Wing Commander II with MT-32 gives wrong sound effects

Getting old DOS games working on modern hardware. (DOSBox topics belong in DOSBox areas below, not here).

Wing Commander II with MT-32 gives wrong sound effects

Postby tpowell.ca » 2019-2-27 @ 16:22

So I built a C3 Ezra gaming rig which I'm able to slow down easily to 386 speeds.
I've tried everything I can think of to get Wing Commander II working right, but no matter what, the sound effects played by the MT-32 are wrong.
The music itself is fine, as are the Sound Blaster sound effects.

I tried speeding things up, slowing things down to the point where the intro was getting out of sync from the music but the issue persists.
I thought maybe my installation was corrupted so I copied the game files from my Deluxe Edition CD-ROM but no dice.

I'm using a HardMPU MPU-401 card, with DelaySysex on and off.
The CPU had L1, L2, Instruction Cache and Branch Prediction disabled. The FSB was set to 50MHz and I managed to even get the multiplier down to 3x (150MHz) without freezing.
I set the 8 and 16bit IO recovery time to 8 and 4 respectively.
I also tried to disable the sound/speech support and only have the MT-32.

Has anyone seen this issue?

Note, I tried using an MT-32 new in hardware and an MT-32 old via MUNT and a MIDI-USB adapter. The results were identical. Good music, bad sound effects.
    Merlin: MS-4144, AMD5x86-160, 32MB, 16GB CF, ZIP100, ESS688, GUS, S3 VirgeGX 2MB, HardMPU
    Newton: K6XV3+/66, AMD K6-III+500, 256MB, 32GB SSD, AWE32, GUS 16MB, Voodoo3-3k
    Einstein: P8P400, P4-3GHz HT, 1.5GB, Quadro4 980XGL, Live!
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Re: Wing Commander II with MT-32 gives wrong sound effects

Postby tpowell.ca » 2019-2-27 @ 17:48

I should clarify that the sound effects I speak of are especially noticeable in the intro such as the fireworks after the fanfare, and the ships launching missiles at the TCS Tiger's Claw as well as the subsequent explosions.
    Merlin: MS-4144, AMD5x86-160, 32MB, 16GB CF, ZIP100, ESS688, GUS, S3 VirgeGX 2MB, HardMPU
    Newton: K6XV3+/66, AMD K6-III+500, 256MB, 32GB SSD, AWE32, GUS 16MB, Voodoo3-3k
    Einstein: P8P400, P4-3GHz HT, 1.5GB, Quadro4 980XGL, Live!
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Re: Wing Commander II with MT-32 gives wrong sound effects

Postby clueless1 » 2019-2-27 @ 18:14

tpowell.ca wrote:I should clarify that the sound effects I speak of are especially noticeable in the intro such as the fireworks after the fanfare, and the ships launching missiles at the TCS Tiger's Claw as well as the subsequent explosions.

How do you know they are wrong? What do they sound like vs what are they supposed to sound like? I have an MT-32 old that I could test on with those sounds you mentioned (fireworks and missile launch/explosion). Maybe what I've always thought was normal is wrong too?
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Re: Wing Commander II with MT-32 gives wrong sound effects

Postby tpowell.ca » 2019-2-27 @ 19:16

Warning: sorry for the quality, for simplicity I used my cell to record the sound and video.

https://youtu.be/hlWN9Xq-2X0
    Merlin: MS-4144, AMD5x86-160, 32MB, 16GB CF, ZIP100, ESS688, GUS, S3 VirgeGX 2MB, HardMPU
    Newton: K6XV3+/66, AMD K6-III+500, 256MB, 32GB SSD, AWE32, GUS 16MB, Voodoo3-3k
    Einstein: P8P400, P4-3GHz HT, 1.5GB, Quadro4 980XGL, Live!
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Re: Wing Commander II with MT-32 gives wrong sound effects

Postby NewRisingSun » 2019-2-27 @ 19:46

Sounds like the custom timbres are reaching the MT-32 only partially. It cannot be that the custom timbre transfer has failed completely, because one of the explosion sound effects at the end of the Origin FX logo sequence is played, and when the Wing Commander II logo appears. You did not mention it, but I assume your MT-32 is not displaying any checksum errors? But then I read the following:
tpowell.ca wrote:and an MT-32 old via MUNT
You mean, the emulated MT-32 sounds just as wrong? Because then I would say your game files, possibly on the CD-ROM itself, are just corrupted.
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Re: Wing Commander II with MT-32 gives wrong sound effects

Postby tpowell.ca » 2019-2-27 @ 20:16

Thanks for the help.
I found the culprit. The HardMPU card is somehow acting up. When I use my Yamaha YMF744 card with softMPU, the sound effects and music are perfect.

The card wasn't cheap, I hope it can be fixed or I can figure out what's wrong.
    Merlin: MS-4144, AMD5x86-160, 32MB, 16GB CF, ZIP100, ESS688, GUS, S3 VirgeGX 2MB, HardMPU
    Newton: K6XV3+/66, AMD K6-III+500, 256MB, 32GB SSD, AWE32, GUS 16MB, Voodoo3-3k
    Einstein: P8P400, P4-3GHz HT, 1.5GB, Quadro4 980XGL, Live!
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Re: Wing Commander II with MT-32 gives wrong sound effects

Postby cyclone3d » 2019-2-27 @ 22:06

Sounds to me like the music and sounds are being played too fast. The old Wing Commander games were known for being very speed sensitive.

With the Yamaha card, I am not really surprised it doesn't have the same issue as it is a PCI card.

Try slowing the system down to around 33Mhz. Anything running at over 33Mhz will have issues with the old Wing Commander games. I went from a 386SX-25 which played it fine to a 386DX-40 and it played too fast.

Disabling the CPU and motherboard cache in BIOS might slow it down enough.
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Re: Wing Commander II with MT-32 gives wrong sound effects

Postby tpowell.ca » 2019-2-28 @ 02:26

cyclone3d wrote:Sounds to me like the music and sounds are being played too fast. The old Wing Commander games were known for being very speed sensitive.

With the Yamaha card, I am not really surprised it doesn't have the same issue as it is a PCI card.

Try slowing the system down to around 33Mhz. Anything running at over 33Mhz will have issues with the old Wing Commander games. I went from a 386SX-25 which played it fine to a 386DX-40 and it played too fast.

Disabling the CPU and motherboard cache in BIOS might slow it down enough.


Yup, that is the obvious problem in most cases, but here I got it down to 150MHz with all caches disabled. On a VIA C3 Ezra, let me tell you, that is FAR from fast.
20190227_132136~01~01.jpg

I just think that my HardMPU card has an issue with the combination of the Wing Commander game and my computer somehow.
All other speed sensitive games I've tried seem to work perfectly. :confused:
    Merlin: MS-4144, AMD5x86-160, 32MB, 16GB CF, ZIP100, ESS688, GUS, S3 VirgeGX 2MB, HardMPU
    Newton: K6XV3+/66, AMD K6-III+500, 256MB, 32GB SSD, AWE32, GUS 16MB, Voodoo3-3k
    Einstein: P8P400, P4-3GHz HT, 1.5GB, Quadro4 980XGL, Live!
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