* - I’m always interested in having others do this sort of heavy lifting for me. That’s part of the point of this blog, come to think of it. You’ve been very helpful, I must say.
Then what? Well, I wanted to get some practice converting Midi files, so I found some of my favorite piano pieces in Midi format. I learned that as long as you're keeping the search field to older music, things in the public domain, you can probably find a Midi file for it. I kept it simple, choosing things I knew pretty well: Liszt’s La Campanella (Paganini Etude #3, if you’re scoring at home) and Joplin’s The Entertainer.
Finally, I converted selected pieces using the various Soundfonts, and listened to the resulting
* - Another tidbit I learned along the way... something I mentioned in the previous post. WAV files have all that CD (and better!) quality you expect from digital music, not Mp3's. Mp3's are fine for storing lots of music in a confined space, like an iPod, but if you are looking for the best sound, you aren't going to get it from an Mp3. There is some compression that happens during the creation of an Mp3, and this results in the loss of... something or other having to do with high-quality sound. If you want to make a CD, use the WAV files, if you can.
Let me give you an example. First, Soundfont (WST25FStein_00Sep22.SF2) is from an 1893 Steinway D. When it renders a Midi of La Campanella (Midi copyrighted by a Bernd Krüger, just so you know), sounds like this.
The EXACT SAME MUSIC (this point cannot be emphasized enough, you won’t believe it when you hear it) sounds like this on an upright Bechstein. Remember, these are the same notes (pitch, volume, sustain, all that) as the first.
Which do you like better? Me, I have a strong preference for the first, and not just because it’s a Steinway. (I came across a couple of Steinway Soundfonts that sounded muted, hollow, or simply too mellow for my tastes.) I will probably use this Steinway Soundfont on my own recordings, along with some others. I’m keeping the Bechstein, though, partly because the file is so small (which probably accounts for the lack of depth) and partly because I think it would sound great playing Ragtime. There could be times when a beat up piano is called for, you know?
After awhile, it became clear that there were four or five that I liked best. But the closer I listened to them, and the more I compared them, the less I could tell them apart. I think my ear / mind got tired of this exercise. So I am going to put this to rest for awhile*, and use them to render my own recordings. I'd bet after awhile, one will stand out over the others, and I will prefer it. Or maybe I’ll use them all, depending on my mood. We’ll see.
* - No train commutes in the immediate future, after all. And once the new piano arrives, I'll have enough to do. Not to mention, you know, life and work and sleep and all that.