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(Topic ID: 270424)

Stern Sopranos (Whitestar) Audio Quality Questions


By timlah79

3 months ago



Topic Stats

  • 11 posts
  • 3 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 65 days ago by timlah79
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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#1 3 months ago

Hi all,

I just received my 2nd pin ever, a brand new 2005 Stern Sopranos. It was only recently unboxed and played. I am trying to figure out if the audio quality of the machine is what I should expect or if there is an issue. My concerns:

- There is a low white noise when the machine is idle.
- The audio sounds rolled of on the high end and muffled/very low end heavy/boomy. Everything just feels dull.
- The voices are also crunchy/distorted sounding.
- The S's and F's of the actors words are super muffled. More like 'SSHH' or 'FFHH' with the annunciation of those letters
- The setting to decrease the background music seems to do nothing. I've left it at default 1 then moved all the way to 15 and I cannot hear a difference in level.
- All speakers are producing sound but everything seems mono
- The speaker test (described below) doesn't follow what's described aka I can't figure out how to test different speakers the way it's described

The ROMs are stock CPU: 3.02, Display 3.00. Nothing in the 5.00 readme file leads me to believe any audio changes were made after 3.00.

I don't have another machine to compare it to besides my JP LE / SPIKE system. It's very clear sounding vs the Sopranos. It's difficult to gauge the difference if any from the youtube gameplay videos out there but I feel like the ones I've watched sound more "vibrant" than my machine.

Would someone familiar with Whitestar audio be able to evaluate/tell me if this is the expected audio quality out of the box aka if this is just how 2005 Stern machines sounded back then? Or does this not seem quite right & perhaps something is wrong? Please let me know if there are any steps or troubleshooting I can do or if there's anything on the board I should post pictures of.

Here's a short video from the Speaker test diagnostics. The manual states something about being able to test each speaker/different sine wavs but I don't see these options. All I can find is the options shown in this video. In fact I'm not even sure if this is outputting stereo or mono. Hopefully you can hear what I'm describing. Really appreciate it guys.

From the manual (In bold are the statements I don't understand/see in the SPKR diag menu):

"To initiate, from the DIAGNOSTICS MENU, select the "SPKR" Icon with either the Red "LEFT" or Green
"RIGHT" Buttons and press the Black "ENTER" Button. The BSMT 2000 Sound System produces
true digital stereo sound from Backbox & Cabinet Speakers or "Mono" on the Cabinet Speaker (when
used by itself).
After selecting this Icon, select the "-" or "+" Mini-Icons and press the Black "ENTER" Button to
activate the first test. Repeat to visually see & hear all tests. Select the "RUN" Mini-Icon to activate the test
chosen without moving to the next test.
Note: During Sound Tests, the display shows the speaker identification and the corresponding sound(s). The
sound functions allow verification that both channels are functioning properly & that the speaker connections are
correct.

Connections to each of speakers are polarized and each must be connected appropriately for the best quality
sound. If one speaker has the positive and negative connections reversed with respect to the other one, bass
frequencies will not be produced properly and the overall sound quality will be poor. To test for proper speaker
phasing, use the sound test to cycle through the Backbox & Cabinet, and Backbox Sine (repeated) functions.
If
the Cabinet Sine produces more volume and bass than the Left Sine, the speakers are connected properly. If it
produces the same or less, one speaker is connected improperly. To isolate and correct reversed speaker
connections, one of two methods may be used..."

#2 3 months ago

I haven't seen any replies but I may have figured out that my machine is in fact sounding the way it was produced originally/supposed to. Upon downloading the original audio .zip from pinsound.org (http://pinsound-community.org/forum/index.php?/files/file/208-the_sopranos_original/), I've found that the original audio samples themselves just aren't very good at all. Listening to them individually on my PC, they have the same "issues" I described above / sound exactly the same PC vs. the machine. Sound technology in general was pretty decent back in 2005, so it seems odd that Stern settled for such poor audio for this game.

I will say I'm still looking for any confirmation if listening against that download is a valid test. If so, and if there were improvements to the sound post CPU v3.02 or any of the sound / voice ROMs, I'd be interested what options are available to improve. I don't see how buying a pinsound board would change anything besides make the already low quality sound samples stereo and those boards are crazy expensive. I'm not going to go replacing sounds that's for sure. I've done enough work to improve JP2 . For now I'll just enjoy this amazing f#@%$ing treasure of a machine as is! Please do educate me though if I'm missing something.

#3 3 months ago

IMO Whitestar is some of the worst sound in a modern day pinball machine. I have an LotR and it has Whitestar as well. My understanding is the sound is mono, not stereo. The only way to get stereo sound is to upgrade to PinSound but then you would indeed need to remix at least the music, something that I did with every file for LotR, sound quality of all files was poor.

Before I upgraded to PinSound I put in a potentiometer, which is just another name for volume control, it helped to control the noise, there is a thread on pinside that discusses this, search ‘Whitestar potentiometer’ and you will probably find it.

I have played Sopranos and it is a fun game and the sound didn’t really bother me but it wasn’t a game in my lineup, if so, I could imagine being more picky. Good luck.

#4 3 months ago

I searched ‘Whitestar potentiometer’ with no luck, try ‘Whitestar sound issue’

#5 3 months ago
Quoted from hawknole:

IMO Whitestar is some of the worst sound in a modern day pinball machine. I have an LotR and it has Whitestar as well. My understanding is the sound is mono, not stereo. The only way to get stereo sound is to upgrade to PinSound but then you would indeed need to remix at least the music, something that I did with every file for LotR, sound quality of all files was poor.
Before I upgraded to PinSound I put in a potentiometer, which is just another name for volume control, it helped to control the noise, there is a thread on pinside that discusses this, search ‘Whitestar potentiometer’ and you will probably find it.
I have played Sopranos and it is a fun game and the sound didn’t really bother me but it wasn’t a game in my lineup, if so, I could imagine being more picky. Good luck.

Thanks so much for the insight hawknole ! The white noise isn't as bad as I thought (I was mistaking most of that for the noise produced by the fluorescent lamp in the backbox). Given I've learned (adding to your point) that its simply poor sound files and the whitestar system causing what I'm hearing, I probably won't mess with it. I just find it bumming that Stern settled for sound files that didn't even come close to meeting the quality of the HBO series itself's sound quality at the time. Paying for a PinSound board to make poor audio stereo just doesn't seem worth the $.

With all that said, I still don't understand the manual's talk about individual speaker testing nor why the background music 1-15 setting seems to do nothing.

#6 3 months ago

You could probably replace that fluorescent bulb with an LED bulb for about $9, just need to remove the ballast that should just twist out, don’t exactly recall in whitestar but mine is now LED. Individual speaker testing is weird. My understanding of that background music setting is how it plays when call outs are going on as well. Good luck tweaking & enjoy your pin.

#7 3 months ago

Oh, that background music setting MIGHT be dependent on another audio setting, check your manual for like an ‘Auto’ audio setting or something like that.

#8 3 months ago

I just looked over the Sopranos manual, looks like you want that speaker setting to 1 for full volume, 15 is the lowest or off. Those frequency speaker tests appear to be for testing speaker polarity.

#9 3 months ago
Quoted from hawknole:

I searched ‘Whitestar potentiometer’ with no luck, try ‘Whitestar sound issue’

This is what you were looking for and it does work. Whitestar boards have insanely loud noise floor because of high gain. This mod is very easy and works wonders. I made my T3 silent after going crazy trying to figure out why it was so loud.

Edit: Link didn't get copied.

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/tspp-speaker-humbuzz-fixed

2 weeks later
#10 3 months ago

Thanks for all the help guys and sorry for the delay. I got that bulb fixed. Also, I don't think the noise floor is really that bad after all. I think all I'm still wrestling with is the quality of the sound files. They are just garbage. Also, I still don't notice any difference with that 1-15 setting nor can I figure out how to even get into the speaker polarity view/settings. I'm curious if anyone in the past upgraded/modded the Sound EPROM with better quality recordings? Haven't found anything yet. I do have the latest stock EPROMs Game and Disp. I purchased these from Marcos and installed them successfully.

EPROM U210 Game A5.00
ROM0 EPROM Disp. A5.00

The Sound and Voice EPROMs the machine came with don't seem to be the latest though. I'm having a hard time cross-referencing the release notes vs. how they are labeled on my machine. It looks like there were later Sound and Voice EPROMs created, but none of the release notes lead me to believe they swapped out or improved any sound/voice files aka (or I'm being blind).

Here's a link to their latest release notes: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gEn4DnoO_KVP9Qar_j--4O7BJHoXURKY/view?usp=sharing

I just don't see notes about improvement in quality or changing of actual sound files, so I wonder if it's worth even messing with these
This is what I have but I do see later Sound and Voice EPROMs were put out after some of these dates.

SOUND U7
$9B5A 04/19/05

VOICE U37
ROM 4 $ADCD 2/24/05

VOICE U36
ROM 3 $47A3 2/24/05

VOICE U21
ROM 2 $C14C 2/24/05

VOICE U17
ROM 1 $F01E 3/28/05

IMG_20200608_082806 (1) (resized).jpg
4 weeks later
#11 65 days ago
Quoted from timlah79:

Thanks for all the help guys and sorry for the delay. I got that bulb fixed. Also, I don't think the noise floor is really that bad after all. I think all I'm still wrestling with is the quality of the sound files. They are just garbage. Also, I still don't notice any difference with that 1-15 setting nor can I figure out how to even get into the speaker polarity view/settings. I'm curious if anyone in the past upgraded/modded the Sound EPROM with better quality recordings? Haven't found anything yet. I do have the latest stock EPROMs Game and Disp. I purchased these from Marcos and installed them successfully.
EPROM U210 Game A5.00
ROM0 EPROM Disp. A5.00
The Sound and Voice EPROMs the machine came with don't seem to be the latest though. I'm having a hard time cross-referencing the release notes vs. how they are labeled on my machine. It looks like there were later Sound and Voice EPROMs created, but none of the release notes lead me to believe they swapped out or improved any sound/voice files aka (or I'm being blind).
Here's a link to their latest release notes: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gEn4DnoO_KVP9Qar_j--4O7BJHoXURKY/view?usp=sharing
I just don't see notes about improvement in quality or changing of actual sound files, so I wonder if it's worth even messing with these
This is what I have but I do see later Sound and Voice EPROMs were put out after some of these dates.
SOUND U7
$9B5A 04/19/05
VOICE U37
ROM 4 $ADCD 2/24/05
VOICE U36
ROM 3 $47A3 2/24/05
VOICE U21
ROM 2 $C14C 2/24/05
VOICE U17
ROM 1 $F01E 3/28/05[quoted image]

BUMP. Can anyone help?

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