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Remastered Marathon Infinity sounds

Posted: Sep 19th '19, 16:48
by The Man
I recently remastered the entire collection of sounds for Marathon Infinity. You can find the file on Simplici7y. A few notes:
  • Everything is 6 dB quieter – or in other words, roughly half as loud as you’re used to it being. The reason for this is that the game’s normal audio levels result in the game audio suffering from clipping distortion almost anytime there’s a battle. The reduced levels have resulted in the game distorting far less frequently – the main cases I’ve noticed it still distorting have been in melee battles with Troopers, though as anyone who watches my vid films knows, I don’t fire weapons very often, so maybe there are other cases.
  • All sounds now have frequencies up to 22 kHz that usually weren’t present on the originals. In most cases, I kept the additions fairly subtle, but particularly noisy sounds such as the Fighter staffs and the Compilers will sound higher in pitch. I actually haven’t adjusted the lower frequencies to any significant degree; this is essentially the aural equivalent of an optical illusion. I didn’t just add random noise to the upper frequencies; they are pitch-shifts up a whole octave (or, in some cases, two) under the principle of resonance. (This was one of the same processes I used to remaster Eternal’s soundtrack, by the way.)
  • I generally employed fairly aggressive noise reduction on sounds that were only available in 8-bit versions. This is, in part, offset by the aforementioned upper frequencies.
  • Occasionally I adjusted fairly large clicks and crackles in the audio where they seemed unintentional.
  • I also corrected for unintentional clipping distortion within the sounds themselves. Clipping distortion seems to have been an intentional part of the process used to create the VacBob sounds, so I left a lot of that in.
  • There are no 8-bit sounds – they would just have been wasted space, because no one who downloads a project like this is going to tolerate that much noise. If you have your sound preferences set to 8-bit, you’ll just hear silence.
  • This should work with any scenario that uses the vanilla Infinity sounds. You can also use it with Marathon 2 within Aleph One itself, but not in the original Marathon 2 apps for Windows or Motorola Macs. If someone for some reason wants to use those, let me know.
This is a first draft and I may revise some of these further, but I’m fairly happy with how they turned out. I’m likely to make similar files for Rubicon, Tempus Irae, Marathon 1, hopefully Pfh’Joueur, and perhaps others. I can’t make any promises for when these will appear.

If you have any issues running these, let me know. Beyond that, enjoy!

Re: Remastered Marathon Infinity sounds

Posted: Jan 20th '20, 06:47
by Flippant Sol
Marathon 1 desperately needs to have remastered audio, but if I remember correctly, a lot of the sound effects for these games came off of Sample CDs. Would it be possible to identify these CDs, locate, and recreate these sounds?
This is some great work though. Makes me think about Dolby NR and dbx sound.

Re: Remastered Marathon Infinity sounds

Posted: Jan 21st '20, 21:26
by The Man

I actually have all the M1 sounds done now; I just need to make time to package them up and put them together in a format A1 will read, which basically means I need to convert them all to snd format and load them into SheepShaver, then edit the original M1 sounds file.

But I agree that finding the original sources of the samples would be ideal. A lot of them are stock sound effects we hear everywhere (and this is also true for the M2/ sounds). If someone knows where to locate the originals, there may be sources with full 44.1 kHz sample rates and 16-bit dynamic range, which would almost certainly be better than my recreations.

I still need to put out a 1.0.1 version of the sounds, because it turns out I swapped the S’pht Door Opening and Closing sounds. In my defence, ShapeFusion has them mislabelled, and in fact, the 8-bit sounds also appear to be in the wrong slots. If you load the standard (and, I’m assuming, M2) sounds, you’ll notice the 8-bit and 16-bit slots for those two sounds are in the opposite positions. The 16-bit versions appear to be in the correct places in the original sounds file, and I was checking the versions I inserted against the 8-bit sounds, hence my mistake.

It would also be possible, I’ve learned, to move all these sounds to the 8-bit slots without any significant issues; people would just need to quit and restart Aleph One after loading these sounds in their preferences. Probably a better solution than just having people who accidentally select 8-bit sounds get silent sound output, but it would be a time-consuming process to move all the sounds from the 16-bit slots to the 8-bit slots, so I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

I’ll release all this stuff sooner or later. I’ll admit to procrastinating on a lot of it, because it’s a pretty tedious process consisting mostly of the same few steps repeated a few hundred times in a row (though, once I have the new version of the sounds file put together, I can use that as a basis for a few of the other scenarios’ sounds files, at least).

Re: Remastered Marathon Infinity sounds

Posted: Apr 26th '20, 19:51
by Blastfrog
I wanted to comment on this when I first saw it but never got around to it. So I'll say now, this is some fantastic stuff!

The Man, I'm interested in applying this same process to Half-Life 1 and Half-Life 2 beta sounds, can you please shed some light on the exact details of your methods? Like, what software did you use, and what steps do I take to cut out all the lower frequencies in the pitched-up version?

I've tried doing this in Audacity based on what you described in the OP, but the results were less than satisfactory. Its pitch-shifting is a little crappy sounding, and the high-pass filter doesn't seem to have a raw cutoff, but rather has the user define a roll-off in decibels.

I'm not exactly an audio expert, I know the basics to be sure, but I definitely don't know as much as you do when it comes to this stuff.

Re: Remastered Marathon Infinity sounds

Posted: Apr 26th '20, 20:28
by The Man

You probably won’t get very good results with Audacity; it’s a decent piece of sound editing software, but its sound processing functions leave a bit to be desired. Or at least they did the last time I used it.

I used iZotope RX5 Advanced to do all these, which is quite an expensive piece of software (they’re on version 7 now, but I haven’t upgraded yet – because it’s expensive), but they do have an option to rent RX Standard (which is less than half the price of Advanced) until you’ve paid for it fully, and that’s not exorbitant if you’re going to use it a lot ($16/month for 25 months). Nearly all of the functions I used for this project – resample, time & pitch, phase, de-clip, de-hum, de-noise, de-click, de-crackle, interpolate, EQ, gain, normalise, dither, possibly a couple others I’m forgetting – are in RX Standard. The only feature I can remember using that looks like an Advanced-only feature was Ambience Match, but I only used that for a small handful of sounds for Chronicles. (The de-noise filter alone works miracles – I’ve used it before to get comprehensible dialogue out of sounds that were more noise than dialogue, just to see if it was possible. It didn’t sound great, but it was comprehensible!)

There should be a .pdf included with the sounds that includes a fairly detailed description of my process. I cut out the lower frequencies, most commonly using a 48 dB/octave high-pass filter with the “corrective EQ” function, usually based on whatever the original sample rate was. (There were some cases where I used 24 dB/octave for the high pass filter instead, depending on the frequency distribution of the sound, but this wasn’t common.) I often also included a less extreme (12 dB/octave) low pass filter, also using the original sample rate, just because on the whole, the higher frequencies aren’t supposed to be as loud. I think (but can’t recall for sure) that I may have usually applied the below settings (or something like them) twice, and I sometimes would also use additional 12 dB/octave low pass filters after this. (Using a 24 dB/octave low pass filter rather than two 12 dB/octave low pass filters doesn’t achieve quite the same effect – it has a steeper roll-off that I usually don’t like as much for a low pass.)
A typical “corrective EQ” I might have used with one of these files.
A typical “corrective EQ” I might have used with one of these files.
After that, I still would usually lower the amplitude of the high-frequency bits, usually partially by eyeballing it – the rolling off of the frequency histogram should look pretty steady in the combined file as the frequencies get higher – and partially just by listening on headphones and making sure it didn’t sound too “tinny”. Usually I would end up applying a -12 dB gain to the pitch-shifted audio, or even -18 or -24 or something. (A gain of -6 dB results in a sound roughly 0.501 times as loud as the original; +6 dB is roughly 1.995 times as loud. Since decibels are a logarithmic scale, a gain of -12 dB is just over a quarter as loud and +12 dB is just under four times as loud; -18 dB is just over an eighth as loud and +18 dB is just under eight times as loud; and so on.)

There is a “brickwall” filter in the corrective EQ, but I don’t like using it for applications like this, because it results in wide variances in frequency distribution, which I think sounds bad. It’s sometimes useful for the low pass filter if you don’t want frequencies above a certain value in your file, but also don’t want to (or can’t) resample.

So in short, it’s actually fine for this specific process that Audacity doesn’t have a brickwall EQ function – I wouldn’t recommend using it even if it did. But Audacity’s de-clipper is nowhere near as sophisticated as iZotope’s or Audition’s (or at least it was the last time I used it), and I suspect its pitch shift, de-noise, and other functions probably also leave quite a bit to be desired by comparison to either program.

Another note: I used the “solo instrument” method of “time and pitch” for most of the sounds, because it holds more closely to the rhythm of the original sound than the Radius algorithm does, which is really important for usages like this one. This frequently means you have to go into “Advanced” and vary the “adaptive window”. You probably won’t need to mess with the other settings for this purpose, though for certain sounds with unusually low sample rates, you may need to do an additional copy of the resampled (and de-clipped/de-noised, if needed) file with +24 pitch shift, and maybe even a third copy with +36 pitch shift.
One set of settings I used for pitch shift - “adaptive window” can vary
One set of settings I used for pitch shift - “adaptive window” can vary
It’s probably possible to do almost all this same stuff in Adobe Audition using different methods, and the results probably won’t be noticeably worse on any sounds that weren’t clipped; I used iZotope purely because I like its de-clipper more. I’m sure there’s other audio editing software that also does a good job for things like this, but I haven’t played around with it that much – I know how iZotope works, I like what it does, and I don’t see any reason to switch.

…also, I neglected to mention that I published a new version of the sounds that fixes the S’pht Door sounds. (I may also have upgraded a couple other sounds; I don’t recall.) I also moved all the sounds to the 8-bit slot, even though they’re not 8-bit; however, they’ll still play fine in normal gameplay, as long as you quit and reopen Aleph One after selecting the sounds for the first time. I think this is probably a memory caching issue, but I don’t know for sure. As long as you keep these sounds selected, however, you should only have to do this once. The advantage to having the sounds in the 8-bit slot is that you won’t hear silence if you accidentally select 8-bit audio. The game won’t sound very good, but at least it will play audio!

Re: Remastered Marathon Infinity sounds

Posted: Apr 26th '20, 21:06
by Blastfrog
Thanks for the prompt and detailed response! I'll be sure to look into RX Standard, that's actually quite affordable.

Re: Remastered Marathon Infinity sounds

Posted: Apr 26th '20, 21:09
by The Man
No problem! And yeah, given how good it is at what it does, it’s practically a steal. I’m sure I’ve gotten thousands of hours of use out of it by now, especially considering that about 80% of the music I listen to has been processed in RX in some way or another (usually the declipper and phase rotation).

Re: Remastered Marathon Infinity sounds

Posted: Jul 30th '20, 14:36
by The Man
I finally put together the remastered Marathon 1 sounds file. These will sound crisper than the originals, due to having reasonable approximations of missing upper frequencies; they will sound less noisy, due to the noise reduction filters; some of them will sound less distorted, due to the declipper. The remastering itself was done using the same process I used for the Marathon Infinity sounds.

  • This only works with Aleph One. When I tried to load this with Marathon 1 in SheepShaver, the game crashed at the startup screen. I think the classic Marathon 1 engine may not be able to handle 16-bit sound and/or 44.1 kHz sample rate.
  • This probably won’t work with the M1A1 files either. I haven’t tested it. Use it with the vanilla Marathon 1 files in Aleph One.
  • As with the Marathon Infinity sounds, you’ll need to quit and restart Aleph One after selecting these.
  • Also as with the Marathon Infinity sounds, these are half as loud as the originals. This was necessary to mitigate some of the clipping distortion found in some of the sounds. You may wish to readjust your music volume.
(Contrary to my previous impressions, current versions of Aleph One apparently use 32-bit floating-point audio for live gameplay, which means that decreasing your game volume will mitigate clipping to some extent, but this will still reduce clipping in rendered films, which do not pay attention to volume settings.)

Should you have any further questions or wish to use these for something, please ask. The .zip file contains a .pdf that has links to a number of resources that may be helpful, should you need to extract individual sounds.

I have remastered sounds/music for several other scenarios (Rubicon, Phoenix, Yuge, AOPID, Trojan, etc.), but haven’t gotten around to putting together descriptions for them yet (and for AOPID and Trojan, I still need to put together the sounds files). Hopefully soon!