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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:36 am 
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tomaitheous wrote:

Even TVs nowadays have these funny filters that distort the picture (some sort of smart smoothing filter). I can't stand them. I can hear the muffleness people talk about on the SNES. And to be quite honest, it's really not as big an issue as most people make it out to be. I also hear artifacts in the YM2612 chip. Digital artifacts. And yet, no one seems to bring this up.


I always hear digital artifacts on the YM2612. PCM and PSG chips don't have the digital artifacts FM chips do.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:56 am 
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psycopathicteen wrote:
You've italicsized Richter's theme from Dracula X.

I would say that it would sound better on the NES than on the Genesis. The NES was better suited for trance style music than the Genesis, when the Genesis was better for "funky" music.

If only Yamaha used more than just sine waveforms this wouldn't be a problem.


You'd like their YMF292 chip then (used in the SEGA Saturn). You can pass arbitrary waveforms to the FM operators. And it also lets you configure the operators in pretty much any way you want (so it's not limitied to just 2 or 4 operators per channel, or 16 different ways of connecting the operators).
Plus each of the 32 operators can be used as a plain PCM channel.

The main problem (as with much of the rest of the Saturn) is that with all this flexibility it gets pretty complicated. The sound processor manual alone is about 100 pages, and still leaves out a lot of detail in some places (especially regarding the DSP).


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:09 pm 
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You'd like their YMF292 chip then (used in the SEGA Saturn).

Looks like a great chip. Being able of both PCM and FM, nobody can ever complain.
And it's got 32-channels while the concurrent Playstation had "only" 24 channels.

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I edited the below with what I believe could be done on MD, at least when I use my own sound setup... I have a good 3 years of experience with MD so I have a pretty good idea what I can do :

Man I didn't expect so much feed back ! Thank you for investing time in it.

So basically, you say the strings, pad and bell like instrument would be ass to port, but that bass and percussion could be improved.

I wonder, HOW could the bass and percussion be possibly improved ? When you say the bass sucks on the SNES do you mean the specific bass guitar sample used for this specific game, or do you mean low frequencies in general ? Because just before you said the trebble sucks on the SNES so you're basically saying that everything sucks, which is wrong.

Anyway it's true some MD songs have good "synth bass" instruments, but they are very different from what an bass guitar would sound (not that one is best over another). Hironically, even the "Synth Bass 1" and "Synth Bass 2" GM instrument sounded like crap on my old PC, even though the COULD have sounded good.

About percussion, I fail to see how you could improve them. They already sound pretty realistic, especially in Chrono Trigger, and I don't see how they could be improved in any way (exept adding reverb to them maybe). Can you provide any example of great sounding percussion on the MD ?

And you talked about instruments that would take multiple channels. This mean it's possible to use multiple FM channel simultaneously to produce more accurate instruments ?

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:20 pm 
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I think TmEE meant the percussion could be better becuase percussion is supposed to be loud and crispy.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:22 pm 
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TmEE wrote:
HJRodrigo wrote:


SNES one sound so weak... very very soft sounds, crappy snare, even worse cymbals. Amiga game sounds worse than both of those though.



I agree the drums sound alot better on the MD for that song, but over all the snes song sounds better to me. I can imagine the actual instruments being played for the SNES song. The MD sounds too much like "bleeps" and just reminds me that it is all synthesized. I ordered Pier Solar awhile ago and I can't wait to hear the sound for that game, as I believe that game will do justice to the MD's audio.


Last edited by HJRodrigo on Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 4:43 pm 
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HJRodrigo wrote:
I agree the drums sound alot better on the MD for that song, but over all the snes one sounds better to me. I can imagine the instruments being played for the SNES one. The MD sounds too much like "bleeps" and just reminds me that it is all synthesized.

This song in particular (Super/Mega Turrican 1-1), I happened to like the MD version more. The melody sounds better there IMO, regardless of the instruments.

I agree that MD songs sound more "bleepy" and SNES songs more realistic, but is that always a good thing? Let's think about graphics for example: most of the games we play have stylized graphics rather than realistic photographs, and we like them like that. So I don't think that the sounds produced by the MD are out of place at all, the fake sound fits perfectly with the fake graphics, and I find the final result very pleasing.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:39 pm 
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All this talk about sound reminds me about blarrg's demo, also posted somewhere on this forum. Which as byuu pointed out "essentially proves once and for all that the SNES can produce better sound than the Genesis, as the Genesis has only an 8-bit DAC". So I think the issue boils down to, which system had more good dedicated game programmers and composers. Personally I think the SMS had better graphics and sound than the NES (Just compare Ghostbusters), yet the NES seemed to get more "enjoyable" games (due to more programmers working on this system). I bet the ratio of good to bad games is higher for the sms than the nes, but the nes wins in terms of sheer volume. So if we are to compare systems I think it should not be based on specs of the systems, but which system you could get the most out of... :twisted: 32x and CD attachment might give a slight advantage to the MD, although honestly most CD games were crappy. I guess both systems are truthfully equals in the end... It is like comparing apples to oranges :P .

P.S. Keep in mind I am biased towards sega consoles, but I did feel the SNES had better sound and graphics (Just as I felt the SMS did when compared to the NES). I just think the MD had/has more to offer... Even now games are still being released/sold for it (Beggar Prince, Pier Solar, Legend of Wukong, and Frog Feast)


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:30 pm 
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tokumaru wrote:
I agree that MD songs sound more "bleepy" and SNES songs more realistic, but is that always a good thing?


I don't mind either sort, aslong as one doesn't try to imitate the other. The MD library had far too much of this poor imitation using FM and is probably the #1 reason I don't care for most of what the library sounds like.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:23 am 
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As for that demo, yea, you cannot do 16bit stereo on MD. I have tried to do stereo on mono DAC for quite a few times and while I get great results on emulator, on real HW things sound CRAP (and it is an understatemet !!!). I once experimented with PCM playback over FM channels but it did not turn out well... in theory I could have got perhaps 10bit or 11bit stereo but timings played a big part and things just sounded shit in the end.
But at least I can do 110KHz PCM playback, though on real HW its 26KHz max, going over is not effective and YM stops working after 70KHz (you need hard reset to bring it back to life :P)

I was writing a good reply here and power just cut off D:
I'll do my best to write it again...

Bregalad wrote:
Man I didn't expect so much feed back ! Thank you for investing time in it.

So basically, you say the strings, pad and bell like instrument would be ass to port, but that bass and percussion could be improved.


pads are easy for the most part but there's some stringy sounding ones which are PITA... anything having string characteristics will be PITA to achieve.

Bregalad wrote:
I wonder, HOW could the bass and percussion be possibly improved ? When you say the bass sucks on the SNES do you mean the specific bass guitar sample used for this specific game, or do you mean low frequencies in general ? Because just before you said the trebble sucks on the SNES so you're basically saying that everything sucks, which is wrong.


By bass sucking I meant that it sounds like its coming through a wall, the tune where I said it had it like that, though one could say it is intentional.
By improving percussion I meant having higher quality samples used..
more about it below

Bregalad wrote:
Anyway it's true some MD songs have good "synth bass" instruments, but they are very different from what an bass guitar would sound (not that one is best over another). Hironically, even the "Synth Bass 1" and "Synth Bass 2" GM instrument sounded like crap on my old PC, even though the COULD have sounded good.


One thing where FM shines is bass, there is no better bass than FM bass, and it is very easy to simulate real instruments 1:1 on FM. The fingered bass and picked bass instruments I use in my MD stuff have 1:1 waveforms to my bass guitar, I spent a good while tuning the instruments to sound REAL, the sound is indistingushable from the real instrument (bear in mind that there's million guitars out there, and they all have different sound). FM generally sounds very very good at low freq stuff, on high freqs you may get sample rate related artifacts and things tend to sound tinny... but on low freqs you get clean, full, rich sound.

Bregalad wrote:
About percussion, I fail to see how you could improve them. They already sound pretty realistic, especially in Chrono Trigger, and I don't see how they could be improved in any way (exept adding reverb to them maybe). Can you provide any example of great sounding percussion on the MD ?


The percussion just sounds bad, as in there's no high freq content that nearly all (well, bass drums don't really) percussive instruments produce (just look at the spectrograms of any instrument).
SNES has limited sample memory, plus you got to store SFX and music data plus playback program there, so I guess in typical scenarios you got some 40KB of space left for music samples. I use 500KB of samples in my MD stuff, 23KHz samples. When I "SNES" them, they'll take 250KB, then I'll remove the reduntant samples(my setup does not do freq scaling) I'll get some 170KB and when I use only the samples that one song would use it goes to 100KB... now only way to fit them anywhere is by selectively lowering the sample rates, and perhaps using loopping effects on things like cymbals to get things fit better (Capcom did it a lot and it sounds like crap for my ears)... I could also remove the reverberation from my samples and use the SPC echo instead, at the cost of some RAM and having worse sound due to "ventilation shaft effect". And then I am able to put those samples into the RAM... but I need space for musical instruments too, but luckily with those you can easily use looping effects and other things... but tiny samples result in "artificial" sound if you can hear the loop points and its the case with a lot of tunes I listened there.
I like Amiga a lot when it comes to sampled music, it may be technically inferior but its got storage to hold quite high quality samples.

As for examples on MD, there's only few games that have good sample playback, one that immediately pops to mind is Atomic Runner, its single channel but very nice and crisp percussion.
I can provide examples of what I have done though :

Sunset, Beach and Scrolling text : http://8bc.org/music/TmEE/Sunset%2C+bea ... ling+text/
One Last Step : http://8bc.org/music/TmEE/One+Last+Step/
Evil Forces Are Sneaking Around : http://8bc.org/music/TmEE/Evil+Forces+Are+Sneaking+Around+(MD)/
Sonic Advance 2 Multiplayer Rings remake : http://8bc.org/music/TmEE/Sonic+Advance ... ga+Drive-/
Some Menu Tune (nothing special though, but sounds good) : http://8bc.org/music/TmEE/Some+menu+tune.../

http://8bc.org/members/TmEE/

Its all done on the Z80, everything... 68K is not required at all so the game code can run with no performance hit on MD.

I could upload my music test ROM, but it will only sound almost acceptable on Kega Fusion... believe it or not but most emulators fail at DAC emulation... the music ROM would sound awful on Gens and majority of other emulators, on Fusion is acceptable, but nowhere near real hardware. The highest useful sample rate for PCM on MD is half the YM rate, so ~26KHz, going over it results in missed writes and bad sound. My 26KHz PCM demos sound exceptionally poor on any emulator but very lovely on real hardware.

Bregalad wrote:
And you talked about instruments that would take multiple channels. This mean it's possible to use multiple FM channel simultaneously to produce more accurate instruments ?

I use at least 2 channels to do one instruments, to get full rich sound, sometimes even more. Panning, detuning etc. on the channels gives lot of extra aswell.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:09 am 
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I use at least 2 channels to do one instruments, to get full rich sound, sometimes even more. Panning, detuning etc. on the channels gives lot of extra aswell.

I guess it makes quite a lot of difference. On SNES, only 1 channel is needed per instrument, but you have only 8 channels.
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I could upload my music test ROM, but it will only sound almost acceptable on Kega Fusion... believe it or not but most emulators fail at DAC emulation... the music ROM would sound awful on Gens and majority of other emulators, on Fusion is acceptable, but nowhere near real hardware. The highest useful sample rate for PCM on MD is half the YM rate, so ~26KHz, going over it results in missed writes and bad sound. My 26KHz PCM demos sound exceptionally poor on any emulator but very lovely on real hardware.

That's too bad. I guess I should take your word and say those emulator sucks. So I guess 99% of MD games did just not use their hardware well ? Oh wait, 512k for a sample is total overkill for a game ! That's probably why nobody did that. It's nice to have good sounding samples, but if it required you to double your ROM size then nobody would go for it. The same applies to SNES somehow - a game would typically re-use samples from another song instead of coming with fresh samples for every new song just because of that.

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SNES has limited sample memory, plus you got to store SFX and music data plus playback program there, so I guess in typical scenarios you got some 40KB of space left for music samples. I use 500KB of samples in my MD stuff, 23KHz samples. When I "SNES" them, they'll take 250KB, then I'll remove the reduntant samples(my setup does not do freq scaling) I'll get some 170KB and when I use only the samples that one song would use it goes to 100KB... now only way to fit them anywhere is by selectively lowering the sample rates, and perhaps using loopping effects on things like cymbals to get things fit better (Capcom did it a lot and it sounds like crap for my ears)...

First of all I should say I'm impressed by the percussion quality in the samples you provided. It really sounds close to a real drum kit. The cymbals sounds especially nice. However, this only increase the contrast with the other instruments which sounds very synthetic.

The SNES's memory allow for 7.2 sec of sample playback at 32kHz. You should remove the space for the code, data and echo buffer so let's say about 5 sec remains. This is enough to record quite a few percussion insturment at full rate, and Chrono Trigger did that - all percussions in this game are even oversampled, recorded at higher than 32k - the only way to take the fullest of them is to use an emulator. I know you'll be saying "crap if you need an emulator to get better sound this suck" ok but at least there is a way to get better sound.

Quote:
One thing where FM shines is bass, there is no better bass than FM bass, and it is very easy to simulate real instruments 1:1 on FM. The fingered bass and picked bass instruments I use in my MD stuff have 1:1 waveforms to my bass guitar, I spent a good while tuning the instruments to sound REAL, the sound is indistingushable from the real instrument (bear in mind that there's million guitars out there, and they all have different sound). FM generally sounds very very good at low freq stuff, on high freqs you may get sample rate related artifacts and things tend to sound tinny... but on low freqs you get clean, full, rich sound.

Would love to hear that... links ?
Anyways, the reason bass doesn't sounds good on some SPCs, is because the developpers thinks "oh well this is a bass sample so we won't need high freqs, let's record it at a very low sample rate and it'll be allright". Needless to say, this isn't the way to go. A game where the bass sample is recorded well is Final Fantasy 5, I think it's recorded at a very low note so you can hear a nice plug on all bass notes.
You can hear this pretty nicely on this song (that you hear 80% of the time playing the game btw) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yLQU4tVOeA

Also allow me to seriously doubt that FM will reproduce an instrument better than PCM. I understand that you are proud to have made good sounding instruments on FM - you can because it's no easy task - but that doesn't make it more accurate than PCM. If basically you based yourself on a sample on your bass guitar to get the FM instrument done, then technically in the best case it'll sound as good than the original sample of bass guitar - that is a PCM sample. Of course, as you say yourself, there is a million different sounding guitars possibles, especially if you use an amplifier which can have a million of settings - you can also use a mute, plug/slap the strings in different ways, have distortion, etc...
This not only applies to guitars, but to all instruments. That's why modern and expensive synthesizers use many samples for each instruments instead of just one, for different key regions and different velocities, and combine them with a digital filter. The SNES can't do much of this because of the limited memory, but yet those synthesizer are PCM based and not FM based.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:25 am 
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May aswell ask this since I don't really tinker with MD audio:

@TmEE: Is there a noticable performance hit on 68k when Z80 frequently accesses cart ROM for sound samples? From what I read before, Z80 gets priority on ROM and 68k is halted by bus arbiter on every Z80 access (unless DMA is running at the same time?) Do you see a noticable impact when playing PCM from cart ROM? It seems like a small impact but I don't know how fancy your engine is =)

Bregalad wrote:
Also allow me to seriously doubt that FM will reproduce an instrument better than PCM. I understand that you are proud to have made good sounding instruments on FM - you can because it's no easy task - but that doesn't make it more accurate than PCM. If basically you based yourself on a sample on your bass guitar to get the FM instrument done, then technically in the best case it'll sound as good than the original sample of bass guitar - that is a PCM sample.


A bass really is better done on FM synth. I much rather hear that than a PCM recording that may sound poorer on certain frequencies and compressed to hell. It is much cleaner compared to PCM and sounds just as real.

NeoGeo has a far superior YM2610 vs YM2612 with many PCM and 4 FM synth, and almost always the musician chose FM synth rather than PCM to do stuff like bass guitars and synth organs. It was like this all the way through to the final releases. It sounds so much better for it. Something like a slap bass IMHO is better done on PCM, but some tracks (Metal Slug) tried it on FM with decent-ish results. Bass through FM synth sounds more real than what PCM could deliver, if only because there are no artifacts.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:53 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
I guess it makes quite a lot of difference. On SNES, only 1 channel is needed per instrument, but you have only 8 channels.


I got 5x FM, 2x PCM and 3x PSG (PSG noise is not utilized by anything but SFX) channels in my sound setup.
1x FM for bass, 2x FM for lead, 2x FM for backing melody, 2x PCM for percussion, 3x PSG for chords... my typical setup when making anything.

Quote:
That's too bad. I guess I should take your word and say those emulator sucks. So I guess 99% of MD games did just not use their hardware well ? Oh wait, 512k for a sample is total overkill for a game ! That's probably why nobody did that. It's nice to have good sounding samples, but if it required you to double your ROM size then nobody would go for it. The same applies to SNES somehow - a game would typically re-use samples from another song instead of coming with fresh samples for every new song just because of that.


That is true that most MD games did not utilize the sound HW well... I have had thoughts of hacking and improving several games... but hacking is not really my stuff, writing new code is (and building hardware :P).
I got 4MBytes allocated for sound alone in my WiP MD game :P The remaining 12Mbytes is for all else.... going into the GBA territory, lol
Some bigger games did have lots of samples used, like EWJ, there's over half a Mbyte of samples in use there. Mostly voices and SFX, and few percussive samples. most games used one bassdrum and one snare... rarely a cymbal too but most drivers had seriously pathetic PCM playback and things just sound awful... the scratchiness associated with MD voices are 100% caused by lazy/bad/inexperienced coders.

Quote:
First of all I should say I'm impressed by the percussion quality in the samples you provided. It really sounds close to a real drum kit. The cymbals sounds especially nice. However, this only increase the contrast with the other instruments which sounds very synthetic.


I am going to rewrite my sound system, when I have moved out... one thing I will be doing 4 channel PCM playback that is better than my current 2 channel playback, but its got some aid from hardware (a banker, to replace the mindbogginly slow banker on Z80 side).
I don't make "real" music, I always like synthy stuff so that reflects on the instruments etc. I do have couple of unfinished guitar tracks though...

Quote:
The SNES's memory allow for 7.2 sec of sample playback at 32kHz. You should remove the space for the code, data and echo buffer so let's say about 5 sec remains. This is enough to record quite a few percussion insturment at full rate, and Chrono Trigger did that - all percussions in this game are even oversampled, recorded at higher than 32k - the only way to take the fullest of them is to use an emulator. I know you'll be saying "crap if you need an emulator to get better sound this suck" ok but at least there is a way to get better sound.


No, I'm not saying crap :P
I got inverse situation here... thigns sound bad on emulator, good on real HW... hehe

Quote:
Would love to hear that... links ?
Anyways, the reason bass doesn't sounds good on some SPCs, is because the developpers thinks "oh well this is a bass sample so we won't need high freqs, let's record it at a very low sample rate and it'll be allright". Needless to say, this isn't the way to go. A game where the bass sample is recorded well is Final Fantasy 5, I think it's recorded at a very low note so you can hear a nice plug on all bass notes.
You can hear this pretty nicely on this song (that you hear 80% of the time playing the game btw) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yLQU4tVOeA


I got to check that tune at home... currently at work, no sound here.
EDIT: Listened, and bass is indeed nice... can't say that for the trumpets though

Here's my music ROM : http://www.fileden.com/files/2008/4/21/ ... MFPLAY.RAR
There's I think 70 tunes with various quality levels and states of completness... lot of old stuff and new.
I tend to use my synthbass2 instrument a lot, for example "Turbo" uses it. "Empty Streets" uses one of my real basses, "Calm Countryside" uses couple of lovely guitars.
You'll also hear quite a few tunes there with quite busy percussion, I hope you find something you'll like in it ^^

Quote:
Also allow me to seriously doubt that FM will reproduce an instrument better than PCM. I understand that you are proud to have made good sounding instruments on FM - you can because it's no easy task - but that doesn't make it more accurate than PCM. If basically you based yourself on a sample on your bass guitar to get the FM instrument done, then technically in the best case it'll sound as good than the original sample of bass guitar - that is a PCM sample. Of course, as you say yourself, there is a million different sounding guitars possibles, especially if you use an amplifier which can have a million of settings - you can also use a mute, plug/slap the strings in different ways, have distortion, etc...
This not only applies to guitars, but to all instruments. That's why modern and expensive synthesizers use many samples for each instruments instead of just one, for different key regions and different velocities, and combine them with a digital filter. The SNES can't do much of this because of the limited memory, but yet those synthesizer are PCM based and not FM based.


IF I only have FM to work with of course I'll do my best to get good sounds... I never said I don't like PCM etc... I got quite a few sample based tunes. As long as there's enough storage in the synth etc. to hold GOOD samples I am perfectly fine with samples.
2x of my better tunes, made with Yamaha YMF718 + MIDI Tracker :
http://www.furaffinity.net/view/3692260/
http://www.furaffinity.net/view/4208306/ (this should give you an idea why I want 4x PCM channels :P)
(don't click any links there, otherwise you may end up on NSFW content........)


smkd wrote:
May aswell ask this since I don't really tinker with MD audio:

@TmEE: Is there a noticable performance hit on 68k when Z80 frequently accesses cart ROM for sound samples? From what I read before, Z80 gets priority on ROM and 68k is halted by bus arbiter on every Z80 access (unless DMA is running at the same time?) Do you see a noticable impact when playing PCM from cart ROM? It seems like a small impact but I don't know how fancy your engine is =)


The Z80 will give a tiny hit, its about 5% when Z80 does about 100KB/sec ROM access while 68K runs. There's first come, first serve principle, whoever makes the access first gets it and makes other wait. Luckily 68K does one memory access every 2nd cycle in tightest case, and Z80 can use that one unused cycle, and the performance hit gets negligable ^^
68K slowness has its good sides in some situations :P

smkd wrote:
NeoGeo has a far superior YM2610 vs YM2612 with many PCM and 4 FM synth, and almost always the musician chose FM synth rather than PCM to do stuff like bass guitars and synth organs. It was like this all the way through to the final releases. It sounds so much better for it. Something like a slap bass IMHO is better done on PCM, but some tracks (Metal Slug) tried it on FM with decent-ish results. Bass through FM synth sounds more real than what PCM could deliver, if only because there are no artifacts.


Slap bass can be very nicely done on FM, just some dedication is needed when fine tuning your parameters. Listen Thunder Force IV on MD, there's some really awesome slap bass there :D


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:27 pm 
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I'm wondering if I can find a comparison between a real YM2612 and emulation. Something that would make the difference obvious like using really high frequencies. Youtube is okay if that is all you can find.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 11:47 pm 
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YouTube is not ok for that sort of stuff. The recordings should be uncompressed.

I might have some comparisons somewhere. I can check if I can find them later, unless TmEE is able to dig something up before that.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:37 am 
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Is the difference big, or is it a hardly noticeable difference?

Similar question, if the VRC7 is also FM synth, why does TFM tracker sound out of tone on higher octaves, when Famitracker in VRC7 mode doesn't have that problem?


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