SynthFont - Frequently Asked Questions

Can I have SynthFont2 installed on many computers with one single license?
Yes, you can, but please don't share your license registration information to everyone you know. SynthFont1 is free to everyone although you are most welcome to donate.
I hear no sound.
If you have pressed the Play to Speakers button in the main toolbar and hear no sound, chances are that you have not configured SynthFont correctly. Check the IO port options in the Setup dialog. The audio port must be assigned to the sound card to which the speakers (or headset, or whatever) are connected.

Also, check that the Left and Right volume sliders in the area "Playback Volume" in  "Plug & Play" are not set to too small values. Also, you may need to look at the levels of the volume sliders for the tracks in the MIXER, to the right of the tracks list, Finally, look at the checkboxes to the left of the track number in the tracks list: unchecked means mute.
I want to create an audio file for burning on a CD. How...?
Simply press the "Play To File" button. Select to folder and the file name (the default file name will be [midi file name].wav. (Note that if your version of Windows does not display the file extensions it may be tricky to see what's happening.) Now, press the OK button to start playing and rendering. If you want to hear the music through the speakers as well while the file is created, press the "Play to Both" button. Go here for more info on file rendering.
When playing to my speakers it just doesn't sound right - the sound is broken.
This may happen when the number of Voices rises too high so that the CPU cannot cope. You will then see the CPU usage rise close to 100%. The Voice number is not equal to the midi note polyphony, but equal to the actual number of audio waves sounding at the same time. This number depends on two things: the number of midi notes, of course, but maybe even more on the structure of the SoundFont. Some SFs are more "complicated" than others, making use of multiple layers. Note that even if you hear these artifacts, any wave file you create by "Play To File" will still be perfect! Look here (see image below) for for the Voice limit and a selector to choose the maximum value you accept.
I want to use VST effects to enhance the sound. What should I  do?
At first you need to download some VST Effects and/or identify the folder(s) where you have your VST Eeffects stored. Open the Setup dialog and select the "VST Effects" tab. In this pane there are two lists. The upper list will contain all the paths to the folders you want to be scanned for VST Effects. Add a folder by clicking on the Add button. The lower list contains all Effects. Add an Effect to the currently selected bus by clicking the Add to chain button. There are 17 bus chains to choose from: one Main bus and 16 channel buses. In the "Plug & Play" pane you have the option to select buses and effects. The Main bus is by default assigned to the summed output of all channels. The other buses can be assigned to any particular channel. Select the track with the channel, select the bus from the drop down menu (just below "Output VST effects"). and press the button to assign to the channel. You can assign a bus to a MIDI channel by pressing the "Assign Bus" button.
How do I use a VST Instrument instead of a SoundFont?
At first you need to download some VST Instruments and/or identify the folder(s) where you have your VST Instruments stored. Open the Setup dialog and select the 'VST Instruments' tab. In this pane there are two lists. The upper list will contain all the paths to the folders you want to be scanned for VST Instruments. Add a folder by clicking on the Add button. The lower list contains all Instruments. Add an Instruments to the currently selected MIDI track by clicking the 'Assign to track' button. You can also any time add an Instrument to a track by pressing the "VST Instr" button in the tracks list header.
I have an external MIDI hardware synthesizer. Can SynthFont play on it?
Yes, SynthFont can send MIDI data to external devices. At first you need to go to Setup and verify the your device is listed in the section "IO Porst" and "Available MIDI out ports". Here you can also tell SynthFont2 to treat the device as a GM1 or GM2 device and also tell SynthFont2 which System Exclusive messages SynthFont2 should send to device before sending MIDI data.  Finally, to select this device port for a track, go to "Plug & Play" and look for the button "MIDI Out" in the tracks list header.
My SoundFont/MIDI file has many banks. How does SynthFont treat banks?
All presets (= programs, instruments) in a SoundFont will show up in the Presets list with the bank number in front of the preset number. Thus, in the list you may find both "000:000 Grand Piano" and "001:000 Grand Piano", where the second piano preset is from bank 1. If the MIDI file has encoded a reference to a bank and the bank is found in the selected SoundFont, then it will be used, of course. If you are really fond fo banks you can use the Bank Manager to tell SynthFont which SoundFont Preset to used for a certain Bank:Preset combination. NOTE: The MIDI channel 9 (on a scale 0..15) is by convention defined as the "percussion" channel. In a SoundFont, all percussion Presets are stored in bank 128.
Above is an example of a MIDI file with extensive use of Banks. Only Track 2 uses Bank 0. SynthFont2 will try and look for suitable presets among the list of SoundFonts defined in the Bank Manager (see below).
The MIDI file has defined the MIDI Program 'Grand Piano' (#0) in MIDI Channel 5. Can I replace it with another SoundFont Preset?
Yes, you can. You can select any SoundFont you like and any Preset you like for one particular MIDI channel. But please be aware of this: in most cases each MIDI channel is in one singe track of the MIDI file, but there are instances when the MIDI file contains more tracks than 16 (there are only 16 MIDI channels). In this case, two or more tracks may share the same MIDI channel and will have the same SoundFont/Preset selection. NOTE: A track may contain multiple MIDI Program Changes. In this case you will see a small button with a down-arrow next to the Program name. Press it to see the list of MIDI Program Changes. Select one from the list if you want to change the SoundFont/Preset for one item only, like in the image below.
I don't like the Acoustic Grand Piano sound in my default SoundFont. What can I do?
You can define a SoundFont Override by using the Bank Manager. Go to "file" and select "Define Default SoundFont Overrides" (shortcut key CTRL+D). A dialog bow will be displayed. At the top of this window there is a section where you can defined alternative default SoundFonts to be used to look for Bank:Preset combinations not found in your default SoundFont, but this is not the function you want now. Look at the bottom where all 128 Presets are listed. For each Preset there are a number of Bank alternatives for the most common Bank configurations out there. You only want to replace the Grand Piano for Bank 0, that is Bank:Preset = 000:000. Select this item and press the "Choose 'SoundFont' file" button.( Note that the file you choose may be of any of the supported sound file formats, not only a SoundFont proper.) Select the preset from the list of available presets. In the example below, the Acoustic Grand in GeneralUser has been replace by the corresponding preset in the SoundFont Music Theory2.
Can I change the keys of the midi files and how would I do that?
Can I change the keys of the midi files and how would I do that?
There are two ways to change the key:
1) by transposing notes up/down using the Transpose[All] function in the Mixer (image left). This as an "arrangement" feature so it doesn't change the midi file.
2) in the midi file. To do this, use the 'Move notes up / down' tool which you find in the Pianoroll (image below).
Can SynthFont show Karaoke lyrics while playing? Can lyrics be saved in an MP3 file?
Yes, SynthFont can show lyrics. Press CTRL+T or choose a menu item from main menu View. SynthFont2 (not the freeware SynthFont1) can also save the lyrics in an MP3 file.
Can I add or delete a track to/from a MIDI file?
Yes. Press the "new track" button above the tracks list. SynthFont2 will let you copy events from another tracks as well. Press 'Delete track' to delete all selected tracks.
I want to create a new sound for a track by mixing Preset A with Preset B. How do I do it?
You can create a 'Layer' for a track and assign another SoundFont/Preset to it. A Layer is a "copy" of a parent track sharing the parent's MIDI events. Any changes you do to the parent's MIDI events will thus also influence the Layer(s). The image below shows a Layer with Soprano Sax assigned. NOTE that Layers occupy the "extended" MIDI channel range 16..31 and that you cannot change this value.
How do I copy notes from one track to another?
Use Copy and Paste. Start by selecting the notes you want to copy. You can select notes by using the 'select notes' tool in the Pianoroll. Draw around the notes you want. At the bottom you see now that the page has switched to 'Copy / Paste':
Choose which events you want to copy and to which buffer. Press 'Copy selected events' and then 'Paste copied events'. A dialog box will show. Here you can select which track to paste into, at which time (Bar, Beat, Tick), how the pasted events should treat old events, if notes should be transposed, and finally, how many times you want the events to be pasted.
What is the issue with overlapping notes?
The first thing to understand is that a MIDI note actually always comprises of two events: at first we have the NOTE ON event that also contains the velocity value (=loudness). This event turns on a note. Sometime later there ought to be one NOTE OFF event as well to turn off the note. The NOTE OFF event must have the same note value (key) as the NOTE ON event in order to turn off the note. This is the problem: you may have several NOTE ON events after each other for one specific note. How are the synthesizer supposed to handle these? For a simple instrument like a flute only one instance of a particular note can sound at the same time. Other instruments may let you have several instances, for example, on a guitar one particular note can be picked on two different strings. These notes are overlapping. The next question is: when a NOTE OFF event arrives for this note value, which instance does it belong to? There is no way to tell. Normally you expect that the notes are closed on a FIFO order, but this may not always be what the designer of the MIDI tune had in mind. Also, in some MIDI files there are only one single NOTE OFF event that is supposed to close ALL sounding notes of the same key. SynthFont thus allows a few strategies for the user to try out. For one MIDI file one strategy may sound better than the other.
Additionally, in the Pianoroll you have the option to show a small "tail" on what SynthFont2 thinks is the end of a note. This can help you judge if there is a potential problem with overlapping notes. To toggle this option, press the button to the left (or use the right button mouse context sensitive popup menu for a list of commands). Note that the tail is shown only if the notes are drawn with a black border. The notes of the selected track are always drawn with  a black border, but you can tell SynthFont2 to draw a border around ALL notes if you want - see the context sensitive popup menu.