[No, I'm not asking for a specific recommendation.]

I'm writing some web-based software that uses the WebMidi API to output MIDI events which, somehow (sound card MIDI module?) turn into sound. It works. It sounds bad, of course.

I want it to sound better on my computer.

I'm having trouble finding the name of the category of software I would need to get to act like a MIDI device, to produce higher quality sound. I thought it would be called a "software sound module" or a "virtual MIDI synthesiser" but I'm not having any luck.

To be clear, the thing I expect to find would basically sit invisibly in the background.

I'm not looking for:

  • a virtual keyboard
  • a GUI for creating new instruments
  • an extensive sample library
  • a plugin for a DAW (since I don't have a DAW)

Just something that synthesise common instruments into something that sounds a bit less terrible than the built-in MIDI synth, using General Midi.

What do I search for?

  • What do you use currently, the thing that sounds bad? What is the thing that currently receives your program's MIDI messages and produces sound output? Find out what it's called, and then find a better one? By the way, the combination of an instrument plugin plus a host application together could be called a software sound module. Dec 10, 2023 at 10:40
  • (The actual question would of course be, are there any decent and recent alternatives to NI Bandstand, but that would be off-topic here.) Dec 10, 2023 at 11:04
  • 1
    I think the MIDI device that is being used is called "Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth". Dec 10, 2023 at 11:13
  • The thing with the Microsoft synth is, it's also a MIDI driver which provides a MIDI port, in addition to being a software sound module. And the MIDI port can be seen by your WebMidi application. To make a software sound module like NI Bandstand visible to WebMidi, I guess you'd need to hook it up to a MIDI port with a virtual MIDI cable of some sort. For replacing the Microsoft GS Wavetable synth with something better, there's an old question on another StackExchange site sound.stackexchange.com/questions/24288/… Dec 10, 2023 at 11:44
  • Thank you - I did not know about that SE site. Dec 10, 2023 at 12:41

1 Answer 1


You're looking for something called a SoundFont. There are many soundfonts that sound better than the built in Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth.

FluidSynth's GitHub lists some useful resources.

  • I think a SoundFont is just the data file though - you need something to load it into to. Like, as you suggest, FluidSynth? Dec 10, 2023 at 12:39
  • 1
    How a sound sounds depends on the SoundFont it was created with. The MIDI program can use different SoundFonts to give different types of sounds. Some SoundFonts are for music and others are for games. When your MIDI file is played by somebody else, unless they use the same soundfont as you do, it will sound different.
    – Rob Kam
    Dec 10, 2023 at 13:09
  • Various software may also actually play the same soundfont slightly different. Jan 9 at 14:34

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