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IMPROVE MIDI SOUNDS ON A PERSONAL COMPUTER

You know that midi files sound depends on your pc, because in the file there's only the instruments' scores of the song, and instruments are played from your computer. It's a little simplified, but I'm not a computer music guru. The common standard for all midi files on all pc is called "General MIDI".

Why this page

I usually played bass excluding this instrument in midi files. But my midi instruments sounded like 10 € cellular phone ring or like a toy keyboard. So I went to a music shop (Musicaarte in Rome), specialized in computer music and digital instruments,
and I asked: How can I improve the sounds of my midi files?
They are honest persons and so they tell me: there's no way, no soundcard/soundboard can do it nor software nor midi expander, the only thing you can do is buy our karaoke 800€ player.
I was novice, but something sound strange and I started to interest in this field.
Now I have found two or three ways to make sound my midi like Philharmonic Orchestra without spending 800$. I don't want someone buy a karaoke TV player to improve midi sound in a PC, so here I explaine the simplest way to do it.

 

USING SOUNDFONTS (free software easy way)

The technology

The most simple way I have found to improve mi sounds is using SOUNDFONTS. This is a technology used by soundblaster soundcards , but you don't need to buy a sound blaster to use soundfonts. We will do it by a good software.
By the way, What soundfonts are?
"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 technology is akin to software sampling. A SoundFont file contains one or more banks of sampled audio data, which can be re-synthesized at different pitches and dynamic levels. Each sample in a bank is associated with a particular range of pitches and dynamics. Generally speaking, the quality of a SoundFont bank is a function of the quality of the digital samples and the intelligent association of samples with their appropriate pitch ranges. Quality is also dependent on the number of samples taken for a given range of pitches. SoundFonts are tightly integrated with MIDI devices and can be seamlessly used in place of GM patches in many computer music sequencers. The sound quality of SoundFont banks is generally regarded as superior to standard GM banks, and many SoundFont banks have been created specifically to replace GM banks with samples of each corresponding instrument."

How to play midi like Philharmonic Orchestra (not like 30 € keyboard)

1. Download a software to play your midi files. This software will use soundfonts to play his instruments. The best freeware/shareware I found was SynthFont.
download synthfont from http://www.synthfont.com/
The author, Kenneth Rundt, is a real guru, an hacker in the real meaning, and all humanity thanx him for his work, infact he is not rich. His software do many others intreresting things. He is a genius, and you, common mortal, probably will need half hour to understand wich file to download.

2. Next step is to find soundfonts that we will use inside synthfont to play midi files. There are many, but the best, certainly, undoubtedly is Crisis General Midi
download Crisis General MIDI from http://www.bismutnetwork.com/ in the section: musics > crisis sound fonts > The sound font
The author, Christope Maricourt, is a friend (I hope I can call him in this way), a really nice person, a sound fonts boss, a sampling Mahatma, and all humanity is still thanking him for his work. But is an hacker (in the real meaning of the term), a genius, and you, common mortal, probably will need two hours to understand how to download and recollect the final file that will be CrisisGeneralMidi1.8.sf2 or something like this. The concept is that you download 10 files, then reconstruct the original file with a special software, the file you obtain is compressed with another special software and you have to decompress. By the way, there are instructions on the site.

3. Finally you have to tell to synthfont to use crisis like default soundfont: open sinthfont > file > set default soundfont file > and look for CrisisGeneralMidi1.8.sf2 on your pc.
Now open a midifile with sinthfont... and that's it. Incredible but it will sound better than other expansive (800$ca.) software like Sonar with Roland TTS-1 sound canvas or others. Thanx Chris. Thanx Kenneth.

 

USING $$$ SOFTWARE (advanced way)

There are several way to do this, I assume that you arn't a professionist nor a newbie, so let's start.
1. Find a good sequencer software, best are Steinberg Cubase or Cakewalk Sonar, I prefer the first one for the reason we will see later.
2. Now you can import the midi file inside your sequencer. You will see every instrument in a different line.
3. Ok the great thigs is that you can choose one different instrument for every track, the bad thing is that sequencer has not any good instruments inside, you have to find them yourself and install into your sequencer. To do this Cubase use a technology called VSTi (Virtual Instruments) and Sonar nativelly another one called DXi (DirectX instruments); VSTi are more used so I prefer the first one sequencer (but it isn't a perfect truth).
4. Set of Instruments I prefer are:
- Edirol super quartet for bass, guitar, and pian
- Steinberg Groove Agent for drums (it kiks)
- Sometimes you can use sound-fonts for some particular instruments with a plug-in to load them into a VSTi
- Roland Hyper canvas for all others instuments
- Halion 3 (that is properly a sampler) used like VST, then find sound libraries, if you want an hesoteric result for particular instruments.
5. enjoy using different set of instruments and inside everyone choosing the particular one (ex.: for bass the acoustic bass, the fingered bass, the frettless bass etc.)

If U have something to tell me write at marco.sebastianiATgmail.com

Versione Italiana

sicuramente tutti voi capite l'inglese, altrimenti che navigate a fare su internet? quindi saro' breve. Poi si dice che gli italiani, me incluso, su internet cliccano solo su free e download quindi :
per migliorare di brutto il suono dei midi sul pc e gratis:
1) download http://www.synthfont.com/
2) download http://www.bismutnetwork.com/
3) puoi usare crisis general midi .sf2 come soundfont di default in synthfont. Ci sono altri sistemi, ma sono complicati e serve software costoso....
oppure leggere un buon manuale su come fare musica con il pc

commenti alla mail marco.sebastiani@gmail.com

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