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Opinion of Genesis sound capabilites and soud chips.


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#26 Emehr OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 17, 2011 7:25 AM

Chip tunes are great. It's part of what separated the early consoles and gave them personality. Today's systems are so homogenized and dull there's really nothing to compare between them.

I didn't know about the sound chip variations in Genesis consoles until recently when I started lurking at Sega-16. I'm glad to say I still have my launch Genesis that came with Altered Beast. I still have to do a side-by-side comparison with the Genesis 2 to hear for myself the difference between the two. Right now I have the Genny 2 hooked up to my Sega CD.

Some of my favorite Genesis tunes are Golden Axe, Altered Beast, Ghouls N' Ghosts, The Immortal, Sonic 1, and Castlevania Bloodlines. Starflight has a nice intro tune. Good stuff :thumbsup:

#27 sheath OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 18, 2011 10:41 AM

I don't think Genesis chip music sounds anything like 80s Keyboard synth in popular music and movie soundtracks. I hate that sound too, I even saw an After Burner live performance recently that used that kind of instrument instead of something that sounded more like the original track on any console. I've always wondered why musicians so frequently chose that same goofy warbly instrument when Keyboards have been capable of so much more since the 70s. I think Garbage was the first band I heard use synth better than what game consoles used.

#28 ApolloBoy OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 19, 2011 12:48 AM

I don't think Genesis chip music sounds anything like 80s Keyboard synth in popular music and movie soundtracks. I hate that sound too

You guys are killing me here... :P

#29 Vic George 2K3 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 19, 2011 7:06 AM

Yeah, what's Sony waiting for? Judgment Day?

Let's hope so, that way it'll be here by Saturday! :P

May 21st

Not to start religious discussions or go off-topic, but false prophets will always disappoint you.

#30 SEgamer OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 19, 2011 5:16 PM

Not to start religious discussions or go off-topic, but false prophets will always disappoint you.


But the guy promised it would happen this time just like he promised in the early 90s! :D

Anyway, back to the topic. Has anyone tried making an actual synthesizer with the YM2612 sound chip in the Genesis? I'm thinking of putting that on my projects list along with a Commodore 64 sound chip synthesizer.

Someone managed to simulate one with software:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYXvgpK2_xo

#31 chrisbid OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 20, 2011 6:10 AM


Not to start religious discussions or go off-topic, but false prophets will always disappoint you.


But the guy promised it would happen this time just like he promised in the early 90s! :D

Anyway, back to the topic. Has anyone tried making an actual synthesizer with the YM2612 sound chip in the Genesis? I'm thinking of putting that on my projects list along with a Commodore 64 sound chip synthesizer.

Someone managed to simulate one with software:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYXvgpK2_xo


years ago, i remember paul slocum talking about building a synthcart for the genesis. but nothing ever came from it.

#32 The Usotsuki OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 20, 2011 7:49 AM

For one I like Masato Nakamura's music for Sonic 1 and 2 and think it defines the Genesis sound (even though apparently it was actually composed on an Atari ST and *ported*!)

ETA: (it prolly helped that he was an actual songwriter. some of the Sonic music was actually reused for actual songs - I have one song, with both Japanese and English versions - that shares a melody with the Sonic 2 ending cinematic and can be somewhat heard in the options screen - if you've played Sonic 2, and you've ever gone to the options menu, and you ever listen to "Sweet Sweet Sweet" by Dreams Come True, or its English counterpart "Sweet Dream" - you'll definitely recognize it.)

Edited by The Usotsuki, Fri May 20, 2011 7:52 AM.


#33 ATARI7800fan OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 20, 2011 7:56 AM

Hmmm, I might have to give that CCAM mod a try on my system.

Whenever I think of the Genesis's sound capabilities, I'm instantly reminded of Wiz n Liz. To me it has one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard out of the system. In fact, I played it mostly for the music :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFodsn1XAHk

That does sound good, then again the games either developed or published by that company/publisher usually seem to have good music.

#34 NightSprinter OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 20, 2011 11:38 AM

You should look at some of littlescale's videos. He's got setups where he's controlling a MegaDrive2 with MIDI as well as other stuff.

#35 SEgamer OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 20, 2011 2:43 PM

You should look at some of littlescale's videos. He's got setups where he's controlling a MegaDrive2 with MIDI as well as other stuff.


Pretty cool, thanks! I'm new to the MIDI and synthesizer scene; but, correct me if I'm wrong, isn't doing it with a MIDI more limited than a synthesizer?

#36 Austin OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 20, 2011 8:39 PM

Pretty cool, thanks! I'm new to the MIDI and synthesizer scene; but, correct me if I'm wrong, isn't doing it with a MIDI more limited than a synthesizer?


I think you're confusing the term MIDI with a certain kind of sound (I am only guessing, because a lot of people do this). MIDI is essentially a set of protocols (a specific computer language or speak, if you will) that allows a user to control and trigger the parameters of a synth with an external control device (say, a MIDI keyboard). MIDI technically gets a lot deeper than that, but that's a basic example I'd be willing to bet that guy is doing in Nightsprinter's example.

#37 NightSprinter OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat May 21, 2011 9:59 PM

Very much so, Austin. Thing is littlescale is also a hardware hacker, so he's managed to find ways to set up the features of sound chips in his hardware to route MIDI controls. It's quite impressive.

#38 Jifremok OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:17 PM

That from a Genesis 1 that says "High Definition Graphics" at the top, or using the headphone out through a Sega CD, is the only correct way to hear Genesis sound. Just say no to Genesis 2s. ;)


Is there any difference between the HIGH DEFINITION GRAPHICS model 1 and the model 1 that doesn't have that bit of text? (I have a model 2 now but want to get a model 1 and am not sure if that little detail matters!)

#39 sheath OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:54 PM


That from a Genesis 1 that says "High Definition Graphics" at the top, or using the headphone out through a Sega CD, is the only correct way to hear Genesis sound. Just say no to Genesis 2s. ;)


Is there any difference between the HIGH DEFINITION GRAPHICS model 1 and the model 1 that doesn't have that bit of text? (I have a model 2 now but want to get a model 1 and am not sure if that little detail matters!)


Yes, especially the High Definition Graphics models with no licensing screen (aka "non-TMSS") when you boot a cart. The audio chips and circuitry in these are superior to almost every other model of Genesis 1 and especially all but one model Genesis 2. As I understand it, some of the High Definition Graphics models that have the licensed by Sega screen are as bad as early Model 2s though..

#40 Jifremok OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:43 PM

Ahh crap. So how would I know, without being able to boot it up (for example, looking on ebay), which ones are the good ones? Would looking at the bottom of the unit suffice? I can't even tell which model 2 I have since the Sega CD (also model 2)'s mounting bracket is attached to the Genesis's bottom and I've no screwdriver on hand to remove it.

Edited by Jifremok, Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:57 PM.


#41 thegoldenband OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:54 PM

Is there any difference between the HIGH DEFINITION GRAPHICS model 1 and the model 1 that doesn't have that bit of text? (I have a model 2 now but want to get a model 1 and am not sure if that little detail matters!)

Yes, especially the High Definition Graphics models with no licensing screen (aka "non-TMSS") when you boot a cart. The audio chips and circuitry in these are superior to almost every other model of Genesis 1 and especially all but one model Genesis 2. As I understand it, some of the High Definition Graphics models that have the licensed by Sega screen are as bad as early Model 2s though..


Hmmm, the guide on Sega-16 makes it sound like all HDG Model 1 Genesis consoles have the "good" sound hardware whether or not they have TMSS, and it's only the Model 1 that doesn't say High Definition Graphics that's at risk for the "bad" sound hardware. Is that incorrect?

Jifremok, I have two spare HDG Model 1 consoles if you need one -- both have TMSS, so I assume they have the VA6 hardware described in the thread linked above -- just send me a PM and we can work something out. Unless you're planning on playing lots of unlicensed games the TMSS isn't really a significant issue (and even then it can be worked around). And unless the guide is incorrect, they should have the "good" sound.

#42 sheath OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:04 PM

I think it is only the last generation of Genesis model 1's that had any issues, and they are hard to find. I could be wrong on that though. Odds are, if your systems says High Definition Graphics on it it will sound better out of the headphone jack than a model 2 (or emulation). Keep in mind that the AV out on a Genesis 1 is mono, so you will need to use the front headphone jack for the audio quality being discussed.

Edited by sheath, Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:06 PM.


#43 Ace_1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 23, 2011 5:56 PM

Hmmm, the guide on Sega-16 makes it sound like all HDG Model 1 Genesis consoles have the "good" sound hardware whether or not they have TMSS, and it's only the Model 1 that doesn't say High Definition Graphics that's at risk for the "bad" sound hardware. Is that incorrect?


I'm the writer of said guide, and yes, ONLY non-High Definition Graphics Genesis Model 1s are at risk of having bad audio circuitry(not hardware - it is different, but not worse). It all depends on the motherboard. If you have a High Definition Graphics Genesis Model 1, it will have motherboard revision VA2 to VA6, which all use discrete Yamaha YM2612s and the same audio amp which give the Genesis Model 1 its trademark rich and bass-heavy audio. The non-High Definition Graphics model has motherboard revision VA6 with the EXT port removed, VA6.8 or VA7. The VA7 motherboard is the one with the nasty audio output. This nasty audio output carries over to the Genesis Model 2 on motherboard revisions VA0, VA1 and VA1.8(those are the most common motherboard revisions of the Genesis Model 2 and they SUCK both for audio AND for video).

Do take note many Genesis systems don't use the same sound hardware or have screwed up sound hardware. A lot of Genesis systems don't use a discrete Yamaha YM2612, but instead use an ASIC version of the YM2612's CMOS counterpart, the Yamaha YM3438, which has been modified by Sega with an improved DAC for added clarity, but at the same time, this modified YM3438 has several bugs fixed, which results in an almost complete lack of quantization noise, making some games either sound different or almost completely wrong. After Burner II seems most affected by this issue as it makes heavy use of the YM2612's quantization noise for background notes in the music. On a console with an ASIC-based YM3438, those notes are almost inaudible.

These systems and motherboard revisions are known to contain ASIC-based YM3438s:

-Genesis Model 1, motherboard revision VA7
-Genesis Model 2, motherboard revisions VA0, VA1, VA1.8, VA3 and VA4
-Genesis 3, both the VA1 and VA2 motherboards
-Nomad
-Sega CDX
-JVC X'Eye

Beware of Genesis Model 2 motherboard revisions VA2 and VA2.3. While they have discrete YM2612s, their PSG sound hardware appears to be COMPLETELY screwed up. The white noise and one of the square waves are so loud they drown out the other two square waves, causing not only volume balance issues with the YM2612, but also volume balance issues with Sega Master System games, as well as noticeable distortion in those games. PSG-heavy games will sound wrong as well.

I think it is only the last generation of Genesis model 1's that had any issues, and they are hard to find. I could be wrong on that though.


You would be wrong as almost every time I've seen a Genesis Model 1 for sale, it's usually either a High Definition Graphics model or a non-High Definition Graphics model with a VA7 motherboard. They're the two most common Genesis Model 1 variants I've come across.

Edited by Ace_1, Sun Oct 23, 2011 5:57 PM.


#44 sheath OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:28 PM

I stand wrong then. The last generation of model 1 systems, VA7, are the only ones that apparently have audio problems. I need to play some more with my X'Eye though, I haven't noticed it having bad audio in any of the games I have played on it, it just seems slightly subdued compared to my trusty launch Genesis.

#45 genesisguy OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:10 PM

Back in the day I had a NES, then a Genesis, and a SNES near the end. I never really cared about the sound as to I had a crappy small TV with really bad speaker in it. It wasn't until I got back into gaming and played these on better TVs that I tool notice of the sounds. Overall I prefer the Genesis to the SNES. Street or Rage 2, Sonic 2, Midnight Resistance, Comix Zone, etc. All sounds really good. It's like the swansong for chiptunes and almost at a level of perfection. The SNES sounds weird to me. The orchestrated tones used in some games like Link to the Past sound like midi crap.

#46 Lynxpro OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:18 PM

years ago, i remember paul slocum talking about building a synthcart for the genesis. but nothing ever came from it.


I asked on the A8 area why there wasn't a SynthCart in development for A8. Didn't get a satisfactory response... After all, there are plenty of Pokey chiptunes fans out there, just not as many as the trendy SID scene.

#47 maiki OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:29 PM

The FM chip is the weakest point of the whole Genesis system. It just simply does not sound good. I mean from the very principle. Let's compare it to SID from the Commodore 64. Load a tracker called Defle Mask, select Genesis system and play a few notes on FM channel. Then change the system to Commodore 64 and play a few notes. Rather don't continue on changing onto PC Engine or it's going to hurt your ears and Genesis even more.

 

Sega engineers even managed to destroy sound aspects of the Genesis system more by constantly changing (or perhaps it is better to say: screwing up) the various implementions of the sound hardware on the motherboards. Once you have a problem that there is a distortion because idiots put wrong components somewhere, another time it is the SN channels not playing loud enough etc. Just go to Sega-16 forums and you will find people constantly searching for, comparing, arguing over dozens of motherboard revisions hardly able to find the satifsfying solution. Well, there can't be any definite solution when Sega have clearly messed things up.

 

In fact, try to run Gens emulator and switch of the SN chip (simply put: turn off the PSG).  Disaster comes to reality. All nice portions of the sound completely lost. All you are left with is that metalic overpitched FM noise.

 

I do like Genesis games and its VDP capabilities. But the sound was just not built right. And this is the reason I cannot put Genesis above PC Engine at all. Forget about SNES - that system is too unbalanced with mostly childish simplistic games, and I cannot accept it as a serious replacement for the Genesis. But the PC Engine, although with very little games library, takes the first place. Nicely done sound hardware, good graphics, hardware designed as compact opposed to Genesis where you have unnecessarily 2 (!) sound chips only calling for troubles on hardware implementation level as reality shows.






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