It is currently Sun Dec 10, 2017 10:45 pm

All times are UTC - 7 hours





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 62 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 1:27 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed May 19, 2010 6:12 pm
Posts: 2420
Listened to them side by side, its a placebo effect.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:23 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:03 am
Posts: 6
In general, I think the typical way most "accomplished" SNES soundtracks manage their memory budget is to use relatively simplistic lead instruments with short loops, so that more resources can be allocated to sound quality for the rhythm section instruments. That's how soundtracks in the style of DKC works. The more average sounding soundtracks tend to be more jack of all trades for sample quality, so nothing really stands out and leaves a nice impression. Then you have a select few soundtracks that use a very limited pool of instruments that are in turn very high quality, such as Actraiser 2. There's also some pool game I remember (Side Pocket?) which had very barebones instrumentation but the pianos were nearly of the same quality you'd hear in an actual rompler, which is very unusual on the system.

I think Tim Follin's various SNES soundtracks are the absolute best showcase of thinking outside the box to get the most out of the limitations. Analyzing them is really fun and interesting. Probably the coolest single example I can think of is Equinox, where in one ambient track you hear this very nice waterdrop sound effect with a very long tonal reverb. I thought to myself there was no way he'd fit that in there as a single sample, so I took a closer look, and the way he did it was to use a separate dry waterdrop sound, and then he made this seamless looping reverb noise that is dynamically faded in and out. Genius.

Another cool trick he did are the hihats in Plok. In the beach music for example, the way the hihats are played are not by the standard method of just retriggering the sample. Instead it's a cymbal sound just continually looped while the volume is automated separately from standard instrument envelopes. So each new "note" will be played from a different offset in the sample, making it sound less repetitive and much more natural. Also in Plok, the guitar lead sounds really good while the sample itself is rather simplistic. It owes everything to very elaborate and expressive programming. Apart from just the obvious stuff like vibrato and glissandos, he also selectively plays quick flam notes to make the pluck in the sample's attack more prominent, as a means to simulate more accentuated tones.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:12 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 2:49 pm
Posts: 7312
Location: Chexbres, VD, Switzerland
lazygecko wrote:
Another cool trick he did are the hihats in Plok. In the beach music for example, the way the hihats are played are not by the standard method of just retriggering the sample. Instead it's a cymbal sound just continually looped while the volume is automated separately from standard instrument envelopes. So each new "note" will be played from a different offset in the sample, making it sound less repetitive and much more natural.

Interesting technique, but this would by no mean be limited to high hat, but could be applicable to many other instruments, melodic or percussion.

Speaking of high hats, I think a good technique would be to gradually change the decay rate to be higher and higher to simulate the drummer slowly openeing his hat. This is often done in real drums, but I hadly see that done in electronic music, probably due to General MIDI only offering "closed hi-hat" and "open hi-hat", along with the rarely used "pedal hi-hat" (but that would mean closing it with the foot, without hitting it with a stick, which is rarely done).
Quote:
Probably the coolest single example I can think of is Equinox, where in one ambient track you hear this very nice waterdrop sound effect with a very long tonal reverb. I thought to myself there was no way he'd fit that in there as a single sample, so I took a closer look, and the way he did it was to use a separate dry waterdrop sound, and then he made this seamless looping reverb noise that is dynamically faded in and out. Genius.

For future reference, the song is Tori. Indeed it's genius. His music for Solstice is already genious, but I am much less familiar with Equinox.

EDIT : After a second tought, I don't see why two samples were needed for this waterdrop effect. Just having a waterdrop sound with heavy reverb and looping the heavily reverb part would probably have worked just as well, taking approximately the same amount of memory.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:00 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:31 pm
Posts: 818
For one thing, the drip sound and the reverb are at different pan positions. Also, in other tracks he uses the drip dry, and even does a reverse reverb with the drip coming at the end.

I was figuring that since the reverb takes a while to really get going, the extra time to reach a loopable area would substantially add to the sample size unless you wanted to loop and amplify near-silence or do some fine-grained gain scheduling. But looking at it in SPCTool, it seems like the reverb part is actually not all that short - about half a second at the first encountered playback rate (~5 kHz)... Also, there are at least two drip sounds and two reverb sounds.

Still, doing it this way does take at least somewhat less RAM than the unified approach, and it offers the composer more control.

...

Also, while I'm listening to it:
TmEE wrote:
Code:
Energy Breaker

Good use of the ARAM in that. The word "crisp" comes to mind. Decent reverb too, which you don't always get (the Follins in particular seem to have ignored the echo feature entirely).


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 4:15 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2016 5:25 pm
Posts: 159
TmEE wrote:
OK :
Sparkster.rsn

Sparkster's audio didn't win an award for nothing. It has arguably some of the best on the SNES. The instruments sound great and are well-EQ'd (much less emphasis on the muddy mid frequencies). The snare is distinctive. Some of the instruments (especially the brass) sound as if they came right out of an anime. As for sound effects, when I heard the big stereo explosion for the first time I figured it was taken straight from a high-quality cinema sound effects CD (especially because not long before playing the game I had one such CD).

_________________
SNES NTSC 2/1/3 1CHIP | serial number UN318588627


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:40 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:29 am
Posts: 444
Location: Denmark (PAL)
What award did Sparkster win? I agree it has some of the best sounding music (quality wise) on the SNES, a big step above most other Konami outputs except the Parodius games which have a similar sound.
Also, Michiru Yamane on the sound team, and it shows.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:43 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:31 pm
Posts: 818
Sparkster sounds like a Neo Geo game.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 9:03 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:03 am
Posts: 6
That's funny, cause I don't really like the way Sparkster sounds for the same reason. The way the individual samples have been EQ'd just makes them sound too compartmentalized and the overall mix lacks range coverage across the frequency spectrum. Especially brass and drums/percussion, and even some of the bass samples (the resonant synth one at least) sound like they have almost no low end at all making everything feel more tinny than it should be. The music not utilizing any reverb (to my knowledge) also makes the silent gaps inbetween note retriggers much more audible.

93143 wrote:
Sparkster sounds like a Neo Geo game.


I wouldn't really say that either. Neo Geo's PCM has a sample rate cap of 18khz with no filtering which gives it a much more harsh and lo-fi sound compared to SNES, even if it's not nearly as hindered by memory bottlenecks.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:16 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:31 pm
Posts: 818
Obviously it doesn't sound exactly the same. The point is the memory limitations. Usually when you convert an arcade game to SNES, it comes out sounding muffled, weak, loopy or otherwise heavily cut down. The instruments in Sparkster remind me of Waku Waku 7, without the heavily cut-down feeling (except for the extended samples like the vocals in Arina's stage; pretty sure Sparkster doesn't have anything like that going on).


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:18 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed May 19, 2010 6:12 pm
Posts: 2420
I was surprised to learn how wasteful the Neo Geo's sound chip is with memory, because every note has to be individually sampled. I think the 18 kHz vs 32 kHz is kind've misleading because the SNES has Gaussian interpolation.

I'm still baffled at why the SPC700 has something as complicated as Gaussian interpolation in it, if the silicon could've been used else where. How about being able to do that fancy multiplication inside the main CPU?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:43 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:03 am
Posts: 6
psycopathicteen wrote:
I was surprised to learn how wasteful the Neo Geo's sound chip is with memory, because every note has to be individually sampled. I think the 18 kHz vs 32 kHz is kind've misleading because the SNES has Gaussian interpolation.

I'm still baffled at why the SPC700 has something as complicated as Gaussian interpolation in it, if the silicon could've been used else where. How about being able to do that fancy multiplication inside the main CPU?


It may be bread and butter tech now, but interpolation was a big novelty at the time. Any sample-based chips were expected to have that crunchy, aliased/"digital" sound, but the SPC700 greatly mitgated that which made it really stand out, for better or worse (I think it's a really double edged sword).

Regarding the Neo Geo, I think it was pretty much designed to have the FM and PSG at the forefront of melodic/pitched sounds while relegating the PCM to percussion and sound effects. As the years went by the priorities shifted, and composers had to use it in ways it wasn't really originally designed in mind for. You can clearly see this shift over time from the early gen Neo Geo titles to the later ones, which use the FM for little else than bass, and the last Playmore-developed games like Metal Slug 4 are more or less just streaming baked 18khz mono recordings (which is pretty regressive and a damn shame). Of course, they were "wasteful" because they had more than enough room to be in the first place as the ROM size was really scaleable. I think the other chips from era with similar extended sampling capabilities (like the YM2151 used in 68K and arcades) worked the same way with very limited resampling support.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 1:53 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 2:49 pm
Posts: 7312
Location: Chexbres, VD, Switzerland
lazygecko wrote:
That's funny, cause I don't really like the way Sparkster sounds for the same reason.

Personally I think Sparkster sounds very standard for a SNES game, not particularly good nor particularly bad. I don't see why it was mentioned in this thread.

Quote:
I was surprised to learn how wasteful the Neo Geo's sound chip is with memory, because every note has to be individually sampled

Ha, I saw some GBA games doing it this way (presumably to save CPU time) and I was bluffed but apparently it's not the only system where this was done.

Quote:
I'm still baffled at why the SPC700 has something as complicated as Gaussian interpolation in it, if the silicon could've been used else where.

I agree, this was very advanced for 1990. It took time before early SNES emus supported interpolation, just to show how an advanced feature it was.

Quote:
but the SPC700 greatly mitgated that which made it really stand out, for better or worse (I think it's a really double edged sword).

Then they should have had a per-channel disablable interpolation? (Like Echo, for instance). It's always enabled and can't be taken out.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:05 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed May 19, 2010 6:12 pm
Posts: 2420
The funny thing is that it doesn't even fix anti-aliasing on the last octave or so. If you have a note with a sampling rate of 128khz, it would be downsampled by 4, but in every set of 4 samples, the middle 2 samples will dominate over the other 2.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:42 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2014 4:35 pm
Posts: 3152
Location: Nacogdoches, Texas
Bregalad wrote:
Personally I think Sparkster sounds very standard for a SNES game, not particularly good nor particularly bad. I don't see why it was mentioned in this thread.

It's definitely clearer, but it has the same "toy instrument" sound as most early SNES games, unfortunately (at least it's not the Mega Man X 2 & 3 shit instrumentation). The composition is also pretty weak; nothing really stands out in my opinion. The lack of more "gritty" music on the SNES really bothers me; you either have something orchestral like Super Castlevania IV or something more "bubbly/playful" like Super Mario World. You can tell Capcom tried with their older games, but their attempt falls on its face. I think R-Type III is about the only game that ever gets close to sounding something like Thunder Force IV or many other Genesis games. The sound samples are really low quality though, but I'll still take it over Sparkster any day.

Bregalad wrote:
Ha, I saw some GBA games doing it this way (presumably to save CPU time)

I hope not; that processor is more than powerful enough to mix sound. I bet assembly was pretty much dead at this time though like it is now, so I don't really know. :(

lazygecko wrote:
the SPC700 greatly mitgated that which made it really stand out, for better or worse (I think it's a really double edged sword).

I'd say it's better in the vast majority of cases; we're talking about only 64KB of audio ram. It'd probably sound awful otherwise. The argument is generally whether lower quality samples with Gaussian interpolation sound as good as higher quality ones without it.

lazygecko wrote:
Regarding the Neo Geo, I think it was pretty much designed to have the FM and PSG at the forefront of melodic/pitched sounds while relegating the PCM to percussion and sound effects. As the years went by the priorities shifted, and composers had to use it in ways it wasn't really originally designed in mind for. You can clearly see this shift over time from the early gen Neo Geo titles to the later ones, which use the FM for little else than bass

Definitely. I still can't help but feel that the sound chip was poorly designed though; why would you have only have 4 FM channels with 6 PCM channels lack any sort of pitch control? (PSG had really already fallen out of style by 1990.) Are you really planning on having that many sound effects in a game at once? (Changing the pitch generally isn't a concern here.) I've said it before, but I think the Neo Geo is really overrated hardware wise. It's not much if any better than the CPS1, and that's from 1987. The only real advantage I see the Neo Geo has is 16 bit color, which is admittedly pretty big even here. Of course, the main time this really becomes an issue is with large gradients, and dithering works better on the CPS1 because of the wider resolution...

psycopathicteen wrote:
I'm still baffled at why the SPC700 has something as complicated as Gaussian interpolation in it, if the silicon could've been used else where. How about being able to do that fancy multiplication inside the main CPU?

I'd have thought you'd know by now that the SNES was designed like shit. :lol:


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:49 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 2:49 pm
Posts: 7312
Location: Chexbres, VD, Switzerland
psycopathicteen wrote:
The funny thing is that it doesn't even fix anti-aliasing on the last octave or so. If you have a note with a sampling rate of 128khz, it would be downsampled by 4, but in every set of 4 samples, the middle 2 samples will dominate over the other 2.

The maximum downsampling the S-DSP can do is $3fff / $1000 = 3.99976

And indeed aliasing is not suppressed but limited. Upper octaves are rarely used because doing so means you're basically wasting SPC's memory.


Quote:
I hope not; that processor is more than powerful enough to mix sound.

Indeed, but apparently GBA developpers were visceral about saving CPU time and battery memory. Many games preferred to use 10% of the CPU for sound and have awful quality rather than dedicating 30% and being on par with the SNES. This makes zero sense - yet this decision is almost consistent through the whole GBA game library from japanese developers.

Quote:
I bet assembly was pretty much dead at this time though like it is now, so I don't really know. :(

Assembly was much less dead in 2001 than it is today. Smartphones weren't around and small embedded hardware still had limited memory and CPU capabilities. GBA sound mixing engines are typically coded in assembly.

Quote:
PSG had really already fallen out of style by 1990

Well, PSG was widely used in the GBA, for the better and the worse.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 62 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next

All times are UTC - 7 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Revenant and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group