The Music and Audio

Home Forums Previous Months 66 – March 2022: Quake The Music and Audio

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  • watchful

    What does everyone think of the music and audio of Quake?

    I recall it being notably unsettling as a teen rocking the DOS CD release back in the mid-90s. As a NIN fan I was biased. Still, generally sounds and music hold up today–if a bit repetitive after a while.

    Note on the Kex-engine-based remaster that recently came out, I found the music _way_ too low compared to how I recall it from DOS era. Feels more authentic and noticeable if you crank the music volume to 10 and dial back sounds to 5 or 6 then adjust your main system volume as appropriate.

    The Quake 64 add-on–one can install with the remaster–also had slightly different music which was solid IMO.


    I’ve never really listened to NIN’s music, and I couldn’t even tell you if Quake’s soundtrack is typical of their musical style or not.

    But I’ve never felt that the Quake soundtrack fits the game very well. It doesn’t really feel like game music at all to me. The distorted industrial instrumentation doesn’t complement the gothic/medieval tone of the game. The slow droning and rhymic ambiance don’t really complement the high-adrenaline nature of a shooter.

    It feels like when you commission a piece of high art. You spend time giving the artist guidance, showing them where the work will be put on display and what surroundings it has to fit in with, and giving them themes to inspire them, and you still end up with something unexpected, because they’ve taken the brief in a strange direction.

    Game music production is no doubt a more joined up process nowadays, with closer interaction with the client, as well as game music being a speciality one trains in, rather than being a one-off side project that one “has a go at”.

    I expect id software felt honored to have NIN work with them, and probably didn’t give the music tracks they received the same critical judgement that the rest of Quake’s content received.

    That’s not to say that I *dislike* the music, taken on it’s own. It’s ok, good here and there, but mostly rather flat and repetitive. I think the first 2-3 of minutes of the main theme are enjoyable, and probably the best bit. 🙂


    In regards to the kex engine remaster, I wonder if the problem is the “pre-emphasis” that the tracks have on the CD audio? I’m not much of an audiophile, so I may mangle this explanation, but apparently you can’t just straight up rip the tracks and play them in a modern engine because they have certain filters applied to them that you need to reverse first.

    Anyway, I really enjoy the Quake music. It’s really up my alley (even though I’m not really into NIN), and reminds me of a lot of Aphex Twin’s ambient work. Repetitive doesn’t bother me, especially in a video game, but I will agree that it doesn’t quite tonally fit in this game. I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but it would have worked better in a survival horror game.


    Quake sound design in a nutshell:


    Joke’s aside, I love the music and the sound design of Quake. The ambient sound effects complement the soundtrack, which I agree may not be up to everyone’s taste, but I feel like it fits the otherword-ly mood great. It’s not the type of music that will have you humming or tapping your foot to the rhythm like Doom did, but it is going for something entirely different and I think it really succeeds.

    There’s nothing quite like popping a few grunts coming at you with the shotgun, then quickly equipping the nail gun and mowing down a few scrags and ogres, taking in that nail-gun sound as they all go down with the soundtrack slowly beating in the distance.


    I really enjoy it and even picked up the soundtrack on vinyl when that came out a year or two ago. I really wish we could have had Doom 3 with the completed NIN soundtrack and effects too


    I love the sound design; the clang of the grenades, the rapport of the super nailgun, the ambience strewn through the levels.

    The music is fine. It’s not bad, but as has been suggested it seems like it may not be the best match. There were definitely times that it did work in Quake, but I have had it playing in the background with other games to better effect. I just wish I could remember what games they were….


    @Kazashi MachineGames did some work on the Quake remaster and also the Wolfenstein reboots (New Order, Old Blood, New Colosuss). And their wolf reboots had similar distorted metal riffs as Quake’s menu audio–it’s so close in my mind I thought they were just reusing them unchanged.

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Home Forums Previous Months 66 – March 2022: Quake The Music and Audio