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gyromatical
December 12th, 2015, 04:21 PM
Doesn't necessarily need to be sample based or anything elaborate, even a couple of channels is great.
The only tracker I located needs 286/12. It would be even more amazing if it supports Speech Thing :D
Any other suggestions for some decent music composition software is welcomed!

Plasma
December 12th, 2015, 05:55 PM
Adlib Visual Composer should work. Some other adlib trackers (http://adlib.wave460.net/trackers.html) will probably work as well.

PeterNC
December 12th, 2015, 07:12 PM
GSPLAY for MIDs.

SB diskettes have all kinds of sound utilities.

I forgot the names of trackers / editors I played around with in my youth on my 286-12.

KC9UDX
December 13th, 2015, 07:28 AM
There's tons of it, but not all just for playing music via a "soundcard".

I used to compose music on a PC/XT. I had a lot of stuff, including sample-based stuff. Unfortunately I don't remember much about any of it because eventually I wrote my own stuff which supported 16-bit stereo, which none of the available software that I could find at the time did.

The one package I can remember by name (because I still have disks for the demo version) was Sequencer Plus. It's still the best PC-based sequencer I've used up to the present day.

gyromatical
December 14th, 2015, 01:41 PM
Wow, thanks for all the replies and sorry for the delay in responding. I'll definitely check all of the mentioned titles!

KC9UDX, since you mentioned they're not all for a soundcard - do you know of any titles in particular off hand which support Covox?
You don't happen to have your homebrew software anymore, do you? Sounds interesting.

I found Sequencer Plus on Vetusware, thanks for that suggestion - this should be fun. The older music software is great. I still compose MODs regularly and I have quite fond memories of using Triad and others on the C64 with a Sequential Circuits interface.

KC9UDX
December 14th, 2015, 03:37 PM
KC9UDX, since you mentioned they're not all for a soundcard - do you know of any titles in particular off hand which support Covox?No. I built something like that (if it wasn't exactly like it) but I think I wrote my own software.


You don't happen to have your homebrew software anymore, do you? Sounds interesting.I doubt it. If I do, it would take a long time to sort through it and find something useful, and figure out how to use it again. I lost an awful lot of it in 1994 when I had a hard drive crash. (Yeah I had a backup, but the backup was corrupt, go figure). All the good stuff was written specifically for the ATI Stereo*F/X card, and wouldn't work with anything else anyway.


I found Sequencer Plus on Vetusware, thanks for that suggestion - this should be fun. The older music software is great. I still compose MODs regularly and I have quite fond memories of using Triad and others on the C64 with a Sequential Circuits interface.
I went to some kind of music trade show or something and remember Sequential Circuits having a booth showing off several goodies they had for the C64. I remember being in awe and wishing I could afford any of it!

My only gripe with Sequencer Plus was always that I found it impossible to time-sync it with anything that didn't use a MIDI clock. I don't remember the details about it, other than I seem to recall pressing the spacebar to start it playing, and there was a random delay after the spacebar was pressed. I did use it a lot though. I considered setting up to run it again recently until I got my Amiga working with Bars&Pipes.

I never really got the hang of MODs. I did write a few fifteen years ago or so, but nothing that really took advantage of them. I'm working on a project right now though in Bars&Pipes, that would have been a piece of cake in OctaMED Soundstudio (which I do have but haven't installed (again) yet).

vwestlife
December 14th, 2015, 03:46 PM
Doesn't necessarily need to be sample based or anything elaborate, even a couple of channels is great.
The only tracker I located needs 286/12. It would be even more amazing if it supports Speech Thing :D
Any other suggestions for some decent music composition software is welcomed!

Galaxy Player (GLX) is the "world's fastest MOD player" and should run perfectly on a 286-10 -- I had it playing 4-channel MOD files in stereo at 22 kHz and 8-channel MODs at 16 kHz through a Sound Blaster Pro on an 8 MHz 8086. I don't know if it supports the Speech Thing (parallel port DAC), but it's worth a shot:

https://files.scene.org/get/mirrors/scenesp.org/compilations/blastersound_bbs/sbprog/GLX212.ZIP

nestor
December 15th, 2015, 09:57 AM
An awesome sequencer / tracker that runs in a 286 and has Speech Thing support is Sound Club (http://www.bluemoon.ee/history/scdos/)

gyromatical
December 15th, 2015, 07:20 PM
I went to some kind of music trade show or something and remember Sequential Circuits having a booth showing off several goodies they had for the C64. I remember being in awe and wishing I could afford any of it!

It was indeed. I didn't get my hands on one until the mid 90s, and even then it was around the $100 mark. It held it's value, seems they still go on eBay for around that if you can find one. At least the Amiga has more readily available hardware!


Galaxy Player (GLX) is the "world's fastest MOD player" and should run perfectly on a 286-10 -- I had it playing 4-channel MOD files in stereo at 22 kHz and 8-channel MODs at 16 kHz through a Sound Blaster Pro on an 8 MHz 8086. I don't know if it supports the Speech Thing (parallel port DAC), but it's worth a shot

Thanks so much! Will give this a shot.


An awesome sequencer / tracker that runs in a 286 and has Speech Thing support is Sound Club

In love! This is killer! Thanks a million :D

Maverick1978
December 16th, 2015, 01:22 PM
I always used ModPlay by Mark J Cox. Would work over PC Speaker, Covox, and any sound card. Written in assembly so it was blazing fast. I had no issues running it on any 286 that I ever tried - used to use it on a PS/2 Model 30-286 all the time (286-10), and I think we even managed to get it to run on an 8088 that had been upgraded with a V20 CPU.

http://www.awe.com/mark/dev/modplay.html

Sadly, I never had the Pro version of the software, and it seems that Mark lost his source years ago.

Later, when S3M and 669 tracker files were becoming more ubiquitous, I started using a more high-end tracker program that required a fast 386. It had a great-looking UI and a LOT of bells and whistles. I can't for the life of me remember what it was called....

Chuck(G)
December 16th, 2015, 01:59 PM
Can someone explain what "tracker" software for music does? The only music-related context in my wetware for "tracker" also includes "sticker" and "backfall". I'm pretty sure that that isn't it...

KC9UDX
December 16th, 2015, 04:06 PM
Trackers play sequences of samples. That's about it. Some are fancier than others, some do a lot of additional things.

Trixter
December 17th, 2015, 11:34 AM
An awesome sequencer / tracker that runs in a 286 and has Speech Thing support is Sound Club (http://www.bluemoon.ee/history/scdos/)

If the 286 in question has VGA, then Fasttracker (http://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=24100) is the "purest" solution (closely resembles protracker). Up to 8 channels. Uses a tweaked text mode but should be compatible with all VGA monitors.


Can someone explain what "tracker" software for music does? The only music-related context in my wetware for "tracker" also includes "sticker" and "backfall". I'm pretty sure that that isn't it...

Hey, a subject I know more about than Chuck! I'd be happy to fill you in; it's the least I can do for all of the help you've given me.

Trackers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_tracker) were music composition programs that originated on the Amiga, and used the Amiga's native 4-channel soundchip. Trackers play samples entered into a spreadsheet-like interface, where each "track" can play a singe sample. Samples can be played at higher or lower speeds (pitch control), or have their amplitude adjusted (volume). There are some rudimentary effects you can apply to a track that adjust both of those parameters over time, like vibrato, tremolo, portamento, staccato, etc.

Trackers were decidedly non-musician-friendly (the reason for the "spreadsheet" interface and hex value input is because the program authors were primarily programmers and not musicians). They didn't use typical musical terms other than notes/octaves, and most didn't support MIDI input or features. The reason they took off is because 1. Free, 2. Wavetable instruments sound much better than synthetic ones, and 3. Game/Demo friendly because the timing of the music engine was tied to the video vertical retrace interrupt, so playing music didn't interfere with the display. (the downside is that changing the display refresh frequency altered the speed of playback)

Trackers eventually were ported to non-Amiga systems; on the PC, they mixed multiple channels realtime to output through a single sound device channel like a Sound Blaster or an LPT-connected DAC (or the PC speaker using crude pulse width modulation, if you were too cheap to buy or build a DAC). So you needed a then-beefy system to increase the output quality (mixing speed), unless you had a pure hardware wavetable card like the Awe32 or the Gravis Ultrasound which handled all the mixing and playback.

Scali
December 17th, 2015, 11:45 AM
Trackers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_tracker) were music composition programs that originated on the Amiga, and used the Amiga's native 4-channel soundchip.

I would like to argue that the concept of trackers is older than the Amiga trackers, with Chris Huelsbeck's Soundmonitor on C64 being one of the first: http://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=61442
However, the most popular tracker format is the 'mod' file, and that indeed originated from the Amiga. It started with Karsten Obarski's SoundTracker (which may have been the first music program to use the name 'tracker'), then Mahoney and Kaktus' NoiseTracker, and eventually ProTracker.
You could say that the classic 4ch 'mod' file is to the Amiga what the SID file is to the C64, or the VGM file to SN76496 and similar soundchips: the 'native' format for a given soundchip/platform.

vwestlife
December 17th, 2015, 11:53 AM
One of the first trackers was actually the Tandy 1000SL/TL's DeskMate music program, released in 1988, a year before the Amiga MOD format really took off with the release of NoiseTracker in 1989.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BK4JqnfkDjI

Plasma
December 17th, 2015, 12:28 PM
That's music composition software but not really a "tracker" IMO. There was plenty of earlier composition software, like Bank Street Music Writer (1985).

Scali
December 17th, 2015, 12:36 PM
That's music composition software but not really a "tracker" IMO. There was plenty of earlier composition software, like Bank Street Music Writer (1985).

Agreed, I think what defines a 'tracker' is the use of a pattern- and channel-oriented approach, and using (hexadecimal) values in a time-based grid, rather than using staff-notation or similar 'traditional' notations.

Scali
December 17th, 2015, 12:38 PM
By the way, if you want to see true 'virtuoso' tracking, check this out: https://youtu.be/E9ErmKpTcFA
They even have 'visual' effects in the pattern data, like the 'scratching' effects, the noise etc.
There's another song by H0ffman that even plays a whole pattern in reverse.

Trixter
December 17th, 2015, 01:37 PM
One of the first trackers was actually the Tandy 1000SL/TL's DeskMate music program, released in 1988, a year before the Amiga MOD format really took off with the release of NoiseTracker in 1989.

As others have pointed out, that's not really a tracker, it's a traditional music composition program. Also, Karsten Obarski's SoundTracker was released in 1987. **HOWEVER** what you may have been trying to say but got your terminology mixed up (some people refer to player-only modplayers as trackers) is that the SL/TL's DeskMate music program was the first PC music program to mix multiple digital sounds together into a single output stream, much like PC modplayers did 1989 and later. And... I think that is actually correct. I don't know of any PC music player program that plays cpu-realtime-mixed audio before the 1988 DeskMate program.

KC9UDX
December 17th, 2015, 02:35 PM
I have a great respect for Mod composers. I tried it in the 90s, and as a classically trained musician, just couldn't do it. Well, just couldn't do a good job of it, anyway.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCtESB1dxss

Trixter
December 17th, 2015, 05:04 PM
My ears! (Don't worry, I'm classically-trained as well and I couldn't track worth a damn either)

Here's one of my favorite tracked tunes, from someone with both musical skill as well as "working around your 4-channel limitations" skills:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHkc-xE1jz0

It takes someone who is both technical and creative to track a really fantastic tune with only 4 channels. There are likely less than a thousand such individuals on the planet.

Trixter
December 17th, 2015, 05:09 PM
Of course, if you have many more channels, you can make more graceful stuff. Here's a favorite using a tracker that runs on any 386 or higher, although there are way too many channels and samples in use in this tune to actually play back on a 386 as it's not fast enough:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXTZA5bqIJ0

This seems much more complicated but is actually the same concepts: You can play a single sample per track, and can manipulate it's volume or pitch. You just have more tracks to play with. There are no fancy VST instruments in use here (which, admittedly, puts more burden on the composer).

Chuck(G)
December 17th, 2015, 05:49 PM
So do some of these trackers allow you to take wavetable sound and construct an MP3 not in real-time? i.e., take 4 hours of computation per minute of sound, say? If so, there must be some very fine manipulation possible.

KC9UDX
December 17th, 2015, 08:47 PM
Yes. I used OctaMED Soundstudio for this a lot. I made it generate IFF-16SVX, and by script ran LAME to convert it (without my intervention).

@Trixster Yes, the more channels the more graceful, but the less impressive. :D

I sure remember Banana Split. I had 100s if not 1000 Mods even before I bought those compilation CDs from Schatzruhe!

Incidentally, Weird Revolution wasn't really intended to be a song. It was just me connecting a MIDI controller to OctaMED for the first time, not trying to play anything at all. It got copy-and-pasted into a long song for filler material for an EP that the publisher wanted to be ten tracks!

vwestlife
December 17th, 2015, 09:48 PM
High-quality digitized samples, skillful tracking, and a player with good anti-aliasing and a touch of reverb on playback can go a long way towards turning a 4-channel MOD file into something that could pass for a Muzak version of Genesis. :)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_9UCdoCJLY

Scali
December 17th, 2015, 11:07 PM
Here's one of my favorite tracked tunes, from someone with both musical skill as well as "working around your 4-channel limitations" skills:

One of my all-time favourite classic 4ch Amiga mods is Space Debris by Captain (he is now in a band called Poets of the Fall, and you may have heard their music in a version of 3DMark, and in Max Payne).


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thnXzUFJnfQ

dr.zeissler
December 17th, 2015, 11:27 PM
Cool stuff here. :)

KC9UDX
December 18th, 2015, 04:43 AM
One of my all-time favourite classic 4ch Amiga mods is Space Debris by Captain (he is now in a band called Poets of the Fall, and you may have heard their music in a version of 3DMark, and in Max Payne).


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thnXzUFJnfQ
That song itself was played in some PC video game in recent years. I don't know much about modern games but overheard it when someone was playing one. I couldn't believe it.

Scali
December 18th, 2015, 06:59 AM
That song itself was played in some PC video game in recent years. I don't know much about modern games but overheard it when someone was playing one. I couldn't believe it.

Yup, it was remixed for Rochard, that may be where you heard it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsapsOqc7UI

dr.zeissler
December 18th, 2015, 07:53 AM
Sound a bit like Musik from Crystal Dreams 1 or 2.

dr.zeissler
December 18th, 2015, 07:54 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eclMFa0mD1c

Doc

Scali
December 18th, 2015, 08:30 AM
Here's a favorite using a tracker that runs on any 386 or higher, although there are way too many channels and samples in use in this tune to actually play back on a 386 as it's not fast enough

Even when using a GUS to offload the mixing to hardware?

By the way, that song is the soundtrack to Haujobb's Channel 5 Sequence:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rphZ61YohWg

Trixter
December 18th, 2015, 08:51 AM
Even when using a GUS to offload the mixing to hardware?

Not with that song, since it uses 15MB of samples, far more than any GUS has in onboard RAM. (There is an Interwave-based card that has 16MB on it but I don't think FT2 supports that much RAM on a GUS.)

Scali
December 18th, 2015, 09:15 AM
Not with that song, since it uses 15MB of samples, far more than any GUS has in onboard RAM. (There is an Interwave-based card that has 16MB on it but I don't think FT2 supports that much RAM on a GUS.)

Yea, I suppose that one is way beyond the GUS era anyway (in fact, I didn't know it was tracked).
This is a classic multichannel track that DOES run on GUS:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAtlKJLdgGc

vwestlife
December 18th, 2015, 10:45 AM
Not with that song, since it uses 15MB of samples, far more than any GUS has in onboard RAM. (There is an Interwave-based card that has 16MB on it but I don't think FT2 supports that much RAM on a GUS.)

I gotta ask... what is the point of creating a module file that's larger than an MP3? Just to see the fancy display of a tracker program as it plays? :p Is the CPU load of playing such a complex module file really any lower than playing an MP3 file?

Scali
December 18th, 2015, 11:12 AM
I gotta ask... what is the point of creating a module file that's larger than an MP3? Just to see the fancy display of a tracker program as it plays? :p Is the CPU load of playing such a complex module file really any lower than playing an MP3 file?

The CPU load is much lower.
Also, trackers predate the whole mp3 technology by a few years. Playing back mp3s on a PC didn't really take off until around 1997 or so, when fast Pentiums could play them back in the background. A 486-66 isn't fast enough to play a 128 kbps mp3 file at all.
Other advantages of tracker music over mp3 can be that the pattern data can also be used to trigger visual effects/synchronization.

KC9UDX
December 18th, 2015, 11:18 AM
And it can be edited, rearranged, and modified on-the-fly.

Oh and of course it's almost mandatory to rip samples from them. :)

vwestlife
December 18th, 2015, 11:52 AM
A 486-66 isn't fast enough to play a 128 kbps mp3 file at all.

It could play if you downsampled it to 22 kHz. Or you could try MP2 or even MP1, which have lower CPU requirements than MP3.

Scali
December 18th, 2015, 12:16 PM
It could play if you downsampled it to 22 kHz. Or you could try MP2 or even MP1, which have lower CPU requirements than MP3.

Well, there's your answer... You need to downsample to even get it playing, at 100% CPU.
A 486 can easily play a mod with 8 or more channels at 44 KHz, with 10-20% CPU, which will sound better than a downsampled mp3 file.

Trixter
December 18th, 2015, 12:25 PM
I gotta ask... what is the point of creating a module file that's larger than an MP3? Just to see the fancy display of a tracker program as it plays? :p Is the CPU load of playing such a complex module file really any lower than playing an MP3 file?

That's an excellent question. With a 32-instrument, 15MB file .xm, the composer wasn't going for size or efficiency, but rather was just making music using a tool he was familiar with. mp3s were not common when he distributed that song, so he just distributed the .xm module. He is still active, and his stuff is mp3s on bandcamp just like everyone else :-) rather than the ableton/protools/reason/etc. project files that created them.

IIRC, it takes a 486-100 with a special optimized DOS player to play back MP3s at 44KHz, and you're right about a 486-66 being able to play back at 22KHz. The deficiencies are because of the floating-point speed, which had increased dramatically in the Pentium. Any Pentium at any period-accurate speed should be able to play any mp3 just fine.

I have no idea if a 486-66 is enough power to mix 32 16-bit tracks @ 44.1KHz realtime, but that would be very easy for someone to verify, and cool to know. Were someone to perform this test, I'd load up the song, set the playback rate to 11Khz, start playing, seek to the section that has the most channels going at once, then start bumping up the sample rate (you can do this while it is playing in Fasttracker 2) and see what samplerate it croaks at. If you get up to 44.1KHz, start upping the mixing quality (but once you hit "sinc" it may crap out because sinc interpolation uses floating point IIRC).

Scali
December 18th, 2015, 01:27 PM
The deficiencies are because of the floating-point speed, which had increased dramatically in the Pentium.

That is not entirely true.
You can decode mp3 with a pure integer-solution as well (see libMAD (http://www.underbit.com/products/mad/) for example), and early mpeg/mp3 players were all fixedpoint (I believe the faster Pentium ones were as well, but there were 'quality' ones that used floating point for better accuracy. There were also MMX-optimized players, which obviously were integer as well).

codeman
December 18th, 2015, 01:47 PM
I did this mod player long time ago should run on a 286 its all asm code uses advanced gravis .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvgK5aTLb5E
ken

vwestlife
December 18th, 2015, 03:40 PM
Well, there's your answer... You need to downsample to even get it playing, at 100% CPU.
A 486 can easily play a mod with 8 or more channels at 44 KHz, with 10-20% CPU, which will sound better than a downsampled mp3 file.

Only if the module file uses high-quality 16-bit samples, which are a rarity, as most use 8-bit 16.5 kHz samples. Sometimes the drums were sampled at 28 kHz, but usually not the instruments.

Module files still can certainly sound very good, but due to the low sampling rates involved with most of them, there's always a tradeoff between the "sizzle" of using little or no anti-aliasing (a.k.a. interpolation) during playback and the dullness of using full anti-aliasing. Some players attempt to adjust this differently for each sample, using less aggressive anti-aliasing on periodic samples (since they usually contain synthesizer tones, on which the "sizzle" is less objectionable and can actually help to brighten up the sound) and more aggressive anti-aliasing on non-periodic samples.

Plasma
December 18th, 2015, 04:04 PM
High-quality digitized samples, skillful tracking, and a player with good anti-aliasing and a touch of reverb on playback can go a long way towards turning a 4-channel MOD file into something that could pass for a Muzak version of Genesis. :)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_9UCdoCJLY

Ewww, sounds like an old MIDI file...

vwestlife
December 18th, 2015, 04:19 PM
Ewww, sounds like an old MIDI file...

Unless you have good wavetable synthesis, MIDI sounds even worse. :p

Plasma
December 18th, 2015, 04:46 PM
I dunno, I think that's about what Microsoft's crappy soft synth sounds like :P

I actually prefer OPL2/3 MIDI vs crappy wavetable. But maybe that's just nostalgia.

KC9UDX
December 18th, 2015, 05:18 PM
MIDI only ever sounds as good as the instruments you control with it. It's not a sound format at all. Lots of people including myself use MIDI and if you think MIDI sounds like Adlib, you'd never know it.

You can play MP3s on machines with very limited processing. MP3 player cards were pretty popular at one point.

Someone wrote a utility to use the MC56000 on the Delfina to play MP3s. I can play them on a stock A2000 with that. But there were much simpler and probably better solutions, especially for other platforms.

vwestlife
December 18th, 2015, 08:50 PM
Someone wrote a utility to use the MC56000 on the Delfina to play MP3s. I can play them on a stock A2000 with that. But there were much simpler and probably better solutions, especially for other platforms.

There's also an external parallel port MP3 decoder for Amigas:


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

Scali
December 19th, 2015, 01:14 AM
Only if the module file uses high-quality 16-bit samples, which are a rarity, as most use 8-bit 16.5 kHz samples. Sometimes the drums were sampled at 28 kHz, but usually not the instruments.

That's not necessarily true.
If you use 16-bit mixing with 8-bit samples, you still get better than 8-bit overall precision, because you apply volume afterwards.
Likewise, if you play notes at a higher pitch than what they were sampled at, you effectively have higher sample-rate.
Aside from that, most replay routines use interpolation during resampling. So the waveforms are smoothed out, removing any aliasing from low sample rates.
The only limit is that you won't get high-frequency components in the source sample, but especially for instruments that don't have these (take bass for example), there is no issue with relatively low sample rates for the resulting quality.

In short: Decently crafted MODs definitely sound better than mp3s at 22 KHz, and you certainly don't need 16-bit samples and high sample rates for all instruments.
And then we're not even getting into the downsides of mp3s yet, at lower bitrates. They have all other sorts of quality issues because of the lossy compression.

As an aside, there is also a hybrid format known as .mo3. It's basically an XM file where the samples are mp3-compressed.
Also, there's a reason for 8-bit samples and 28 KHz in MODs: these are the limits of the Amiga's Paula chip.
So yes, proper ProTracker MODs will have 8-bit samples by definition, and never higher than 28 KHz, because the hardware can't handle it.
Many later songs made with PC trackers still re-used various instruments from Amiga, so even though the PC trackers were capable of better samples, they weren't always used. There was this huge library of great instruments around already.

Scali
December 19th, 2015, 01:26 AM
You can play MP3s on machines with very limited processing. MP3 player cards were pretty popular at one point.

Someone wrote a utility to use the MC56000 on the Delfina to play MP3s. I can play them on a stock A2000 with that. But there were much simpler and probably better solutions, especially for other platforms.

Well, mp3 is certainly not cheap if you don't have dedicated hardware for it.
On accelerated Amigas (A1200 with 060 at 60 MHz usually), it is common to use an ADPCM format with 14-bit resolution in stereo as the soundtrack to a demo.
This relies on a simple trick: The Amiga has 4 channels, configured as two left and two right channels, each with 8-bit resolution and 65 volume levels.
By setting the volume of the two channels of a side the right way, you can basically play the low byte of a sample with one and the high byte with the other, and they will be 'added' by the analog circuit that mixes the output of the two DACs to the single channel. This gives you an effective resolution of 14-bit per channel.

They choose ADPCM because it has a very low CPU load, just like the native MOD format. MP3 would work in 14-bit and it would sound good, but it would tie up most of your CPU for the audio.
The 14-bit trick is also used for software mixing sometimes, giving more of a 'PC Tracker' effect on the Amiga, allowing higher resolution, more channels, and techniques such as interpolation.
To increase quality even further, you can also bang the sound chips directly with the CPU rather than letting them use DMA transfers. The DMA transfers are limited to 28 KHz, but if you push each sample manually, you can easily exceed 44 KHz. Even a stock Amiga 500 could play 56 KHz samples with the CPU.

vwestlife
December 19th, 2015, 01:29 PM
In short: Decently crafted MODs definitely sound better than mp3s at 22 KHz, and you certainly don't need 16-bit samples and high sample rates for all instruments.

It really depends on the style of music, and whether or not it was specifically composed and arranged to be played in a module format. The biggest problem is that changing the pitch of a sample also changes its speed. With techno/EDM music that is largely synthesizer based, this is not really that noticeable, and taking advantage of the characteristics of modules and trackers in these compositions can become a musical art form unto itself.

But acoustic instruments will come out sounding very artificial because the speed change with each note totally screws up the A/S/D/R envelope. Plus, on instruments that contain tremolo or vibrato, such as strings or an electric organ with the Leslie effect, the speed of the tremolo/vibrato will also speed up or slow down along with the pitch. And unless you use multiple channels per instrument, you cannot overlap notes, to allow the sustain of one note to carry over into the next. The Tandy Deskmate Christmas Medley is a perfect example of all of this, with its highly artificial-sounding piano and strings.

Some module files have attempted to work around these limitations by recording short passages of music into each sample instead of individual notes, such as "Guitar Slinger" and "Electric Church", but that is only practical when the song contains highly repetitive riffs -- and the more you do that, the more your MOD file ends up just being a series of PCM files played in sequence (such as "tjdemo1").

Scali
December 19th, 2015, 03:16 PM
It really depends on the style of music, and whether or not it was specifically composed and arranged to be played in a module format.

It's useless to try and compare MODs to MP3s because they come from a different era.
Having fully sampled music soundtracks simply wasn't an option when the Amiga came out. The only common media was the floppy disk, which neither had the capacity nor the throughput to play a whole soundtrack in digital form.
And the CPU did not have the power to use any advanced compression techniques on the audio either.
As said before, MOD is to the Amiga as SID music is to the C64. It's a compact and efficient way to make music on a given platform.

It's rather unusual that MODs and trackers became so popular on other systems as well, which essentially had to emulate the Amiga audio hardware in order to play these files. But that is a testament to how revolutionary the Amiga's audio chip was at the time. Entirely sample-based, where everything else was just a basic synthesizer chip. It gave composers a lot more flexibility than before.

MP3 is more like CD-audio. Sure, once PCs had CD players that could just store the audio, and play it as background music to a game, it was a great option. But prior to that it was rather useless, since PCs couldn't play CDs. So arguing that the CD audio of a game sounds better than the Adlib audio or whatnot is somewhat missing the point.
They aren't competing technologies.

vwestlife
December 19th, 2015, 05:21 PM
It's rather unusual that MODs and trackers became so popular on other systems as well, which essentially had to emulate the Amiga audio hardware in order to play these files. But that is a testament to how revolutionary the Amiga's audio chip was at the time.

MODs became popular on PCs because it was a cheap and easy way to cram a lot of songs onto one CD-ROM. At computer shows in the '90s there were tons of CD-ROMs available that advertised "Over 4000 songs for your PC!" All these companies did was just download every module file they could ever find on BBSes, throw in a MOD player program, and put it on a CD-ROM. Usually they didn't even pay any attention to duplicate files, so you often came across 3 or 4 copies of the same song on the disc, helping to boost the claimed number of songs it contained.

At least this one was nice enough to say "No duplicates!"... "A computer music lover's dream!"

http://www.pcmuseum.ca/images/AMAMaximumMods-2-750.jpg

Trixter
December 19th, 2015, 06:22 PM
MODs became popular on PCs because it was a cheap and easy way to cram a lot of songs onto one CD-ROM.

I don't think that statement is accurate. MODs and their ilk became popular because they allowed for much higher quality audio than using just MIDI or FM synthesized instruments, while not taking up as much space as a .WAV file. Packing a lot of music onto a CDROM came later, after they were already popular. I was filling disk after disk with MODs in 1990; CDROM compilations were several years later. The earliest CDROM dedicated to MODs (similar to the concept of what you posted) I've ever seen was Ultimate MOD Collection from 1992 (which I bought at Chicago's only all-Amiga store at the time).

I see something very interesting in the cover you posted: A year of 1995 and there is a URL on it. It's a ~user URL, but still, that's about a year earlier than when other companies jumped on the bandwagon. Neat.

Chuck(G)
December 19th, 2015, 06:31 PM
But acoustic instruments will come out sounding very artificial because the speed change with each note totally screws up the A/S/D/R envelope. Plus, on instruments that contain tremolo or vibrato, such as strings or an electric organ with the Leslie effect, the speed of the tremolo/vibrato will also speed up or slow down along with the pitch. And unless you use multiple channels per instrument, you cannot overlap notes, to allow the sustain of one note to carry over into the next. The Tandy Deskmate Christmas Medley is a perfect example of all of this, with its highly artificial-sounding piano and strings.

Even very good sampled instruments don't admit to much manipulation. Take, for example, a bassoon. The low register has a very different sound texture than the higher registers. Almost any real instrument has a limited range where a sample can be adjusted pitch- and time-wise. I've used tools like Audacity and the old CoolEdit to make minor changes in pitch and time to pre-recorded tracks--it only works across a very small range before it begins sounding phony.

And, as mentioned, real instruments aren't usually pure tones--tremolo, vibrato and articulation are all time-dependent, not to mention attack and release.

Trixter
December 19th, 2015, 06:36 PM
It's rather unusual that MODs and trackers became so popular on other systems as well, which essentially had to emulate the Amiga audio hardware in order to play these files. But that is a testament to how revolutionary the Amiga's audio chip was at the time.

MODs became popular on other systems because the audio files were so diverse and of such a high quality. That isn't a testament to the Amiga's design; it was a testament to the talent of the composers. I'm anticipating your next statement to be "trackers wouldn't exist without the Amiga". Possibly, but that's irrelevant. I wrote a PC modplayer to play mods, not to emulate a Paula ;-)

There were ways to compose with wavetable instruments on personal computers before trackers on the amiga. DeskMate 3.x music was noted before, but I'll throw out something earlier: Deluxe Music Construction Set (1986) for the Apple IIgs and Amiga. On the IIgs, samples were limited to 64K but the native Ensoniq hardware could play 15 of them instead of Amiga's 4. I mention these because I think it brings up an even more interesting discussion: Why did Amiga trackers succeed in making wavetable music on the desktop popular, when previous attempts failed? This is even harder to answer given how arcane and unfriendly tracker interfaces are to traditional music writing methods.

Scali
December 20th, 2015, 02:43 AM
MODs became popular on other systems because the audio files were so diverse and of such a high quality. That isn't a testament to the Amiga's design; it was a testament to the talent of the composers. I'm anticipating your next statement to be "trackers wouldn't exist without the Amiga". Possibly, but that's irrelevant. I wrote a PC modplayer to play mods, not to emulate a Paula ;-)

I don't think you understood the point I tried to make, so let me try again:
The Amiga was the first machine to have a simple form of 'wavetable synthesis'. That is the revolutionary part. Before that you had sound chips like SID, POKEY, SN76489 and whatnot. Amiga's sound capabilities opened up completely new possibilities.

I certainly won't claim that trackers wouldn't exist without the Amiga. Just look up my earlier post in this very thread, where I point out Soundmonitor on the C64 as an early example of a tracker. The idea of trackers as music editors (even including sample playback, because the C64 could do that on a single channel) existed before it became popular on the Amiga. It's just that things really took off once the Amiga arrived, because its audio hardware was unlike anything that went before it, and going full sample-based completely changed the way computer music sounded. The tracker interface worked very well for 'optimizing' music for a given audio chip (low number of channels, frame-based music routines etc), and it suited the Amiga very well.

And you wrote a PC modplayer to play Amiga mods, so you were emulating a Paula even though you may not have fully realized it :)
Because you cannot deny that the MOD format is tied VERY closely to the Amiga hardware, down to using the Amiga's timer division for note pitch, and the Amiga's 65-level volume. You had to convert that to something a PC could play, so you were emulating.
It was only the second generation of trackers on PC (Scream Tracker 3, FastTracker 2) that actually moved away from the Amiga, and evolved into something more native to the PC hardware at the time.


There were ways to compose with wavetable instruments on personal computers before trackers on the amiga.

That's not really the point. The point is that the Amiga was the first home computer where the stock hardware was aimed at wavetable, so you didn't have to burn all your CPU on software mixing at low quality.
MODs didn't really come into their own on the PC until we had fast 386/486 systems, where you actually had enough CPU power to get good quality mixing AND have enough CPU left to do an actual game or demo in the foreground. An Amiga could already do that in 1985 (it's just that it took a few years for the actual tracker software to mature on the platform, but I was talking about the hardware capabilities that made it possible).
DeskMate or DMCS aren't anything like ProTracker. Neither in sound, in user-interface, nor CPU-load. This is a pars-pro-toto fallacy.

I mean, I'm not sure if I have to point this out to anyone... but on an Amiga, playing back a MOD takes virtually no CPU at all. You just need to update a few registers every frame, a fast replay routine can play back even the most complex songs on Amiga in about 10 scanlines time. Which is similar to the cost of SID music on a C64 for example.
On other platforms it's very different, because they have to perform CPU-intensive software mixing. You shouldn't compare the two. MOD was not designed for PCs or software mixing. It was designed for Amiga, for playing high-quality music in the background of a CPU-intensive game or demo.
Which it did very well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYxIJxqrv6U

Scali
December 20th, 2015, 03:07 AM
Or perhaps this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZg0-nQ0-pM

Other computers from around 1985 have nothing on this.

There is a painful bit of irony in the fact that once CPUs became fast enough on PCs, that games and demos started using software mixing and use the soundcard as nothing more than a 'dumb' DAC to play Amiga music (literally, a lot of early games and demos use MODs made in ProTracker on Amiga), rather than using the onboard synthesizer.
Which, as I said, is a testament to the Amiga, which pushed audio chips in home/personal computers into new directions.
Once MODs became popular on PC, new soundcards emerged which had RAM-based wavetable capabilities, such as the Gravis UltraSound or the Sound Blaster AWE32. More or less Paula-on-steroids.

vwestlife
December 20th, 2015, 02:35 PM
The Atari ST (which predates the Amiga, if just slightly :p ) can play MOD files as well. The sound is only mono unless you have an STe, and I don't know what the CPU load is like, but it certainly can be done.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW9Htn1Z02Q

Scali
December 20th, 2015, 03:03 PM
The Atari ST (which predates the Amiga, if just slightly :p ) can play MOD files as well. The sound is only mono unless you have an STe, and I don't know what the CPU load is like, but it certainly can be done.

Yes, it can do it, poorly, while eating all your CPU (because it is using the CPU to try and emulate the Amiga hardware). Heck, we've shown that even a stock IBM 5150 from 1981 can play MODs...
You can't use that as background music for a game or demo. Which was the whole point.

vwestlife
December 20th, 2015, 09:58 PM
You can't use that as background music for a game or demo. Which was the whole point.

But if you wanted better music in Atari ST games, you could easily connect it to an external synthesizer, thanks to its built-in MIDI ports. :)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZEZBx0odO4

Scali
December 20th, 2015, 10:53 PM
But if you wanted better music in Atari ST games, you could easily connect it to an external synthesizer, thanks to its built-in MIDI ports. :)

Yes, but there was no MIDI synthesizer built-in, nor was there any kind of General MIDI standardization yet (so connecting it to 'a synthesizer' isn't going to work), so that's not what you'd get with regular games and demos.
You'd mostly get horrible sounds from the YM chip, which sounded worse than some of the 8-bit machines. Nobody ever bothered to emulate YM music on other platforms for games/demos. The sound was by far the weakest point of the Atari ST.
Sierra just backported their MT-32 music from the PC version (which they were sponsored to support, I believe, making the MT-32 a sort of de-facto MIDI standard before General MIDI). Not too many people used MT-32 on a PC, because of the cost of the system, and I bet there were even less people who'd use it on the Atari.
As you can see here, pretty much all MIDI titles (and not a lot of them) were from Sierra: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_MT-32-compatible_computer_games#Atari_ST
And as you can also see, even the Amiga versions of some of these Sierra games have MIDI.

Funny enough, Cubase actually started on C64 (sold with a MIDI kit that plugged into the cartridge port).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63BqhISzJC8

dr.zeissler
December 21st, 2015, 01:11 AM
One of the best experiences for SQ3 is with a combination of ST and MT-32 and SC1224.
Perfect picture and perfect sound. I recommend it over the PC-Version.
But it's a strange thing, that SQ3 on the PC has Voice-Samples that were not played
with the MT32. It's only with a Tandy TL/SL.

Scali
December 21st, 2015, 02:23 AM
But it's a strange thing, that SQ3 on the PC has Voice-Samples that were not played
with the MT32. It's only with a Tandy TL/SL.

The MT-32 is not capable of playing samples.
Some games support a combination of MT-32 for music and Sound Blaster for digital effects.

dr.zeissler
December 21st, 2015, 02:32 AM
Could they be uploaded as custom samples?

Scali
December 21st, 2015, 02:47 AM
Could they be uploaded as custom samples?

I don't think so, I believe it only has ROM for samples.
It's LA synthesis, which means that notes are played by playing a short 'attack' sample from ROM, and then it sort of 'blends' over into 'analog' subtractive synthesis (or in some cases the short sample can be looped, which is similar to 'chiptune' mods, with short repetitive samples).

bjt
December 21st, 2015, 03:38 AM
While the MT-32 doesn't have sample RAM as such, some games play MT-32 custom patches where they would play digital FX in Sound Blaster mode. X-Wing (floppy) does this in several places and I believe some Westwood games can too (Kyrandia, Lands of Lore, Dune II). Obviously while this might work for an explosion effect, it's impossible for speech.

vwestlife
December 21st, 2015, 07:36 AM
The sound was by far the weakest point of the Atari ST.

It was adequate for the era and cost, and at least they improved it in the STe and Falcon, whereas the Amiga retained its original 8-bit audio until end of production, by which time it had really fallen behind the capabilities of even modestly-priced PC sound cards, as well as the game consoles the CD32 was intended to compete with.

But there's no use arguing, because both systems had their strengths and weaknesses. The Amiga's strength was graphics and professional video production (with add-ons like the Video Toaster), while the ST's strength was MIDI sequencing, widely used by professional musicians.

Maverick1978
December 21st, 2015, 07:38 AM
Yes, it can do it, poorly, while eating all your CPU (because it is using the CPU to try and emulate the Amiga hardware). Heck, we've shown that even a stock IBM 5150 from 1981 can play MODs...
You can't use that as background music for a game or demo. Which was the whole point.
I call bullshit....

A mod file is just a container file that holds the samples used in the song, and then the "music" used by the composer. PLAYING the MOD file on a PC or an ST does NOT require that one emulate Amiga hardware to do so. It simply requires that one be able to decode the file format and handle it in the same manner as is required by the format.

Your argument is like saying that one must emulate an x86 processor to decompress a ZIP file on another computer. Again, bullshit. One just have to know how to handle that file format and then write the code on the desired platform to do so.

MODs appeared on the Amiga because it was basically the only computer offered at the time that gave relatively high-quality sound hardware with the cost of the computer. This wasn't something that you got with the PC, C64, or Apple II, and while it was possible with the ST, the user base wasn't there to drive the technology.

The fact is, the Amiga is designed with several custom chips that handle parallel processing tasks along with the CPU. You don't get alot of CPU usage when playing MODs on an Amiga because the specialized chips are doing the hardware processing, not the CPU, and I sincerely doubt that there's many tools (if any) that will measure this.

On the PC, the CPU does everything, essentially. Even with a sound card. So playing MODs is more intensive, and playing mod files with more than 4 channels requires a fast 386 processor.

You're arguing apples and oranges here, Scali...

Scali
December 21st, 2015, 08:50 AM
A mod file is just a container file that holds the samples used in the song, and then the "music" used by the composer.

But...
1) The samples are in Amiga-specific format (Sound Blaster DACs use a different binary representation for example, they use excess-N rather than 2s complement).
2) The music data contains values that can be fed directly to the Amiga registers (as I said, things like volume and pitch are hardware-specific values).
3) The data is stored in big-endian format, where x86 uses little-endian.

Add to that that other computers of the era did not have 4 DAC channels but usually only one or two (stereo), and you had to perform software mixing as well.

All these translations mean you're essentially building an emulator.
If you call 'bullshit', I suggest you look up what the term 'emulator' means, and what it doesn't mean.
I'm not saying you need to build software that can run all Amiga hardware. I'm just saying that you need to create a 'software synthesizer' that can process Amiga-specific data, and convert it to something specific for your machine.

I'm thinking you:
1) Don't know the details of the MOD format
2) Don't know what an emulator is in the strict sense


MODs appeared on the Amiga because it was basically the only computer offered at the time that gave relatively high-quality sound hardware with the cost of the computer. This wasn't something that you got with the PC, C64, or Apple II, and while it was possible with the ST, the user base wasn't there to drive the technology.

This shows a clear lack of understanding how machine-specific MODs are.
You could apply the same argument to the C64's SID for example... "SIDs appeared on the C64 because it was basically the only computer offered at the time that gave relatively high-quality sound hardware with the cost of the computer."
Because after all, you can play SIDs on a lot of other computers as well, right?
MODs may not contain actual machine code, like SIDs do (mainly because the size/speed tradeoff for 68k code vs data is different), but they are a very low-level, machine-specific music format, very similar to SID.

The pt2play-routine is the most accurate routine around, and goes through great lengths to simulate various Paula-specific quirks to make sure it sounds like it does on a real Amiga: http://pastebin.com/pg95YduC


The fact is, the Amiga is designed with several custom chips that handle parallel processing tasks along with the CPU. You don't get alot of CPU usage when playing MODs on an Amiga because the specialized chips are doing the hardware processing, not the CPU, and I sincerely doubt that there's many tools (if any) that will measure this.

Sounds like you know nothing about the oldskool ways. Measuring CPU with tools? Pah, n00bs! We just change the background colour at strategic points in the code. Oldest trick in the book (which is why I expressed the cost in terms of scanlines in an earlier post. You just visualize and count them).
Here's an example of me doing it at an early stage of the 8088 MPH compiled sprites routine. The blue background shows the time it takes to draw the sprites (racing the beam):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StPvxMdiIrk

You seem to think about specialized chips the way they are used today, hidden behind drivers and hardware abstraction layers. On the Amiga, you accessed the hardware directly, and a lot of the data in the MOD file is fed directly to the chips.

KC9UDX
December 21st, 2015, 09:01 AM
It was adequate for the era and cost, and at least they improved it in the STe and Falcon, whereas the Amiga retained its original 8-bit audio until end of production, by which time it had really fallen behind the capabilities of even modestly-priced PC sound cards, as well as the game consoles the CD32 was intended to compete with.

It wasn't really a problem. Technically, Amigas typically use 14-bit audio.

I think Commodore had an official solution involving the MC56000. But we all know what happened there.

There were some really nice sound cards for the Amiga, but they weren't popular because the inbuilt audio was good enough.

My biggest gripe was the lack of audio input. But there too, there were plenty of aftermarket solutions.

Scali
December 21st, 2015, 09:09 AM
It was adequate for the era and cost

Well, I strongly disagree with that.
The ST sounds horrible for a 16-bit machine. It doesn't even sound as good as a C64 in my opinion.
There's a reason for this: the engineers at Atari wanted to develop their own sound chip. But because Tramiel insisted that the ST be on the market before the Amiga, they had to scrap their own design, because it wouldn't be ready in time, and used an off-the-shelf chip instead.


But there's no use arguing, because both systems had their strengths and weaknesses. The Amiga's strength was graphics and professional video production (with add-ons like the Video Toaster), while the ST's strength was MIDI sequencing, widely used by professional musicians.

Owning an Atari 1040STe for Cubase use only, and Amiga for everything else, my view is that if the Atari ST didn't have MIDI, it would have been a complete failure.
The Amiga was better at everything, and would also have been a great MIDI sequencer. It's just that MIDI didn't come standard, so people went for the out-of-the-box MIDI with Atari. I think Atari lucked out there, they most probably didn't foresee it taking off with Cubase.

KC9UDX
December 21st, 2015, 09:42 AM
I bought an ST to run Cubase. I ended up running Bars&Pipes on an Amiga instead.

I had the ST for probably 15 years and the first time I got round to powering it up, I took pictures and sold it, very quickly. So I never got to experience Cubase on the ST.

But, Amiga does MIDI pretty well.

Trixter
December 21st, 2015, 09:42 AM
This shows a clear lack of understanding how machine-specific MODs are.


They're not that machine-specific. MODs don't contain machine-specific code. Signed samples are not an Amiga discovery, nor are big-endian integers. In fact, only the use of the Amiga period table is Amiga-specific. (No need to mention the Filter toggle, there are less than ten modules that actually use it.)

You expressed surprise in a previous post that MODs were successful outside of the Amiga; doesn't their success outside of the Amiga prove they couldn't have been all that machine-specific?

This conversation is starting to piss me off. You don't have to talk down to people just because they had different experiences than you did.

Scali
December 21st, 2015, 10:09 AM
They're not that machine-specific.

Yes they are.
If they weren't machine-specific, they would use note frequencies or indices or such, rather than Paula DMA periods, for example.
There are other, smaller details, that you may not even be aware of, such as sample positions (for loops etc) always being an even number.


Signed samples are not an Amiga discovery, nor are big-endian integers.

I didn't say they were. I just said they were native to the Amiga. Had a MOD-ish format been designed for a different platform, or for multi-platform, then different choices would have been made (some PC trackers use excess-N samples, and different note data etc). But no, the design choices are Amiga-specific.


You expressed surprise in a previous post that MODs were successful outside of the Amiga; doesn't their success outside of the Amiga prove they couldn't have been all that machine-specific?

No, that is a fallacy.
The fact that something is implemented on other platforms doesn't say anything about how difficult or inefficient this is.
That's like saying the Amiga hardware couldn't be all that special, because you can emulate it on many other systems with UAE.


This conversation is starting to piss me off. You don't have to talk down to people just because they had different experiences than you did.

The conversation is pissing me off as well. I take offense at someone saying "I call bullshit" to things I write. I wasn't the one who started talking down people. I just thought that guy should be put in his place. It's obvious he doesn't know what he's talking about anyway.
I have written plenty of Amiga code over the years, including playing around with ProTracker routines. One of the first audio projects I did on PC in the 90s was also a MOD player.
I'm just trying to share my knowledge and experience on the subject, and I don't liked being talked down to and my posts being called 'bullshit'. It's not. I'm telling it like it is, no more, no less. I know what I'm talking about.

Let me spell it out one last time for the completely clueless:
My point is that when the MOD format was designed, compromises were made to make it compact and efficient on Amiga hardware.
If MOD was a 'generic' format, where the primary goal was to get the best possible music quality, different choices would have been made, to allow for higher quality instruments, better effects etc.
There are various other music programs on Amiga that try different things, such as AHX and OctaMED. These are not popular for games and demos however, because of the CPU load.

Maverick1978
December 21st, 2015, 03:10 PM
While not a programmer, I've been an in-depth power user over many platforms, including the Amiga, since grade school. That's pushing nearly 30 years. A bit younger than you, perhaps ;) That said, I'm very familiar with how the Amiga's work, how they address their custom chips, and also the term emulator, both in the modern sense and the classic sense. You specifically referenced that mod players emulated Amiga hardware. In the modern use of the word emulator, with "modern" being the accepted definition in use since the mid-late 90's when emulation programs first started appearing - coincidentally about the same time the MOD format came into being and then appearing on PC platforms soon after - hardware is implemented in real-time via software and typically requires a fast computer in order for the software running on the emulator to be utilized at "normal" speed. In that sense, which is how pretty much ANY user these days (or 20 years ago) would take for the definition of the word "emulator" being used in the context for which you used it - then no, a trakker program on a PC or other computer is not emulating an Amiga computer or any of its hardware in any way, shape, or form.

IE I called bullshit. Perhaps not the most forum-friendly way to have done so. My apologies for that.

If you're using the term "emulator" in the loosest sense, where an "emulator" is anything that attempts to perform an action that something else normally does - such as making concessions for any compromises in the design of the container format that is a MOD file - then perhaps... from a left-field point of view... one could consider a trakker program on a PC to be an emulator of Amiga hardware. In the same way that a 8088 PC emulates an Apple II. Or a Commodore 64 emulates an Apple. Because they all perform tasks based upon user input. Copying the actions initially performed on another device.

This does NOT mean that a PC emulates a C64's hardware, or that C64 emulates an Apple's hardware, etc. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Don't get all uppity because you incorrectly stated that trakker programs eat cpu cycles "to try and emulate the Amiga hardware" - that's just incorrect information, and defending it from a bully pulpit isn't going to make the statement any more correct.

With that said... I will agree wholeheartedly with your spelling things out for the completely clueless - which, I'm assuming, meant me, however incorrect that is :) But I'll take that one on the chin since I started the poop slinging with my bullshit comment :) THAT statement is 100% correct. If you'd said that from the get-go instead of defending your "emulate Amiga hardware" statement, you wouldn't have had me calling bullshit, or Trixter calling you out from a much more informed point than I am, since he's obviously a highly talented programmer that's been in the game since those early days.

cthulhu
December 21st, 2015, 10:17 PM
On a mostly unrelated note, did you know the ECS and AGA Amigas can do up to 56 kHz audio DMA in certain screenmodes?

Scali
December 21st, 2015, 10:46 PM
On a mostly unrelated note, did you know the ECS and AGA Amigas can do up to 56 kHz audio DMA in certain screenmodes?

Yea, that's what I said earlier, if you use the CPU to write to the sound chip directly, rather than using DMA.
I believe AGA machines can go even higher than 56 KHz.

cthulhu
December 21st, 2015, 10:52 PM
Yea, that's what I said earlier, if you use the CPU to write to the sound chip directly, rather than using DMA.
I believe AGA machines can go even higher than 56 KHz.

But I'm not talking about using the CPU. Reread what I wrote.

Scali
December 21st, 2015, 10:57 PM
In the modern use of the word emulator, with "modern" being the accepted definition in use since the mid-late 90's when emulation programs first started appearing - coincidentally about the same time the MOD format came into being and then appearing on PC platforms soon after - hardware is implemented in real-time via software and typically requires a fast computer in order for the software running on the emulator to be utilized at "normal" speed.

This is not correct.
Have you ever heard of JIT-compilers? These are sometimes applied in emulation. For example, WinUAE has a JIT-compiler, and VirtualPC for the PowerPC Apples did as well.
Or the x86 Windows-on-Windows layer for DEC Alpha for example.
Java and .NET apply the same concept, except they 'emulate' a virtual CPU, not a physical one.
DirectX shaders on GPUs also work this way: they are compiled to bytecode for a virtual GPU, and when they are being applied to an actual rendering operation, the driver will compile the bytecode to native GPU code.

These JIT-compilers compile a piece of code 'just in time', which generally means the first time it is called. Once the code is compiled, the native code is cached, and subsequent calls to that same code will be redirected to the cached native code directly.
In some cases, the performance of this recompiled code is actually higher than that of the original system.

And this is very similar to MODs. On Amiga they are played as-is. On other systems, a lot of data needs to be translated. This may be done when the MOD is first loaded, rather than during actual playback, but that is just similar to the JIT-style of emulating a processor.
Software mixing is similar to how emulators interpret instructions one-at-a-time in a state-machine.
The software mixing buffer is a bit of state that only exists to emulate how an Amiga works, and is not something that is physically present on the real thing. It is part of the translation/emulation you're doing.


Don't get all uppity because you incorrectly stated that trakker programs eat cpu cycles "to try and emulate the Amiga hardware" - that's just incorrect information, and defending it from a bully pulpit isn't going to make the statement any more correct.

Even if you don't want to accept the term 'emulation', it doesn't change the fact that MODs played on most platforms eat a lot more CPU cycles than on Amiga, because they have to do software mixing.


Trixter calling you out from a much more informed point than I am, since he's obviously a highly talented programmer that's been in the game since those early days.

Yes, Trixter has been in it for about as long as I have, perhaps even longer. But he's looking at it from the PC side, where I come from C64 and Amiga.

Scali
December 21st, 2015, 11:07 PM
But I'm not talking about using the CPU. Reread what I wrote.

Oh right... Well I knew about AGA being able to do double-speed DMA.

cthulhu
December 21st, 2015, 11:18 PM
And having a 56 kHz sample rate is actually useful too as there are some clever things you can do with noise shaping to improve perceived sound quality that you can't really do very well at 44.1 kHz.

KC9UDX
December 22nd, 2015, 04:51 AM
AmigaOS 4.x uses a JIT scheme to run 68k programs, too.

dr.zeissler
December 22nd, 2015, 10:35 PM
Is it possible to port glx2.12 (galaxy music player) to support the tandy-dac and the tandy/cga ?

vwestlife
December 22nd, 2015, 10:46 PM
Is it possible to port glx2.12 (galaxy music player) to support the tandy-dac and the tandy/cga ?

I don't know why GLX doesn't get along with CGA. It works fine in MDA text mode. So if you have a Tandy 1000RL/SL/TL with a sound card, you can run it in monochrome mode by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Shift+V to switch the onboard video into MDA/Hercules mode.

Scali
December 23rd, 2015, 01:36 AM
Is it possible to port glx2.12 (galaxy music player) to support the tandy-dac and the tandy/cga ?

I don't think the source-code is available, so Tandy DAC support would have to be patched in-place into the binary.
I believe the Tandy DAC works much the same as a DAC on the parallel port (eg Covox), as in, you write 8-bit values at a given interval.
So perhaps just patching the parallel port address to the Tandy DAC address would be enough to make it work.

dr.zeissler
December 23rd, 2015, 04:13 AM
My T1000RL/HD has a XTIDE in the only 8Bit ISA Slot. So no additional Sound- or Videocards possible.
Afaik no support for the DAC yet. I don't know if a covox works on that "special" lpt-port.

Cloudschatze
December 23rd, 2015, 09:18 AM
Using a parallel port DAC on a PSSJ-bearing Tandy would be somewhat redundant. The Tandy DAC supports the "direct write" playback method that Scali mentioned (this, in addition to a DMA-transfer mode). By configuring the Tandy DAC to operate in direct-write mode, and patching the parallel port list to refer to the DAC address, you essentially have an internal Covox Speech Thing. Jeffrey Hayes', "SETDAC (ftp://ftp.oldskool.org/pub/tvdog/tandy1000/sound/tspak181.zip)" utility was written to do exactly this. With it, and concerning GLX playback on the Tandy 1000 RL (using the LPT2 entry as an example):

setdac.com /p2
glx.exe /oc2 /m11 modfile.mod

Et, voilą - GLX sound, but no graphics from the Tandy video chipset outside of the MDA mode, as vwestlife mentioned.

Jeffrey Hayes also created a Tandy-DAC-specific MOD/S3M player (ftp://ftp.oldskool.org/pub/tvdog/tandy1000/sound/tt11.zip) though, if that's of any interest as an alternative.

dr.zeissler
December 23rd, 2015, 09:26 AM
I currently use the tt11 player but it has no frontend and the glx seems to be more usable.

Cloudschatze
December 23rd, 2015, 10:56 AM
...glx seems to be more usable.
Oh, definitely. I'm impressed that GLX manages stereo MOD playback at 32kHz using the PAS16 in my own wimpy 1000 RL system. Quite respectable.

dr.zeissler
December 23rd, 2015, 11:09 AM
I tested the glx with the setdac and it works. thx!