A list of MIDI songs to test sound cards

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

A list of MIDI songs to test sound cards

Postby bristlehog » 2018-1-12 @ 19:16

Is there a list or an archive of MIDI songs to test different sound cards, so we could compare different hardware on the same tracks? If there's not, maybe it's time to make one? Your thoughts?
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Re: A list of MIDI songs to test sound cards

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2018-1-12 @ 19:17

bristlehog wrote:Is there a list or an archive of MIDI songs to test different sound cards, so we could compare different hardware on the same tracks? If there's not, maybe it's time to make one? Your thoughts?


There are tons of midi archives on the net. I'm guessing what you mean is a list of standard songs people like to test across multiple sound cards i.e. DOOM E1M1.MID?

That could be cool.. "download this pack, record it from your card, post it online" and make a nice little comparison database so people can pick out which card they like best based on their favorite games.
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Re: A list of MIDI songs to test sound cards

Postby bristlehog » 2018-1-12 @ 19:19

BeginnerGuy wrote:There are tons of midi archives on the net. I'm guessing what you mean is a list of standard songs people like to test across multiple sound cards i.e. DOOM E1M1.MID?

That could be cool.. "download this pack, record it from your card, post it online" and make a nice little comparison database so people can pick out which card they like best based on their favorite games.


Right. There are some requirements to be put it seems, for example some MIDI songs won't play in Windows 3.1 standard MIDI player due to some format incompatibility. Some sound cards need Win 3.1 to play MIDI, e.g. Tecmar ARPA (little to no DOS support), Turtle Beach Multisound Classic (bugged DOS MIDI drivers).
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Re: A list of MIDI songs to test sound cards

Postby shyember » 2018-1-20 @ 21:48

The classic CANYON.MID comes to mind, at least for GM-compatible cards.

Just curious: what about FM synth cards? IMO the best FM synth music was produced by the PC directly controlling the FM synth chip's registers (think Tyrian2000's jukebox mode) versus running a MIDI player in Windows, for example.
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Re: A list of MIDI songs to test sound cards

Postby Zup » 2018-1-20 @ 23:03

shyember wrote:Just curious: what about FM synth cards? IMO the best FM synth music was produced by the PC directly controlling the FM synth chip's registers (think Tyrian2000's jukebox mode) versus running a MIDI player in Windows, for example.


That's the equivalent of using soundfonts on other sound cards.

Both programs use the same method of playing music but different "instruments". Windows MIDI player has a "general use" table of instruments (=values to send to the FM synth that defines the instrument), while most games use a set of instruments better suited to their own tracks. Think about electric guitars: some guitars/amplifiers are better suited to play blues, others are better suited to play death metal... the MIDI player bought an all-round guitar, but the composer of Tyrian uses a guitar tuned to their songs.

Also, keep on mind that FM synths (well, every synth) have a poliphony limit (i.e.: OPL2 can do only 9 simultaneous notes or 6 notes+5 drums, if I understood wikipedia). A MIDI track can try to play more notes than the FM synth has, but a composer that make music intended to play on one of those synth will be aware of their limits and won't try to play more notes than the synth is able to do.
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Re: A list of MIDI songs to test sound cards

Postby shyember » 2018-1-21 @ 01:54

Right, but in the case of an FM synth card, the driver, or sound library, or game code itself, has to program one of the available synth channels to some preset approximating a GM instrument... (I dabble in FM synthesis and have a couple of OPL / OPM / OPN emulation plugins for my DAW ^_^ )

So with FM cards, we'd be at the mercy of the playback program, or the sound library (eg: Miles), or the soundcard's driver. Yes?

I guess to rephrase my original question: I like this idea, and want to include FM synth chips as well, because I think they're awesome. Does anyone know of good DOS-based MIDI playback programs that make interesting or effective use of the FM synth chips available for the PC (OPL2, OPL3, etc)?
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Re: A list of MIDI songs to test sound cards

Postby SpeedySPCFan » 2018-1-21 @ 02:41

Unfortunately, OPL MIDI playback is pretty awful. The only good playback engine I can think of is DMXOPL, which is a mod for DOOM that changes the FM patches used. It sounds great, but you're not gonna find any OPL MIDI stuff on par with that in the 90s.
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Re: A list of MIDI songs to test sound cards

Postby shyember » 2018-1-21 @ 04:19

Hah, someone has asked this question before. I'm smart. :lol:

viewtopic.php?t=18412

I have a small list of songs that I enjoy hearing on wavetable MIDI cards. E1M1 isn't a technically challenging song for a MIDI card, but it's a known quantity and can make initial comparisons easier.

Doom:
* E1M1
* E2M1
* E3M3

Rise of the Triad:
* Deadly Gentlemen (ROTT_004.mid)
* Suck This (ROTT_027.mid)

As well as Canyon.mid and Passport.mid, though they seem to be tailored to Roland GS patchsets.

From the research I've done, it appears that Tyrian, while it has a rocking FM soundtrack, only runs in OPL2 mode. So, good for testing OPL2 cards. :lol:

Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, Warcraft II, and Dune all apparently had real OPL3 / AdLib Gold support, so they might be useful comparison tools for later FM cards.

My $0.02
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Re: A list of MIDI songs to test sound cards

Postby shyember » 2018-1-21 @ 06:27

Oh, as a quick comparison, I found these recordings of Dune's OPL2 and OPL3 soundtracks... If you think these two FM synths are the same... :lol:

I don't know if this was a Vogons member or not... whomever you are, you are beautiful for preserving this FM greatness!


Here's the song "Morning" on OPL2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjHon6yg-r8&t=1559s

Here's the song "Chani's Eyes" (actually the same song as Morning) on OPL3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUfGyfbzl9k&t=775s

Watch these in "HD" to get YouTube's higher-quality audio. <3
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