[linux-audio-user] A Little Specimen Testing

davidrclark at earthlink.net davidrclark at earthlink.net
Tue Feb 24 11:41:20 EST 2004

I thought I would report to the LAU on some testing of Specimen.  First, 
though I publicly thank Pete Bessman for his great work.

As some of you may recall, I'm working on 3-D audio, but also on 1- and
2-D instrument generation using physical modelling.  (My background
is physics and EE, not music nor recording.  My apologies!)  Anyway,
I had created a series of 84 WAV files, each 24-bit, 96,000 samples/sec,
three seconds in length (!), mono.  Each of these is nearly 1 MB in size.
In order to really test soundfonts, I need something that will play
MIDI files or something such as that, so I can determine what the 
soundfont sounds like in a real piece, not just with my hacking on a

Using an BEEF XML file that I created, I was able to scoop up 64 notes
into Specimen, which appears to have converted the WAV files to stereo.
So it had loaded about 100 MB of samples, one for each note from C2 to
daylight, as some would say.  I then played, with pmidi, a rather fast
MIDI file: LISZT.MID, a short piano piece by Franz Liszt.  You may
have heard this in Western movies, played on a honky-tonk piano,
in a saloon scene.  It's 175 BPM, so it's fast, esp. for three-second
WAV samples and with a lot of chords!  It played this piece just fine
as far as I can hear. (1)

For comparison, I tried my toylike Magix MIDI Studio WAVE player sampler
synth.  I was only able to load about 48 notes.  The results were
catastrophic.  I estimate that about 2/3 of the notes were dropped.
There were a lot of popping and crackling sounds as the piece was 
being slaughtered.  (This sampler is DircectX.)  So it was no contest.

I don't own any pro-level Windows sampler synths, except for Gigasampler
lite --- but alas, this version doesn't work with XP; it's 16/44.1 K,
not 24/96, and I don't have a way of getting WAV's to Gigasampler
format.  So again, it's no contest.  As far as I'm concerned,
Gigasampler lite was a no-show.

I'd be happy to run other test of other software, but need some pointers
to demos, etc.  It should also be relatively straightforward to use
such software, like Specimen is.  Alternatively, I challenge others to
load up 64 three-second 24/96 samples in their favorite synth, play a
175 BPM file with lots of chords, and report back to the rest of us.  
I'll email the file to those interested.  I'm serious; I'd really like 
to know what's out there.  How much does it cost, and how easy is it to 
use?  If it's less than five dollars and very easy to use, I may be 

Thanks again, Pete.  Wonderful work.  For me it's very useful, even without
all the advanced features.


(1) P4, 2.6 GHz, 800 MHz FSB (dual-channel 400 MHz DDR's).  2.6.1 kernel.
1 GB memory, ECC.  The soundfont I created was not a piano soundfont, so
musically it sounds kind of silly.  It sounds just fine technically.

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