Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby joska » Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:28 am

AtariZoll wrote:But feeding them with data from ST(E) mainboard is maybe not good idea. Probably better would be to use some port. They have SD card slot, so should simulate SD card somehow. Just a rough idea.


They usually use SPI. It can be bitbanged through the rom-port or other suitable port. Maybe the STE joystick ports can be used.
However, bitbanging SPI is not particularly efficient.
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby Atari030 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:22 am

You are a god. There goes my nights. Thank you.

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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby AtariZoll » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:03 pm

joska wrote:...
They usually use SPI. It can be bitbanged through the rom-port or other suitable port. Maybe the STE joystick ports can be used.
However, bitbanging SPI is not particularly efficient.

Data transfer speed is crucial in this - it must not slowdown game more than couple % .Good thing with STE audio DMA is that playback self slowdowns system not at all - all RAM read is done in H-blanks, and it works fine even by overscan. Only slowdown is caused by reading audio data from hard disk, with rate of 50 KB/sec. In case of IDE it means some 3.5 % CPU load . ACSI DMA slowdowns about 1.5 % .
MP3 is good because it's lower data rate - what would be 16 KB/sec for typical one. But, if you need to send that data thru some slow port, it may result in total more slowdown than loading of uncompressed audio stream.
Using parallel port is not really good for it: to send 1 byte you need 4 writes to PSG chip, + reading RAM . STE joystick port would be even slower, I guess.
Fastest would be using ACSI, I think.
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby exxos » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:14 pm

I maybe showing some ignorance here, Though I wonder if the DAC circuit from the STE could be ported over the to STFM to add sound support ?
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby AtariZoll » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:39 pm

exxos wrote:I maybe showing some ignorance here, Though I wonder if the DAC circuit from the STE could be ported over the to STFM to add sound support ?

You show no ignorance. However, adding STE compatible DMA sound to some ST is everything but not simple. There is for instance big number of chips after DAC - for filtering. But main problem is that audio DMA is mostly placed in MMU chip - better said on STE's GST chip. That oart needs to access RAM in H-blanks and assure accurate rhytm, by sample rate set. Even if you manage to create proper logic of it - in some CPLD for instance, you need to cut all lines between MMU and RAM in STE, and add there new DMA's access to RAM.
Much simpler would be to solve it by accessing only fast RAM - over 4 MB. Still not simple, because need to share it with CPU.
Famous Schrodinger's cat hypothetical experiment says that cat is dead or alive until we open box and see condition of poor animal, which deserved better logic. Cat is always in some certain state - regardless from is observer able or not to see what the state is.

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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby Atari030 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:47 pm

Might be a silly idea, what about the B.A.T. sound adapter?

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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby NGF » Sat Feb 14, 2015 3:17 pm

Interesting project with awesome results. This improvement really helped Xenon 2 alot.

AtariZoll wrote:@MrMaddog:
Chaos Engine is good game and deserves it :D It still gives sound via PSG on STE, while uses STE HW scrolling. Pls. some advice about what audio theme(s) (song) to use ?
I must tell here that there will be not much of mods like this from me in (near) future. It takes lot of time to trace game code and find all places where need to add links, corrections.


Doesn't Amiga CD32 version of Chaos Engine have some music as cd tracks?
Otherwise there are remixes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xu7vwc2Mmw :lol:


Changing ALL music for Turrican 2 would not only take alot of space but it would be a giant task. 8O
Here are my suggestions for music help: Lotus II, Lotus III and Super Cars II. :angel:
Last edited by NGF on Sat Feb 14, 2015 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby Stefan jL » Sat Feb 21, 2015 3:30 pm

I only get "Error in getting file location" message, i guess i need to get the pp ide driver? The way i use my ultrasatan atm is by downloading the "1GB.img" and write it to card using drimg :)
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby AtariZoll » Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:40 pm

That image is with very old driver from 2008. Here is new driver, what will make it work:
AAC_102V.ZIP

Not IDE, but ACSI or ICD driver is what you need for UltraSatan.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby Stefan jL » Sat Feb 21, 2015 9:29 pm

Great now it works... thanks :)

here is a Xenon 2 video showing how the ST would have sounded if it had an Yamaha FM soundchip like YM2151 or YM2612, musics by Tim Follin and Jesper Kyd 8O

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHquxhpo8yM

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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby qq1975b » Sat Feb 21, 2015 10:01 pm

those YM sound chips sound impressive...I suppose there were very expensive then. Were both YM2149 compatible???
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby Stefan jL » Sat Feb 21, 2015 10:15 pm

No they are not YM2149 compatible.
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby AtariZoll » Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:55 am

Cool ! Finally someone made custom tracks for this :D
I guess that chips you mentioned are some kind of Midi music generators. Then getting nice sounds costs not much CPU time and memory, storage. STE DMA audio playback is well usable in many cases because takes not any CPU time - the playback self. Only feeding it with music is what costs little CPU time and some storage.
It seems that today Midi playback is barely used in computers, and if, that's done in SW. MP3, Ogg rule, even in new games.
Famous Schrodinger's cat hypothetical experiment says that cat is dead or alive until we open box and see condition of poor animal, which deserved better logic. Cat is always in some certain state - regardless from is observer able or not to see what the state is.

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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby Zamuel_a » Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:04 am

here is a Xenon 2 video showing how the ST would have sounded if it had an Yamaha FM sound chip like YM2151 or YM2612, musics by Tim Follin and Jesper Kyd


These chips are FM synthesizers and completely different to the YM2149 in the ST, so you can't compare them at all.
They were included in many game consoles and also in some of Yamaha's DX line of synthesizers.

It had been great if the ST had used one of these chips since it uses much less RAM than playing samples like the Amiga did, but had more or less the same sound quality.
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby qq1975b » Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:33 am

The X68000 was one of them and the Sega Genesis as I read.
What would be better (cost included): STe with YM2149+2 DMA channels or STe with YM2149+YM2612 (or STe with YM2608 that integrates YM2149)...?

I like very much how sounds the X68000
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby Zamuel_a » Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:42 am

Well you don't need both the 2149 and the 2612. One would be enough :wink:

I saw and old interview with Jack Tramiel there he was showing the new Atari ST line that would come out soon. He said that the sound chip was supposed to handle key clicks and stuff like that. Music was never intended and that's why you had MIDI ports. You should connect it to an external synthesizer that handles the music.
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby qq1975b » Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:47 am

I see. I meant YM2149+YM2612 for STfm backward compatibility. Maybe on the STe design they could have chosen this option but they prefered YM2149+DMA
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby Zamuel_a » Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:53 am

qq1975b wrote:I see. I meant YM2149+YM2612 for STfm backward compatibility. Maybe on the STe design they could have chosen this option but they prefered YM2149+DMA


Yes if they had put something else in the STE, when of course backward compatibility would have been nice. Maybe they put in DMA sample playback since the Amiga had it and they wanted the STE to be "equal".
The best combination had probably been using a higher end YM chip and DMA samples. When music would be high quality and wouldn't take so much RAM and you could play samples if you wanted to for speech or effects or whatever.
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby exxos » Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:09 pm

I am still thinking about theses problem still. Really it comes down to the hardware isn't to great with audio. Reading audio from HDD and output via ST DAC is a great idea. CPU power is a problem, plus ram. So only direct playing from HDD is possible.

Though Could the data from the drive be output to a new dac circuit, even as 2 channels. Idea being to allow DMA to control hard drive as normal (access audio files), but when DMA has the data ready to output to bus, disable its request line to MMU and send the data to a new dac circuit instead. If the drive and DMA is fast enough, then sound effects and must could be played direct from disk much like you are doing now anyway.

The idea overall, is that if the ST had a better audio mixer, then possible to mix any audio with any number of channels. Problem is, data storage. Can't use RAM, so HDD is best method. Though as these are files, we have to access the files via HDD interface (DMA) etc.

In anycase, I take it the hard drive isn't fast enough to playmusic and play sound effects at same time ? That just makes me think about better audio hardware.. but same problems as you have now which is lack of CPU time and RAM. Audio from external source is easy to wire, but its accessing the audio at a fast speed. As most will not want to update with complex hardware hacks, the HDD is the only easy source for the audio.

As speed drive speed is probably a bottleneck, only RAM would work. Though this would mean adding in more ram (maybe alt-ram) and loading sound samples into that RAM area, but then would need CPU time to access the RAM locations, then would need some special hardware fix to play the ram locations directly. In which case, this becomes a better idea to create new audio hardware with RAM to hold sound samples. There are sound controllers out there which can do the job. Or just create small GAL code to cycle the "audio ram" locations and output to a dac. Then GAL code would have to be controlled by a location in ST RAM so the program could play those samples. Don't think that would be a problem.

Problem would be loading the "audio ram" with data from hard drive in first place. Similar issues with using alt-ram really. So its back to the DMA so it controls the drive as normal, but the bus request line controlled so data could be loaded into another ram location directly without needing to go though MMU.

Playing audio from RAM (external to the CPU) isn't a problem. There are solutions for a audio chip to play audio direct from RAM. This is done with audio in ROM and played back using hardware select lines to the CPU to chose the sample memory to be played. Control lines can be a register in ST ram. No problem there. Only problem is to load audio from HDD to the audio ram locations.

There may be a workaround for this. Read drive data into a RAM location, then have extra ram circuit pickup that value, then auto increase ram location in external ram etc This way it just loads all data from HDD into one 8bit location in STram, and copy value over to a extra RAM location which the sample playback circuit can use. To play the audio samples, another ST RAM location used, really just send "play" command to external audio circuit.

Its actually a really old circuit, I can't remember the chip name. But I think the only real problem is to replace the "audio in ROM" with Audio which is loaded from HDD into a external "audio ram" location.

Just thinking out loud here thats all :)
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby EvilFranky » Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:14 pm

AtariZoll wrote:
Atari030 wrote:..
I was having a look through the list, any plans to do Millennium 2.2? One of the top 10 ST games IMHO.

It is done - helps if you switch to alphabetical sorting. If you meant with this type of audio track playback, then pls. give some clue what song, remix to use for background in Millennium 2.2 (what is one of my favorites) ?

@MrMaddog:
Chaos Engine is good game and deserves it :D It still gives sound via PSG on STE, while uses STE HW scrolling. Pls. some advice about what audio theme(s) (song) to use ?
I must tell here that there will be not much of mods like this from me in (near) future. It takes lot of time to trace game code and find all places where need to add links, corrections.


Does it use any other STE features? Extended palette? Blitter? Obviously doesn't use DMA samples, which seems stupid/lazy as there is no background music, and I'd assume enough free disk space to hold the same sample data as the Amiga version.

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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby AtariZoll » Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:34 pm

Zamuel_a wrote:...
Yes if they had put something else in the STE, when of course backward compatibility would have been nice. Maybe they put in DMA sample playback since the Amiga had it and they wanted the STE to be "equal".
The best combination had probably been using a higher end YM chip and DMA samples. When music would be high quality and wouldn't take so much RAM and you could play samples if you wanted to for speech or effects or whatever.

We need to be aware that sample playback is most universal - only that can play everything. Of course, it has it's price. So, it was not some imitation of Amiga, just natural progress. Don't forget that there is lot of sample playback via YM on ST.
Overall concept of ST serial goes not with higher YM chips. Myself consider DSP in Falcon as better solution.
Famous Schrodinger's cat hypothetical experiment says that cat is dead or alive until we open box and see condition of poor animal, which deserved better logic. Cat is always in some certain state - regardless from is observer able or not to see what the state is.

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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby Zamuel_a » Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:41 pm

Overall concept of ST serial goes not with higher YM chips. Myself consider DSP in Falcon as better solution.


Yes a DSP and a lot of RAM is better, but this is nothing you had in the mid 80ths. Best for the ST from the beginning had be a higher end YM chip, but it's hard to change that now :wink: We are stuck with what we got.
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby AtariZoll » Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:45 pm

exxos wrote:I am still thinking about theses problem still. Really it comes down to the hardware isn't to great with audio. Reading audio from HDD and output via ST DAC is a great idea. CPU power is a problem, plus ram. So only direct playing from HDD is possible.
...
As speed drive speed is probably a bottleneck, only RAM would work. Though this would mean adding in more ram (maybe alt-ram) and loading sound samples into that RAM area, but then would need CPU time to access the RAM locations, then would need some special hardware fix to play the ram locations directly. In which case, this becomes a better idea to create new audio hardware with RAM to hold sound samples. There are sound controllers out there which can do the job. Or just create small GAL code to cycle the "audio ram" locations and output to a dac. Then GAL code would have to be controlled by a location in ST RAM so the program could play those samples. Don't think that would be a problem.

Problem would be loading the "audio ram" with data from hard drive in first place. Similar issues with using alt-ram really. So its back to the DMA so it controls the drive as normal, but the bus request line controlled so data could be loaded into another ram location directly without needing to go though MMU.

Playing audio from RAM (external to the CPU) isn't a problem. There are solutions for a audio chip to play audio direct from RAM. This is done with audio in ROM and played back using hardware select lines to the CPU to chose the sample memory to be played. Control lines can be a register in ST ram. No problem there. Only problem is to load audio from HDD to the audio ram locations.

There may be a workaround for this. Read drive data into a RAM location, then have extra ram circuit pickup that value, then auto increase ram location in external ram etc This way it just loads all data from HDD into one 8bit location in STram, and copy value over to a extra RAM location which the sample playback circuit can use. To play the audio samples, another ST RAM location used, really just send "play" command to external audio circuit.

Its actually a really old circuit, I can't remember the chip name. But I think the only real problem is to replace the "audio in ROM" with Audio which is loaded from HDD into a external "audio ram" location.

Just thinking out loud here thats all :)


Actually, you don't need much RAM for contigous playback of sampled audio track. I use only 50 KB here - what stores aprox 1 sec of audio. But even 25 KB would do the job. So, using 1 single SRAM chip can do it.
All it can be solved with pretty simple concept: no need for special ROM. Use CPL or like. All what Atari need to do is to control playback - via some port. So, we can create new 8 or 16 bit port at lets say $FF87FE, and just writing commands and parameters there - like start address of sample on disk, end address, then playback mode and play/stop commands self - what reminds on STE aDMA commands, not accidentaly :) As storage we can use some SD card or like. And it's only drawback - you need separated card to hold music/background audio. Or doing shared access with card attached to STE - but that's complicated. Every solution has it's goods and bads.
Famous Schrodinger's cat hypothetical experiment says that cat is dead or alive until we open box and see condition of poor animal, which deserved better logic. Cat is always in some certain state - regardless from is observer able or not to see what the state is.

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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby exxos » Sun Feb 22, 2015 3:15 pm

Yeah, a separate audio source would solve some problems. Really that could be MP3 card with audio direct to ST sound amps. We can control such boards with IO lines from a ST registers, but not ideal as needs separate SD card. This could be ok for sound effects, just load everything onto a SD card, every sound we ever need, then games can select and play the samples or MP3 music.

Share access to drive, yeah, probably to complicated and wouldn't really be fast.

I was thinking of using the HDD as its already there. But problem to get data form it to audio circuit. Control playback should be easy enough. I don't think that is a problem overall.

I was thinking more larger audio better quality like 4MB RAM for audio. The boards I used to work on just had a ROM (1MB or 4MB normally) which could hold a lot of samples. Quality not to bad. But of course higher quality eats space. If we have external RAM and audio playback circuit, it may take some CPU time to copy data from ST ram to audio ram, but once done on game load, we only need to trigger control lines to play samples.

Just need method to copy data from files on hard drive, we can get data to ST RAM that way, but would need to copy data from ST ram to the audio ram circuit. Not so simple, but doable I think :) Maybe 2 registers. One for data, another to control a counter to increase ram locations in ST RAM and audio ram. Probably output ST RAM data, then pulse a bit and use as a clock to increase audio ram address. Would be a easy way to transfer data. Maybe other methods but just a idea :)

Maybe a project for next year ;)
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Re: Xenon 2 Megablast with Mega Music :-)

Postby AtariZoll » Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:13 pm

In average game samples take not too much RAM. Usually it is under 100 KB . Of course, may need more, or going on higher quality.
But whole idea of playing samples via external add on device is problematic, I think - because then need serious changes in game code, so lot of work for coders.
Considering game candidates for DMA sample playback instead YM samples or effects ... Millennium 2.2 could be improved with Amiga samples, but I'm thinking about Dungeon Master rather :)
Famous Schrodinger's cat hypothetical experiment says that cat is dead or alive until we open box and see condition of poor animal, which deserved better logic. Cat is always in some certain state - regardless from is observer able or not to see what the state is.


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