Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

(Shenmue I & II Re-Release Discussion)

Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby Ucuetis » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:17 pm

With the excellent news that Shenmue will finally be released on modern consoles I was looking back at the series and the comparison videos with what we know so far in a visual sense, but I was wondering about the audio aspect of the games and how that might be improved.

Shenmue has some audio compression issues due to the sheer size of the game and the limitations of the optical storage and RAM at the time means that the voice tracks and sound effects at moments come across as shallow or tinny with occasional popping distortions due to low bitrate. The excellent DF Retro video highlights these issues briefly. https://youtu.be/c0blSBgpRUg?t=10m15s

Is it technically feasible to improve this in the HD port or is it something which is impossible? It would greatly improve the game if they touched this aspect up, I'd love to play this game on a really nice surround sound system with those awesome cutscenes and soundtracks. I don't know if other HD ports of games ever improved audio so I'm not even sure if it is possible but like I said, it would be amazing to have the game sound as intended without the compression.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby Jibby » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:25 pm

It's possible. The uncompressed audio is still in existence, it's just a question of whether or not they use it (which they hopefully will).
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby Gen » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:30 pm

It's certainly possible and probably not difficult to implement if Sega still has the original recordings. If that's the case I expect the audio to be improved, since as you point out, the dreamcast audio is highly compressed and sound quite bad by todays standards.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby punkmanced » Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:52 pm

Yeah, hopefully they make good use of those files.
That muffled English audio already sounded crap back in 2000; no way that would fly today.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby OL » Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:17 pm

I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to it being improved upon, but like Kiba and I mentioned in another thread, the compressed audio actually contributed pretty well to the atmosphere back when we first played the games. They are, after all, based in the 80s and take place across Asia; the compressed audio mimics the feel of an old 70s/80s karate/kung fu dub.
Much like putting intentional film grain into something to make it feel older, the compressed audio helps to plant you firmly in the 80s. Decompressing the audio wouldn't kill the games or anything, but it would detract a bit from the Shenmue I know and love. As it is, nothing else in gaming really sounds like Shenmue; you can hear an uncredited voice clip from it elsewhere and know immediately that, yes, that's Shenmue. I personally kind of like that it's so identifiable that way, and "improving" the audio would only serve to remove that aspect.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby GYO6161 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:20 pm

OL wrote: I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to it being improved upon, but like Kiba and I mentioned in another thread, the compressed audio actually contributed pretty well to the atmosphere back when we first played the games. They are, after all, based in the 80s and take place across Asia; the compressed audio mimics the feel of an old 70s/80s karate/kung fu dub.
Much like putting intentional film grain into something to make it feel older, the compressed audio helps to plant you firmly in the 80s. Decompressing the audio wouldn't kill the games or anything, but it would detract a bit from the Shenmue I know and love. As it is, nothing else in gaming really sounds like Shenmue; you can hear an uncredited voice clip from it elsewhere and know immediately that, yes, that's Shenmue. I personally kind of like that it's so identifiable that way, and "improving" the audio would only serve to remove that aspect.

What a good way to put it, You are right, the audio does make you feel like you are in that time period.
Now i wanna hope that we see Shenmue III's audio be EQ so that it sounds similar to how it did in the first 2 games. :)
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby Ucuetis » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:42 pm

OL wrote: I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to it being improved upon, but like Kiba and I mentioned in another thread, the compressed audio actually contributed pretty well to the atmosphere back when we first played the games. They are, after all, based in the 80s and take place across Asia; the compressed audio mimics the feel of an old 70s/80s karate/kung fu dub.
Much like putting intentional film grain into something to make it feel older, the compressed audio helps to plant you firmly in the 80s. Decompressing the audio wouldn't kill the games or anything, but it would detract a bit from the Shenmue I know and love. As it is, nothing else in gaming really sounds like Shenmue; you can hear an uncredited voice clip from it elsewhere and know immediately that, yes, that's Shenmue. I personally kind of like that it's so identifiable that way, and "improving" the audio would only serve to remove that aspect.


IMO I wouldn't really agree with the point of it mimicking the feel of a two bit karate film, Shenmue has never been that. Shenmue to me personally has always been an epic cinematic experience and cinematic experiences rely heavily on their audio and not only their visual aspects. Having such poor audio compression on a modern sound system or headphones would be very jarring and would detract from the experience. It was poor even for the time and it would be even more poor if it was paired with the whole 16:9 ratio experience. Just imagine listening to the intro of Shenmue I in 5.1 surround sound without the compression, it would be so damn epic. In the original build it sounds like the voice actors are speaking over someone scrunching up a chip bag.

I feel that the popping and compression takes you away from the cinematic experience personally. Especially with the soundtrack, its very orchestral and multilayered and hearing popping and compression really detracts from such a lovely soundscape that had a lot of labour and love put in to it. It probably wouldn't be so compressed if they could of made it uncompressed so it wasn't the intention anyway.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby punkmanced » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:56 pm

Not to mention that the Japanese vocal track (part 1) doesn't sound muffled at all by comparison!
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby mjq jazz bar » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:39 pm

Man, some of you guys are hardcore Shenmue purists!

I’m going to guess they didn’t intend to make the voice tracks sound like that at all. It was a necessary evil due to hardware constraints.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby Ucuetis » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:58 pm

mjq jazz bar wrote: Man, some of you guys are hardcore Shenmue purists!

I’m going to guess they didn’t intend to make the voice tracks sound like that at all. It was a necessary evil due to hardware constraints.



I know right?

I'm actually surprised by the comments I'd just assume everyone would like Shenmue in its most perfect state as Yu Suzuki intended it. There is no way in hell a developer is going to spend as much as AM2 did on orchestras and the like just for them to deliberately compress the fuck out of the audio tracks to the point it sounds like a chip bag. It obviously wasn't the intention of the developers as you said. It would sound like complete ass on really nice headphones if they keep the compressed audio.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby Gen » Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:19 pm

Of course the compression was due to hardware constraints, just silly to believe anything else. The "Noooo!"-scream from the intro is almost painful to hear because of the distortion.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby BlueMue » Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:39 pm

Some of the music also took a bit of a hit. Namely the opening of Shenmue and the rooftop cutscene after Dou Niu's defeat in Shenmue II.

Unlike the majority of the music, with is sample based and generated on the fly these are prerecorded.
But there is no big problem with them, just a bit scratchy and only noticeable when you compare it to a "clean" version.
The credits themes are also streaming audio but those are at full quality. Not sure why they decided to dial the settings back a bit for these cutscenes but they are of course overlapped by sound effects and voices so either that was limiting or they decided to take the saveable space because it isn't just the music alone.

In any way these are pretty much the easiest things to fix. Shenmue's opening is on the Orchestra Soundtrack and the rooftop music already has high quality in the Xbox version.

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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby abaww » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:26 pm

Sega definitely still have the uncompressed audio files. But I've got this sneaky suspicion they'll be too lazy to put them in the re-release version of the game.. :roll:
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby Gen » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:32 pm

BlueMue wrote: Some of the music also took a bit of a hit. Namely the opening of Shenmue and the rooftop cutscene after Dou Niu's defeat in Shenmue II.

Unlike the majority of the music, with is sample based and generated on the fly these are prerecorded.
But there is no big problem with them, just a bit scratchy and only noticeable when you compare it to a "clean" version.
The credits themes are also streaming audio but those are at full quality. Not sure why they decided to dial the settings back a bit for these cutscenes but they are of course overlapped by sound effects and voices so either that was limiting or they decided to take the saveable space because it isn't just the music alone.

In any way these are pretty much the easiest things to fix. Shenmue's opening is on the Orchestra Soundtrack and the rooftop music already has high quality in the Xbox version.


Yes, and also, there are prerecorded versions of many of the sample based pieces, perhaps all of them. These versions usually sound alot better. I guess hardware constraint (memory, space) was also the reason why sample based music was used. The music you hear in the game usually try to emulate the sound of the prerecorded version but are constrained by limited number of voices. It would be awesome if they included the prerecorded music in this remaster.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby starscream178 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:43 pm

It would be nice to have different modes

For Example: Classic (Compressed Audio, 480p, maybe visual filter, dreamcast noises? etc)
Classic HD (Uncompressed, 1080p etc, same textures etc.)
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