Replacing Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth

In developing the Accompaniment Machine (AMac), I used the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth as an alternate MIDI output to test port redirection in the program. Until now, I thought the problems of the driver were limited to bad sound and no options (you can’t adjust any sound parameters like reverb, chorus,…). Working with the AMac Performer window, I found that these issues were only the tip of the iceberg. I collided with the GS Wavetable Synth latency flaw. Sounds occur about half a second after the MIDI signal (key press). After wasting some time checking my program, an Internet search revealed that this was a problem of long standing. Needless to say, it is impossible to use the output driver with any type of performance software. In my mind, there are two mysteries:

  • After 15 years of complaints, why wouldn’t a company with multi-billion dollar resources spend an insignificant amount to fix the problem?
  • The official explanation for the delay on the Microsoft site is that the GS Wavetable Synth is a “software synthesizer”. You have to wonder what the rudimentary “synthesizer” is doing for a half second on a 3.5 GHz, Core i7 computer. Perhaps calculating π to 400 million places?

Fortunately, I found a free alternative that resolved all problems. In this article I’ll walk through the installation procedure which includes some non-obvious steps. It involves about 10 minutes of effort.

The primary program is CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth, which installs as a MIDI output port on your Windows system. The program requires an available sound font (a database of waveforms for MIDI voices). There is a list of links to 10 free sound fonts on the CoolSoft web site:

http://coolsoft.altervista.org/en/virtualmidisynth

I picked the high-quality Arachno sound font, available at

http://www.arachnosoft.com/main/soundfont.php

Unless you have SfArk compression software installed, download the package in the plain SF2 decompressed format (arachno-soundfont-10-sf2.zip, 136 MB). After unzipping, the important file is:

Arachno SoundFont - Version 1.0.sf2

Move it to a permanent location on your hard disk.

Return to the CoolSoft site, click on Download in the navigation bar at the top, and download the file

CoolSoft_VirtualMIDISynth_1.8.0.exe

Run the installer and accept the option to run the Configurator after completion. Click the + (plus) button in the SoundFont tab of the Configurator. In the dialog, navigate to the location where you stored Arachno SoundFont – Version 1.0.sf2 and choose it.

Advanced options tab in the VirtualMIDISynth Configurator.

Figure 1. Advanced options tab in the VirtualMIDISynth Configurator.

Run your MIDI software to test the ports. You should see the option CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth in addition to Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth. Choose it and play some notes. The sound is infinitely better, but you may be disappointed to find that the latency is almost as bad as the Microsoft driver. To fix this, run the Configurator and choose the Advanced options tab (Fig. 1). Lower the value of Additional output buffer from 250 to 5-10. This reduces the latency to a value consistent with performances. Lower values may prevent sending multiple notes (e.g. chords).

Footnotes

[1] Find out more about KBD-Infinity: Home page.

[2] If you have comments, please contact us at info@kbd-infinity.com.

[3] Download the Accompaniment Machine Instruction Manual: AccompanimentMachine.pdf

16 comments to Replacing Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth

  • Thanks for choosing Arachno SoundFont!

    I appreciate your support, and you can be sure that I’ll include your blog on my Arachno SoundFont promoters tribute page when I’ll have some time 😉

  • Remco

    THANK YOU SOO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    THIS WAS ABSOLUTELY WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR WOWWWWW

  • STEVE

    AWESOME! An obvious improvement over the Microsoft GS crud! :) Thanks

  • Nick

    Great Windows soft synth replacement to use with guitar pro!

  • Anonymous

    I prefer BASSMIDI, but coolsoft is still quite good compared to Microsoft GS.

    • humphriess

      I tried the latest version BASSMIDI on both XP and Vista computers. Under XP, there was no sound output. Under Vista, the driver crashed the calling MIDI program.

  • Pete

    Thanks so much for your page!!! Really nice clear instructions and worked the first time. Sounds amazing now.

  • barry

    thanks alot.
    i followed instructions which were very clear and everything just work fine.

  • Steven

    Thank you so much for THIS. I recently installed Windows 10 and it’s caused erroneous MIDI playback with the Microsoft GS Wavetable synth. I’ve been using Powertab as a basic MIDI composer for the past decade now; I use it practically every day. I was SUPER pissed when I found that the Windows 10 upgrade was causing external errors. Thank you for this contingency, and as a plus, CoolSoft paired with Arachno sounds LEAGUES better than the default stuff. Again, I really appreciate the quick fix. I’m so glad I didn’t have to spend all night figuring out a way around this predicament. Cheers!

  • Snehankur Ghose

    As discussed I have used LoopBe to redirect MIDI to Z3TA+, The I have found minimal latency.
    So Bye for MS GS Synth. I will check up with Yamaha Motif Rack, sometime later tonight.
    Cheers
    Snehankur Ghose

  • Harald

    Tank you sooo much!

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
    I’m using Titanic GMGS 200 on guitar pro. This is like a dream.

  • duncane

    So W10 lost the MSGwavetablsynth. What to do? Looked and looked (and looked). Lot of people out there trying. At last your page holds the answer. Talk about what made America great!

  • This was so useful, I found out running a sharp 68k emulator that the default midi mapper or the microsoft crap sound like garbage. I installed this and man it was so simple. The sample sound so much better.

  • Great !!!
    your post is striaght to the point, exactly what I was looking for, thank you

  • Tammio Conner

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    Best of luck for the next!