Creating SoundFont Compatible Banks

This step-by-step guide will walk you down the path to creating and managing your SoundFont-compatible banks

Creating SoundFont-Compatible Banks

Is it in your nature to be satisfied with what you're given? Have you ever been happy with just five colors of crayons? Is every shirt in your closet exactly alike? No! The world around you is vivid and amazingly diverse. So why settle for sounds that everyone else uses?

Creating SoundFont banks that are uniquely yours can be the key to unlocking your creative potential. Imagine tweaking your voice into the perfect choir sound. Perhaps a simple square wave is transformed into the perfect bass. Whatever you imagine, Vienna SoundFont Studio is your tool for realizing it.

This step-by-step guide will walk you down the path to creating and managing your SoundFont-compatible banks.

Preparing To Import To The Sample Pool

Importing your own sounds into your custom SoundFont-compatible banks is the greatest way to personalize the banks the way you want them to sound. If you have some instrument sounds stored as .wav files, or maybe even sound effects, you can easily import them into a bank and use them for playback with MIDI on your BlasterKeyMP3 or other MIDI instrument.

The Sample Pool is the lowest layer of the three layers that will determine the final sound you hear when you play a note on your MIDI instrument. The three layers are Sample, Instrument, and Preset. The Sample Pool usually consists of a simple waveform (.wav file) found on sample CDs, downloaded from the internet, or that you record yourself. An example might be recording the notes of yourself playing a saxophone up a chromatic scale. This would produce 12 individual tones that you would need to separate into 12 .wav files (using Steinberg's Recycle or some other .wav editing tool).

To import user samples into a SoundFont-compatible bank:

  • In the SoundFont Tree view, right-click User Sample Pool and click Import User Sample(s) on the shortcut menu. Or, on the Options menu, point to User Sample Pool and then click Import User Sample(s).
  • In the Import User Sample(s) dialog box, select the sample(s) (with .wav extension) that you want to import.

NOTE: If you import two samples that are different but have the same name, a new name is generated for one of the samples.

4Editing Your Sounds

Vienna SoundFont Studio provides dozens of sliders to edit your sounds. These sliders (like faders or knobs) allow you to change many different aspects of how your sounds are heard. It is beyond the scope of this tutorial to get into each editing function.

However, some of the most important are things like Reverb & Chorus, Panning, Filter Cutoff, and Resonance. Each of these parameters can be changed at both the Instrument level and the Preset level. Within each of these two levels, you can create a Global "Zone." Global Zones apply editing changes to all of the Samples (at the Instrument level) or Instruments (at the Preset level). An example of this might be to create an Instrument that has the following:

Preset (Finished Guitar)
Instrument 1 (Dry guitar panned right)
Sample 1 (Basic, dry guitar .wav file)

Instrument 2 (Guitar with Chorus effect & Reverb panned left)
Sample 2 (Guitar with Chorus .wav file)

In this example, a stereo guitar is created with a Chorus & Reverb on the left channel. All of it is heard when the Preset: "Finished Guitar" is played using MIDI. Instrument 2 has had more editing done on it to distinguish the sound of it from Instrument 1, even though they both use the same User Sample of a dry guitar!

1The Instrument Zone

The Instrument Pool contains all the instruments in the active SoundFont-compatible bank. Each instrument has one or more instrument zones, and each instrument zone can reference only one ROM sample or user sample at any one time. (ROM samples only apply to the AWE series of sound cards. Sound Blaster Live! and newer cards do not contain ROMs with sounds on them, instead relying on SoundFont banks entirely.)

Your user samples from the Sample Pool are the basis of creating your Instruments. Instruments can contain multiple sounds from the Sample Pool. A good example of this might be to bring in the same user sample twice to make one instrument sound. Panning one of the user samples to the left and the other to the right will create a stereo Instrument from a single user sample. For a greater effect, applying the reverb, chorus, or some other effect to only one of the two user samples within the Instrument will result in a better sounding stereo image.

Creating Presets

The Preset section contains two preset pools, Melodic Pool and Percussive Pool. Each preset in a pool has one or more preset zones. Right click on the Preset Section folder to create a "zone." Zones contain Instruments (which contain user samples, both of which you should have created by now). You can add multiple instruments to a Preset. This is great for creating things like a full chord with one touch of a key. This can be done by changing the "Coarse Tuning" at the Instrument level, then bringing those into a Preset where they'll be used by your MIDI sequencing software.

Melodic Pool

  • Contains all the melodic presets in an active SoundFont bank.
  • Most of the time, most people will likely use the Melodic Pool for building new banks.
  • Even percussion sounds can be placed in the Melodic Pool.

2Percussive Pool

  • Contains all the percussive presets in an active SoundFont bank.
  • The Percussive Pool is created for percussion samples only, and is used on MIDI channel 10, as MIDI specifications require.
  • The Percussive Pool is used primarily for creating custom drum kits.

3Managing SoundFont Banks

For those users with a PCI-based Sound Blaster Live! series soundcard, the E-mu SoundFont Librarian makes building and managing SoundFont-compatible banks easier than ever before. Use the Librarian to mix and match presets from multiple banks with intuitive drag and drop commands. For those users with a PCI-based Sound BlasterAudigy series soundcards, the included SoundFont Bank Manager offers a librarian feature to quickly customize your banks using intuitive drag and drop commends.

The screen shots below demonstrate the simplicity of customizing your own SoundFont banks.



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