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SoundFont Player Plugin by Cakewalk
No Longer Available
sfz by Cakewalk is a Virtual Instrument Audio Plugin for Windows. It functions as a VST Plugin.
Sample Formats
Loads and/or Saves
OGG, SF2 (SoundFont), sfz, WAV
Copy Protection
My KVR - Groups, Versions, & More
107 KVR members have added sfz to 17 My KVR groups 118 times.
Not In Your MY KVR Groups
(or group limitation prevents versioning)
+17 in private groups

KVR Rank

Overall: 593   589

30-Day: 970; 7-Day: 977; Yesterday: 1000

Main Engine:

  • High Quality band limiting sample-playback engine.
  • 9 quality settings to allow precise CPU usage optimisation.
  • 256 voices of polyphony, unlimited layers per voice.
  • Per-channel polyphony limiter.
  • Fully Multi-timbral operation, supports all 16 MIDI channels.
  • Supports any standard/custom samplerate, including 22k, 32k, 44.1k, 48k, 88.2k, 96k, 192k and 384k.
  • Extensive SoundFont compatibility.
  • Several loading modes: Whole SoundFont, Single Program, Direct-from-Disk streaming.
  • Stereo Output.

Sound Generator:

  • A LPF, two LFOs and two Envelope Generators per layer.
  • Filter Cutoff, Filter Resonance, Keyboard Tracking, Velocity Tracking and Envelope Amount.
  • Vibrato LFO with Delay, Speed and Depth control.
  • Modulation LFO with Delay, Depth, Filter Depth, Pitch Depth and Amp Depth controls.
  • Modulation EG with Attack, Hold, Keyboard-To-Hold, Decay, Keyboard-To-Decay, Sustain, Release and Pitch Depth controls.
  • Amplifier EG with Delay, Attack, Hold, Keyboard-To-Hold, Decay, Keyboard-To-Decay, Sustain and Release controls.


  • Stereo Chorus and Stereo Reverb.
  • Effects on/off switch.

Programs / Banks:

  • 128 internal programs (scenes).
  • Saves and Loads standard program (.fxp) files (saving only possible using the microHost, loading thru drag-and-drop operation).
  • Drag and drop support for program files (.fxp) and SoundFont files (.sf2).
  • All settings saved in the song.

Graphic User Interface:

  • Total Layers and Voices played indicator.
  • Sound Preview ribbon at bottom, MIDI transmit to host (VST).

MIDI implementation:

  • Extensive MIDI implementation: Velocity, Pitch Bend, Modulation, Sustain Sw and a lot more.

ASIO microHost:

  • Ultra light ASIO host for live performance and programming (90k).
  • Supports 44.1, 48, 88.2 and 96 kHz samplerates.
  • Virtual keyboard with PitchBend/Modulation/Program Change/Transpose controls using PC keyboard.
  • Simultaneous use of multiple MIDI ports.
  • Saves 16-bit and 32-bit WAV files direct-to-disk.

Latest User Reviews

Average user rating of 4.25 from 4 reviews

Reviewed By herodotus [all]
April 8th, 2007
Version reviewed: 1.97 on Windows

sfz is an amazing thing.

It's power seems hidden but is actually in plain sight in the form of the sfz format. The sfz format is a series of simple easy to read text opcodes that allow you to do all of the cool stuff. You can find all these opcodes here: http://www.rgcaudio.com/sfzformat.htm

Basically, how you tap into the power of sfz is to put your raw samples in a folder and write a plain text file that 'maps' the samples. This file can assign them midi note numbers, can assign velocity layers, can assign filters (it has a variety of resonant filters) assign EG and LFO (each of which can modulate pitch, filter or amplifier), assign loop points, or do just about whatever else you would ever need to do with a sampler. All using simple bits of plain language code. This code is simple. Much simpler than html or css and infinitely simpler to read than 'real' code like C++.

Now this might seem weird at first: using words instead of knobs to control a sampler. But once you get used to it, it takes no more time than changing screens on a hardware workstation.

As this code is more or less the interface, and it is easy to understand, I gave the ui rating at 5: weird, but usable.

So why go through this trouble? Well The most blatantly impressive thing about this totally free player is the quality of its interpolation algorithm. There have been numerous tests demonstrating its quality, but the simplest test is just to take some ambient pad sample, drag and drop it onto the gui, and play it up and down your keyboard. Even when the formants are completely 'munchkinized', the sound quality of the sample is remarkably smooth.

The creative power of being able to alter and harness sound in this manner, using only a free piece of software like this is almost incredible. Especially when one thinks of the excitement generated just 20-30 years ago by the first Fairlights ($40,000) and Emulators ($10,000) and then ponders that their powers are quite literally miniscule compared to this amazing piece of freeware.

Mssr. Rene, I salute you.
Read Review

Reviewed By Midiworks [all]
December 9th, 2004
Version reviewed: 1.97 on Windows

I am with sfz since the first beta release and a lot of things happend since then.
Most of the features are hidden behind that super simple
gui, not accessible right out of the box.
You need to use midi controllers or an freeware editor
to get your hands on the hidden power inside sfz.

Feature list:

The feature list is just too long to be listed here
and beats every other sampler available today.

Yes, even sfz+, the commercially available version
with sliders on the gui.
Yet without the features of the free sfz.
The sound quality is the the best you can get these days,
sfz & sfz+ are the untouchable king and queen in this category.

The soundfont compability is excellent,
every parameter of a sf2 is reproduced correctly.

There is no problem to take a huge Gigasampler file
and convert it to sf2, then load it into sfz.
It will stream perfectly from your hard disc.

Can you believe that this fantastic VSTi is free ?
Yes, it really is !

Thanks a lot Rene !!!
Read Review

Reviewed By bandasound [all]
February 4th, 2004
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows

Man i love this thing...and its free...I was using Bismarks BS-1 (unfortunatly bought) and now i only use SFZ for my sound fonts...works flawlessy and sounds excellant. I may investigate buying the "+" version but the free impresses me so much i dont know if it can be whole much better! and i usually dont do alot of editing to sound fonts...so editing features are not a huge issue!

side note: did see an issue with DFD function the sound would seem to develop latency will in use. My be a RAM issue with the coding...
Read Review

Reviewed By Soundspectral [all]
November 30th, 2003
Version reviewed: 1.06 on Windows

Friends, this is a great soundfont player !

sfz even streams direct from disc.
So there is no problem loading a huge piano in just
1-2 seconds.
sfz's streaming makes other soft samplers exept
Gigasampler/studio look like toys.

With this version 1.06 all sf2 parameters play back
great here.

There is a whole synth engine behind this simple GUI.
Resonant Filter, LFOs and even FX (Reverb, Chorus)

256 notes, different quality modes,
where the lowest mode already sounds better than most
other samplers.
There is nothing to tweak on the gui but you can use
midi control to change some parameters.

If you need more, go try the inexpensive sfz+
with many controls on the gui and more features.
Grab sfz it is free !

Thank you Rene for sfz and Triangle I+II
Read Review

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Comments & Discussion for Cakewalk sfz

Discussion: Active
15 February 2014 at 8:02pm

Is there a manual or .pdf ...or how does one adjust:

A LPF, two LFOs and two Envelope Generators per layer.
Filter Cutoff, Filter Resonance, Keyboard Tracking, Velocity Tracking and Envelope Amount.
Vibrato LFO with Delay, Speed and Depth control.
Modulation LFO with Delay, Depth, Filter Depth, Pitch Depth and Amp Depth controls.
Modulation EG with Attack, Hold, Keyboard-To-Hold, Decay, Keyboard-To-Decay, Sustain, Release and Pitch Depth controls.
Amplifier EG with Delay, Attack, Hold, Keyboard-To-Hold, Decay, Keyboard-To-Decay, Sustain and Release controls.

that is the Effects??? I love this thing, use it a lot and have always wondered....

BTW, thanx in advance.

15 February 2014 at 10:38pm




But really you should use sfz+ instead of simply sfz. Both come from Cakewalk (rgc:audio) and both are free, but sfz+ is an advanced edition of the previous sfz. It makes the same thing as sfz... and better and more. And all the things you've made with sfz remain compatible with sfz+ (read the manual in PDF above).

To get sfz+ (totally free) it is here:

http://www.store.cakewalk.com/b2ceuro/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=35-CWSZ1.40-20E (Europe)


http://www.store.cakewalk.com/b2cgbp/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=35-CWSZ1.40-20E (UK)


http://www.store.cakewalk.com/b2cus/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=35-CWSZ1.40-20E (USA & the rest of the world)

The PDF file above is the same manual for sfz and sfz+ (sfz+ begins at the bottom of the page 7 of the PDF)

21 February 2014 at 1:07am

There is one fairly significant difference between sfz+ and sfz: sfz+ player will not use .sfz files, only .sf2 and .wav files. sfz player can use .sfz files as well as .sf2 and .wav. So all the .sfz files by third-parties for Rapture, Dimension Pro, etc. won't 'load & play' in sfz+ player like they will in sfz player. Odd and rather ironic that a 'plus' version is more limited in the file types it accepts, and that despite having 'sfz' in its name, it won't use .sfz files. I personally would recommend downloading and keeping both, since each has advantages and disadvantages.

21 February 2014 at 2:05am

Yes. And in my humble opinion, the best tool providing a lot of functions and having the best compatibility for sf2 as well as for sfz is TX16Wx: http://www.tx16wx.com/

Cakewalk sfz and sfz+ have been abandoned for a long, long time. There are other sfz/sf2 readers which are living and very well living today: essentially Plogue Sforzando and TX16Wx. But Plogue Sforzando don't read directly the sf2 files, it converts them (automatically but heh) to the sfz format to read them.

In fact the best is TX16Wx, which reads sfz and sf2 both as well (and also wav, aiff, aifc, ogg, flac, typhoon, and yamaha) and which provides many, many excellent functions. And it has native 64-bit for Windows in addition to the 32-bit version and has also AU for OS X. There are two versions, one payware and one freeware. it provides excellent filters (BP/LP/Notch,ADSR/AHDSR envelopes, polyphonic glide (yes!), two LFOs with synchronisation, a modulation matrix, a mapping editor of the keyboard, a simplified but functional sample function (it's not only a rompler), round robin, a wave editor, and so on... All that for free or incredibly cheap !! The freeware version makes already many things, and the payware version makes still more and more and is very cheap (€29). Try to find better for this price ! And I add that it has been updated few days ago. Pfff... why keep these old drags of 15 years old Cakewalk ?. when there are so excellent free tools which are far better and which still continue today to evolve months after months .

21 February 2014 at 4:59am

Good points. I actually couldn't agree more. I use and like all 3 for quick checks (is this .sfz file broken or can it still find the samples? are the samples of decent quality?) but for actual use in a DAW I more often use TX16Wx (or sometimes Camel Alchemy) for the greater number of options and controls. I agree that TX16Wx, although a little more complicated, is a lot more versatile and flexible than either of the Cakewalk products.

4 April 2015 at 8:18am

Link is dead and I don't see it on Cakewalk's site. Is sfz officially gone?

26 September 2016 at 4:42am

It seems it is. I've got the free license still active, but there's no place to register new licenses.

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