Sound Fonts

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Currently 2 sampler engines are included in Zynthian:

  • LinuxSampler => SFZ and GIG soundfont formats
  • FluidSynth >= SF2 soundfont format

Synth engines in Zynthian support Soundfonts in various file formats.

Zynthian includes the Salamander Piano soundfont in SFZ format. It's >1 GB! You can use SFZ and GIG font with the LinuxSampler engine, that reads the samples directly from the SD card, preloading only a small part of the file and using an advanced caching system. In that way you can use a soundfont bigger than the available amount of RAM.

Soundfont files are typically stored in this directory on your Zynthian:


One needs to place GIG files into a subfolder in the


A soundfont editor for quickly designing musical instruments. More than a simple editor, Polyphone has been designed to efficiently deal with big sets of instruments involving a large amount of data. Supports sf2, sf3, sfz or sfArk (all versions). Oh, and it is free!

How much time does it take for a preset of instrument to load? (for fast changes in live perfomance)

This depends on the engine, the preset (how many plugins) and the data itself: If you have a huge SF2 the loading of the fluidsynth takes only a few seconds (perhaps 1-3s?) and loading of a big SF2 takes about 30 seconds? If you use MOD-UI as engine and your pedalboard has 20 plugins this will also take some time to load - especially if you use inside the plugins bigger SF2 soundfonts... you will have to test this by yourself - sorry. Have in mind: normally Zynthian loads all from SD card - this is not as fast as HDD/SSD! Fast live-switching (inside a song) is AFAIK not really working, but you can organize your sounds for being in "standby" and switching between them.

If you use the original samples from the Korg 01/WR or equivalent (same size aprox.), you can have a lot of instruments loaded in the Zynthian's memory. Zynthian has 1 GB memory, what is a lot more than Korg 01/WR. Also, SSD access is faster than 90's ROMs chips.

I recommend you to take a look to LinuxSampler MIDI maps, althought it's not currently implemented in Zynthian, you could make a customized Zynthian version that loads a LinuxSampler MIDI map in startup, so you will have all the mapped instruments ready to use.

Anyway, small SFZs loads really fast, so you could try with the normal setup (no MIDI maps) first.

Regarding compression, SFZ don't use compression. It uses standard wav files for samples. The SFZ file itself is an XML description of how to use the wav files. AFAIK SF2 and GIG doesn't compress sound. It pack the samples inside, with the meta-info about how to use the samples.

Links to soundfonts

  • These years I've researched few iconic sample libraries from vintage samplers like Fairlight CMI, Kurzweil, Casio FZ, Ensoniq Mirage, Roland. All straight from disk, converted to Commodore Amiga suitable format (8bit). Note: They're older than 25 years, but some of these samples still can be copyrighted. You might not use these for commercial purposes, intended for studying, teaching, research and historic interest (FAIR USE).
      • Copyright Disclaimer (Fair Use Statement) (Dec. 11, 2016)
      • Fairlight CMI Library (SF2) (Dec. 11, 2016) -> CHORAL/ARR3 Used in Art of Noise's "Moments in love"
      • EMAX II Library (SF2) (Dec. 12, 2016) -> SHAKUHACHI Used in Enigma's "Sadeness"
      • AKAI MPC Volume I (Dec. 12, 2016)