Which soundfont is more accurate?

Sat May 15, 2021 9:00 pm

I have gzdoom.sf2 and SC-55.sf2, and I am using VirtualMIDISynth. gzdoom.sf2 won't cut the symbols off, which is supposed to happen, and SC-55.sf2 gets the dodo's wrong. What is weird that the worst MIDI OUT device, Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth, gets it right. Fluidsynth does the same stuff, with Timidity++ SC-55.sf2 does the same as VMS, and with GZDoom.sf2 during the organ part Christmas bells start ringing. For context, here is the correct version. Forget libOPN or libADL, they are totally off. Same with GUS emulation, but I just get crackles.


[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPHPJ3CgidU[/youtube]

Re: Which soundfont is more accurate?

Sat May 15, 2021 11:37 pm

yum13241 wrote:I have gzdoom.sf2 and SC-55.sf2, and I am using VirtualMIDISynth. gzdoom.sf2 won't cut the symbols off, which is supposed to happen, and SC-55.sf2 gets the dodo's wrong. What is weird that the worst MIDI OUT device, Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth, gets it right. Fluidsynth does the same stuff, with Timidity++ SC-55.sf2 does the same as VMS, and with GZDoom.sf2 during the organ part Christmas bells start ringing. For context, here is the correct version. Forget libOPN or libADL, they are totally off. Same with GUS emulation, but I just get crackles.


[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPHPJ3CgidU[/youtube]

This "correct" version you've posted has no information about which device is playing it back. It could very easily be the exact same MS GS Wavetable that GZDoom offers, i.e. Windows' default MIDI, which is a slightly bastardized version of what a real Roland SC-55 does. If you want it "accurate" - i.e. to sound exactly the same as Bobby Prince heard while composing the music - you'd need to own a real Roland SC-55. But because that's expensive (that's an item in high demand, especially with the spike in retro-computing-related prices throughout the last year), there are alternatives, such as installing Roland's Virtual Sound Canvas VST (and figuring out how to rig that up as a system MIDI device).

The problem with MIDI, though, is that there are MANY baselines for what is "correct." Do you want it as the original composer intended, even if that's not the version 95% of players heard when the game came out? Do you want to hear it the way most people would have heard it, on the Sound Blasters that were so common at the time of release? Or do you just want to hear something that pleases your ears, regardless of any other external factor?

I mean, I personally have been known to switch devices on a whim because I like the way certain songs sound on some over others. I don't own an SC-55, but I do own an MT-32 and a Yamaha MU-80, both of which have rather pleasing applications if I set them up the right way first.

Re: Which soundfont is more accurate?

Sun May 16, 2021 5:32 pm

wildweasel wrote:
yum13241 wrote:I have gzdoom.sf2 and SC-55.sf2, and I am using VirtualMIDISynth. gzdoom.sf2 won't cut the symbols off, which is supposed to happen, and SC-55.sf2 gets the dodo's wrong. What is weird that the worst MIDI OUT device, Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth, gets it right. Fluidsynth does the same stuff, with Timidity++ SC-55.sf2 does the same as VMS, and with GZDoom.sf2 during the organ part Christmas bells start ringing. For context, here is the correct version. Forget libOPN or libADL, they are totally off. Same with GUS emulation, but I just get crackles.


[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPHPJ3CgidU[/youtube]

This "correct" version you've posted has no information about which device is playing it back. It could very easily be the exact same MS GS Wavetable that GZDoom offers, i.e. Windows' default MIDI, which is a slightly bastardized version of what a real Roland SC-55 does. If you want it "accurate" - i.e. to sound exactly the same as Bobby Prince heard while composing the music - you'd need to own a real Roland SC-55. But because that's expensive (that's an item in high demand, especially with the spike in retro-computing-related prices throughout the last year), there are alternatives, such as installing Roland's Virtual Sound Canvas VST (and figuring out how to rig that up as a system MIDI device).

The problem with MIDI, though, is that there are MANY baselines for what is "correct." Do you want it as the original composer intended, even if that's not the version 95% of players heard when the game came out? Do you want to hear it the way most people would have heard it, on the Sound Blasters that were so common at the time of release? Or do you just want to hear something that pleases your ears, regardless of any other external factor?

I mean, I personally have been known to switch devices on a whim because I like the way certain songs sound on some over others. I don't own an SC-55, but I do own an MT-32 and a Yamaha MU-80, both of which have rather pleasing applications if I set them up the right way first.



They way most people would have heard it would have been OPL synth.

Re: Which soundfont is more accurate?

Sun May 16, 2021 6:08 pm

yum13241 wrote:They way most people would have heard it would have been OPL synth.

Yes? This doesn't contradict anything I said.

Re: Which soundfont is more accurate?

Sun May 16, 2021 11:43 pm

"Correct" is very subjective.
For some people this means to get the same result as the composer intended
For others this means to get the same result they got when they heard something for the first time.
And for others it means to get the best possible rendition current technology allows.

In most cases these 3 are mutually exclusive.

Re: Which soundfont is more accurate?

Mon May 17, 2021 3:52 am

The correct way to experience Doom's music is on an Orchid GameWave32 because it is the soundcard that I had. Anything else is obviously wrong. :p

Re: Which soundfont is more accurate?

Mon May 17, 2021 1:54 pm

I just like to throw in: There is no way to actually have SC-55, SC-88 ,etc SoundFonts and have them reproduce the kind of sound you'd expect from those modules without constantly having to record and sample off the modules and that will easily add up into a 100+ MB file that's not even worth it considering the size of the internal ROM's those modules all have built in. The SoundCanvas line of modules, while they have PCM ROM banks, those PCM samples are put through a lot of filters and other configuration errata to produce the instruments themselves fully. SoundFont 2 specs don't really offer much in the line of ever really being able to reproduce such stages without actually having to simply just keep dozens upon dozens of samples from a actual unit.

While we have a open source project for MT-32 emulation (that requires you to provide ROM images from a actual MT-32 unit), I'm not aware of there being a open source emulation attempt of the SoundCanvas line, and it'd likely be a legal gray area to even have such a project start in the first place.

There is a VSTi that Roland developed that supposedly emulates SoundCanvas modules well, but I have no experience with setting something like that up with GZDoom. And using VST under Linux is a no go anyways.

Re: Which soundfont is more accurate?

Mon May 17, 2021 2:28 pm

KynikossDragonn wrote:SoundFont 2 specs don't really offer much in the line of ever really being able to reproduce such stages

Yes. It's because SF2 specs were designed for Creative cards, not Roland cards, so the values that can be tweaked and the filters that can be applied are those that were relevant to Creative cards. And so there are things missing to emulate properly a Roland card. This was discussed in the later pages of this VOGONS thread: https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=76613

Re: Which soundfont is more accurate?

Mon May 17, 2021 6:15 pm

If you go the Sound Canvas VA route, you can use Savihost to host it without a DAW and use Loop Midi to input midi into it from Zdoom.

Re: Which soundfont is more accurate?

Thu May 20, 2021 9:52 am

Graf is right. Bobby Prince, for an example, made Doom's music on a SC-55. So, it will sound best on a SC-55. Lee Jackson and Bobby Prince made Duke 3D's music on a SC-88. Give grabbag a listen to on a SC-88 and you'll see what I mean. There's also quirks that doesn't carry over to today from yester-yesteryear. An example from me which is a pet peeve that I must ignore is the lack of cymbal crash-mutes on modern solutions. At Doom's Gate's (E1M1) and Running From Evil's (MAP01) build up cymbals does not sound correct with the latest virtual midi synths. No soundfont will fix that. Thus, it won't be accurate.

What is accurate is what your ears are going to like. Use gzdoom, arachno, SGM-v2.01, 8mbgm-emu, FluidR3, etc. Soundfonts. If they sound amazing, then it's accurate for you and your ears. :)

Re: Which soundfont is more accurate?

Mon May 24, 2021 8:40 am

Soundfont is a suggestion; the "accurate" Sound is very subjective. Midi itself has went well beyond it's scope to the point it's a professional sample-based medium for making music these days due to soundfonts and programs to allow to assign samples to each channel. That guy who made FF7 music that's in the style of Doom Eternal? that's essentially Midi. You even have the means to sample anything you want and make the soundfont yourself.

Find yourself a Soundfont (Or make it) and run it through Doom, RoTT, and Duke and if it doesn't sound good the soundfont simply isn't good.
Also a good soundfont would highlight any good Midi composition.

Re: Which soundfont is more accurate?

Mon May 24, 2021 6:50 pm

Kazudra wrote:Midi itself has went well beyond it's scope to the point it's a professional sample-based medium for making music these days

That's basically what it's always been. Well, maybe not initially sample-based, but it was always for professional music production. MIDI, aka Musical Instrument Digital Interface, is a standardized method for digitally transmitting music information between devices, and was developed as a joint effort between music hardware manufacturers in the very early 80s for use in the music industry. This was to reign in all the proprietary incompatible connectors and protocols used by various manufacturers up to that point. The General MIDI standard was a further development that allowed devices to better understand what each other was saying (e.g. a MIDI keyboard could tell a MIDI synth, "select the grand piano sound," without the synth thinking it meant an acoustic guitar). PCs, being the general-purpose monsters they are, would of course get peripherals to connect with MIDI devices for various purposes.

Standard MIDI files were developed as a way to store a sequence of MIDI events to share and later reproduce, so it didn't always have to be played live. That these files and formats like it came to be used to store music for games to be played on consumer-grade synths was more of a byproduct. As computers progressed beyond the beeps and boops of the PC speaker, and started to be able to produce more coherent noise and eventually more detailed music, a standard definition for expressing that music was helpful, especially if file sizes were small since storage was expensive. But consumer synths could never reach the quality that professional stuff could (you were quite lucky if you had a Yamaha or Roland synth back in the day; most people just had a basic FM synth card, maybe a GUS or SB-AWE series card later on), and as choices for pre-rendered music became more viable (CD audio, real-time MP3 playback), consumer-level MIDI started losing favor, leaving it to be used more by professionals, hobbyists, and enthusiasts.

The vast majority of non-live-recorded music is based on MIDI, at least in part (think TV shows, which can't justify the expense of live bands or orchestras). The quality of professional soundfonts and DSP effects is at a point where people can be fooled into thinking something is a live recording that's actually a digitally-rendered MIDI composition, especially if your preconception of MIDI music is that it sounds like chiptunes or N64 music.

Re: Which soundfont is more accurate?

Mon May 24, 2021 7:09 pm

For the soundcanvas soundfont itches, I haven't found any better than Hyper VSC which is now pretty hard to find. It samples from the Virtual SoundCanvas, so it's not blindly gm32.dls based.

But yeah all the different midi standards out there, plus the AWE-specific soundfont system, doesn't make soundfonts a good platform for replicating synthesizers accurately. It's only still a thing because there was an editor that came with the SB AWE cards (Vienna Soundfont Studio) and clones of (like "Viena"(sic) ) so it was a low barrier of entry.

It's an improvement over the old gravis directory-of-loose-pat-files, but not by much.