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Can the STE's PCM sound chip play Amiga modules?

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#26 atarian63 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:15 PM

Seems like a lot of work for the STE, when the Amiga can handle it with practically no effort.

not really



#27 atarian63 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:18 PM

 

Yes, the Falcon, which was flawed and crippled from the start and which no-one bought nor remembers, whilst Amiga (Paula) sound still improved with more memory and 14-bit audio and AGA was relatively successful. :lol:

Sold quite a few falcons



#28 zzip ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 1, 2017 7:44 AM

It wasn't jealousy on my part....I just became sick of all the pointless Commodore/Atari bashing back in the day, and I usually found Amiga and Mac users to be insufferable snobs about their systems. Even to this day reading the comments on Youtube "Let's Compare" videos clearly shows that Atari fans are far less likely to berate the Amiga than the reverse being true. Amiga fans still openly chide the ST 30 years later!
 
I mean c'mon!
 
(and don't forget that we're talking the days of EGA graphics, so it was usually PC users that were jealous! You just had to show them the 16 bit version of Test Drive - a game they used to love to use to showcase DOS gaming!)


Ah yeah, the pointless fanboy wars. Doesn't matter that the ST was the most amazing system in the US market when it released. When the Amiga releases a few months later, the ST goes from amazing to complete and utter crap? I don't think so! But every fanboy war is like this. PS4 fans lorded their extra power over Xbox One users for years, but now that the Xbox One X will have more power than the PS4 Pro the reverse will be true. Hell it's even worse now because at least back then, an Amiga using all its bells and whistles was obviously more impressive than an ST. These days you need a magnifying glass to spot the difference in sub-4K pixel rendering

#29 Foebane OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 2, 2017 1:38 AM

Ah yeah, the pointless fanboy wars. Doesn't matter that the ST was the most amazing system in the US market when it released. When the Amiga releases a few months later, the ST goes from amazing to complete and utter crap? I don't think so! But every fanboy war is like this. PS4 fans lorded their extra power over Xbox One users for years, but now that the Xbox One X will have more power than the PS4 Pro the reverse will be true. Hell it's even worse now because at least back then, an Amiga using all its bells and whistles was obviously more impressive than an ST. These days you need a magnifying glass to spot the difference in sub-4K pixel rendering

(chuckles) Yes, I've noticed that about modern consoles: the XBox One and PS4 graphics look identical to me, or as near enough to be as who-gives-a-shit as possible. Same for the audio abilities. So I cannot figure out what they're arguing about these days.



#30 Foebane OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 2, 2017 1:44 AM

It wasn't jealousy on my part....I just became sick of all the pointless Commodore/Atari bashing back in the day, and I usually found Amiga and Mac users to be insufferable snobs about their systems. Even to this day reading the comments on Youtube "Let's Compare" videos clearly shows that Atari fans are far less likely to berate the Amiga than the reverse being true. Amiga fans still openly chide the ST 30 years later!

 

I mean c'mon!

 

(and don't forget that we're talking the days of EGA graphics, so it was usually PC users that were jealous! You just had to show them the 16 bit version of Test Drive - a game they used to love to use to showcase DOS gaming!)

 

I always figured that the bickering was simply down to the fact that you didn't own the machines you were bashing, so you had to defend the hardware you had and feel better about your ownership of it. But surely emulators have solved that problem, since you can now effectively "own" every single retro computer there ever was, like a rich sonofabitch - right?



#31 zzip ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 2, 2017 7:18 AM

(chuckles) Yes, I've noticed that about modern consoles: the XBox One and PS4 graphics look identical to me, or as near enough to be as who-gives-a-shit as possible. Same for the audio abilities. So I cannot figure out what they're arguing about these days.


Yup, and some people have done blind tests where they put XB1/PC/PS4 side by side and they ask people to identify which is which, and most people can't.

#32 calimero OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 3, 2017 4:39 AM

Obsession is great example: Amiga drop channel of music when there is to much sound FX. This is not case with Atari: in Obsession music continue nonstop without muting or droping instruments.



#33 fenarinarsa OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 3, 2017 7:39 AM

Amazing that a simple technical question still fires the old Amiga/ST war :)
 
The original Amiga has a 4 voices chip with independant volume/frequency setting. The mixing is done in hardware and all is DMA so it actually takes 0% CPU unless you want to manage a partition, like mod players do.
One of the best thing on the Amiga is the sound quality : it sounds good even if you heavily change the frequency of a sound sample, which is I think because Paula is mostly an analog chip.
Drawback : it's not really stereo, more like dual mono : channels 1 and 4 are on the left, 2 and 3 on the right, and you cannot change that.
 
MOD is one of the music format created for Amiga, so it actually sticks a lot to this hardware : 4 channels, and the frequency data stored in the file are the values to write directly to Paula registers.
 
The original Atari ST has an YM2149 chipset which cannot natively replay samples, but you could do it in software by changing the volume of 1 to 3 analog channels x times per second, x = the frequency of the sound played, and so the final quality of the sound.
Let's be honest, it sounds like crap, but you can :
- play a sample on 3 channels (best quality)
- play a sample on 1 channel for instance, keeping the others with regular chip sounds (used in digidrums, or sound effects in some games like Wings of Death)
Because you have to push data x times/second to the chipset, it can take a lot of CPU.
You can also mix in software many sounds in one final sample and play it the same way.
So you can actually mimic the Amiga by doing soft mixing (for example to replay a MOD), getting a final sample to be replayed on the YM2149. The higher final frequency you want, the best quality you get, and the more CPU you need. I think (not sure) the higher you can get is around 25kHz by using various optimization techniques.
 
You can also mimic two or more channels, mix them and play them on 1 YM channel instead of 3. That keeps 2 channel for the chipsounds and 1 to play multiple digital sounds. Or 1 digital sound per channel, etc.
But if you use less channels to play a digital sound, the quality is lowered.
Example : Reset screen of The Froggies over the Fence, digi sounds start at 7:40
 
The STE has two additionnal sound chips :
- A standard DAC chip that can replay 8-bits PCM digi sounds, mono or stereo, at 6/12/25/50kHz, with DMA
- A mixer chip that allows to set the volume between YM and DAC, and to adjust treble/bass
The treble/bass settings are quite useless IMO since changing them distort the YM output. It gives good results if you're using the PCM output only.
The volume settings can be useful if you mix YM & PCM, and some MOD players use it as an optimization trick to avoid applying software volume on 1 or many channels.
 
So it's not made to have an Amiga-like chipset but to output a single PCM sample, as it's the case on computers nowadays. The mixing should be done in software if you want to replay multiple channels.
My guess is that Atari did that because they didn't have the R&D to make a custom chip, and also it was cheaper.
 
Since this PCM chip is DMA, the CPU is relieved of all low-level replay task, and it takes near 0% of the memory bus (like on Amiga).
 
But if you want to replay a 4-channels MOD, you need to mix in software, so you end up with an inferior quality than on the Amiga because the mixing is digital and not analog, unless you use high-quality samples.
On the other hand with replay at 25 or 50kHz you can get crystal-clear sounds with high quality sources.
 
You mentioned Talk Talk 2, this demo does NOT use a looping sample. It's a multichannel song with one part digital, on part analog (like maybe 2 channels digital, 3 channels analog). Note that when doing this you must keep the YM sound level quite low because the PCM sound level is really lower than the native YM output, surely because the YM outputs a really raw and distorted square signal.
But that's true a lot of STE demos use looping samples to avoid software mixing and then keep CPU for the visual effects. Since they are often made to fit on floppy disks or in 4MB RAM without streaming them from HDD, the samples are often low quality and loops a lot.
And finally, the MOD software mixing technique developed on ST also had a use on Amiga. Jochen Hippel (Mad Max) gave his ST mixing routine to Chris Huelsbeck which used it for TFMX7 : 3 regular Amiga channels + 4 extra channels mixed in software :)
But as it eats CPU like it does on ST, Huelsbeck limited the use of 7 channels to game intros.

Edited by fenarinarsa, Fri Nov 3, 2017 7:43 AM.


#34 Foebane OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 4, 2017 2:57 AM

 

You mentioned Talk Talk 2, this demo does NOT use a looping sample. It's a multichannel song with one part digital, on part analog (like maybe 2 channels digital, 3 channels analog).

 

I know it uses both the PCM chip (in stereo for the thumping backing track, which is the best part of it) and the AY for the general tunes, what I meant to say is that there are only a few long samples for the backing track. It's a great demo, albeit peculiar in its content. :)

 

 

So it's not made to have an Amiga-like chipset but to output a single PCM sample, as it's the case on computers nowadays. The mixing should be done in software if you want to replay multiple channels.
My guess is that Atari did that because they didn't have the R&D to make a custom chip, and also it was cheaper.

 

That's Jack Tramiel for you, he always did everything on the cheap, like the C64.



#35 calimero OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 4, 2017 5:40 AM

That's Jack Tramiel for you, he always did everything on the cheap, like the C64.

 

 

Not only cheap but rather: BEST VALUE FOR MONEY! ;)

 

and C64 and later ST was exactly that: ST was 2.5 times cheaper than Mac with double the memory! :D

 

 

Amiga 1000 (Amiga before 500 model) was two times expensive then ST. ST Had faster CPU, Hi-res, crystal clear mono monitor, ultra fast ASCI connector, MIDI, half mega RAM, TOS in ROM (later)... Amigas digital sound, blitter, more colors was not so compelling back in 1985/1986. It take time to bring Amiga technology to masses and for programers start exploiting possibilities - it took almost 5 years!

We bought our first ST in 1986. (after having ZX Spectrum which also was bang for a bucks!)

And we bought Amiga 500 for games somewhere in 1992. We continue to use ST for professional work. Amiga was gaming machine (very good one!)

 

Multimedia wise, Atari Falcon was superb in 1994.: realtime sound effects, D2D recording, fractal generators, audio visualization, JPEG/MPEG DSP decompressor, true color mode (16bit)... truly amazing machine for it's time! (while Amiga 1200 had nothing new except double bus and double frequency over 8 years old original Amiga...)

 

 

not cheap but: Power without price. There is no more true slogan than this ;)



#36 Foebane OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 4, 2017 6:08 AM

So the ST had a head start, so what? The Amiga, the BETTER machine, won out in the end. Ultimately, it was the PC that killed both of them, and the Falcon was a latecomer that drowned in the PC ocean.



#37 calimero OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 4, 2017 9:09 AM

No. 

Falcon was ahead of it's time and I had opportunity to play with realtime effects and D2D recording way before it become common on other computers.

 

It was not just "head start" it was fact that you can buy affordable computer right in 1985.!

(In my whole life, I never saw Amiga 1000! I seen plenty of Amiga 500 later... but in 1985./86 there was lot of STs in Yugoslavia.)

 

Why Amiga is better machine (except that you write it in capital letters? :D) then ST?

For games certainly but for any kind of serious work STs hi-res, 71Hz monitor is huge advantage over Amiga...

 

 

btw 

here you have some nice numbers as comparison: http://amiga.lychesi...Comparison.html


Edited by calimero, Sat Nov 4, 2017 9:22 AM.


#38 JagCD OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 4, 2017 9:11 AM

 

 

These kind of discussions are always bizarre to me.  The ST was designed as a general purpose computer and the Amiga as a multimedia machine.  It is no surprise that the machine designed with graphics and sound as the main focus would be better at graphics and sound than the machine that was not.  

 

If graphics and sound are your focus, then the Amiga is your machine.  Enjoy it.

 

Well as the owner of both -- I still prefer my Atari 520ST to my Amiga....  Being able to download games to a modern PC and easily transfer them to a floppy disk and play them on the ST (MS-DOS Compatible file format)....  Just gives it the win for me.  I use my Amiga a lot, too.  But Amiga hardware seems to be a little more flaky after all these years and Atari ST hardware just appears to be more reliable (probably due to its more simple engineering / design).  I just think Shiraz Shivji was an amazing engineer -- probably one of the best ever.  To be able to design such reliable hardware in such short timeframes (dictated by Tramiel), I really don't know how he did it. 


Edited by JagCD, Sat Nov 4, 2017 9:12 AM.


#39 JagCD OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 4, 2017 9:15 AM

So the ST had a head start, so what? The Amiga, the BETTER machine, won out in the end. Ultimately, it was the PC that killed both of them, and the Falcon was a latecomer that drowned in the PC ocean.

 

The Atari ST won the sales battle for the first several years.  It was really only around the time that the Atari ST was beginning to be phased out by Atari (1990) to focus of Panther/Jaguar

that the Amiga began to pull ahead.

 

Neither machine actually won anything -- both companies ended up out of business.



#40 Foebane OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 4, 2017 9:24 AM

They both represent the swansong of the independent home computer manufacturers, those companies who did their own thing rather than be IBM PC clones, and we miss them dearly. RIP Atari and Commodore :(


Edited by Foebane, Sat Nov 4, 2017 9:25 AM.


#41 oracle_jedi OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 4, 2017 11:00 AM

So the ST had a head start, so what? The Amiga, the BETTER machine, won out in the end. Ultimately, it was the PC that killed both of them, and the Falcon was a latecomer that drowned in the PC ocean.


Sort of like arguing that Hollywood Video was better than Blockbuster.

After all this time, yeah it matters....
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#42 calimero OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 4, 2017 12:08 PM

 

 

Neither machine actually won anything -- both companies ended up out of business.

 

They won our harts ;)

 

 

beside this subjective feelings, If we had to wait for Microshit to make proper computer, then we would wait even more for quality and versatile software:

 

http://www.atari-for...pic.php?t=22856


Edited by calimero, Sat Nov 4, 2017 12:11 PM.


#43 Foebane OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 5, 2017 3:04 AM

Sort of like arguing that Hollywood Video was better than Blockbuster.

After all this time, yeah it matters....

 

What irks me is that because the ST came first and made headway into the market in the mid-to-late 1980s, the Amiga got saddled with a whole bunch of sub-par ST ports of games when it was capable of so much more. It's a bit like forcing a university professor to take janitorial jobs. I bet my Amiga-hating friend loved the fact that the Amiga was being "kept on its knees" and fed scraps from the dinner table whilst the ST reigned supreme and dined finely, and was more than a bit worried that Shadow of the Beast broke the Amiga's chains and allowed it to overthrow the ST.

 

Maybe a bit over-dramatic, and it is really simply down to lazy and ignorant programmers, but that's how I feel about the situation, sometimes. AMIGA RULES! A8 RULES! End of.



#44 Foebane OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 5, 2017 6:25 AM

 

Well as the owner of both -- I still prefer my Atari 520ST to my Amiga....  Being able to download games to a modern PC and easily transfer them to a floppy disk and play them on the ST (MS-DOS Compatible file format)....  Just gives it the win for me.  I use my Amiga a lot, too.  But Amiga hardware seems to be a little more flaky after all these years and Atari ST hardware just appears to be more reliable (probably due to its more simple engineering / design).  I just think Shiraz Shivji was an amazing engineer -- probably one of the best ever.  To be able to design such reliable hardware in such short timeframes (dictated by Tramiel), I really don't know how he did it. 

 

EXCUSE ME!?! NO-ONE, and I mean NO-ONE, beats Jay Miner or his teams in the computer engineering department. What you said is sheer BLASPHEMY! What's more, when Jay wasn't designing revolutionary computer designs, he was designing pacemakers to save lives! I'd like to see this "Shiraz Shivji" do the same thing!



#45 Foebane OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 5, 2017 6:27 AM

Maybe my Amiga zealousness is showing, but Jay Miner's hardware is my personal preference. ;)



#46 JagCD OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 5, 2017 8:25 AM

 

EXCUSE ME!?! NO-ONE, and I mean NO-ONE, beats Jay Miner or his teams in the computer engineering department. What you said is sheer BLASPHEMY! What's more, when Jay wasn't designing revolutionary computer designs, he was designing pacemakers to save lives! I'd like to see this "Shiraz Shivji" do the same thing!

Well, Jay Miner was an amazing designer, too -- but none of his designs ended up in a commercially successful computer.   The Atari 8 bit line bombed.  The Amiga failed commercially (at least the units he designed) as well.

Shivji was part of the engineering team that developed the Commodore 64 -- the single best selling computer of all time.   The market had spoken.

 

That really doesn't change anything for me -- I just scored the Sega Arcade Classics collection for my Amiga 500.......I can't wait until it arrives.


Edited by JagCD, Sun Nov 5, 2017 8:29 AM.


#47 calimero OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 5, 2017 11:13 AM

 

What irks me is that because the ST came first and made headway into the market in the mid-to-late 1980s, the Amiga got saddled with a whole bunch of sub-par ST ports of games when it was capable of so much more. 

 

LOL!

 

Two post above you wrote: "So the ST had a head start, so what?"

 

Exactly that: Atari had head start, and was two times CHEAPER then Amiga 1000 and all this had for consequence that Amiga was not exploited properly until Amiga 500. So it is not "so what" :D



#48 Foebane OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 5, 2017 12:04 PM

Well, Jay Miner was an amazing designer, too -- but none of his designs ended up in a commercially successful computer.   The Atari 8 bit line bombed.  The Amiga failed commercially (at least the units he designed) as well.

Shivji was part of the engineering team that developed the Commodore 64 -- the single best selling computer of all time.   The market had spoken.

 

That really doesn't change anything for me -- I just scored the Sega Arcade Classics collection for my Amiga 500.......I can't wait until it arrives.

 

How exactly did the Amiga fail commercially? Last I heard it sold millions in Europe. Jay's team designed the custom chipset that was revolutionary for its time, it doesn't matter what the units they went in were, they still all performed and SOLD very well, especially in Europe and outside North America. Any problems with the Amiga sales can be put down to the idiotic, incompetent management at Commodore, the hardware was not to blame.

 

The C64 was only 8-bit and had a questionable colour palette, Commodore wanted an upgraded computer at 16-bit, and they got it in Amiga.


Edited by Foebane, Sun Nov 5, 2017 12:07 PM.


#49 oracle_jedi OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 5, 2017 12:16 PM


Exactly that: Atari had head start, and was two times CHEAPER then Amiga 1000 and all this had for consequence that Amiga was not exploited properly until Amiga 500. So it is not "so what"  :D

 

Was the A500 ever really exploited to its potential?

 

Like many (most?) here I have both Amiga and Atari ST.  I like them both for different reasons.  They both have some serious short comings.

 

One thing that strikes me about the Amiga though, despite the superior audio/visual hardware, is how little difference exists between the machines in the visual presentation of most original-era games.

 

I expect games like Outrun, R-Type or Buggy Boy to be jerky on an ST.  But the visuals were similarly bad on the Amiga.  I expected better.  It's as if the programmers were unable or unwilling to find the time to optimize the code to leverage the Amiga's better graphics hardware.  Flight Simulator II, Xenon 2 and Dungeon Master look pretty much identical on both systems.

 

Other landmark games of the period, such as Lemmings, Sim City, Populous or Frontier just didn't need the ability to push objects around the screen in a manner that would have allowed the Amiga to excel in the visuals.  I am guessing Prince of Persia's blue-ish colour scheme on the ST is a result of the programmer's working around the machine's limitations, but it still looks very good, and I actually prefer it to the PC/Amiga's graphics of the same game.

 

Some games did exploit the better graphics hardware.  The Secret of Monkey Island is one example where the ST's dithering of colours looks pretty awful compared to the Amiga's better colour palette, but those examples seem few and far between from my library of games.

 

The Atari 800 got many sub-par conversions of Apple II or Commodore 64 games, but a few games on the Atari 8-bit really demonstrate the graphical difference - games like Dropzone, Boulderdash, Elektraglide or Ballblazer demonstrate a fluidity of motion the 64 just never seemed able to deliver.  I havn't been able to find many similar examples from the Amiga/ST library where one can say "look, that's why the Amiga is better".  Shadow of the Beast is one.  What else?

 

Thankfully most games did exploit the Amiga's better sound capabilities.



#50 oracle_jedi OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 5, 2017 12:26 PM

 

How exactly did the Amiga fail commercially? Last I heard it sold millions in Europe. Jay's team designed the custom chipset that was revolutionary for its time, it doesn't matter what the units they went in were, they still all performed and SOLD very well, especially in Europe and outside North America. Any problems with the Amiga sales can be put down to the idiotic, incompetent management at Commodore, the hardware was not to blame.

 

The C64 was only 8-bit and had a questionable colour palette, Commodore wanted an upgraded computer at 16-bit, and they got it in Amiga.

 

Commodore went bankrupt.  At a time when the only products in the line-up were Amiga derived.  That is a standard definition of a commercial failure.

 

BLMC sold millions of cars.  Some of them very technically advanced and well designed.  A commercial failure is a commercial failure, no matter how much I loved my mum's Austin 1300.






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