Soundfonts in Live (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a tutorial on how to use rgc:audio’s sfz family of soundfont players in Ableton Live 4.0. In Part 1 I covered how to use the free VSTi sfz soundfont player and a GM font with direct multiple MIDI inputs. The output of the free version of sfz is a single stereo out which is very limiting because it means all the instruments are being routed into a single audio track in Live.

To get multiple outputs (i.e. have every instrument on it’s own audio track) you have to buy the ‘plus’ version from rgc:audio called sfz+ for $70 USD. Seems to me to be worth every penny, especially considering how well it works within Live.

(As a side note, sfz and sfz+ are much more than simple soundfont players. I’ve previously written a tutorial on how to use the free version of sfz as an incredibly versatile beat slicer but even that is only one small subset of it’s capabilities.)

This part of this tutorial is a extension of Part 1, which means you want to perform all the actions of Part 1 and then in addition do the steps here.

The only differences are that you want to load the sfz+ plug-in (not the sfz version) and before you load the soundfont file you want to check ‘Single File Mode’ in the Option section:

Once you have performed all the steps in the Part 1 with these mods, you can continue here:

  1. Create an audio track for every instrument you want to use.
  2. Set the Audio From top drop-down field to the track holding the sfz+ plug-in. (All tracks should have the same value.)
  3. Set the drop-down under that one to a unique channel. (Each track should have a unique value.)
  4. Set the Monitor setting to On for each track.

To get an overall view of the relationships it is vital to have the numbers connect in the following way:

Notice that each instrument has two tracks, a MIDI input and an audio output. (Think of the track holding the sfz+ plug-in as the hinge — it also happens to double as the output for channel 1.) By convention I like to name put an “(M)” in the title of the MIDI tracks to remind me which is which.

Here is a Live .als project file that demonstrates the result of the steps above.

Live 4.0 ships with a tutorial on how to use a single MIDI input clip to drive multiple soft-synth/soundfont channels — I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to extend this example to handle that, but if you do have any problems let me know. (I got it working just fine so I know it works.)