55: Soundfonts - how to use

Soundfonts are .WAV files (recordings of actual instruments) which can replace default or built in MIDI sounds to give you a wider range of sounds and vastly improved sound quality . If you have a Soundblaster soundcard you can easily load soundfonts and use them in Sibelius.

You can load several at the same time, so if you have, say, a favourite flute sound, you can use it with your favourite piano sound, which may be from an entirely different source.

Using soundfonts with Sibelius

The following applies to Soundblaster Live! and Audigy cards, but other Soundblaster cards can also load Soundfonts in a similar way using the Control Panel or Control Program located in the Sound Blaster program group in your Start menu:

  1. Go to Soundfont in Audio HQ (accessed from its icon on the taskbar or from Start/Programs/Creative/SoundBlaster Live!/Audio HQ), and click on Configure Bank.
  2. Click on Select Bank.
  3. Click on the Bank into which you want to load your Soundfont.
  4. Click on Load, and locate the Soundfont you want to install. A good idea is to download your Soundfonts (from the Internet or CD, or wherever) into a folder on your hard drive and install them from there.
  5. Having found the Soundfont you want, click on it, then click on Select, and the Soundfont is loaded.
  6. Click on Configure Instrument and in the new window click on Select Bank.
  7. Click on the Bank you want, and then on Select Instrument. The numbers in this window are program numbers, which Sibelius can use (see below.)

In Sibelius 4:

  1. Go to Play > Playback and Input Devices (Play > Devices in Sibelius 3 & 2) and ensure that A: SB Live! Synth and/or B: SB Live! Synth are allowed to be used for playback (set the Use column to Yes for either or both of them)
  2. Open the Mixer - just hit M
  3. In the right-hand set of controls, enter the bank number (from Configure Instrument) in the Bank High box, and enter the program number into the Program box. There is no need to multiply the bank number or add 1 to the program number as in previous versions of Sibelius.

In Sibelius 1.4:

  1. Open the file you want, or start a new file.
  2. In Play/Flexi-time/Equipment make sure you have A:SB Live! MIDI Synth enabled (Yes in Use column). You could use B:SB Live! MIDI Synth, if you prefer, or even have both available to use.
  3. Go to the Play/Flexi-time/Sounds dialog (or just type I). Make sure Equipment (the far right column - you may have to use the slider at the bottom of the page to see it!) says "A: (or B: if appropriate) SB Live! MIDI Synth".
  4. Look at the Bank column: at this stage all the instruments will be Bank 0. Clicking on the 0 brings up arrows enabling you to move through the Bank numbers. You will notice that they are incremented in steps of 128. This simply means that Bank 001 in Soundfont in Audio Control = Bank 128 in Sibelius, Bank 002 = 256, Bank 003 = 384 and so on. So, 1 click for Bank 001, 2 clicks for Bank 002 and so on, stopping when you reach the Bank number which corresponds to the Soundfont you want to use. The Sound column (second from the left) will now be blank: this is used to select General MIDI sounds, and you are using a Soundfont, so don't worry about it!
  5. In the Program column (next to the Bank column) set the program number (from Configure Instrument/Select Instrument in Soundfont in Audio HQ) and you have lift-off! Just be aware that the programme numbers in Select Instrument start from 000, whilst in the Sounds dialog's Program column they start from 1 (so you have to add 1 to the number in Configure Instrument/Select Instrument to get the correct sound.)

Recommended soundfonts

For users with a Soundblaster Live! or Audigy card, Utopia Live! from Utopia Sound Division is an excellent General MIDI soundfont which we recommend.

To obtain other soundfonts, a good starting point is the Soundblaster Live! Web site where there is a list of suppliers - and some freebies! (There are also some Soundfonts supplied with the Soundblaster Live! card.)

You should also try The Sound Site, which has hundreds of soundfonts available for free download.

Related articles


1.003 - 1.4, 2 - 2.11, 3.0 - 3.1.3, 4.0 - 4.1
08 Jul 2005

Did this solve your problem?


No - I didn't understand the answer
No - I tried it but it didn't work
No - this answer wasn't relevant to my problem