Sound Setup: I Can't Hear Anything

Narrow down technical issues in case you can not hear anything after installing Harmony Navigator for the first time.

ACHTUNG: This only concerns Harmony Navigator. Synfire Pro supports audio and plug-in hosting.

Audio versus MIDI

First off you should understand that Harmony Navigator generates and transmits MIDI data rather than audio signals. MIDI basically includes information concerning keys being pressed and released (notes on a keyboard) and controller sliders being moved up and down (automation). This "piano roll" data can not be heard until it is received and processed by a synthesizer or sampler that renders the physical audio signals.

That said, you won't hear anything unless some synthesizer or sampler receives the MIDI data and its audio signals are properly routed to your speakers.

The Default GM Synth

After installing HN for the first time, all MIDI data is routed to the General MIDI (GM) Synthesizer that is built-in with Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X by default. If you can not hear it, this means its audio signals do not reach your speakers. In other words: The built-in synthesizer's output is either sent to the wrong sound card or audio interface, or it is muted (zero volume). You might be using an external audio interface hardware that does not receive all the computer's sound sources by default.

Quick Solution: If the internal synth does not work for you, try setting up an external sound rack. Find instructions here.

Be sure you check default computer sound output can be heard:

  • Please check first, if you can get any sound from other MIDI applications. If you are able to listen to Standard MIDI Files (with file extensions .mid or .midi) by double-clicking on them, everything should be fine. Your web browser should be able to play the MIDI file behind this link: [inline file="test.mid"].
  • Be sure you have speakers connected to the audio output plug of your computer and that this plug is selected as the default (or standard) audio device of your computer. This can be seen in the System Control Panel. Check again, if you can play MIDI files as explained above.
  • If you are using an external audio I/O hardware (USB or FireWire), selecting this as the output for your DAW or instrument host alone is not sufficient. It must also be the computer's standard output device. You can change this setting in the System Control Panel. The normal system beeps and computer sounds should be audible through the external interface now.
  • If you can't hear any sound from your computer at all, make sure you haven't disabled your onboard or built-in sound card. Onboard sound chips might have been turned off in the BIOS settings. Please refer to your computer's (or mainboard manufacturer's) hardware documentation. Note: This is very rare and unlikely.
  • It is much more likely that you have turned down the system mixer volume for the Wave device (Microsoft Windows only). Usually you find the mixer on the Windows task bar in the bottom right corner of your screen. There should be a speaker icon that opens a volume control. That control usually offers an option to open the system mixer. The built-in synthesizer is usually also referred to as the Wave Device. Find that channel and check its volume setting.

Now that you know you can hear your computer's system sounds, let's check if HN2 is set up correctly:

  • Navigate to Playback >> Audio & MIDI Setup and select the Device Descriptions tab. In the list you should see the Internal GM Synth device.
  • Make sure the device is connected to the operating system's built-in GM synth port (named "QuickTime GM Synth", "Microsoft GM Synthesizer" or something along that line). Pick that port name from the menu button located below the list.

Select the GM Synth device and find the sound GM.Acoustic Grand. Press the Play button. You should now be able to hear the software playing.

Why Can't My Sounds Be Recognized Automatically?

Unfortunately the MIDI standard doesn't support this. There is no reliable way to query the properties and names of all sounds a sound generator is able to provide (especially plug-ins don't support this). Each sound generator has its own user interface for this, which is not sufficienctly accessible from the outside. Usually you operate it manually.

If you don't want to go through the effort of setting up device descriptions, you may want to use a software instrument or external sound module that complies with the GM (General MIDI) standard. All you need to do is to create a device description and make its default sound bank use the GM standard (Bank >> Initialize General MIDI). You may want to check out Native Instrument's Band Stand, which is a high-quality GM library that also runs as a standalone host.


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