/Hanna Barbera cartoons)... I don't remember where I got the sample itself, but I remember spending a lot of time to adjust the pitch scaling on this one, so that it can approximately sound like a gunshot when played with the central note (C5), or like a snare drum when played on lower octaves (C3), or even like an explosion/thunder sound effect when played on very low octaves (just like this Ganondorf theme MIDI cover from "The Legend of Zelda"...). Such a headache for such a sub-level, under-rated, under-used preset... don't expect me to work further on this one until a long time!
Sources:Unknown source
#0 - #127 Drum Kits
Drum kit MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #0Standard Drum KitSize: 3,631 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Standard drum kit comes from MagicSF. Before picking it, I took the time to test many SoundFonts, and I must say that this one impressed me so much (when I found it as a separate SoundFont) that I decided to keep it and never went back. This is a very, very solid kit, with extremely deep kicks, snares, cymbals, hats and toms, and solid additional percussion elements. Most people will find it too strong as a Standard kit, but I was used to the drum kit available on my old SB AudioPCI 128 (Ensoniq ES1373) which had some pretty punchy snare drums, so I needed a very deep drum kit and I found one, so I never had the need to change it, even after listening to many, many other drum kits some years after, from my Yamaha, Korg or Roland sound modules. Apart from replacing some secondary sounds, I've not worked that much on this kit as it was already excellent from the beginning.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Drums By Slavo | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Drum kit MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #8Room Drum KitSize: 4,002 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good This Room drum kit was first inspired from those included in the huge Crisis General MIDI SoundFont (v1.5 at this time). I then improved it with a library I got from a source I can't remember of, which offered "heavy" powerful toms, snare and kick drums, and many other sources. It's mostly inspired by the famous Roland Sound Canvas Power drum kit (SC-88 version). Actually, I often consider this kit as an intermediate kit between the Standard and Power kit. I don't mean that it does mix sounds from both kits, but that I often choose this kit when I want some "Power-like" drums, without the usual pop/rock/gated connotation of the Power drum kit. Works very well in many, many cases, except for MIDIs which consider the Room kit as a "room reverb" version of the Standard drum kit, which is not the case here. It could be improved by resampling those "heavy"-named sounds (kicks, toms and snare drums) which are rather noisy (hiss).
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Crisis
Drum kit MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #16Power Drum KitSize: 3,930 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Even more than the Room kit, the Power kit can be considered as a full tribute to the famous Roland Power drum kit (available on the Sound Canvas line in two distinct variants, SC-55 and SC-88), with its very famous kick, toms and snare drums used in so much pop, rock and game music from the late 80's to the mid 90's (e.g. Super Mario games from the Super Nintendo, Robert C. Prince's tracks from DOOM, Duke Nukem 3D and many others). The base is inherited from MagicSF, but I have enhanced it in many, many ways. Not really to clone Sound Canvas' drum kit, but to get similar, enhanced sounds; the most significant added sounds being those I used for the Room drum kit. A pretty solid kit, although it would really benefit from better-sampled waveforms (like I said above, the "heavy" drums are quite noisy) and better programming/balance for a more consistent/regular result.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Drum kit MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #24Electronic Drum KitSize: 3,402 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! The Electronic drum kit was quite hard to build. At first, I wanted some kind of Power drum kit featuring some major sounds (kicks, snares, claps, cowbell) from the most famous drum machine sounds like the TR line from Roland. The Electronic drum kit from Crisis GM 1.5 was the closest match following these criteria. It had many good sounds and very good ideas (analog hand clap, techno-like kicks, synth snares...), but I wasn't fully satisfied with some sounds, so I spent many, many time to try replacements from many sources (drum machines, alternate Power/Room drums, original synth drums...) until I obtained nice results by borrowing some sounds from my previous drumkits (Standard, Power, Room). Later, I also improved the second snare with the quite well-known Power snare sound from Yamaha synths. I really like the final result, which is very close to what I first wanted: a Power kit mainly focusing on drum machine sounds, without being a clone of the dedicated TR-x0x drum kit.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Crisis
Drum kit MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #25TR-808/909 Drum KitSize: 2,065 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! I wasn't satisfied by those kits trying to reproduce the overused TR-808 drum machine sounds. This machine is, actually, very hard to integrate in a digital sound bank, as it had its own tips & tricks to make cheap synthetic drum noises sound fantastic - that's why it's still used today! Even Roland never really managed to offer a real clone of this drum machine on its own synths... That said, I first picked up the TR-909 drum kit from the "All-in-One GM Bank", as I thought that the TR-909 offered more original (less overused) sounds. But, as far as I can remember, I nearly replaced all samples with the best individual TR-808/TR-909 sounds I found in various libraries... hence the name of my drum preset, which is a real mix of sounds from the TR-808 (claves, cowbell, hand clap, congas, maracas, open hi-hat, rim shot) and TR-909 (bass drum, kick, snares, toms, crash and ride cymbal). My knowledge of these drum machines is not perfect, so I may have forgot some significant sounds... if so, all your comments are welcome! Anyway, I personally find this drum kit to be quite more useable than most versions found on Roland synths (Sound Canvas, at least).
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format All-in-One GM
Drum kit MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #32Jazz Drum KitSize: 2,693 KBVersion: 1.0
3 out of 5 - Average I must admit that my knowledge of Jazz music is rather limited. So, I don't really have any precise idea on the ideal sound a Jazz drum kit should have. At first, I picked a kit from Frank Wen's Fluid SoundFont, but was not very satisfied with most of its sounds. After trying many kits, I finally cheated and used my Standard drum kit preset here, and modified many parameters to make it sound "brighter" by raising the pitch of the notes. Quality-wise, the result is quite good, but I'm sure that Jazz fans will tell me that this kit has nothing to do with a real Jazz drum kit. So, I would love to get advice from jazz enthusiasts and experts to get/build a better (more realistic) Jazz drum kit.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Drums By Slavo | SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Drum kit MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #40Brush Drum KitSize: 3,078 KBVersion: 1.0
4 out of 5 - Good Exactly the same story than with the Jazz drum kit here. I don't know anything about the expected sounds of a "Brush" drum kit, except that it features... some brush sounds on the most strategic slots. My bare drummer knowledge is the faulty element here. So, just like the Jazz drum kit, I first started with a preset from Fluid, until I decided to replace it by a brighter version of my Standard drum kit, keeping the specific brush sounds from Fluid. Moreover, I don't have many MIDI files featuring brush kits... So, once again, if you are a drummer and have a good knowledge of the GS MIDI implementation, I'd love to hear from you.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Fluid
Drum kit MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #48Orchestral Drum KitSize: 2,181 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! Unlike Brush and Jazz drumkits, I was aware of the specificities of the Orchestra drum kit over other presets (featuring timpanis and some other orchestral sounds). Moreover, MagicSF already had a very nice Orchestra drums preset, so I only had to enhance it from time to time and replace some of its sounds when they were shared by other instruments/drum kits I replaced progressively in the whole bank. The result is very good in my opinion, judging from the few MIDIs I have with Orchestra drum kits. However, as usual, I'm open to any comments or suggestions on this one if you think that some sounds seem to be in the wrong place.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF
Drum kit MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #49Fix Room Drum KitSize: 4,002 KBVersion: 1.0
N/A On drum kit slot #49, you'll find an exact copy of the Room drum kit. It is here to address an issue/behavior of most SoundFont synths/cards/drivers/hosts: when a MIDI file tries to access a program (preset) which is not available in the SoundFont bank, it reverts back to the last instrument declared in the tree. As Arachno SoundFont doesn't currently offer any drum kit between slot #48 (Orchestral Drum Kit) and slot #127 (MT-32 Drum Kit), playing a MIDI file using any "unknown" drum kit between slots #49 and #126 (included) would result in the selection of the nearest drum kit, which would be #48 here (Orchestral). As Orchestral may not be the most suitable default/replacement drum kit in many situations, I inserted this copy of a more "standard" drum kit (Room) just after the Orchestral Drum Kit slot, so that Room drum kit can be used in such cases. I could have chosen Standard kit instead, but from what I've noticed, most GS drum kits between slots #48 and #127, except from the most specialized (SFX, Asian, Ethnic) sound closer to what you might find in my Room drum kit.
Sources:SoundFont sample bank format Crisis
Drum kit MSB: 0 / LSB: 0 / #127MT-32 Drum KitSize: 1,996 KBVersion: 1.0
5 out of 5 - Excellent! And, to close this huge preset list, a final word about the last drum kit of this bank, the MT-32/CM-64 drum kit. As a MT-32 owner, I never found any MT-32/CM-64 drum kit that actually features sounds from these sound modules, so I simply decided to sample them on my own. As far as I know, the CM-64 features some extended drum sounds not present in the MT-32, so I filled the gaps (sounds I didn't have) with standard samples from my other drum kits. The result is more than satisfactory, as it really features real sounds from a genuine MT-32. However, if you are a CM-64 (or similar variant) owner and would like to complete the selection, feel free to drop me a line.
Sources:This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Roland MT-32

7. Copyright information and credits

This SoundFont uses many sounds from third-party authors, libraries and other SoundFonts.

As these sounds benefit from different usage licenses, I can't recommend any commercial use of Arachno SoundFont, as the original authors of these sounds might not allow commercial use of their work.

All information I currently have on this particular subject is summed up in the table below, as an attempt to credit all people involved with the sources I used to build Arachno SoundFont.
You can also refer to the Preset list section for more details on all sounds used in Arachno SoundFont.

Please be aware that some credit information is still missing as of today.
If you're the original author of some uncredited sounds used in this bank, or have any credit information to share, I'm waiting for your feedback: Contact me.

NameAuthorPresets using this bank
SoundFont sample bank format MagicSF (56)Dennis DeutschmannGrand Piano, Crystal Piano, Celesta, Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Tubular Bells, Dulcimer (Santur), Percussive Organ, Church Organ, Reed Organ, Harmonica, Bandoneon, Clean Guitar, Muted Guitar, Overdrive Guitar, Slap Bass 2, Synth Bass 1, Violin, Tremolo Strings, Orchestral Harp, Strings Ensemble 1, Strings Ensemble 2, Synth Strings 2, Choir Aahs, Voice Oohs, Trombone, Tuba, Muted Trumpet, Brass Section, Synth Brass 2, Flute, Recorder, Pan Flute, Blown Bottle, Shakuhachi, Charang, 5th Saw Wave, Bass & Lead, Poly Synth, Metal Pad, Sweep Pad, Crystal, Atmosphere, Echo Drops, Star Theme, Sitar, Banjo, Koto, Tinkle Bell, Steel Drums, Taiko Drum, Helicopter, Standard Drum Kit, Power Drum Kit, Jazz Drum Kit, Orchestral Drum Kit
SoundFont sample bank format Fluid (15)Frank WenDrawBar Organ, Steel String Guitar, Synth Voice, French Horns, Soprano Sax, Bassoon, Space Voice, Metal Pad, Echo Drops, Agogo, Melodic Tom, Reverse Cymbal, Telephone, Applause, Brush Drum Kit
SoundFont sample bank format Creative (14)Creative Labs.Clavinet, Harmonica, Jazz Guitar, Baritone Sax, English Horns, Square Wave, Saw Wave, Bass & Lead, Sitar, Shamisen, Bag Pipe, Fiddle, Shannai, Steel Drums
Waveform-type sample Roland D-50 (10)Marimba, Tremolo Strings, Shakuhachi, Synth Calliope, Fantasia (New Age), Sweep Pad, Sound Track, Crystal, Atmosphere, Brightness
Unknown source (10)Rock Organ, Fretless Bass, Synth Bass 2, Pizzicato Strings, Synth Brass 1, Solo Voice, Halo Pad, Sea Shore, Bird Tweets, Gun Shot
Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Gravis UltraSound (9)Advanced Gravis Computer TechnologySynth Bass 1, Synth Bass 2, Synth Voice, Blown Bottle, Synth Calliope, Chiffer Lead, Fantasia (New Age), Goblin, Breath Noise
This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Korg X5DR (9)Maxime AbbeyRock Piano, Honky-Tonk Piano, DrawBar Organ, Percussive Organ, Acoustic Bass, Orchestra Hit, Whistle, Metal Pad, Brightness
SoundFont sample bank format Roland U-20 (7)Electric Piano, Crystal Piano, Shakuhachi, Synth Calliope, Fantasia (New Age), Crystal, Atmosphere
Waveform-type sample Amiga (4)Muted Guitar, Overdrive Guitar, Synth Bass 2, Orchestra Hit
SoundFont sample bank format Cadenza (4)Joe GunawanViolin, Viola, Cello, ContraBass
SoundFont sample bank format Clean Vibraphone (4)Music Box, Vibraphone, Bowed Glass, Crystal
Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Fairlight (4)FairlightSpace Voice, Sound Track, Echo Drops, Synth Drum
SoundFont sample bank format Matrix Strings (4)E-MUSynth Strings 1, Warm Pad, Sound Track, Atmosphere
SoundFont sample bank format Mega Sound Bank (4)Danny KimDistortion Guitar, Guitar Harmonics, Synth Bass 2, Guitar Fret Noise
SoundFont sample bank format Solo (4)Violin, Viola, Cello, ContraBass
SoundFont sample bank format Crisis (3)Chris "Crisis" MaricourtRoom Drum Kit, Electronic Drum Kit, Fix Room Drum Kit
Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Korg M1 (3)Pan Flute, Ice Rain, Kalimba
This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Roland MT-32 (3)Maxime AbbeyFretless Bass, Ocarina, MT-32 Drum Kit
SoundFont sample bank format Sonido Media (3)Sonido MediaClavinet, English Horns, Charang
SoundFont sample bank format Unison (3)Peter JevnisekTimpani, Piccolo, Crystal
SoundFont sample bank format Campbell (2)Campbell BartonXylophone, Rock Organ
SoundFont sample bank format DSCo (2)Dinko SkukanOverdrive Guitar, Distortion Guitar
SoundFont sample bank format FantaGM (2)SeungGaul Jang / Jchyun System Co. Tubular Bells, English Horns
Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler FM-Song (2)Achraf ChertiBowed Glass, Metal Pad
SoundFont sample bank format J.G. Pronk (2)J.G. PronkSlap Bass 1, Slap Bass 2
SoundFont sample bank format Jackson's (2)Jack ButlerOverdrive Guitar, Distortion Guitar
SoundFont sample bank format Joe's Clean Electric Guitar (2)JoeClean Guitar, Metal Pad
SoundFont sample bank format Johannes Roussel (2)Johannes RousselElectric Piano, Rock Organ
Kurzweil K2500 (2)Honky-Tonk Piano, Voice Oohs
SoundFont sample bank format Maes(t)ro Velocity Nylon Guitars (2)Mats HelgessonNylon Guitar, Atmosphere
Downloadable Sounds Level sample bank format Microsoft Software Wavetable Synthesizer (GM.DLS) (2)Microsoft Corporation / Roland CorporationFretless Bass, Pizzicato Strings
SoundFont sample bank format Nando Florestan (2)Nando FlorestanChoir Aahs, Trumpet
SoundFont sample bank format Natural Oboe (2)Dalibor GrubacevicOboe, Shannai
SoundFont sample bank format Public domain (2)Alto Sax, Tenor Sax
This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Roland SC-8850 (2)Maxime AbbeyFingered Bass, Synth Bass 2
SoundFont sample bank format Yamaha Clavinova (2)Güray DereOrchestral Harp, Atmosphere
SoundFont sample bank format |<amac (2)Dejan KamensekOverdrive Guitar, Distortion Guitar
SoundFont sample bank format 60s Heavy Guitar (1)Toni NäppiOverdrive Guitar
This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Sound Blaster/AdLib OPL FM (1)Maxime AbbeyMusic Box
SoundFont sample bank format Akordeon (1)Accordion
SoundFont sample bank format All-in-One GM (1)Toru InahamaTR-808/909 Drum Kit
SoundFont sample bank format Analoguesque (1)Analoguesque Sound DesignsSaw Wave
SoundFont sample bank format Angel Pure (1)Clarinet
SoundFont sample bank format Aspirin 160 (1)Fretless Bass
SoundFont sample bank format Fender Stratocaster (1)Overdrive Guitar
SoundFont sample bank format German8 Harpsichord (1)Harpsichord
SoundFont sample bank format Gibson L-5 Jazz Guitar (1)ncs / thejazzpage.deJazz Guitar
SoundFont sample bank format Harpsichord MT Clavicembalo 8'I (1)Harpsichord
SoundFont sample bank format James Bowden (1)James BowdenRecorder
SoundFont sample bank format Janszen's Ibanez Picked Bass (1)Jeremy JanszenPicked Bass
Directly extracted from a synthesizer or sampler Kawai K5000 (1)Crystal
SoundFont sample bank format MoonMan (1)Marimba
SoundFont sample bank format Music Man GM-GS (1)John L. BrunkShakuhachi
SoundFont sample bank format Natural Sitar (1)Sitar
SoundFont sample bank format RealSound GS (1)Daniel R. Careri (Neumann)Overdrive Guitar
SoundFont sample bank format Roland 64-Voice XP-30 Piano SoundFont (1)Bright Piano
This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Roland Sound Canvas (1)Maxime AbbeyWood Block
SoundFont sample bank format Roland XP-10 Acoustic Bass (1)J. MehrtensAcoustic Bass
SoundFont sample bank format Roland XP-50 Piano (1)Matias RockasRock Piano
SoundFont sample bank format Stavi (1)Aren StaviViolin
SoundFont sample bank format TS-Station (1)TS-StationBowed Glass
SoundFont sample bank format Vibrato Wind Flute (1)Flute
SoundFont sample bank format WT Clarinet (1)Wang TaoClarinet
Yamaha DX7 (1)Star Theme
This source uses samples which have been recorded by me Yamaha MU1000 (1)Maxime AbbeySaw Wave

8. Links and additional resources

You'll find here some useful links to software or websites related to MIDI and SoundFont reproduction, to enhance your experience with Arachno SoundFont.

Arachno SoundFont-related websites

Find all the information you need about Arachno SoundFont, and discover arrangements made with this bank.

Audio-related software

Links to download audio software which will greatly help you while working with SoundFonts or MIDI.

Contributors and sound authors' websites

Third-party individuals mentioned here had a big influence on the development of Arachno SoundFont or its documentation.

Sound libraries

Need more sounds and samples to enhance this SoundFont or own music compositions?

Music libraries

Websites where you can download various MIDI files to experiment with SoundFonts.

Technical audio-related websites

These websites are very helpful when you need advice or general information on audio technology.

Product support and drivers

If you need information and drivers for your SoundFont audio hardware, check this out.


9. Contact me

You can contact me from my website, or at the following address: contact (@) arachnosoft.com

Upcoming releases of Arachno SoundFont

The future of Arachno SoundFont will be relative to the amount of feedback I'll get about it. As of today, I'm still interested by SoundFont technology, but I don't have any plans to enhance Arachno SoundFont unless people want me to do so; this first release is strong enough to fulfill my needs, despite of some flaws on a few instruments, as described in the Preset list section.

That said, I'm not satisfied by the lack of support from Creative about all known problems related to SoundFont reproduction (as described in the About drivers section). Because there are too few people to complain about it, Creative is quite reluctant to update their soundcard drivers to provide a durable fix. Therefore, if you feel concerned about these problems, I strongly invite you to participate to the Creative Labs Support Forums: MIDI/SoundFont problems with X-Fi thread on the Creative Support Forums, to express your point of view.

If you wish to improve Arachno SoundFont, feel free to do so! I'd simply ask you to contact me if you want to publish or distribute any derived SoundFont or sound bank based on Arachno SoundFont. I'd also love to hear your suggestions about any replacement preset you'd like to put in a particular slot.

Some information about this documentation...

There are much other information I could also deliver about Arachno SoundFont. But as I'm not sure that many people are still being much interested by SoundFonts nowadays, I'd first like to hear from you! Any feedback on Arachno SoundFont would be greatly appreciated. If you have ANY remark or suggestion about the sounds used in Arachno SoundFont, an audio sample or example to provide, some settings to share, or any other subject that could help to enhance and complete this documentation, feel free to drop me a line or two.

A modern CSS-compliant Web browser (e.g. Opera, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer 8+...) is required to display this documentation properly, under a recommended minimum screen resolution of 1280 horizontal pixels.
For your information, this documentation has been built using self-made PHP/MySQL scripts. The layout is inspired from the excellent Titanic SoundFont documentation, by Luke Sena. Many thanks to him!
All screenshots are my own work, and most of the icons and pictures are from the FindIcons.com website.

Did you appreciate my work?

I'd love to hear from you! If you have made anything using Arachno SoundFont that you'd like to share (audio tracks, EAX presets, MIDI files...), I'd very glad to know it!

Make a secure donation through PayPal

Countless hours, days, and weeks have been spent on this project, to search for interesting instruments, sounds and tones, to integrate them into a global bank, tweak them and test them on a lot of MIDI files.
Arachno SoundFont is being distributed for FREE, for your own personal listening pleasure and audio production needs. Anyway, if you think that my work deserves any financial support, you can donate me any amount of money from my website: Make a secure donation through PayPal.

And the bottom line...

Thanks for your interest in my SoundFont! Hope to hear from you soon.

Maxime Abbey