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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:13 am 
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I can't even think about programming right now, but I'm not tired enough to fall asleep, so... :lol:

Anyway, I remember tokumaru saying that he prefers the sound of the Genesis over the SNES, which surprised me, because I've never heard anyone say that who wasn't a diehard Sega fanboy. Whenever people bring up the old Genesis vs SNES debate, they act like the SNES was leagues ahead in this category (but then would struggle with the graphics? That seems like a bigger improvement to me.) The worst the Genesis would do is make farting noises, but at least they didn't sound like they were being played through a plastic bag. The instrument selection is perhaps even the bigger problem, with many sounding like they were taken directly from Mario Paint. I still prefer the sound of the SNES over the Genesis overall, but it's only because voice samples and complicated sound effects on the Genesis are often ear splittingly bad, and the minority (but still decently sized) of SNES games that have good sounding music sound really good, like the Donkey Kong Country games that I don't see how the Genesis could reasonably replicate the audio of.

I'd really like to know what you could do with the SNES audio wise if the SPC700 didn't exist, although I don't know if the CPU would have trouble writing to audio ram. It burns me how people say the SNES's audio hardware was "far more advanced because of Sony's sound chip". To me, it's money that could have been used better elsewhere.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:23 am 
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This has already been debated over and over. I see no reason to debate it yet again. First, the SEGA console you're talking about is called Mega Drive. Genesis is/was a pop band (and a very good one by the way !).

However, no matter how much worse they sounds, I think the phase modulation-based sound chips much more interesting on the technical level, and they allow the programmers to do more trickery with them. I managed to download a soft synth that uses no 4 but 8 operators and it simulates most instruments greatly (there's also more "options" available than in the Mega Drive's sound chip.

I with I could find a real synth that is a bit like the Yamaha DX-7 but more modern, at least partially General MIDI compatible, and with fully customizable modulation-based patches. Does such a thing even exist ?

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because I've never heard anyone say that who wasn't a diehard Sega fanboy.

Have you seen his avatar ? How could he NOT be a SEGA fanboy ? He just thinks it's possible to be both a SEGA and a Nintendo fanboy, and I do not see why that wouldn't be possible.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:31 am 
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Espozo wrote:
I remember tokumaru saying that he prefers the sound of the Genesis over the SNES, which surprised me, because I've never heard anyone say that who wasn't a diehard Sega fanboy.

It's not that I always find the Genesis sound better, but I generally do. SNES sound bothers me when it's too muffled, which happens quite often. There are some fantastic soundtracks on the SNES, of course, but when the low quality of the samples is absurdly obvious, it distracts me a lot. Genesis sounds may feel repetitive after a while, but the crispness of it is something I really appreciate.

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I'd really like to know what you could do with the SNES audio wise if the SPC700 didn't exist, although I don't know if the CPU would have trouble writing to audio ram.

I've heard that some games on the Genesis don't use the Z80 at all, and just have the 68000 take care of the sound as well, such as Sonic 1.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:49 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
Have you seen his avatar ? How could he NOT be a SEGA fanboy ? He just thinks it's possible to be both a SEGA and a Nintendo fanboy, and I do not see why that wouldn't be possible.

I'm definitely a fan of both consoles, but I don't like the term fanboy... To me, "fanboy" sounds like someone who blindly defends something just because it's the thing that they like most, without acknowledging its flaws and that the competition may have the upper hand in some areas.

It can't be argued that the SNES has better graphical capabilities than the Genesis, whose only real advantage is the higher horizontal resolution of 320 pixels (which does make a difference in some games). I can't say anything conclusive about the CPU clock issue, because I can't program the 68000 or the 65816, but the SNES does seem a bit underpowered. SNES wins best controller I guess. Sound is not a clear win for either side IMO, since both consoles can do things the other can't. It's true that the SNES can sound more realistic, but that kinda goes down the drain when the sounds appear to be coming out of a telephone. Genesis has more consistent quality across different games, and that's something I appreciate.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:26 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
I with I could find a real synth that is a bit like the Yamaha DX-7 but more modern, at least partially General MIDI compatible, and with fully customizable modulation-based patches. Does such a thing even exist ?

I don't tend to use hardware for synthesis much for a long time now (I have keyboard MIDI controllers, but usually do synthesis through software and ASIO), but I really liked the NI FM7 software synthesizer, which is basically an expanded DX7 idea. (There's an NI FM8 sequel, but it lost the whole DX7 look and theme to the interface, which made me sad.)


As far as Genesis vs SNES, I think sample based sound hardware doesn't have much personality of its own, it just takes on the character of the samples used. FM, on the other hand, makes its mark on what you're doing. (Then again, maybe someone could think FM was boring cause it was used in so many arcade machines...)

However, I also think FM is very hard to use, and most Genesis soundtracks are of poor quality. I think the are a lot more good SNES soundtracks than good Genesis soundtracks, even though I like the Genesis hardware better. There are some really amazing Genesis soundtracks, though. Shinobi III is my favourite.

Also, there's a curious phenomenon that I think a lot of SNES soundtracks are largely using samples of FM synthesizers. Mario All-Stars, for example.


So anyhow, I don't really care if one is "better" than the other; I just like to listen to their soundtracks, and both had some great ones. If you forced me to write music for one of them, I probably pick the Genesis, because The SNES is "boring" to write for. It's no much more than a MOD player with harsh memory limitations and a few strange quirks, but working with FM I feel like the synthesizer has input on the music, and will shape the sound of what I do on it. The Genesis also having 3 square channels on top adds a bit of special "chiptune" flavour too.

Of course, in professional situation you don't really get to pick your platform. That's chosen ahead of time by various business decisions, and you make music with what you're given. :P


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:28 am 
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tokumaru wrote:
Genesis has more consistent quality across different games

Just for fun, here's a bad game and a good game for both systems, all in broadly similar musical genres. I make no warranties regarding these isolated samples being in any way representative of the libraries as a whole:

SNES - RPM Racing and its sequel Rock 'N' Roll Racing
Mega Drive - Rock 'N' Roll Racing (keep in mind it cuts out any time it has to play a PCM sample) and the completely unrelated Thunder Force IV (which, uh, also cuts out for PCM samples, or would if that wasn't an omake track)

rainwarrior wrote:
Of course, in professional situation you don't really get to pick your platform. That's chosen ahead of time by various business decisions, and you make music with what you're given.

Tim Follin was pretty good at that. He's known for Solstice on the NES and stuff like Plok, Arcade's Revenge and (yes) Rock 'N' Roll Racing on the SNES*, but Time Trax demonstrates that he was just as good on the Mega Drive.

Yuzo Koshiro is another good one. I think he's known more for Mega Drive games, for example the Streets of Rage series, but he also did Super Adventure Island.

*All three of those games were done together with his brother Geoff.


Last edited by 93143 on Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:20 am 
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tokumaru wrote:
It's not that I always find the Genesis sound better, but I generally do. SNES sound bothers me when it's too muffled, which happens quite often. There are some fantastic soundtracks on the SNES, of course, but when the low quality of the samples is absurdly obvious, it distracts me a lot.

It really depends on the game, in both cases. Programming samples and programming a phase-modulation chips both aren't easy if you want to push the system to its limit, so in both cases the majority of games are going to sound bad while a minority is going to take advantage of the system's possibilities and sound good.

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I'd really like to know what you could do with the SNES audio wise if the SPC700 didn't exist,

It would be worst since games would update their audio engines at 60Hz instead of doing it faster. (the probability they'd go through the trouble to program a timer to update at a faster rate is low). For music it doesn't change much but for sound effects it does, the fast update rate of SNES sound engines caused me quite a few problems when I had to port it to the Game Boy Advance for Final Fantasy 4-6.

Also the PlayStation 1 is in a similar situation - a S-DSP like sound chip but with no dedicated sound CPU.

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'm definitely a fan of both consoles, but I don't like the term fanboy...

I agree, and he's the one who came with that term.

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I don't tend to use hardware for synthesis much for a long time now (I have keyboard MIDI controllers, but usually do synthesis through software and ASIO), but I really liked the NI FM7 software synthesizer, which is basically an expanded DX7 idea. (There's an NI FM8 sequel, but it lost the whole DX7 look and theme to the interface, which made me sad.)

It looks interesting but I really don't like the software synthesizers. The concept is nice but it's not practical to play with your keyboard and mouse, and the whole point of playing music is to do something *else* than sitting in front of a computer or TV (at least for me). Using software synthesizers kills that point.
It looks like the Clavia Nord Modular is interesting in this regard, but it's discontinued (but is still much more recent than the epic DX7). I'll have to see if I can order one used and if they're affordable.


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Also, there's a curious phenomenon that I think a lot of SNES soundtracks are largely using samples of FM synthesizers. Mario All-Stars, for example.
Both Super Mario World and Super Mario All-Stars seems to use an extremely limited sample collection designed to occupy very few memory. I wouldn't use this as an indication, even approximate, to how the SNES can sound. It'd be like having a MegaDrive game who uses mostly the PSG for all its music and barely uses FM, and call that an example of how the MegaDrive sounds (I don't know if such a game even exists).


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 5:38 am 
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Espozo wrote:
The instrument selection is perhaps even the bigger problem, with many sounding like they were taken directly from Mario Paint.

It has a Yamaha synth chip, so there is no "selection", you can create almost any instrument with it.

But of course Sega cheaped out and didn't license any, and creating those is a bit of a special discipline.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 6:23 am 
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So how does Snes's BRR compare to ADPCM?

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 6:28 am 
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I had both systems (SNES and MD) when i was young and at this time i preferred by a large margin the SNES sound which was just more realist and modern for me. Later when i connected a headphone on the MD1 audio jack i completely rediscovered the Megadrive sound and was really impressed by Street of Rage 2 and Sonic 2 tunes for instance, to the point i recorded them on tape ^^
In fact i would say the SNES generally sound better, because it's easy to make it sounds nice... on the other hand it's very easy to make the MD to sound really bad making your ears bleed. But if the SNES generally sounds good, i think it's quite difficult to make it sound very good, mainly because of the short amount of memory allocated for samples and also because of the compression / filtering applied in the sound process and that you can't disable. For instance Castlevania 4 is one of those game which have wonderful music compositions but which is really lowered by the poor sample quality... In the end, when it comes of having the best sound quality or simply the best musics to listen with headphone, I generally tend to think the Megadrive is better than the SNES (best MD tunes sounds better than best SNES tunes imo), still i know that is a subjective point of view...

Another awesome TF4 Omake :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foB-zVZSwTM
And one from Dragon's Fury :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itrTGE-1EJU

Technosoft we're damn good using the FM chip, too bad their PCM driver sucks so much...


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 7:42 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
First, the SEGA console you're talking about is called Mega Drive.

I guess there must have been a terrible misprint, because my console and all my games for it say "GENESIS".

tokumaru wrote:
I can't program the 68000 or the 65816, but the SNES does seem a bit underpowered.

Less powerful than the 68000, but I think that's the least of the SNES's issues.

Bregalad wrote:
I agree, and he's the one who came with that term.

Even though I wasn't the one who called him that? :lol:

Bregalad wrote:
It would be worst since games would update their audio engines at 60Hz instead of doing it faster.

I thought you would be able to transfer more data in the same amount of time without the SPC700. You know, what times can you write to audio ram? I doubt there's anything like vblank because the DSP would need full time access.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:20 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
First, the SEGA console you're talking about is called Mega Drive. Genesis is/was a pop band (and a very good one by the way !).

Is anyone interested in covering Genesis (1983) on the Mega Drive's sound chip the way rainwarrior covered Dark Side of the Moon on the 2A03?

tokumaru wrote:
Genesis has more consistent quality across different games, and that's something I appreciate.

One way to assess it is to listen to games that came out on both systems. Zoop sounds better on Super NES, for instance.

Bregalad wrote:
I really don't like the software synthesizers. The concept is nice but it's not practical to play with your keyboard and mouse

Then buy a MIDI controller.

Dwedit wrote:
So how does Snes's BRR compare to ADPCM?

BRR is a form of ADPCM. If you're referring to IMA ADPCM as used on the Nintendo DS, they're about the same: encode the 4-bit difference between the current sample and the previous one, with some means to adjust the overall volume.

Espozo wrote:
I guess there must have been a terrible misprint, because my console and all my games for it say "GENESIS".

I think Bregalad's implication is that more Mega Drive consoles were shipped outside the North American market than Genesis consoles inside it.

Espozo wrote:
I thought you would be able to transfer more data in the same amount of time without the SPC700. You know, what times can you write to audio ram? I doubt there's anything like vblank because the DSP would need full time access.

The audio RAM runs at 3 MHz. Instead of two time slots for the DSP and one for the S-SMP, what you suggest would amount to two for the DSP and one for the memory copy interface. But even a 1 MHz interface would be too slow for a DMA copy at 2.7 MHz, and it would have encouraged programmers to update frequencies at 50 or 60 Hz even more than they already did.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 9:31 am 
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Filling the sound RAM with the 65816 is still a lot faster than waiting for the SPC700 to store the bytes you send it.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:41 pm 
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Using indirect HDMA to send data to the APU ports could be very light on the S-CPU, if rather time-consuming on the S-SMP... Unless I've misunderstood how indirect HDMA works, updating the table each frame should be pretty quick.

Your big audio streaming project happens to use regular DMA during the frame, so you can't do this because of the 1/1/1 bug. But from the S-CPU's perspective it's effectively half-speed DMA to audio RAM (the overhead roughly matches the actual transfer time at 4 bytes per line indirect). N-Warp Daisakusen does HDMA streaming at 4 bytes per line, and I think the APU-side code could be sped up considerably with careful attention to synchronization.

Still, it remains significant that apparently no one did this during the commercial lifetime of the system (apparently even ToP and SO use manual CPU writes)...


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:43 pm 
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I wouldn't call BRR a form of ADPCM as it doesn't store differences of samples but samples directly, with scaling and filter parameters.

Now as far as sound itself goes, I have been listening through the soundtracks of various machines and picking out the good stuff.
I can see why lot of people think MD sound is garbage, most games developed in USA used really unpleasant and abrasive sounds, bad enough it made me think how these were even allowed to be released.
Japanese developed games tended to sound good or great, but there were plenty stinkers too, and most EU developed games had very good sound overall, great compositions and great sounds. I ended up picking out around 100 soundtracks I considered good/great, around as much as I picked out for NES and PCE.
I only started with going through the SNES soundtracks so I don't have much overview on it yet. So far I have heard a lot of garbage with really bad samples but a few nice things too, still over 1000 soundtracks more to go, it is gonna take a while haha.

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