Sound Fonts

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Revision as of 23:40, 11 April 2020 by Jofemodo (talk | contribs) (→‎FAQ)
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Zynthian currently includes 2 sampler engines:

  • 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. You can use SFZ and GIG fonts with the LinuxSampler engine, which reads the samples directly from the SD card, preloading only a small part of the file using an advanced caching system. 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:


You need to place GIG files into a subfolder in the Soundfont directory


1 Soundfont Editors

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!

Also Viena soundfont editor from the SynthFont site


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 to 3 seconds) 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 the plugins bigger SF2 soundfonts. you will have to test this by yourself. Keep in mind: normally Zynthian loads everything from an SD card - this is not as fast as HDD/SSD. Fast live-switching (inside a song) is solved by having your sounds in "standby" and switching between them using MIDI program change + ZS3 subsnapshots.

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, which 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, although 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.

At the end of the day, small SFZs load 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. SF2 and GIG doesn't compress sound. It packs the samples inside, with the meta-info about how to use the samples.

3 Soundfont Collection Links