SDIF: Sound Description Interchange Format

Welcome to the home page for the SDIF standards effort. We look forward to your feedback and participation.

SDIF Documents and Resources

  • SDIF Downloads: source code, tools, and more
  • ICMC2000 Analysis/Synthesis Comparison Session: Run everybody's analysis software on a common set of input sounds and see what you learn from comparing the resulting SDIF files.
  • Two ICMC 2000 papers: An XML-based SDIF Stream Relationships Language and Extensions and Applications of the SDIF Sound Description Interchange Format
  • 107th AES Convention Paper by Matthew Wright, Amar Chaudhary, Adrian Freed, Sami Khoury, and David Wessel
  • Two ICMC 99 papers: Supporting SDIF in the Max/MSP Environment and Cross-CodingSDIF into MPEG-4 Structured Audio
  • ICMC 98 SDIF Paper by Matthew Wright, Amar Chaudhary, Adrian Freed, Xavier Rodet, Xavier Serra, Dominique Virolle, and David Wessel.
  • Specification of the SDIF format and specification of standard frame and matrix types
  • Goals of SDIF
  • Motivation of some of the design decisions behind SDIF
  • Some things to think about in regards to SDIF
  • Narrative (informal)
  • Future Work for SDIF
  • IRCAM's SDIF web pages
  • Spec-like SDIF Documents

  • Specification of the SDIF format
  • specification of standard frame and matrix types
  • Goals of SDIF
  • Of Historical Interest

    Work Based On Old Versions of SDIF



    This effort was suggested by Xavier Rodet of IRCAM. Discussions with scholars and vendors at the 1995 ICMC confirmed the need for this standard in the academic and commercial communities . Adrian Freed coined the name and invited ICMC delegates to participate in the development work. Discussions over the months led to new requirements for the standard particularly in the area of internet applications. Also, although originally conceived of as a portable (and not necessarily efficient) interchange format, CNMAT and IRCAM have decided to use it as the primary working format for sound analysis and synthesis tools. This has resulted in a standard grounded in real needs and field tested.

    CNMAT and IRCAM have been evolving and improving the standard. We presented SDIF to the analysis/synthesis community at ICMC97 in Thessaloniki and found widespread support and approval. Also at ICMC97, Xavier Serra, Jordi Bonada, Perfecto Herrera, and Ramon Loureiro presented "Integrating complementary spectral models in the design of a musical synthesizer," describing their use of SDIF in the SMS project.

    At ICMC98 we presented a poster on SDIF, and met again with the analysis/synthesis community to discuss SDIF.

    What's in a Name?

    The "S" in SDIF now stands for "sound" rather than "spectral", reflecting changes to make the format more general and able to represent sound in non-spectral as well as spectral domains.

    SDIF used to be called SDIFF (Interchange File Format). The word "file" was removed because Internet applications demand sound descriptions as "streams". The SDIF standard now addresses three contexts in which sound descriptions are commonly used:

    Example Sound Descriptions

    File Name Convention

    UNIX, MAC, NT, etc. :*.sdif

    DOS: *.sdf

    Outside Resources

    Audio file formats:

    The Lemur File Format:

    MPEG-4 Structured Audio standard:

    Compressed PostScript version of Stephen Pope's and Guido Van Rossum's "A Child's Garden of Sound File Formats"

    Kelly Fitz's Incomplete Bibliography of Sound Modeling Research Based on Sinusoidal Techniques

    Gerd Castan's list of Music Notation Formats:

    Tim Thompson's list of programming languages used for music:

    GUIDO Music Notation Format page