VOGONS


First post, by Daemonrunner

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Sierra was the champion of the MT-32, yet, something seems off with the MT-32 option in Phantasmagoria.

Mainly, the opening portion of the chants is practically inaudible - if you really crank up the volume, it sounds almost like a whisper or a wind sound. Maybe that's how it's supposed to be? The rest of the composition seems fine, but I am not so sure.

The weird part comes in if I use Roland Sound Canvas VA (I set it to SC-55 Map). It sounds exactly the same if I use General Midi or MT-32 options. It makes me think that the MT-32 option is broken as these two options don't sound identical on other games in SCVA (nor should I expect it to). Master of Orion is another game where the Roland MT-32 option sounded terrible on MT-32, but sounded correct on Sound Canvas VA.

I believe the game itself was composed using an SC-55, so using SCVA is the closest thing I will get to the "as intended" sound without using real hardware; but I find it generally curious that the MT-32 option for this game works perfectly on SCVA as well.

I am not expecting the MT-32 version to be superior to the Sound Canvas version at all, I am just wondering if this game has an error with the MT-32 option out of the box. It wouldn't be the first time a game needed an MT-32 patch to fix utilizing the hardware. 😀

I have used both SCUMMVM to force MT-32 Mode and in DOSBox when setting to MT-32 in the Install options and the results are the same.

Reply 1 of 6, by Spikey

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

Hey Daemonrunner,

You're operating under a few correct conceptions, but also a few misconceptions as well. Let's see if I can clear them up.

Sierra was the champion of the MT-32, yet, something seems off with the MT-32 option in Phantasmagoria.

This is correct - for the late 80s and early 90s. Phantas however was written close to the mid 90s, around 94 (release in 95). In 1992 already, Sierra had switched MIDI devices to the Roland SC-55 (GM). Phantas falls into the category of "later SC-55 (GM) games where Sierra didn't really put any effort into MT-32 conversion/support", as does KQ7, SQ6, LSL6 and a few later games. So it's not surprising that it sounds poor with the MT-32 in large parts.

Mainly, the opening portion of the chants is practically inaudible - if you really crank up the volume, it sounds almost like a whisper or a wind sound. Maybe that's how it's supposed to be? The rest of the composition seems fine, but I am not so sure.

What does "the chants" mean? I assume you don't mean the digital song "Consumite Furore", so I'm guessing some early MIDI piece in the game? I've never played the game, but I do have the master MIDI and digital files for the soundtrack, so I'm fairly familiar with it and the background of its composition.
Please let me know which chapter it falls in, too, so I can try and duplicate it. Save files of course welcome, unless it's right at the start or something.

Additional question - are you playing in DOS or Windows? I'm thinking DOS, since you've mentioned install options. If I'm correct, when you say "MT-32 option", you mean the MT-32 driver in the install program, right?

The weird part comes in if I use Roland Sound Canvas VA (I set it to SC-55 Map). It sounds exactly the same if I use General Midi or MT-32 options. It makes me think that the MT-32 option is broken as these two options don't sound identical on other games in SCVA (nor should I expect it to). Master of Orion is another game where the Roland MT-32 option sounded terrible on MT-32, but sounded correct on Sound Canvas VA.

SCVA is known to have several bugs. GM and MT-32 map sounding the same is a mistake, they have completely different instrument maps, so there's no possibility to "sound the same". For example, Soprano Sax in GM is something like Slap Bass in the MT-32 with regards to program numbers.
They might by accident sync up on a track or two because a few programs have the same instrument number, like pianos and strings, but beyond that..

Additionally, "MT-32 mode" in a SC-55 (or SCVA) is NOT the same as the MT-32 for Phantas, either in terms of instrument maps or waveforms. Not sure if you know, but the MT-32 is a synthesizer, it uses both waveforms and synth parts in tandem with custom/default instruments to create sound. The SC-55 is a ROMpler, it uses predominantly waveforms to create sound.
A SC-55 in MT-32 mode can't play MT-32 custom instruments, only the 128 default. Therefore, it cannot play any MT-32 game which uses anything but the default instruments in the default order (eg Legend of Kyrandia). Phantasmagoria/any Sierra GM game does not use this, it has a custom bank for GM approximation. So no Sierra game is compatible with SC-55's MT-32 emulation, whether MT or GM originally.

This has nothing to do with Sierra's MT-32 driver, of course. Chances are the MIDI files for GM and MT-32 playback are unchanged or close to it (i.e. the GM compositions have minimal changes for the MT-32 "version"), so that's probably a large part of why it sounds sub optimal on the MT-32, it wasn't optimized.

I believe the game itself was composed using an SC-55, so using SCVA is the closest thing I will get to the "as intended" sound without using real hardware; but I find it generally curious that the MT-32 option for this game works perfectly on SCVA as well.

Correct, and correct. Composed with a SC-55. SCVA or the soundfont "Demester SC-55" are probably the two best I've found.

I don't believe that the MT-32 option is working perfectly, it's very probably a mistake. Chances are it isn't using the MT-32 option but has used the GM map instead.

I am not expecting the MT-32 version to be superior to the Sound Canvas version at all, I am just wondering if this game has an error with the MT-32 option out of the box. It wouldn't be the first time a game needed an MT-32 patch to fix utilizing the hardware. 😀

Good. 😉 There's no Sierra GM game that has a superior MT-32 version. Which is logically intuitive, I guess!

I doubt it has an error, although late GM games are basically unplayable on the MT-32, which could be seen as a lack of support or bug. It IS weird that Sierra abandoned the MT-32 pretty much by 1993, when a tiny bit of effort would have made games way more playable with it.

Reply 2 of 6, by Daemonrunner

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
Spikey wrote on 2021-03-16, 10:54:
Hey Daemonrunner, […]
Show full quote

Hey Daemonrunner,

You're operating under a few correct conceptions, but also a few misconceptions as well. Let's see if I can clear them up.

Sierra was the champion of the MT-32, yet, something seems off with the MT-32 option in Phantasmagoria.

This is correct - for the late 80s and early 90s. Phantas however was written close to the mid 90s, around 94 (release in 95). In 1992 already, Sierra had switched MIDI devices to the Roland SC-55 (GM). Phantas falls into the category of "later SC-55 (GM) games where Sierra didn't really put any effort into MT-32 conversion/support", as does KQ7, SQ6, LSL6 and a few later games. So it's not surprising that it sounds poor with the MT-32 in large parts.

Mainly, the opening portion of the chants is practically inaudible - if you really crank up the volume, it sounds almost like a whisper or a wind sound. Maybe that's how it's supposed to be? The rest of the composition seems fine, but I am not so sure.

What does "the chants" mean? I assume you don't mean the digital song "Consumite Furore", so I'm guessing some early MIDI piece in the game? I've never played the game, but I do have the master MIDI and digital files for the soundtrack, so I'm fairly familiar with it and the background of its composition.
Please let me know which chapter it falls in, too, so I can try and duplicate it. Save files of course welcome, unless it's right at the start or something.

Additional question - are you playing in DOS or Windows? I'm thinking DOS, since you've mentioned install options. If I'm correct, when you say "MT-32 option", you mean the MT-32 driver in the install program, right?

The weird part comes in if I use Roland Sound Canvas VA (I set it to SC-55 Map). It sounds exactly the same if I use General Midi or MT-32 options. It makes me think that the MT-32 option is broken as these two options don't sound identical on other games in SCVA (nor should I expect it to). Master of Orion is another game where the Roland MT-32 option sounded terrible on MT-32, but sounded correct on Sound Canvas VA.

SCVA is known to have several bugs. GM and MT-32 map sounding the same is a mistake, they have completely different instrument maps, so there's no possibility to "sound the same". For example, Soprano Sax in GM is something like Slap Bass in the MT-32 with regards to program numbers.
They might by accident sync up on a track or two because a few programs have the same instrument number, like pianos and strings, but beyond that..

Additionally, "MT-32 mode" in a SC-55 (or SCVA) is NOT the same as the MT-32 for Phantas, either in terms of instrument maps or waveforms. Not sure if you know, but the MT-32 is a synthesizer, it uses both waveforms and synth parts in tandem with custom/default instruments to create sound. The SC-55 is a ROMpler, it uses predominantly waveforms to create sound.
A SC-55 in MT-32 mode can't play MT-32 custom instruments, only the 128 default. Therefore, it cannot play any MT-32 game which uses anything but the default instruments in the default order (eg Legend of Kyrandia). Phantasmagoria/any Sierra GM game does not use this, it has a custom bank for GM approximation. So no Sierra game is compatible with SC-55's MT-32 emulation, whether MT or GM originally.

This has nothing to do with Sierra's MT-32 driver, of course. Chances are the MIDI files for GM and MT-32 playback are unchanged or close to it (i.e. the GM compositions have minimal changes for the MT-32 "version"), so that's probably a large part of why it sounds sub optimal on the MT-32, it wasn't optimized.

I believe the game itself was composed using an SC-55, so using SCVA is the closest thing I will get to the "as intended" sound without using real hardware; but I find it generally curious that the MT-32 option for this game works perfectly on SCVA as well.

Correct, and correct. Composed with a SC-55. SCVA or the soundfont "Demester SC-55" are probably the two best I've found.

I don't believe that the MT-32 option is working perfectly, it's very probably a mistake. Chances are it isn't using the MT-32 option but has used the GM map instead.

I am not expecting the MT-32 version to be superior to the Sound Canvas version at all, I am just wondering if this game has an error with the MT-32 option out of the box. It wouldn't be the first time a game needed an MT-32 patch to fix utilizing the hardware. 😀

Good. 😉 There's no Sierra GM game that has a superior MT-32 version. Which is logically intuitive, I guess!

I doubt it has an error, although late GM games are basically unplayable on the MT-32, which could be seen as a lack of support or bug. It IS weird that Sierra abandoned the MT-32 pretty much by 1993, when a tiny bit of effort would have made games way more playable with it.

Yes, I am talking about the MT-32 Driver in the game setup program.

I have used both DOSBox and SCUMMVM - I believe the actual GOG version of the title uses SCUMMVM by default, but I also have the disc .iso to use for DOSBox.

The "chant" is just a Midi version of "Ahhh". It's hard to actually explain the just the main exploration music has like an "Aaaaaaaaah - ah" to it. WHere the first extended "Aaaahs" grow in volume and then the second shorter "aah's" decreases in volume.

The first set of "Aaaah's" using the MT-32 Midi option for the game is like....a weird whispy sound. The second "Aaaah" is just a synthesized sound - something I would probably expect using the MT-32 unless an actual "Aaah" sound gets injected into the MT-32 (I believe the MT-32 allowed for custom sounds, right?).

I probably should have also mentioned I am using Munt for MT-32. So it's possible that Munt is the issue - though it's been pretty flawless on anything I have ever thrown at it.

Anyways, thanks for the reply. It's mostly just a curiosity thing and nothing more.

SC-55 is the way to go for this title regardless.

I just found it curious that using the MT-32 driver option with the SCVA (using SC-55 map) sounded the same as if I selected the General Midi driver option for the game - when one would expect SCVA to not sound correct at all with the MT-32 driver option. It just makes it seem like the MT-32 Driver for the game is bugged. I am guessing, since Sierra ditched MT-32 by this point, the option in the game is simply there to produce music for people that don't have anything else.

Reply 3 of 6, by Spikey

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

I just found it curious that using the MT-32 driver option with the SCVA (using SC-55 map) sounded the same as if I selected the General Midi driver option for the game - when one would expect SCVA to not sound correct at all with the MT-32 driver option.

It's not surprising at all, if you know how things work. Sierra in the late MIDI days (of which Phantas is one of the last MIDI games) put almost zero effort into MT-32 conversions, so the files for the MT-32 driver are almost identical to those that are used for the General MIDI driver. I haven't looked at this game in particular, but I would imagine there's a patch change here or there, and that's it. So it ought to be 95% identical.

MUNT isn't causing any issues, it's identical to MT-32 output (even superior with certain settings).

The "chant" is just a Midi version of "Ahhh". It's hard to actually explain the just the main exploration music has like an "Aaaaaaaaah - ah" to it. WHere the first extended "Aaaahs" grow in volume and then the second shorter "aah's" decreases in volume.

You'll have to be more specific in terms of where in the game it plays 😀 I haven't played the game, although I'm familiar with the plot.

Reply 5 of 6, by Daemonrunner

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

The "chant" is just a Midi version of "Ahhh". It's hard to actually explain the just the main exploration music has like an "Aaaaaaaaah - ah" to it. WHere the first extended "Aaaahs" grow in volume and then the second shorter "aah's" decreases in volume.

You'll have to be more specific in terms of where in the game it plays 😀 I haven't played the game, although I'm familiar with the plot.

I mean, it's literally the background music that plays in Chapter 1 after the FMV at the start of Chapter 1 finishes - and pretty much the only background music that plays when exploring the mansion.

It's hard to explain unless you actually play the game. 😀

Really, though, I think everything you have already explain pretty much sums up the situation regarding the MT-32 option for the game.

Reply 6 of 6, by PerryRhodan

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

I had the same problem with Theme Hospital running under dosbox when selecting Roland MT32 Music . This solution worked for me which I found on the GOG forum. Thanks to JeevesMkII.

Theme hospital has some of the most glorious MIDI music ever composed, but if you never owned the big box CD version you'll probably never know that because the GOG download version comes configured poorly. Even if you do have the CD version, you have to do some prodding at it because the installer doesn't know what its Roland MIDI driver is called, so if you select MIDI passthrough, you'll get no music at all.

To get a decent rendition of the music, go to your theme hospital install directory, navigate to the sound directory and open the mdi.ini file in a text editor.

Replace its contents with:

;
;Bullfrog Sound Config File for Miles Sound System V3.50E
;

DEVICE Roland MT-32 MIDI with MPU-401 MIDI Interface
DRIVER MPU401.MDI
IO_ADDR 330h
IRQ -1
DMA_8_BIT -1
DMA_16_BIT -1

Save the ini file and load theme hospital. Enjoy the glorious sounds of Theme Hospital as it was intended.

If your sound card is awful at rendering MIDI sensibly, you can use somehting like VitualMidiSynth and experiment with different sound fonts.

For those who prefer to play the WIndows version under WIndows 7/8.1/10, I recommend using CosixTH. Play the game at higher resolution with extra zoom and midi music.
https://github.com/CorsixTH/CorsixTH/releases