MSTS, I set out to unravel some puzzlements.
In Mr. Hagen's good published work, he teaches:
The Volume-Value supposedly goes from 0 to 1 however people have already successfully experimented with values over 1. I think that the
Volume-Value indicates, with which volume in fractions of the original volume of the wav File, the file is played, thus with 0.5 half so
loud, with 1.0 at original volume and with 2.0 at double volume.
I believe I have unearthed additional and meaningful data:
Mr. Hagen is correct on all points, but there's a missing bit. Specifically, The volume entered for the ScalabilityGroup has its upper
limit at 1.0 and no number above that will increase what I shall call the Master Volume for the Scalability group in question.
NOTE: It has been established that ScalabilityGroup 5 is used for "full-bore" slider settings, Scalability group 3 for the lesser settings, and ScalabilityGroup 1 for the sound-challenged. Additionally, I have discovered the availability of ScalabilityGroup 2, which appears to make itself available to all slider settings and is used for things like "wind" and other sounds globally necessary for the ambience to seem acceptable to even the soundcard-handicapped. I have not, however, found ScalabilityGroup 4 in use and have not tinkered with that.
SCALABILITYGROUP MASTER VOLUME FUNCTION
It appears to this author, the ScalabilityGroup volume declaration allows an overall adjustment to be imposed on all volumes within the SG
itself. Its benefit is to enable some manner of throttling back, or alternately goosing the collection of .wav files called within the
group; a way to make adjustments for the most robust and weakest in the recorded series of audio files.
To clarify this, somewhat, let's digress to the problem most people have with MP3 files and the varying peak and RMS levels inherent in a
collection from various sources which become especially problematic when burned to an audio CD without first being either "Peak" normalized,
RMS normalized, or otherwise processed to give the various components of the collection a common volume ground.
It's much the same within MSTS although we are dealing with .wav files and not mp3s. Pity that--think of the HD space we'd save if MP3s
were implemented within the .sim. There is, in fact, a little program floating around that will make a browser "think" an mp3 is a .wav but
I've lost track of it. It may work within MSTS and since we're dealing with compression and lo-fi anyhow, what me worry.
A quick review of dozens and dozens of MSTS audio files (both default and third-party), reveals something expected but reportedly
interesting nonetheless: Volumes of .wav files are all over the place. That is not to pre-suppose it is an intentional avenue to give a
"leg-up" to mixing--it is instead revealing that sound in the hands of those unfamiliar with its software, its waveforms, its RMS energy,
can quickly make a mess of things and more often do, than not. To those unschooled and unskilled, it becomes indeed a "Black Art."
VOLUME(S) GREATER THAN 1.0
Although it is true that ScalabilityGroup (Master) volumes greater than "1.0" have no effect, it is not of volume falues
within individual elements within the ScalabilityGroup. Let me explain by way of example:
1. If the Master ScalabilityGroup volume is set to 1.0, only volumes less than 1.0 will have an effect within the SG.
2. If the Master ScalabilityGroup volume is set to 0.5, volumes within the group may be defined up to 2.0 effectively doubling the SG
Master to result in 1.0.
3. If the Master ScalabilityGroup volume is set to 0.25, then volume values within the group of 4.0 should be possible, insofar as 4-times
the declared, multiplied against the root ScalabilityGroup setting of 0.25 yields 1.0--which is all we've got to play with--their ain't no more and as Bugs Bunny might say: "That's all folks."
Declaring something less than 1.0 as a ScalabilityGroup value allows a conveniently sophisticated ability to "mix" sounds linked to various
trigger mechanisms and I am impressed with the malleability allowed. Having said that, I am also sympathetic toward the MSTS hobby design
community who find sound design more daunting a task than it need be. Certainly the .sms interface is not a friendly one for those talented
people with other disciplines as their forte.
I didn't want to end this post on the above note. Here, then, are some tips for those wishing to excel in the MSTS sound arena:
1. Use a high quality recording, and make sure the dynamics are such they will survive in the "mix." That likely will require raising the
program energy to maximum levels and making final level adjustments within the .sms.
2. Remember the "floor" of noise in MSTS is that of a railroad, making use of a wide dynamic range nearly hopeless. Just as listening to
Classical Music in a throbbing automobile will cause the pianissimo to be lost beneath the roar of engine, road, and wind--so too the sounds
for MSTS. The medicine for that ill is called "Dynamic Compression" and it should be generously dispensed to your .wav file if it is to be
heard and manipulated within the din of train rattling.
I have enjoyed this little venture into sharing and as I feel inclined to articulate additional finds, I will. By sharing discoveries, we