Roland MT-32 - The Ultimate Tutorial

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Mau1wurf1977
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Roland MT-32 - The Ultimate Tutorial

Post by Mau1wurf1977 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:34 am

Finally. It's DONE!!!

A comprehensive (this video is over 3 hours long) video explaining everything you need to know about the Roland MT-32 and compatible MIDI units from Roland.

Some parts are a bit boring and full of technical details, but many parts have game footage, audio recordings and hands-on activities.

Brief overview of all Roland MIDI Units
MT-32 (Old) vs. MT-32 (New), headphone port, difference in LCD display behaviour
Buffer overflow
Intelligent vs UART MPU401
33 extra sound effects
Games that only sound correct on MT-32 (Old)
USB Midi cable
Joystick midi cable
Audio cables / adapters
External mixer
Soundcard mixer
Checking the ROM version
MT-32 test mode
MT-32(New) demo songs
Volume dial differences
CM Series clipping issue (Wing Commander)
CM-500 vibrato
CM-32L/64 clicking issue / ROM version
Power draw comparison
Number of PCBs
Daisy chaining units
CM-500 different LED
Noise differences
General MIDI support
USB MIDI / DOSBox ScummVM
MT-32 emulation
Personal recommendation
Credits / Acknowledgements / The End

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NUQpAZeAdo

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envisaged0ne
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Post by envisaged0ne » Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:26 am

Nice! I watched the entire tutorial and learned a few things :) Never really knew the difference between the devices. I only have a MT-32 (old). Now I'm curious what games used the CM-32 sound effects that I've been missing out on

Mau1wurf1977
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Post by Mau1wurf1977 » Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:12 am

envisaged0ne wrote:Nice! I watched the entire tutorial and learned a few things :) Never really knew the difference between the devices. I only have a MT-32 (old). Now I'm curious what games used the CM-32 sound effects that I've been missing out on
Thanks!

And that's the whole magic about this topic!

Back in the day hardly anyone had a Roland, let alone several devices and would investigate these issues.

There are many games that will make use of the extra sound effects. The LAPC-I and CM-32L are likely the two main MIDI units purchased by people who wanted Roland sound for games. It's mostly Sierra and Dynamix that stuck witht he MT-32 (Old) for a long time, even having unique sounds on the VGA version of Space Quest.

Lucasarts and many other companies took advantages of the extra sounds, Lucaarts however did a smarter approach. If you had a MT-32, you would still hear something, just not as complex and rich sound as on a LAPC-I or CM-32L. Companies that simply had no sound on the MT-32 (Old): Boooooooo

Also, I'm not aware of a single game giving you a choice between MT-32 or CM units. That would have been an interesting topic to add to the video.

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NoiZje
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Post by NoiZje » Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:01 pm

Amazing post...

Are you in any way associated with the MUNT project?

Mau1wurf1977
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Post by Mau1wurf1977 » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:44 am

NoiZje wrote:Amazing post...

Are you in any way associated with the MUNT project?
No I'm not. I have hear good things about the future however. It should be good once "it's done" :)

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Post by BJ_Wanlund » Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:53 pm

Oh my!! I haven't been on the forums here in awhile, but wow, this is INCREDIBLE! This is going to be amazingly informative for me, as an old-school PC guy who never got these synthesizers!

zeeshan
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Post by zeeshan » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:04 pm

The LAP-I and CM-32L are likely the two main MIDI units purchased by people who wanted Roland sound for games. It's mostly Sierra and Dyna mix that stuck with he MT-32 (Old) for a long time.
Lucas arts and many other companies took advantages of the extra sounds, Luca arts however did a smarter approach. If you had a MT-32, you would still hear something, just not as complex and rich sound as on a LAP-I or CM-32L. Companies that simply had no sound.

rtr86
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Post by rtr86 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:23 pm

I've bookmarked this and i'm looking forward to watching.

Question I've always wondered though (my knowledge on subject is small), is a midi player best described as a sound enhancer?

I've never understood how a midi player differs from a sound-card.

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Post by Mau1wurf1977 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:20 am

rtr86 wrote:
I've never understood how a midi player differs from a sound-card.
A midi player is just a program that plays midi files. Like a dos version of media player that can only play midi files :)

Maybe you need MIDI device or MIDI module? That's what the Roland MT-32 is.
BJ_Wanlund wrote:Oh my!! I haven't been on the forums here in awhile, but wow, this is INCREDIBLE! This is going to be amazingly informative for me, as an old-school PC guy who never got these synthesizers!
Thank you :)

I made this specifically because there is so much to this topic and I wanted one video that explains it all for those who survive through the 3 hours :P

rtr86
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Post by rtr86 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:50 am

Mau1wurf1977 wrote: A midi player is just a program that plays midi files. Like a dos version of media player that can only play midi files :)

Maybe you need MIDI device or MIDI module? That's what the Roland MT-32 is.

Yes sorry, I did mean Midi device.
So,the sound card sends the info to the speakers/output etc. But, the midi device is in the middle and if they recognize a piece of code that it thinks it can process better it is crossed-referenced with the data on the unit and plays that instead?
Am I completely incorrect on this assumption?

I guess what I am getting at is (and something I've never understood) is why can't this all be done inside the sound-card?

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Post by Mau1wurf1977 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:38 pm

Well later Sound cards had, Roland equivalent, MIDI support built in. Earlier card had a wavetable port that allowed you to connect a General MIDI module. There were tons of options, Roland, Yamaha and Creative all had one.

I guess in the beginning it was simply to complex / expensive to accomplish this. Just look at the size of the LAPC-I and that didn't have any Sound Blaster part whatsoever.

MIDI is a standard so that MIDI equipment can talk with each other. It basically send the "what" information (what instrument, what note, how long) down the wire and the attached MIDI device determines the "how" (and there are massive difference between General MIDI compatible devices for example).

rtr86
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Post by rtr86 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:36 pm

Mau1wurf1977 wrote:Well later Sound cards had, Roland equivalent, MIDI support built in. Earlier card had a wavetable port that allowed you to connect a General MIDI module. There were tons of options, Roland, Yamaha and Creative all had one.

I guess in the beginning it was simply to complex / expensive to accomplish this. Just look at the size of the LAPC-I and that didn't have any Sound Blaster part whatsoever.

MIDI is a standard so that MIDI equipment can talk with each other. It basically send the "what" information (what instrument, what note, how long) down the wire and the attached MIDI device determines the "how" (and there are massive difference between General MIDI compatible devices for example).
Thanks,
So with my current gen sound-card, when I boot-up Monkey or FOA, the sounds I am hearing are different then what you are hearing with your Midi setup?

If so, I presume this is because the Midi library has been updated with 'newer' data, therefore it would not be 100% accurate to the original or what the game designers had intended?

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Freddo
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Post by Freddo » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:27 pm

rtr86 wrote:So with my current gen sound-card, when I boot-up Monkey or FOA, the sounds I am hearing are different then what you are hearing with your Midi setup?
Yes, it's different.

The General MIDI standard only say that instrument 0 is an Acoustic Grand Piano sound and instrument 73 is a Flute, and so on. But each hardware manufacturer and creator of General MIDI soundfonts use different piano recordings and different flute recordings.

So if you buy a Korg synth and a Yamaha synth and both support General MIDI, it still won't sound the same. Same with soundcards, although that difference was larger back in the DOS days as soundfonts are used now instead of the hardware itself.

rtr86
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Post by rtr86 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:17 pm

Freddo wrote: So if you buy a Korg synth and a Yamaha synth and both support General MIDI, it still won't sound the same. Same with soundcards, although that difference was larger back in the DOS days as soundfonts are used now instead of the hardware itself.
Many thanks for reply, starting to make sense now.

I can see now how the difference was larger back in the DOS days especially with something physical.
I'm surprised though that with all the enthusiasts and purists, why do we not have a soundfont package for each game? Using the midi sounds from the original (i.e extract the data from the midi player or roland back then?).

Perhaps it would not be 100% accurate still (as like you say with your Korg-Yamaha scenario), but would it not be an improvement?

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Post by Mau1wurf1977 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:14 pm

For General MIDI, Roland actually sells a virtual Sound Canvas. You can also use Sound Fonts to find something that fits your taste.

For the MT-32 there is the MUNT project, a MT-32 emulator.

ScummVM has all of this integrated (apart from ROM files for example), whereas with DOSBox you need to manually install these to your system.

And finally you can purchase a USB to MIDI adapter and use real Roland MIDI gear with ScummVM and DOSBox as well. Just needs to be configured correctly and it's good to go.

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