VOGONS


First post, by zorilla

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Anybody here remember WinGroove? I made a soundfont that recreates it.

PXrkn0Z.png

This is the program that introduced me to wavetable MIDI synthesis, and has therefore become etched into my mind as the reference for how MIDI music should sound. Like most PC users in the late 1990s, I was stuck with a Sound Blaster compatible card with OPL synthesis, so this was a huge step up in sound quality. Unforunately, WinGroove was a 16-bit application built for Windows 3.1, and it didn't really see any meaningful updates after 1996. I must have used it in its existing form all the way up to 2010, when I had to upgrade to a 64-bit version of Windows (which dropped 16-bit application support).

I only just got back into MIDI recently, and after discovering CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth and soundfont editors, I decided to make a WinGroove soundfont so I could enjoy its sound once again:

Download here (v1.2): https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IiJ85BSVqbn … ss4X2W_IESsSh8l

If using CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth, be sure to enable the setting labelled "Use sinc interpolated sample mixing..." For some reason, this setting is turned off by default. This soundfont uses a lot of samples at reduced sample rates and this greatly improves the quality of their playback.

Last edited by zorilla on 2019-08-23, 21:23. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 1 of 18, by Jorpho

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Oh yes, I remember WinGroove. Didn't it come with a MIDI rendition of Stayin' Alive? It was very impressive at the time, except of course on my 486 it was so CPU-intensive that practically nothing would be done while it was in use.

Reply 2 of 18, by zorilla

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It came with three original songs composed by the program author: Cold Waves, Mark Harry Bay Blues, and T.K. Eats My SHxxTS (seen above). As you might expect, they're very Japanese and contain a lifetime supply of cheesy MIDI guitar solos.

I didn't come across WinGroove until 1998 or 1999, and we had a Pentium 133 MHz with no L2 cache. You could play back songs and even compose them without too much hassle, but games would suffer tremendously.

Reply 3 of 18, by Joey_sw

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There are 10 drumsets in WinGroove, you can check that by enabling the "Instruments Window" in its settings.

  1. Standard Kit 1
  2. Standard Kit 2
  3. Room Kit
  4. Power Kit
  5. Electric Kit
  6. 808 Kit
  7. Dance Kit
  8. Jazz Kit
  9. Brush Kit
  10. Orchestra Kit

-fffuuu

Reply 4 of 18, by autoexecdotbat

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oh, the memmories! I remember it sounding better than the shitstorm that is microsoft gs wavaetable SW synth. It deffinatly aged well for 1996.

to win the game you must defeat coppa!
http://chng.it/DNc2L8LvLJ

Reply 5 of 18, by zorilla

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Joey_sw wrote:
There are 10 drumsets in WinGroove, you can check that by enabling the "Instruments Window" in its settings. […]
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There are 10 drumsets in WinGroove, you can check that by enabling the "Instruments Window" in its settings.

  1. Standard Kit 1
  2. Standard Kit 2
  3. Room Kit
  4. Power Kit
  5. Electric Kit
  6. 808 Kit
  7. Dance Kit
  8. Jazz Kit
  9. Brush Kit
  10. Orchestra Kit

For as long as I've used this program, I've maybe used that feature once or twice in that entire time span. Thanks.

I have updated the soundfont to v1.1, which adds the Dance drumkit, as well as a couple other minor fixes. The link in the OP has been updated.

Reply 6 of 18, by pachuco

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Nice!

A few notes on this subject, if you are still around.
The PCM encoding of WINGROOV.TPD samples is U-LAW, but with lower half of sample inverted.
http://dystopiancode.blogspot.com/2012/02/pcm … algorithms.html

The woodblock instrument(and probably others as well) are waaaay off-pitch.
Unfortunately, Wingroove uses non-melodic note scaling for such instruments, which I don't see doable short of dublicating samples detuned and having a split for each note in the instrument. Ouch!

I will see if I can produce an updated soundfont file, and, failing that, I have attached the decoded samplebank.

Attachments

  • Filename
    WINGROOV_SMPBANK.zip
    File size
    1.47 MiB
    Downloads
    87 downloads
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception

Reply 7 of 18, by zorilla

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Oh wow, somebody with way more knowledge about PCM encoding actually figured out how the sound data was stored. The best I could do was throw whatever encodings Audacity was capable of reading at it and hope it came though.

I'm still around and have actually made small, incremental improvements to the soundfont over the last couple of years, but have neglected to post them here, mostly out of laziness, but also because I didn't want to bombard users with near-meaningless updates that didn't provide significant improvements in quality. These changes are mostly small envelope tweaks and sample fixes for the composite instruments higher in the instrument range (e.g. Polysynth, Space Voice). More importantly, I switched from WinGroove 0.9E to 0.9A Beta-2 0.A4 Beta-2 as my reference, which has proper reverb and chorus CC event support, so I got rid of the forced 50% minimum reverb in each instrument to give the soundfont player full control over those events.

I took a quick look at the Woodblock instrument in WinGroove, and its tuning still appears to be exponential, but at a reduced scale. Unless there is something else going on that I'm missing, this should be as simple as adjusting the "Tuning (scale)" value for that instrument in the soundfont. I've already had to do this once or twice to a couple other instruments, but I can't remember which ones (probably toms).

Edit: almost that simple. I also had to change the root key from 70 to 60 since the reduced scalar WinGroove uses centers on that note, and then tune the sample down 10 semitones instead. I'd be interested in knowing what other inconsistencies you find, as I'm sure I've missed several, even after two years.

I'm glad to see that others are interested in developing and improving on this soundfont and pooling their knowledge to make this happen. Since I've already done the hard work of capturing all the samples once already by dubbing them over, I don't know if I'm going to attempt to replace every single sample with the direct rips provided, but they should provide a lot of useful information on where I can save space further. Thanks again for uploading it.

I plan to upload an updated version of the WinGroove soundfont that will serve as v1.2 that will include the woodblock fix, along with all the other changes I talked about earlier.

Last edited by zorilla on 2019-08-23, 19:26. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 8 of 18, by pachuco

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I am using WinGroove A5 as reference.
I'm willing to replace samples with ROM ones, though, I would like to do so from your updated version, so as not to duplicate/undo work(passing the mutex).

Also, I suggest an IM medium for better passing the mutex, if you agree(I'm available on IRC/Discord).

Reply 9 of 18, by zorilla

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WinGroove Soundfont v1.2 has been released (link in OP has also been updated):
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IiJ85BSVqbn … ss4X2W_IESsSh8l

I actually meant to say I was using WinGroove 0.A4 Beta-2 (the latest English language version from whatever information I can scour) and not 0.9A Beta-2. I was going off my notes and must have mis-typed that when I wrote it a long time ago. Hopefully, that means any differences between 0.A4 Beta-2 and 0.A5 should be minor enough not to matter within the context of making a soundfont. The filesize of WINGROOV.TPD is exactly the same between every version of WinGroove I have, which is what matters the most.

I have never used Discord before, but I figure collaboration on a project like this would be a good time to start. I have created an account with the same username as the one used here (zorilla). Edit: I've been told the number after it is important. The full username is zorilla#1963

Last edited by zorilla on 2019-08-24, 02:23. Edited 3 times in total.

Reply 13 of 18, by 1541

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Great project!
That ancient screenshot triggered some old brain synapses - forgotten for a long time!

Windows 98 SE inofficial Service Pack & NUSB (German)
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Reply 15 of 18, by abjectTiramisu

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There are some features of WinGroove that might go beyond the reproduction of the sound.

I have an old MIDI file of the Tenchi-Muyo! Ryo-oh-ki theme (for those of you into 90s anime) that apparently is able to play correctly only using WinGroove. This appears to be dyamically signaling (in some fashion) that channel 9 should be used as a percussion track (like channel 10, but in this case uses the power drums). I'm guessing this is a feature limited to certain XG or XS synthesizers, but might not be a part of the soundfont standard (it will play otherwise like a .

As I cannot attach the MIDI file to the post, here's a link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7r9stbz06fx4z5f/Ten … 0Theme.mid?dl=0

Best of luck to those who can play it.

Reply 16 of 18, by zorilla

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abjectTiramisu wrote on 2020-05-28, 19:31:
There are some features of WinGroove that might go beyond the reproduction of the sound. […]
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There are some features of WinGroove that might go beyond the reproduction of the sound.

I have an old MIDI file of the Tenchi-Muyo! Ryo-oh-ki theme (for those of you into 90s anime) that apparently is able to play correctly only using WinGroove. This appears to be dyamically signaling (in some fashion) that channel 9 should be used as a percussion track (like channel 10, but in this case uses the power drums). I'm guessing this is a feature limited to certain XG or XS synthesizers, but might not be a part of the soundfont standard (it will play otherwise like a .

As I cannot attach the MIDI file to the post, here's a link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7r9stbz06fx4z5f/Ten … 0Theme.mid?dl=0

Best of luck to those who can play it.

This is definitely true for things like reverb and chorus, which are going to affect how faithful this soundfont is going to be to the original softsynth. The way each effect sounds and how much gain is applied relative to the value requested is up to the synthesizer being used, and it inevitably is going to sound different in actual WinGroove than whatever modern soundfont renderer you decide to use.

Strangely, when I tried the MIDI you provided, it worked everywhere except with WinGroove, but I was using Voyetra MIDI Orchestrator Plus to play it back. As soon as I used either the Windows 3.1 Media Player or WG Player, channel 9 was set to drums as expected. MIDI Orchestrator Plus was also refusing to set channel 9 back to melodic instruments when playing other songs when other playback software would do it without issue, so I blame it for not working here.

Support for SysEx commands like these seem to be up to the MIDI playback software, MIDI interface and synth being used. For me, VirtualMIDISynth worked just fine, as did Sound Canvas VA and my SC-88 Pro (connected using a Roland UM-ONE).

One possible pitfall for anybody testing this MIDI file: if you set channel 9 to solo, be sure to leave track 3 unmuted as well since that is where all the SysEx commands are located and channel 9 won't change to drums without it.

Reply 17 of 18, by HanJammer

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Thanks. I loved Wingroove back in the day.
Friend couldn't believe my Opti931 can play midi almost as good as his AWE32 ;D

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