This is a guide to help get it set up and running on your Windows computer using a highly acclaimed free SoundFont called FluidR3. I've only tested this in Windows XP so your mileage may vary on Vista or others.
- Go to the Japanese TiMidity++ Windows Synthesizer SourceForge download page and grab "TiMidity-CVS080328_setup_ENG.exe".
- Run the installer and proceed past the first couple screens and agreement until you get to the "Choose Components" screen.
- Be sure to check the box labeled "Timidity++ Driver". (You can uncheck every other box if you'd like.)
- I didn't change the "C:\timidity" folder in case the software had trouble with pathnames containing spaces, but you might be able to put it in Program Files if you're feeling lucky.
- During the install, you'll get one of those "This driver is unsigned" prompts. Those are creepy. Click "Continue Anyway".
But, it can get even better. Read on...
- Next, you need a sample library. The HammerSound SoundFont Library page contains many free and for-pay sample sets. One of the most highly recommended sound sets is named FluidR3 by Frank Wen. Here is the direct FluidR3 download page at HammerSound. Choose a mirror there and grab all 68 MB.
- Extract both the "FluidR3 GM.sfArk" and "FluidR3 GS.sfArk" files from the zip and put them someplace you can work with them.
- .sfArk is a compressed SoundFont file format. TiMidity++ can only use the uncompressed .SF2 file format. So, you need a tool that can do the decompression. Get sfArkXTc available on the sfArk SoundFont Compression page and install it.
- Drag the start menu shortcut out to your desktop or your working folding (so that you can drag-drop files onto it) and drop each .sfArk file on it, one at a time. This will create an exe for each.
- Run the new "FluidR3 GM.sfArk.exe" and "FluidR3 GS.sfArk.exe" applications. Each will decompress into an .SF2 file. (The GM exe will take a while and results in a 141 MB file.)
- At this point you can delete the FluidR3 zip, both .sfArk's, and both exe's, leaving just the two .SF2 files. You may also uninstall the sfArk extractor if you wish.
- Move both SF2 files to the C:\timidity\ directory (or wherever you installed the driver).
- Download the following configuration file attached to this post into C:\timidity\ (If you chose someplace other than the default install directory you'll need to change the first line of the config file in a text editor.)
- You may need to restart your computer for the MIDI driver to appear in your list of output devices in MIDI-enabled programs.
NOTE: In Synthesia, TiMidity can introduce a little bit of lag between you hitting a key and it playing, because it's a software driver and requires a bit more buffer between note input and wave output, but the lag varies across computers. You may or may not have a problem with it.
I was able to make it a little better (at least, I think I did; it's hard to tell...) by opening the twsyng program that it added to my Start Menu. Then, right-clicking the system tray icon it creates, going to "Preferences", the "Synthesizer" tab, and changing the "Compute max time msec" down to a smaller number like 100 ms instead of 500.