Specifically I am talking about Ultima Underworld I and II.
Those two games supported Soundblaster, and alternatively Rolant MT-32/CM-32L. You could even use both at the same time, Roland for music and most of the sound effects, and Soundblaster for digitized speech and certain special sound effects (which might have been sampled).
The reason why you hear them wrong is because Windows is playing the Roland MIDI stuff through your Windows GS Wavetable Synth (which is the default MIDI device in all modern Windows versions). I'm surprised though if the GOG versions really opt for Roland music by default, because then most people will hear them wrong. Usually GOG games opt for the inferior Adlib/Soundblaster music because at least that works fine on all PCs. Currently the GOG versions are trying to play Roland MT-32/CM-32L music and sound effects using the Windows General MIDI device, which is wrong.
You have two options: 1. The easier way giving you the poorer Adlib/Soundblaster music and sound effects:
Since GOG versions of Ultima Underworld 1-2 don't contain the "UINSTALL.EXE" utility to change sound devices, edit the UW.CFG files for both games directly with Notepad. They are under e.g. (default installation path, if you installed them there):
C:\GOG Games\Ultima Underworld\UNDEROM1\DATA\UW.CFG
C:\GOG Games\Ultima Underworld 2\UNDEROM2\DATA\UW.CFG
Change the lines (specifically the first "sound" line) to this (only the bolded lines)
For Ultima Underworld: 4 -1 -1 -1 sound
2 -1 -1 -1 speech
For Ultima Underworld 2: 4 -1 -1 -1 sound
2 -1 -1 -1 speech
Save UW.CFG and rerun the game. I think the "-1" value means just using the default value (e.g. for sound card port, DMA and/or IRQ), instead of giving exact values for those. The first number refers to the sound card I guess, 4 is probably Adlib (= OPL-2 FM synthesis, also on Soundblaster), and 2 means Soundblaster Pro.
Also I don't think the "0 cuts" line is needed in UUW2 either, at least it isn't there in the original game. I think that is referring speficially to the animations setting in the first game, not applicable to the second game. 2. The harder way giving you the best music and sound effects for both games:
Leave the UW.CFG files as they are, don't edit them. Instead, go to the internets and locate and download the following items:
- Munt (a Roland MT-32 emulator)
- CoolSoft VirtualMIDI Synth (allows you to tell Windows to use the aforementioned Munt MT-32 driver for any MIDI music, e.g. the one coming from the Ultima Underworld games, instead of the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth which is meant for General MIDI music, not MT-32/CM-32L MIDI music).
- A Roland MT-32 or CM-32L ROMs (control and PCM ROMs). These are needed by Munt to produce Roland music. You have to get them on some torrent site or something because their copyright is fuzzy at best, it seems no one owns them currently, even Roland? Might be there are direct links to them as well on the internets.
CM-32L ROMs are preferred (over the MT-32 ones) for the Ultima Underworld games specifically, because only then you get e.g. the correct swimming sound in the first game. But the MT-32 ROMs will be fine otherwise.
Install VirtualMIDISynth and Munt, and configure them (specifically, use VirtualMIDI Synth to tell Windows to use the Munt MT-32 driver for MIDI, not the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth, then exit VirtualMIDI Synth). Then you should get the best possible sound on the UUW games. If you later play any General MIDI games though, you need to run VirtualMIDISynth again in order to revert back to Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth as the MIDI sound device, instead of the Munt MT-32 driver. Just like Roland MT-32/CM-32L music/effects sound wrong on General MIDI devices, similarly General MIDI music sounds wrong on the Munt MT-32 driver.
VirtualMIDISynth installation is optional though, there is also some way to edit the dosbox config files in Ultima Underworld directly, telling them to use the Munt MIDI after you have installed just Munt, but I don't quite recall how to achieve that. VirtualMIDISynth brings some other advantages for other games too, like improving General MIDI music with replacement soundfonts if you choose so, so it has a dual purpose.