Is Synthesia 11 going to have SF2 support on macOS?

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Post by Chompy »

This question has been burning like a bright flame inside me for months since I used the Windows version of Synthesia on my Mac with WINE. Why can't us, Mac users have the ability to load SF2 soundfonts like Windows can and change the MIDI soundset to whatever the soundset in the soundfont is? In the past, this was achievable through overwriting the gs_instruments DLS file, but Apple later stopped this somewhere up the line of macOS, so we have had to contend with a cheap, toy-like instrument soundset. If Windows and Android can have this feature of using Soundfonts, why can't macOS? Does iOS have it too?

It would be nice to port this feature over, which I am sure might be planned for Synthesia 11. It baffles me how a simple feature like this did not translate from the Windows version of Synthesia to the Mac version, since it works in WINE.

So anyway, will the Mac version ever get SF2 support just like in Windows? Or am I just stuck, and just should run Synthesia with WINE?
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Post by Nicholas »

Back when I purchased licenses for BASS, I included macOS as one of the platforms in anticipation that I might add the BASSMIDI-based synth to the Mac version of Synthesia someday. (At the time the same was true for iOS; the new "built-in synth" only went out to the Windows and Android versions initially.)

At some point just after one of Apple's major iOS updates went out, we started seeing a lot of crashes in Apple's own MIDI synth, so I was like "alright, let's ship the BASS-based synth over there, too, as a workaround". I was surprised to find that BASS is so pleasant and easy to use that the full "integration" (now that it had already been working in the PC and Android versions for a couple years) took something like two additional lines of code and about 10 minutes of testing. I don't think anything in the project's history has ever gone that smoothly before or since.

So, I've already got the software license and I'm pretty sure adding it to the Mac version will only take a few minutes.

I think the only missing piece is that I still need to pay VoiceCrystal for permission to include their sound set as the default SF2 in the Mac version. That is also a per-platform license.
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Post by Chompy »

Really? It would be nice to see this. Would this launch with Synthesia 11, seeing that it's already on PC/Android? I wonder when this will come?

Since Synthesia is a piano practice tool, having A.I assisted hands would be useful not just for assisting learners, but for people with poor hand coordination/or muscle dexterity issues in the fingers and hands. Have you ever thought of this? Synthesia already can play a song itself - applying this to hands as an assistant can really help those who have poor muscle dexterity in their hands. This could be turned on and off, and would be more useful than the finger hints.

Adding a dark mode for Synthesia would be good for the eyes at night. Note colours (and UI and interface) would be darkened, and this could be coded so it would turn on/off with system settings or be dark at all times or just default. The background is already pretty dark.

Sorry if I got off-topic here. :)
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Post by Nicholas »

I still haven't scheduled when I was planning to add it. Because macOS's built-in synth is generally well-behaved and the sound set license fee for each platform is fairly expensive, it wasn't exactly at the top of my priority list. (You could argue that the synth could be added without the sound set--just leaving the macOS synth the default--but that feels like it would be a support email generating trap.)

Regarding 3D animated hands that demonstrate correct playing technique, that's kind of the holy grail. I've wanted that for years. Something close to a decade ago I nearly hired someone that was doing their PhD research on the subject, but those negotiations unfortunately fell through. Still, when I get a minute, it's something I would very seriously be interested in pursuing. Once the embarrassments are cleaned up, there is another list of these amazing features (score following is on there, too) that I aspire to get to someday.

Otherwise, there is already a dark mode: the "Synthesia Classic" color theme. It is picked automatically on iOS when you have dark mode enabled at the system level and the plan is to add similar behavior to the other platforms at some point.
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Post by harpsichordplayer »

Hello everyone!

I got redirected to this thread after I posted a similar question.

Is there any followup on this? When can we macOS users expect to get custom soundfonts on our Synthesia?

On iOS there's a VoiceCrystal plugin available by default, but there's as far as I can see no option for loading specific MIDI files/Soundfonts... Does anyone know why this is so?

Thank you!
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Post by Nicholas »

harpsichordplayer wrote: 11-22-23 7:22 amWhen can we macOS users expect to get custom soundfonts on our Synthesia?
Right now! You guys have asked enough. :lol:

I went ahead and contacted Mark from Eye & I Productions and worked out the Voice Crystal sound set licensing. Adding BASSMIDI support to Synthesia for Mac was more about removing a bunch of "... as long as you're not on Mac..." lines of code.

Now the BASSMIDI synth is on every Synthesia platform! Everyone gets Voice Crystal sounds, reverb control, and the ability to choose their own SoundFonts.

  • Synthesia's built-in BASSMIDI synth replaces the AudioUnit-based DLS macOS synth. The latter no longer appears in the output device list in Synthesia.
  • For unrelated reasons, the minimum macOS requirement has been bumped to macOS 10.13. (Synthesia for iPad is going up to a minimum of iOS 12.0, too, for the same unrelated "I had the audacity to update Xcode" reasons.)

To try the BASSMIDI synth on Mac with SF2 support: click the "macOS" link in the pink box in the Development Updates section of the forum.

This is an out-of-band preview release that I'm calling the first of the Synthesia 10.10 series... but I'm not sure. The version might roll straight to 11 for the official release. We'll see. In the meantime, 10.10 works to get it in your hands right now.

harpsichordplayer wrote: 11-22-23 7:22 am... as far as I can see no option for loading specific MIDI files/Soundfonts [on the iOS version]
You can add your MIDI, MusicXML, and SoundFont files to Synthesia on the iPad by using the Files app. Check the "On my iPad" section in the Files app and there should be a Synthesia folder there. Drop your SoundFonts and songs anywhere in that folder and they should appear inside the app automatically.
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Post by jimhenry »

Synthesia for iPad is going up to a minimum of iOS 12.0
Boo for obsoleting a lot of perfectly good hardware.
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
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Post by Nicholas »

I agree. I had to pull aside a whole pile of my test hardware that was obsoleted by Xcode bumping the minimum allowed target: an iPad 2, 3, 4, and Mini. It is frustrating. Until now the iPad 2 was my daily testing device for that platform, because if it can run on the oldest supported thing, it only gets faster on newer stuff. Now the oldest supported thing is the first gen iPad Air.

Apple ties the whole thing up in a way that is hard to avoid: feature X requires a newer Xcode (where sometimes "feature X" is "being able to submit app updates"). Newer Xcode requires newest macOS. Newest macOS prevents the installation or use of old Xcode. The whole thing is a tangly mess that makes having second-thoughts and trying to downgrade cause much more pain than it would otherwise.

To contrast: Microsoft lets you install several versions of Visual Studio side-by-side on the same computer.
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