My MIDI Advice

Aces High by Iron Maiden

  If there's anything I've learned, it's that these PC type computers almost have a mind of their own. (Or is it just Windows 95?) When I bought Doom II for Win95, it was O.K. When I copied the Doom I Demo files and ran it, I was disappointed with the music. I later found out that the DOS version of Doom was using the MIDI system better than the Win95 version. I found out how to fix it the hard way... experimentation! Needless to say, Doom II sounds so much better now! I also discovered a similar problem with Duke Nukem 3D. Big pieces of the music were missing, and I didn't even know this until I ran it from "MS-DOS only" mode (after quitting Windows). The music suddenly had "extra instruments" in it! One quick way to do this (if you don't know how to mess with DOS), is to modify the properties of the shortcut to Duke3D (that's how I handle my games...), so under the PROGRAM tab, hit ADVANCED... and set it for MS-DOS. This will kill Windows and automatically start the game. The only drawback is that it will re-boot Windows automatically when you quit. Another quick way is to start a Doom95 game, exit, and immediately fire up Duke from Windows! Don't ask me why this works, but it just does for me. "MS-DOS only" is what I like to use, and that's what the game was really designed for anyway!

  Now, to get the most out of your MIDI's, first call up your Volume Control Panel. If your system is like mine, you'll have a yellow speaker symbol in your tray. Double-click on this! Under Volume Control, you should see a button marked "Advanced" if you have a decent soundcard. Hit that button, and check the box that says "3D Stereo Enhancement". That is step one!

  Step two: (at least for my Soundblaster AWE64-- your brand may vary...) Bring up the Start Menu, and go to Settings, then Control Panel. Now hit "Multimedia", and you will see the Multimedia Properties dialog box. Hit the MIDI tab. On my system, there are four choices (under "single instrument"):

MIDI for Creative Advanced Wave Effects Synthesis: This is the one you normally want... turn on that cool 32-voice hardware synthesized sound! (You can hit the AWE Control program through the start menu if you have the Soundblaster stuff installed. Set chorus effects, plus bass and treble settings for the midi sound!)

MIDI for Creative Stereo Music Synthesizer: This was the cheesy default for me. (And boy do I mean cheesy!) If you like to live in the good ol' days of FM synthesis (or want to test something you've written to hear how it would sound on an old machine), this is for you...

MIDI for External MIDI Port: Something for musicians who like to synthesize stuff? I'm into stringed instruments myself...

WaveSynth MIDI: This is what really makes the AWE64 rock! This is software-driven midi music at its' finest! There's one big drawback... the extra drivers get in the way of my Unreal game and make it unplayable, so I usually run my sound card as an AWE32. On those days when I want to hear very realistic drums and stuff, I'll "un-REM" all the hooks in my system files and reboot. Doom95 becomes extremely fun to play, and my Internet exploring takes on a whole new feel. Oh, yes... if you're set up like this, try setting your soundcard to "half-duplex"-- This will disable your ability to record and play at the same time (as well as disable any Internet two-way capability) but it will add a new feature to your system... selectable reverb and on your waveout!!! Yes, every little sound your computer makes using Windows can sound like its in an auditorium, or a small room, or whatever setting you like. Once again, Doom95 takes on a whole new life! I think there's a way to do it in DOS, but I haven't figured it out yet.

  Anyway, to make a long story short, just try all the options, and pick what sounds best to you. You just might give your games (and this webpage) a whole new life!

  Want to learn more? Here's a real expert! If you have a Soundblaster AWE64 like me, or just want to know how MIDI works, check out AWEsome MIDI! Also, check out Yahoo!'s MIDI listing for more info and goodies.

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