Today I did some investigating on which particular iPad apps were capable of importing directly SoundFont SF2 Sample files. It took a bit of time to search through all the music apps and no doubt I’m likely I missed one or two, but so far I’ve found three excellent apps.
First, why my interest in Soundfonts? The main reason is that I have built up a pretty decent library of old Ensoniq, E-MU, Roland S-Series, Akai, and other sample formats that are mostly 1 layer spread across the keyboard. With programs such as Awave Studio, Chicken Systems Translator, or Extreme Sample Converter it is quite easy to convert old sample formats into a more “universal” Soundfont SF2 format. With the Soundfont, it is then my desire to easily be able to import them into a sample player that can play the Soundfonts on the iPad. You can also of course simply extract the raw WAV files and build your own instruments as I previously discussed in my earlier article. However, I thought it might save some time and help to better catalog the samples if they were in SoundFont format. Ultimately I’m just experimenting here and through this process I found three excellent iPad apps that handle SF2 Soundfonts in decent fashion.
I discovered that Slide Control FS, Changeling Sequencer, and bs-16i all had the ability to import Soundfonts via iTunes directly into the app. The one I liked the best was Slide Control FS, but that app has one major FLAW. It only works on iOS 5.x. So if you’re on iOS 6 which most people are, then you can scratch Slide Control off your list. However, I wouldn’t do that so fast. If you take a look at what Slide Control FS can do WITH your Soundfont you might be impressed with it’s extensive control over playing the Soundfont. It can also store hundreds of Soundfont files. The FX and the ability to work with sustain, portamento, legato, bend, and scale was also impressive. Luckily I have an iPad 1, so I was able to load Slide Control FS and control either my synths or the SoundFonts I put into it. I REALLY hope they upgrade this app soon as I think it’s the best of the bunch.
The other two apps Changeling Sequencer and bs-16i are both excellent at allowing you to import Soundfont files in basic format. There is not much control or editing of the actual soundfont file in all three apps, but to play them from the iPad they work very well. As stated above, the use of Soundfonts simply allows me to load up my old Ensoniq, E-MU, Roland S-Series, and Akai samples into the iPad faster and perhaps with a little more ease. Once I work more with Soundfonts and the iPad I’ll for sure update this article with additional comments and observations. If anyone knows of any other apps that can import Soundfonts, please comment. Thank you!