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Muffled voice in SNES

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The soundchip only has a small amount of space to run all music and sound effects out of. All games balance things differently, but some kind of compromise has to be made.


Less prominent music channels tend to be lower quality. Sound and voice effects are usually squished/sped up trimmed to remove as much as possible. So voices in SFII games are reduced to mostly consonants/sharp points of syllables. So "hadouken" is reduced to "heh... deh... keh".


Then filtering masks clarity and too often reverb is used and further distorts the remains of the sample.


Another frequent problem is when sped up short samples are used for voices or instruments and then the pitch is altered to perform different notes, it ends up with some out of tune and/or "derpy".

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6 hours ago, Serguei2 said:

After playing SNES games for a while, I noted voices are muffled.


Is SNES hardware sound limited or is it possible to improve?

Depends on the game/developer. Audio comes at a premium in cartridge space when you are talking about 1-2 MB so it has to be heavily compressed. The SNES has 8 times the amount of audio RAM as the Genesis.

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19 hours ago, Punisher5.0 said:

Depends on the game/developer. Audio comes at a premium in cartridge space when you are talking about 1-2 MB so it has to be heavily compressed. The SNES has 8 times the amount of audio RAM as the Genesis.

It's still apples to oranges as SNES audio is 100% samples and Genesis hardware can get by with 100% chip sound. But SNES samples also uae adpcm compression, so they require less space for a particular sample quality.


Quality samples in a Geneais game will take up more rom space than samples at the same rate in a SNES game, but they will be clearer and the Genesis can spare cpu resource to produce single samples that sound better than a typical SNES game could produce.


But a Genesis game is still stuck at only one sample at a time unless the main cpu handles all the sound.


These kinds of compromises led to some Genesis games (like TFIV) turning off all sound to run a sample or others (like Altered Beast) to freeze the entire game the way that SMS games tend to.

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Well--and I don't give one flying hoot about "enhancement chips" or whatever--the voices in Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius sound pretty dang great to me for a 16-bit console in the '90s (and there's a crap-load of them):



If you played that game back in the day on your stock SNES (no additional and very expensive hardware add-ons required), you would have been pretty stunned that this was coming from a 16-bit home console and [for all intents and purposes to the average gamer] a standard SNES cartridge.


Similarly, Tales of Phantasia has some dang impressive singing in the intro (a little muffled but still pretty wow for the time to hear an actual song in a 16-bit game):



And the intro song to Down the World, while even a bit more muffled, is just as impressive to hear in a cartridge game from the '90s also:



So, I'd say it's possible to do some pretty impressive voice samples on SNES in the right hands. And, given the quality of the voices in Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius, I'd suggest it would be possible to take just twenty or so voice samples instead of however many they have there (it seems like hundreds), and you'd probably be able to make them a little higher quality in general. But I'm not a sound guy, so I couldn't say what kind of quality SNES could reach for a few voice samples if someone wanted to make them just sound top notch.


 This sounds pretty high quality to me for example, and certainly high enough that no reasonable person should be complaining about it sounding "muffled" or whatever, especially, again, given we're listening to this on a 16-bit home console from the '90s (at the 1:05 mark if it doesn't go there automatically):



There's some pretty quality voice samples in here too:



My personal view is that any game where you have a couple of voice samples on SNES and they aren't pretty dang clear and high quality, I'd say it's probably down to one or both of two things, the sound guy was forced to reduce the quality to fit the samples into the limited available space (both audio RAM and overall cartridge space) and/or they just didn't do a great job of it.

Edited by Kirk_Johnston
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