A SoundFont is the sound format created by Emu Systems for Creative Labs.
Today many soundcards support this format which also forms the basis for the new DLS (DownLoadable Sounds) format in Windows95/98. A SoundFont bank (.sf2-file) contains the information of up to 127 instruments + 1 drum set. Each instrument contains a number of sampled sounds together with synthesiser parameters such as envelopes, filters etc. Before you can use the SoundFonts they must be loaded into the sample-memory of your SoundFont compatible SoundCard.
Currently there are literally millions of SoundFont-compatible devices which have been purchased throughout the world, from Creative's AWE, Live!, and Audigy series of sound cards to software samplers and synthesizers that use SoundFont banks as their primary sound sources.
With sample technology, you are able to create a wide variety of expressive sounds that would require very little audio data. With the power of apply filters, volume envelopes, pan instructions, effect sends, and LFO's (low frequency oscillators) that can control the value of much of these effects, the possibilities are endless.
You can use SoundFont technology to enhance the sound in a game or use it as a number of musical instruments to create a sequence that would sound as if an orchestra was playing your original music in your computer. SoundFont technology is a powerful tool that has already been deployed to the masses.
A SoundFont bank contains .wav files that are mapped to sections on a keyboard for playback. A SoundFont-compatible sound card, like the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS, is like having a professional digital sampler in your computer.
To listen to and use SoundFont banks in your music applications, you will need a sound card which is SoundFont-compatible. All of the PCI-based Sound Blaster Live!, SoundB laster Audigy series of sound cards, as well as the USB Sound Blaster Extigy and Audigy 2 NX, come with SoundFont capability right out of the box! In addition, many software samplers including E-MU's E-MUlator X software sampler read SoundFont banks.
Imagine being able to share a MIDI file, complete with your own custom sound sets. With SoundFont technology, the world can hear your music exactly the way you intended! External musical instruments (i.e., synthesizers and samplers) can be expensive and cumbersome for the amateur musician. Software synthesizers and samplers can drain your system's resources, especially when using more professional grade musical creation tools. Because SoundFont technology is hardware accelerated by the PCI-based Sound Blaster Live! and Audigy series of sound cards, it only needs to use your computer's RAM. Therefore, you can use the full power of your processor for making great music!