Improving on the basic general midi?

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

Improving on the basic general midi?

Postby Gahhhrrrlic » 2018-2-02 @ 02:32

I just finished my base setup for my computer with an ESS1868 sound card in it. I had screwed this up once before but with lessons learned, everything went well this time. Except, now that I am testing the hardware (starting with the sound card), things aren't looking great.

I fired up doom to see if the sound card is working. In the setup, under music, I tried to pick general midi on port 330 but that didn't work in the game (no music). I was getting sound effects however. So I went back into the setup and used the same "sound blaster" settings for the music as I picked for the sound FX. In game, this did work but the music was of horrendously bad quality. The FX sounded just fine.

1) So the first matter is why the music doesn't play when I pick general midi on port 330 in doom's setup. The ESS was configured correctly at boot with these settings.

2) Why is the midi so ass? I mean I wasn't expecting anything great but it's really awful. Is there a way to upgrade the soundfonts in dos? I have not installed windows just yet so I'm just wondering where these midi instruments are coming from. Are they coming from on the chip itself or from software on my PC? Is there any way to upgrade the soundfont? Also, why would the midi play at all when selecting "sound blaster" and "220" as my music settings, when the FX is set to the same thing? Doesn't the midi need to go through 330 via general midi?

Bit confused here. Thanks for the advice in advance.
Gahhhrrrlic
Member
 
Posts: 203
Joined: 2017-12-05 @ 00:39

Re: Improving on the basic general midi?

Postby Plasma » 2018-2-02 @ 02:46

1. General MIDI isn't going to work unless you have a MIDI device attached via the joystick port or waveblaster header. You have configured the ESS MIDI interface to use port 330, but you have nothing attached to the interface.

2. When you select "Sound Blaster" for music, Doom uses the ESS FM synth. There is no soundfont. There isn't even a real OPL chip.

If you want better MIDI music, you need a MIDI daughterboard or external synth.
Plasma
Newbie
 
Posts: 85
Joined: 2016-12-12 @ 08:38

Re: Improving on the basic general midi?

Postby Gahhhrrrlic » 2018-2-02 @ 02:55

I follow you... but midi is basically a set of instructions telling the wavetable which instruments to play right? If there's no daughterboard or equivalent, where are the instruments coming from which are being synthesized by the FM synth? Does doom contain PCM copies or something that the ESS chip can play like it does sound effects?
Gahhhrrrlic
Member
 
Posts: 203
Joined: 2017-12-05 @ 00:39

Re: Improving on the basic general midi?

Postby Plasma » 2018-2-02 @ 03:02

Doom sets the FM synth parameters which are used create the instrument sound. But these parameters are not audio samples.
Plasma
Newbie
 
Posts: 85
Joined: 2016-12-12 @ 08:38

Re: Improving on the basic general midi?

Postby Gahhhrrrlic » 2018-2-02 @ 03:48

So in essence, doom is instructing the ESS on "how to create this or that instrument sound" ? no wonder it sounds like crap.
Gahhhrrrlic
Member
 
Posts: 203
Joined: 2017-12-05 @ 00:39

Re: Improving on the basic general midi?

Postby badmojo » 2018-2-02 @ 08:01

DOOM's FM tunes are great and the ESS audio drives have one of the better OPL3 clones out there. Fire up youtube and compare.
If it's broke, then fix it!
User avatar
badmojo
l33t
 
Posts: 2752
Joined: 2011-10-11 @ 04:14
Location: Australia

Re: Improving on the basic general midi?

Postby firage » 2018-2-02 @ 08:39

It's not an SNES quality synth, and very poor for approximating wavetable MIDI scores, but has a lot of character and charm. The simple FM version of Doom E1M1 is actually my favorite above all the different GM renditions.
User avatar
firage
Oldbie
 
Posts: 976
Joined: 2013-1-06 @ 21:43
Location: Finland

Re: Improving on the basic general midi?

Postby Gahhhrrrlic » 2018-2-02 @ 15:32

Don't get me wrong, it's not like nails on a chalkboard.. in fact I would even say it's "familiar" but after hearing the X2 for example, I was expecting a very low-quality version of that but I didn't understand how the midis were created without the midi board at that time.

Also I've had much more recent experience with the AWE64 which, (correct me if I'm wrong) has a crude midi synth built in right? Maybe that's why I thought it should sound better. It was probably a very long time since I've heard the FM version of the midi score.
Gahhhrrrlic
Member
 
Posts: 203
Joined: 2017-12-05 @ 00:39

Re: Improving on the basic general midi?

Postby bristlehog » 2018-2-08 @ 16:19

Gahhhrrrlic wrote:I follow you... but midi is basically a set of instructions telling the wavetable which instruments to play right? If there's no daughterboard or equivalent, where are the instruments coming from which are being synthesized by the FM synth? Does doom contain PCM copies or something that the ESS chip can play like it does sound effects?


MIDI commands tell the MIDI compatible synthesizer which instruments to select on which channel. MIDI commands do not care about the synthesizer being wavetable, FM or any other type of synthesizer. It's like 'select piano on channel 3 and I don't give a fuck how exactly you'll do it'.

FM synths usually don't understand MIDI commands. To play MIDI music over them, you need a man-in-the-middle who will translate MIDI commands on-the-fly to the FM synthesizer commands, including but not limited to instructing FM synthesizer how to emulate this or that musical instrument.
User avatar
bristlehog
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1589
Joined: 2013-4-11 @ 17:56
Location: Russia

Re: Improving on the basic general midi?

Postby bristlehog » 2018-2-08 @ 16:23

Gahhhrrrlic wrote:AWE64 which, (correct me if I'm wrong) has a crude midi synth built in


AWE32 and AWE64 are based on EMU 8000 synthesizer, which was very advanced synth and sampler, with ability to load custom samples and an effect processor. Alas, default sample set of AWE32/64 is not very pleasing; however, some games (like Magic Carpet II: Netherworlds) nevertheless really shine on AWE32.
User avatar
bristlehog
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1589
Joined: 2013-4-11 @ 17:56
Location: Russia

Re: Improving on the basic general midi?

Postby yawetaG » 2018-2-09 @ 08:51

FYI, a small correction:

bristlehog wrote:General MIDI commands tell the General MIDI compatible synthesizer which instruments to select on which channel. <snip>

FM synths usually don't understand General MIDI commands. To play General MIDI music over them, you need a man-in-the-middle who will translate General MIDI commands on-the-fly to the FM synthesizer commands, including but not limited to instructing FM synthesizer how to emulate this or that musical instrument.


FM synths on motherboards and soundcards can play General MIDI sounds if the manufacturer's driver supports translation of GM to the proper FM synth settings, yes.

MIDI commands do not care about the synthesizer being wavetable, FM or any other type of synthesizer. It's like 'select piano on channel 3 and I don't give a fuck how exactly you'll do it'.


General MIDI is the one with the standardized (more or less...) set of 128 instruments (and variations). MIDI (without the 'general') is a standard for communication between electronic music devices. General MIDI is a subset of this.
If you send General MIDI commands for a specific sound (e.g. piano) to a synth (be it wavetable, FM, linear, or whatever) that does not support General MIDI, the synth won't know what exactly to do with those commands and the results may be unexpected, with a patch that isn't piano getting selected instead. However, that synth will still be compatible with the broader MIDI standard.
E.g. a Yamaha TX816 FM synth is not General MIDI compatible, but is fully controllable over MIDI nonetheless.
yawetaG
Oldbie
 
Posts: 940
Joined: 2016-6-14 @ 14:36
Location: Netherlands

Re: Improving on the basic general midi?

Postby bristlehog » 2018-2-09 @ 17:06

yawetaG wrote:FYI, a small correction


You are right. I had General MIDI on my mind but failed to mention it.
User avatar
bristlehog
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1589
Joined: 2013-4-11 @ 17:56
Location: Russia

Re: Improving on the basic general midi?

Postby Falcosoft » 2018-2-09 @ 20:33

yawetaG wrote:FYI, a small correction:
General MIDI commands tell the General MIDI compatible synthesizer which instruments to select on which channel. <snip>

Just a small correction of the correction :)
There is no such thing as a 'General MIDI command' concerning instrument selection. On one part instead of 'command' it's usually called message/event. And the message that controls instrument selection is the 'Program Change' message and this message is the same on different midi systems (even on pre-GM like the MT-32 or on GM, GS, XG, GM2). Only the interpretation of Data Byte 1 of a Program Change message is different according to the specification of a particular midi system.
So while on a GM device program number 127 is the 'Gun Shot' instrument on MT-32 it's 'Jungle Tune'.
Code: Select all
Message          Status Byte     Data Byte1       Data Byte2
------------     -----------     -----------     ------------
Program Change     0xCn          Program number    None

n in the status byte stands for the channel number.
User avatar
Falcosoft
Oldbie
 
Posts: 580
Joined: 2016-5-21 @ 13:46
Location: Pécs, Hungary


Return to Sound

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: PARUS and 4 guests