ecw format?

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ecw format?

I'd LOVE for us to be able to use the ecw format.  They came with the old ensoniq cards (later rebranded as sound blaster pci128 aka sbpci128).  There was a 2MB, 4MB and 8MB ecw variety (8MB having the richest drum kit).

They have a very unique sound and some songs were simply MADE to be listened to on them :)  The only way to listen to them today is if you install XP on a virtual PC (strictly VMware) and install the sbpci128 drivers (you don't have to have the physical card itself, the VM emulates it).  Once done, you're able to load the ecw of your choice and enjoy!

Indie games are on the rise and most that I've played use MIDIs, and boy do they sound great on the ecw format! I load the VM from time to time just to listen to'em... to have virtualmidisynth do it would be a godsend!

Posts: 1125
Joined: March 25, 2012 - 01:19
Re: ecw format?
scroogemcduck wrote:
I'd LOVE for us to be able to use the ecw format.

VirtualMIDISynth MIDI synthesis is based on BASS libraries.

I don't know that format and I also don't think BASS libraries support it, so I'll suggest to put a request on their forum.
http://www.un4seen.com/forum/

Posts: 5
Joined: June 17, 2015 - 05:41
Re: ecw format?

I also used an Ensoniq card for years, and kept my old Windows 98 CPU just for that purpose.
Finally found someone who had converted the ecw files to sf2 formats. They worked great.

Unfortunately, the site I used has now been infected in some manner (checked to see if it was still up).
However, was able to get several hits of folks who have also converted the banks by googling "ecw soundfonts".

Posts: 6
Joined: January 30, 2016 - 12:57
Re: ecw format?

Hi all, :)

Such a great tool VirtualMIDISynth is that lets us use many other soundfonts as opposed to the poor and basic Microsoft's GS Waveable Synth! I've been using VirtualMIDISynth for some time now and I really love it! Many thanks to the developers! :)

I'd also really like if the good original Creative's (Ensoniq) 2MB, 4MB & 8MB ECW Wavesets could be loaded in it. But it was already discussed in other places and no-one seemed to be able to develop a support for it yet, nor to convert the actual original sounds and to re-design them in a SF2 format. Yes, there are the CT2MGM.SF2, CT4MGM.SF2 & 8MBGMSFX.SF2 out there which are good, but they're not a certified-copy to the original. I've tested the old ECW in an old Win98 system and compared. :) So it would be great if one day VirtualMIDISynth could support the ECW format.

And by the way, I found a very irritating issue of delay what was discussed here: http://coolsoft.altervista.org/en/forum/post/1697#post1697 and might have a solution for the developers:

As menioned in the thread I provided above, there is a slight delay when loading/changing between MIDI files (manualy or when the game you're playing calls for the change), because the virtual soundfont has to be loaded into memory each time there is a MIDI change. I tried messing around with each and every setting in the VirtualMIDISynth configuration, but nothing really helped to bypass this delay - Even when using a very simple and small soundfont like the "SoundBlaster 16". But I believe that if there would be an option to keep the loaded soundfont in the memory ALL THE TIME after it configured in VirtualMIDISynth, it won't have to be load and unload each time there is a MIDI call. In addition, the MIDI mixer will always remain in the tray icons as well. Currently the MIDI mixer just shuts itself down and re-opens back every time there is a MIDI change. That's how I figured that it just loads and unloads to and from the memory on every MIDI change. I'd really like to know what you think.

Thanks,
goldeng

Posts: 1125
Joined: March 25, 2012 - 01:19
Re: ecw format?
goldeng wrote:
I'd also really like if the good original Creative's (Ensoniq) 2MB, 4MB & 8MB ECW Wavesets could be loaded in it.

About the ECW support I don't know if anyone reported this request to un4seen forum, but I confirm this is the only and best way to go.
Since I'm not an expert of ECW, I can't start it by myself; if you do, please post here the link to your feature request, so I can subscribe too.

goldeng wrote:
But I believe that if there would be an option to keep the loaded soundfont in the memory ALL THE TIME after it configured in VirtualMIDISynth, it won't have to be load and unload each time there is a MIDI call.

There's really no way for VirtualMIDISynth 1.x to stay in memory forever because it's a DLL and if the "hosting" software unloads it there's no way to stop it.
The only way to keep it alive is to have a separate hosting process... and this is exactly what VirtualMIDISynth 2 does.
Have a look here and post your thoughts ;)

Posts: 6
Joined: January 30, 2016 - 12:57
Re: ecw format?

Hi there,

Very appreciate the fast response! :) Claudio isn't it? According to your username I suppose that you're the great person behind VirtualMIDISynth?

I did as you suggested and submitted a feature request on the un4seen.com forum. Here's a direct link to my thread so you could subscribe and follow: http://www.un4seen.com/forum/?topic=17047.0

Checkout the link to the video I made which I provided there if you wish to hear of how the good old ECW format (in the 2MB form) sounds like. It has unique sounds that I couldn't find in any soundfont whatsoever. Let me know what you think.

Keep up the good work, and I'll check VirtualMIDISynth 2 as well. Thanks!

Regards,
goldeng

Posts: 1125
Joined: March 25, 2012 - 01:19
Re: ecw format?

Yes, you're right, CoolSoft is... me :D

Thanks for posting your request there; when Ian Luck (un4seen owner) will replies and/or will ask for further details you'll surely have more experience than me about ECW.
He's usually really kind and answers all of the questions in a short time.

I subscribed that thread and I'll follow it.

Posts: 6
Joined: January 30, 2016 - 12:57
Re: ecw format?

You're very welcome Claudio. After all it's a shared interest for both of us. :) If things go well and the ECW format would eventually be supported, many users who were used to the classic MIDI sounds from the good old days would be so greatful to us. :) I'll also keep tuned for updates from Ian from un4seen. I'd really like to know what he thinks about it and hope that he's familiar with the ECW wavetables.

And by the way, I installed VirtualMIDISynth 2 beta v4 and so far it works well. MIDI seems to play much more smoothly when jumping from one MIDI file to another. Yet just like in VMS v1 there is a slight delay within the very first note of each MIDI file which makes that note to sound a bit 'streched' (sounds longer than it should be). I wonder why is that... Ever noticed this too?

Posts: 1125
Joined: March 25, 2012 - 01:19
Re: ecw format?

VMS2 startup time is way less then VMS1 but... it still require some time to initialize things up.

I've seen this effect on old games (DukeNukem, Doom, ...) when changing levels or rooms.
They close/reopen the MIDI deviceinstead of sending a MIDI reset to the already opened one.

Will have another look to the "stunning note issue" but I think this is unavoidable.

Posts: 2
Joined: February 2, 2016 - 14:41
Re: ecw format?

I still have those old 2, 4, and 8 MB ECW files from the Creative VIBRA 128, one of the first sound cards I used.  I was impressed by the quality of the wavetable samples back then.  The drums sounded great, and the Synth Strings and Synth Basses were pretty cool, especially in the music from DOOM.  For quite some time, it was my favorite GM instrument set.

Unfortunately, I don't think there would be any easy way to use those GM banks without having the actual sound card...  Wikipedia states that the proprietary ECW file format "was never made open", and an official response from Creative said that the details for that format are confidential.

A full conversion of the ECWs to SF2 would also be impossible, due to the ECW format having some features that are unsupported by SF2.

Here is John Engelmann's page about ECW:  http://johnengelmann.net/technology/ecw/

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