Don Allen's Timbres of Heaven Soundfont 3.0 is out

• Jan 20, 2015 - 22:20

Hello Everybody.

I know how I mentioned ToH 2.02 being a fantastic GM,GS and XG font. This one leaves it far behind in terms of quality of the individual samples and balance.

Ive been using beta versions of the font for months with musescore2 betas and as far as I can see it works perfectly with all the instruments.

All the samples are properly normalized, so unlike FluidR3_GM you don't have to raise the gain just to hear it. All for only 369mb

I really believe this deserves to be mentioned in the handbook!…


I am looking forward to trying this out! I really liked the previous version a lot in many ways, just a few complaints that cause me to keep going back to Fluid. I suppose I should have registered them with the developer, but I didn't realize it was in active development. If my concerns aren't addressed in this version, maybe he can consider them for the next.

FWIW, the two biggest reservations I had were the slowness of the attack of several of the instruments (which causes short / fast notes to sound unnaturally quiet) and poor balance within the winds - trombones in particular I recall standing out (literally :-). There are of course similar problems with Fluid and with most other soundfonts, so it's mostly just a matter of picking your poison I guess. But to me, a version of Timbres of Heaven with these issues resolved would instantly put it at the top of the class.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Well I know he put many months of work into this update. Many samples have been completely redone including the pianos, and I'm pretty sure the balance has been fixed for the woodwinds and brass.

I hope your concern's have been addressed anyway. :) Otherwise he said he will be taking a break from this for a while.

In reply to by Joshua Pettus

Balance is indeed much better. Really good in fact. I'll need to spend more time with it to get a sense for how it works in a wider variety of scores. So far, I'm still hearing too-slow attacks in the violins, causing fast/short violin notes to be much quieter than everything else. I'll have to put that into context with all the very good things I am hearing. If it really comes down to just this one thing, I might have to bite the bullet and learn to edit soundfonts just to see if I can produce a customized version for my own use. The trick, I think, will be to do this without compromising the nice legato quality that the slow attack helps support.

I seriously suggest that Don Allen changes his fileserver from MediaFire.

I had to cancel the download because it was going to take 5 hours! For a file less than 300MB in size that is ridiculous!

How do I add this soundfont into Musescore? Should I extract them into the sounds file, or should I just place the file itself into it?
This seemed exciting, so I thought that I'd try out a soundfont.

For the record, ""Timbres Of Heaven" is created and developed by Don Allen, and may not be distributed on any site without the express written permission of Don Allen, or
© 2013, 2015; All Rights Reserved."

Timbres of Heaven official website seems to be

A pity that the soundfont doesn't have a more liberal license. Anyone has a way to contact Don Allen?

In reply to by Joshua Pettus

I haven't yet. It's not a "bug", really - the slow attack makes for some lovely legato passages. it just means that fast passage come off too quiet. And unfortunately, I don't know that General MIDI and/or fluidsynth would easily support any sort of automatic switching between two variants if they were provided (although if this is feasible, it could be a way to go).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Velocity switching is inbuilt into the soundfont format Marc, in fact FluidR3 uses this technique quite a bit, although mainly to control amplitude envelope and filter parameters.

It would be perfectly possible though to use it to switch between samples, or, as General User GS does bring in a second short attack sample at higher velocities.

The only problem then is dealing with rapid soft passages which require precise articulation whilst remaining low in volume.

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

It's the existence of velocity switching I was questioning; it's whether it is feasible to use it (or some other mechanism) as a means of switching between sounds based on note *duration* (which is the issue here, not velocity per se). You surely can't just tell fluidsynth, "use patch X for notes longer than 200ms, patch Y for notes shorter than 200ms" because it won't know the length of the note at the moment you send the "note on" message. So MuseScore would presumably have to manage this switching itself - keeping track of the length in real time of every note and issues appropriate changes. Whether those switches were then accomplished by actual "program change" messages or some sort of velocity switching trickery shenanigans is kind of beside the point - we'd still have to implement the guts of the system ourselves as far as I can tell.

Probably better just to use a violin sample with a more usefully fast attack by default.

In reply to by Joshua Pettus

Yes, it's much better. Still legato enough, but staccato notes are audible now, which they really weren't before.

It would still take a while to go through and really see what other issues there might be. I do really like this soundfont overall, and wonder if others are trying it out too?

Here are some things I hear in the scores I am trying:

The piano is too quiet relative to other instruments.

It seems there isn't much velocity switching going on, and this is especially noticeable with wind instruments, which really should sound pretty noticeably different in tone quality between "pp", "mf", and "ff". The overall sense I get is that many of the samples are of someone playing "f" or greater even when the dynamic is "mf".

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I sent him what you had said. He did an amazing amount of work in the past 24 hours, and did another beta. (Restructured the GM flute, replaced electric piano, and played with the harpsichord and other pianos)…

Regarding license, he made a statement that it was Free and Open Source, and you are free to edit it so long as the name is kept. That said, I would still get in contact with him, let him in on the loop. He is a really nice and amazing guy, who always tries to listen to others.

In reply to by Joshua Pettus

If he is regarding it as Open Source, then he needs to change the licensing info in the archive.

I am currently using the MIT licence on the advice of Thomas and Lasconic for my changes to Fluid R3, although any beta versions are always Creative Commons Non-Commercial.

I suggest MIT might be a suitable licence for Don too?

I would like to try the Timbres of Heaven soundfont, but every venue to download it comes with extras that want to change my homepage, alter my browser, install addware, etc. Is there a way to get a "clean" download?

In reply to by marty strasinger

At, click on "Timbres of Heaven v 3.1 Final" link.
Browser window changes, click "I'm not a robot", then click "Authorize download".
New browser window appears "your download is ready", click on "Start download".
Installer "setupnow.exe" is downloaded, click it to begin; "do you want to allow the program to make changes", click "yes".
"Please wait while setup is loading"; all browser windows automatically close.
OSU (Open Software Updater) window appears.
If you decline at this point, you're kicked out, end of installation. The "Taplika" default is to allow it to make changes to your browser etc, so use advanced instead, uncheck all 3 options, click "Accept and Install".
Cancel the next 3 software installation packages, then the final one is "Treejam" that specifically says it will monitor your on-line activity. If you decline that one, you're kicked out, end of installation.
Any other ideas?

In reply to by marty strasinger

Yes, you have malware hijaking your browser. Try Avira + Spybot S+D to get other types of malware. Actually I use clamav on my mac, but that might be difficult to install for most as it requires you to compile it yourself.
Actually there is a windows version of clamav. I recommend it because Avira is a tad militant about getting you to buy the full version. (to the point of being as bad as the viruses)

Here is what is suppose to happen
click the link and it takes you to mediafire.
click I'm not a robot or whatever other capcha scheme they have. (use to be enter letters from a picture)
And click Authorize.
it will take you to the download page
click the big green download button and you should be good.

I have no idea what was done to fluidsynth since Musescore 2.02 but 2.03 happened to fix a lot of the balance issues I was getting when using ToH (balance issues that didn't happen in other applications of the font). The last one Don Allen did before going on hiatus, 3.3beta, is just gorgeous.
Shame the link is down, I'll ask him to put it back up.

[EDIT] Ah, there was a second release of the "beta"! I'm told it will be up soon on

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