**THIS IS A LONG POST. IF YOU JUST WANT THE SOUNDTRACK, I WON’T WASTE YOUR TIME. HERE IT IS.**
If there’s one thing about this year’s Summer of Arcade I won’t make concessions on, it’s the fact that Castlevania: Harmony of Despair has the greatest soundtrack out of all the releases. Granted, Limbo doesn’t have/barely has music, and the other three releases aren’t necessarily up to snuff in the audio department. Nevertheless, I consider it among the upper crust for downloadable titles’ soundtracks. I’m aware there’s already a thread on Harmony of Despair’s music and a download link inside said thread, but when I snatched it up, I was met with recordings of below average bit rates and abrupt endings. There’s also a YouTube playlist and numerous links on the internet compiling audio conversions from that list. Don’t even get me started on YouTube’s 128kbps audio streaming methodology (seriously, if the site has time to support videos up to 4096x3072, at least make your audio available up to 256kbps *nerd rage*). Plus, it’s like the guy loaded up Audacity, faded out the last second and called it a day.I’m a moderate audiophile, primarily because I’m too broke to afford a decent pair of headphones—the best I’ve got is a pair of Grado SR60s. In spite of that, I can still discern a difference between low and high quality. So I asked a friend if we could possibly capture the audio on our own and attempt to rejigger equalizer sliders and whatnot. Obviously, we knew the results wouldn’t be up to par with raw files or an official CD but I’m pleased with the outcome. Even more obvious is the fact that virtually everyone has a different audio setup ranging from sounds cards all the way up to whether or not you use Windows’ integrated sound enhancements. Personally, as long as it plays well on my Zune HD, I’m happy. If there are any criticisms (i.e. Boost the bass [<--- No.] or there’s a click in “insert track name here”) I’ll see about giving the audio another pass. After three sets of headphone testing and an hour of donuts in the local Jewel-Osco parking lot for a car speaker test, any problems will have to wait. I did enjoy the fries and milkshake I had with the car test though. >_>
My only goal was to enhance the audio and provide it at a better bit rate. I also listened to the game’s sound test to make sure you aren’t missing any additional layers in subsequent loops other compilations didn’t include. Speaking of which, the tracks loop anywhere from 1.5 to 2 times by my personal discretion. Some CDs have background music looping to upwards of five minutes, which is insane to me. That’s what repeat functionality is for. Additionally, the songs are appropriately tagged with their title and the game the original composition belonged to. The sound director was credited as Yasuhiro Ichihashi, but I tagged the main artist as the original composer since Michiru Yamane and others deserve recognition.
Download it, listen to it, love it! I hope this brings some mirth to the end of summer! ^_^;
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair Soundtrack (256kbps; 22 tracks; 56 minutes, 23 seconds)