CiH details the latest front opened, in the long war to bring the sounds of
YM2149 to the masses, in spite of whatever computer they happen to own!
This time, it is the turn of hapless Acorn fans, on their Archimedes and
Risc PC boxes, to experience the square-toned warbling that we've all come
to enjoy. Thanks to bITmASTER, who got the original idea off Leonard, Archie
dudes no longer need to miss out on Mad Max!
To use ST Sound is a simple process, just double click on the Atari icon
with !STSOUND written next to it, and a larger version of the icon appears
on the bottom bar of the Acorn desktop. You are ready to play ST sound
files, in the .ym format, by double clicking on those.
A swift right hand click on the icon brings up a CD player style control
console with the usual options, play, stop, pause, fast-forward, and skip
controls for the previous and next tracks along. A skinny green progress bar
tells you how much of the song has played through.
There is a bit of work to do beforehand, before you can even play a single
tune, as the .ym files, need to be converted to an acorn-friendly format.
This involves copying the original files to the desired directory, and
tediously changing their data type files with a hex code in the 'set type'
option. This can be a major pain in the bum, not to mention the keyboard
hand, when you have a CD-ROM of .ym files to browse from! Once that work is
done, they are yours to keep!
So how does it sound?
Well, taking certain limitations, to be discussed in more detail shortly,
the end result is not too bad, it seems that bITmASTER has succeeded in
transplanting a YM2149 chip into the RiscOS machines brilliantly! 'Early' YM
stuff, that is classic late eighties material sounds totally like the
originals do. I could close my eyes, and imagine the Sowatt demo running on
a cunningly coded ST emulator. Now someone just needs to get the rest of it
As long as the tune does not make too many esoteric demands, the sound
emulation holds up. I surfed a varied selection including the differing
styles of Mad Max, An Cool, Jess, Big Alec, Count Zero, and several assorted
composers of ST game music, whose names I don't quite remember. The
information given with the program indicates this version is advanced enough
to cope with Scavenger's tunes as well.
Where there is still work needed, would be the further limits of Digi-Drum
support, some of the strange and wonderful things that Tao does, and any
form of Sid-sound playback (awww!) As this version of ST-Sound dates back to
1999, and as far as I can tell, there are no later versions out there, I
doubt that these will be fixed anytime soon. If someone is working on a
future version of this, my personal wish-list would include the ability to
browse .ym files off a CD-ROM, without farting around with changing file
ST Sound for the Acorn is a work in progress, which appears to have lost the
appetite to progress. A great job has been done so far, and for aural
appreciation of classic ST ziks from the Madmax days, it cannot be beaten.
Unfortunately, unless bITmASTER or someone else connected with the project
tells me different, this is as far as it is likely to go!
However, even getting this far is an achievement, when you can seriously ask
Acorn fans the crucial question "Have you listened to Atari today?"
CiH, for Alive! Mag,Nov '03