Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
S-Priest

Solar Studios' Hexen Soundtrack Released

Recommended Posts

Well there, it's a completely new Hexen soundtrack compatible with Doomsday and ZDoom in the very least.

Current version is 1.1.

1.1 Changes

Added Chap_2r.flac/.ogg/.mp3.
There is now an info file for Doomsday. This adds game filtering and a bit of information for the Snowberry launcher.

Download from the link below:

Hexen Soundtrack


Doomsday can load either the MP3 or Ogg version of the soundtrack. Just drop the Music-*.pk3 file into the \Doomsday\snowberry\addons directory, and choose the file in Hexen startup options. Version 1.1 features a Doomsday info snippet, but as it is the files in 1.0 work right away (they just lack a UI description).

The full resolution soundtrack is up (which sadly ZDoom can't play correctly, as it's 96/24 FLAC). That is the version recommended for direct playback. It will work with any player supporting FLAC, such as Foobar2000, Winamp, XMPlay, VLC (cross-platform), Audirvana (Mac), Cog (Mac), etc. Make sure Winamp has "24-bit output" enabled in settings if it's a newer version, and/or the FLAC plugin has 24-bit output on. A good ASIO or KS output plugin is also recommended for Winamp. Linux soundsystems may also have to be reconfigured to support 96/24 output. Mac owners need not worry, MacOS supports bit-accurate output out-of-the-box, and x86 Macs all come with 192/24 audio.

What's special about it: the original mixes are 96 KHz/32-bit, made with dedicated software synths and a new percussion/drumkit sampler. This means the mixes' quality is on par with Hexen II/Heretic II CD soundtrack quality, if not better (not a joke - small percussion at least is a lot crisper).

See here for differences between formats. Basically you get what you pay for with size, Q6 Ogg is the worst (on some pieces - like Wobabyr.ogg - it even reminds of a wavetable MIDI synth), 320-kbps MP3 is slightly better, 48/24 FLAC sounds more like the real thing, and the real thing (96/24) doesn't have any problems.

Try out the MP3 demos at the project page to get an idea.

This was made with some feedback from Kevin Schilder himself, and he's listened to the mixes and he approves 8-)

This is rather different to the other soundtrack versions out there in that the whole soundtrack was actually mixed. It's not just fancy Soundfont or sampler playback, each score took at least 2-3 days of work. Frankly, there still are places where it could be better, but after comparing it with both the original CD and the other soundtrack that's out there, Sycraft's Hexen Soundtrack 5.0, it's rather obvious which one is more appealing.

This is, more or less, how the soundtrack was meant to play - as a full symphonic score with rock elements (basslines and drumming and guitars are obviously rocker). As Kevin Schilder himself once said, MIDI gives an orchestra at the fingertips. You could imagine an orchestra like that onstage - complete with tubular bells, string section, brass, grand piano, timpani, synthesisers, acoustic and electric bass guitar players, an electric guitar player, and a fairly complex drumkit (all six GM toms are used, and all the GM cymbals) plus percussionists, etc. Quite a fresh/modern take on symphonic sound.

Share this post


Link to post

By the way of which...

This is Sycraft's mix of Chartr.mid (231 kbps average).

And this is the new Solar Hexen soundtrack mix of Chartr.mid (173 kbps).

Sycraft's is "256 kbps Ogg" nominal, 44 KHz, Solar is Q6 Ogg, 48 KHz. The quality setting is actually more like 192 or thereabouts kbps nominal, but Ogg always encodes to less kbps rather than more.

Share this post


Link to post

Cool, will definitely give this a listen.

I thought the Sycraft Hexen 5.0 soundtrack was a bit weird, always preferred the way the 4.0 one sounded. No longer available I guess.

edit: I downloaded the 48 kHz flac version and on unzipping it, 7-zip said the file had CRC errors. Everything seems to play fine, so far. Might have been a problem with my download, but double-check it just to make sure if you can.

Share this post


Link to post

The FLAC version will be reuploaded on the weekend, another person said he couldn't unpack it with WinRAR. Server and local archive sizes coincide though, so it might be a zeroed bit here and there... As you say it plays fine - can you open Music.pk3 and see whether 7Zip doesn't like it too?

Share this post


Link to post

Sycraft's soundtrack 5 misses a lot of notes. In Grover.mid the g├╝iro is not there; in Winnowr.mid the harp is so mute, it's invisible, in Jachr.mid the initial notes of the pizzicato string part are masked too, as are half the timpani hits. Rithmr.mid has a very mute taiko, when it's the main dominating part there, and let's not talk of his guitars.
Sycraft's soundtrack like he didn't pay attention to whatever was playing, and frankly, with the way the tambourine sounds in Borkr.mid (machinegunning at fixed volume), it's a bit dubious whether he used 50 GBs of samples really, as big detailed samplers have more than one velocity layer for percussion.

Share this post


Link to post

Here's some info about various files.

File: Hexen-ST.zip (1,172,332,728 bytes)
CRC-32: dba272ba

Music.pk3 has a CRC mismatch when unzipped. On disk it reads
File: Music.pk3 (1,171,979,276 bytes)
CRC-32: eff8f966

The following flac files generate CRC errors when unzipping Music.pk3. Most or maybe all of them have one or two brief skips when playing back - I guess they have some missing or corrupted frames.

Chap_1R.flac
Chap_4R.flac
Foojar.flac
Fortr.flac
Fubasr.flac
Grover.flac
Hall.flac
Octor.flac
Secretr.flac
Simonr.flac
Stalkr.flac
Swampr.flac
Voidr.flac
Wutzitr.flac


Anyhow, my first impression on listening is that it's quite good for the most part, but also fairly different from the way I'm used to hearing these songs, so I'm not sure whether it will end up being something I use in-game. I also find a lot of your percussion to be pretty quiet in the mix.

Share this post


Link to post

Percussion? Quiet? It's actually quite loud... E. g. listen so something like the guiro and cowbell in Grover.mid, and Voidr.mid is all pretty much written around percussion, all of which stands out nicely.

A composer friend even said that claves are too loud in Cryptr.mid, also the splash cymbal in Chartr.mid.

Swampr.mid has more obvious percussion than Kevin's own mix of it on the Hexen II CD, where the claves/woodblock passage is rather mute.

Taiko might be a tad mute in Fortr.mid, but then it's all over the place in Rithmr.mid.

It's all more or less following Kevin's own style of mixing percussion, subtle yet clear. Balanced, though in fact it tends to go louder than his own mixes though (even measuring RMS dynamics). Some pieces like Simonr.mid are noticeably louder, the cymbals there have a kind of frosty impact power which is not common for commercial samplers.

Try adjusting sound and music volume levels, something like 0.6 or 0.7 and 0.8/0.9 works for sound and music in ZDoom.

So there are skipped bits in the files. Right. Well it looks like tomorrow the PC will be busy uploading the whole thing.

Listen to some of the mixes on the Hexen II CD, most everything will have muter percussion (e. g. track 7=Swampr.mid, track 13=Winnowr.mid, track 12=Voidr.mid). The snare and bass kick might be slightly more prominent, but that's because of how they're processed and reverberated, everything else is more quiet.

You can hardly hear the claves in Hexen II CD track 7, and that's on monitor speakers.

Perhaps ZDoom is playing MIDI or CD audio instead of corrupted FLAC files?

Share this post


Link to post

Grr. So much for uploading files off a phone...

Voidr.flac should be uploaded later. Are there any other damaged files?

Can you try the MP3 version in the meanwhile?

Share this post


Link to post

Chungy: what version is the FLAC app? This has been encoded with 1.2.x (methinks, it's an internal DAW encoder), if by any miracle you've an old 1.1.x version, that won't decode newer files. Try a player like XMPlay or Foobar2000 or VLC instead.

More than one person has tested Hexen-ST-96.zip and it works with no problems, Voidr.flac plays.

Anyway, here is Voidr.flac. You can also listen to it online in mediocre MP3 quality.

Share this post


Link to post

This is the error specifically:

flac 1.3.0, Copyright (C) 2000-2009, 2011-2013  Josh Coalson & Xiph.Org Foundation
flac comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.  This is free software, and you are
welcome to redistribute it under certain conditions.  Type `flac' for details.

Voidr.flac: *** Got error code 0:FLAC__STREAM_DECODER_ERROR_STATUS_LOST_SYNC


Voidr.flac: ERROR while decoding data
            state = FLAC__STREAM_DECODER_READ_FRAME
ffmpeg seems capable of marching on despite it (though it also prints an invalid frame header error)... so I'm able to recompress it in a way.

Share this post


Link to post

That sort of error sometimes pops up here in Winamp when the computer's overloaded and the decoder thread times out trying to start playback on a file that hasn't loaded yet.

Nobody else has had trouble with any files from Hexen-ST-96.zip so far though.

Does this happen with the downloadable Voidr.flac?

Share this post


Link to post

Yes, it does. I don't believe system load has anything to do with flac's capabilities, although I should note that my desktop is mostly idle when I try :P

Share this post


Link to post

What this means is that FLAC doesn't get the frame where it expects it should be. A possible reason for this is that Voidr.flac has a picture - the same as in the online MP3 player page - embedded.

Or it might be something else, in which case a re-encode might help... The source mixes are 96/32 by the way.

Share this post


Link to post

Chungy: same issue here with flac.exe and Voidr.flac. It is the original file, not Zip corruption. The problem is only with flac.exe though, everything else reads the file without any trouble. A recoded Voidr.flac should be up soonish.

Share this post


Link to post

I think flac is just being on the cautious side, if it cannot guarantee a lossless copy, it errors out (and maybe there's a parameter to make it march along, but heh...). Anyhow, thanks :P

(fwiw, the uncompressed audio data *does* differ between these two versions...)

Share this post


Link to post

It may have a different fadeout... Or it is a mixdown from another day, they should be fairly similar though. Mmm no, wait, it's actually the same file recoded. So it shouldn't differ.

Share this post


Link to post

I can't tell any difference with my ear but it's likely related to that frame error :P

At any rate, thanks for this mastering, it's pretty sweet. I've already entered it into MusicBrainz; by MB standards, it's credited to Kevin Schilder but notes you for the mastering. I hope that's correct (this isn't a cover, I believe), but it can be changed if necessary :)

Share this post


Link to post

Ehm...

Well it goes more or less like this...

Composition: Kevin Schilder, 1995 (original MIDI scores).

Sampling, mixing, additional arranging, mastering: Aenn Seidhe Priest/Solar Studios (contact: admin - at - solarstudios.net), 2012-2014.

And yes, "sampling". And percussion design. Also recording. Original samples are: all percussion/drumming on MIDI channel 10 (it's the Solar Battery drumkit, for which the whole soundtrack is a beta-test of sorts) and muted/clean guitar (in Levelr.mid and Voidr.mid and some other spots).

By pop standards, this might've had my pseudonym as performing artist with Kevin Schilder as the composer :-P

By symphonic music standards though, it's his work, mine's just the sound engineering work.

Share this post


Link to post

There is also the Mageslayer soundtrack, it has a more organic sound, thanks to almost exclusive use of 96-KHz samplers and software synthesisers.

Again, this is all new mixes, from 2013, and it's unlike the original Mageslayer CD sountrack, which is bleak and desperate and sets the apocalyptic fantasy mood (something like that). This is a bit more arcadey. And 96/24.

It should be updated soonish, there's a couple new mixes which replace old files, like this one. That'll be version 1.1.

Share this post


Link to post

Anyway, with regards to feedback from Kevin Schilder...

He'd usually say what he didn't approve of. For instance, the quiet snare in Chartr.flac he didn't like. But most people did like it, so it was left as-is (another composer says the hi-hat there is louder than the snare; it is).
This same snare also plays in Chap_3R.flac and Borkr.flac. Quite subtle, it works for that.

Contrary to a common misconception, he actually likes electric guitars and those electric guitars in MIDI scores are meant to play as electric guitars. He really liked a frankly exaggerated distorted guitar in a test Mus_E1M9.mus mix.

The reason why he didn't put guitars in Heretic II/Hexen II CD audio mixes is likely because the Ensoniq TS-10 distorted/OD guitars sound flat/artificial (you can hear them in Take No Prisoners, and really, that kind of music ought to be done with live guitars or very good modelling synths).

He did play in a school band, and he's listened to a lot of rock and blues, so the basslines and drumming in Heretic/Hexen reflect that. Levelr.mus is named so because of a bassline which reminds of a Level 42 song. Mus_E2M3.mus from Heretic is actually called "Blues Rock".

About 96 KHz and lower... The instruments themselves often have high-frequency emphasis (the stiff snare has an emphasis on 6 and 7.5 KHz), so they play best in 96 KHz. This is because the detail limit for 48 KHz is 48000/8=6000 Hz. ~5.5 KHz for 44100 Hz. So anything above that will usually get progressively coarser and blur out. There's also brightness enhancement/high-frequency stimulation, and it's usually above 8 KHz. That frequency range isn't as much heard as felt/perceived. Meaning, the mixes will give you a nice warm feeling and have more expression and space/instrument separation when played in normal 96-KHz resolution. Not to say that the 48-KHz FLAC versions aren't warm, but there's rather less of that. The Ogg version of the soundtrack is the coldest/flattest in sound.

The actual combined size of samples used is around 500 MBs. 0.5 GBs. This is because a lot of software synthesisers played where possible. Marimbas, pianos, xylophones, vibraphones, etc. are often modelled. Even strings - in most mixes low-res 44/16 sampled strings are lowpassed and backed with synthesised strings to stand out. Otherwise they'd simply get lost against the better-defined 96-KHz instruments. In some mixes, like Chap_3R.flac and Chartr.flac and Borkr.flac, the strings are entirely synthesised (there's a lot of trickery to prevent them from sounding artificial, and the slow strings in Borkr.flac are half-sampler - but not the regular strings). One score, Chippyr.flac, is entirely synthetic, there's not a real instrument sample in it.

Combined with the new soundtrack mixes, Hexen is a very addictive game, and frankly it eclipses the likes of Heretic II. Perhaps not for everyone, but.
It just does it. With some tinkering, GZDoom running Hexen manages to look quite good. It still has some flaws, like the utterly wrong flight model, but it mostly works.

Also as a bonus, here's a bit of improvisation off the Voidr.mid muted guitar part. This is a real, physical overdriven muted guitar. In Voidr.mid the muted guitar drones on a low D note, this is rather more evolved.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×