May 26, 2010

Quest For Improved MIDI Sound

I am fascinated on how MIDI works since I was a kid. I enjoyed listening to a MIDI file and observe how they sound on different devices and synthesizers. I familiarized myself on how MIDI instruments sound and I had memorized most patch numbers and their instruments. I have heard a bad-sounding synthesizer. I got myself vanBasco Karaoke Player and played all MIDI files through it just to watch which instruments are being used and you can see me watching how the instruments are used or played. I enjoy listening to MIDI than mp3.

Ok, enough of the bluff above. Since I was introduced in the world of MIDI, all MIDI files I play in our computer sound only as good as the Windows built-in Roland GS synthetizer. Nonetheless, I am satisfied with its performance. That's until I got into composing MIDI music. I've heard better-sounding synthesizers (especially from the Yamaha Clavinova). I've thought my compositions should've sounded much better.

So now, I've begun researching ways to change how MIDI sounds in our PC.

First, wanting to emulate the Yamaha XG (because tons of the MIDI I got has XG instruments in them). I downloaded the YAMAHA XG SoftSynthesizer S-YXG50. I was unable to use it (there's no sound from MIDI and Windows gives me error about it). But I soon found out that S-YXG50 was a demo and will expire at some-date-around-2002 so I must change our system date before 2002 before I can use it. Some of the MIDI files that has XG instruments on them sounded great and the S-YXG50 showed its full potential with its some demo MIDI music. I was incredibly amazed on the great quality of the sounds compared to the Microsoft Wavetable GS Synth included in all Microsoft Windows.

But even if I got the Yamaha SoftSynth, the fact that you must travel back in time is a hassle that makes me think that there could be a better alternative. I have heard of SoundFont but it doesn't support my integrated soundcard.

synthfont window
I downloaded SynthFont so I can use the SoundFonts on my PC. I downloaded some soundfonts on I downloaded:


and searched the web for a soundfont for XG:
yamaha xg sound set re-map.sf2

I mixed and matched them so I can get the maximum quality out of my MIDI files. These soundfonts sounds realistic and really brings life out of MIDI files.

From this research, I came into conclusion that there is no perfect solution to get the best quality playback for MIDI files. Some Final Fantasy MIDI in my collection (which are designed for XG) sounds best when played on Yamaha XG Softsynth. Complex MIDI files play good on the built-in Roland GS while orchestra and my compositions play best on SoundFont combinations.