(12-18-2016, 06:12 PM)Nayrb Wrote: Awesome project! These and other old game soundtracks were so alluringly mysterious to me and that was one of the things that got me into all this VO stuff. I was always so curious as to how it was all done and here are literally photos and explanations! Didn't Roland (as I think you mentioned above) have a pretty sweet and comprehensive orchestral palette on offer in the mid to late 90s? I seem to remember seeing it mentioned that there were some synth / sample hybrids of theirs around at that time that were pretty popular.
I am sure Roland had some stuff, but I haven't found much of it. I did see a few 2U/3U rack samplers of theirs from the late 80's and early 90's, and of course there are all the half-rack Soundcanvas units and similar. I haven't always much thought of Roland as a leader in orchestral samples, as they've always struck me as more strictly bound to the GM standard than other companies, and I think EMU was probably better. This would obviously mean their units were very popular, as having a strong GM standard meant it could be used plug-n-play (or as close as they came to that in the late 90's). For example, using the Boss (which is really Roland) DS-330 is a dream on MIDI files... using the ESI-4000 takes about 10x as long because I have to redo patch selections and fix ranges.
The thing to remember is that the people often scoring games in the 70's, 80's, 90's, and even early 2000's were not often professional composers. Early on, many were actually programmers. Later, it was often the first composer the developer knew. Many of these guys were coming out of college or other careers to write music for games, and as a result, many didn't have a ton of money. The tools used for the Age of Empires series, all the way up to AoM, were somewhat legacy tools from the early 90's or else affordable options on the market. They weren't using the ESI-5000 or 6400 deluxe or anything wild, just the more budget friendly ESI-32 and later ESI-4000.
Of course, the ESI-4000 has a massive library on CD of all sorts of samples. I've found it in everything from documentaries to games and so on. It's kinda freaky.
EMU created the popular Proteus 2000 "Virtuoso" series of symphonic units, which I actually spotted in the studio of a composer I visited a few months back. I know that the Virtuosos and ESI-32's (which later was refined into the ESI-4000, 2000, and so on) were quite popular as an 'affordable' unit (probably similar to EWQL SO Gold/Platinum would be perceived today, I would guess). Siedlaczek also did an orchestral ROM unit for the Proteus 2000 that are apparently somewhat sought after even today. I would have to ask someone who was there to know for sure, though, as I wasn't!
Kurzweil also apparently had very good instruments, but I can't testify to or against this.
Ironically, the format EMU used (which is similar and possibly related to soundfonts, I believe) only allowed for 2 dynamic layers and had no RR options. On the other hand, Akai had a much better system. I have a number of orchestral sample discs for the Akai S1000 (and subsequent) that are actually very good (including a Miroslav Strings 1.0, which are almost as good as the VSCO 2 strings, very detailed and not synthy sounding, which was a miracle for the time). I don't know anything about the Roland format, but I assume it was similar to these.
Sample library developer, composer, and amateur organologist at Versilian Studios.