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First post, by bakcom

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Are there CD image mounters other than Daemon Tools that support CD audio tracks?
Or are there other ways to run Age of Empires/AoE2 with CD/A music?

For AoE2 there's "UserPatch" with MP3 support, but I'm not sure if it handles audio the same as the original game.

Reply 2 of 8, by Osprey

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This doesn't really address your question, but I've found that the game's MIDI music sounds superb and, IMO, slightly better than the CD music, when you use the Roland SC-55 soundfont from the following thread:

Soundfonts that mimic old hardware (SC-55, DX50XG, AWE64 Gold)
(for those who don't know what to do with that, download CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth and add that soundfont to it)

AoE's music, after all, was created as MIDI and then recorded to CD, so you're actually listening to the source when you listen to the MIDI. You lose the odd sound effect and vocals that were added to the CD recordings, but I find those recordings to have that slightly muddy sound that's typical of 1990s CD quality. The MIDI sounds so good to me that I'm perfectly fine not having the CD audio. Anyways, it's something that you may care to try (if you haven't already) before you spend a lot of time with the CD tracks.

Reply 3 of 8, by mr_bigmouth_502

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Osprey wrote:
This doesn't really address your question, but I've found that the game's MIDI music sounds superb and, IMO, slightly better tha […]
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This doesn't really address your question, but I've found that the game's MIDI music sounds superb and, IMO, slightly better than the CD music, when you use the Roland SC-55 soundfont from the following thread:

Soundfonts that mimic old hardware (SC-55, DX50XG, AWE64 Gold)
(for those who don't know what to do with that, download CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth and add that soundfont to it)

AoE's music, after all, was created as MIDI and then recorded to CD, so you're actually listening to the source when you listen to the MIDI. You lose the odd sound effect and vocals that were added to the CD recordings, but I find those recordings to have that slightly muddy sound that's typical of 1990s CD quality. The MIDI sounds so good to me that I'm perfectly fine not having the CD audio. Anyways, it's something that you may care to try (if you haven't already) before you spend a lot of time with the CD tracks.

So it's kind of like Warcraft II's music then. I remember music sounded nearly identical to the CD when you set it to General MIDI on a Soundblaster PCI 128.

My NEW(ish) desktop:
p8cqsw-2.png

Reply 4 of 8, by bakcom

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ogg-winmm looks promising, and in a way a simpler solution than mounting CD images if it works reliably.

And interesting to find out that there are new software MIDI synths. I might try VirtualMIDISynth too, but I rather liked the original CD/A, which would be considered the canonical music. 😀

WinGroove was nice for some things, but I was never truly happy with sample-based MIDI. MOD/S3M/etc. were made exactly as intended by the author, so they sounded better. I guess sample synths were cool and advanced in the old days, but for games, retro would be Adlib for me.

Reply 5 of 8, by Osprey

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Here's a great link that I originally used to compare with:

www.vgmpf.com/Wiki/index.php/Age_of_Empires_(W32)

It has all of the tracks from the game in 3 different formats: the CDA tracks recorded to .ogg files, the MIDI tracks recorded to .ogg files and the original MIDI files (further down the page). The "1xx" tracks are the CD tracks and the "2xx" tracks are the recorded MIDIs. Compare, for example, track 101 with track 201 to see which you prefer. If you prefer the CD tracks, you can simply download all of them from that site, rather than ripping them, yourself. If you prefer the MIDI tracks, you can download those recorded versions and use ogg-winmm or just do what I suggested above and use VirtualMIDISynth with the Roland SC-55 soundfont. To me, the game's MIDI music with the SC-55 soundfont sounds exactly like the recorded MIDIs on that page.

Reply 6 of 8, by bakcom

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Trying AoE2, I actually couldn't get ogg-winmm to work (ZellSF's compile from here, both DLL variants: CD audio missing - my research [fixed!]), nor plain MIDI. I prefer the Ogg option, though even if I wanted to try MIDI I don't see any such files around, unlike in AoE1. Is MIDI supposed to be an option in AoE2?

Reply 7 of 8, by Osprey

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I could be wrong, but I don't think that AoE2 had MIDI music.

_inmm is another option (an alternative to ogg-winmm) for ripping and using CD tracks. I'm guessing that this is the best version to use and here's a guide to using it (particularly useful because the program's documentation is in Japanese). It's an older solution than ogg-winmm, but I know of someone who used it just a few weeks ago to rip and enable the CD audio for The Incredible Machine 3. Here's the link to his package, in case his instructions and seeing how he put it together is helpful.

Reply 8 of 8, by bakcom

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Thanks. I'll try that next.

Right now I'm first trying UPatch HD for AoE1 (with expansion), which supposedly can play MP3 music somehow.
While AoE2 music worked with Daemon Tools, so far it doesn't in AoE1/AoE1 exp.

And... UPatchHD is unideal. As far as I can tell is just plays MP3s in sequential order, without mapping specific CD track numbers to MP3s.

BTW: Regarding the CD tracks being the same as high-quality MIDI renders, something I read on AOE Heaven suggests the CD tracks do have extra features and maybe some real instruments.