Beginner's Guide to MIDI - page 6

MIDI topics

Transferring MIDIs to Audio CD

MIDI files are small and convenient, but contain no actual sounds themselves. In order to play MIDI files in a CD player it is necessary to convert them to a suitable audio format, usually files ending in the extension .WAV, before burning onto audio CD. It isn't sufficient to change the file extension. You need to generate the sounds first, and save those, either as WAV or mp3.

There are two reliable ways to do this:

Using Windows Sound Recorder

A standard component of every Windows Operating system, Windows Sound Recorder is a useful tool for making sound clips. Unfortunately it has two severe drawbacks: The default setting for audio is medium quality mono, and recording stops after one minute. There are many superior recording applications available for download, so searching the internet for alternatives would be desirable. However if you wish to use Windows Sound Recorder there are workarounds to both problems.

Open Sound Recorder, and click on File - Properties.

Sound Recorder PropertiesRecording Formats

Under Format Conversion choose Recording Formats from the drop-down menu, and click convert now. This will open a window called "Sound Selection". CD qualityIn the drop-down window called "name" select CD quality. Click ok, and again to close the Sound Properties window.

Now record one minute of silence by clicking on the red record button.

Save your recording with a suitable name, eg "Silence.wav".

If necessary press the fast-forward button to go to the end of the recording. Now click on Edit - Copy (or press Ctrl+C). Next click Edit - Paste Insert (or Ctrl+V) to double the length of your recording. Paste again as many times as you wish, until your recording is a suitable length, say, five or six minutes. Save the file. Return to the start of the recording.

Open your MIDI in a separate player, such as Windows Media Player or VanBascos. Arrange the program windows so that they are both visible on the desktop.

In Sound Recorder click Edit - Audio Properties.

Under Sound Recording click Volume to open the Recording Control window. Make sure that MIDI Synth is checked. (NOTE: If this option is not present you can enable it by clicking Options - Properties, then select MIDI Synth from the Recording volume controls.) Click OK to close the window.

Click the record button, then immediiately start the MIDI file playing. When you've finished recording, click Edit - delete after current position. Save the file with a new name.

MIDI-to-Audio Renderers

Two free programs which will convert your MIDIs effortlessly to audio format are TiMidity and Synthfont. Both programs require setting up, and you will need to download a soundfont for them to work. The first time you use either program you will have to configure it to use your soundfont when playing MIDI files. If using TiMidity I recommend that you download the full installer version which comes configured with its own small soundfont bank. You can change this bank: please refer to Tim Brechbill's instructions.

To convert your MIDI to audio (.WAV or .MP3) using Synthfont set the output to "file", which will open a "save as" dialogue. Then simply press play.
Render audio in Synthfont

When using TiMidity set the output to "RIFF WAVE file". The easiest way to play a MIDI in TiMidity is to drag the file icon on to the main window with the computer mouse. I strongly recommend either method over using Windows Sound Recorder, as the procedure is quicker and produces a potentially better sound, especially if your computer normally uses Microsoft's own MIDI synthesizer.

Render audio in TiMidity

Burning to CD

When using CD burning software such as Nero, be sure to set the program to make an audio CD. Data CDs can be used with your computer, but will not work in a CD player.

Useful Links

Sinfonia A partial orchestral soundbank, can be used to replace the instruments in another existing soundfont using
Emu Soundfont Librarian: a useful tool for editing and compiling soundbanks.