Another aproach to better music

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Adda
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Another aproach to better music

Postby Adda » Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:59 am

Hello

I haven't seen anyone talk about BassMIDI on this forum so I guess it's up to me :)

To get good MIDI you need one of two things, either a soundcard with good MIDI Wavesets or BassMIDI.

With modern soundcards MIDI is not a concern, so BassMIDI is the easiest option and free too.

BassMIDI is a driver that enables you to use whatever MIDI soundfont you desire for midi playback, you can get it here:
http://kode54.net/bassmididrv/

Of cause you'll need a good SoundFont to go with it, I like this one:
http://soundfonts.homemusician.net/coll ... gm_gs.html

Some SoundFonts are compressed using sfark, you have to unpack them in order to make use of them, this tool does that:
http://www.melodymachine.com/sfark.htm

I have been remaking DaggerFall music in FL Studio, and while that gives a lot of freedom to make the sound you want, the SoundFont route seems more faithful to the original and it's just much more convenient.
Chris
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Re: Another aproach to better music

Postby Chris » Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:20 am

FluidSynth is another option. It's not a system driver, though, it's a normal program library that can render the MIDI in-process (using your chosen sf2 soundfont) to PCM samples.

That's probably the best option for DaggerXL since it's a rather high quality MIDI renderer, works on all relevant OSs, and doesn't require users to install special system software. And it can be thrown into the same mix as the rest of the game's sounds, to make sure it's on the same output (in case the user has multiple audio devices).

Here's some more SoundFonts:
http://woolyss.com/chipmusic-soundfonts.php
These replicate a much more old school "chip-tunes" style sound. There's one for OPL-3*, as well as ones that sound like the NES, Megadrive, and various SNES games.

* Back in the mid 90s when Daggerfall was released, people most likely had an OPL-3-based MIDI device. However, a more faithful recreation of that style could be achieved by using one of the various OPL-3 renderers (like DOSBox has), rather than by using a soundfont.
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Adda
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Re: Another aproach to better music

Postby Adda » Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:33 am

I remember having tried some OPL SoundFonts, but there is one more concern apart form the sound (which is a matter of taste), compatibility.

Some SoundFonts just don't sound right, some instruments might be playing very loudly, sometimes you get clipping, or samples that simply don't fit in.

The Ultimate GM/GS SoundFont I linked to, has very good compatibility, it's samples come from the EMU8000 synthesizer found on SoundBlaser AWE32 soundcards, the high end soundcard back in the day, along with Gravis UltraSound.
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Adda
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Re: Another aproach to better music

Postby Adda » Sat Jul 06, 2013 10:03 am

Looks like they have some very interesting SoundFonts here as well, including a huge OPL-3 FM synth, can't wait to test that one.

http://www3.telus.net/anapan8/oldscardemu.htm#cplgmsf2
Chris
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Re: Another aproach to better music

Postby Chris » Sat Jul 06, 2013 10:44 am

Adda wrote:I remember having tried some OPL SoundFonts, but there is one more concern apart form the sound (which is a matter of taste), compatibility.

Some SoundFonts just don't sound right, some instruments might be playing very loudly, sometimes you get clipping, or samples that simply don't fit in.

That's particularly a problem when some musicians try to be clever and use really odd notes to get a specific sound, rather than using the instruments as intended. For instance, there's a level in Doom 2 where it uses a series of really low-pitched gunshot notes to simulate the sound of marching troops. It works well enough, except when a soundfont has a really different sound for the gunshot (but is still a gunshot).

Another issue more particular to Daggerfall is that it has a different set of hmi files for FM synths. They typically have different audio balance, slightly tweaked note arrangements to handle voice limitations, and maybe slightly tweaked instrument uses. The .hmi format can even select or mask specific tracks depending on the type of MIDI device (Generic General MIDI, MPU-401, OPL-2, MT-32, Sound Blaster AWE32, OPL-3, and Gravis Ultrasound, are what I have noted down in my code to convert hmi to mid).

So if you're using an OPL-3 soundfont with General MIDI or MPU-401 output, it won't sound the same in Daggerfall as with a real OPL-3 device no matter how perfect the soundfont is.

That said, OPL-3 and other chiptune soundfonts can be interesting in their own right. Even if it's not completely accurate, listening to Daggerfall music as if it was on a NES or Genesis is kinda neat.
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Adda
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Re: Another aproach to better music

Postby Adda » Sat Jul 06, 2013 10:53 am

OPL-3 wavesets work well with vanilla Daggerfall if you set one of the OPL-3 equipped SoundBlaster (Pro, 16) cards as your MIDI device in the setup menu.
For this to work you have to use BassMIDI, set it to use an OPL-3 SoundFont.

Personally I prefer MPU-401 + Ultimate GM/GS, the FM style MIDI files in Daggerfall are a bit dry, and many tunes are left out.

But since I have heard all the songs a million times, it's good to have multiple SoundFonts at my disposal, to switch between for some variation.
Synthesized music has it's advantages.

Edit: I should add that, even if a SoundFont that is compatible with the MIDI output device set in the setup menu is used, there may still be compatibility problems, some SoundFonts are just not very well made.

Edit2: And another AWE32 style SoundFont, I think it's my new favorite:
http://alsa.opensrc.org/8MBGMSFX.SF2
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Re: Another aproach to better music

Postby Chris » Sat Jul 06, 2013 1:50 pm

The one I use by default is this one, titled Merlin Audigy and is 41MB:
http://www.soundfonts.gonet.biz/search. ... o=0&goto=1

I also have another one, named SGM and weighs in at 236MB:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UwhEyxFrns (link is in the description, click on See more)
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Adda
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Re: Another aproach to better music

Postby Adda » Sat Jul 06, 2013 3:01 pm

Chris wrote:The one I use by default is this one, titled Merlin Audigy and is 41MB:
http://www.soundfonts.gonet.biz/search. ... o=0&goto=1

I also have another one, named SGM and weighs in at 236MB:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UwhEyxFrns (link is in the description, click on See more)


Those are great, very nice if you are looking for a modern sound, they even handle the end of 'OVERLONG' acceptably, most don't.

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