List your faves
I’m finally digging into soundfonts. I’ve combed the internet for good free acoustic piano, rhodes, and acoustic guitar fonts, and what I’ve found is mostly dismal. (There is a rhodes font that’s pretty good, and still quite a few places to look.)
Please post and list your favorites, and give a nice short description. I’ll collect the list to post for posterity. Please limit it to really playable, usable soundfonts. There’s SO much junk out there!
Please post links to where we can get them, if you can.
Feel free to include paid-for ones, but make a note of the street price. If you don’t list a price, we’ll assume it’s free.
I’ll try to review every posted soundfont. After the dust settles a bit, maybe I’ll post some polls for the best soundfonts in a category (like piano).
Oh – also soundfont players. So far, I’ve only used sfz (free) and gigastudio. BTW, you can pick up Gigastudio32 for a song on ebay if you act REAL soon. I mean, less than $20, plus shipping. It doesn’t include gigapiano, so it’s only real usefulness is to play other (mostly highly priced) giga-format sounds.
Ok. Here is my list by catagory. It is hard to assertain the exact name of them from the filename, but I will do my best. Every one of them are free, and I obtained all of them either from http://www.hammersound.net/ or from http://www.soundfonts.it/
Bass: You can’t beat NS J-Bass. Good sustain and clean, alterable tone.
Piano: The NS one is good, but I prefer the Akai Steinway III. Just the best overall tone, etc. Go to http://www.motagator.net/bands/43/ and hear the piano part I created with this soundfont.
Drums: There are several ones good for different parts of the set. I like NS Kit for just an overall kit, but I don’t like parts of it when given a choice. Also good are the Mellotti Drums and Gold Drums. The melotti drums especially have some really good sounding kit parts.
Pipe/Church Organ: I have two that sound good. One is called “English Organ 102” (good luck finding it specifically). The other is a really good french organ called “Jeux d’orgues”. Both are very authentic.
Hammond Style organ: There are two organs called Hammond B3 “Fast Leslie” and “Slow Leslie”. They are both good (same organ, different leslie speed).
That is about all I have. I don’t use a lot of different sf2’s because I don’t use a lot of different instruments. Sometimes (like with an electric piano or hammond organ) I find that a vsti is better than a soundfont anyways. I mostly (with some notable exceptions) just use sf2’s on instruments that aren’t created using electronics. Perhaps a VSTi thread should be started? I might myself…
As for players, I use SFplay. It has more controls than sfz and I have had far less problems, because it does not have channel/program settings that can be screwed up by midi screwiness.
For actual playable soundfonts, I’ve found that the Johannes Roussel fonts are very nice. I’ve used a few from him.
Okay…granted, I’m just now getting into soundfonts. But his seem to be really good.
Most of the Natural Studio SFs are very good. If you can find it, the DSoundLabs strings are about the best ensemble string section you can find in a SF. If you can’t find it, PM me, I’ll get you a link. Nando Florestan has about the best woodwind SFs out there. For solo strings, try Cadenza on Hammersound. For a good over all GM set, the Fluid ver 3 on Hammersound is pretty excellent. For accordion, again I point to DSoundLabs. Brass, well, I’m looking for that too. I haven’t found uch brass that is decent. Nando Florestan has a very good French Horn Section SF. If there is anything special you are looking for and can’t find, I probably have a freebie that will fit the bill.
Well, my prefered ones:
Acoustic Piano: Bovbjerg PianoBovbjerg Pianos 30mb. The Steinway one is very sweet and nice. It have some layers. It works well for solo parts.
Bassoon: The Ethan’s Winner one, that you can found in the Nando Florestan that Bubba wrote.
Acoustic Guitar: Protrax Acoustic guitar (14mb) at Hammersound.net. Very nice, it have the fret noise programmed according with the velocity you hit the note.
Also there are some Giga sounds for free out there, that are very good, and you can convert to sf2. I will search the link post later.
Check also the freebies of SonicImplants. The Cymball rolls and snare rolls sound very good
For play the soundfonts, you can use SFz free, Synthfont that have a standalone and a VSTi version, and Timidity++. This three ones are the more accurate soundfont players. There are many others, but they have some diffrences playing soundfonts, like ignore some layers, ignores some internal soundfont programming, etc.
Edit: Here is the link to a interesting sampling project that have nice sounds to convert to sf2. I have done this and really are some ones very good:
Edit2: I also like and use a violin from ntonyx, but is commercial, not very much. Is called “Violin Full, 25 mb” and sounds very real.
Thanks, guys. Please do post links when you can. And keep 'em coming. I’ll do a summar when I get time to review them. I’m also happy to see a couple sources I didn’t find in my search.
If the Bovbjerg, NS, and Akai Steinway are the best to be found, then things are in a sad state for us cheapskates. While I don’t want to undermine the huge effort I’m sure went into those fonts, they all suffer from various problems, and none of them is nearly as good as the grand piano patch in a typical good synth or electronic piano. Those are the best three I’ve found, and my fave (IIRC) is the Akai for overall playability, especially at velocities lower than forte.
For playing entirely in mf and above, the Bovbjerg is a clear standout. Too bad it doesn’t have a good layer for p or below.
Those are initial reactions from finding them the other night – and I hope I didn’t cross any up. I’ll have to double-check to make sure.
Hey, someone posted a link to an app that supported conversions and other stuff. While it wasn’t cheap, it did look interesting. What was that? If I send you a giga sound, can you convert it to soundfont for me? (I’m not sure if Giga can do that – so far I think not.) The reason being that for live playing, soundfonts will be easier than GS, since I can use my built-in soundcard with Asio4all, rather than ripping my MOTU out of the heart of my studio every time.
A quick reply, later, i will fight with you a little about the bobvjerg piano
There is a soft called “Translator free” that converts from giga to sf2 for free. It only have some limitation per use, but do the job
Has anyone found any good “brush-played” drumset Soundfonts?
Hi, here is the LINK to the convert thing.
About soundfonts i have a little observation. Some soundfonts that really sound cool in my sblive, sound very bad or flat using software synths. By example, the Bobvjerg piano have only 3 real layers (the wav files) but it have more layers (i dont remember how much ones) that are programmed inside the soundfont using the filter cuttof of the sblive cards for simulate them, with good result, imho.
I dont know if this things works in the software synths.
I am surprised to hear you don’t like the NSPiano. I have a pretty decent Yamaha pro line keyboard and it doesn’t come close to the NSPiano. It is very very dry, so that may be why you aren’t nuts about it. It needs some generous reverb/ambience treatment to work well.
Well, I was “sampling” a bunch of sf’s that night, so maybe I mixed two up. But my recollection of NS was that it was very “honky” sounding. Not like “honkey tonk”, but like a car horn – blaring. I’ll have to try again and see what I think!
I tested them all through sfz, in n-Track. Perhaps sfz doesn’t apply filters or something. That would make a HUGE difference. Lowpass filtering more for lower velocities would really fix up what I didn’t like about the Bobvjerg, and maybe even the NS. I can try them all again through Giga and see if there’s a difference.
Bubba, what were you using as a player?
My problem with Akai was a tonal oddity in the register below Middle C (actually, starting at D and going down, not quite a whole octave). It sounded a bit like a note stretched too far. For sample sets that have big gaps, I think the gaps should be shorter near Middle C. Just seems to be where I notice problems – maybe it’s my playing style, I do camp out there a bit.
PS: I love Yamaha real pianos, and their epianos aren’t bad, but not really to my taste. At least, I really don’t care for the Clavinova, but the P80 I like much more. Strange that they sound so different! I haven’t tried enough of them to know what the true range is.
Good topic Jeff-
I’ve never used Sfonts or vst instruments and could use a little help.
I downloaded SFZ SF player and can’t get an sounds either as a stand-alone or inside N-track.
The midi ligh is blinking when I play so I know midi is going in,
I have a few known good fonts to test and they load fine but no sound.
How do these vst instruments work anyway? Do they play through the host or into it? Do you record the midi, audio, or both?
I’ll be honest and say I don’t know @!#! about it. Will anyone help me come out of the stone age?
Learjeff, I use SFZ for SF playback. As for filters etc, that stuff is all set in the SF itself, so whether it be a SBLive card or a player, assuming they are accurate, they can only play what the SF contains. That being said, I have found SFZ to be very very accurate.
I kinda don’t really like Yamaha pianos. I find them less tonal and more clanky. I like rich, not bright, but for each his own. With any sample or SF I think one must be prepared to do some custom tweaking be it EQ or ambience. Using the presets is rarely ideal. Long story short don’t take things too much at face value.
Hi Jeff. Talking about piano soundfont, there is a very big one out there, that i have not tryed still, only download. Is 136 mb soundfont and is called “Splendid Grand”. If you want spent a time downloading, do, i dont know about the quality of it yet, maybe you can ask some advise.
Here is a little index of soundfont made for the guy of the Timidity soundfont player, maybe help you.
An inspired idea
Why you, Jeff, dont provide any midifile you like, and we can render it trough a SBLive, and other sofsynths using some diffrent soundfonts, and later we post it like an mp3 (using same settings) to compare them. It can help to be more objetive and talk about something more real.
Well, an idea.
I will start a new topic for your question. I would hate to steal such a good topic, even for a good question.
Marce, while that’s a very good idea, it’s not the best way to compare pianos. A piano player plays the actual instrument. So the MIDI file I’d generate when playing/monitoring soundfont A would be rather different than the MIDI file I’d generate when playing the same piece for soundfont B. Mostly, the velocities would be different. But also, different pianos “want” to be played in different styles.
So, while it’s not perfect, it might still be useful to do what you said. In addition, it would be good to have a snippet of each piano played to emphasize that piano’s best character.
I’ve played the Splendid Grand and I was disappointed in the results for so much memory. Frankly, I started with the one with half the memory and thought that, with one more velocity layer (a pp or ppp layer) it would be just great. But no such luck. Again, the problem is in the soft notes.
However, I suspect that sfz doesn’t play the samples properly. That’s the only consistent theory that explains what Bubba says versus the results I get.
BTW, Bubba: I find the tone of Yamahas (conservatory series and up, 5’8" and bigger) to be very clear and bell-like, with far fewer “noisy” overtones than say a comparable Steinway. Smaller Yamahas like C1 (baby grand) I don’t care for at all, WAY to bright and brittle. However, I recently played a C3 (normally a piano I really like) and it was rather harsh and bright – I think it’s because of the room it was in, with no furniture and only 9’ or 10’ ceiling. For a piano to sound good, you need either a nice big room and high cieling, or else a carefully treated room.
Classical players tend to prefer pianos like Steinway or Bosendorfers, and pop/rock/blues players tend to prefer Yamaha. I fall into in the latter category.
Yamahas are too clanky for me. I used to sell pianos so I got spoiled with the Bechsteins and Petrofs laying around.
Anyway, I use SFZ for playback. I find it to be very accurate compared to my SBLive card. I mean, they are identical in a phase reverse test. However, I have found a few builds of SFZ to be flakey. I dunno… The tonality shouldn’t be all that different. In any case, this stuff is all free, so its a crap shoot.