Better Music for GM ScummVM (and DOSBox) games

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cwadge
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FatBoy BETA Soundfont updated to version 0.76

Post by cwadge » Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:48 am

To me, personally, this is the most exciting build of FatBoy yet. I believe it is balanced and polished enough for general usage, with a few caveats. Those being:

1) While GM support is 100% complete, GS support is still preliminary. Many GS-heavy games are not yet fully supported.
2) Through feedback I've discovered that FatBoy is not 100% compatible with older versions of FluidSynth (<=1.1.6). There isn't much I can do about that, I'm afraid, since FatBoy isn't breaking any SF2 conventions. It just really, really doesn't like my accordion or bandoneon (and perhaps others). This may come across as dissonant chords on both instruments. I recommend upgrading to a later (preferably the latest) build of FluidSynth, if at all possible. Though if you're using the version of FluidSynth that's built into ScummVM, you should be fine.

EDIT: I've decided it's too cumbersome to expect everyone stuck with an older version of FluidSynth to upgrade, and reworked the problem instruments instead! FatBoy as of v0.761 should be fully compatible with FluidSynth 1.1.6.

That all said, here are some obligatory samples of how FB v0.76 sounds with some fairly subtle mixes:

&#9654; Daggerfall - swimming theme FBv0.76
&#9654; Discworld - track 67 FBv0.76

And the download link for the latest FatBoy beta:

https://pub.dotbalm.org/misc/FatBoy-v076.7z

Changelog:
• Extremely precise digital tuning of all instruments for optimal balance.
• Better spacialization of several presets.
• Added minor reverb to several more instruments.
• In ScummVM 2.0.0 (at least with FluidSynth), you should be able to use FatBoy 0.76 at the default 1.00 MIDI gain for perfect music / effect volume VS digital effects and speech. No adjustments needed. Nice!
Last edited by cwadge on Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:00 am, edited 4 times in total.

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tsoliman
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Re: FatBoy BETA Soundfont updated to version 0.76

Post by tsoliman » Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:43 pm

cwadge wrote:Through feedback I've discovered that FatBoy is not 100% compatible with older versions of FluidSynth (<=1.1.6)
That's interesting. That's the fluidsynth version I am compiling with (there were no releases between 2012 and 2017)
I'll try to upgrade and see.

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Re: FatBoy BETA Soundfont updated to version 0.76

Post by cwadge » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:15 pm

tsoliman wrote:That's interesting. That's the fluidsynth version I am compiling with (there were no releases between 2012 and 2017)
I'll try to upgrade and see.
It is, isn't it? I've run into some downsteam-patched versions that don't exhibit the same issue, and others which do. It also affects the SGM SoundFont and others as well, but not UHD for some reason:

KQ5 Town Theme (SGM)
KQ5 Town Theme (UHD)

Without doing a full bisection, I think the complexity and quantity of modulators in the bigger SF2s causes FluidSynth to hose some values internally, particularly for certain patch banks.

But FluidSynth is definitely worth upgrading to current regardless, especially due to some memory leak fixes between now and 1.1.6.

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FatBoy BETA Soundfont updated to version 0.761

Post by cwadge » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:16 am

I'm not the kind of person that likes leaving problems unsolved, for better and worse. In this case, I thought it unreasonable to expect everyone to be running the latest FluidSynth just to use FatBoy, so I did some deeper troubleshooting.

Debug builds of FluidSynth revealed that seemingly all of the issues with presets exhibiting dissonant chords in FluidSynth 1.1.6 and earlier stemmed from a single, earlier preset. Namely, the accordion of all things. I've simply replaced that preset (there were plenty of existing samples to pull from) and viola! No more devil notes coming out of squeeze boxes. (Well, no more than usual).

I believe that's fixed it, but please let me know if you hear anything that sounds wrong in your MIDI.

https://pub.dotbalm.org/misc/FatBoy-v0761.7z

Changelog:
• Replaced Accordion preset with samples requiring less complex modulators. It sounds less reedy but more breathy, and I believe equivalent in quality. FatBoy also got skinnier by ~2MB in the process.

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Re: FatBoy BETA Soundfont updated to version 0.761

Post by almeath » Sat Mar 17, 2018 1:31 pm

cwadge wrote:I believe that's fixed it, but please let me know if you hear anything that sounds wrong in your MIDI.
It seems like the archive might be damaged. I tried downloading it twice and opening with several different apps and they all produced errors.

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Re: FatBoy BETA Soundfont updated to version 0.761

Post by cwadge » Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:53 pm

almeath wrote:It seems like the archive might be damaged. I tried downloading it twice and opening with several different apps and they all produced errors.
Ugh, of course the one archive I neglect to sum winds up being corrupted. :roll: Sorry about that.

I've uploaded v.0762 instead, which is exactly the same but with a correction for a minor looping error.

Code: Select all

7a36d8c237de7d3741c292b12824d03c  FatBoy-v0762.7z
https://pub.dotbalm.org/misc/FatBoy-v0762.7z

I've also linked the download for v0.761 to v0.762 as well.

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Post by almeath » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:09 pm

Thanks. In my opinion Fat Boy is now sounding superior to SGM in King's Quest VI. The brass instruments are sounding clearer and louder, and it has perfect balance in the quieter pieces such as with guitar and flute based themes. Is this because you are trying to get Fat Boy to mimic an SC-88 as closely as possible? Is this the device the KQ6 music was composed for?

One minor point - the bird tweets and a few other MIDI sound effects seem to have a lot of reverb and echo.

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Post by cwadge » Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:24 pm

almeath wrote:Thanks. In my opinion Fat Boy is now sounding superior to SGM in King's Quest VI. The brass instruments are sounding clearer and louder, and it has perfect balance in the quieter pieces such as with guitar and flute based themes. Is this because you are trying to get Fat Boy to mimic an SC-88 as closely as possible? Is this the device the KQ6 music was composed for?
Excellent! I'm not trying to mimic the 88 (or any other particular module) per se, but I'm certainly going for a comparable sound balance. KQ6 came out a year prior to the SC-88, and I believe the pre-recorded music cues were recorded with an SC-55 (non-mkII). I personally feel the SC-55 sounds rather primitive compared to FatBoy, but I have the impression that Sierra (and most of their contemporaries) were trying to get as close to an orchestrated sound in their games as possible and the Sound Canvas was the best they could hope for at the time.
almeath wrote:One minor point - the bird tweets and a few other MIDI sound effects seem to have a lot of reverb and echo.
You're absolutely right, the GM bird tweets do have too much 'verb. Good ear! I'm still tuning the SFX banks, as there is no clear guideline for envelopes on those patches. For instance, in Sound Canvases, the reverse cymbal patch is relatively quiet, whereas the gunshot FX is relatively loud. I'm tuning these by ear right now, but I'm hoping to have something more concrete eventually. I've reduced the bird tweet FX reverb by 70%, but let me know if you have any more feedback like that and I'll add the corrections to the next version.

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Post by almeath » Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:27 pm

cwadge wrote:I've reduced the bird tweet FX reverb by 70%, but let me know if you have any more feedback like that and I'll add the corrections to the next version.
Thanks for that. There is in fact something else I noticed, also quite minor but hopefully worth pointing out. In some tracks it seems that notes blend or fade into each other. The best example I can find is in the Castle of the Crown theme, if you listen carefully at 40 seconds in..

First with SGM:

http://userweb.eftel.com/~almeath/mac/SGM_KQ6_CC.mp3

Then with Fat Boy:

http://userweb.eftel.com/~almeath/mac/FB_KQ6_CC.mp3

Specifically at about 46-50 seconds in it sounds like some notes are either missing or they are blending too much into each other.

I actually noticed that happening with the trumpets in the first 5-6 seconds of the track using an earlier version of Fat Boy, but it seems to now be fixed in 0.762.

I hope you do not mind my nitpicking. :wink:

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Post by cwadge » Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:18 pm

almeath wrote:Thanks for that. There is in fact something else I noticed, also quite minor but hopefully worth pointing out. In some tracks it seems that notes blend or fade into each other. The best example I can find is in the Castle of the Crown theme, if you listen carefully at 40 seconds in..

First with SGM:

http://userweb.eftel.com/~almeath/mac/SGM_KQ6_CC.mp3

Then with Fat Boy:

http://userweb.eftel.com/~almeath/mac/FB_KQ6_CC.mp3

Specifically at about 46-50 seconds in it sounds like some notes are either missing or they are blending too much into each other.

I actually noticed that happening with the trumpets in the first 5-6 seconds of the track using an earlier version of Fat Boy, but it seems to now be fixed in 0.762.
I think I understand what you mean. FatBoy uses real concert flute samples, whereas SGM appears to use a 100% synthesized sample. The attack (how the notes initially sound) on the FatBoy one is therefore natural to how the flute is played. But since there are not 1:1 samples-to-notes, some of the samples are stretched over multiple notes, so the attack on those notes may be slowed down to match the pitch. In this case I believe what you're hearing is a slightly slow attack on a few of the lower notes that were intended to play more quickly by the composer. I'll look into shortening the breathiness in the early phase of the flute samples to speed up the attack, especially on notes which are relatively low for the flute.
almeath wrote:I hope you do not mind my nitpicking. :wink:
Not at all! I can't polish this thing without spotting the places where it's dull. I really appreciate the feedback.

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FatBoy BETA Soundfont updated to version 0.763

Post by cwadge » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:20 pm

Hello again! The FatBoy SoundFont has been updated to v0.763, which you can download here:

https://pub.dotbalm.org/misc/FatBoy-v0763.7z

And of course, the obligatory sample recording of this version:

&#9654; Legend of Heroes 4, track 16

Changelog:
• Reduced reverberation on "bird tweets FX" GM preset.
• Shortened attack ramp-up on concert flute GM instrument by 50 samples to avoid overly soft notes when played legato.

Thanks to almeath for reporting these issues!

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Post by almeath » Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:55 pm

Thanks for making those changes so quickly, it is definitely an improvement.

It is also sounding great in KQ7 from what I have tested so far.

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FatBoy BETA Soundfont updated to version 0.764

Post by cwadge » Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:50 am

almeath wrote:Thanks for making those changes so quickly, it is definitely an improvement.

It is also sounding great in KQ7 from what I have tested so far.
Really glad it's sounding good for you so far. I had some more time today to look into the flute issue in more detail, and found that my 50 sample guess at the attack length was a bit too conservative. In fact, upon examining it more closely, they had to be adjusted between 0 and 430 samples, depending on the respective note. So, despite the minor nature of the change, FatBoy v0.764 was born.

https://pub.dotbalm.org/misc/FatBoy-v0764.7z

Changelog:
• Further adjustments to concert flute sample start point (attack).

As usual, let me know if anything sounds amiss, no matter how trivial it might seem.

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Post by Seldon » Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:40 pm

@cwadge
If you need more feedback - I just tried to play King's Quest 6 with your soundfont. I'm very positively surprised in general, but I noticed, that the first meeting with Lord Alhazred in his castle (if you want to reproduce the scene: after the game starts take glittering ring from the beach, go to the castle, talk to guards and show them the ring) I can't hear orchestral harp, which is the base of that tune.

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Post by cwadge » Fri Mar 23, 2018 6:53 pm

Seldon wrote:@cwadge
If you need more feedback - I just tried to play King's Quest 6 with your soundfont. I'm very positively surprised in general, but I noticed, that the first meeting with Lord Alhazred in his castle (if you want to reproduce the scene: after the game starts take glittering ring from the beach, go to the castle, talk to guards and show them the ring) I can't hear orchestral harp, which is the base of that tune.
I always need more feedback. :)

Looking into the issue, you're definitely right. I tested it with the talkie version (GOG) and played through the scene with ScummVM 2.0.0. Listening closely with some high-end headphones, I noticed something interesting. It seemed that the harp was playing, but very, very quietly. But when the dialog would briefly cut out, you can hear the harp's volume at least double. Once I'd noticed that, I skipped around just to see if I was correct:

&#9654; KQ6 Talkie

It appears that the KQ6 talkie lowers the harp volume whenever dialog is playing so as not to drown out the narration. Contrast this with the non-talkie version:

&#9654; KQ6 Text

Here the harp plays at a constant volume throughout.

Are you playing with the talkie version, or text-only?

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