SoundFont

MuseScore comes with a special type of file called a SoundFont that tells MuseScore how to play each instrument sound. Some SoundFonts are custom designed for classical music - others for jazz, or pop, etc. They can vary in size - some are large and take up a lot of memory, whilst others are very small and light-weight. MuseScore features a relatively light-weight, general-purpose SoundFont called, "TimGM6mb.sf2".

Overview

A SoundFont file can store any number of instrument sounds. Many SoundFonts are available on the web. Look for one that covers the 128 sounds of General MIDI (GM). If you use a SoundFont that does not conform to the General MIDI standard, others may not hear the correct instruments when you share the score, or save as MIDI.

The file size and sound quality of SoundFonts available on the web varies. Larger SoundFonts often sound better, but may be too large to run on your computer. If you find MuseScore runs slowly after installing a large SoundFont, or your computer can't keep up during playback, then look for a smaller SoundFont. Below are some popular GM SoundFonts of different sizes.

Compression

Since SoundFont files are large, they often are compressed into a variety of formats, including .zip, .sfArk, and .tar.gz. You need to decompress these files before they can be used.

  • ZIP is standard compression format supported by most operating systems.
  • sfArk is a compression format designed especially for compressing SoundFont files. Use the special sfArk software to decompress it.
  • .tar.gz is a popular compression format for Linux. Windows users can use 7-zip which supports a wide variety of compression formats. Note that you need apply decompression twice: once for GZip and once for TAR.

MuseScore settings

After finding and decompressing a SoundFont, do not double-click to open it, since this does not set up MuseScore. Instead, move the file to a folder of your choice, start MuseScore, and follow the instructions below.

Go to DisplaySynthesizer. The initial SoundFont setting depends on which operating system you are using.

  • Windows: C:\Program Files\MuseScore\sound\TimGM6mb.sf2
    (actually %ProgramFiles%\MuseScore\sound\TimGM6mb.sf2)
  • Windows (64-bit): C:\Program Files (x86)\MuseScore\sound\TimGM6mb.sf2
    (actually %ProgramFiles(x86)%\MuseScore\sound\TimGM6mb.sf2)
  • Mac OS X: /Applications/MuseScore.app/Contents/Resources/sound/TimGM6mb.sf2
  • Linux (Ubuntu): /usr/share/sounds/sf2/TimGM6mb.sf2

Click on the Open icon next to the SoundFont location and browse for your new SoundFont (.sf2) file. In the open dialog, browse and select your file; then press Open.

Troubleshooting

If the toolbar play panel is greyed out, or not visible, follow the instructions below to get your sound working again:

  1. Make sure there is a check mark next to the DisplayTransport menu item. You can add, or remove the check mark by clicking on the corresponding menu item. If this step does not solve your problem, continue below
  2. If the play panel disappears after changing the SoundFont, go to EditPreferences...I/O tab and click OK without making any changes. After restarting MuseScore, the play panel should reappear

If you are setting up a SoundFont for the first time, please use one of the recommended SoundFonts listed above.

If playback stutters, then your computer is not able to handle the SoundFont being used. Two solutions:

  1. Reduce the amount of RAM (memory) used by MuseScore by using a smaller SoundFont. See list above for suggestions
  2. Increase the amount of RAM available for MuseScore by quitting all applications, except MuseScore. If you still have problems and a large SoundFont is important to you, consider more RAM for your computer