Strange discoveries about Heroes IV OST CD and Heroes II

The old Heroes games developed by New World Computing. Please specify which game you are referring to in your post.

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Strange discoveries about Heroes IV OST CD and Heroes II

Postby cuc » Mar 19 2011, 13:39

UPDATE: The whole post has been rewritten.

First of all, I know very little about acoustics. People in the know should feel free to point out my mistakes.

Yesterday I read that the Heroes IV Soundtrack CD is converted from MP3 files of 128 kbps - 192 kbps quality. The source cited its frequency range as proof: its frequency never goes above 16000Hz.

My current understanding is:

- High quality audio should utilize the full frequency range, often going above 20000 Hz;
- For the purpose of compression, MP3 files cap their frequency. This would be especially obvious with 128 kbps files.

The difference can be seen using the shareware Cool Edit / Adobe Audition's "spectral view" mode. High quality audio fills up the whole graph, while MP3 files (except those with the least compression) are "cut off" above a certain point. (I don't know whether the open-source software Audacity has this mode.)

So I began examining the music of the Heroes series with this knowledge.


1) CD tracks of Heroes II

Example: POL Barbarian theme, left channel
Image
Has full frequency range.


2) Heroes III in-game MP3 (128 kbps)

Example: Necropolis theme, left channel
Image
For the most part the frequency is generally capped at a point near 16000 Hz, only reaching above it in a few portions.


3) Heroes IV in-game MP3 (128 kbps)

Example: Credit theme, left channel
Image
Capped at a point near 16000 Hz, with a few higher spikes, not unlike Heroes III.


4) Heroes IV OST CD

Example: Credit theme, left channel
Image
Hey, what's this? Why does an audio CD have a narrower range than 128 kbps MP3!? The spikes are hardly visible now.


So the unfortunate news is, unless my Heroes IV OST is a bootleg, the audio quality of Heroes IV OST CD is on par with, or even lower than the MP3 files in-game.

(To be continued in the next post.)
Last edited by cuc on Mar 20 2011, 4:30, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby cuc » Mar 20 2011, 4:24

This discovery makes me wonder about the cause for that.

I recall Paul Romero and Rob King saying in an interview that they couldn't find their master copy of the Heroes III soundtrack. Is it possible that they had already lost the Heroes IV soundtrack master when the OST CD was made?

Of course I don't know the answer. However, I do have another discovery that may prove that at least at some point the Heroes III master was still around.

Remember this weird "alternate" Sorceress theme (Track #5) from some version of Heroes II Gold?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6I0U-UG ... 03DDF5DD5C

It's not the only changed track in this version. The themes for Necromancer (#7), Knight (#8) and Wizard (#10) had also been changed to their Heroes III counterparts. And judging from the Cool Edit spectral view, they are not converted from the MP3 files, and may be of real CD quality.

Example: Necropolis theme, left channel
Image
(You can compare it with the MP3 version above.)

This also proves that whatever it is, the "weird" version originated from 3DO, and not from some other publishers, since it woud be unlikely for other publishers to have high quality versions of the Heroes III soundtrack.

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Postby Lizzie_G » May 17 2011, 11:17

I had no idea OST CD had been issued...

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Postby GreatEmerald » May 17 2011, 13:41

I wonder if "Wandering" has a full range...

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Postby Yasagani » May 17 2011, 15:52

Would it be too far-fetched to petition Rob King and Paul Anthony Romero for a Heroes 1-4 OST CD as either a free download or a purchasable endeavor? Or would we have to talk to Ubisoft about that?

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Postby Irv1n3 » May 21 2011, 10:20

cuc wrote:I recall Paul Romero and Rob King saying in an interview that they couldn't find their master copy of the Heroes III soundtrack. Is it possible that they had already lost the Heroes IV soundtrack master when the OST CD was made?



I'm a lossless music lover for over 1 year, and it is a shame :(
Maybe we never be able to put our hands on high quality OST of wonderful score of HoMM serie :(
(and as far as I know, the OST of HoMM 5 from HoMM complete is transcode too)

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Postby Woodrow » May 23 2011, 14:01

Irv1n3 wrote:
cuc wrote:I recall Paul Romero and Rob King saying in an interview that they couldn't find their master copy of the Heroes III soundtrack. Is it possible that they had already lost the Heroes IV soundtrack master when the OST CD was made?



I'm a lossless music lover for over 1 year, and it is a shame :(
Maybe we never be able to put our hands on high quality OST of wonderful score of HoMM serie :(
(and as far as I know, the OST of HoMM 5 from HoMM complete is transcode too)

i like lossless tracks too... that's to bad

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Postby cuc » Jun 20 2011, 11:45

GreatEmerald wrote:I wonder if "Wandering" has a full range...

No, it doesn't.
Irv1n3 wrote:and as far as I know, the OST of HoMM 5 from HoMM complete is transcode too

Wow, I didn't know about that.

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Postby hatsforclowns » Jun 20 2011, 12:43

Too bad developers aren't moving towards TTA, or even FLAC.

Also, it's not so much if it has a full spectrum or not (it doesn't have to go up to or above 20 kHz), but more if the spectrum appears processed. And it this case, it really looks like relatively level and clean "cut-offs."

EDIT:

If it's just due to an accident and the loss of the master, I don't see any problems with that, a notice or heads-up would probably be a good idea though. Only if they intentionally (and I don't see why anyone would do that, especially since it's just standard Red Book) mangled the soundtrack, would I be angry.

EDIT:

As far as I know, the ~16 kHz cut-off is standard to MP3, it's part of its algorithms, so you can't avoid it by using a different encoder. MP3 is a lossy compression that tries to remove sounds not easily audible to human ears - along with the bit rate compression. At highest quality it's just as good as other codecs, but once you get to the lower end it loses hands down to MPC and Vorbis. And at the higher end I'd much rather lose MP3 altogether and just use TTA.

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Postby GreatEmerald » Jul 8 2011, 7:51

As I was cleaning the tags of my music collection I came across some interesting information. First of all, the Wandering music is indeed official:
http://musicbrainz.org/release/ca6a5500 ... b559e16847

Also, it seems that the official titles for the music tracks are:
Preserve Theme - The Preserve
End of turn Theme - The Last Battle
Asylum Theme - Asylum
Academy Theme - The Academy of Honor
Necropolis Theme - Necropolis
Stronghold Theme - Castle Stronghold
Haven Theme - The Haven
Volcanic lands Theme - Valhalla
Swamp lands Theme - The Prayer
Snow lands Theme - A Wise Tail
Dirt lands Theme - Hope
Sea Theme - Floating Across Water
Sand lands Theme - Searching for a Dream
Rough lands Theme - Desolation
Subterranean Theme - Subterranean
Battle Theme 1-6 - Battle I-VI
Credits Theme - Credit Theme
Main Menu - The Gathering Storm (I assume it's the one from TGS)
Grass Theme (actually a small part of it, the one that is in fact unique to this and not merged from other music tracks) - The Mountain Song

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Postby Corlagon » Jul 8 2011, 10:12

GreatEmerald wrote:As I was cleaning the tags of my music collection I came across some interesting information. First of all, the Wandering music is indeed official:


"Wandering" is actually in the installed game files: you can extract it with ResEdit. It's just unused due to mangled programming. I think it was intended to be the snow theme.

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Postby GreatEmerald » Jul 8 2011, 19:43

But A Wise Tail is already used as the snow theme... But interesting find indeed. Still, I wonder why they also mangled The Mountain Song by merging it with unrelated tracks...

Heroes of Might and Magic, we keep our old tradition of scrambling audio files!

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Postby cuc » Jul 11 2011, 0:24

Corlagon wrote:"Wandering" is actually in the installed game files: you can extract it with ResEdit. It's just unused due to mangled programming.

What? That's quite the news to me. I'm very sure there's no "Wandering" in music.h4r. Do you mean it's in another data file?

Irv1n3 wrote:and as far as I know, the OST of HoMM 5 from HoMM complete is transcode too

I forgot to ask, does anyone have proof for that?

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Postby Irv1n3 » Jul 16 2011, 2:34

cuc wrote:
Corlagon wrote:"Wandering" is actually in the installed game files: you can extract it with ResEdit. It's just unused due to mangled programming.

What? That's quite the news to me. I'm very sure there's no "Wandering" in music.h4r. Do you mean it's in another data file?


I just checked, if Wandering is in data files, it's not in music.h4r (and I don't know where it can be).


cuc wrote:
Irv1n3 wrote:and as far as I know, the OST of HoMM 5 from HoMM complete is transcode too

I forgot to ask, does anyone have proof for that?


I don't have the time to check all albums right now, but I test only the main menu theme, and the result is here :Image

At least the original score is transcode.

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Postby Irv1n3 » Jul 17 2011, 14:08

Ok, I checked the full 3 CDs :

HoMM V CD : all tracks are transcode except :

09. Terrain - Dirt
10. Terrain - Grass
11. Terrain - Lava
12. Terrain - Rough
22. Battle - Inferno (alternate)
24. Battle - Neutral


Hammers of Fate CD : all tracks are lossless except tracks labelled "HOMMV" (20 - 25)

Tribes of the East CD : all tracks are lossless except tracks labelled "HOMMV" (22 - 27)

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Postby Corlagon » Jul 17 2011, 16:30

Irv1n3 wrote:I just checked, if Wandering is in data files, it's not in music.h4r (and I don't know where it can be).


I swear to you it's in my version.

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Postby GreatEmerald » Jul 17 2011, 22:03

Which versions are you using, then?

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Postby Irv1n3 » Jul 17 2011, 22:47

Corlagon wrote:
Irv1n3 wrote:I just checked, if Wandering is in data files, it's not in music.h4r (and I don't know where it can be).


I swear to you it's in my version.


I have the original game + original addons.

Maybe in H4 Complete ?

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Postby AKuHAK » Dec 11 2011, 12:48

Few words about heroes 1 soundtrack:
There is 2 sets of heroes 1 disk (in fact there is many sets but only 2 different sets).
1) Original Heroes of Might and Magic version 1.0
2) All other editions: Compendium, Millenium etc.
All other edition contains loud clicks in almost all tracks and only Heroes of Might and Magic version 1.0 doesn't contain clicks. Only in Track 50 there is one big click in the beginning of file.

Here is track 34 (knight town theme) spectre:
Image
As we can see soundtrack uses full range. If you want to get this files just paste in google handbookhmm1 flac. Then translate 1st page via google


Now Some words about Heroes 2 osts.

There is three sets of CD audio disks that have been released:
Heroes of Might and Magic II OST: The Succession Wars 1996
Heroes of Might and Magic II OST: The Price of Loyalty 1997
Heroes of Might and Magic II Gold (Millennium Edition) 1999

All of them differs only in city theme:
From TsW disk to PoL disk changes 05,06,07,08,09,10 tracks (all city tracks), but from PoL to Gold edition changes only 05,07,08,10 (Sorcesser, Necromancer, Knight and Barbarian themes)

Here is specters for three different Sorcesser themes (click to enlarge):

TsW
Image
PoL
Image
Millenium
Image
As we can see all of them use full range. If you want to get this files just paste in google Heroes of Might and Magic II - Soundtrack Collection rutracker

Now few questions about heroes 4.
Ok there is some problems with Grass theme from game and 11 - Wandering and 16 - The Mountain Song from OST disk.

Original grass theme from heroes 4 consist of:
Rough theme +
Sand theme +
Swamp theme +
Dirt theme +
The Mountain song +
????? (something that i didn't recognize)
You can here it on 12:08 and it is 2:43 length. Please somebody tell me name of this part of grass theme.

In fact 16 - The Mountain Song use the same melody as ocean theme. So original grass theme is wandering or mountain song?

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Postby Irv1n3 » Dec 11 2011, 14:59

AKuHAK wrote:Few words about heroes 1 soundtrack:
There is 2 sets of heroes 1 disk (in fact there is many sets but only 2 different sets).
1) Original Heroes of Might and Magic version 1.0
2) All other editions: Compendium, Millenium etc.
All other edition contains loud clicks in almost all tracks and only Heroes of Might and Magic version 1.0 doesn't contain clicks. Only in Track 50 there is one big click in the beginning of file.

Here is track 34 (knight town theme) spectre:
Image
As we can see soundtrack uses full range. If you want to get this files just paste in google handbookhmm1 flac. Then translate 1st page via google


Wow !
Many thanks for this ! :)


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