Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

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

Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2016-6-10 @ 11:49

Just in case there are doubts, please do not attach any more files to do with modifying Roland SC VA software in any way shape or form.
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby James-F » 2016-6-10 @ 11:54

KainXVIII wrote:Ok, still its little cumbersome to install all that stuff, maybe i just stick to Phil's solution :blah:

Are you using Dosbox or a retro PC?
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby KainXVIII » 2016-6-10 @ 11:57

James-F wrote:
KainXVIII wrote:Ok, still its little cumbersome to install all that stuff, maybe i just stick to Phil's solution :blah:

Are you using Dosbox or a retro PC?

Dosbox.

still its little cumbersome to install all that stuff

Its about falcosoft midi player, not roland user attachments =)
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby James-F » 2016-6-10 @ 12:08

KainXVIII wrote:
still its little cumbersome to install all that stuff

Its about falcosoft midi player, not roland user attachments =)


You need 4 things:
1. Dosbox.
2. LoopMIDI.
3. Falcosoft Midi Player.
4. SC-VA.

Watch this video by PhilsComputerLab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WumRboSfn90

This time create two loopMIDI ports.
First goes into FSMP, the other goes out of FSMP and into SC-VA.
Dosbox goes into the First port.
* Make sure you enable CTF in FSMP and use the SC-55 instrument map.

Dosbox -> FSMP -> SC-VA.

That's it.
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby KainXVIII » 2016-6-10 @ 13:02

James-F wrote:
KainXVIII wrote:
still its little cumbersome to install all that stuff

Its about falcosoft midi player, not roland user attachments =)


You need 4 things:
1. Dosbox.
2. LoopMIDI.
3. Falcosoft Midi Player.
4. SC-VA.

Watch this video by PhilsComputerLab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WumRboSfn90

This time create two loopMIDI ports.
First goes into FSMP, the other goes out of FSMP and into SC-VA.
Dosbox goes into the First port.
* Make sure you enable CTF in FSMP and use the SC-55 instrument map.

Dosbox -> FSMP -> SC-VA.

That's it.

Thanks!
So i need to be sure that midi player AND savihost (where i need to set sc-88 back to sc-55 every time) is already launched before i run the game? That what i call a little cumbersome :dead:

PS - also default midi out device is greyed out in coolsoft virtualmidisynth for some reason..
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby James-F » 2016-6-10 @ 13:18

So i need to be sure that midi player AND savihost...That what i call a little cumbersome.

Yes... you also have to wake up, wash your face, brush your teeth, go to work, return home, turn on your computer, launch dosbox.
All there before launching FSMP and SAVIHost!, that's what I call cumbersome. :lol:

PS - also default midi out device is greyed out in coolsoft virtualmidisynth for some reason..

Can't you select anything?
Are there no ports available at all, not even Microsoft GS Wavetable?
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby Roland User » 2016-6-10 @ 13:20

KainXVIII »

This is strange )
LoopMIDI start with Windows ?
If LoopMIDI is not running, the list of ports will simply not relevant.

If you very wanting runned automaticaly , then easy create shortcut to your savihost file and add this shortcut in autorun )
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby Deep Thought » 2016-6-27 @ 10:34

So I've got this set up using the trial before deciding whether to purchase the plug-in or a used SC-55.
I would much rather use the plug-in if it's truly comparable to the real thing since that lets me handle the analog conversion with modern hardware, instead of a DAC from 1991.

The problem that I'm running into is that the output from SCVA seems to be very quiet.
I have to lower the sound effects in ZDOOM to about 30% for the mix to sound correct for example.
Is that to be expected?
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby Roland User » 2016-6-27 @ 12:53

Deep Thought
The problem that I'm running into is that the output from SCVA seems to be very quiet.
I have to lower the sound effects in ZDOOM to about 30% for the mix to sound correct for example.
Is that to be expected?


I about this written before , so ,me answered what volume gain not needed. Even if SCVA played very silent. I not offered making this on default , i offered making this so that would be selected by user.
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby James-F » 2016-6-27 @ 13:47

Deep Thought wrote:The problem that I'm running into is that the output from SCVA seems to be very quiet.
I have to lower the sound effects in ZDOOM to about 30% for the mix to sound correct for example.
Is that to be expected?

Yes this is by design.
When a lot of instruments playing together, SC-VA can actually reach 0.0db on the digital scale and clip, therefor the base level is quite low in comparison to modern super compressed music.
Actually, the hardware SC-55 also has to be set below half on the volume dial to not clip the amplifiers at the SC-55 output.
Just lower the game volume by windows mixer or internal game mixer.
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby Roland User » 2016-6-27 @ 14:20

James-F
All OK , but you say about 16 bit dynamic range. If take account what now 24 bit have dynamic range more than dynamic range 16 bit , can be upped volume gain without clipping.
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby Deep Thought » 2016-6-27 @ 20:51

James-F wrote:
Deep Thought wrote:The problem that I'm running into is that the output from SCVA seems to be very quiet.
I have to lower the sound effects in ZDOOM to about 30% for the mix to sound correct for example.
Is that to be expected?

Yes this is by design.
When a lot of instruments playing together, SC-VA can actually reach 0.0db on the digital scale and clip, therefor the base level is quite low in comparison to modern super compressed music.
Actually, the hardware SC-55 also has to be set below half on the volume dial to not clip the amplifiers at the SC-55 output.
Just lower the game volume by windows mixer or internal game mixer.

That makes sense.
The issue is compounded by the fact that I normally run my playback device at about 30% volume too, so the output ends up playing at ~9% and I had to turn the volume control on my DAC/Amp way up.
So I'll have to see about setting the playback device to 100%, and then reducing the game volume to match SCVA's output.

Do we know exactly how much the volume is attenuated by the plug-in?
It would be good to have an exact match rather than estimating what the mix between PCM/MIDI should be.

Is it sufficiently attenuated to prevent clipping with most/all real-world content?
I can't imagine you have 16 channels all set to max volume for example.
Makes me wonder the same about munt too.

Roland User wrote:James-F
All OK , but you say about 16 bit dynamic range. If take account what now 24 bit have dynamic range more than dynamic range 16 bit , can be upped volume gain without clipping.
Increasing the bit-depth expands the dynamic range downwards, while clipping happens at the loud end of the scale.
So whether you have a 16-bit, 24-bit, or 32-bit DAC, it would clip at the same point.

Higher bit-depths means that there is less noise on playback when you attenuate the volume to prevent clipping though.
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby James-F » 2016-6-28 @ 04:56

Deep Thought wrote:Is it sufficiently attenuated to prevent clipping with most/all real-world content?
I can't imagine you have 16 channels all set to max volume for example.
Makes me wonder the same about munt too.


I think so.
The attached midi is one of the loudest real world game examples which reach 0.0db in SC-CA in certain place, it is from Descent 2.
Also, Warcraft 2 game midis are very loud and occasionally (rarely though) clip SC-VA.
Descent 2 - Game 2.zip
This one clips SC-VA output.
(40.29 KiB) Downloaded 46 times

SC-VA is not super compressed as modern music is, it retains ALL the dynamic range so the average level seems low.
If you listen to the original CD "Brothers in Arms" by Dire Straits from the 80's the average level is -20dbFS and retains all the dynamic range in comparison to today's super loud super compressed music which is around -3dbFS and has only 3db of dynamic range.
SC-VA is designed to be used in a DAW so you record clean dynamic unclipped music and only then compress the shit out of it at the mastering stage, like in modern music.

Deep Thought wrote:Increasing the bit-depth expands the dynamic range downwards, while clipping happens at the loud end of the scale.
So whether you have a 16-bit, 24-bit, or 32-bit DAC, it would clip at the same point.

Right.
16bit has 96db of dynamic range where the digital noise floor resides at -96dbFS RMS, roughly 6db for each bit.
24bit will have its noise floor at around -144dbBF, 32bit at -192dbFS, and so on, this is for internal processing of the Audio devices or recording DAW software.
Most professional power amplifiers are only as good as 16bit-18bit THD+N @ 1W (normal listening level), considering the efficiency of the speakers.
Most op-amps at the inputs or outputs of professional audio devices are also around 16bit of self noise.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, but it's not the place anyway. :happy:

I didn't even bother to answer the fellow (Roland User), he is one of these "special" members.
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby Roland User » 2016-6-28 @ 09:26

Descent 2 - Game 2.zip
With record on SB Audigy RX What U Hear range -1.2 dB in peak
But only in this MIDI File haved loud sound.
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby Deep Thought » 2016-6-28 @ 10:04

Thanks again for the reply, and the attached MIDI file.
I had found some MIDI tracks that were approaching clipping at the default volume, but none which actually did.

I really wish that there were markings or that the plug-in told you the volume level as you adjust it.
There seems to be 60 positions for the volume control, and 40/60 brings the peaks of that track to about -3 dBFS which is as loud as I'd risk pushing it.
That track isn't using all the channels at once in its loudest parts though, so there's still potential for other tracks to clip - but that's probably fine.
If you want to be really safe it might be best to run the plug-in at 50% volume, if you have the amplification to make up for it.

However I've run into a big issue: every time a new track is played, the volume level resets to 100%.
Do you know if that's a limitation of the plug-in, or just the trial version?
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby James-F » 2016-6-28 @ 10:27

Deep Thought wrote:However I've run into a big issue: every time a new track is played, the volume level resets to 100%.
Do you know if that's a limitation of the plug-in, or just the trial version?


The volume knob has 127 "clicks" as the midi standard permits.
Most midi players will send a Reset command before playing each song, this will bring SC-VA (or a real hardware) to initial defaults.
This behavior is actually desired and expected in midi players because the next song may use the setting of the previous song (and sound wrong) if the next midi song does not call for a change in these settings.
If you use SC-VA in SAVIHost set it to "Soft Clipping" which behaves more like a Mastering Compression that will prevent the plugin from clipping and makes the distortion barely audible if it goes above 0.0dbFS.

It is safe to say that the SC-VA plugin is well programmed and balanced even with the loudest midi files, Roland actually put some thought into this, kudos.
The same can not by said about Yamaha S-YXG50 plugin which I set to -10db in its settings to match the volume of SC-VA.
I got my hardware SC-55 MKII on 1/3 of the volume (facing the power led) to prevent internal clipping of the op-amps and get the cleanest most dynamic undistorted sound.
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby Deep Thought » 2016-6-28 @ 11:26

Ah, I thought the VST plug-in's volume control was an internal processing volume level (presumably 32/64-bit floating point) and not the MIDI volume level.
So there's no way to prevent it clipping with particularly loud tracks then, if the volume is reset on track change?

Since you own the real hardware, do you recommend that over the plug-in?
I can get real SC-55 hardware for less than the cost of the plug-in, but having access to different versions of the Sound Canvas hardware (e.g. SC-88 for Duke Nukem) and being able to use my own DAC instead of going through an analog mixer is still appealing.
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby James-F » 2016-6-28 @ 11:50

Deep Thought wrote:So there's no way to prevent it clipping with particularly loud tracks then, if the volume is reset on track change?

When SC-VA loaded into a DAW (not SAVIHost) its processing is actually in 32bit floating point, so there is no clipping when you lower the fader volume no matter how loud is the input midi.
But even in SAVIHost, clipping is very rare only with the utter most loud midi/games like Descent 2, and this also barely heard when Soft Clipping is enabled.

Deep Thought wrote:
Since you own the real hardware, do you recommend that over the plug-in?

Actually no, the SC-VA will do the SC-55 fine unless you are VERY picky, plus the SC-VA has greater polyphony even for tracks that were created on the SC-55.
I use DOSBox more than my retro PC, so the SC-55 is there for science :happy: , and SC-VA is used more often.
Go for the SC-VA if you use DOSBox more often and want all the Sound Canvas units of the past in one plugin.
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby Deep Thought » 2016-6-28 @ 15:12

James-F wrote:
Deep Thought wrote:So there's no way to prevent it clipping with particularly loud tracks then, if the volume is reset on track change?

When SC-VA loaded into a DAW (not SAVIHost) its processing is actually in 32bit floating point, so there is no clipping when you lower the fader volume no matter how loud is the input midi.
But even in SAVIHost, clipping is very rare only with the utter most loud midi/games like Descent 2, and this also barely heard when Soft Clipping is enabled.
Aha - well that was easily solved.
Rather than using a DAW, VSTHost seems to work well for that: http://www.hermannseib.com/english/vsthost.htm

You don't get the nice "synth as an app" look that you do with SAVIHost, but you do get floating-point volume control with peak meters in a very lightweight host which can minimize-to-tray.
The audio output options still aren't ideal, but using ASIO (possibly via ASIO4ALL) solves that.

James-F wrote:
Deep Thought wrote:
Since you own the real hardware, do you recommend that over the plug-in?

Actually no, the SC-VA will do the SC-55 fine unless you are VERY picky, plus the SC-VA has greater polyphony even for tracks that were created on the SC-55.
I use DOSBox more than my retro PC, so the SC-55 is there for science :happy: , and SC-VA is used more often.
Go for the SC-VA if you use DOSBox more often and want all the Sound Canvas units of the past in one plugin.
SC-VA does seem like the way to go now that I've got most of this sorted out.
I'll probably play around with the trial a bit more first, but it looks like I'll probably be purchasing it soon.
Thanks so much for your help. I'm completely new to all of this MIDI stuff.
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Re: Heads Up: Roland Sound Canvas VA VSTi Plugin!

Postby James-F » 2016-6-28 @ 15:21

Deep Thought wrote:Aha - well that was easily solved.
Rather than using a DAW, VSTHost seems to work well for that: http://www.hermannseib.com/english/vsthost.htm

I failed to mention VSTHost, but it was so obvious that I lazed out to edit the post. :happy:
But again, the times SC-VA clips are extremely rare and mostly inaudible.

BTW, you can do the opposite of lowering the level of your game to the output of SC-VA;
You can put a mastering/brickwall plugin after SC-VA and bring it up to the level of the game without actually clipping, but as a result you squash all its dynamics.
I vote against doing that, just lower you game level and turn up your speakers.

Deep Thought wrote:Thanks so much for your help. I'm completely new to all of this MIDI stuff.

My pleasure, soon you'll be an expert, google is your friend.

Cheers.
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