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ZeroByte

What the YM2151 can do in the right hands

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I just thought a little non-technical content might be nice - I came across this YouTube playlist yesterday.

Its an album released in Japan, using the YM2151 as the main instrument. It obviously has some other sample-based tracks as well, but I think this is a great example of how awesome the YM2151 can actually sound when used well by a skilled composer. Tunes like this are exactly the kind of stuff I wanted to be playing in the BG of awesome retro games for the X16, and why I was such a cheerleader for having an FM chip in the system back when the FB group was the primary community.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Fenner Machine said:

I have been searching for examples of what the YM2151 can do.

For other good examples, go check out VGMrips.net You can browse the available songs by many criteria, and "by music chip" is one - you can browse all kinds of good YM2151 tunes.

One that I think is particularly good listening is Desert Assault - although a lot of the awesome in that game's music comes from PCM samples for the electric guitar riffs and so forth. Good examples of (nearly) pure YM2151 games would be Ghouls N Ghosts, Strider, Street Fighter II, and Rastan Saga. I love Black Tiger as well, but it's not a YM2151 - but I think that chip is 100% compatible as far as the sound capabilities - it just has less voices IIRC.

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Posted (edited)

You can also search YouTube for samples of patches running on the synthesizers that were based on the YM2151 (OPM) ... IIRC, the DX21, DX27 and DX100. The YM2151 was the midrange synth chip used for the higher end consumer boards, so unlike the professional Yamaha FM synthesizer keyboards, the keys don't have velocity or aftertouch sensing.

However, one thing the DX21 is known for is for basslines ... if you take one of the bass patches that tickle you fancy and modify it slightly for a slightly different sound, then tune it up a few cents, then run the second channel in sync with the the original patch, that give complex harmonics that can be really full sounding. The DX21 was the more professional of the three, allowing bi-timbrel voices (or allowing a different patch to be assigned to each half of the keyboard), so DX21 bi-timbrel samples in particular give a good source for possibilities.

I can't wait until someone tries something like that on a Bad Apple demo to make the sound really pop.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

On the DX21 itself, the trade-off for that crunchy bass is that when it is set to bi-timbrel, you only have four voices. That would be limiting for an electric piano, where between chords and decay of one voice when another voice is attacked, you'd rather have eight voices ... but in a bass line, you'd typically only be playing one or two notes at a time, so that's not a serious limitation.

However, in the context of the CX16, you can mix and match single voice and double voice instruments, and of course adjust the ADSR and pitch envelopes for the effect you want in each note, so those aren't the limitations that they are in the keyboard setting.

 

Edited by BruceMcF
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That link to VGMRips looks excellent!

What current synth keyboard would you say is closest to what the YM2151 can do?

Thinking of something like the Yamaha Reface CS to experiment with.

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I plugged a MIDI kid into my computer. Then I loaded Deflemask and used it to set instruments, and just played the YM2151 itself.

im very interested in the reface FM kbd myself but just because I would like the sound. I don’t think it’s going to be any kind of approximation of the 2151, but it might be a good “touchy-feely” way to get the knack of making FM instruments.

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Very promising, however I find the high pitched fragile synthetic tone (I do not know how to describe it) very annoying. I want more a heavy metal tune.

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7 minutes ago, hth313 said:

I find the high pitched fragile synthetic tone (I do not know how to describe it) very annoying.

Yeah - FM can sound pretty tinny (that's my word for the sound you're talking about). That's why I didn't list R*Type II as an example "awesome tunes" tune.... I like that soundtrack, but it is definitely tinny. FM doesn't have to sound that way, though - think of the soundtrack from Sega Genesis games, like Sonic the Hedgehog. That chip's close enough to YM2151 that you can just use the same instrument patches on the OPM and they sound identical.

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This is one of the more admired YM2151 tunes, from the arcade version of After Burner II. Sega used the YM2151 with a multi-channel PCM for most of their cabinets from the mid-80s through the mid-90s. This has sampled drums coming from the PCMs, but most of the instrumentation is FM. You could get VERY close to this on the X16, if you are willing to dedicate most of your banked RAM to FM instructions and samples. The samples would need to be lower-bitrate, but for drums that doesn't really matter as much.

 

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