Author Topic: SC-88Pro: ZUN's MIDIs the way they were intended to be heard  (Read 216 times)

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SC-88Pro: ZUN's MIDIs the way they were intended to be heard
« on: March 20, 2020, 09:50:09 PM »
1: Introduction
Here's an era of Touhou history that doesn't get talked about much. In the years between the release of Mystic Square and Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, ZUN graduated from university and got hired by Taito. It's normal for young japanese programmers to completely cease their doujin activities once they get hired, but ZUN continued to contribute to the Seihou Project as a music composer. He also made some arranged versions of his old compositions which were posted at his site, on a (now hidden) page called "東方幻想的音楽". At the time, most simple doujin games were distributed in low capacity floppy disks and download speeds were very slow, so his music had to be distributed as MIDI files, which are much smaller than recorded audio files such as WAV, AAC and MP3.

MIDI files contain no audio information. Instead, they function like a script for a synthesizer, containing not just the notes to be played but also control messages, allowing composers to use model-specific features such as the ability to heavily edit how an instrument is played and activating effects such as reverb or guitar distortion. Almost every model of synthesizer responds differently to these messages (if they respond at all) on top of having different sounds, so playing a MIDI file on a synthesizer other than the one specified by the composer will often result in the music sounding completely different from intended. Like most japanese MIDIs you'll find on the internet, the MIDIs made by ZUN were meant to be played on a Roland Sound Canvas, more specifically the SC-88Pro.

Released in the second half of 1996, the SC-88Pro is the successor to the SC-88 (1994) and the SC-55 (1991). The 88Pro became extremely popular among japanese desktop musicians for including many instrument samples from expansion boards for the JV-1080, a highly regarded synthesizer used by almost every professional composer that worked with MIDI in the 90's. While the sounds in the 88Pro lack the depth and expression that they have in the JV-1080 due to simplified instrument programming  and some samples being cut down, they still sound familiar enough to fool people into thinking that many game soundtracks made with a JV were actually made with a 88Pro. Some commercial game soundtracks were indeed made with a SC-88Pro though: a few well known examples are Thunder Force V, Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, Ys Complete (also in Ys Chronicles as an alternate soundtrack), Kanon, Mother 3 and the Pokemon games for the GBA (RSE and FireRed/LeafGreen).

ZUN used the SC-88Pro from 1999 to 2001. In mid-2001 he got the newer SC-8850, which he quickly got rid of (compared to the 88Pro it's just more of the same... but with compatibility issues). In late 2001 he got another new hardware synthesizer, the same one he uses to this day. However, before he got this new synth he had already finished pretty much all of the tracks for Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Kioh Gyoku and Dolls in Pseudo Paradise using the 88Pro. Since this new synth sounds very different from the 88Pro, he decided to arrange what he had done so far, which became the WAV versions of the music. In other words, the MIDI versions of the EoSD and Kioh Gyoku soundtracks are ZUN's original compositions, while the WAV versions are arranged and sound pretty different.

2: Recording & technical details
The following was used for recording:

Synthesizer: Japanese Roland SC-88Pro, firmware Ver 1.02 (the most common)
Software: Steinberg Cubase Pro 8.0.30/8.5 and Wavelab Pro 9
Audio and MIDI interface: Edirol SD-90
Cable: KnuKonceptz Krystal Kable 2 Channel 1M Twisted Pair RCA Cable
Original file format: FLAC, 44100 Hz, 24 bit

I took special care to ensure that these recordings sound as close as possible to actually listening to the 88Pro in person: All of the annoying loud hiss and distortion you may have heard in other recordings of this synth aren't present in mine. The file names are the same name as the original MIDI files, but they're tagged with the japanese names of the tracks.

There are about 150 tracks in total, about 10 hours of music.

----------------
Important: These files are big. If you have download speed or stability issues, try using a download manager such as Free Download Manager. Also note that these have none of the processing that ZUN does to his current music, so this will sound way quieter than usual. Increase the volume on your headphones or speakers. BTW you should totally get foobar2000 to listen to these.
----------------

3: The Music

YouTube
Do you appreciate the time spent on this and want to help these recordings show up higher in YouTube search than the stock Windows MIDI synth stuff? Read this post.
^^^^

Games where the SC-88Pro MIDIs are the original soundtrack:

-秋霜玉 (Seihou Project 1: Shuusou Gyoku) (OST/original)
-稀翁玉 (Seihou Project 2: Kioh Gyoku) (MIDI original)
-トルテ ル マジック (Torte Le Magic) OST
-東方紅魔郷 ~ the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil (MIDI original)
-秋霜玉 (Seihou Project 1: Shuusou Gyoku) (C58 Trial)

SC-88Pro arrangements and miscellaneous compositions from ZUN's site:

-その他の作品 ~ ZUN's Strange Works (original music)
-ZUN's PC-98 Touhou MIDI arrangements
-秋霜玉 (Seihou 1: Shuusou Gyoku) (arranged OST)

Games where SC-88/SC-88Pro MIDIs are included as a bonus:

-東方封魔録 ~ the Story of Eastern Wonderland (MIDI version)
-東方妖々夢 ~ Perfect Cherry Blossom (MIDI version)
-東方永夜抄 ~ Imperishable Night (MIDI version)
-東方花映塚 ~ Phantasmagoria of Flower View (MIDI, trial tracks only)

Bonus:
-Official SC-55, SC-88, SC-88Pro, SC-8850, SD-90, Super Quartet, SD-20 MIDI demos and information
-Kioh Gyoku original SC-88Pro MIDI soundtrack vs WAV arrange


If possible, please use the playlists when sharing these videos with others.
This makes it easier for people to listen to other tracks from the same game if they want to. YouTube's recommended videos feature has unfortunately become useless for this.

Tip: Looking for a recording of a specific file but don't know the track's name? Just search for the filename between "quotes", like this: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%22th5_06.mid%22

Full Download

-FLAC (16-bit):
Dither: MBIT+, Noise Shaping: Medium
4.56 GB: Google Drive | Mega

-AAC (VBR, Highest Bitrate):
MP4 lossy audio. Official closed source Fraunhofer IIS encoder.
1.37 GB: Google Drive | Mega

The 16-bit FLACs should sound the same as the original 24-bit recordings for as long as no further audio processing is applied.
This includes dynamic range processing, equalizing and encoding to a lossy format such as AAC/OGG/MP3. If you downloaded the 24-bit versions previously and you don't plan to do any of that, feel free to delete them and download the zip file above.

Lebon14

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Re: SC-88Pro: ZUN's MIDIs the way they were intended to be heard
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2020, 06:23:18 AM »
And for those that care about bit-depth, which provides more dynamic range and for a more natural sounding sound compared to 16-bit, here's the 24-bit version of the FLAC:
https://mega.nz/#!DJV03a7a!DbOyQdhuAznyBAN-FVlDNfPCEMEDcN6R00FujThvYBA (6.66GB)

Re: SC-88Pro: ZUN's MIDIs the way they were intended to be heard
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2020, 07:19:12 AM »
And for those that care about bit-depth, which provides more dynamic range and for a more natural sounding sound compared to 16-bit, here's the 24-bit version of the FLAC:
https://mega.nz/#!DJV03a7a!DbOyQdhuAznyBAN-FVlDNfPCEMEDcN6R00FujThvYBA (6.66GB)

So I want to ask you, is your resource recorded on the original machine? The original machine was a bit expensive.

Lebon14

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Re: SC-88Pro: ZUN's MIDIs the way they were intended to be heard
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2020, 09:52:35 AM »
So I want to ask you, is your resource recorded on the original machine? The original machine was a bit expensive.

It's Romantique Tp's original 24/44 recording. He/She/They didn't care about packing up the original recordings deeming "16/44" downscales enough.

Re: SC-88Pro: ZUN's MIDIs the way they were intended to be heard
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2020, 10:41:05 AM »
It's Romantique Tp's original 24/44 recording. He/She/They didn't care about packing up the original recordings deeming "16/44" downscales enough.
So you mean,this is the real original recording...

Re: SC-88Pro: ZUN's MIDIs the way they were intended to be heard
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2020, 07:06:55 PM »
And for those that care about bit-depth, which provides more dynamic range and for a more natural sounding sound compared to 16-bit, here's the 24-bit version of the FLAC:
https://mega.nz/#!DJV03a7a!DbOyQdhuAznyBAN-FVlDNfPCEMEDcN6R00FujThvYBA (6.66GB)
I found some problems. It seems that this resource is missing some tracks. Is it because Romantique Tp didn't record the 24-bit version?

Lebon14

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Re: SC-88Pro: ZUN's MIDIs the way they were intended to be heard
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2020, 11:36:31 PM »
I found some problems. It seems that this resource is missing some tracks. Is it because Romantique Tp didn't record the 24-bit version?

No, they just didn't have them period. But 95% of the tracks should be there.

Re: SC-88Pro: ZUN's MIDIs the way they were intended to be heard
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2020, 12:03:09 AM »
No, they just didn't have them period. But 95% of the tracks should be there.
Yes,you are right.This resource is just missing 東方妖々夢製品版 and 東方永夜抄製品版's music.