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PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music 
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Post PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
I'm sure someone can explain it better than I can theorize, but why exactly is the sample-based music on the PC Engine so "bad" while the tracks on the Sega CD pretty much all sound better than what the Genesis was natively capable of?

Here's my best understanding. The PC Engine was released in 1987, and understandably doesn't have great sound hardware in it. It was designed to read Hu-card games, which push a few megabytes at best, not leaving much room for good quality audio even if the system was capable. When you add the CD attachment, you gain the ability (obviously) to put your games on CD's, allowing for a massive storage allotment in comparison to Hu-cards, and the ability to play CDDA (CD digital audio, for any newbies out there). If you've played both the PCE CD and Sega CD versions of Snatcher, you know that the two intro tracks, Biohazard and One Night in Neo Kobe City, are exactly the same on both versions, thus proving that the PCE CD is just as capable of outputting high quality CDDA as the Sega CD. Any time the game is playing audio that has a definite, pre-determined beginning and end, it usually uses CDDA, and as a result has to read the disc almost in real time until the track is finished. Most of Snatcher's audio, on the other hand, in practice has no definite duration, and must loop as many times as necessary until the game reaches a point that calls for a different track. It makes no sense for this to be done via CDDA, since that would cause constant strain on the CD player's laser for an extended period of time. The solution is to use the previously mentioned sample-based audio, which the CD player reads off of the disc and then loads into RAM, so the console has access to it for as long as it needs without having to read the CD again. My best conclusion is that for the PCE CD version, sample-based audio is stored in the actual PC Engine's RAM, while the Sega CD itself has enough RAM to hold any sample-based audio the game needs. This of course means that the PCE CD version of Snatcher is bottlenecked into having non-CD quality sound while the Sega CD version enjoys its FM stereo goodness all the time.

Am I right or no?


Last edited by Mr357 on Mon Jan 18, 2016 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Jan 17, 2016 9:01 pm
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
This is some pretty indepth technotalk. alot of it also makes sense too I guess. I always just assumed the PC-Engine version sounded like that because that's what the sound processors sounded like and left it at that. I'M more curious why the redbook audio tracks use different music alot. The chiptunes are understandable, they'd need to redo it anyway for the new hardware, but the CD tracks...?

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Mon Jan 18, 2016 11:38 am
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
AwesomeBrand wrote:
This is some pretty indepth technotalk. alot of it also makes sense too I guess. I always just assumed the PC-Engine version sounded like that because that's what the sound processors sounded like and left it at that. I'M more curious why the redbook audio tracks use different music alot. The chiptunes are understandable, they'd need to redo it anyway for the new hardware, but the CD tracks...?


That was probably more so to cater to Western audiences. You're talking about parts like the Turbocycle drive to the abandoned factory and Pressure of Tension (which plays during the Chin Shu Oh cutscene), right?


Mon Jan 18, 2016 3:15 pm
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
I've got some experience programming both machines, so I can give you some small insight.

Just as notes: the HuCards are 1MB at most, except for SF2 which had a special mapper and is 2.5MB (I'm talking megabytes, not megabits)

The Super CD Rom2 RAM is 256KB total (64KB from the CD-ROM-ROM and 192KB from the System Card 3), and the Sega CD RAM is 256KB as well. Both load form the CD to RAM in order to execute the code.

The music in both versions Snatcher of snatcher is not sampled, it is synthesized. Not sure about the PCE SCD version, but the SegaCD one does have drum samples. Either case, both could do a similar amount of sampled instruments in basic terms. But the Sound chip on the PC Engine - not the sample part on the CD-ROM - is the one playing music. Just to be clear, the CD ROM has hardware to play sampled audio and the sound chip on the PCE can played digitized samples as well.

However, the Sega CD uses the Yamaha 2612 in the Genesis for FM music, instead of the synth + PSG of the PCE which as you point out is older.

In response to the CD-DA, both use it and the Sega Cd version had more options since more soundtracks with arrangements of SD-Snatcher and Snatcher music had been released.

What amazes me is how nice the Sega CD version looks with the Genny's limited palette.

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Mon Jan 18, 2016 7:29 pm
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
Thanks for the info! So for clarification, you're saying that all of the music in the Sega CD version that's not CDDA is produced by the Genesis, not the Sega CD? That, to me, is incredible. I didn't know the Genesis could sound that good.


Mon Jan 18, 2016 9:51 pm
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
Try Streets of Rage 1 and 2, there are numerous other examples though.

However, the SEGA CD does add several PCM channels to the system, aided by the RF5C164. I've not tested in a while, but the drum samples could be done by the sega cd RF5C164 and the Yamaha in the Genesis doing all the melodies. You can verify this easily with a model 1 Genesis and sega cd, just lower the volume in the headphone out and use the sega cd audio out.

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Mon Jan 18, 2016 11:22 pm
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
Doesn't the PCE's sound chip use wavetable synthesis like Konami's SCC for the MSX? I remember reading somewhere that they were both similar in design to a Namco soundchip using the same principle idea.

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Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:11 pm
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
What I've always wondered...why do Snatcher's PC Engine PCM tracks sound so bad by PC Engine standards? Akumayou Dracula X, also from Konami, suffered the same fate, the few PCM tracks were absolutely horrendous.

To show some good examples of what the PC Engine soundchip was capable of:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlJfnW5Rms8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQD-21G43kQ

Only very few Snatcher tracks, if any, come close.


Sun May 15, 2016 4:50 pm
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
Here's two of my favorites.

(Skip to 3:58)




Sun May 15, 2016 6:29 pm
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
This is an unpopular opinion, but I think the PC Engine version had the overall better music than the Sega CD. But don't get me wrong; the Sega CD version had good music, too.


Sun Sep 11, 2016 10:51 pm
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
I still prefer the Sega CD for its more robust sound, but the PCE music is much better than it often gets credit for. If I'm playing on Magic Engine, I prefer to mute the "noise" volume; it makes the sound much cleaner, and in my opinion greatly improves it.

For example, here's "Merry X'mas Neo Kobe City" (which in my opinion normally sounds awful) with the noise removed.



Wed Sep 14, 2016 2:40 pm
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
Part of the reason why I think the PCE version had better music, is because much of it was reworked from the original PC88/MSX2 versions.

When the Sega CD version came out, a lot of it was gone, and the PSX/Saturn versions would follow suit.


Wed Sep 28, 2016 9:17 am
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
snatcher1988 wrote:
Part of the reason why I think the PCE version had better music, is because much of it was reworked from the original PC88/MSX2 versions.

When the Sega CD version came out, a lot of it was gone, and the PSX/Saturn versions would follow suit.


agree 100%
and yes, it seems we're a very tiny minority to think that

personally
I was just about to play the SCD for the first time (not sure why, but for the past 15 years or so, every time I decided to start playing Snatcher something came up in my life...crazy)

Then I stumbled upon this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNu1tt93DDQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t60WHzQGm7w
(I just took 2 randomly, there are many more for that guy)

honestly I find the SCD tunes just horrible, compared to MSX/PC88/PCE
not PSX/SAT horrible, but still horrible indeed
"The morgue" track especially.....I mean outrageously bad

so I said that's it, I'm done with the SCD version, I even sold the game
either I'll learn Japanese or play the translated MSX version


Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:44 am
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
Of all tracks, you think Creeping Silence sounds bad on the Sega CD? I thought it was one of the best.

I have to agree 100% on The Morgue though; I really have no idea what they were thinking. Blow up Turbocycle is another one that they didn't get right, although I see what they were going for.

I'm curious about your opinion on Pleasure of Tension, Criminal Omen, Endless Pursuer, and Restoration though, since those are widely considered to be best on the Sega CD.

Spoiler:








Thu Sep 29, 2016 12:50 pm
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
In the order you listed them

1) MSX2 (thought the PC88 is also great)
2) PC88
3) ok that's a tough one, it always has. In a blind test I couldn't probably tell the MSX2 version from the PC88. Let's say I like them both
HOWEVER....for this, the SCD one is definitely more pleasant to the ear than the PCE one

I'll be 100% honest I missed "Restoration" for all these years
I suppose it's exclusive to PCE/SCD ?
That's another tough one. I would say the PCE vers. seems a bit more consistent
This also is pretty much the reason of my dislike towards the SCD version. Those ear-piercing strident sounds, not sure how do you call them.

If you check at 0:25 (I'm talking about the SCD) that's very nice, warm FM synth, I really like that
but then at 0:37 you're like being punched in the face

the way I'm talking maybe I make it sound like I have some beef with the Megadrive or something
Couldn't be farther from the truth. MD and SFC are my fave consoles and those I own the most games for. The MD especially is pure FM synth bliss
Just I feel whoever was in charge did a poor job
If Kojima was in charge probably wouldn't have given the green light, sound-wise


Thu Sep 29, 2016 6:53 pm
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
Nope, Restoration was in the MSX2 and PC-88 versions as well.





Thu Sep 29, 2016 11:24 pm
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
Interestingly enough, the demo version of the PC Engine CD version had an updated version of the Act Title Card Music from the original PC88 and MSX2 editions. Why it was replaced in the retail version, I'll never know.


Fri Sep 30, 2016 12:30 am
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
Mr357 wrote:
Nope, Restoration was in the MSX2 and PC-88 versions as well.


thanks!!
how the heck did I miss it all these years I just don't know
now I prefer these 2 obviously over either PCE or SCD
not sure which though, maybe the PC88 has a slight edge

also, important to note, I have read some comments for those YT vids stating those samples were captured from the OPN version of the game, not OPNA.
that would change things a bit, maybe the PC88 could even sound much better than that

have to be honest the background motif for the SCD I still like it a lot (as I said at 0:25)

you seem very tech-savvy, or at least much more than my ignorant a**
if I had to technically explain what I'm saying, how would you call those instruments?
that synth at 0:25, then that instrument that takes over at 0:37
I'm truly lost for words


Sun Oct 02, 2016 8:27 am
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Post Re: PC Engine CD vs Sega CD music
krelian wrote:
have to be honest the background motif for the SCD I still like it a lot (as I said at 0:25)

you seem very tech-savvy, or at least much more than my ignorant a**
if I had to technically explain what I'm saying, how would you call those instruments?
that synth at 0:25, then that instrument that takes over at 0:37
I'm truly lost for words


I'd say I'm selectively tech savvy. There's some things I'm an expert on, but others I know little or nothing about.

I believe the word you're looking for is "reverb" (reverberation), but I really can't say for sure. I certainly can't match an instrument to it.

I agree though- it has a very nice sound, and a lot of the Sega CD version's tracks utilized it.


Sun Oct 02, 2016 2:14 pm
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