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INFO: SoundFont Primer

Article ID:000077
Category:Installation and Startup
Applies to:Power Tab Editor (all versions)
Last updated:26-Jun-2005
Revision number:28
Author(s):Brad Larsen


As everyone knows, MIDI is great tool for musicians, but it can be severely limiting when it comes to sound quality. Modern sound cards have greatly improved upon the quality, but there is still much left to be desired, especially in the realm of guitar based instruments. (which is to be expected since MIDI was designed with keyboards in mind.) E-MU/ENSONIQ have tried to improve upon MIDI sound quality by creating SoundFont technology.

What are SoundFonts?

In layman's terms, a SoundFont is a file that contains samples of real-world instruments. (recorded .wav files) In much the same way that a normal font file changes how text is viewed in a word processor, a SoundFont changes how a MIDI instrument sounds during playback. SoundFont files use the extensions .sbk and .sf2. For more detailed information on the SoundFont technology, see

What hardware is required to use SoundFonts?

You'll need a sound card capable of using SoundFont technology. If you've got a SoundBlaster card, you more than likely have SoundFont capabilities. Check your manual or sound card manufacturer's Web site to be certain.

Where can I download SoundFonts?

See the knowledge base article Where Can I Download SoundFonts?

What are .sfArk and .sfPack files?

.sfArk files are SoundFonts compressed using the sfArk SoundFont compression utility. For more information, see

.sfPack files are SoundFonts compressed using the sfPack SoundFont compression utility. You can download the utility from

How do I install a SoundFont?

Try the following tutorial:
Loading Soundfonts into your SoundBlaster Live!

Are SoundFonts free?

Yes and no. Some sites on the Web offer free SoundFonts that were created by everyday people from around the world. Others are sold by companies.

How can I create my own SoundFonts, or edit existing ones?

You'll need a SoundFont editor. Luckily, Creative offers a free one called Vienna that is available for download at For help on how you can create your own SoundFonts, try the following links:

You can also open up an existing SoundFont in Vienna to give you a better idea of what's going on.

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