Welcome to SFZFormat.com!

This is the main reference point for anyone who wants to create virtual musical instruments using the SFZ format. The SFZ format is a file format to define how a collection of samples are arranged for performance. The goal behind the SFZ format is to provide a free, simple, minimalistic and expandable format to arrange, distribute and use audio samples with the highest possible quality and the highest possible performance flexibility. Soundware, software and hardware developers can create, use and distribute the SFZ format files for free, for either free or commercial applications.

What SFZ is not

To clarify, the term SFZ as used on this site does not mean a sforzando dynamic marking, and it also is not the same thing as a soundfont. Soundfonts are a completely different file format which includes both the samples and the definitions of sample behavior in the same binary file, while SFZ is a file format which only defines the behavior of musical instruments and does not include the sample content. SF2 may look a bit like SFZ visually, but that's a coincidence.


  • A .sfz definition file is just a text file. Consequently, it can be created by using any text editor.
  • Samples of any bit depth (8/16/24/32-bit) and sample rate (44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 384 kHz etc.), mono or stereo.
  • Compressed and uncompressed sample formats can both be used within the same instrument.
  • Loops embedded in sample files or configured in the SFZ.
  • Velocity layers, round robins, keyboard splits and layers.
  • Sample playback based on MIDI controllers (note on, note off, continuous controllers, pitch bend, channel - and polyphonic aftertouch, keyboard switches) and internal generators (random, sequence counters).
  • Unidirectional and bidirectional exclusive regions (mute groups).
  • Release trigger regions with release trigger attenuation control.
  • Crossfade layer controls.
  • Ability to distinguish legato notes from first notes.
  • Envelope and LFO modulation sources with possible targets including volume, pitch, filter cutoff and more.


To make use of the SFZ format requires three things:

which tells the player how to use the samples. The SFZ file itself can be created using any text editor, though for more complex cases with hundreds or thousands of samples, additional tools can make this easier - some people use spreadsheets, and there are also dedicated SFZ creation tools.

Here's a basic SFZ file you can copy to start your own.

Making Instruments

Text guides on how to make a simple instrument, covering the essential opcodes

  • Drum basics - covers global, group and region headers, sample, key, lovel / hivel, amp_velcurve_N, seq_length, seq_position and lorand / hirand.

  • Sustained note basics - using a flute as an example. Adds lokey / hikey, pitch_keycenter, xfin / xfout, locc / hicc, keyswitching, group, off_by and off_mode.

Some more advanced topics

  • Vibrato - typical string vibrato, humanized vibrato, asymmetrical vibrato, and even filter wobble.

  • Legato - simulated legato and portamento as well as true sampled legato.

  • Cymbal muting - using group, off_by, off_mode and polyphony to make hi-hat and cymbal notes mute previous notes in a musically useful way.

  • Brush stirs - two different approaches to brushed drum techniques which produce a continuous sound rather than a hit.