mp3, jpg and midifile

Hi Jeff. I was curious about your question about Piano Soundfonts. I made some little test to share with you. Here what i made:

* The Soundfont was: Bobvjerg Steinway Soundfont (the first Preset)
* Effects: No one (no reverb, no chorus,no compression, nor in the hardware SBLive or the softsynths)
* The mp3: compressed with LAME with this commandline options: -b 160 -m s -h -c
* Normalized to: 99,54%

Here is the source MIDIFILE:


Is a “On the fly” sequence on a very well known music theme, i try to exxagerate the diffrence between piano and Forte to see (or hear) the diffrences. See the velocityes in a midi editor.

Here are the MP3 FILES

SB Live ! (Hardware)

Synthfont (Software synth)(

SFz 1.54 ( 1.54 (is the last version i have in my hardisk)

Here is a Graphic comparison in the Soundforge XP 4 i have:

A word about the comparisons:
This comparison was using NO FX. You can take the SBLive file like reference point, that the softsynths MUST emulate. Using NO FX, Synthfont appear more accurate that the SFZ (at least this version, 1,54) you can see that SFZ apply any kind of compression to the wave file that make you lost a lot of DYNAMICS. Why? I dont know. The settings of SFZ was Best Quality, Max Polyphony, no FX. Maybe anyone can test it with the midifile with the last version.
IF YOU ADD FX TO THE SBLIVE HARDWARE, Synthfont will do also some diffrences, since it dont support yet the BUILT-IN reverb that can be programmed INSIDE of Soundfonts.

Well, is a start. You can take the midifile i made to compare another pianos, or use another one.

See you!
EDIT: A Piano Soundfont that maybe can be included in the comparison is the “Hubbe VeloPiano” that have 3 versions: classic, generic and jazz with 17 layers. I dont remember the link or if it well writen. I will search it a little.

Very interesting! Frankly, I find the volume curve of SFZ to be a lot more natural sounding than the SBLive, where the volume jumps up too dramatically for the corresponding change in timbre. In any case, it’s a nice piece and sounds great on SFZ.

Perhaps the problem is that the velocity curve on my keyboard is unusual. I tried a few different curves (it’s programmable), but no significant effect.

In any case, I find the soft samples in that piano are still too bright – they sound like harder keypresses with the volume lowered. But I’ll admit I’m being very picky.


Very nice work, my amigo. Thank you.

I plan to run the MIDI through Band-In-A-Box and add some arpegiated acoustic guitar to it just for fun.

Thanks again.


Just an FYI, SFZ is at ver 1.97 now. Also, Jeff, add some reverb to these and you will find they mellow out a bit. Any of these super dry samples need a bit of massage.

I thought the sfz sounded the most realistic. I have never heard a piano with that much dynamic range. The very design of the piano prevents too much dynamic variation. Besides, even if so, you wouldn’t want to leave it that way unless you are playing a classical piece or something. And yeah, pianoverb would do a lot for that song.


Hi Friends. Some little thoughts:


Perhaps the problem is that the velocity curve on my keyboard is unusual. I tried a few different curves (it’s programmable), but no significant effect.

A nice tool that can help you tweaking the velocityes is “MIDIOX” you can easily create a “compressor/limiter” for the midi velocityes.

The very design of the piano prevents too much dynamic variation

Is true, my home piano is hard to play very soft, if i must clasify it, it goes from mf to ff. But, the good pianos i have tryied (at music school or any auditorioum (empty, guys :D )
have a nice Dynamic range. I think that a good piano, for solo or classic music, must have a good range.

ABOUT THE MORE SOFT SAMPLES, i have tryed a solution that maybe works for your ear tast Jeff:
Using the same soundfont, i tweak in the Vienna soundfont editor the Cuttof filters for the more pp and mp samples. They sound less bright and maybe more similar to what you expect. Sorry today i cand upload, but in the week i will upload it, to see what you think.

Well, see you!

EDIT: DON, the midi file has a free tempo, im not sure that your automatic arpeggi will work, but you can try. For sure it will be fun :D

There is plenty of dynamic range once you hit about $75,000-$100,000 and drag in Rachmaninov. :D

:D :D :( ?

Bubba, is sad, but i cant understand the joke because my english (can you explain it to me?) :D

tan,tan: after 5 minutes of brain processing, i have finished to understand, The Piano price, isnt?

Yup, sorry. What I am saying is that you can have a lot of dynamics from a piano if it is really expensive and you have a world class player playing it. That sort of price will get a very nice concert piano here in the US or a house. A free SoundFont and the likes of guys like us will never get the same level of dynamics. Man, jokes just aren’t funny when you have to explain them. :)

Marce, I think you’re correct about tweaking the filters, and maybe volume envelopes a little too. I haven’t fired up Vienna – actually, I downloaded it but didn’t install it yet. That’ll happen soon, though.

Ignoring the dynamics issues I have, I think I like the sound of the “Splendid Grand” the best. But I really haven’t given each piano enough time to say yet.

I used to play all the pianos I could find (roaming Ann Arbor, Michigan – home of Univ of Mich – looking for pianos I could sneak in and play, in dorms, concert halls, lounges, and the UM Music school). Back then, I could much more quickly adapt to each piano. Lately, I’ve only been playing my Ensoniq MR76, and my ability to adapt has suffered!


the filter trick is in deed quite common. Think about wave rom based synthesizers. Not those from today but more those from yesteryear or even earlier. Wave ROM is always limited on those machines. So you have to be inventive…


Hi Jeff. Have you messured the velocitys of your keyboard? I mean: if you hit the more soft you can the key of the ensoniq, what velocity value you get? Again, the midiox tool can be util converting the velocityes of the sequencer to something more similar you are adapted with your keyboard.

Probably you know, but the vienna thing will only run if you have a soundblaster card. There are a soundfont editor called Alive, out there, but you must pay. Also synthfont has a soundfont editor, but is a very beta thing.

Well, luck! (tell us later what you do, is interesting)

No, I didn’t know that about Vienna. Bummer. Thanks for letting me know!

I guess I’ll just have to create my sounds using Giga, and let other folks convert them. This stinks, because I’d rather use SFZ live – I use ASIO4All and my laptop’s builtin soundcard. As far as I know, nobody makes a “GSIF4all”, so I’d have to drag my MOTU along (which I hate to disentangle from my studio setup).

Yeah, I know about ROMpler tricks. But frankly, I’d really prefer samples at low velocities!!! Well, whaddya want for NUTHIN? (Isn’t that an Elwood quote from the movie? Something about a rubber biscuit. Or am I mixing my moves up?)

You can translate yourself the Giga sounds to SFZ, using Translator Free


But frankly, I’d really prefer samples at low velocities!!!

I have inspected the piano soundfonts i have in my hardisk. Beyond the well known mentioned here, most of them use a single sample for diffrent velocityes. Maybe you may consider any commercial library, like the Garritan Personal Orchestra one, that, someone said (bubba?) have a nice piano, and also the others instruments.

I like talk about soundfont, have you noticed? :), two nice links i like:
is a commercial library, but the guy has extensively sampled the brass and horns sections. He gives a demo soundfont amazing, and some nice free ones.
some gigasamples with natural reverb. The cymbals are beautifull.

see you Jeff. Later tell us what you do.

Sfz is a pretty good sampler indeed. There’s a comparison here:

That’s where I first heared about antialiasing, pretty interesting stuff.

The Garritan piano in the GPO is indeed superb and for the money you get one heck of a package. The Grand from Steinberg is quite excellent too, but for $50 more you can get GPO. But I think this discussion started out with what free SoundFonts were avaiable and I think that has been covered. As for paid for sampled pianos, the sky is the limit.

Scythe, very nice link, i will save it. Where is Sfz in thiat comparison?

Thanks for the translator, Marce! Now, if only it could teach me French …

I’m focusing on free or cheap stuff for a couple reasons. First, because I’m a cheapskate. Second, because it’s for sharing & posting, to help folks get started.

Well Jeff, I think you have your answers now. There isn’t much else ou there we haven’t hit.