Delan Azabani

Better MIDI playback on Windows

The default software synthesiser on Windows can show its limits when playing too many notes at once. Take this piece for instance, which heavily glitches at 2:07 on the large descending sweep of notes. Let's fix that, shall we?

A brief detour is unavoidable here for public safety. The piece above is not, and has no relation to John Stump's Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz, which is a piece of sheet music artistic in its own form, completely unintended to be played. In fact, it's a piano arrangement of COOL&CREATE's remix of U.N. Owen was her?, a stage theme in the Touhou Project. At least two YouTube users uploaded this piece with the completely incorrect name, causing much confusion.

Without using a different synthesiser, Synthesia plays the piece slightly better, but still glitches unlike Mac OS X or TiMidity++ on Linux. Because Synthesia separates the tracks in a file and allows you to individually enable them, I suspect that it instantiates a separate synth for each track, then has their outputs mixed afterwards, thus being less likely to hit the note limit. I don't actually know if it works this way, so take this with a grain of salt.

Installing the BASSMIDI software synth fixed the playback issues. However the recommended soundfont, WeedsGM3.sf2 appears to have a less clear piano sound than the Windows default gm.dls. Rather than try to convert the latter to SoundFont 2.0 format, I've found another that sounds better than both: Shan's Soundfont. Of course, the improved sample quality comes at an expense: a file size over four times as large, but it's completely worth it if you're like me and you have a large collection of MIDI music.