|Is anyone else able to play this (or any other MIDI file) directly to through their MIDI device without adding an sfz (or other software-based) instrument channel? Phoo, when you played it, did you do it directly to your MIDI device? |
You don’t need an instrument channel to play a MIDI file. You can load a midi file into n-track and play it back in your soundcard (providing it supports midi).
There seems to be a whole load of confusion with regard to MIDI. This will either help, or make things more confused…
Think of it like this… MIDI is just “electronic sheet music”. To play that sheet music you need an “instrument”.
Generally this “instrument” is one of the following:
a) A Vsti in n-track
b) A MIDI engine (instrument) built into my soundcard
c) An external MIDI device connected to the midi output of the soundcard. (eg a keyboard or drum machine)
In the “old days” it was easy to understand. Computers had very little to do with MIDI. You just connected up real bits of hardware (instruments, hardware sequencers) with MIDI cables and had the “sequencers” play the “instruments” using the “electronic sheet music” called midi.
Then along came computers. Instead of needing a hardware sequencer to play the MIDI file, the PC could act as a sequencer by running software. The MIDI instructions would have to get out of the PC somehow to a real instrument and this is where add-on MIDI cards came in. (Unless like me you had an Atari that had a built-in midi interface).
But, with PCs you needed an add-on card. This is where the term MPU401 came from - the defacto standard MIDI interface card was the Roland MPU-401 MIDIcard (an ISA card) that you could plug into your PC. It didn’t have any sounds built in - it just allowed a PC to be a sequencer and play external hardware MIDI instruments.
Then some clever someone made a soundcard with a MIDI “instrument” built into it. So now the “sequencer” on the PC could play a MIDI file without any additional external hardware. The early ones sounded dreadful as they used synthesised sounds.
Then later came soundcards that used samples or could load collections of samples (“soundfonts” as Creative called them) into them. Better sounds! Anyone remember the AWE32. One of the first cards that could load soundfonts IIRC.
The next generation was VSTi. Software “instruments” that can plug into a host like n-track. Mostly these are able to make a noise on their own (eg a piano VSTi), but there is a special category of VSTis that are soundfont players (eg SFZ). These are just instruments than can load/play a soundfont.
To add further confusion there are products like the “Microsoft Wavetable Software Synth”. These are like “soundcards” built from software. Avoid unless you can’t.
So, fundamentally you need a “sequencer” (eg n-track) to send MIDI commands (“electronic sheet music”), to a MIDI “instrument”. This “instrument” can either be a Vsti, a soundcard that has builtin instruments, or an external real instrument.
When n-track plays a MIDI file it will attempt to send it to whatever “instrument” the track is pointed to. This will either be a Vsti instrument or a MIDI device (configured in the preferences).
That’s enough for now…