For both Daytona USA and Sega Rally (released around the same time but produced by SEGA), the arcade machines had sort of a synthesizer soundtrack with no CD-ROM involved. Only the home ports of those games for the Sega Saturn had CD-quality soundtrack. They remade all the music and you really can tell the difference; they definitely didn't just "record an arcade machine" and put it as CD tracks.

However, for Ridge Racer (which was made by Namco and came out roughly at the same time as Daytona USA in ~1993), both the arcade and PlayStation versions appear to have the same exact soundtrack. I can't really tell whether it sounds "synthetic" or "CD-ish", but either way it's curious to me. Does this mean that they just "recorded the arcade machine" for the PlayStation port's soundtrack, or does the arcade machine actually contain a CD-ROM drive inside of it which plays the music?

If so, it seems to me like it would wear out quickly if in constant use. I'm not even sure if any arcade machine ever used a CD for the music or for any other purpose.

  • 1
    Just FYI, CD/CD-ROM can be used constantly for long periods of time without wearing out. There is no physical contact between the pickup and disc. There is a few arcade games that used a Laserdisc player for the video (e.g. Dragon’s Lair). The laserdisc was spinning and playing constantly was the machine was powered on.
    – DoxyLover
    Jan 2, 2023 at 10:56

1 Answer 1


Quick googling for the Ridge Racer arcade machine specs finds the Namco System 22, with


  • Sound CPU:
    • System 22: 2× Namco C74 (16-bit Mitsubishi M37702) @ 16.4 MHz
    • Super System 22: Mitsubishi M37710 @ 16.4 MHz
  • Sound chip: Namco C352 @ 16.4 MHz
    • Capabilities: 32 channels, 42 kHz sampling rate, 8-bit linear PCM, 8-bit muLaw PCM
  • Audio output: Stereo (standard), 4-channel Bose surround (deluxe)

So the sound chip could play back PCM samples (for each instrument), and was controlled through its own CPU (think MIDI). No CD.

Some more details for the Namo C352:

The C352 has 32 voices, which can play PCM samples or white noise on up to 4 channels. Volume control is independent for each channel, allowing surround panning. 8-bit PCM samples as well as 8-bit µ-law samples from a sample ROM up to 16 megabytes in size. Several effects are supported, such as frequency modulation, phase inversion on selected channels, as well as backwards and bidirectional playback. While the maximum length of looping samples is 65536 bytes, longer non-looping samples can be seamlessly linked together.

The C352 does not support hardware volume envelopes, this has to be done by the sound driver instead.

  • 4
    Conveniently, the capabilities of the C352 are fairly similar to those of the PlayStation's SPU (in that they're both basically multi-voice PCM playback engines with looping that can adjust the sample rate and volume of each voice independently). There are technical differences to account for (32 voices on the C352 vs. 24 on the SPU, and slightly different PCM formats), but porting music from one to the other shouldn't have been all that hard.
    – hobbs
    Jan 1, 2023 at 23:11

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