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First post, by the_ultra_code

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Hello VOGONS memebers!

I have an... interesting question.

I currently have installed on my P3 Slot 1 machine Doom and Doom 2 w/ expansions that I run under MS-DOS mode, and I began using with Doom 2 (because when I was playing Doom 2 I acquired one) a Roland SC-88 w/ SoftMPU for MIDI playback along with my AWE64 Value for sound effects. Now, I'm thinking that I might want to upgrade that system to a slightly newer platform - a socket 370 800-series chipset motherboard w/ Tualatin support and no ISA slots. Obviously, that would mean that I wouldn't be able to use the AWE64, and, if I did want to use MS-DOS mode, I would have to forgo whatever benefits the AWE64 had over comparable PCI sound cards, and then have to deal with all the DOS games that are looking for an ISA sound card. Now, one option (and probably the best for A+ compatibility) is to move my Doom installations to my P1 system, which has an AWE64 Gold and all. However, I only have room for two PCs in my retro setup (one of them being my late Win98/early XP P4 machine; not moving that), so if I would want to play any DOS games that fancy me on real hardware, I would have to spend a few minutes pulling the P1 system together and all. While not hard to do, it would be... dissuading, in terms of convenience.

The other options I have are emulation/source ports. The first, obvious solution would be DOSBox - it emulates straight DOS, and, if I remember correctly, supports external MIDI devices; more likely than not, if I hooked up my SC-88 to my modern PC running DOSBox using the official Roland USB-to-MIDI adapter and set everything up properly, it would all work just fine, and any sound effects differences between the emulated sound card in DOSBox and a real-life AWE card (to me any how) would be hard to differentiate.

The other, more potentially complicated solution are source ports - the main focus of this thread. AFAIK, some of these source ports use some of the original Doom game files, while rewriting the whole Doom engine - not much emulation beyond sound (if I am correct). Now, (finally) my question is this - does anyone know any source ports that support external MIDI devices? It seems that ZDoom might (if someone could verify, that would be nice), but do any of the alternatives do to?

Sorry for the long, drawn-out intro. Felt the context was necessary. Also, in advance, sorry if this topic doesn't fit perfectly into this branch of VOGONS, since this is focused on software that runs on Windows, not DOS - thought the "Windows" branch wouldn't be appropriate, since Doom and Doom 2 are DOS games, "Software" is focused on older hardware, not modern systems, "DOSBox General" is, well, DOSBox, and that isn't the main focus here really, and "PC Emulation" isn't focused on software (at least games anyhow). Felt like this is somewhat the best place to post this. *shrug* 😒

Anything would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Reply 1 of 26, by dr_st

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Most modern DOOM source ports can play MP3/OGG/WAV music, and you can just download pre-recorded Roland MIDI output tracks. This is probably the easiest way to get high-quality and original-sounding music in modern DOOM source ports.

Reply 3 of 26, by M-HT

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But only if the source port uses OS's midi mapper and doesn't use softsynth directly.

More to the point: I don't have personal experience with source ports, but based on the description, PrBoom+ should support external MIDI devices (if the OS supports them). I have no idea about other source ports.

Reply 4 of 26, by SuperDeadite

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GZDoom allows you to choose any MIDI device you have connected. It recognizes and lets me choose between all 6 output ports on my Yamaha UW500.

Modules: CM-64, CM-500, SC-55MkII, SC-88 Pro, SY22, TG100, MU2000EX, PLG100-SG, PLG150-DR, PLG150-AN, SG01k, NS5R, GZ-50M, SN-U110-07, SN-U110-10, Pocket Studio 5, Dreamblaster X2

Reply 6 of 26, by the_ultra_code

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dr_st wrote:

Most modern DOOM source ports can play MP3/OGG/WAV music, and you can just download pre-recorded Roland MIDI output tracks. This is probably the easiest way to get high-quality and original-sounding music in modern DOOM source ports.

I mean, it's a nice feature, but *shrug* eh, not what I plan to do, really. Or, at least not yet. I mean, if I have the hardware, why not put it to good use, no? 😀

M-HT wrote:

But only if the source port uses OS's midi mapper and doesn't use softsynth directly.

More to the point: I don't have personal experience with source ports, but based on the description, PrBoom+ should support external MIDI devices (if the OS supports them). I have no idea about other source ports.

SuperDeadite wrote:

GZDoom allows you to choose any MIDI device you have connected. It recognizes and lets me choose between all 6 output ports on my Yamaha UW500.

Okay, that's good. I might try PrBoom+, but GZDoom is one of the more popular options, so I'll start with that.

Azarien wrote:

You can try CoolSoft MIDIMapper to select default MIDI device in Windows 8 and later.

Actually already have that installed. I have to use it alongside MIDI-OX to connect my MT-32 to my PC for the MT-32 OST to be played by Dune Dynasty (a Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty source port; even then, I had to take the SC-55 sound files and rename them to the MT-32 ones just for the MT-32 to work 😒 ).

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* USB2 PCI Card in Win98 SE
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Reply 7 of 26, by dr_st

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the_ultra_code wrote:
dr_st wrote:

Most modern DOOM source ports can play MP3/OGG/WAV music, and you can just download pre-recorded Roland MIDI output tracks. This is probably the easiest way to get high-quality and original-sounding music in modern DOOM source ports.

I mean, it's a nice feature, but *shrug* eh, not what I plan to do, really. Or, at least not yet. I mean, if I have the hardware, why not put it to good use, no? 😀

It all depends on your goals: do you want to enjoy DOOM with good music or do you want to tinker with old hardware?

Even though the title of VOGONS suggests it to be the former, most folks actually seem to be more focused on the latter, and your truly is frequently among them. 😉

Reply 8 of 26, by the_ultra_code

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dr_st wrote:
the_ultra_code wrote:
dr_st wrote:

Most modern DOOM source ports can play MP3/OGG/WAV music, and you can just download pre-recorded Roland MIDI output tracks. This is probably the easiest way to get high-quality and original-sounding music in modern DOOM source ports.

I mean, it's a nice feature, but *shrug* eh, not what I plan to do, really. Or, at least not yet. I mean, if I have the hardware, why not put it to good use, no? 😀

It all depends on your goals: do you want to enjoy DOOM with good music or do you want to tinker with old hardware?

Even though the title of VOGONS suggests it to be the former, most folks actually seem to be more focused on the latter, and your truly is frequently among them. 😉

I mean, while is can become a pain in the ass to deal with old hardware, I will say, once everything works, putting convenience aside, who wouldn't want to tinker with old hardware a bit? At least that's my opinion. 😀

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Other:
* USB2 PCI Card in Win98 SE
* Futuremark Result Browsers

Reply 9 of 26, by Neco

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Dosbox + external gear should work. But you'll need coolsoft to do it because there is some stupidity in the way modern windows addresses the MIDI device chain.

When I first got my SC-55 one of the first things I did was get things setup and did some tests with DOOM, Duke Nukem, etc to see if I could get it to play. It works, I think I had to mess with some config file stuff too, but it does work.

So for convenience either Dosbox or a sourceport that lets you select the device you want to use, will do the job.

Reply 10 of 26, by MusicallyInspired

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I made my SC-55 Music Packs website specifically to aid people in experiencing classic shooters with the classic hardware sound of an SC-55 (they utilize metadata loop tags for seamless looping for the source ports that support it).

I definitely appreciate wanting to use your actual module, though. I didn't realize source ports removed MIDI output altogether. That's a shame. They should support selecting MIDI devices all by themselves like DOSBox can. At the very least, my packs are as authentic as possible without using the actual module and can be more convenient to use for the people who don't like bothering with the whole setup. But again, I love using the actual hardware. That's why I got it!

Roland SC-55 Music Packs - Duke Nukem 3D, Doom, Hocus Pocus, Descent, and more.
Latest release: Heretic Music Pack (12/12/18)

Reply 11 of 26, by Malvineous

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@MusicallyInspired: OT but I really like your music packs! Do you have any plans to go back and re-record those songs that didn't get recorded properly the first time? e.g. for Rott one of the channels drops out in smooth,ogg at 0:07-0:10, spray.ogg at 0:55-0:58 and stairs.ogg at 1:43-1:56.

Reply 12 of 26, by MusicallyInspired

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I do. I haven't been able to focus on it very much in the past couple years. But it's "on my list". Along with the Heretic and Hexen soundtracks.

Roland SC-55 Music Packs - Duke Nukem 3D, Doom, Hocus Pocus, Descent, and more.
Latest release: Heretic Music Pack (12/12/18)

Reply 14 of 26, by Salient

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NewRisingSun wrote:

I am about to obtain a Roland SC-55 mkII (with its increased 28-voice polyphony), so I could help record tracks from these games.

Be aware though, that even though it has increased polyphony, you actually will run into more issues with note cut-off than with the first generation sc-55. This is due to the fact that some of the sounds on the sc-55 Mk2 are made of multiple layers (more than one voice) simultaneously.

Also, the sc-55 Mk2 doesn't support capital tone fallback, which leads (in rare cases only) to -NO INSTRUMENT- on some channels sometimes.

The latter is also true though for mark 1's with firmware greater than 1.20.

MIDI comparison website: << Wavetable.nl >>
(Always) looking for: Any Wavetable daughterboard, MIDI Module (GM/GS/XG)

Reply 15 of 26, by NewRisingSun

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Several instruments are two-layered on the original SC-55 as well. Should polyphony issues arise, then the mkII should be quiet enough to record each song twice, each time with half of the channels muted, and mix the recordings together afterwards, using an initial Rim Shot (or Side Stick, as it's called by Roland) as synchronization.

The NO INSTRUMENT problem is mainly a problem with drum kits, specifically, with composers using drum map 49 instead of 48 to select the Orchestra kit, probably because they got confused by the annoying habit of some MIDI-related manuals and publications having 1-based tables even though all actual communication is 0-based. I have already written myself a small C program that parses Standard MIDI Files and either warns or remaps invalid drum map numbers the way an original SC-55 would (based on an old Space Quest V General MIDI patch of mine), so I would be covered on that front. I suppose I could extend it to cover bad controller 0/program change situations as well.

Reply 16 of 26, by the_ultra_code

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NewRisingSun wrote:

Several instruments are two-layered on the original SC-55 as well. Should polyphony issues arise, then the mkII should be quiet enough to record each song twice, each time with half of the channels muted, and mix the recordings together afterwards, using an initial Rim Shot (or Side Stick, as it's called by Roland) as synchronization.

The NO INSTRUMENT problem is mainly a problem with drum kits, specifically, with composers using drum map 49 instead of 48 to select the Orchestra kit, probably because they got confused by the annoying habit of some MIDI-related manuals and publications having 1-based tables even though all actual communication is 0-based. I have already written myself a small C program that parses Standard MIDI Files and either warns or remaps invalid drum map numbers the way an original SC-55 would (based on an old Space Quest V General MIDI patch of mine), so I would be covered on that front. I suppose I could extend it to cover bad controller 0/program change situations as well.

Salient wrote:
Show quote
NewRisingSun wrote:

I am about to obtain a Roland SC-55 mkII (with its increased 28-voice polyphony), so I could help record tracks from these games.

Be aware though, that even though it has increased polyphony, you actually will run into more issues with note cut-off than with the first generation sc-55. This is due to the fact that some of the sounds on the sc-55 Mk2 are made of multiple layers (more than one voice) simultaneously.

Also, the sc-55 Mk2 doesn't support capital tone fallback, which leads (in rare cases only) to -NO INSTRUMENT- on some channels sometimes.

The latter is also true though for mark 1's with firmware greater than 1.20.

The question I have is: Are there any similar problems with running a SC-88 in SC-55 mode, because I have an SC-88 in my possession. 😀

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Reply 18 of 26, by Spikey

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It's pretty close, but it isn't the same, as NRS says. Also, "Strings" (patch 48) that he mentions is used widely In soundtracks, one of the most common patches.

Reply 19 of 26, by MusicallyInspired

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Incidentally, not to derail (and please remove or split if you feel this is hijacking, just figured since we're already talking about it I would share this), but I've resumed work on Heretic's soundtrack at long last. I recorded the entire soundtrack and discovered many problems I wasn't happy with. Then I discovered a thread on Doomworld where some new information has come to light from Kevin Schilder himself which reveals that he did not use the SC-55 (already knew that), Ensoniq TS-10, or any other synth module to compose. Instead he just had "the latest Sound Blaster", which was likely the AWE32. That means he composed it (and Hexen) entirely for OPL-based cards with wavetable cards being a mere afterthought (and you can tell, honestly). I know that AWE32 obviously is a wavetable PCM card as well, but considering how off balance wavetable sounds and how the OPL version sounds, it makes sense. He also said he did a lot of tweaking with placement of MIDI notes, moving them slightly off tempo so that too many notes wouldn't trigger at the same time and screw up the polyphony (this is very prevalent in the percussion on E1M1).

In light of this, and the fact that the SC-55 playback of the soundtrack is no where near as good or balanced as OPL (there are instruments you can't even hear buried in the mix on the SC-55 and, in particular, the Synth Strings patch used has such a slow attack envelope that it sounds like it's constantly trying to keep up with the song but is lagging like half a beat behind, compared to the OPL strings which has an immediate attack and makes the songs sound much more lively), I'm taking an entirely different approach with these games and changing patches to more closely resemble the OPL patches and structure, fixing off-beat note tweaks, and even creating seamless loop points (some of the original tracks would just end and sometimes not even loop on beat). I'll record various tracks separately to stay under the polyphony limit and bounce them all together for the final tracks. I'm also going to use some of the GS instruments because why not at this point? I'll call them "Deluxe Edition" or "Enhanced" music packs or something.

Roland SC-55 Music Packs - Duke Nukem 3D, Doom, Hocus Pocus, Descent, and more.
Latest release: Heretic Music Pack (12/12/18)