Easy Sound Selection & Setup

Learn about 7 easy ways to use the Sound Selection Wizard for easy on-the-fly configuration of instruments.


Average: 3.4 (5 votes)
steberlin's picture
Last seen 1 year 10 months ago

Sound selection wizard - refers to this video:

(the one in this  chapter)

I would like to use Synfire, but after the tutorials I have great difficulty understanding where to start and what the many steps - which are mostly not explained in the videos - mean. Even after watching it several times, I cannot see how this all works. Synfire introduces many of its own terms that you also have to understand.
I consider videos without sound to be extremely questionable in didactic terms. You have to take a myriad of steps by simply following the mouse movements, windows popping up and selections are made, reading the subtitles at the same time (which means you cannot follow the mouse movements over and over again) and constantly stumbling over inconsistencies that make understanding impossible.
I could now compare all the steps shown in the video with the somewhat outdated manual, but this calls into question the meaning of a tutorial video. A tutorial should always show the steps in such a way that they can be easily followed. I did not backup my following questions with the manual, because a tutorial should answer them.

I try to describe what went through my head watching the above video. I've probably watched this video five or six times.

Step 1: Call up the Sound Selection Wizard via the menu or in the inspector

Question: Does the Global Rack have to already exist for this step and for those that follow? If "yes", then this video is in the wrong place on the Setup page and should come AFTER the Global Rack setup.

Step 2: 1 browsing all sounds

Question: In the window that opens, I see selected: SWAM Bass Clarinet. Where does it come from? Is this available in the Global Rack (setup before) or is it a VST that was scanned by Synfire? Why Bass Clarinet? Could that be any?

Where does the list of instruments come from, that is shown in the middle window?

Why is Bass Clarinet selected and "New Bass Clarinet" displayed in the third window?

Why then switch to the Global tab and select Bag Pipe there? Does it matter which instrument I choose there? Is that mapping in this case Bass Clarinet to the GM sound Bag Pipe? If so, why Bag Pipe and not another GM Instrument?

Step 3: 2 Using a Global Instrument

Click on "use a global instrumet" and select Bass. Here you have to stay very focused: Bass Clarinet -> Bag Pipe -> Bass??
It is not clear why these steps are taken in this way. Does step 2 "Browsing all sounds" have something to do with step 3 "Using a global instrument" or are these two different possibilities?

Step 4: 3 samplers - adding one sound at a time

Is that one more alternative yet? Why multiple sounds? Bass on Channel 3? Is this mandatory, is it the standard bass channel? Could it be any?

Example: Standalone Sampler? I don't understand why standalone sampler now. Isn't it about VST? Or is this again one more option?

Step 5: Extending a Sampler - Adding more sounds as needed

Guitar on Channel 4 (see question about channel above)

Extend existing module. Now the guitar is added as an extension to the previously created bass instrument. Why in the bass? Why not its own module? I create the guitar in the bass module, but it then appears in the instruments under guitar? If it doesn`t matter, if I create another instrument in the former created Bass, why not simply use the name "Instruments" or alike for it.
These steps are really confusing.

Step 6: 4 Synths - With multiple Programs

For this instrument (DLS Music Device) now another module is created. What's this? A standard for synths? Why not extend as before the already created Bass module?
The synth set to piano is then saved as a piano. Program 1 - why? Default for Piano?
Then "Add another Program". Why on number 25, why not number 2? What is meant by "Program"?
Is that then a guitar patch that is filed with guitar, but comes from Synth?

Then select Program 39 = Synth Bass. Again the question, why on Program 39?

The programs (instruments, patches of the synth, I guess) then appear in the instrument browser. Why is it on the right "New Acoustic Piano ... etc." and these instruments are also in the middle window, but not as "new". Is this window with "New...."  redundant?

Step 7: 5 Using a Device - Detect or select an existing device

Where are these devices searched from? From the installed VST instruments? Or do they have to be created in the Global Rack beforehand? It is misleading here that a clarinet is actually being sought under Bass Clarinet. Why is the bass previously created under Bass Clarinet not found in such case?
Is the whole thing under this point an alternative to putting on instruments? Could I put my instruments together so easily by detect? Would I then miss out on instruments that I might be able to create manually, but which are not recognized automatically?

Step 8: 6 Loading a Preset - Recall frequently used modules

Presets are saved on rack editor.
Again the question: does (in this case) the presets need to be installed in the global rack? The three drum kits shown in the following screen are probably such presets? Where do they come from?
Can I save any or multiple instruments as a preset? Where do i do this?

Step 9: 7 Using Templates - Insert known sound properties

Load plugin. Does the plugin have to be installed in the global rack or is the selection list displayed the list of recognized VSTs?
The templates represent a mapping of the sounds of the respective plugin, I guess. Do these templates exist? Are they made available by the plugin? Are they part of Synfire? Do I have to create it myself first?

I could sit down in front of Synfire now and try it out. Some steps I can perhaps derive more logically, others not at all. That means, try and see what happens. I can do that without a tutorial, and with a program as complex as Synfire, that doesn't work.
A good program also means that it can be understood and that instructions and documentation also help users who have never seen this program before. That's a big flaw with Synfire. The results presented in the promotional videos are mostly astonishing and impressive, but as a user it is not so easy to get there at all.
It would certainly be good to make videos in which the creation of a piece of music is demonstrated from start to finish in all steps with common VST. With sound and with all the basics. Or maybe that's impossible, I don`t know.

janamdo's picture
Last seen 5 hours 9 min ago


Study carefully the plugin automated installationif you want do on this way
I don't use the wizard anymore: i add a rack( midiaudio setup screen) and load a plugin for that rack and extract a device description(extract from plugin menu choice) -> Synfire asks : is the device multitimbral (receives on 16 channels) ja, or no  ..mostly the plugins are not multitimbral
Choose fixed sound as channeltype in rack :
Then  a sound nr 1in the rack is assigned and then you must give it a name
Then add a second sound in the slot ..  
There must be a video for this too i think 
Can you make this ? :)

andre's picture
Last seen 5 hours 37 min ago

Thank you steberlin, for taking the time to write down and share your experience in so much detail. For version 2.0 all tutorials will be remade, taking the feedback of users into account. Yours is very helpful in this regard, since you exactly listed the individual items that confused you. 

The templates represent a mapping of the sounds of the respective plugin, I guess. Do these templates exist? Are they made available by the plugin? Are they part of Synfire? Do I have to create it myself first?

This is probably the main source of confusion. Synfire needs meta data about the sounds it is supposed to compose for, but that information does not normally exists and most plugins and synths are unable to provide it. So yes, in many cases you need to create this meta data yourself (device descriptions). That's what the device editor in Audio & MIDI Setup is made for.

The Wizard offers a way for creating this meta data on-the-fly, for every sound your are going to use, only as needed.

The global rack exists independently of arrangements and can be shared by many of them. This is useful when you compose many snippets of music that basically use the same sounds, e.g. for a film score. Since Synfire deals with libraries and phrases, it also needs a few global instruments to play them, even if no arrangement is currently open. It is impossible to not have a global rack (its part of the system setup), although it is up to you what's actually in it.

Please allow me to respond by email during the week, answering your questions. This comment section is less of an ideal place to do that.

janamdo's picture
Last seen 5 hours 9 min ago

I did a plug in sound setup with the wizard and it works easy too
Create a new Description -> detect  ..nothing happens ..that's confusing

Plugins can have 3 types of device descriptions depending on the plug in type.

If the plug in has only one sound as output , then a second instance of that plugin must loaded into a new rack for a 2 e  sound ( = 1 channel synth )
Mostly it is a plug in as sampler what can play more then one sound in a rack ( in that rack you up to can assign 16 fixed channels)( why not up to 32 channels in rack?)

For instance i am using Halion 6 it is a sampler what can be used with fixed channels, but can also be used as multi-timbral sampler ( for 16 midi channels (GM))
So i do need two device descriptions if i want arack with fixed sounds or a rack with midi sounds (GM)   



alseger's picture
Last seen 1 year 10 months ago

I am disappointed for many of the reasons described above and have therefore never used Synfire due to confusion just trying to set   up instruments.  It seems like a very convoluted way to add instruments. Should be able to add instruments like any other DAW.  1 - Side menu of all  VST instrument plugins. 2  - Select plugin, 3 - select instrument from selected VST plugin.  4 - Fill in field for META purposes. Done.  Next instrument, repeat. I hope the upgrade to 2 is free since I never got to use this software at all so far.


janamdo's picture
Last seen 5 hours 9 min ago

Wizard : Add new rack module=> Plug-in => choose plug in 
There are 3 types of plug ins and Synfire uses a rack to fill with a plugin (a sort of soundmodule) 

-one sound plug in : so get 1 rack : so for 16 sounds: 16 racks 
-fixed sound plug in : 16 sounds in 1 rack : you can assign 16 sounds one for one manual ( is needed) into the rack
 -multitimbral rack : 16 sounds in 1 rack : example general midi : sound assigning dynamic by program : only assigning the device description , that's all

Bypassing wizard possibel( i do this) : open audio page and add a rack(s) by hand and assigning a deviice description ( extracting automatically) 
Not as userfriendly as it could be ? 

smr's picture
Last seen 5 months 3 days ago


@alseger I am in exactly the same situation. I used it for the fun, but after spending good time on it I gave up! luckily, I bought the license last year when Cognitone was advertising the free upgrade to 2.0.

"Late to the party? If you purchase this license now, you will be eligible to obtain the 2.0 upgrade for free, as soon as it becomes available."

Tanerongunyzb's picture
Last seen 5 months 2 weeks ago

I think Synfire Pro is amazing software. But If You want to use with DAW It is not useful. Because You have to use Drone. Maybe If there was enough one Drone for synchronous on DAW  no problem but All instrument as a Drone is a problem to use . If instrument usage on a DAW is  simple for synfire pro. It is just amazing software. Thanks a lot for great support Andre.

janamdo's picture
Last seen 5 hours 9 min ago

Synfire must then be a VST plug in for the DAW , and that will never be happening ?
All what is composed in Synfire is then  directly written into the DAW tracks 

andre's picture
Last seen 5 hours 37 min ago

The workflow you suggested

1 - Side menu of all  VST instrument plugins.
2 - Select plugin,
3 - select instrument from selected VST plugin. 
4 - Fill in field for META purposes. Done.

actually is how the wizard works:

1 - Pick "Add new rack module" and select plug-in from menu
2 - Next page, edit the plug-in and a device (if you already have one)
3 - Next page, select channel and add meta data. 

But yes, the layout/design could make it more obvious and use different wordings that are maybe easier to grasp. 2.0 will be streamlined in this regard.

All what is composed in Synfire is then  directly written into the DAW tracks

Unfortunately there is not a single DAW that supports anything like this. It is a one-way street and the plug-in is and the bottom end of the food chain. It is hard enough to merely control the DAW transport from inside a plug-in.

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