Creating good Samples in SNES Conditions

here is a log from #BoTB that has some highlights regarding Gym’s Advice on SPC Sample modeling. Full post thrown at the end of this page…

17:37 bazz: gyms: I read a post of yours about SubHarmonics / getting the most out of your samples on the SPC.. Good read, but was the fancy terminology just eluding towards layering a +-1 octave with lower volume?? What about when the +1 octave becomes shorter wavelength. Are you forced to trim your whole sample?
17:37 gyms: bazz, yea basically. with layering the same sample, it's probably best to use an algo that pitches stuff around without stretching it. but you could also layer w/e you want i suppose, doesn't have to be the same sample...however i thought layering the same sample would be a good idea if all you wanted to do was add a bit of brightness without changing the original sound too drastically.
17:39 bazz: gyms: you mentioned using audacity.. I use that too. does that tool have an algo as such?
17:39 gyms: i don't think it does :x
17:45 gyms: bazz actually it seems the Change Pitch effect in audacity is changing the pitch without affecting the length (?)

17:46 Joltik: Change speed ajusts length and pitch
17:46 Joltik: Change pitch introduces tons of grain though
17:46 Joltik: The solution I usually go for is sliding time scale/pitch shift
17:47 Joltik: You just set it to start and end at the same pitch
17:47 Joltik: a lot less grainy than just pitching it up
17:47 gyms: if you were gonna do a subharmonic, i’d just layer in a sine wave
17:48 gyms: there was another way to use harmonics as an arrangement trick
17:49 gyms: which is hard to explain
17:49 gyms: i think i tried to explain it briefly on my thingy
17:49 bazz: when you say sub-harmonic, is that equivalent saying “lower octave” ?
17:49 gyms: yeah
17:50 gyms: it comes down to playing around until you find something that fits the best


23:00 Joltik: Resample things without adjusting speed?
23:01 gyms: but yeh, i suppose in general you gotta pay yer dues in some circle of employment for a while
23:01 Joltik: adjust pitch without speed yes?
23:01 bazz: yes.. but i was interested in that complex answer u had, not just “use the adjust pitch effect” like gyms recommended
23:01 vita3 has joined (
23:02 Joltik: There should be a “Sliding Time Scale/Pitch Shift” effect
23:02 Savestate has left IRC (Ping timeout: 198 seconds)
23:02 Flaminglog_: that’s a really fun effect
23:02 Daverd: bazz i think it involves FFTs
23:02 Joltik: Just set the start pitch and the end pitch to the same pitch
23:02 Flaminglog_: and gyms yeah, i just wish i hadn’t wasted three years working at a grocery store lmao
23:02 Joltik: Gives a much smoother result than the Change Pitch effect
23:03 bazz: that’s the ticket! I knew I was interested for a good reason.. But, and do please try to keep it simple, why is that smoother than the “Change Pitch” effect?
23:08 Daverd: wow this actually does sound pretty good
23:10 Daverd: yeah, why is that??
23:11 Daverd: wtf audacity, why not use that for the adjust pitch effect

full post:
“hey i wanted to share a little technical something i stumbled onto lately with snes sound design.

i often run into problems using the more ‘sophisticated’ samples, aka more complex waveforms like flutes, strings, etc(stuff that’s not simple chippy waveforms) in that they usually either sound too muddy or too thin for how i end up using them in my cramped 8 channel arrangement.

the problem is of course working with these lower sample rates. there’s just not much harmonic content, so you have to really stick close to the notes where they were orginally sampled…but even then things can get muddy or thin.

i’ve read interviews, some of the old snes composers lamented over how difficult it was to get a set of samples that sounded good together. “once you finally found some that worked well together, of course you’d keep using them over and over in other games…”

anyway, i was doing a midi transcription of the snes rainbow road yesterday and discovered something really neat that happens soon after the intro:

when the xylo-sound first comes in, the melody D-E-F-G-D etc, it’s set in the fifth octave. arrangement wise it belongs up there because all the brass stuff is happening an octave below, however i noticed my midi arrangment sounded quite thin and weak with it up there in the fifth octave.

there was something unique going on within the mariokart xylo sample itself, so i decided to take a closer look:

there’s a subharmonic in there! when i applied the subharmonic with a similar ratio to my midi transcription, it sounded just right. there are also a lot of other very clever things they did with their samples, but i’ll save that for another time.

so what does this mean?

it means that you can use acoustics to your advantage to further overcome the challenges of low fidelity and limited channels. there are samples that have a similar 3:1 or 5:1 ratio applied to the first octave above the fundamental to give it a bit more presence.

also it’s good to keep in mind is that that overtones contain harmony within them! snes mariokart used this to their advantage as well, they did a lot of really clever things. when considering an arrangement and how to make it sound deep and full with samplerate-dictatedly dull samples and limited channels, you can use harmonics as a way to simultaneously augment your arrangement while adding harmonic excitement.

PRACTICAL BOTTOM LINE: if your sample is feeling a bit too thin, add a subharmonic an octave below. if it’s too muddy, try layering a pitched up copy of itself an octave above. make sure to lower the volume of your added harmonic, a 3:1 fundamental to harmonic ratio is a good starting place.

you can do this with audacity: just layer two instances of a sample over one another, pitch one up/down an octave and then lower its volume. keep playing with the ratio and check how it sounds in your song until it sounds the way you want.

there’s also ways you can muck with harmonics via loop points, but i prefer to just edit and resample. audacity does the trick. and of course the snes delay brings life to things as well…”– Gyms


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