MD vs. SNES: FM vs. PCM

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

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HJRodrigo
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Post by HJRodrigo » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:17 pm

RT-55J wrote: Mega Turrican - Stage 3-1 (sounds better than the SNES version imo)
It maybe true for that song, but not for my favorite Turrican song :wink: .
SNES
MD

I like both systems, but the SNES is my favorite most of the time in terms of music and color. Funny because I never actually ever owned a SNES, but I do own every Sega system ever made :). Maybe it is a grass is greener on the other side thing.

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Banshaku
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Post by Banshaku » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:37 pm

The super shinobi is a first generation game. This is to be expected that the music will not be on part with Street of rage 2 (same artist) which was released more far in the life cycle of the console.

As for Expender, I don't see what you mean by "it makes my ear bleed". I could understand that you may not like the song since it a specific style that not everyone may like. But I don't hear any of what you said. The recording on youtube is not that great thought. It's better on the real thing.

As for Castlevania song, I don't remember saying anything as being better than the snes version. That was not the point. I didn't say anything except for link. If your listen to the song from the point of view that it was remade with a FM chip, the artist did it quite well.

One thing that I liked about the genesis is the stereo earphone port at the front. I tried it recently with better earphones compared at the time it came out and I was quite surprise that the sound came out clean and very good actually.

I would like to mention that I never had a genesis has a kid. I bought a super nes. I like both consoles for their merit.

I guess this thread goes nowhere. It just put fuel over fire.

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tokumaru
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Post by tokumaru » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:59 pm

Banshaku wrote:I guess this thread goes nowhere. It just put fuel over fire.
Well, I learned a few things about both consoles with this thread. Too bad that in the end we had a little war going on.

I like to compare systems, not to decide which one wins, but to understand how they differ. As a programmer, I really like to think of how I would make the best out of each system, no matter how bad/good it is. If I had the time, I'd like to develop for nearly every 8 and 16 bit system out there, I like all of them in one way or another.

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Post by MottZilla » Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:13 pm

Banshaku wrote: I guess this thread goes nowhere. It just put fuel over fire.
Well I think most of us like to discuss both systems and it's interesting to think about and examine what each system is capable of. Honestly I think no one can argue that both systems have high quality games that make use of their hardware very well. I think alot of the time that people (not those in this thread) bash either SNES or MD is based on games which the developer did a poor job or for whatever reason couldn't realize the full potential of the system.

I think most of us here understand that the quality of the game matters more than the hardware and the technical feats seeing how we are drawn here by the NES which is inferior to both platforms discussed here.

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Super-Hampster
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Post by Super-Hampster » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:25 pm

not that it was the greatest of games, but Revolution X blew the Genesis away in the sound department.

SNES|MD


Lots of sampled music VS badly synthesized music that sounds like a kid trying to play it on an electric keyboard while farting in a tuba.

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Post by TmEE » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:57 pm

another game using teh allmighty GEMS setup on MD.... there's about 200 games using GEMS and nearly all of them sound bad and majority of them are USA developed games...
HJRodrigo wrote:It maybe true for that song, but not for my favorite Turrican song :wink: .
SNES
MD

I like both systems, but the SNES is my favorite most of the time in terms of music and color. Funny because I never actually ever owned a SNES, but I do own every Sega system ever made :). Maybe it is a grass is greener on the other side thing.
SNES one sound so weak... very very soft sounds, crappy snare, even worse cymbals. Amiga game sounds worse than both of those though.

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tokumaru
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Post by tokumaru » Tue Aug 24, 2010 12:12 am

Super-Hampster wrote:Revolution X
I think both consoles sucked hard in this case... but I think the MD sounds much worse.

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Bregalad
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Post by Bregalad » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:02 am

I second that. Both of those sounds really bad.
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 don't have this impression. On the other hand, I feel like you guys try to artificially create flaws in SNES sounds and attempt to make me belive it's not as good as it is. Not that SNES sound is perfect - it's true the sound is a bit lowpass filtered because of the guassian interpolation - but you guys make it sound like an issue when it really isn't, the lowpass filtering due to youtube's coded is more likely to affect the song anyways. This also allowed programmers to oversample up to 4x with almost no aliasing. And once again, you can use emulators to restore the high frequencies which are lost. You CAN'T make instrument sounds better with a MD emulator as far as I know (if you can then by all means tell me how !)

A game with FM sound that I find sound real lame is Lagrange Point. It's not a MD game, but it sounds like a really bad sounding MD game to me. Any thoughts ?

PS : Since people posted their favorite MD music, I might as well link to some of my favourite SNES music while we're at it :
Chrono Trigger - Undersea Palace
Chrono Trigger - Corridors of Time
Chrono Trigger - Remains of the Factory
Chrono Trigger - Robo's Theme *
Live a Live - Boss Battle
Live a Live - Akira Battle *
Live a Live - Forgotten Wings
Dragon Quest VI - Town Theme
Dragon Quest III - Flight
Dragon Quest III - Village Theme
Dragon Quest III - Sailing
Secret of Mana - Distant Tunder
Secret of Mana - Forest
Secret of Mana - Ceremony
Secret of Mana - Ghost and the Rose
Fire Emblem Seisen no Keifu - Chapter 2
Super Castlvania IV - Simon's ThemeCastlevania Dracula X - Richter's Theme *
Tactics Ogre - Royal Palace Dance
Tactics Ogre - Fear is only the beining
Tactics Ogre - Limitation

Ok this is quite a few songs, a small portion of my favourites. Before anyone says they sound bad, I'll tell you that the sound quality was lowered due to them being compressed on youtube. Some of the songs here suffer from regular abrupt volume change, probably due to the guy uploading them using poorly a tool to maximize the volume - it's not my or the SNES' fault.

A few of them (maked with a *) could possibly be ported decently with the MD because they are close enough to this 80's pop stlye, but the vast majority couldn't because they just use instruments that are way too evolved to be reproduced with FM - and they would have to be fully remixed in 80's pop to sound good on a MD.
So as a programmer, it's a kind of limitation to be "forced" to pick a style of music over another.
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tepples
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Post by tepples » Tue Aug 24, 2010 4:54 am

This sounds like what you get when the hamster from Kirby's Dream Land 3 meets Mega Man's female counterpart.
Before anyone says they sound bad, I'll tell you that the sound quality was lowered due to them being compressed on youtube. Some of the songs here suffer from regular abrupt volume change, probably due to the guy uploading them using poorly a tool to maximize the volume
YouTube used to do that to all uploads in mid-2008 to minimize the effect of "screamer" videos abusing dynamics to scare viewers.

As for being forced to choose one style: If MD sounds like 1980s pop using a DX7, and SNES sounds like a Mellotron (an early analog sampler), what does NES sound like?

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Bregalad
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Post by Bregalad » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:18 am

tepples wrote:
YouTube used to do that to all uploads in mid-2008 to minimize the effect of "screamer" videos abusing dynamics to scare viewers.
This explain a lot of things. Because of this, so many Techno / Trance music uploaded on Youtube is completely ruined - because the beats are strongly marked, the volume goes downwards suddently on each beat, and go upwards suddently between the beats, effectively ruining the music. If they used a longer attack/decay time it would have worked fine probably though.
As for being forced to choose one style: If MD sounds like 1980s pop using a DX7, and SNES sounds like a Mellotron (an early analog sampler), what does NES sound like?
Good question. Are PSG much used in some genre of non-videogame music ? I guess some trance songs sometimes use something that comes close enough.

While there is some genres that don't work with PSG, such as ambient music, it can still do a variety of things. I think both "Classical" and "Rock" type music sounds good with PSG (for people used to it that is). Few NES games go for techno-style songs unfortunately.
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psycopathicteen
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Post by psycopathicteen » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:21 am

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.

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Post by tomaitheous » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:23 am

blargg wrote: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.
There's definite truth to this. Conditioning, not just for audio but for video too. Too many people were used to having the sharpness turned up on the SDTV sets BITD, that when they looked at a TRUE calibration TV set by a certified calibration technician, they thought it looked too soft. Same for red push and a lot of other things. Hell, even when HD progressive TV sets where coming out; someone did a study that showed a solid color on two screens - one interlaced and one progressive. People were asked to choose which set looked 'sharper'. There was no detail, just a blank screen. And yet... people often reported that the interlaced set with the blank screen looked sharper. Hahahahaha.

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.

But like someone else mentioned in this thread, all these system had audio flaws. If the music is good, I look past those flaws and just enjoy the music.

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Post by tepples » Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:11 am

Bregalad wrote:Are PSG much used in some genre of non-videogame music ?
There's SID metal (e.g. Machinae Supremacy), and there's anything by Ke$ha.
While there is some genres that don't work with PSG, such as ambient music
This pseudo-chiptune is designed for a PSG of approximately 2A03+MMC5 class. But then I'm not sure what "ambient" means, having encountered it only as part of "PIANO AMBIENT", the genre description of the song "5.1.1." from Beatmania IIDX and DDR Extreme.
Last edited by tepples on Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TmEE
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Post by TmEE » Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:17 am

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 :P :
Bregalad wrote:Chrono Trigger - Undersea Palace
Could be done on MD rather well, some instruments like the low quality piano would not sound as good but all of the percussion can be higher quality than what the SNES tune uses, if I would recreate the tune on MD with my own sound engine. Some of the echoness would be lost

Chrono Trigger - Corridors of Time
some of the instruments will be extremely hard to recreate like the strings in the beginning... you need to use lot of channels to get fat strings like that and then there won't be room for all else. The sitar would sound as if not better in synthesied way, the bell instrument would have different tonal qualities and the chior would get completely butchered. Same deal with percussion as in last tune, that is one place where I can completely obliterate SNES on MD with my sound setup as long as the SNES won't be doing too many percussion channels.

Chrono Trigger - Remains of the Factory
The pads on the background aren't too easy to recreate, there would be quite a bit of tonal differences. The xylophone instrument would have tonal differences too, all else could be easily done.

Chrono Trigger - Robo's Theme *
That one has one stumbleblock which is the string lead, but luckily there's little stuff going on in the tune so it would not be too hard really. Percussion could also be improved :P

Live a Live - Boss Battle
The trumpets would be a bit different sounding but other than that it can be done very well. The organ is piece of cake to do. Bass sucks in the SNES, and percussion is very weak. If there was some chords/strings/pads on the BG then those would get pushed on the PSG (it is surprising how nice fat 3 note PSG chords sound :) ).

Live a Live - Akira Battle *
This would likely not sound too good... distortion guitars can be done nicely on FM, but its likely to require many channels, and with little left for all else the lead would have to sound shitty and tinny like bad FM music does. If not so good sounding distortion guitars are acceptable then this could be done very nicely, with improved percussion and bass (those 2 I feel being sucky in the original).

Live a Live - Forgotten Wings
This would not be easy to recreate, while the lead and backing flute are easy, the strings aren't going to sound too good... and I would put them on the PSG aswell, since FM would be used up anyway. Percussion could be superior on MD though.

Dragon Quest VI - Town Theme
This would be quite easy apart from the strings, and the echoiness would be reduced since there won't be enough channels, unless I experiment with PSG backing for the lead (should blend nicely). you already know what am I gonna say about the percussion :P

Dragon Quest III - Flight
That one I would not attempt to do, there's no way to get it sound too close to original... lots of fat strings, those won't be doable without using many channels, and by many I mean 4+.... one FM channel can do one string, or mayhaps 2... a tpyical string sample has sounds of 4 or more string instruments.
Boring tune though, but that's a subjective thing :P

Dragon Quest III - Village Theme
if it wasn't for the strings, I could be done nicely... lots of the echoiness would be lost though...
Boring tune, more subjectiveness :P

Dragon Quest III - Sailing
strings strings strings... lol

Secret of Mana - Distant Tunder
This one seems to be very easy to recreate, there's no instruments that would sound bad or hard to do in FM. Percussion could be enhanced aswell on MD.

Secret of Mana - Forest
Some of the echoness needs to be sacrificed, and some stuff needs to be pushed on the PSG. Would still sound good afterwards though, not exactly like original though.

Secret of Mana - Ceremony
This one has plenty of PITA sounds, like the lead bell sound... one other thing that there's no way to get sound too good on FM.

Secret of Mana - Ghost and the Rose
The strings would get buthcered, but other than those, it would convert to FM quite well.

Fire Emblem Seisen no Keifu - Chapter 2
The pads on the background and the stringy trumpets will be difficult but all else is completely FMable, and percussion would be superior on MD.

Super Castlvania IV - Simon's Theme
This is completely FMable, there's no instruments that are hard to do on FM, and the tune itself is very tinny like poorly done FM tunes are, so it helps on that regard, looooool.
Percussion can be made superior as usual

Castlevania Dracula X - Richter's Theme *
The lead in the beginning is not that easy to do. A friend of mine did a MD version long ago with a very early version of my MD sound system, I think 2 years ago, does not sound too good compared to this, which I heard for the first time... This tune is not too suitable on MD, the lead instrument is not easy to get sounding too great.

Tactics Ogre - Royal Palace Dance
Tactics Ogre - Fear is only the beining
Tactics Ogre - Limitation
Percusussion can be vastly enhanced, but lot of the string stuff will be difficult to do. There echoiness will get reduced too.
I used SPC's not the YT links.

I don't want to go through music i'm not fond of again :P

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Post by KungFuFurby » Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:09 am

I'm active on SNESMusic.org, which contains real SPC files of SNES music, if you want to compare them to MD music. It also comes with a list of SPC players for Mac, Windows and Linux.

I also know of a collection of MD music in VGM Format... Project 2612.

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