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VirtualMIDISynth

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VirtualMIDISynth is a software MIDI synthesizer implemented as a Windows multimedia user driver, accessible as a standard MIDI Out device.

It works on Windows XP (SP3) / Vista (SP1) / 7 (SP1) / 8 (both x86 and x64), and is based on the great BASS library from un4seen.

Brief intro

If you are a MIDI/karaoke fan like me, you know that MIDI play quality on Windows systems was not really good out of the box. The bundled "Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth" MIDI Out device is just... ehm... simple: poor samples, mono sound, no effects (reverb, chorus) support.

On 32bits systems some better alternatives exist, like the well-known YAMAHA XG SoftSynthetizer S-YXG50 and Cakewalk-sfz+ (both unsupported now).

Upgrading to an x64 system was a pain for me: S-YXG50 doesn't work at all, Cakewalk-sfz+ was unusable.

One day Ian Luck (un4seen) added to his BASSMidi library a great feature: the possibility to render a live MIDI stream, including SysEx messages. I quickly realized that, if only I could intercept that MIDI stream and drive it through Ian's library, well, we would have got a great MIDI Synth.

The challenge was to create a good quality synth and keep the end user away from complicated virtual MIDI chains (ever tried VanBasco -> MIDI Yoke/LoopBe1 -> SynthFont chain ?).

User only needs a new virtual MIDI Out device, select it as output on his preferred player settings and... start playing, nothing more.

Here we are, VirtualMIDISynth is the answer: an user mode multimedia x86/x64 driver that works on XP / Vista / 7 (both x86 and x64), implemented as a MIDI Out virtual device.

Screenshot 1

Main features

  • User mode multimedia driver, no reboots, no BSOD
  • Directly accessible as MIDI Out device, no need for virtual MIDI cables (like MIDI Yoke, LoopBe1)
  • MIDI mixer to set track mute/volume, accessible through systray icon while playing
  • Compact size (setup is ~750 KBytes)
  • No DLL cluttering, everything is self contained in System32/SysWOW64 subfolder
  • Clean installer, won't affect other MIDI devices
  • Efficient RAM usage (allows using large SoundFonts, > 1GByte)
  • Virtually unlimited polyphony (limited only by CPU)
  • Load up to 30 SoundFonts and chain them
  • Load all of your soundfonts into list and enable/disable them at your will
  • Configure MIDI Mapper default device (this feature is already available in XP, but missing in Vista / 7)
  • Multilanguage dialogs.
    If you want to help in translation, see here for status then get in touch.

What now?

Well, having a better MIDI experience is easy as 1-2-3:

  • Download VirtualMIDISynth following the link you find at the bottom of this page and install it (you need administrative privileges)
  • Download a SoundFont (you'll find a list of free high quality files below) and add it to VirtualMIDISynt
  • Run your favourite MIDI application and configure it to use VirtualMIDISynt or, better, set VirtualMIDISynt as your default MIDI Out device (see screenshot below)
  • Donate to CoolSoft ;)
    oops, this step was not mandatory, anyway... thanks for doing it!

Maxime Abbey wrote a really detailed documentation on how to setup and configure VirtualMIDISynth; you can find it here.

FAQ

Why are you still playing MIDI files? Have you ever heard of MP3?
Well, first because MIDIs are cool and compact; in a few megabytes you can store thousands songs.
Second, I love Karaoke; VanBasco is one of my preferred MIDI/KAR players.
Third, with MIDI you can silent some tracks, change tempo and pitch easily.

I tried playing a MIDI file on my PC, and it sucks!
I agree, that's why I wrote VirtualMIDISynth!
MIDI only contains "instructions" on what should be played: instruments, notes, their length, power and so on. It's up to the synthesizer to generate sound from these "commands".
The bundled Windows synthesizer, "Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth", is the worst.

Which players work with VirtualMIDISynt?
VirtualMIDISynt works with Windows Mediaplayer and MPlayer classic. Since these players cannot change their MIDI out device, you must set VirtualMIDISynt as your default device.
I suggest you to try VanBasco player, which is one of the best MIDI/KAR players around.

How much does it cost?
VirtualMIDISynt is freeware, you can use it as you like.

Why are you releasing it for free?
Because the greatest part of MIDI synthesis is done by BASS libraries from un4seen; I only wrapped them in a Windows driver and gave them an easy to use interface.

That's great, how can I thank you?
Send me a comment and tell about this software to your friends / forums / social networks.
You could also support its development with a donation.

Is there a tutorial available?
Don Allen wrote a great setup tutorial on MIDIKAR Yahoo group, freely available here.
That group is full of great MIDI experts and enthusiastics, please follow it.

--> See more FAQs here.Screenshot 1

License

VirtualMIDISynth is freeware, use it as you like.
Donations are welcome.

SoundFonts

Here you'll find a list of some free and quality SoundFonts available on the net.
Please let me know if I miss something or if some link dies...

Some fonts are compressed with sfArk or sfPack.
This page contains links to decompressors: http://woolyss.com/chipmusic-soundfonts.php#compressors

FREE

DONATION

Troubleshooting

If you're experiencing problems using VirtualMIDISynth, here's a list of common issues already solved.
Please check all of them before contacting me.

References

Links to sites that talk about us:

Version history 

v.1.9.0 - 2014-04-10

  • NEW: Configurator settings for Reverb & Chorus effects level.
  • NEW: Configurator setting to override Reverb & Chorus SYSEXes received from MIDI (and force our custom levels).
  • NEW: Updated BASS to version 2.4.10 and BASSMIDI to 2.4.8
  • NEW: Added Magyar language support (thanks to Nádasdi Zsolt)
  • NEW: New setup commandline option "/skip_os_check" to let it run on misdetected systems.

v.1.8.2 - 2013-11-10

  • NEW: Added Dutch language (thanks to Tim Hoekstra)
  • FIX: Some errors message were not shown with full detail
  • FIX: Windows Media Player default device MIDI setting doesn't create keys correctly
  • FIX: Improved OS detection during setup
  • FIX: Improved detection of other VirtualMIDISynth instances

v.1.8.1 - 2013-04-22

  • NEW: Added Portuguese (Portugal) language (thanks to Gonçalo Ferreira)
  • FIX: Fixed a bug with DosBox (and maybe other MIDI Clients) that caused crashes and hangs during play
    (many thanks to "drivetheory": sending me saved games and instructions on how to reproduce the bug was a great help, really appreciated)

v.1.8.0 - 2013-03-30

  • NEW: Added Windows Media Player default MIDI device setting (see here for details)
  • NEW: Vietnamese language (thanks to MyNa VN)
  • NEW: Danish language (thanks to Heine Svendsen)
  • NEW: Czech language (thanks to Vaclav Muller)
  • NEW: Improved update checker messages
  • FIX: Clicking on hotkey balloon error will now open the configurator shortcut keys tab
  • FIX: Hotkey balloon error will now show the shortcut that can't be created

v.1.7.0 - 2013-02-07

  • NEW: Polish language (thanks to SuperGod)
  • NEW: Indonesian language (thanks to Latiful)
  • NEW: Swedish language (thanks to Magnus Johansson)
  • NEW: Added support for GM/GM2/GS/XG instrument names, now correctly shown on MIDI Mixer
  • NEW: Added an activity indicator on each MIDI channel, useful to quickly see which channel is actually playing
  • NEW: MIDI Mixer can now be moved by clicking (and dragging) anywhere on it
  • NEW: Added support for MIDI running status bit (some players call it "redundant MIDI data")
  • FIX: Fixed a small memory leak in Mixer drawing functions

v.1.6.3 - 2013-01-10

  • NEW: German language (thanks to Markus Stein)

v.1.6.2 - 2012-11-24

  • NEW: Japanese language (thanks to yukinodsyouid)

v.1.6.1 - 2012-11-01

  • NEW: Russian language (thanks to Boris Petrov)
  • NEW: French language (thanks to Aziz Lallouche)
  • NEW: Spanish language (thanks to Pedro López-Cabanillas)
  • FIX: Fixed BASS initialization in case of already initialized BASS library
  • FIX: Language files are now UTF-8
  • FIX: Better language file memory management
  • FIX: Soundfont listbox doesn't enable Apply button on checkboxes state changes

v.1.6.0 - 2012-10-21
VirtualMIDISynth is now multilanguage, English and Italian for now.
Dialogs and messages can be easily translated into other languages. If you like to help
in translating VirtualMIDISynth into your native language please get in touch at
http://coolsoft.altervista.com/contact

  • NEW: Multilanguage setup, UI dialogs and messages
  • NEW: Option to select language into configurator
  • NEW: Configurator Soundfont chain list items now have a checkbox to allow disabling them while keeping on the list
  • FIX: Increased soundfont list count limit to 30 elements
  • FIX: Increased configurator dialog width to better accomodate translated strings
  • FIX: Added accelerator keys to dialogs

v.1.5.0 - 2012-09-29
Most of VirtualMIDISynth features can now be controlled by PC keyboard.

  • NEW: MIDI Mixer keyboard shortcuts:
    (selected channel has its number underlined)
    LEFT/RIGHT => move selection to left/right
    0          => select master channel
    1..9       => select channel 1...9
    CTRL+0..6  => select channel 10...16
    UP/DOWN    => increase/decrease channel volume
    HOME/END   => quick set volume to max/min
    M          => toggle mute state
  • NEW: VirtualMIDISynth keyboard shortcuts:
    CTRL+ALT+M       => show/hide MIDI Mixer
    CTRL+ALT+SPACE => MIDI panic (note off to all MIDI channels)
  • NEW: Increased max notes limit to 500
  • NEW: Updated BASS library to version 2.4.9.0
  • NEW: Updated BASSMIDI library to version 2.4.7.9
  • FIX: Optimized MIDI Mixer memory usage

v.1.4.0 - 2012-07-20
Lot of new features and fixes in this (long waited) first release of the 1.4.x series.

* DRIVER *

  • NEW: Added support for 64bit MIDI client applications (on 64bit OS)
  • NEW: Better compatibility with BASS based MIDI clients, like Karafun and Synthesia
  • NEW: Default systray context menu item is now mixer which can be opened by double clicking icon
  • FIX: Increased sound buffer efficiency and better threads management

* CONFIGURATOR *

  • NEW: Rewritten configurator with a new tabbed interface; now it could contain the new options in a more clean GUI
  • NEW: Lot of new settings added:
    • "advanced" settings to reduce CPU requirements disabling some features (like effects, polyphony, ...)
    • output audio device selection
    • automatically open MIDI Mixer while playing
    • raise MIDI player process priority to "High priority"
    • enabling audio hardware mixing
    • audio output buffer size (default 250ms)
  • NEW: Option to preload the whole soundfont file into memory before play (enabled by default). It increases the required memory and adds a small delay at start, but also gives a smoothest play because samples are already available in memory.
  • NEW: Horizontal scrollbar into soundfont list to allow reading long filenames.

* MIXER *

  • NEW: Better loking mixer VUMeter bar, it now appears like a LED stripe
  • NEW: Mixer level meter now shows the running average of output level instead of the instant value, making it more realistic and "analogic"
  • NEW: Increased channel name font size and enabled cleartype drawing

v.1.3.1 - 2011-12-10

  • NEW: Post setup actions are not preselected by default.
    "Show readme.txt" option has been removed and this file is now shown during into setup (while still available through Start menu link).
    "Run configurator" and "Open website" checkboxes are blanked if a SoundFont is already configured.
    Clickthrough users should now be happier during updates.
  • FIX: Fixed updater code causing VirtualMIDISynth device to disappear on some localized WinXP versions.
    (thanks to user "exit" from kvraudio forum who helped pointing out compatibility issues under his localized XP)

v.1.3.0 - 2011-10-25

  • NEW: Added update check feature; you can configure VirtualMIDISynth to automatically check if an updated version is available.
    Default check frequency is 14 days (can be changed with configurator). If an update is available, a balloon notification appears on systray when VirtualMIDISynth is loaded (but no more than once a day).
  • NEW: Mixer window position is now clipped to the nearest screen, avoiding it to open out of screen when switching from dual-screen config to single.
  • NEW: Updated bassmidi.dll to version 2.4.8.
  • FIX: Fixed an important memory leak on Mixer window that causes hosting process memory to continuously increase when the Mixer is shown.
  • FIX: MidiMapper now creates the whole registry path if not exists.
  • FIX: Configurator now checks if another instance is running.

Download

Latest stable version included languages: English, Italian, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Japanese, Polish, Swedish, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Danish, Czech, Dutch.
If you want to help in translation, see here for status then get in touch.

VirtualMIDISynth automatically notifies its updates (if enabled), otherwise you can subscribe here for being notified about them.

Beta versions are announced in the announcements forum; please subscribe there to be notified.

CoolSoft_VirtualMIDISynth_1.9.0.exe
Description Latest stable version
Release date 2014-Apr-10 SHA1 b14f6937864094905b661b3c64cedd03081d70f5
Size 880,967 bytes MD5 2176614f8015294a9d6d4b6595f0b41c
CoolSoft_VirtualMIDISynth_1.8.2.exe
Description Previous version
Release date 2013-Nov-10 SHA1 b8efcce0853cead1ecf63773d7ae9b47a94c869d
Size 845,374 bytes MD5 a9c2df7142b86d61a736526a9bf68ff6

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