Synthesizer

    Overview

    To display the Synthesizer: from the menu, select ViewSynthesizer.

    The Synthesizer controls MuseScore's sound output and allows you to:

    • Load and organize different sound sample libraries to play back the music
    • Apply effects such as reverb and compression
    • Adjust overall tuning
    • Alter the output volume of both music and the (optional) metronome.

    The Synthesizer window is divided into four sections/tabs:

    • Fluid: A software synthesizer that plays SF2/SF3 SoundFont sample libraries.
    • Zerberus: A software synthesizer that plays SFZ format sample libraries.
    • Master Effects: Used to apply multi-effects to the score.
    • Tuning: Used to adjust overall playback tuning.

    Save/Load Synthesizer settings

    The buttons at the bottom of the Synthesizer window have the following functions:

    Button Function
    Set as Default Saves all current synthesizer settings as the default settings. These are automatically applied to the Synthesizer when you open MuseScore.
    Load Default Loads the last saved default settings to the Synthesizer.
    Save to Score Saves all current synthesizer settings to the current score only.
    Load from Score Loads the settings from the current score to the synthesizer.

    Notes: (1) "Synthesizer settings" include the order of Soundfonts and SFX files, the effects configuration, master tuning and volume. (2) Only one set of Synthesizer settings can be in effect at a time—i.e. if multiple scores are open at once, it is not possible to make changes to the Synthesizer in one score and leave other scores' settings untouched. (3) Changes to synthesizer settings will not be heard in exported audio files unless saved to the score first (see table, above). See also Tuning (below).

    Fluid

    Click on the Fluid tab to access the control panel for SF2/SF3 SoundFont sample libraries. By default, the SoundFont FluidR3Mono_GM.sf3 should already be loaded.

    Fluid in Synthesizer

    You can load, rearrange and delete soundfonts as required. Playback can be shared between any combination of different soundfonts (and/or SFZ files). The order of soundfonts in Fluid is reflected in the default order of instruments in the mixer.

    To load a soundfont

    1. Click on the Add button
    2. Click on a soundfont in the list.

    To be able to load the soundfont, it first needs to be installed in your Soundfonts folder. This will ensure that it appears in the list in step 2 (above).

    To reorder the soundfonts

    1. Click on a soundfont
    2. Use the up/down arrows (on the right-hand side) to adjust the order.
    3. Repeat with other soundfonts in the list if required.

    If you have not changed any sounds in the Mixer, then the SoundFont at the top of the list is the one that will be used for playback. However, if you are using the Mixer to play different instruments with sounds from different SoundFonts, playback will only work correctly if you have the same SoundFonts loaded in the same order in the Synthesizer. Therefore, if you are using multiple SoundFonts, it is advised to click the Save to Score button in the Synthesizer, so that the next time you open that score you can recall the list of SoundFonts loaded (and other Synthesizer settings) with the Load from Score button.

    To remove a soundfont

    1. Click on the name of the soundfont
    2. Click on the Delete button.

    This removes the soundfont from the synthesizer but does not uninstall it from the Soundfonts folder: it will still be available if you wish to reload it later.

    Zerberus

    Click on the Zerberus tab to access the control panel for SFZ sound sample libraries. You can add or delete files in a similar way to the Fluid tab. Note that, as with Fluid, the the SFZ files must first be installed in your soundfonts folder before they can be loaded into the synthesizer.

    Volume

    At the right in the Synthesizer are two sliders. One controls the playback volume, the other controls the volume of the optional built-in metronome. You can turn the metronome on or off by clicking the button underneath its volume slider. As with all the rest of the Synthesizer controls, any changes made here are temporary unless saved to the score or set as the new default.

    Volume slider in Synthesizer

    Effects

    The Master Effects tab of the Synthesizer allows you to adjust the degree of reverb and, as of version 2.0.3, compression applied to your score.

    Master Effects in Synthesizer

    To turn an effect on or off:

    • Select an option from the drop-down list next to Effect A or Effect B (the effects are applied in series, A → B).

    To store and load effects configurations, use the buttons at the bottom of the Synthesizer window. See Synthesizer settings (above) for details.

    Zita 1 reverb

    The Zita 1 stereo reverb module allows you to simulate the ambience of anything from a small room to a large hall. The pre-delay, reverb time and tone of the reverb can be finely tuned using the controls provided:

    • Delay: Set a pre-delay for the reverb from 20-100 ms.
    • Low RT60 (Low frequency reverb time): Use the grey control to adjust the center frequency (50–1000 Hz) of the low frequency band which you want to affect: the green control adjusts the reverb time (1–8 secs) of this frequency band.
    • Mid RT60 (Mid-range reverb time): Adjust the reverb time (1–8 secs) of the mid-range frequency band.
    • HF Damping: Adjusts the high frequency component of the reverb. Increasing this value increases the frequency of the cut-off point and makes the reverb appear brighter and longer.
    • EQ1: Allows you to cut or boost (-15 to +15) a frequency band (center = 40 Hz - 2 KHz) in the lower part of the spectrum.
    • EQ2: Allows you to cut or boost (-15 to +15) a frequency band (center = 160 Hz - 10 KHz) in the higher part of the spectrum.
    • Output: Controls the amount of effect applied. "Dry" is no effect. "Wet" indicates 100% reverb. "Mix" is a 50/50 balance of wet/dry signal.

    Note: EQ1 and EQ2 affect the tone of the reverb only, not the dry (unprocessed) signal.

    To quickly set up an effects patch, set "Output" to "Mix" and adjust the "Mid RT60" control to the desired reverb time. Then fine tune the effect as explained above.

    SC4 compressor

    The SC4 stereo compressor (available as of version 2.0.3) gives you fine control over the playback's dynamic range, reducing the volume variation between loud and soft sounds. It offers the following controls:

    • RMS: Adjusts the balance between RMS (0) and Peak (1) compression. In the former, the compressor responds to averaged-out levels in the signal; in Peak mode, the compressor responds to peak levels.
    • Attack: (1.5–400 ms) The length of time it takes for compression to engage fully after the signal exceeds the threshold level.
    • Release: (2–800 ms) The time it takes for compression to return to zero after the signal falls below the threshold level.
    • Threshold: (in dB) The signal level above which compression starts to take effect. Lowering the threshold increases the amount of signal that is compressed.
    • Ratio: The amount of compression applied to the signal above the threshold. The higher the ratio, the greater the compression. Varies between 1:1 to 20:1.
    • Knee: Allows you to select a range between "soft knee" and "hard knee". The softer the knee, the more gradual the transition between uncompressed and compressed signal.
    • Gain: Compression tends to lower the volume, so use this control to boost the signal as required.

    To quickly set-up, try setting RMS = 1, Threshold = -20 db, Ratio = 6. Increase Gain to restore the lost volume. Then fine-tune as explained above.

    Tuning

    The Tuning tab is where you can adjust the program's master tuning. For Concert Pitch instruments, A4 = 440 Hz by default.

    Tuning in Synthesizer

    To change the Master tuning:

    • Enter a new value in the Master tuning field, then press Change Tuning.

    Notes: (1) This tuning applies to all scores in the current session only. To make this the program default or to store it to a particular score, see Save/Load Synthesizer settings. (2) To apply the new tuning to exported audio files (WAV, MP3, OGG), press Save to Score before exporting.

    See also

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