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Pitfall II - does it sound the exact same?

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Hi, I have ordered and received my Harmony cart, and I am waiting for my Svideo mod back from LittleJoe (it's on its way, can't wait!). I am very excited and in anticipation I am wondering about Pitfall II. How is this accomplished with the Harmony? Is it emulating the Pitfall 2 sound chip in an exact or approximate way? In the real Pitfall II cartridge, is the sound native to the chip inside the cartridge, or is the sound part of the Atari and the cartridge just tells it how to play the sound. In other words, is it going to sound exactly the same as the real Pitfall 2 cartridge, or is it an emulation that is close to the real thing?

 

Thanks!

Mike

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Theoretically it should sound identically since the Harmony carts emulates the DPC of the Pitfall II cart. This only provides data to the 2600, which then creates the audio.

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DPC music emulation is probably 99.99% accurate. I won't get into technical details, but I'll say that this is more than good enough. I've recorded music from both a real cart and a Harmony. I couldn't tell the difference, and I shared it with others, and nobody else could tell the difference.

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Got my Atari back yesterday with the Svideo mod from LittleJoe. All I have to say is fantastic work LittleJoe on the mod and batari on the mod design and the Harmony! It is very strange playing Atari in stereo, but it adds a new level of excitement to the games and makes them feel fresh. Pitfall II and the Harmony in general work great by the way! Thanks!

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There's a few homebrews written with stereo in mind, as well as some of the earliest games as they were written when the plan was for there to be 2 speakers in the Atari. I covered that in my presentation (5.7 MB pdf) at the Houston Arcade Expo.

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Here's something that's always bemused me. When I first played Pitfall II, it was in emulation with Stella about 6-7 years ago, and the music played in C major.

 

Then, about 3 years ago, I got a real cart. To my surprise the music was about 25% higher in pitch than what I was accustomed to, and was now in E major. Around the same time, I tried it in a more recent version of Stella, and the music was also in E major. OK, fair enough.

 

When I listen to Youtube videos of other ports of the game (including the "arcade" version), they're all over the place: the C64 version is in E major, the ColecoVision, MSX and PCjr. are in B-flat major, the SG-1000 is in F-sharp major, the arcade game in G major...it seems like there's no rhyme or reason to it.

 

But what's interesting to me is that the Atari 800/5200 version is in C major -- just like Stella used to be (though it's a full octave higher). And that makes me wonder whether it's more than just coincidence, though I don't know what else it would be. Frankly I think the music sounds better in the "incorrect" lower key!

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Yes, I noticed the incorrect key in Stella when I was working on Harmony in 2009. I decided to match the actual cart, and informed Stephen, and soon Stella was corrected.

 

If anyone cares, In emulators, it as originally assumed that Pitfall II's oscillator ran at the same speed as the NTSC frequency - about 15.7 kHz. I came to the same conclusion as you when I played the real cart, and adjusted the frequency three half-steps up based on what I heard, and it was so close to 20 kHz that I assumed that was what Activision had intended it to be, and indeed, to me the Harmony and my real cart sound the same.

 

I think it sounds better in the lower key, too, but I figured it's better to be correct.

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The reason this bug was in Stella for so long is that (a) I didn't have access to a real cart or Harmony until around 2009 or so, and (b) I think I'm tone-deaf anyway. Thanks for Batari for fixing the former; the latter I'm afraid I'll always be stuck with :) That's also the reason that any sound bugs and/or improvements in Stella will have to come from someone else, since it's definitely not my strong area.

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In real life, they do sound different. I have both the real Pitfall II cart and a Harmony, and several systems to test on. In every side by side example, the Harmony plays the music about 1/2 step higher than the real cart.

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In real life, they do sound different. I have both the real Pitfall II cart and a Harmony, and several systems to test on. In every side by side example, the Harmony plays the music about 1/2 step higher than the real cart.

It matches my cart exactly. Most likely, the real Pitfall II cart's oscillator is not very consistent and varies from one cart to the next. Harmony's DPC oscillator is derived from its onboard crystal so it's very consistent.

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Maybe it sounds diffrent because your looking for it to sound diffrent. Im too busy trying to find gold when i play that game. :-D

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No, it sounds different because it clearly, um, sounds different. The funny thing is when I noticed it, I came to this forum with the intention of starting a new thread to say "Hey did anyone else notice the musical pitch difference between a real Pitfall II cart and a Harmony?" but well, this thread was already here! Lol.

 

Batari, the oscillator being slow or inconsistent in the real cart makes perfect sense. My post was in no way intended as a complaint, but rather just an observation.

 

Also, this gives me a reason to buy another Real PII cart to conduct further tests in the name of, er, Science! Yeah, that's the ticket.

Edited by Underball

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I can confirm that that guy was right, the pitch is different on the rom- I kept the cart, so that and super football are the last 2 orig carts i have now, everything else i put on harmony

Edited by chewy

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It has been reported a few times in the past that the pitch of the PItfall II music varies from one cart to another due to tolerances (and aging) of the components of the oscillator circuit. I remember someone also noticed that the same cart had different pitch when played on different consoles. As stated by batari a few posts above, the pitch of the harmony cart DPC was chosen to match the cartridge he used for testing.

 

 

Check out this video:

 

Edited by alex_79
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I can confirm, at least from experience.  I've had multiple Pitfall II cartridges in my possession in the past, and sometimes one would be at a significantly different pitch than another.  It was either excellent forethought or an extremely happy accident that Activision decided not to use the TIA to supplement the music beyond percussion sounds.

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On 7/17/2019 at 10:46 AM, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Maybe another feature for Stella: Variable DPC pitch.

Great; go ahead and create an issue at your convenience.  The 20KHz value is a constant in CartDPC; perhaps just changing it there can get the effect we want??

 

EDIT: Confirmed.  Change the 20000.0 to 15700.0 in CartDPC, and the music plays at a different rate.

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Well, shit ... y'all have got me on my 3rd beer on a Saturday night and tickled my nerd-nerves. Tomorrow I'll try to capture the opening bars of Pitfall II from my Harmony Cart and then my physical copy through either my A/V modded 2600 or 7800 straight into my PC to compare the waveforms. Stay tuned (unless I lose my interest and/or forget tomorrow. Feel free to remind me by tomorrow evening if I forget and I'll try to do it).

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It sounds bloody awful no matter which version. I really dislike the Pitfall II music.

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