MD vs. SNES: FM vs. PCM

Discussion of hardware and software development for Super NES and Super Famicom.

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blargg
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Post by blargg » Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:31 am

I used to always run my stereos like that, with bass and treble turned up to the max, same with EQs. Normal flag stereos sounded bad. At some point I realized that I had simply conditioned my hearing to this, so I stopped turning things up instead left them flat. After a while I adjusted to flat sound and could hear just as much high frequency information. I'm guessing that this may be happening for you, and since you aren't able to overemphasize the SNES high end, it sounds muffled relative to music which can be overemphasized.

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TmEE
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Post by TmEE » Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:36 am

Spectrograms of SNES don't look too good... you can amp all you want, but if it isn't there then you don't get anything...

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Post by Near » Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:47 am

One bad thing about SNES sound is that developers were way too careful to avoid clamping higher frequencies, so much so that you can easily double audio without ever clamping anything in most games.

Of course that's just a "turn the volume up on the TV" thing, more annoying with emulators when all your other audio apps play five times louder.

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TmEE
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Post by TmEE » Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:51 am

I am noticing such effect on X360 a lot... some games are quiet, others are just LOUD. SPC's I got are same, most are quiet but every now and then there's a really loud file so I got to decrease preamp in order to avoid clipping...

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Post by tepples » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:57 am

Bregalad wrote:
Banshaku wrote:Street of rage 2: Go straight (stage 1-1)
Now THAT man is a great song ! I remember someone already presented it to me to show off the MD's sound capabilities, and I have to agree its a real good song. FM instruments just happen to work very well with this style of music. However, for many styles of music, it won't work well. With the SNES you're free to play wathever instrument you like.
Except an acid line. In an acid line, the synth parameters (filter cutoff envelope or FM envelope) are changed over time from note to note.
If I want to compose a MD song, I know it will be a total headache to make it sound good you have to know some math formulas etc... - while on the SNES all it takes is to pick up my favourite insturments and convert them to BRR
Unless your favorite instrument is a Yamaha DX7. I guess that in the same way the MD leveraged people's 68000 and Z80 experience, it also leveraged composers' experience with Yamaha synths. With samples, you have to record someone playing the instrument, or you have to license a sample pack (aka "sound font") for use in your game. That's why a lot of early Super NES games sounded the same: they all used Nintendo's sample pack.
(as long as it don't exceed some RAM limit).
And there's the kicker. The muffled sounds are largely due to cutting sample rates, in turn due to the RAM limit. Yes, the Gaussian interpolation, but that's nothing an EQ pass at the convert-to-BRR stage can't solve.
And BTW FM soud theoretically should brig me nostalgia of my old PC.
Technically, the MD should sound better than an AdLib because MD's FM chip has four operators per voice, while AdLib has only two. But sometimes in tfmmaker, I make "perfect fifth", "perfect fourth", and "major third" patches using the algorithm with two parallel chains of two operators (#4 I think); the sounds are less rich but the polyphony sometimes makes up for it.

Not like I'm bashing SNES or anything. Zoop sounds like Zoop on my SNES, but it sounded like poop when I rented it on MD.
TmEE wrote:SPC's I got are same, most are quiet but every now and then there's a really loud file so I got to decrease preamp in order to avoid clipping
Yeah, Zoop for SNES is loud. That's why there are various Replay Gain formats to store the proper preamp setting for each song or album.

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Post by psycopathicteen » Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:12 pm

A lowpass filter is something you'd expect Sony would do. It reminds me how the PS2 had an intentionally muted video signal. I remember playing the same games on different systems at my friend's houses, and remembering the PS2 version always was the faded and blurry looking one.

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Post by RT-55J » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:39 pm

mic_ wrote:
Alien Soldier
This one sounds good. Was it really done with a MD ? I'm really doubtful.
The Megadrive was the only console it was released on.
That's the "Arrange Version", which was a bonus included on the OST. This is the actual in-game version.

And as long as we're throwing out Mega Drive songs:
Shinobi 3 - Japonesque
Devilish - Praire
Alien Soldier - Epsilons-Ally (low quality recording)
Mega Turrican - Stage 3-1 (sounds better than the SNES version imo)

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Post by MottZilla » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:55 pm

tokumaru wrote:I bet you like to bash the MD because you probably played a lot of SNES as a kid, and thought it was the most awesome thing ever back then, and only got to look at the MD recently (maybe even using emulators only), and of course under that perspective it will not look like much. I had a MD as a kid, but I played a lot of SNES at friends' houses and I always thought both consoles were very good.
I played alot of SNES as a kid too. However several of my friends had Sega Genesis. I always thought Sonic The Hedgehog, along with several other games, were really cool. So I never had any odd sort of fanboy hatred for either system. I never owned a Genesis till well after it was dead but I still find it fun.

About the MD's sound, I wonder like with the color sub-palette issue, if Sega had been able to go with a more advanced YM chip if people would have had a better impression of the MD's sound. The MD can do well in the sound department, but I think alot of people played some games that really use it poorly.

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Post by psycopathicteen » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:15 pm

I don't understand why nobody made a soundchip like the YM2612 only with squares, saws and triangles. That would've been the perfect sound chip for 1990 standards.

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blargg
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Post by blargg » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:19 pm

psycopathicteen wrote:A lowpass filter is something you'd expect Sony would do. It reminds me how the PS2 had an intentionally muted video signal. I remember playing the same games on different systems at my friend's houses, and remembering the PS2 version always was the faded and blurry looking one.
Yeah, they just added those things to annoy people. No technical reasons, none at all, well, none that we imagine, thus there can't be any.

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Bregalad
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Post by Bregalad » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:24 pm

Shinobi 3 - Japonesque
This song is pretty good ! I like it, and it sure doesn't sound much like the MD before 0.37, at which points it starts to suddently sound worse IMO.
Devilish - Praire
Again another very good song, which doesn't sound much like FM which is good.

Mega Turrican - Stage 3-1 (sounds better than the SNES version imo)
Both sounds pretty similar. However the SF2 songs and that Simon's Theme sounds 100 times better on SNES than MD. I'm wouldn't be surprised there is at least some games which are the other way around (making terrible use of the SPC700).

The MD is just limited for this 80's pop/techno style. Anyone can post good classical or ambient music out of the MD ? Ambient music is particularly well suited for some games where it adds to the mod and make them a little scary BTW.
Life is complex: it has both real and imaginary components.

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Post by ReaperSMS » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:29 pm

psycopathicteen wrote:A lowpass filter is something you'd expect Sony would do. It reminds me how the PS2 had an intentionally muted video signal. I remember playing the same games on different systems at my friend's houses, and remembering the PS2 version always was the faded and blurry looking one.
This is more likely framebuffer size differences. The PS2 video signal, compared to say, the gamecube, might have had a little less saturation, but ran a good bit hotter. Full white on the PS2 tends to be noticably brighter than full white on the GC

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Post by tepples » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:48 pm

psycopathicteen wrote:I don't understand why nobody made a soundchip like the YM2612 only with squares, saws and triangles. That would've been the perfect sound chip for 1990 standards.
How about six or eight Game Boy channel 3s? That's Namco 106 163 or the TG16 APU.

Pinocchio: snes | md

Pac-Attack: snes | md
Guess which version Namco chose for the gba port?

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Post by KungFuFurby » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:53 pm

I find SNES music much easier to rip than MD music... not to mention that I can't even start with MD music ripping without accuracy issues anyways since I'm on the wrong platform!

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Post by tokumaru » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:08 pm

I think we're all bothered by different characteristics of the songs.
tepples wrote:Pac-Attack: snes | md
See, I listen to this and I can't say which one is better. Both have flaws. The MD version may sound more "bleepy", but it's also very clean and clear. The instruments on the SNES might sound more realistic, but the resolution of the samples is really poor, which brings the overall quality of the song way down in my opinion. So I simply don't understand how someone can say "the SNES kicks the MD's ass" and completely ignore the fact that the SNES has some serious issues too.

I'll listen to both while playing (not this particular game though - neither the gameplay nor the sound interested me at all) without giving a shit about these issues and will think both sound fine, but if I force myself to criticize them I'll say that, technically, both have their problems, and no console sounds always superior to the other.

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