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Difference between OPL emulation vs. hardware

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could you spot the difference between OPL emulation and hardware old soundblaster?

Edited by fraggle : Changed title to reflect the real question

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There are some people on these forums who can tell the difference (/cc @Csonicgo) but it definitely requires a practiced ear. Ability to spot that certain waveforms don't sound right, etc.


It also depends on the emulation. There are various different emulators used in different source ports and other programs (DOSbox, ScummVM, etc.). I could hear the difference with Chocolate Doom when we switched from DBOPL to Nuked OPL but I couldn't tell you "what" was different other than that it sounded somehow more like I remember from years ago.


In general you can arrange different emulators in a scale:

  • FMOPL, originated with MAME and incorporated into ScummVM and some older versions of DOSbox. The DOSbox version of this code had some various tweaks which improved it.
  • This Java OPL3 emulator. This one stoked some interest here on Doomworld a few years back but I don't think it was ultimately used for anything.
  • DBOPL, rewritten DOSbox OPL emulator. Chocolate Doom used to use this. Significantly better than FMOPL but still not exact.
  • Nuked.OPL by @nukeykt, used in Chocolate Doom and I believe there are some other tools which use it now. To the best of my knowledge this is "best of breed" and there's nothing better. If it's not yet a precise emulation of a real OPL chip it's definitely close.

The chip emulation itself is only half of the puzzle though. When playing MIDI music (like in a Doom source port) there's a bunch of logic associated with turning MIDI commands into OPL chip writes. Chocolate Doom should now do this exactly like Vanilla Doom does (again, thanks to @nukeykt's work). Other source ports I don't know.


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