SoundFont is a brand name that collectively refers to a file format and associated technology designed to bridge the gap between recorded and synthesized audio, especially for the purposes of computer music composition. SoundFont is also a registered trademark of E-mu Systems, Inc., and the exclusive license for re-formatting and managing historical SoundFont content has been acquired by Digital Sound Factory.
SoundFont technology is an implementation of Sample-based synthesis, first used on the Sound Blaster AWE32 sound card for its General MIDI support, and is still supported on current Sound Blaster products.
File extension: *.sf2 (Common), *.sfz, *.sf1 (Pre-SF2 era), *sf3, *.sfpack
Size: Depending of the samples used and compression
Audio Quality: Depending of the samples used and compression
Sample playback based MIDI synthesizers use wavetables to define the base samples that are used to render their MIDI files. MIDI files in themselves don't contain any sounds, rather they contain only instructions to render them, and consequently rely on the wavetables to render such sounds correctly. SoundFont-compatible synthesizers allow users to use SoundFont banks to augment these wavetables with custom samples to render their music.
A SoundFont bank contains base samples in PCM format (similar to WAV files) that are mapped to sections on a musical keyboard. A SoundFont bank also contains other music synthesis parameters such as loops, vibrato effect, and velocity sensitive volume changing.
This doesn't apply to both SFZ/SFPACK formats, that are able use OGG/FLAC/MP3 stream files.
SoundFont banks can conform to standard sound sets such as General MIDI, or use other wholly custom sound-set definitions.
SoundFonts Editors (.sf2 files)
Several .sf2 editors are available:
- Vienna from Creative Labs, requiring a particular sound card (such as Sound Blaster),
- SynthFont Viena (with a single "n"), created in 2002,
- Swami is a collection of free software for editing and managing musical instruments for MIDI music composition, used mainly under Linux,
- Polyphone, free editor for Windows and Linux created in 2013.
SoundFonts Editors (.sfz files)
.sfz files are just plain text files. The best programs to edit them are: