.Midi Improvments?

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.Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Sun Feb 19, 2012 5:17 pm

Hello, just me again. I wasn't entirely sure where to post this, so I'm sorry if it's misplaced. But out of curiosity, how do I improve the sound of .midis on my computer(It's a Vista by the way, but I have a Windows 7 also)? Because honestly, it sounds like a broken trumpet in a microwave.(I.e., really digitized)
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Sun Feb 19, 2012 5:22 pm

Dr. Coconut wrote:Hello, just me again. I wasn't entirely sure where to post this, so I'm sorry if it's misplaced. But out of curiosity, how do I improve the sound of .midis on my computer(It's a Vista by the way, but I have a Windows 7 also)? Because honestly, it sounds like a broken trumpet in a microwave.(I.e., really digitized)


Probably with something like this: http://bassmididrv.mudlord.info/

The MIDI stack really got decimated after XP, which limits your options quite a bit.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Sun Feb 19, 2012 5:30 pm

I've been playing around with FluidSynth a bit lately. I'm using Linux, but apparently there's a Windows port of it available? Sounds pretty good to me...

Edit: And I :lol:ed at "broken trumpet in a microwave"!
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:59 pm

MIDI isn't for playback. You need to use actual sample libraries.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:13 pm

If you're talking about the general MIDI playback that's used by default in Windows, Prion's link is most practical, though the nonsense about the "MIDI stack" is just that - nonsense. Windows 7 uses the same sample library that every version of Windows has used since Win98. The implementation of MIDI class devices has made MIDI for Windows Vista and Windows 7 much easier than on XP - most USB interfaces and keyboards are plug and play, and you can set the output to them in the control panel, and voila your MIDI playback issue is fixed.

Anyway, after installing the driver, then go to this site and get the biggest SoundFont you can (there at the top, the PC51d should work). http://www.personalcopy.com/sfarkfonts1.htm

Otherwise, get a VST host, a sampler, and start assigning instruments yourself. If you own a Cakewalk host like Music Creator or Sonar X1, they all include the Cakewalk TTS1 DXi plugin that'll read patch changes so you don't have to assign instruments, just make sure the outputs are all set to the TTS1.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:41 pm

Game_boy wrote:MIDI isn't for playback. You need to use actual sample libraries.

FluidSynth (which I mentioned in my previous post) has some fairly reasonable General MIDI soundfonts available for it.

And I'm not even sure what you mean with your "MIDI isn't for playback" comment. If you're trying to say that it isn't an audio file format, then yes I agree. If you're trying to say something else, then please clarify.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:58 am

@Dr. Coconut -

I believe what Game_boy was getting at is the fact that MIDI files aren't really sound files; they're a sequence of instructions which are intended to be sent to a MIDI synthesizer.

The synthesizer can be an external one connected to the computer via a special MIDI interface and cable; an internal hardware-based one on your soundcard; or an entirely software-based one which uses the CPU to generate digital audio based on the MIDI file, which is then played through the soundcard. If you're not using an external synth and your soundcard does not support hardware wavetable-based synthesis then MIDI sounds will be produced either using legacy Soundblaster "FM synthesis" (which does indeed sound like total crap), or software-based synthesis (the quality of which can vary from total crap to very good depending on the quality of the software synth itself, the quality of the wavetables used, and the speed of the CPU).

The bottom line is, MIDI files will sound completely different depending on the device (or software synth) used to play them, the quality of the samples in the wavetable, and how that device/software is configured (e.g. the "piano" part need not even produce a piano sound, the MIDI synth could be configured to play it as a guitar sound instead). This is by design! Don't think of MIDI files as being like WAV or MP3 files which store an audio representation of a piece of music; think of them as being the equivalent of a machine-readable piece of sheet music. As with sheet music, the quality of the performance depends entirely on the quality of the musicians (synth) and how they interpret the score (MIDI file)!

The FluidSynth package I mentioned previously is a free software-based MIDI synthesizer.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:05 am

Yet another reason to mourn the TBSC.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:12 am

Captain Ned wrote:Yet another reason to mourn the TBSC.

Which reminds me, I've been meaning to try popping my old TBSC into my Linux box. I doubt there's support for its hardware synth capabilities, but its high-quality DACs would improve overall sound quality and make a nice back-end for FluidSynth! (I've got an M-Audio Revo hiding somewhere in the mess too...)
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:43 pm

Captain Ned wrote:Yet another reason to mourn the TBSC.

Creative cards still come with MIDI synths in the drivers, and they still allow loading .sf2 libraries. That alone, to me, isn't worth buying a Creative card but it is a selling point.

jbi - you lose your general MIDI compatibility when your patches aren't mapped to GM standards. But you're right, the synth could be set up in any way. It's just not going to be guaranteed to be compatible with standard .mid files. Same thing with the channel setup; I had an ISA Sound Blaster Pro that for some bewildering reason defaulted to channel 16 as the default drum channel rather than 10 in Windows 3.1, so drum tracks always sounded like someone banging on a piano's bass keys. You could fix it in a control panel but it was weird to say the least. But in DOS the same card correctly used channel 10 for drums. Weird.

Yamaha used to bundle a really excellent sounding XG synth (extended general MIDI) with Hercules sound cards, but it's been abandoned and the latest version of Windows it'll run on is Windows XP. Final Fantasy VII and VIII came with an older version that was limited to Win9x - I found out the hard way that if you install it on Windows XP you get blue screens at startup. You have to boot into safe mode and uninstall it before you get a working system again. Ouch.

I've not heard of FluidSynth before, I'll have to check it out.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:50 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:I had an ISA Sound Blaster Pro that for some bewildering reason defaulted to channel 16 as the default drum channel rather than 10 in Windows 3.1, so drum tracks always sounded like someone banging on a piano's bass keys. You could fix it in a control panel but it was weird to say the least. But in DOS the same card correctly used channel 10 for drums. Weird.

Sounds like one of the driver developers got 10 decimal mixed up with 10 hexadecimal! :lol:
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:36 pm

just brew it! wrote:
derFunkenstein wrote:I had an ISA Sound Blaster Pro that for some bewildering reason defaulted to channel 16 as the default drum channel rather than 10 in Windows 3.1, so drum tracks always sounded like someone banging on a piano's bass keys. You could fix it in a control panel but it was weird to say the least. But in DOS the same card correctly used channel 10 for drums. Weird.

Sounds like one of the driver developers got 10 decimal mixed up with 10 hexadecimal! :lol:


I had a Pro Audio Spectrum 16 sound card -- a very good card for its day -- that used channel 16 for drums, too. I soon realized that most of the MIDI files I downloaded had drums set to channel 10, so I was always editing the files to 16 using Midisoft Recording Session software.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:42 pm

FireGryphon wrote:I had a Pro Audio Spectrum 16 sound card -- a very good card for its day -- that used channel 16 for drums, too. I soon realized that most of the MIDI files I downloaded had drums set to channel 10, so I was always editing the files to 16 using Midisoft Recording Session software.

Yup, I had a PAS 16 back in the day too. Not sure what happened to it... might still be in a box in the crawlspace somewhere. IIRC mine came as part of a "multimedia bundle" that included a SCSI based CD-ROM drive (ATAPI-based CD-ROM drives hadn't been invented yet!) and a pile of crappy CD-ROM based games.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:18 pm

Thanks! The reason I'm interested in .midis is because, when making computer games, .midis tend to be more space efficient then .OGGs or .MP3s.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:34 pm

Long ago I got "Wingroove" for windows 3.1. It was a softsynth (midi info to wav) that included it's own soundfonts. The last I used it was in XP. It gave fantastic sound to the instruments it supported. I believe it was version 9E for up to win98SE and version 0.a4 for XP. I don't know if it works on 64 bit. Only about 2 megs as I remember.

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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:30 pm

Dr. Coconut wrote:Thanks! The reason I'm interested in .midis is because, when making computer games, .midis tend to be more space efficient then .OGGs or .MP3s.

Yes, they're *extremely* space efficient, since they don't store any actual audio.

The problem is, if you're making games you plan to distribute to the general public the MIDI file may sound very different on the computer of the person playing the game depending on what kind of MIDI support they've got on their system. If you're OK with it sounding like "a broken trumpet in a microwave" (to use your own description) for anyone who's playing the game on a system with inexpensive onboard sound, then I guess it may be a viable option. I suppose you could get around this by bundling a software-based synth with your game, but this will probably complicate the installation process considerably, and will likely cause you additional support headaches.

OGG is probably the best compromise if you look at all aspects -- file size, fidelity, and licensing (as in, the code is completely royalty-free to use/distribute in your application, and also doesn't trigger any requirements to Open-Source any code that links with it).
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:12 pm

You could also consider mods. They keep the space down like midis, but they'll sound the same.

Long history of being used in games too :wink:
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:22 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:Yamaha used to bundle a really excellent sounding XG synth (extended general MIDI) with Hercules sound cards, but it's been abandoned and the latest version of Windows it'll run on is Windows XP.
Yamaha also offered an XG daughter card that would fit onto the expansion socket on most SB cards. I had one (I guess I still do, it's inside my mothballed PIII/Win2K machine IIRC) and it really did sound excellent. All those MIDI tracks from 90s games sounded better on it than many of the full (but compressed) WAV soundtracks that came along later. Well, as long as they didn't screw up the instrument assignments.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:38 pm

just brew it! wrote:
derFunkenstein wrote:I had an ISA Sound Blaster Pro that for some bewildering reason defaulted to channel 16 as the default drum channel rather than 10 in Windows 3.1, so drum tracks always sounded like someone banging on a piano's bass keys. You could fix it in a control panel but it was weird to say the least. But in DOS the same card correctly used channel 10 for drums. Weird.

Sounds like one of the driver developers got 10 decimal mixed up with 10 hexadecimal! :lol:

Wow, that was quite a light-bulb moment for me. You're right - that's probably what happened. :lol:
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:23 pm

Glorious wrote:You could also consider mods. They keep the space down like midis, but they'll sound the same.

Long history of being used in games too :wink:

Say, doesn't Famitracker support mods?



The problem is, if you're making games you plan to distribute to the general public the MIDI file may sound very different on the computer of the person playing the game depending on what kind of MIDI support they've got on their system. If you're OK with it sounding like "a broken trumpet in a microwave" (to use your own description) for anyone who's playing the game on a system with inexpensive onboard sound, then I guess it may be a viable option.



Well that's too bad for them really.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:30 pm

Dr. Coconut wrote:
The problem is, if you're making games you plan to distribute to the general public the MIDI file may sound very different on the computer of the person playing the game depending on what kind of MIDI support they've got on their system. If you're OK with it sounding like "a broken trumpet in a microwave" (to use your own description) for anyone who's playing the game on a system with inexpensive onboard sound, then I guess it may be a viable option.

Well that's too bad for them really.

It will reflect poorly on the game itself and its developer(s) if the soundtrack sounds like crap on the majority of PCs out there.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:36 pm

well I just do it for hobby, and most people don't seem to care about .midis. After all, I've played quite a few fan games that use .midis. I might use .OGGs in the future though.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:50 pm

Dr. Coconut wrote:Say, doesn't Famitracker support mods?


Well, yeah. The NES used a mod format.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:55 pm

I still enjoy the melodic beeps of the NES.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:09 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:If you're talking about the general MIDI playback that's used by default in Windows, Prion's link is most practical, though the nonsense about the "MIDI stack" is just that - nonsense. Windows 7 uses the same sample library that every version of Windows has used since Win98.


My bad, I read some more and as I understand it they just removed the MIDI mapper and made the DirectMusic softsynth (the broken trumpet microwave one) the hardwired default option. So I guess as long as you have a driver that overrides that (the Creative hw synth driver, BASSMIDI, etc.) or use a program with a built in MIDI mapper (like most sequencer software or MIDI players tied to a particular synth) you're all right(?)

Glorious wrote:
Dr. Coconut wrote:Say, doesn't Famitracker support mods?


Well, yeah. The NES used a mod format.


The NES didn't use any format. Some games by the same company share sound code because code recycling is efficient, but that's pretty much it. An .nsf file is just machine code that acts as kind of a sound driver+sequence data for the PSG and any externally mapped sound chips.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:13 pm

Prion wrote:My bad, I read some more and as I understand it they just removed the MIDI mapper and made the DirectMusic softsynth (the broken trumpet microwave one) the hardwired default option. So I guess as long as you have a driver that overrides that (the Creative hw synth driver, BASSMIDI, etc.) or use a program with a built in MIDI mapper (like most sequencer software or MIDI players tied to a particular synth) you're all right(?)

Ya, pretty much, and everything that uses MIDI seriously has its own MIDI mapper. Every DAW I've ever used, for example, can select which MIDI device(s) should be used, and for the most part can even handle multiple ones. Everything else uses the default, which you can definitely override. For a long while I had Win7 set to default to my USB MIDI interface, which sent the MIDI data to my Yamaha keyboard. I quit doing that when the keyboard croaked its last note. :(
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:51 pm

I tried Prion And Derfunkenstein's suggestions, and it sounds incredible now. However, on some songs, it just sounds strange, as in the volume of some instruments is very loud, while some are barely audible or completely silent, thus, ruining the song. And whenever I close out of Wndows Media Player or the song ends, it tells me that Windows Media Player has stopped working.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:00 pm

You're probably dealing with a quirk in reading note velocities or more likely track volume in the driver. If they're your own MIDI compositions, open them back up in whatever sequencer you used and write in some sort of track automation that adjusts volumes at the start of each MIDI file. Some synths never touch the "faders" (so to speak) without being told (resulting in weirdness as you move from one track to another) and others will default to a specific volume.

Not sure about WMP "crashing" when you close it, that's a little weird.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:13 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:You're probably dealing with a quirk in reading note velocities or more likely track volume in the driver. If they're your own MIDI compositions, open them back up in whatever sequencer you used and write in some sort of track automation that adjusts volumes at the start of each MIDI file. Some synths never touch the "faders" (so to speak) without being told (resulting in weirdness as you move from one track to another) and others will default to a specific volume.

Not sure about WMP "crashing" when you close it, that's a little weird.


I tried opening it in Anvil Studio, but when I do, it crashes.I probobly just Didn't configure the sound-font or the synthesizer correctly. If someone could give me a walk through on how to do it, that would be helpful.
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Re: .Midi Improvments?

Postposted on Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:58 pm

Prion wrote:The NES didn't use any format. Some games by the same company share sound code because code recycling is efficient, but that's pretty much it. An .nsf file is just machine code that acts as kind of a sound driver+sequence data for the PSG and any externally mapped sound chips.


You're right that the NES didn't use any mod file format, the carts didn't even have a filesystem. What I was saying was inaccurate I guess, but the point is that mod format is like a logical representation of what the code did to that hardware.
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