Users of Digital Audio Workstations have a plethora of tools at their disposal to create and manipulate sound. Virtual studio instruments (VSTIs) have been a mainstay in most studios for some time now, and provide a wide variety of options to fit the needs of most users. Yet, one of the oldest and most enduring tools used in digital studios around the world is the soundfont file (.sf2). found widely online, with many free to download. Use soundfonts in your VSTI compliant studio.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- VST Compatible Digital Audio Workstation, such as FL Studio, Ableton Live or Cukoo's Reaper
- Compliant VSTI, such as Native Instruments Kontakt, or the free SFZ soundfont player
Start your digital audio workstation. Be sure that your DAW supports the VST plug-in format.
Create an instance of your sampler or synth of choice. There are several freely available VSTI samplers and synths that support the sf2 format, such as SFZ by Cakewalk, bs-0 by Bismarck and Phenome by Prodyon. Paid options include Kontakt by Native Instruments and MOTU Mach 5.
Load the .sf2 file you want to use in your VSTI's interface.
Edit the .sf2 file within your VSTI to fit your needs. Most .sf2 complaint VSTIs include a wide variety of parameters that can alter a sound source, including filters, reverbs and equalisers.
Save your edited .sf2 file as a preset instrument in your VSTI.
Tips and warnings
- Soundfonts can vary greatly in size. As a result, some soundfonts can exceed the size limitations of some samplers. Some soundfonts may contain several hundred instruments, and most VSTI samplers have a limitation of 16 instruments per instance. If your .sf2 is too large to be used in a single VSTI, you can load several instances of your VSTI, and then load the sf2 incrementally across them.
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