VOGONS


First post, by DosFreak

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http://www.soulsphere.org/random/pcspkr10.txt
http://www.soulsphere.org/random/pcspkr10.zip

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Doom PC speaker file format description

by Simon Howard (fraggle) and Andrew Apted (ajapted)

26 February, 2007

=============================================================================

----------------
COPYRIGHT NOTICE
----------------

Copyright (C) 2007 Simon Howard. Verbatim copying is allowed provided
this notice is kept attached.

---------
CONTENTS:
---------

[1] Introduction
[2] File format
[2-1] Lump naming
[2-2] Header
[2-3] Data format
[2-4] Frequency table
[3] Method of research

[1]: Introduction
=================

When Doom was released in 1993, digital sound cards were not as ubiquitous
as they have now become. As a result, a large percentage of PCs did not
have the ability to play digital audio.

To work around this problem, when Id wrote Doom they included support for
two different sound formats. The main one is the digital sound format,
which supports 8-bit mono sound effects; this is used for the sound blaster
and all other sound cards supported by Doom. The second is the PC speaker
format, which uses the speaker built in to every PC to make basic beeping
sound effects.

PC speaker sound effects can be enabled by setting snd_sfxdevice to 1
in the Doom configuration file (usually named default.cfg).

While the basic structure of PC speaker sound effects has been known
since the early days of Doom (see the Unofficial Doom Specs), its
complete format has not been properly documented before now. The
reasons for this are mainly those of indifference: the ubiquity of
digital sound cards means that there is little interest in playing PC
speaker sound effects.

Determining the format of PC speaker sound effects has been made more
difficult as the code to play them is not present in the released Doom
source code: either it depended on the proprietary DMX sound library or
was simply removed with the other sound code before the source release.

[2]: File format
================

[2-1]: Lump naming
==================

The PC speaker sound data is stored in the main IWAD file, along with other
resources used by Doom. The IWAD contains a lump resource for each sound
effect, each of which has a name up to 8 characters long. The first
two characters of each PC speaker effect are "DP"; the remaining six
characters identify the sound. This is the same format as is used for
digital sound effects, which use the prefix "DS". The six character
names match those used for the digital effects.

As an example, the digital sound effect for firing the pistol is named
"DSPISTOL"; the corresponding PC speaker sound effect is "DPPISTOL".

[2-2]: Header
=============

PC speaker effects have a four byte header. The first two bytes are
always zero. The third and fourth bytes are a 16-bit little endian value
specifying the length of the sound effect in samples. The sample rate
is 140 samples per second; for example, a sound effect 70 samples long
will take half a second to play.

[2-3]: Data format
==================

Immediately following the header is the sound sample data; the number of
samples is specified in the header. Each sample is a single byte.

The sample values map to frequencies: higher sample values correspond to
higher frequencies. The scale used is a musical one: the samples
correspond to frequencies of notes in the western musical scale. As
such, the frequency of the notes increases exponentially. There are
24 values per octave, whereas the western musical scale has 12 semitones
per octave. The sample values are in fact a superset of the western
musical scale, with an extra value inserted between each semitone.

As a consequence of the above, adding 24 to the value of a sample will
double the frequency. The values start at 175Hz, which is a low "F".

A table of the frequencies is given in section 2-4.

A value of zero indicates silence.

[2-4]: Frequency Table
======================

This table specifies the frequency for values in PC speaker sound effects.
The value is given along with the corresponding output frequency and the
precise counter value which should be programmed into the 8253 timer chip
found in PCs to give this frequency.

This table is only given for the range 0..95, which is the range of values
used by the Doom PC speaker sound effects. It is not known if higher
values are supported.

In some cases, the frequency is off by one or two hz, this is due to
loss of precision in calculations, and is an inherent limitation of
the 8253 chip.

Value Counter Frequency(Hz) Note
-------------------------------------------------------------
0 - - Silence
1 6818 175.00 F-3
2 6628 180.02
3 6449 185.01 F#3
4 6279 190.02
5 6087 196.02 G-3
6 5906 202.02
7 5736 208.01 G#3
8 5575 214.02
9 5423 220.02 A-3
10 5279 226.02
11 5120 233.04 A#3
12 4971 240.02
13 4830 247.03 B-3
14 4697 254.03
15 4554 262.00 C-4
16 4435 269.03
17 4307 277.03 C#4
18 4186 285.04
19 4058 294.03 D-4
20 3950 302.07
21 3836 311.04 D#4
22 3728 320.05
23 3615 330.06 E-4
24 3519 339.06
25 3418 349.08 F-4
26 3323 359.06
27 3224 370.09 F#4
28 3131 381.08
29 3043 392.10 G-4
30 2960 403.10
31 2875 415.01 G#4
32 2794 427.05
33 2711 440.12 A-4
34 2633 453.16
35 2560 466.08 A#4
36 2485 480.15
37 2415 494.07 B-4
38 2348 508.16
39 2281 523.09 C-5
40 2213 539.16
41 2153 554.19 C#5
42 2089 571.17
43 2032 587.19 D-5
44 1975 604.14
45 1918 622.09 D#5
46 1864 640.11
47 1810 659.21 E-5
48 1757 679.10
49 1709 698.17 F-5
50 1659 719.21
51 1612 740.18 F#5
52 1565 762.41
53 1521 784.47 G-5
54 1478 807.29
55 1435 831.48 G#5
56 1395 855.32
57 1355 880.57 A-5
58 1316 906.67
59 1280 932.17 A#5
60 1242 960.69
61 1207 988.55 B-5
62 1173 1017.20
63 1140 1046.64 C-6
64 1107 1077.85
65 1075 1109.93 C#6
66 1045 1141.79
67 1015 1175.54 D-6
68 986 1210.12
69 959 1244.19 D#6
70 931 1281.61
71 905 1318.43 E-6
72 879 1357.42
73 854 1397.16 F-6
74 829 1439.30
75 806 1480.37 F#6
76 783 1523.85
77 760 1569.97 G-6
78 739 1614.58
79 718 1661.81 G#6
80 697 1711.87
81 677 1762.45 A-6
82 658 1813.34
83 640 1864.34 A#6
84 621 1921.38
85 604 1975.46 B-6
86 586 2036.14
87 570 2093.29 C-7
88 553 2157.64
89 538 2217.80 C#7
90 522 2285.78
91 507 2353.41 D-7
92 493 2420.24
93 479 2490.98 D#7
94 465 2565.97
95 452 2639.77 E-7

[3]: Method of research
=======================

Although the basic structure of the file format is relatively trivial to
reverse engineer, the mapping of sample values to actual frequencies has
not been known until now.

The frequencies were found by running DOS Doom inside a modified version
of DOSBox. This version of DOSBox was instrumented to output the timer
values written to the emulated 8253 timer chip (PCSPEAKER_SetCounter in
dosbox/src/hardware/pcspeaker.cpp). Doom was then run using a WAD
containing a replacement DPPISTOL lump, crafted to cycle through all
of the sample values from 1..95. The output from DOSBox then gave the
timer countdown value for each sample. These were put into a spreadsheet
and used to calculate the corresponding frequency.

Attachments

  • Filename
    pcspkr10.zip
    File size
    18.29 KiB
    Downloads
    286 downloads
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception

DOSBox Compilation Guides
DosBox Feature Request Thread
PC Game Compatibility List
How To Ask Questions The Smart Way
Running DRM games offline

Reply 2 of 5, by Wintermute

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Hm, this seemed like a big amount of work - and kind of useless.
Actually I was one of the people who had a computer without a soundcard back then and had to endure the PC Speaker sound in Doom. The only thing I can say about it that it sounded horrible. 😉
I definitely don't want to reactivate it again.

Edit: Watched the beginning of the posted video. Argh - bad memories. As I said: Terrible!
I am almost certain they reused a lot of the sounds from Commander Keen. 😉

Reply 4 of 5, by Wintermute

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I am sure, that this is quite a challenge and also an interesting project from the programming/hacking point of view.

But the usability is quite nonexistent - in my opinion.
And I don't think you'll really learn anything specific which could help you in other projects - aside from general reengineering tactics, but this could learn from other more useful projects as well.

As the author noticed, ID even removed the PC speaker code from the released source code - probably because they thought, that noone would be interested in it. 😉
Also noone else has tried it for all this years - for the same reason.

Reply 5 of 5, by abyss

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I have the doom 1 shareware and it has pc speaker. I played the full version and it had pc speaker so doesn't doom already have pc speaker sounds. I have only played the gba version of doom 2 so i don't know if that's the doom your talking about. I play doom 1 with adlib for music and pc speaker for sound fx.