Very often I use sound fonts for instruments instead of instrument specific plugins
to demo I use the General Midi Synth plugin which comes with a soundfont collection package
including piano, strings, … lots of instruments. Can be found somewhere on the web and has been written by Robin I think.
This is very quick!
To further refine I have my collection of free sound fonts from the web, which I use with the Fluid synth or the Ardour synth sound font player.
Very interesting approach using sound fonts instead of plugins: I have to learn a lot about the use of these technical artifacts as I am very new to these topics.
Does it means that a plugin (like the General Midi Synth) is simply the “playing” engine which is fed with the sound fonts, these being piano, harp or even drum sounds? That’s an extreme flexible approach!
Could you please give a hint where to look for these sound fonts for instruments?
A last question: you mention two plugins: General Midi Synth and Fluid synth: can be both unsed in Ardour or just the last one?
I know, a lot of questions, I hope you find the time to answer them, would be a big help for my understanding of this matter.
Correct, the General MIDI Synth has a fixed set of instruments though and is not based on sound fonts. The ACE Fluid Synth plugin that is bundled with Ardour too can play sound font files. You can load any sound font file (.sf2) with this plugin. Some examples:
First of all I’m not an in-depth expert of the subject, just an average user, so I might be missing something or might even be wrong in some aspects. And I mostly know it from the Linux side, so for sure I do not know much about what exists on Windows or Mac.
But I will tell you anyway what I know. Others might jump in to help or correct
Yes, Sound Fonts are basically samples packed in a specific format. Plugins exist,
that can play this samples
There are many formats to package samples into so called sound fonts, I know mainly about 2 of them.
sf2, binary packaged
sfz, directory structure with samples and config (text) file visiable.
Sound Font editor: A software exists to created, edit, modify Sound fonts. It’s called Polyphone. I sometimes use it to audit sound fonts quickly or to repackage them. F.i. collecting various piano sound fonts into a single package.
On Linux there is a variety of players available, I only know a subset:
Calf Fluid Synth, Ardour synth: to handle SF2 format
Sfizz: to load and play sfz format
General MIdi synth: packaged with a bank of sound fonts (sf2 format?). 128 (or 256?) different sounds. I think that concept has been taken from hardware players. The bank cannot be changed, but there are banks available on the net with different sample (but same instruments) that can be loaded into Fluid synth
Free sound fonts. Below is an excerpt of my bookmarks. I do not know if all of the links still exist.