AoE I era MIDI sound options

Discussion about old sound cards, MIDI devices and sound related accessories.

AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby maverick85 » 2015-7-12 @ 07:04

I'm wondering whats the best setup for Age of Empires era MIDI setup (yamaha unit and sound card?). I only play games post 97 not including DOS on a win98/win ME build. I hear that a Roland mt-32 may produce a nice and clean sound.
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby maverick85 » 2015-7-12 @ 07:51

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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby firage » 2015-7-12 @ 11:56

CD audio is probably the definitive version of the music. For General Midi, there are several options. Roland Sound Canvases sound very good, or alternatively a Yamaha XG, or one of many fine options of SoundFonts enabled sound cards.
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby HighTreason » 2015-7-12 @ 13:01

Meh, scrap the MT-32. I always found the Creative AWE and Yamaha YMF cards were best for the MIDI files from AoE. Of course, if money is not an issue you can use an AWE and then grab a Yamaha MU80 to use externally, could even underwhelm yourself with the flat, delayed off-key tones of an MT-32 if you wanted a hole in your pocket.
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby Sutekh94 » 2015-7-12 @ 14:25

AoE's MIDI soundtrack sounds amazing with a YMF724.
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby maverick85 » 2015-7-13 @ 16:17

Sutekh94 wrote:AoE's MIDI soundtrack sounds amazing with a YMF724.

how does that compare to my creative soundcard? what does the Creative ES128D not have that the yamaha will produce a noticeable difference in sound
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby alexanrs » 2015-7-13 @ 16:32

maverick85 wrote:
Sutekh94 wrote:AoE's MIDI soundtrack sounds amazing with a YMF724.

how does that compare to my creative soundcard? what does the Creative ES128D not have that the yamaha will produce a noticeable difference in sound

Hardware assisted XG MIDI. It would probably sound even better on any card with a wavetable heaer + Yamaha daughterboard/external unit. Does the ES128D support soundfonts? If so, you may want to play around with those before spending money on a new sound card (and if you have an external Yamaha unit, no need to get a YMF724 for MIDI).
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby maverick85 » 2015-7-15 @ 16:58

alexanrs wrote:
maverick85 wrote:
Sutekh94 wrote:AoE's MIDI soundtrack sounds amazing with a YMF724.

how does that compare to my creative soundcard? what does the Creative ES128D not have that the yamaha will produce a noticeable difference in sound

Hardware assisted XG MIDI. It would probably sound even better on any card with a wavetable heaer + Yamaha daughterboard/external unit. Does the ES128D support soundfonts? If so, you may want to play around with those before spending money on a new sound card (and if you have an external Yamaha unit, no need to get a YMF724 for MIDI).

the soundcard i have in my retro pc is similar to the pci 128 but without the joystick port. it's essentially an OEM card. I doubt it has soundfonts. Looking at sound canvases on ebay, still unsure which would be best
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby maverick85 » 2015-7-24 @ 16:26

firage wrote:CD audio is probably the definitive version of the music. For General Midi, there are several options. Roland Sound Canvases sound very good, or alternatively a Yamaha XG, or one of many fine options of SoundFonts enabled sound cards.

I'm still undecided on a card. I'm eyeing up a awe64 gold, but that ISA. I do have an ISA slot 440BX but I would much rather build on my socket 370 tualatin
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby alexanrs » 2015-7-24 @ 16:43

Unless you need TSR-less pure DOS compatibility I can't think of a reason to go with an AWE64 instead of a Live! or Audigy on a Pentium 3
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby maverick85 » 2015-7-24 @ 16:50

alexanrs wrote:Unless you need TSR-less pure DOS compatibility I can't think of a reason to go with an AWE64 instead of a Live! or Audigy on a Pentium 3

i dont understand what you mean by the above
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby alexanrs » 2015-7-24 @ 17:34

You need to load TSR in pure DOS to get SB16 compatibility with the Live! and Audigy cards. The AWE64 doesn't need to load a TSR to work as a SB16 in DOS. For a Windows-only machine (or playing DOS games strictly inside Windows) this is a moot point.
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby jwt27 » 2015-7-24 @ 17:56

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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby maverick85 » 2015-7-24 @ 21:43

jwt27 wrote:https://soundcloud.com/oplawaai3/age-of-empires-music-3-opl3

Is it weird if I like this?

That... doesnt sound good. Is OPL3 that bad?
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby jwt27 » 2015-7-25 @ 17:45

Not "bad", just "different". :)

Though MIDI on OPL3 using Windows' GM timbres will in most cases sound worse than a piece specifically arranged for OPL3.
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby chinny22 » 2015-7-31 @ 15:52

Any Windows game will sound better with a Sound Canvas 55 over a MT32. MT32 is more aimed at early 90's dos games. Think Sierra games such as Monkey Island.
Mid-late 90's till the end of Midi used General Midi, with the SC55 considered to be the best of the best by a lot of people. Yamaha coming a close 2nd

As your stayin within windows you have a few options.
Yamaha YMF-7XX are PCI cards with good on-board midi and cheap and plentiful.
Creative AWE and up you can load soundfonts into memory. My M/B had a Creative SB64 on board that came with a 8MB Midi soundfont, so would be surprised if your 128 couldn't load sound fonts.
Aureal Vortex cards have a daughterboard header which you can attach a midi daughterboard.

Of course it all comes down to preference so even though the SC55 is highly regarded, you may indeed find you prefer OPL, and nothing wrong with that either
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby maverick85 » 2015-7-31 @ 18:08

chinny22 wrote:Any Windows game will sound better with a Sound Canvas 55 over a MT32. MT32 is more aimed at early 90's dos games. Think Sierra games such as Monkey Island.
Mid-late 90's till the end of Midi used General Midi, with the SC55 considered to be the best of the best by a lot of people. Yamaha coming a close 2nd

As your stayin within windows you have a few options.
Yamaha YMF-7XX are PCI cards with good on-board midi and cheap and plentiful.
Creative AWE and up you can load soundfonts into memory. My M/B had a Creative SB64 on board that came with a 8MB Midi soundfont, so would be surprised if your 128 couldn't load sound fonts.
Aureal Vortex cards have a daughterboard header which you can attach a midi daughterboard.

Of course it all comes down to preference so even though the SC55 is highly regarded, you may indeed find you prefer OPL, and nothing wrong with that either

Interesting. So I can load 'soundfonts'. How do I do that?
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby darksheer » 2015-8-01 @ 13:26

maverick85 wrote:Interesting. So I can load 'soundfonts'. How do I do that?


If drivers have been correctly installed you should be able to choose between 3 soundfont for your Audio PCI (2MB, 4MB and 8MB).
You'll be limited by thoses 3 because it's a proprietary format that restricted any ways of custom made soundfonts unlike AWE ones (it's a very dumb way to explain it but you get the picture).
They are decent but not very much more, and they'll be uploaded into the computer "ram" because Audio PCI cards don't have any onboard ram to store them.
You'll be able to choose between the 3 (don't forget to untick the "midi waveset lock" option there before) in the sound card properties into device manager.
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby alexanrs » 2015-8-01 @ 13:54

If you want to load custom soundfonts you'll need either an AWE card with extra RAM (especially if it's not an AWE64 Gold) or a Live!/Audigy card. I believe that the AudioPCI cards are limited to Ensonic's propertary format.
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Re: AoE I era MIDI sound options

Postby maverick85 » 2016-12-22 @ 22:14

reading again through this thread, i'm still clueless.. need a dummies video explaining options before i invest in a Roland unit..
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