MIDI music sounds differently on every computer. Music that might sound great on one computer, might sound awful on another. MIDI music that is played on a computer is not like audio music that is played on a home or car stereo. Songs that are played on decent home or car equipment, sound pretty much the same regardless of the manufacturer of the equipment. But a MIDI song might sound radically different on different computers. The reason has very little to do with the computer (processor, memory, etc.) itself, but more with the components that reproduce sound. These components are the Soundcard, Sound Bank, and the Speakers. So let's talk about each one, and see how they affect MIDI music.
These are usually installed in your computer when you buy it. Popular cards are the Sound Blaster series, Turtle Beach, etc. Obviously they can affect the sound output, but besides replacing the card, there is not much you can do to alter their sound. That's why the following two components are more important in determining the sound output of your computer.
SOUND BANK/SOUND FONTS/DLS
These are critical to what sound comes out of your computer, and each Sound Bank is different sounding. Popular software Sound Banks come from Creative Arts (AWE), Yamaha, Roland, Turtle Beach, to name a few. And computers with Windows installed also have a Microsoft MIDI driver installed. DLS is an acronym for Down-Loadable Sounds, a technology that allows people to upload instrument patches to their sound card. And Sound Fonts are the individual synthesized instrument sounds. Each instrument can be individually loaded in order to complete of full set of MIDI instruments. For this reason. a MIDI that songs nice on one of the above drivers, might sound totally different on another one. For instance, a trumpet will sound slightly different from Sound Bank to Sound Bank. So when groups of instruments are playing, a totally different sound might evolve, than the one that was envisioned. In an ideal world, it is always nice to have several different Sound Banks installed, so that you can switch between them to determine which one sounds the best for a particular MIDI song. Since I am partial to Turtle Beach Sound Banks, all of my MIDI are constructed to sound good on that particular driver. Unfortunately, what sounds good on my driver, doesn't always sound good with a Roland Sound Bank, or a Creative Arts Sound Bank. So do you need to change Sound Banks or Sound Fonts? No, not unless you don't like the way yours sounds. If the majority of the MIDI music that you play sounds OK, then you probably don't need to add or change drivers. Just realize that every MIDI song is NOT going to necessarily sound good on your system.
The most important part of a home or car audio system is not the amplifier or the receiver, but the speakers. Without good speakers, even the best amplifier will not sound good. With computers, although the multimedia driver is probably most important, the speakers are still crucial. Computer speakers range from the small no-charge throw-aways bundled with the computer, to 4-5 speaker Dolby Surround Sound set-ups with subwoofers, to hook-ups with home audio system speakers. Investing in quality speakers is always a good idea, as not only will it enhance your MIDI music listening experience, it will also benefit your gaming and internet experience as well.
So sit back, put your feet up, crank up the volume, and enjoy some MIDI music.