Gamers Don’t Care about Sound Preservation

so the first thing you’re probably thinking is this isn’t a question in reality it is a question it’s just currently disguised as a statement it’s a really important question and this is not quite what I like to do on this channel I script all the time everything is very structured and this is a little bit more shoot-from-the-hip I’m gonna have some jump cuts and I apologize for that but it’s something that I wanted to talk about to you and there’s no way I can do it in one take so I apologize in advance for that but let’s begin we don’t care about sound anymore consumers don’t really if you think about music right decades ago we had hi-fi people buying multiple components to build a system to listen to their analog mediums for music and it was also a bit of a status thing you could go to somebody else’s house and say whoa check out this person’s system man and that’s basically gone why because convenience we want things to be more convenient now when something like the iPod came around you now had the ability to store it digitally and later even put it on your cell phone and acquire it on your cell phone basically we sacrificed quality of sound for convenience right now when it comes to preserving games people usually are talking about the software they’re almost always talking about the data finding games out there that we haven’t backed up in some way or another but nobody really talks about the hardware I’m talking about preserving in the long term a lot of you may may not be aware of this but super Nintendos the early revisions of super Nintendos are failing right now the CPUs are dying and that’s not something that you can just buy a capacitor or a resistor or just anything off the shelf and say okay I fixed it here you go you need another Super Nintendo CPU in order to repair it so either you either have to go to a parts console and tear the CPU out of it and use those parts for something else or if you have another console with a functioning CPU chances are you’re going to want to service that console if it needs any at all and take the one with the dead CPU and it becomes a parts console you’re not gonna use it anymore it’s time is over now I don’t think we’re gonna suddenly have a rash of non-functioning super Nintendos it’s just we’re starting to see signs of things that are several decades old starting to degrade and I don’t know that we have to worry about it in our lifetime to be honest but I do feel that within our lifetime it’s up to us to decide just how much we want to preserve the original hardware and the way that that’s being done right now is FPGA consoles and emulation through software once you reach a certain point on certain aspects of an emulator you fragment into two camps one says this is good enough this is good enough to get the game across and the other camps saying okay but it needs to be as close to doing every single thing the original hardware does and operating in the same way it needs to be a replica either in software or in modern hardware – what came out a few decades ago when it comes to audio if you were to go out and buy one of these devices or download the software and start playing a game it’s it’s a binary thing it’s either oh no I can’t hear my sound and then you you can hear it you say okay sound works and you move on and a lot of people that’s fine as long as you can hear sound you’re good but for other people you want it to be much more accurate you’re interested in accuracy and these days a lot of people are interested in accuracy of the video RGB upscaling modern televisions HDMI output etc and nobody really cares about the sound and I really wish that they did because I think there’s more work to be done out there to make it more accurate and I know for a fact several people are working to make it more accurate but as a consumer as a gamer how important is it to you there’s the question how important is it to you to have accurate sound is good enough good enough or do you want the future to have something as close to the original hardware as possible if you think about business I mean somebody had to develop the FPGA consoles and sell them there has to be a market for it and if you’re a business and most of your consumers aren’t gonna care about sound then why should you bother to make it super accurate if you acquire the knowledge of how to program sound hardware and you manage to pull it off and it’s 75 to 80% close enough if you release it and nobody complains then why would you want to spend the money and resources to make it a hundred percent accurate it’s one thing to ask the question how important sound is to you it’s another thing to ask you to give me an honest answer not the right answer an honest answer do you care or do you not care does it need to be as accurate as possible are you willing to say hey I’ve noticed some things and tell the right people or do you just say you know what whatever I’m playing my game it works I don’t care because generations removed from now when it comes to experiencing the stuff that we did or our children are currently experiencing the decision is ours right now so do we care about sound or not because we are starting to see failure of old consoles it’s very little but we’re also starting to see preservation start to kick up and now’s the time let me know your thoughts thanks for watching you

38 thoughts on “Gamers Don’t Care about Sound Preservation

  1. God I love this channel. Once again I could spend hours discussing this.

    I disagree consumers don't care about sound anymore. Back in the 60s the majority option to reproduce was a gramophone or a crap mono speaker. The idea of someone having a home player which could produce a reasonable facsimile of the original audio was rare, which is why there was such interest in home hifi into the 70s and 80s. These days we are spoilt. A typical home or personal audio setup is cheap and can reproduce very accurately, better than an expensive hifi from the 70s. Good sound is normal default now so consumers don't have to care.

    I disagree there is no interest in preserving old game sound. There are multiple implementations of emulation of various FM synths like the OPL3, there are efforts to reproduce analog chips like the SID either in new hardware or FPGA, MAME has samples because there is no current way to re-make those sounds but if there was then MAME would do that instead. There is awareness of audio preservation in retro gamers.

    In regards to good enough vs perfection, we're never going to get 100% accuracy in any aspect of preservation. Your TV in the 90s gave a particular look (which was different to my TV's particular look) and those TV's analog components are old or the TV is dead so you're never ever going to see your old TV console the same as it was in 1990, unless you re-create the TV and console's entire fabrication process which is too expensive to be feasible. Both camps of preservationists are already settling for "good enough". One group is just never satisfied that enough is "good enough", nor will that group ever be satisfied.

    Personally I'm in both camps, depending on which aspect it is and how "good enough" current options are. I don't care enough about most SNES games to run whatever Byuu's accuracy-focused emualtor is called, but I still own an N64 so I can play "real" GoldenEye as N64 emulation isn't (yet) good enough for me. In some situations I even intentionally prefer a modern misrepresentation, such as liking big clear sharp 8-bit and 16-bit pixels on my huge LCD flatscreen instead of shitty AV fuzziness on a CRT. But always at the correct original aspect ratio 😉

    Once again thank you for such a great channel and great topic to discuss.

  2. Preserving sound accuracy is essential, in my view.

    As I’ve gotten older, the things which have stuck with me about the games I’ve played, more often than not, has been their music.

    It’s simple. Hardware preservation is not truly preservation if sound accuracy is not a priority.

    That’s my take.

  3. Speaking as an enthusiast and a player of video games – no. I don't care about sound. I've never cared enough to notice sound inaccuracy in emulators. I do hope work is being done to preserve and replicate the sound as close as possible, but I will probably never bring myself to care about it.

  4. I have a SNES mini With Optical output modification. I captured that sound digitally and compared it to analog sound output from the same game on a capture just as an experiment on some very high end digital capture equipment I used when I used to do game capture for game trailers, and there are two different kinds of accuracy you are probably talking about. The cheap analog output of the hardware, and the actual digital sound the game console is generating. Now when you listen to it, the digital sound from the console sounded miles better, but the analog sound is more likely what 99% of people experienced. I never compared it with the state of the art software emulation but I'm sure it was very similar to the digital output of the console.

    I think at the end of the day with sound, people don't as much emphasis on sound as they do on picture, so of course picture quality gets covered ad nauseam. I would like to hear from you what kind of preservation you're trying to cover, the specific analog inconsistencies from each model of console, or the actual digital sound output that few if any got to actually hear.

  5. Dude, are we kindred spirits? Fantastic job presenting this. It’s something I’m rather passionate about myself.

  6. For sound good enough is good enough for me. If it's a port with slowed down sound or whatever that's a problem for me, but as far as tiny differences in emulation I don't care to be honest

  7. I'm the type of person who still buys dedicated sound cards for my PC and high end speaker setups. Sound is definitely important to me (I don't consider myself an audiophile or something like that though)
    When it comes to preservation, either emulation, hardware simulation or hardware cloning, accuracy should definitely be a priority and sound is definitely an integral part of it.
    Is good to see some projects like MAME do prioritize accuracy over everything else, and then over time improve the experience on top of that.

  8. honestly i only care about video quality and input lag. All LCDs have shitty speakers, so the fidelity would be gone anyway.

  9. Glad you posted this, and I've been involved in doing my own tests with MDFourier. What's interesting to note though is sound preservation has to deal with a myriad of hardware revisions. Some sound like crap, others much better. Then there's mods that can actually improve original hardware sound experience. I've made a few of my own mod boards like SNES digital audio output (polling shows about 80% of people prefer this mod over stock analog SNES audio), my M1 Genesis Mini Mega (provides higher quality output and shifts the LPF up to a 16KHz cutoff) my M1 Genesis Double Mega (allows for toggling between the YM2612 or YM3428 sound output in one Genesis console). There's also console revisions that simply omitted components from original releases, and the sound got degraded with buzz and noise as a result. My own experience with this is the Neo Geo AES3-3 and 3-4 revisions, where I re-installed the missing components SNK omitted, and it removed all the buzz and hum to return to a crystal clear sound out of the stereo headphone jack.

    So there's not only sound preservation aspects of original hardware, but also sound improvements. Since I grew up in the era of big sound systems (and worked as a projection tech in movie theaters with surround sound systems), sound has always been just as important to me as video. In fact, I remember hating MP3 format and being elated with FLAC came out. Anyway, thanks for the video and mentioning Artemio's wonderful program!

  10. I can't hear any difference between sound produced by origianl hardware NES, SNES, Genesis, PS one and their respective emulators. 95% of people can't hear the difference. Hence they don't care. That's why ipods are gone too – people can't hear difference between old ipod and a basic modern smartphone. I can't hear it too, so I don't need another dedicated device to listen to music on the go. Smartphone is ok. That's consumer point of view. But from the preservation point of view, accuracy is extremely important. Hardware will die evantually. You can't do anything about it. I will be honest with you and myself: as long as I can't tell the difference between the game running on original hardware and emulator/fpga, I personaly don't care about what's going on under the hood of that emulator/fpga. But for the history accuracy is a must.

  11. I'm a music and audio guy, and I happen to love video game music and have played many games solely because of who wrote the music, so I'm a bit biased here in saying it's of huge importance to me. It can get extremely complicated, though. Should we add mains hum to emulators for added authenticity? Should a Super Nintendo emulator upsample its 32 kHz audio to 128 kHz with no interpolation and then apply a low-pass filter before it's sent to your computer's final output, even if it takes much more processing power and sounds functionally identical to resampling to your output rate with linear interpolation?

    I just last week intentionally scoured eBay to purchase a VA7 revision model 1 Genesis, the one notorious for introducing a new and awful sound circuit, because I wanted to compare it to the other revisions. Let me tell you, it is truly terrible and I find it insane that an engineer designed such a bad sound circuit and that Sega's quality control allowed it to pass. It's noisy and distorted and who wants that in their games and who would go out of their way to program the degradation of audio into emulators or FPGAs? Yet I'm pleased with my purchase and I think emulators should implement that sound as accurately as possible, as well as all the other Genesis variations. It's what the Genesis sounded like to any unlucky kid who got that revision or the subsequent model 2s for a few years up until they finally fixed it. If no one recreates that sound before the last Genesis of that type ceases to function, that experience will be lost forever. Not that it's the most important thing in the world, but there are reasons to try to preserve it, whether for simple nostalgic or historical/academic reasons.

    Emulators and FPGA recreations should be archival tools, and thankfully most of the developers take this approach, even if most users don't understand. Archivists aren't the same as curators; everything is treated equally without judgment. That's why people are concerned about getting every single unreleased prototype or beta version of any game that shows up for auction into the hands of someone who will copy it and preserve it, even if it's a Barbie game dated two months before the final ship date that turns out to be identical to the retail version. I take that approach to sound and would like to see every single soundtrack (plus sound effects – that's an art, too!) for every single game on every system, at least prior to the X360/PS3 which typically just use lossy codecs for games, recorded from every hardware variant that had a change to sound beyond the manufacturing variation tolerances for their electrical components, recorded in the highest fidelity possible. That would obviously be quite an undertaking with very niche appeal, but one can dream.

    Thanks for talking about game sound preservation!

  12. Definitely if emulating, should focus on both, as much as possible. With hardware, I think it's more important to replicate the outputs and functions of the original
    EDIT: hmm.. actually yes, both hardware and emulated hardware/software should BOTH equally replicate original hardware and software because no matter what, the electronics used to output the equipment may vary. I played SNES on some old random tv as a kid and now play on a pvm. Same console, hardware, and games, but with different output hardware. I think also, making new and reliable types of hardware for outputting the new replicas to, so as to recreate the original era specific experience is also important. I.e. using new hardware and technology to perfect the types of equipment that were available back then. Sort of like how we use old pvms, maybe someone should make new (old style) pvms that use better technology but input and output to similar equivalence or better. Like maybe creating new analog monitors that can run even higher refresh rates to make new emulated hardware look as good as it CAN in this day and age and/or dial it back for a simulated function from the original eras. ^_^
    Sort of like how I run an old PC crt monitor at 120hz to make older games look better while running on my modern pc. [It has to run in a Low Resolution, so don't think I'm cheating 😉 ]

    Idk if I'm just nutty or if someone follows me on this?

    Feels like a jumble of ideas lol

  13. Personally, sound is equally important as visuals. While video imperfections and input lag are salient flaws, bad sound will not go unnoticed as it will detract from the overall experience too. I totally agree this has been one area emulation has and still fails to do well. And I highly suspect it is tolerated by most because it is "good enough." But also, perhaps because it is not easy to compare or remember against a standard, reference point or original source material.

  14. I think there should be more focus on making the sound better not necessarily accurate. Part of the reason I emulate only is all the different filters you can use for visuals and audio. I don't get too hung up on needing to play on authentic hardware, with a crt, with scanlines through tinny speakers to make it ACCURATE. I would actually enjoy more audio filters and EQ tweaks to make it sound different. I understand nostalgia plays a huge role in all of this, but I experienced retro consoles back then. I want to experience something new and different today using the latest tech we have.

  15. They arent'really, many of those that wish for RGB forget that dithering was an art form on many a console, and home computer/PC. But I do agree, people forget that Audio is important, especially for FM hardware chipsets whom require a bit more work to pull off precisely than a sample based machine. Heck even simple PSG chips can be a hassle to emulate due to how it was implemented on that specific machine and coders coding to THAT specific machine. So just using a standard emulation engine for say an AY8910 isn't cutting it, as afterwards that hardware had some peculiar behaviour with the sound signal. One of the biggest examples of this good enough thinking in sound? The myth that the Megadrive had a bad/worse sound solution.

  16. I've compared a few GBA SP's and each of them have different sounding speakers. Also found similar things with DMGs. Haven't heard anyone really talk about revisions or compare them. My findings were that a 2003 sp sounded pretty distorted, while a 2005 one sounded great and clear. An AGS-101's speaker was ok but not as clear as the '05 one. Could also just be the luck of the draw with the speaker itself, meaning that a model from any era could be good.

    Early revision Mega Drives all the way as well!

  17. I think one of the questions you inevitably have to deal with with the accuracy argument is – accurate to what? Most of these consoles had multiple revisions over their lifetimes and some revisions behave quite differently than others. Should we target all revisions or just some of them? I don't have an answer to this, unfortunately.

  18. I'm not capable or educated enough to note minor changes on sound so if it sounds good enough so that i can't notice the changes it is ok, but i totally try to have it as true as possible to the original

  19. I think it's easier for people to measure accuracy visually; everyone's ears are different and may not even remember what the sound in a game is supposed to be like. It's a lot easier to emphasize the visual aspect of a game since people pay more attention to what's on the screen. Upscaling, having good filters, or having the right color pallets is probably "easier" than having accurate sound

  20. Just face it. The end game is emulation. Original hardware is NOT going to survive. It wasn't built to last, and it's not going to last.

  21. Sorry dude. This video blows. Audio accuracy is a big deal in emulation, has been for a long time, and people do care. MAME just recently improved audio latency with Port Audio, and the good emulators (BSNES/Higan/etc.) are more accurate than FPGAs for the most part.

  22. My only two criticisms is I think you should have had an actual sample of some bad or inaccurate audio for the average person to hear, and patreon links really, really tighten my jaws.

    As a gamer like you from the mid 80s, I always looked at gaming as a hobby. We've always shared information for free, but in 2019 for some reason, everyone has a tin cup.
    Imagine when you were younger, each time you had a friend come over and you played games together, you had a little tin tip cup sitting there. It's just wrong. All wrong.

    Other than that, I like this video. Please don't ever delete it.

  23. au contraire. I always use the most accurate emulators I can for this reason alone. Such as byuu's bsnes.

    But in general people don't care as long as the thing is at least good enough, look at video compression. Plenty of people are happy with ultra compressed garbage.

  24. I'm not even sure visuals matter, honestly. I grew up playing my 2600 and NES over RF, sometimes even in black and white. Then I went to the arcade where the monitor on whatever I was playing might be faded and burnt-in while the audio merged into the general din or was drowned out completely.

    You know what? It was *amazing*. Sometimes I think we get so obsessed with fussing over our precious "setups" and falling into $1000 stereo cable type wank vortices to remember what it's like to just kick back and enjoy some video games in a free and natural manner. It's a stereotypical neurotic adult way of overthinking and ultimately ruining a simple childhood joy

    tl;dr. If you can see and hear the game good enough to play it, you're doing it right.

  25. Oh man, big can of worms here for me. First of all, yes, sound matters to me A LOT! I remember when I was young people posing the question, "Would you rather be blind or deaf?"

    It's never been a contest for me. I'd rather have my hearing over my sight. I'm a musician and I confidently say that a lot of the music I produce has been directly inspired by the 2 pulse wave oscillators, 1 triangle wave oscillator, and noise generator of the NES. A lot was done with those 3 components right there to bring awesome music and creative sound effects into our ears, and this isn't even addressing the many great things we heard come from the SNES, Genesis, N64, etc.

    However, when it comes to the preservation of sound when we want to play our old games, I'm a bit on the outside on this one. I have all original hardware and keep a stock of CRT televisions. When I play my retro games, they're on the original cartridges playing through the original consoles being output through well maintained CRT televisions. Is it the best way to hear the sounds? I don't know, I think that's rather subjective. How about, is it the best fidelity? No, I'm sure it's not. However, this set up produces sound the way I remember when I was a kid.

    When, one day, my hardware begins to suffer from deterioration and I am forced to move on to other means such as emulation, if it doesn't sound the way I remember sounding when I was a child, I will definitely notice. I will definitely care.

    Great video as always. You gave me a lot to think about.

  26. This is why I bought an Analogue Super Nt, here's hoping the soon to be released Analogue DAC will pair nicely with a good stereo amp and a PVM.

  27. You are right, for instance, to this day some people never experience Capcom's QSound because Capcom machines has a QSound matrix decoder hidden inside the amplifier board people trash away. Not to say that there is no emulation that can give the user the same arcade experience because there is no software matrix decoder.

    From what I can see, this generation doesn't care about aspect ratio or sound at all, to them it's whatever.

  28. I'm surprised to hear this claim. I've been obsessed with perfect game audio for decades… I can remember when games like FF Anthology came out in 1999 and it was like "nope that is NOT how the games should sound". Sound is a major reason why I play on real SNES and Genesis hardware.

  29. I think for emulators it's important to be as accurate as possible on the long term. Sound is an important facet of this. The Mega Drive for example is really hard to emulate the sound accurately and it doesnt help that different revisions of the Mega Drive sound different.

  30. I can't like this video enough. Just so damn true. I used to sell big screen tv's and home theater systems years ago, and I saw the death of traditional home theater systems, to crappy home theater in a box garbage, and the birth of awful sound bars. I was always a purist and demanded the speakers, the reciever etc… I just don't have the space now, and opted with a Nakamichi 9.2.1 Dolby Atmos/DTS X sound bar with 4 surround speakers. Does it sound good? Yeah…it's impressive for being a bar, and the 2 subs it comes with that pump out 500 watts a piece thump, but nothing will ever replace actual speaker placement.

    The only way to get those traditional setups now and have good quality is very expensive high end stuff, and while that's awesome, it's not everyone's price range.

    I'm not even convinced people care as much about video quality either if we see Google Stadia do well (hopefully it fails miserably)

    I enjoy Analogue's FPGA SNES and Genesis, and they are probably some of the most accurate stuff out there. In general, the younger generation (not all of course, but a majority) don't seem to care about the preservation of anything. Everything is going digital and they are absolutely fine with it.

    Look at how functionality is slowly being taken away from our devices, disc drives are vanishing from computers and laptops alike. I feel like today's tablets and phones are nothing more than view finders from back in the day.

    Really enjoyed your video man. I wish more people realized how important this stuff is, but most probably won't untill it's too late

  31. I really care about sound preservation because of what happened to the original broadcast audio of Dragon Ball and I don’t want to see more things have audio degrade over time and not be preserved like that

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