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Better sound quality for Lure of the Temptress DOS (How-to)

Many people seem to have issues with sound and music in this game, or are disappointed by their quality. There is a reason for this. A little bit of background:

The game supports four basic modes of audio output. We don't talk about the first mode, PC Speaker. The second one is General MIDI, which is what the GOG version uses. Right after PC Speaker, it is the second-worst sounding. It might have been able to do something resembling sound effects on some old soundcards that were around in '92, but it doesn't seem to work on any modern interfaces (such as the standard Windows synthesizer that most people will be using). You will just get some random notes instead of sound effects. The third option is FM synthesis. It has acceptable music, and tries to synthesize some sound effects too. I played it like this back in the day, and it was okay. As far as I know, the third option is the only one that gives you digitised sound effects: Roland MT-32.



Now for the problem: the GOG version uses ScummVM. ScummVM's integrated MT-32 emulation is badly broken. For some reason, switching the music driver to AdLib for FM synthesis doesn't give the desired results either, and sounds much worse than if you do the same thing in DOSBox. In short, ScummVM is the worst possible way to play Lure of the Temptress.

What do you do to fix it? You play the game in DOSBox. Unfortunately, the GOG version doesn't come with the game's EXE file, because ScummVM doesn't need it. Fortunately, the game is freeware anyway, so you can just download the EXE from some other source. Interestingly enough, if you download the game from the ScummVM site, the EXE is included!



I won't go into much more detail now, or this post will become much too long. If you don't know how to manually handle DOSBox, find a tutorial elsewhere.

If you want FM synthesis sound, all you need to do is start the game from DOSBox with the standard sb16 emulation. That's already much better than what the GOG version sounds like, isn't it?

Unfortunately, you can only get the best possible sound if you have copies of the Roland MT-32 ROM files, which aren't free. I'm still hoping that one day, someone will release free replacements for these files, but this day has not yet come. You should also get a DOSBox variant that includes MT-32 emulation. I recommend Taewoong's SVN build which you can download here. (And throw the guy a donation, he's doing great work!) To activate the emulation, you put both the MT-32 control ROM and the MT-32 PCM soundbank in the DOSBox SVN folder, with their correct filenames (see documentation). In the DOSBox configuration, set mididevice=mt32. In Taewoong's build, you can also just type "mididevice mt32" before starting the game. One final thing: for some reason, the game fails to initialise the MT-32 if emulation is too fast. So reduce the DOSBox cycles down a lot when playing Lure. On my i7-3820 (3.6 GHz) I set them to around 1500-2000 for this game (in Taewoong's build you could also just type "cycles 2000" before playing).

If all of this (I know it's a lot) has been done correctly, Lure of the Temptress should now be sounding like this. I have recorded this short sample using the exact setup described above.

Hope this will help out a few people!
-- Daniel
Post edited December 26, 2013 by Anamon
It would help if you explained more about the SVN building. Or, uploaded a complete version somewhere, of dosbox + correct MT32 emulation.
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Mr.Mouse: It would help if you explained more about the SVN building. Or, uploaded a complete version somewhere, of dosbox + correct MT32 emulation.
It's a Window's binary? Unless your on Linux.
Post edited April 25, 2014 by Gydion
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Mr.Mouse: It would help if you explained more about the SVN building. Or, uploaded a complete version somewhere, of dosbox + correct MT32 emulation.
I didn't build my own SVN version, I simply downloaded the most popular extended build out there, by Taewoong. It includes the MT-32 emulator. (Vanilla SVN builds from the DOSBox repository don't!) Here is the link again:
http://ykhwong.x-y.net/
You can simply download and install it from there, like you would any official DOSBox version. He has versions for Windows, Mac and Linux.

The MT-32 ROMs are in legal limbo; apparently Roland themselves aren't sure whether they want to release them freely or not. So I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to help you find them. If you have them, however, all you need to do is put the Control and PCM ROM files in the main directory of the Taewoong DOSBox build, then start it, choose Sound>MIDI>Device>MT-32 from the menu to activate, and set cycles to something around 2000 (or Lure will fail to initialise the MT-32).
A few things:

The game doesn't use General MIDI (just MPU401 Roland MIDI in this case) - the "reverse engineered" engine used in SCUMMVM does, and therein lies the problem - the developer that did the work admits he doesn't have sound system expertise and this is why its broken (and not just in this SCUMMVM game by the way), and it shows, or, err, "sounds".

You can use the release 0.74 version of DOSBox, along with MUNT (current version 1.4.0) .

DOSBox settings:
mididevice=win32
midconfig=(whatever number your MUNT MT-32 Driver device is - probably 0 1 or 2, depends on your configuration)

The advantage to this is that it provides better performance/results than the SVN/Taewon versions with "built-in MUNT" as the MT-32 emulation runs as a system level driver/separate thread/etc (this is especially noticeable on older/slower CPUs with fewer cores).

Also, you can see the MT-32 messages in the emulated "LCD Screen". Most importantly however, is the ability to easily switch ROM versions, and herein lies the crucial difference for Lure:

When using just the MT-32 ROMs, the "high quality" sound effects are absent. In order to achieve the "high quality sound effects" as recorded in your video, the CM32L ROMs are needed - the MT-32 ROMs alone result in a far lesser sound experience (the thunder/lighting/footsteps/door creakl/etc all sound different and inferior). You probably have both the MT-32 and CM32L ROM files and when both are present DOSBox defaults to using the CM32L (SCUMMVM "supposedly" does this too, but much of its MT32 emulation code is just broken for many of the non-SCUMM games)

To be clear, in order to hear the highest quality sound effects, the CM32L ROMs must be present and used (in either MUNT or DOSBox).

Also, there are some useful command line parameters that LURE.EXE accepts:

e = EGA 16 Color graphics
v = VGA 256 color graphics (default mode for DOSBox, unnecessary)
m = disable sound within the game (mute)
i = skip intro and immediately start the game

Experiencing this game with the CM32L ROMs (or the real thing or compatible) is a whole different experience, and would change many of the reviewers minds about the sound quality.

For that matter, GOG.com should be distributing this game with DOSBox - its a much better less buggy experience, even using default SB16/System MIDI sound.

Enjoy
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Hofbrau: The advantage to this is that it provides better performance/results than the SVN/Taewon versions with "built-in MUNT" as the MT-32 emulation runs as a system level driver/separate thread/etc (this is especially noticeable on older/slower CPUs with fewer cores).
In Taewoong's build, you can set mt32.thread = on to start MUNT in a separate thread – maybe this has the same effect on performance. It's true though that he hasn't yet implemented a visual output for the LCD screen, although you can see the messages written to the status window when they change ("WRITE-LCD: ..."). MUNT logging might have to be active for that though, in which case it will be swamped with other messages.

And yes, I forgot to clarify, I was using CM32L ROMs for the video, not MT-32. It's essentially a superset, with extensions specifically for the consumer/gaming market, so the original MT-32 ROMs are not really needed anymore I believe.
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Hofbrau: For that matter, GOG.com should be distributing this game with DOSBox - its a much better less buggy experience, even using default SB16/System MIDI sound.
They absolutely should, and for more reasons than just the sound. As discussed in some other topics here, the SCUMMVM driver for Lure seems to have a lot of issues. Many people here seem to dislike the game for reasons of clunky controls and erratic character movement, which apparently are unique to the SCUMM driver and don't appear when running the original executable. I haven't done the comparison, all I can say is that I completed the game in DOSBox and didn't find it as annoying to control as many others here did.
Thank you for your excellent guide Anamon; it's very thorough and everyone who plans to play Lure should read it.
I've personally known about the game for a long time and for years thought that the Amiga version was the way to go. Tonight I decided to get into this classic again and so searched for the Amga LongPlays video on The Internet Archive. "Crikey this sounds even better than I remember it..." I said to myself as the intro rolled "and what sound effects with such realistic drips, footsteps and atmospheric thunder!" And so I began to watch what I assumed was the Amiga version and was dead impressed, with the sound at least. It was only when I realised that the lightning flashes were missing and glanced down at the title that for the first time in lord knows how many years I discovered that the PC version has bloody outstanding MT-32 sound effects. Would you believe it! I knew it was MT-32, what else could it be, and so after some searching I ended up here.

Even though I haven't had a chance to get it all working and even though I've never successfully even got Roland sound to ever work in the past I'm determined now to finally play the game (sounding) the way it was meant to. If only we could have those subtle graphical extras the Amiga provides too. Saying that though, the PC version holds a soft spot for me, even though I had an Atari ST growing up and have much fondness for the Amiga, because a friend showed me Lure on his Dad's computer when I was very young and it really blew me away back then. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen up until that point and even though he had no sound at all apart from a few bleeps and bloops from the PC speaker that experience lodged itself deeply in my mind. He also got Ratpouch to drink the sewerage which impressed me too but then I read the manual all the way to the end today too so now I know where he got that idea from. I really have put off this game for long enough! Thanks again Anamon; time at last to get to adventuring.

EDIT: Props also to Hofbrau for expanding on the subject; I missed your post first time around sorry!
Post edited February 07, 2016 by MagikGimp
The game does indeed sound much better in DOSBox with midi emulation. Also movement seems to be working better than in the ScummVM port.

The only downside is, that many of the available DOS versions suffer from a game breaking issue connected to the original copy protection. You are supposed to pick up a tinderbox in the smith's workshop, but it simply isn't there.

To bypass the copy protection and be able to pick up the box you need to restart the game immediately after you start playing a new game. When the game starts and you find yourself in the cell, move the mouse to the top of the screen, press left mouse button to open the menu and select File => Restart game. Now the tinderbox will appear in the smith's workshop once you get there.