VOGONS


AWEstruck...

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Reply 20 of 82, by Mau1wurf1977

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Descent 2 also sounds very good on the AWE. I think that card does well with electronic music genres in general.

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Reply 21 of 82, by Cloudschatze

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F2bnp wrote:

Damn. These are fantastic. So, does the game upload a SoundFont on the card or is this the 1MB ROM doing some kind of voodoo trickery?

Both, really. The drum loops and guitar-riff samples are from the RAM-based SoundFonts, but the synth lead in "Tracks 5&6," for example, is ROM-based, but heavily LPF-and-resonance-modified using NRPNs. The Zone Raiders examples are all ROM-based as well.

Synth-wise, the EMU8000 is easily comparable with the GS chip in Roland's SC-55, and yet vastly superior considering the additional effects and RAM-based elements.

There seems to be a greater quantity of explicit EMU8000 support out there than has been previously assumed. System Shock is another title that is very likely best heard on an EMU8000-based card. I'll certainly have to investigate, but this may apply to Descent 2 as well, as Mau1wurf1977 mentions. Most of the titles involved will be CD-ROM based.

As relates to the EMU8000, there are three categories that need to be considered and investigated. Let's call them "EMU8000 Advanced Synth/Effect Support" (because Creative apparently couldn't be bothered to coin something catchy like "GS" or "XG"...), "SoundFont Support," and "3D Positional Audio".

EMU8000 Advanced Synth/Effect Support
Hi-Octane (Bullfrog)
Magic Carpet 2 (Bullfrog)
Pyrotechnica (Psygnosis)
Zone Raiders (Virgin)

SoundFont Support
Battle Arena Toshinden (TAKARA/PIE) - Music
Dungeon Keeper (Bullfrog) - SFX
Eradicator (Accolade) - SFX
EverQuest (989 Studios) - Music (SF2 format)
F-22 - Air Dominance Fighter (Digital Image Design) - Music (SF2 format)
F-22 - Total Air War (Digital Image Design) - Music (SF2 format)
Final Fantasy VII (Eidos/Squaresoft) - Music (SF2 format)
Hi-Octane (Bullfrog) - Music
Magic Carpet 2 (Bullfrog) - Music
Road Rash (Papyrus) - Music
Terra Nova (Looking Glass) - Music
(The) Perfect General II (Quantum Quality Productions) - SFX/Music
Ultima Online (EA/Origin - Music (SF2 format)

3D Positional Audio
Eradicator (Accolade)
Rebel Moon (Fenris Wolf) unverified

Last edited by Cloudschatze on 2014-03-20, 15:26. Edited 12 times in total.

Reply 22 of 82, by bristlehog

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Very interesting. I've looked into sound driver systems these games are using.

EMU8000 Synth/Effect Support (NRPN)
Hi-Octane (Bullfrog) - RAD MSS 3.02
Magic Carpet 2 (Bullfrog) - RAD MSS 3.02
Pyrotechnica (Psygnosis) - Sound Images 1.11
Zone Raiders (Virgin) - RAD MSS 3.03

SoundFont Support
Dungeon Keeper (Bullfrog) - SFX - RAD MSS 3.6
Eradicator (Accolade) - SFX - RAD MSS 3.5 (but AWE32 programming is obviously not done via MSS drivers)
GeneWars (Bullfrog) - ??? unverified - RAD MSS 3.04
Hi-Octane (Bullfrog) - Music - RAD MSS 3.02
Magic Carpet 2 (Bullfrog) - SFX/Music - RAD MSS 3.02

3D Positional Audio
Eradicator (Accolade) - RAD MSS 3.5 (AWE32 programming is not done via MSS drivers)
Rebel Moon (Fenris Wolf) unverified - HMI SOS

Hardware comparisons and game system requirements: https://technical.city

Reply 23 of 82, by d1stortion

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If this topic is about "AWE-optimized" games in whatever shape or form, one could go by a broader definition and name probably a lot of other games with AWE drivers which don't necessarily use fancy stuff like NRPNs and soundfonts, but still for whatever reason have a slightly different output when using the AWE driver as compared to the MPU-401 one, so you could argue that one would get something "unique" on these cards apart from the mediocre ROM samples themselves; Duke Nukem 3D is an example here. Whether one should use the (buggy as hell) native AWE driver or the General MIDI setting in Win9x, with the option of loading GS banks for extra drumsets is a matter of taste I suppose...

Filename
dukeawe.mp3
File size
1.94 MiB
Downloads
125 downloads
File comment
"AWE 32" setting
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Filename
dukegm.mp3
File size
1.99 MiB
Downloads
109 downloads
File comment
"General MIDI" setting, no extra banks loaded
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Filename
dukegs.mp3
File size
1.95 MiB
Downloads
119 downloads
File comment
"General MIDI" setting, 512 KB GS banks loaded
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

It could also be mentioned in the list that Eradicator offers two soundfont sets, one for 512 KB cards and one for 4 MB cards, if I recall correctly...

Reply 24 of 82, by bristlehog

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d1stortion wrote:

It could also be mentioned in the list that Eradicator offers two soundfont sets, one for 512 KB cards and one for 4 MB cards, if I recall correctly...

erad.png

Hardware comparisons and game system requirements: https://technical.city

Reply 25 of 82, by bjt

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elianda wrote:

Gravis showed that this can be solved very well with a TSR (MegaEM) that uses the API of an expanded memory manager to catch port accesses to 0x3x0h while staying compatible with software using dos extenders

I would love to know how this is done. The EMM386 port traps don't fire in protected mode, likely because the DOS extender replaces the TSS or alternatively intercepts the exceptions and doesn't pass them to EMM386.

EDIT: OK this is how: http://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail. … Id=WO1998011489

Reply 26 of 82, by Cloudschatze

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d1stortion wrote:

If this topic is about "AWE-optimized" games in whatever shape or form, one could go by a broader definition and name probably a lot of other games with AWE drivers which don't necessarily use fancy stuff like NRPNs and soundfonts, but still for whatever reason have a slightly different output when using the AWE driver as compared to the MPU-401 one, so you could argue that one would get something "unique" on these cards apart from the mediocre ROM samples themselves...

I'd prefer to focus on native AWE support, in hopes of finding additional titles that make use of the advanced EMU8000 feature-set. Furthermore, doing so eliminates a lot of the subjectivity relative to when the AWE cards are used as "generic" devices through use of AWEUTIL.

Certainly, one of the goals here is to counter the amazingly pervasive notion of mediocrity surrounding the AWE cards, and as stated in the first post, the best means of doing this in a more objective manner is by experiencing soundtracks that have been explicitly composed for, arranged, or optimized for use with the EMU8000 chipset.

Reply 27 of 82, by d1stortion

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You are right, I mainly threw this in because those "minor" differences between native AWE drivers and GM mode w/ ROM samples aren't discussed a lot (or rather, at all), yet still may be interesting to some. Obviously games which are composed more specifically for the EMU8k are better suited to show off the capabilities.

Final Fantasy VII has specific soundfont support for those cards, have never tried this and not sure on the size of that however.

Reply 28 of 82, by Mr. Bluntman

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Mau1wurf1977 wrote:

Descent 2 also sounds very good on the AWE. I think that card does well with electronic music genres in general.

I played the original Descent a TON with an AWE32 PnP. I can vouch that that game sounds great with it as well!

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Reply 29 of 82, by Mr. Bluntman

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d1stortion wrote:

You are right, I mainly threw this in because those "minor" differences between native AWE drivers and GM mode w/ ROM samples aren't discussed a lot (or rather, at all), yet still may be interesting to some. Obviously games which are composed more specifically for the EMU8k are better suited to show off the capabilities.

Final Fantasy VII has specific soundfont support for those cards, have never tried this and not sure on the size of that however.

I have tried it, and the results are damn close to the game running on original PlayStation hardware (although "One Winged Angel" is lacking the vocal samples of the PlayStation original). They are 4MB in size, so if you have an AWE64 Gold you are already good to go. Otherwise, it's off to eBay to grab some 30-pin SIMMs to get it working. Well worth the investment, IMO.

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Reply 30 of 82, by NewRisingSun

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Going back to the original post: the AWE32 on-board samples sound grungy and non-distinct. A composition that uses this non-distinctness for effect will sound bad on the clear but distinct SC-55, similar to how a synth piece that uses the AdLib's trumpet in a "synth brass" function would sound silly when played by a realistic trumpet sound. I personally find the SC-55 to be rather bad-sounding, especially after hearing its samples in their uncompressed versions on the CM-64 and its expansion cards.

Reply 31 of 82, by d1stortion

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Mr. Bluntman wrote:

I have tried it, and the results are damn close to the game running on original PlayStation hardware (although "One Winged Angel" is lacking the vocal samples of the PlayStation original). They are 4MB in size, so if you have an AWE64 Gold you are already good to go. Otherwise, it's off to eBay to grab some 30-pin SIMMs to get it working. Well worth the investment, IMO.

Do you think this sounds better than the XG MIDIs?

I only have an AWE64 Value, can't try it right now then... and given the price of SIMMConn might as well look at an AWE64 Gold 😀

NewRisingSun wrote:

Going back to the original post: the AWE32 on-board samples sound grungy and non-distinct. A composition that uses this non-distinctness for effect will sound bad on the clear but distinct SC-55, similar to how a synth piece that uses the AdLib's trumpet in a "synth brass" function would sound silly when played by a realistic trumpet sound. I personally find the SC-55 to be rather bad-sounding, especially after hearing its samples in their uncompressed versions on the CM-64 and its expansion cards.

The SC-55 is a fairly low-end module (at least in the grand scheme of synthesizers) from 1991, what can you expect?

Keeping that in mind, there are enough samples on there that I would consider timeless due to having an own character in a positive sense... others not so much, particularly the 1991 "dental drill" approximation of electric guitars is rather interesting to say the least 😀 not that guitar-heavy pieces would sound any better on the EMU 1 MB ROM, as indicated by the examples posted above.

Reply 32 of 82, by Mr. Bluntman

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d1stortion wrote:

Do you think this sounds better than the XG MIDIs?

I am inclined to say no. I only briefly had an XG MIDI PCI card, and from what I could tell before it fried, FFVIII sounded very accurate in comparison to the PlayStation. Ultimecia's Castle sounded spot on. Then one at a time the channels went out and *poof* no audio.

Granted 8 had no soundfont support and by the time I was getting ready to test it with 7 the card let out the magic smoke. 😒

However this was years and years ago. I would need to grab another card off eBay in order to offer a truly informed opinion.

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Reply 33 of 82, by Cloudschatze

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There are a number of USENET references stating that the only means of hearing the vocals in "One Winged Angel," using the PC version of Final Fantasy VII, is through use of one or more of the included SoundFont (SF2) banks. Can anyone verify, perchance?

In other news, "The Perfect General II" has been added to the list of SoundFont-supporting titles listed above.

Reply 35 of 82, by PeterLI

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The good thing about the AWE32 is that it is very cheap and common compared with a Roland MPU & Sound Canvas setup. 😀

Unless you get a SC-7/55(MKII) cheap and hook it up to any sound card with SoftMPU. Unless the AWE32 is used for specific games that have the music composed for the AWE32 like the posts above indicate.

Just my perspective. 😀

Reply 37 of 82, by Cloudschatze

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I think the noise concerns are a bit overstated - especially as relates to the later AWE32 cards - and properly configuring the mixer certainly mitigates most of it. Some of the other "noise-related" issues pertain to the CODEC chip itself, so I'd certainly recommend seeking-out and using a card with the CT1703 CODEC.

Musically, there's also the S/PDIF output (that I happen to make use of). Yeah, what noise? 😀

I've never been particularly fond of Creative's soundcards, but the AWE32 is definitely one card that I feel they got "right."

Final Fantasy VII, EverQuest, and Ultima Online (courtesy of Great Hierophant) have been added to the list of SoundFont-supporting titles.

Last edited by Cloudschatze on 2014-03-20, 15:29. Edited 1 time in total.