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I sometimes get email from users with some basic questions  - usually dealing with how to properly extract sf2 soundfonts from sfArk or sfpack compressed files, and so I felt it might be useful to review these techniques here, as well as some information on the file preparation and uploading process.

Instructions on how to extract the SF2 file

bulletAfter downloading the file from the web site, place the self-extracting EXE file in an empty directory - not one with a long filename (like C:\My Documents) but one with a DOS style 8x3 filename (like C:\Hold).
bulletOpen Windows Explorer, and navigate to the directory containing the self extracting EXE file. Double-click on the filename to extract the sfArk or sfpack compressed soundfont file
bulletMake sure that you have the correct soundfont compression utility correctly installed on your PC.
bulletLaunch the soundfont decompression utility from the Start Menu. (It works better to launch the soundfont extraction utility from the start menu than to double-click of an sfArk of sfpack file.)

 
bulletIf you are extracting an sfArk compressed file, use that utility's File -> Open menu to open the sfArk file. 
bullet You will have to change the file type in the Windows Common Dialog - File Open box if you are using version 1.18 of the utility, but if you are using version 2.0 it will recognize the file extension sfArk and you can open the file.
bulletClick the Start button to process the file.

 
bulletIf the file is compressed with the sfpack utility, use that utility's Add Files menu to open the sfpack file with the Windows Common Dialog File Open box.
bulletClick the Go button to process the file

Once processing is complete, you will have the proper SF2 file to load into your soundcard.

Problems I've seen

bulletSometime, the sfArk utility doesn't install correctly and give an error message indicating a corrupt file when you try to extract the SF2 file. If you are experiencing this problem, uninstall the utility and reinstall it. In ONE isolated case, the file could not be extracted on a user's PC and that user had to install the utility on a different PC and then it properly extracted. I do not know what was wrong with the first PC, but this has only happened once - in all other cases, reinstalling has worked.
bulletMake sure that the file you are trying to decompress has either an sfArk or sfpack file extension. Note that these file extensions do NOT follow normal conventions for 3 character file extensions, but work nonetheless in Windows 9x, NT, or Windows 2000 (where they are treated as long filenames). The sfArk utility will NOT open a file unless it has the extension sfArk.
bulletDon't double-click on an sfArk file to try to extract it - this will generate an error message (at least on my machines). You do seem to be able to double-click an sfpack file.

File Preparation

bulletAll the soundfonts on these pages are compressed with a utility to obtain maximum size reduction to speed up download times. Most are compressed with Melody Machine's sfArk soundfont compression utility, newer files probably will use Megota Software's sfpack soundfont compression utility instead.
bulletAfter the sf2 soundfont file is compressed with one of these two utilities, the file is then "stored" in a self-extracting PKZip file (since the file is already highly compressed, further compression is not possible). This storage is done for the following reasons:

to make sure that the file is properly extracted - elsewhere on these pages are discussions of problems with certain Windows Unzipping utilities

to make sure that ALL browsers download these files as binary files - both ZIP file extensions and EXE file extensions are commonly recognized by web browsers as being binary files

bulletThe file is then tested here, on multiple machines, including PCs different from the one that created the file.
bulletThe file is then uploaded to the web server
bulletThe file is then downloaded, as a test, to one of PersonalCopy.com's PCs and extraction is done - both from the self extracting archive, and the specific soundfont compression utility - to make sure that the file uploaded and did not become corrupt during that process.

This is quite a bit of extra effort - and time - but I want to make absolutely certain that if you spend time downloading one of these big files, it is usable and correct. Some users have sent email - sometimes not very nice email - blaming me for all the time they've wasted downloading a corrupt file. After investigation, this has NEVER been the case - the user has always had a problem on their end, which we have been able to fix.

If you are having a problem extracting one of these soundfonts, contact me and I'll be glad to help, but - don't blame your problems on a corrupt file - it isn't! The bigger the file the more problems might crop up, so don't assume that your extraction utility is working just because it extracts certain other files, but not one of these big soundfonts.

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