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Sound Level Issues: VA6 HDGFX Model 1 Genesis

Jay See Double You

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Hey guys! I come from a Sega Genesis background of a VA7 Model 1 (the bad one), and a VA1.8 Model 2 (the even worse one.) After reading Moonsweeper's review of the hardware variations on the Sega-16 forums, I secured a VA6 Model 1 with the "High Definition Graphics" (HDGFX) decal. The difference in clarity, depth, and dynamic was immediately, startlingly, and grin-inducingly apparent. This was about 6-9 months ago.


But over that time, I've consistently noticed at least two other things that I wasn't counting on, that are sort of driving me nuts:


1) There are one or two FM voices that are now super dominant. Knuckles Chaotix (32X) sound test mode calls them FM 2 and FM 3. These channels are significantly louder than anything else. There is a charm to this, as it makes the sound all that more clear and dynamic, but it's also frustrating for two reasons: a) other sounds can be lost in the shadow of their might (making the track sound imbalanced), 2) these FM channels also apparently double as sound FX channels, as when sound effects are happening, the music on these channels briefly suspend (a la NES.)


2) The PSG is -waaaaay- too faint in the mix. If it's soloing, then you can still clearly hear it, but it's virtually overpowered by the FM rhythm voices, and when it's simply supplementing the FM voices, it's lost to the ears almost entirely.


Now, to be fair, I'm comparing it, most likely, to emulation (MP3s I've made from youtube videos, primarily), and it's possible that the emulation is simply PSG heavy. But if that's the case, I like my PSG heavy. To my ears, the PSG I hear in my MP3s is balanced perfectly with the FM, but my VA6 seems to have a definite FM dominance. The louder FM tracks from my first observation I think I could live with, and possibly even come to appreciate, but this super soft PSG is just too much for me.


In any case, VA7 model 1, and VA1.8 Model 2 are clearly not the solution, and it sounds like VA 2.x model 2 units have PSG problems (I've even heard reports that the PSG can be out of tune on those models, which would just be dreadful.) I've heard Genesis 3 has strong PSG, but problem 1 is that it's in mono, and problem 2, no Sega CD support. So that's not a viable option either. VA4 Model 2 is supposed to have a strong bias towards FM, so that would not help my situation.


What about VA3 Model 2? How's the PSG/FM balance relative a VA6 Model 1? Or what about earlier VA2-VA5 model 1? I was under the impression that there was no difference at all between VA3-VA6.8, and that the only difference in VA2 is that it only outputs one channel out the AV out. I think I actually prefer the longer decay of the discreet yamaha chip over the rapid decay of the AISC version, but that's a sacrifice I'd be wiling to make in order to get the levels right.


Or, I am open to modding as a last resort. What are my options there? Is there a simple way to add potentiometers for FM and PSG volume, that I could adjust? And if so, are there any schematics? If this is an option, then while we're at it, can a pot be added for "FM2 and FM3", so I can turn them down a bit? Or is there something to that effect in the VA6 mobo already, and where?


Thanks guys!


p.s. I also post on Sega-16 and The Retro League forums. I'm gonna post this there as well. To those who also post there, sorry for the multi-post, and just ignore the extras. :-)

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