I would like to congratulate you on your fantastic exertion here thus far, you have shown a vast amount of familiarity on not only the 68k variant sound driver, but its Z80 counterpart too. You have shown some heavy research alongside forums and wikis alike, and have put that knowledge into slowly progressing practical releases. I am ever so pleased to hear the Launch Base Zone samples in that video are as crystal clear as reasonably possible. I shall be obliged to pester the staff along a strong recommendation towards a green lable
your way, I feel you deserve it.
On subject now. There is (and always has been) a strong grudging misconception based around the decision on (and I quote) "which sound driver is better", of course, these things progressively steer to the side of the "opinion" of the speaker in question, and often without (or lack of) facts or reasoning for both sides, at least not until the facts are shown in that they cannot be evaded or ignored. I am of course, pleasantly surprised to find this...
Clownacy, on 04 July 2014 - 03:57 PM, said:
...my own research acknowledged and brought into the discussion. Of course, I do hope those who read it proceeded onwards to the end of the post and pick up on the futher point I was extensively attempting making (which got ignored on the initial round).
There are pros and cons to all drivers, and I am not simply restricting to "SMPS" in the argument, I am of course regarding all possible (software only) drivers for the machine, for no matter how in-depth your dexterity is in programming, you will always hit certain limitations that may only be overgrown through sacrifice of another limitation. My advice here of course, is to form your decision based around the sacrifices that you are willing to make, and those sacrifices you will benefit more from if they are based upon what your actual game needs
, and what you want to allow yourself the freedom of
A Z80 based sound driver is benefitial for a series of reasons; the release of a small percentage of processing time and 68k work RAM, which complies to you a modest (but nevertheless noteworthy) freedom to achieve something on the graphical or gameplay side, with subordinate implications as a result. It is also compact, smaller, and selfcontained on a seperate processor to the main 68k, the benefit here is the shortfall of interruptions during loading loops on the 68k side, in order to attend to the sound driver to preserve the sound. While it is not impossible for a 68k sound driver to achieve this, you do have to be a clever individual and willing to accommodate with the attentance on every occurance, that of which you'd have no problem with via the Z80 variant. The Z80 contains a window into 68k memory filled through half of its PC range, thus allowing it to access almost as much data that a 68k driver could access. Tempo has more variation too.
Of course, a 68k based sound driver is benefitial for its own number of reasons; the lack of interruptions on the Z80 PCM playback side to deal with tracking information proves substantial to quality, even the very best Z80 sound drivers that are very well executed cannot live up to the expectational quality accommodated by the release of the tracker handling. It is also an understanding elaboration here, that the 68k could potentially handle tracking information for BGM, SFX or VFX of all possible channels without descending speed. With the 68k's help, it is possible to have two PCM samples playing back simultaneously, that's not to say the Z80 on its own (along with tracker handling) cannot achieve double playback, but there are limits you are forced into, such as keeping all the samples you wish to use under a single 0x8000 byte section in 68k memory. Since the Z80 cannot set the bank address very quickly (even with the vast attempts to speed the process up by means of self rewriting instructions), it is simply not able to play back any two samples anywhere in 68k memory at a decent enough quality above 8000hz (aprox), without sounding horrendous. You are practically forced to keep it all under one bank. One requiring a game with a character who has a lot of vocal lines to say, and a lot of percussional instruments to play, will find the 68k's assistence highly sufficient.
But let's forget the benefits for just one moment. Remember, you want to do what's best for your game/hack, don't just think sounds, think gameplay, think graphics, think of other aspects that selecting a sound driver may have a vicious effect on. In essence, there is no "better" sound driver, that is completely delusional and it is reckless to charge in without looking at the bigger picture. I'd also like to remind everyone that we (as a scene) are forgivable when it comes to limitations, whether there are a few areas that lag, or there are samples that sound choppy, we take it with a grain of salt, we know the machine is old, we know there are limits, and we accept things as they go under the assumption that "you tried your best", if you can go that extra mile, great! But don't put yourself out too much.
And it is that argument that I throw to defend the production of these 68k sound driver based researches, they may very well come in handy in the future should we need them. Likewise towards the Z80.