The state of sample players on Linux

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AnthonyCFox
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The state of sample players on Linux

Postby AnthonyCFox » Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:26 pm

I am by no means anti-synth nor an electronica hater. I have several electronica recordings in my music library that I enjoy a great deal but when I make music I only occasionally will use synthesizers. I play guitar, but I don't play bass, drums or piano; so I need a sample player to make the music I want to make, but the state of sample players on Linux makes for some steep hurdles to overcome.

There's a ton of synthesizers available for Linux, why not more sample players? It can't be that people don't want samplers, can it? Native Instruments Kontakt is hugely popular so clearly there is a demand. And if you Google "Kontakt Linux" you'll see people trying to get it to work on Linux.

SFZ is an open standard for samples. There are quite a few free SFZ samples out there and a lot more available for purchase but there is no sampler for Linux that can take advantage of this. Linuxsampler has SFZ 1.0 support but all the commercial SFZ samples that I can find are SFZ 2.0; and there are virtually no free SFZ 1.0 samples either.

Linuxsampler also supports the GIG format but that is pretty much dead; just try and find GIG samples at any price. They're out there. but you really have to dig for them and there isn't much of a selection. That is unless you want an entire orchestra for $2500.

That leaves us with SF2; the granddaddy of sample formats. Fluidsynth is great and if you spend enough time digging around you can find some half decent SF2 files both free and for purchase. Unfortunately, half decent is as good as it gets for SF2; it's a very "early days" format.

I've spent the last week scouring the internet and piecing together a usable library from all the above formats and I'll get by for awhile, I suppose. I had to do this because I just got a 64-bit machine and the WinVST sample player "SampleTank", which is what I had been using on my old laptop, refuses to install on my new machine. I wish I was happy to say I'm using native Linux applications instead, but the state of sample players on Linux doesn't justify enthusiasm.

I wonder sometimes if there is a way to get NON running on windoze? :evil:
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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby AnthonyCFox » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:28 pm

falkTX wrote:Well, sorry for the rant here, but sometimes we have developers that simply don't want to support Linux and don't care one bit.
I had one of such cases recently when discoDSP asked me to remove the source code for Highlife, leaving users with a non-working linux version... :(
Kontakt and many other plugin/sample authors use cross-platform toolkits (mostly to get Windows+Mac source sync), which would allow them to build Linux versions as they please. I've seen a *lot* of Qt and JUCE based plugins out there, which developers simply refuse to release linux binaries...
/rant

Maybe we can list here the known linux samplers. We often miss things.


This is a ranting thread, so you're more than welcome to let loose.

There are a couple of free sample players out there; Plogue's Sforzando http://www.plogue.com/products/sforzando/ and Camel Audio's Alchemy Player http://www.camelaudio.com/AlchemyPlayer.php and they're making their money selling sample libraries. Makes you wonder what discoDSP is thinking trying to sell a player?

Linux doesn't really have any samplers; not that would meet the needs of any measurable percentage of musicians. I guess the most practical solution is for someone to work on Linuxsampler so it will support SFZ 2.0. Or, write an SFZ sample player from scratch, which I take it is no simple task.
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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby TheSafePlaces » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:10 pm

OP -
I feel your pain. My line of work means I'm in your situation, except that I need orchestral libs. And the best of them are on Kontakt and VSL formats. I spoke to loads of people on IRC channels, and weighed my options -
Option 1 - See if you can find good commercial GIG and SFZ sample sets
[Result - Some, but hardly enough]
Option 2 - See if Kontakt and VSL run through WINE.
[Result - Kontakt definitely installs, but didn't explore this after that, see below.]
Option 3 - See if you can find someone who can make a Kontakt- and VSL-to-SFZ+scripts converter, or develop a Linux native Kontakt and VSL sampler
[Result - Shot down by the few devs I spoke to. I didn't ask the LS folks, but it was sort of obvious what the answer would be.]
Option 4 - Pester Native Instruments and VSL to release a Linux version (Like falktx said, they don't even need to make a new one. They already have Linux versions for testing. They simply refuse to release them until they're sure that they'll be able to maintain said releases on the money they'll make off them.)
[Result - Haven't gotten around to doing this yet, see below.]
Option 5 - Have a separate machine run Windows/Mac for the sampler, and use netjack to connect that to your Linux system.
[Wow...uh...expensive, and not just in terms of price but also portability, studio/stage space, and I suppose running costs too. But if you want it good, and you want it now...]

I quit the WINE option because long before that I had already taken an old Komplete 5 (Kontakt 3! *joins in the general laughter*) orchestral library, and made SFZs for mosts instrument, and I chose to first set about finishing this (Ouch. LOOOONG process. But ->). Presto, FAR better sounding than SSO, even if the samples weren't exactly modern (I can't tell the difference at this stage of learning) and won't sound as good as they could on Kontakt (due to the missing scripting et al).

For now I'm set. If somewhere down the line I feel the need for something better - I will get down to step 2, 3 and 4, in that order. The problem really exists with the companies - Linux does absolutely nothing to stop them from making Linux releases, they choose not to release for Linux.

On SFZ 2.0
Or, write an SFZ sample player from scratch, which I take it is no simple task.

Krzysztof Foltman and Nils Gey (kfoltman and nilsge on #laborejo, freenode) are doing exactly that - working on two separate projects - calfbox and Lisalo/Lisalo-qt - which together hold the promise of implementing SFZ 2.0 on Linux, and the whole thing is generally somewhat ambitious (e.g. it'll support program changes as instrument changes instead of the stupid current norm of channel=instrument. Might not help you much, but is a huge help to us orchestral sampling guys who work with a large number of instrument files - usually far over 50.). However, I have no idea where this project is at the moment, as I haven't tried it beyond some very cursory stuff since quite a while, because -
(16:39) (@nilsge) contrapunctus: no feature requests or bug reports for lisalo/Qt please. That is all just experimental stuff.

That was in June, though, maybe it's different now. Ask them.

There was a forum post link lying around for commercial GIG and SFZ files, perhaps you're already aware of it...anyway, your post made me stop being lazy and search for it :p Here goes - http://bb.linuxsampler.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=11

In addition to that -
This is mentioned in that thread, but one might miss it. Lots of GIGs. - http://gigasamples.com/
The Open Source Drumkit. I don't know much about drums but I like the sound of this one better than many others. You have to make your own SFZ for it, though, they don't provide instrument files, oddly enough. - http://realmusicmedia.net/osdrumkit/
There are some SFZs here including a bass guitar - http://translate.google.com/translate?s ... 2F&act=url
The Fluid R3 SF2 has some sounds (I use the drums and the sax) which are okay-ish in a pinch. (I use it in qsynth, doesn't work nice in LS). Available here. - http://musescore.org/en/handbook/soundfont
Hydrogen has a fair amount of good-sounding (IMHO) drums for almost all sorts of things. One kit even has tabla samples.

Lastly, I'll also advise you this - Kontakt is the most popular format. And there are quite a few free and commercial Kontakt sample libs around. In all versions but the most recent ones, the sample files are accessible to the users - you want to be getting these sample libs, make SFZs of them, and use 'em. One SFZ usually takes me a maximum of 15 minutes to make in gedit (with help from makesfz.sh, with the '1' parameter) - and I'm sure anyone can best that time. A possible place to start is http://pettinhouse.com/ If someone goes ahead with this route, do post back any sites with usable Kontakt samples, for general benefit.
Last edited by TheSafePlaces on Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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AnthonyCFox
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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby AnthonyCFox » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:45 pm

TheSafePlaces wrote:OP -
Option 2 - See if Kontakt and VSL run through WINE.
[Result - Kontakt definitely installs, but didn't explore this after that, see below.]


I did that and when it came to installing the sound libraries Kontakt wanted to install it's own driver to open the iso and that won't work on Wine.

TheSafePlaces wrote:Krzysztof Foltman and Nils Gey (kfoltman and nilsge on #laborejo, freenode) are doing exactly that - working on two separate projects - calfbox and Lisalo/Lisalo-qt - which together hold the promise of implementing SFZ 2.0 on Linux, and the whole thing is generally somewhat ambitious (e.g. it'll support program changes as instrument changes instead of the stupid current norm of channel=instrument. Might not help you much, but is a huge help to us orchestral sampling guys who work with a large number of instrument files - usually far over 50.). However, I have no idea where this project is at the moment, as I haven't tried it beyond some very cursory stuff since quite a while, because -


I installed lisaloqt. It was a little rough, but if they're working on SFZ 2.0 compatibility that's great.

Thanks for the links. I grabbed the Natural Drums and the Precision Bass I'll give them a try later and I bookmarked the thread you linked to and added it to my sound resources bookmarks.

Thanks for the comment. It's nice to know I'm not the only one to go through this challenge of finding sound libraries for Linux samplers.
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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby male » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:50 pm

AnthonyCFox wrote:
falkTX wrote:Well, sorry for the rant here, but sometimes we have developers that simply don't want to support Linux and don't care one bit.
I had one of such cases recently when discoDSP asked me to remove the source code for Highlife, leaving users with a non-working linux version... :(
Kontakt and many other plugin/sample authors use cross-platform toolkits (mostly to get Windows+Mac source sync), which would allow them to build Linux versions as they please. I've seen a *lot* of Qt and JUCE based plugins out there, which developers simply refuse to release linux binaries...
/rant

Maybe we can list here the known linux samplers. We often miss things.


This is a ranting thread, so you're more than welcome to let loose.

There are a couple of free sample players out there; Plogue's Sforzando http://www.plogue.com/products/sforzando/ and Camel Audio's Alchemy Player http://www.camelaudio.com/AlchemyPlayer.php and they're making their money selling sample libraries. Makes you wonder what discoDSP is thinking trying to sell a player?

Linux doesn't really have any samplers; not that would meet the needs of any measurable percentage of musicians. I guess the most practical solution is for someone to work on Linuxsampler so it will support SFZ 2.0. Or, write an SFZ sample player from scratch, which I take it is no simple task.


There is a new SFZ sample player that's a lot easier to use than LinuxSampler, but it's still very experiemental. I don't know about the SFZ 2.0 support. It's called calfbox. Nils Gey has written a front end for it called lisalo and lisaloqt (which is what I use for playing SFZ). YMMV.
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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby AnthonyCFox » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:21 pm

male wrote:There is a new SFZ sample player that's a lot easier to use than LinuxSampler, but it's still very experiemental. I don't know about the SFZ 2.0 support. It's called calfbox. Nils Gey has written a front end for it called lisalo and lisaloqt (which is what I use for playing SFZ). YMMV.


It will load some of the SFZ files I have that Linuxsampler won't play, but I'm not getting any sound from it. I do see the little musical note indicator flash when I send data to it but that's it. I does look promising and I like that it works so well with NSM. Hopefully he keeps working on it until an idiot like me can use it and can get samples for it from popular websites instead of turning the internet upside down looking for obscure files.
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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby nilshi » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:43 pm

We will.

Please tell me which commercial sfz 2.0 files you have found. This seems to be the opposite of my own searches.

Actually, I can't find many sfz samples at all, commercial or not. And by "many" I mean compared to Kontakt libs or even the ancient .gig stuff.

It would be nice, if you are willing to pay money, to know at least where to spend it.

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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby AnthonyCFox » Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:43 pm

NilsGey wrote:Please tell me which commercial sfz 2.0 files you have found. This seems to be the opposite of my own searches.


It appears that I jumped to a conclusion. Both Plogue and Camel Audio advertise a "Free SFZ Player" and I assumed that meant the samples they sell are SFZ samples. It seems that they are "based" on the SFZ format. So what they are actually doing is introducing another proprietary format and using the term SFZ as a marketing tool. Crap. Bastards.

I apologize. I'm usually a lot sharper about picking up on things like that but as I was scouring the internet looking for a solution to my sampler problem I wasn't paying attention to the finer points of marketing speak.

Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn!!!
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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby tnovelli » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:34 am

FYI, that OSdrumkit link is dead... I tracked it down to https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=338813d0 ... 5C85D0!169 (note, you can download one folder at a time as a zip file)

They sound pretty good, I guess, but there are only .sfz files for kick & hihat. And nothing about copyright/license, so I wouldn't use them for anything serious.

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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby TheSafePlaces » Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:57 am

AnthonyCFox wrote:I did that and when it came to installing the sound libraries Kontakt wanted to install it's own driver to open the iso and that won't work on Wine.

Darn it. If that's not a one-off...well, the situation just became a little more worse. :(

AnthonyCFox wrote:It will load some of the SFZ files I have that Linuxsampler won't play, but I'm not getting any sound from it. I do see the little musical note indicator flash when I send data to it but that's it.

Sounds like an error with the SFZs. Have someone with some experience of making SFZs check it out. If it uses unusual opcodes, or if the file is fine, then it's probably a sampler-side issue.

AnthonyCFox wrote:It appears that I jumped to a conclusion...finer points of marketing speak...Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn!!!

Ah, happens to the best of us. I too was surprised, like Nils. No biggie :)

tnovelli wrote:FYI, that OSdrumkit link is dead... I tracked it down to https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=338813d0 ... 5C85D0!169 (note, you can download one folder at a time as a zip file)

They sound pretty good, I guess, but there are only .sfz files for kick & hihat. And nothing about copyright/license, so I wouldn't use them for anything serious.

tnovelli - The samples and the instrument files for OSDK are public domain. It doesn't get better than that! ;) And as I wrote above, the author wanted people to be making their own SFZ files for it - hence the absence of SFZ files. It was quite irritating for me as a beginner to be learning to make SFZs, but eventually I'd say OSDK was what got me into it.
Have a look - http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic ... sc&start=0
EDIT - WOW. OSDK, among so many other GIG, SFZ, and SF2 libs, right here! Yay. http://download.linuxaudio.org/musical- ... libraries/
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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby nilshi » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:22 pm

[url]EDIT - WOW. OSDK, among so many other GIG, SFZ, and SF2 libs, right here! Yay. http://download.linuxaudio.org/musical- ... libraries/[/url]

I forgot that I had already uploaded that. Good to know :) I was searching for the upload command half of the day for it :)

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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby AnthonyCFox » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:30 pm

TheSafePlaces wrote:
AnthonyCFox wrote:I did that and when it came to installing the sound libraries Kontakt wanted to install it's own driver to open the iso and that won't work on Wine.

Darn it. If that's not a one-off...well, the situation just became a little more worse. :(


Yeah, but that's just the sounds from Native Instruments and a lot of what they sell isn't theirs exclusively.

TheSafePlaces wrote:It was quite irritating for me as a beginner to be learning to make SFZs, but eventually I'd say OSDK was what got me into it.
Have a look - http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic ... sc&start=0


I wouldn't mind so much making SFZs if I could share them. It seems like a waste. How about setting up an SFZ Napster? :wink:

There are a couple of sample converters you may have seen: Translator http://www.samplerzone.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=28 and Extreme Sample Converter http://www.extranslator.com/ I've installed the demo of Translator and it seemed okay but it was disabled so there was no way to test it and it's pretty expensive, $150. I downloaded the demo of Extreme Sample Converter but haven't tried it yet. I'm in the US and that site is asking for Euros. I'm not sure how that will work.
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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby TheSafePlaces » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:02 pm

AnthonyCFox wrote:Yeah, but that's just the sounds from Native Instruments and a lot of what they sell isn't theirs exclusively.

So third party ones will work but the factory ones won't? O.o

AnthonyCFox wrote:I wouldn't mind so much making SFZs if I could share them. It seems like a waste. How about setting up an SFZ Napster? :wink:

Haha, I completely agree. You could simply license the instrument files under a Creative Commons license and put them up somewhere, maybe on the downloads.linuxaudio.org page for centralization, and put up download links on your blog/website, or on a topic here. I'm not averse to doing the same for all the Komplete orchestral lib ones I've made, but I'm not sure how much of a help they might be - I'm hardly a sampling guru and I made them for myself, so there might have been better ways of going about it, and not everyone has or wants that exact version of Komplete (v5). Do remember that we can't share any of the samples themselves - even free ones might forbid redistribution or reuse in other libraries (read the license, ask the community, and email the author, in that order) - the users must have the samples, we'll be sharing the instrument files which point to them.
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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby AnthonyCFox » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:27 pm

TheSafePlaces wrote:
AnthonyCFox wrote:Yeah, but that's just the sounds from Native Instruments and a lot of what they sell isn't theirs exclusively.

So third party ones will work but the factory ones won't? O.o


That would be my guess. I doubt the third party distributors can afford to invest in developing complex DRM solutions which is what I believe prevented me from installing the library. I did have an idea of installing it on a Windows partition then symlinking to it through samba but I don't have Windows and I don't know enough about samba to know if that is even possible.

TheSafePlaces wrote:Do remember that we can't share any of the samples themselves - even free ones might forbid redistribution or reuse in other libraries - the users must have the samples, we'll be sharing the instrument files which point to them.


I know. :( It just seems like a complicated approach.

An open source sample converter may be the only real solution. I imagine it would be fairly popular if it was cross-platform.
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Re: The state of sample players on Linux

Postby tnovelli » Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:48 pm

TheSafePlaces wrote:EDIT - WOW. OSDK, among so many other GIG, SFZ, and SF2 libs, right here! Yay. http://download.linuxaudio.org/musical- ... libraries/


Oh, nice! No need for that skydrive bs.
Yeah, I don't mind not having canned SFZs; even if it did I would just pick and choose the samples I like. Keeps everything from sounding identical :)

AnthonyCFox wrote:An open source sample converter may be the only real solution. I imagine it would be fairly popular if it was cross-platform.


Ok, so we could use a *polished* sampler and a sample/patchset converter. I've actually got a small start on that, so I'll bump it up on my (long) list of projects.

Here's what I have in mind: I want a sampler that lets you zoom in on the waveform (kinda like Audacity) to adjust start/end/loop points. Graphical ampeg/adsr editing would be nice. All the SFZ parameters should be editable in realtime (with GUI knobs, MIDI mapping, etc) - I shouldn't have to text-edit the SFZ and reload it. And of course it needs a quick way to assign MIDI note ranges to samples. And layers. Yep, pretty complicated; no wonder it hasn't been done yet.


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