I found this decent soundfont file from the debian repositories:
sudo apt install musescore-general-soundfont
which installs /usr/share/sounds/sf3/MuseScore_General_Full.sf3. It’s pretty comprehensive and sounds great, but it’s an 82 MB file that takes a long time for any fluidsynth LV2 plugin to load. The real problem is that I might have many tracks each with their own fluidsynth plugins loading this same file, and that seems to impact startup time linearly (e.g. if it takes 10 seconds to load the soundfont, it would take 1 minute to start ardour if there are 6 tracks).
Has anybody run into this or have a workaround?
I know as good as nothing about soundfonts and what they do, but since you’re using a Debian-based distro there should be a musescore-general-soundfont-small and a musescore-general-soundfont-lossless package available. Both should load quicker, according to the summary I get in Synaptic.
Why not using a single plugin on a MIDI bus and routing other MIDI tracks there. If all use the same soundfount and plugins setting this should work. You may need to use different MIDI channels for each track, though.
As it is, some tracks have different filter plugins from each other, and even have separate automation curves for volume, so I would be unable to whittle everything down to a single bus containing the fluidsynth instrument without sacrificing flexibility. However, some of my tracks do not use automation and share the same kinds of filters, so there’s some room for improvement.
FWIW, my current workaround was to install sfizz (https://github.com/sfztools/sfizz) and download some new samples in SFZ format from random places on the internet. The sfizz plugin loads instantaneously since it only loads one sample at a time. For some samples in the musescore GM soundfont I just couldn’t find decent replacements, so some of my tracks still use the fluidsynth plugin, but my ardour startup time went down by a couple minutes .
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