Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

(Shenmue I & II Re-Release Discussion)

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

Postby Yokosuka » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:19 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.


In that case, just put the original Earth & Sea into the 70 NPC brawl, like Shenmue The Movie.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby OL » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:57 pm

mjq jazz bar wrote: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.


Well yeah, of course it wasn't intentional. But then, you could kind of say the same thing about scan lines, or the curved screen edges of old TVs in retro sprite-based games. These weren't things that were planned for when devs made games back then, and yet they remain elements that some people actually prefer to see when playing them nowadays (hence their optional inclusion in a great number of retro re-releases). The compressed audio is really no different; it's a technical restraint/imperfection that some people nowadays actually prefer as an atmospheric element. Call it a nostalgia thing, but then... why shouldn't we feel some level of nostalgia for Shenmue's many quirks?

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

Postby BlueMue » Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:10 am

Gen wrote: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.

While the ones on the soundtrack are of a higher fidelity overall, there is nothing wrong with the sample quality of the originals. They sound very very clean. The soundtrack versions often sound too noticeably different, especially the piano parts wich are in a different key. I personally think that these replacements would go a bit too far.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby Gen » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:38 am

BlueMue wrote:
Gen wrote: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.

While the ones on the soundtrack are of a higher fidelity overall, there is nothing wrong with the sample quality of the originals. They sound very very clean. The soundtrack versions often sound too noticeably different, especially the piano parts wich are in a different key. I personally think that these replacements would go a bit too far.


Yeah, I didn't mean audio quality, I just meant the sound of the original recording is different and the sound is richer, since the game music often use less voices (I guess because of limitaions of the dreamcast soundboard). I think the piano parts on the OST are a special case and made for the soundtrack cd, since they are recorded on acoustic piano. The other versions are made with synthesizers, although they usually replicate acoustic instruments better than the music in the game. These tracks are identical in key and arrangement to the in-game tracks. Many of them are included in the Shenmue online OST and you can hear some of them in various trailers and documentaries.

My guess is that all tracks were first recorded in this manner using synthesizers and then they tried their best to replicate these versions with the sample based system. In the Shenmue documentary you can see a compser (Ryuji Iuchi, I think) recording/composing the version of "Tears of separation" that was also included in the OST.

Many of these tracks we haven't heard but will likely be used in S3.

Anyway, it would be cool if they included the option to choose between classic dreamcast sound and these original versions, like other remasters often let you choose between old and new soundtrack.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby Yokosuka » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:13 am

An example of what an improved track audio may sound
phpBB [video]


The recorder does sound way cooler than the compressed one!

phpBB [video]

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

Postby Gen » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:26 am

^ Yeah, that's a good example. Percussion in particular sound alot better here. Love the Falcon-scene music at the end too. The other shenmue II trailer also have bits of original versions.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby life_247 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:57 pm

Gen wrote: 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.


It all depends on if the original audio files exist in edited form or not. I would hope so but it’s not a given - there may be thounsands of random audio files that would need to be re-edited before inserting into the game. IE the cutscene audio for the beginning may only exist in constituent parts not the whole mix or sound files are from the recordings which were then edited down.

I suppose it would be lower down the list of priorities.

Anyone remember if the X-Box version had better audio?
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby Yokosuka » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:12 pm

life_247 wrote:Anyone remember if the X-Box version had better audio?


I don't think so but many have a slightly different composition: Wild Throw, Stonepit entrance...
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby Ucuetis » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:19 pm

Yokosuka wrote: An example of what an improved track audio may sound
phpBB [video]


The recorder does sound way cooler than the compressed one!

phpBB [video]


Wow the percussion and wind instruments sound really good in the first video, you can actually hear the individual drum beats very nicely. I think it just highlights the importance of being able to hear the soundtrack as clear as possible, they put a lot of work into those tracks.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby Gen » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:50 am

life_247 wrote:
Gen wrote: 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.


It all depends on if the original audio files exist in edited form or not. I would hope so but it’s not a given - there may be thounsands of random audio files that would need to be re-edited before inserting into the game. IE the cutscene audio for the beginning may only exist in constituent parts not the whole mix or sound files are from the recordings which were then edited down.

I suppose it would be lower down the list of priorities.

Anyone remember if the X-Box version had better audio?


Not sure what you mean by edited form. The audio files would have been created/edited from the original recordings and then compressed versions of these files would have been used in the game. Many scenes and dialogue from the first game, including the full intro appear in Shenmue the movie and are identical to the game except they use the uncompressed high quality files. So this audio is already edited exactly like the game audio, but uncompressed.
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Re: Will the audio be improved in the HD version?

Postby BlueMue » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:06 pm

Pretty much any music track that is in the Shenmue games exists in some form of prerecorded demo.
They did this to easily establish how the music sounds and then converted it over to the Dreamcast's sound system. And by the way I doubt it would ever get close to run out of space for instruments, it has 64 channels.
A lot of these demos have been found on the Shenmue Online website, many give a good idea what to expect.

Personally I don't like the idea of replacing the orignals that much. They just sound too different at times, even if they are superior from a technical standpoint. The piano parts would be worthwhile to replace as the samples used in some of them sound a bit weak and I absolutely love how rich "Departure for hope" sound on the OST. You know, the one that plays when you show around the Phoenix Mirror. But it is, like pretty much all the others, in a lower key and that just ruins it for me deep inside.

Listening to the music in the trailer above I noticed something very interesting. The music that plays when it switches to Barry playing darts is the one used in Beverly Hills Wharf. The one on the DC has two alternating string notes while this one has only one repeating. And guess what... that's how it sounds on the Xbox.
I always thought this was a porting mistake but apparently the original was always meant to sound like that!
Still prefer the one of the DC, sound a lot less annoying the way it is. That means some improvements have been made when the demos have been converted but then the Xbox version...

Yet again a sign that points to the possibility of the Xbox version being built on an older versions of assets than the ones ultimately used for the DC...?

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

Postby Gen » Thu Apr 19, 2018 1:12 pm

BlueMue wrote: Pretty much any music track that is in the Shenmue games exists in some form of prerecorded demo.
They did this to easily establish how the music sounds and then converted it over to the Dreamcast's sound system. And by the way I doubt it would ever get close to run out of space for instruments, it has 64 channels.
A lot of these demos have been found on the Shenmue Online website, many give a good idea what to expect.

Personally I don't like the idea of replacing the orignals that much. They just sound too different at times, even if they are superior from a technical standpoint. The piano parts would be worthwhile to replace as the samples used in some of them sound a bit weak and I absolutely love how rich "Departure for hope" sound on the OST. You know, the one that plays when you show around the Phoenix Mirror. But it is, like pretty much all the others, in a lower key and that just ruins it for me deep inside.

Listening to the music in the trailer above I noticed something very interesting. The music that plays when it switches to Barry playing darts is the one used in Beverly Hills Wharf. The one on the DC has two alternating string notes while this one has only one repeating. And guess what... that's how it sounds on the Xbox.
I always thought this was a porting mistake but apparently the original was always meant to sound like that!
Still prefer the one of the DC, sound a lot less annoying the way it is. That means some improvements have been made when the demos have been converted but then the Xbox version...

Yet again a sign that points to the possibility of the Xbox version being built on an older versions of assets than the ones ultimately used for the DC...?


Ah, interesting find! I only played the xbox version once and I don't own an xbox anymore.

About the soundboard, I know it has 64 channels and I don't claim to know how all this works technically. But I do know for a fact the in-game dreamcast versions are basically simplified versions of the originals with fewer notes in them. As a trained musician that's something I can determine by listening to them. Often the chords will contain fewer notes, certain background harmonies and counter-melodies will be stripped, and often the melody will be played by only one instrument when in the original it will be overlayed with several different instruments.

Edit: By the way, I just checked, and the OST version of "Departure for hope" is in the same key as the game version. The piano melody is dropped an octave down though, if that is what you mean. I'm actually pretty sure all these synthesizer-versions are in the same key as the game versions. The one major difference I can think of is "Separated from Yokosuka" which is in the same key but faster in the game.
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