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Author Topic: A little dip into the old-school tracking  (Read 33032 times)

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Oliwerko

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Re: A little dip into the old-school tracking
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2008, 18:40:06 »

Sorry if I'm getting too much off topic, let me know if that's the case, I simply don't know with who else to discuss these things.

I have read a bit and I am still a little confused:

If I get it right, Paula was a totally advanced piece of hardware for its time for its capability of playback of digital audio, while SID was only a real-time partly analog partly digital synth with one DAC converter and PC sound cards having only the OPL2 frequency modulation synthesis used for MIDI playback, right?

I assume that first PC sound card that was capable of something else than simple FM synthesis (AdLib) or multiple PC-speaker-like playback (GameBlaster) was the Roland LAPC-1 featuring the MT-32 synth, which was in fact even more than simple wavetable synthesizer. Is this right?

And then, the first PC sound card capable of playing digital samples was the 1989-90 SoundBlaster. So it took PCs practically 5 years to catch on what was implemented (!) in Amiga back then.

So the "big jump" was actually the digital sample playability (before which we had only FM and wavetable synthesis)? (Which is in fact playing a digital recording which was recorded using pulse-code modulation making use of a DAC?)

And could you please explain the wavetable synthesis to me? I still don't get it. Is it a library of pre-recorded samples that are just combined and played on different volume/pitch to produce sound? Or are they synthesized real-time? And how do the "patches" function? (I am referring particulary to the LAPC-1, that is the most confusing part for me)
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raina

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Re: A little dip into the old-school tracking
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2008, 20:32:28 »

Wavetable is samples. It doesn't involve generating waves, but may contain effects like reverb and chorus. I'm not that familiar with Roland MIDI modules, but since you mention MT-32 being more than simple wavetable, you're right. I think generally it goes like this: the note attacks of patches are samples and the it's mixed with a synthesized waveform, which takes over entirely by the sustain part of a note.

You are also correct about the PC being lame and years behind of technical development when it started to gain momentum as anything else than a boring business computer.

Saga Musix

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Re: A little dip into the old-school tracking
« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2008, 21:49:16 »

Wavetable synthesis is generally a fixed-sample synthesis; you have instruments provided by the manufacturer and you can make music with them. Just like with a synthesizer and its preset voices. Some soundcards (like the MT-32, i think) allowed you to load custom patches (which was used by games like Monkey Island), but still, this was mostly limited to your 128 bog-standard midi instruments.
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Oliwerko

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Re: A little dip into the old-school tracking
« Reply #23 on: December 17, 2008, 21:55:23 »

So FM is real-time synth only and wavetable is only samples...

So the only difference between wavetable synthesis (introduced by MT-32) and actual digital sample playback (introduced by SoundBlaster) is that in case of MT-32 you have a fixed number of ROM-stored instruments (which you can alter/add more to some extent with patches) and in case of SoundBlaster you can play whatever digital sample you want (making it the first card to be able to work correctly under the "modern" DOS trackers?)?
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Saga Musix

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Re: A little dip into the old-school tracking
« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2008, 18:29:10 »

basically, yes.
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Oliwerko

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Re: A little dip into the old-school tracking
« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2008, 21:30:06 »

And what's the difference between the capability of playing a wavetable sample and any digital sample then?

Oh, and which was the first soundcard you could use to play audio CDs on PC?
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raina

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Re: A little dip into the old-school tracking
« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2008, 22:11:48 »

No real difference but the first wavetable synthesizers were probably built to use a static sound bank, thus they could not function as a general purpose sample player.

BTW, DOS trackers were used also used with PC speaker Covox Speech Thing output before Sound Blaster got really popular.

About the CD, Sound Blaster Pro was the first Creative slab to provide a CD line input. Don't know if others beat them to it..  But you could listen to CDs before that as well. CD-ROM drives weren't originally connected to the computer via IDE cable but with a proprietary controller card. Mine had RCA audio jacks on the back which I could have used, if it weren't for the bulk SB 16 already providing a CD input. Could have gotten better audio quality through that, who knows, but it was a convenience choice to have all the sound the computer made come out of a single output. And the horrible little speakers wouldn't have revealed any differences anyway...

Saga Musix

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Re: A little dip into the old-school tracking
« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2008, 12:40:41 »

As raina pointed out, there's no real difference in playing them, but wavetable data was mostly kept on a ROM or RAM on the soundcard, whereas "sound effects" (aka digital samples) were mostly played from convential memory (or EMS / XMS of course).
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Oliwerko

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Re: A little dip into the old-school tracking
« Reply #28 on: December 20, 2008, 11:34:48 »

Thanks for response, It's mostly clear to me now.
I wouldn't expect these things will interest me so much  :D

Thanks many many times again for the invaluable and extensive info you've given.
I appreciate that.
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Saga Musix

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Re: A little dip into the old-school tracking
« Reply #29 on: December 20, 2008, 14:33:02 »

You're welcome. This is quite an intersting topic indeed, especially if you're interested in retro gaming and similar activities.
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