Question about MT-32 emulation...

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The Spoony Hou
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Question about MT-32 emulation...

Post by The Spoony Hou »

Does it sound close to the real thing? I have nothing to compare it to, and it sounds kinda strange to me...
clem
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Post by clem »

I might be wrong here, but to enable MT32 emulation you need an MT32 rom image, which you need to extract from your MT32... so how can you legally obtain said ROM image without knowing what an MT32 sounds like?

clem
The Spoony Hou
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Post by The Spoony Hou »

Er... You're right :oops:.

Sorry... I didn't even think about that.

say, anyway I can buy a real MT-32 and fit it in a modern PC?
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Kaminari
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Post by Kaminari »

eBay is a good starting place (search for "roland mt-32").
cappuchok
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Alternatively...

Post by cappuchok »

My preffered method of getting MT-32 sounds involves a Soundblaster AWE32 PnP (an old ISA card, but it's PnP) and the MT-32 sound bank that comes with it (only available on the original CD-ROM, not on Creative's support site). Works wonders if you can't get your hands on a real MT-32, and it doesn't put extra load on the CPU. Of course, it requires a computer with ISA ports which can be hard to find these days, and it works best with a DOS-based Windows system (i.e. Win98). I'm glad I kept one around.
The Spoony Hou
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Post by The Spoony Hou »

Actually, I believe my mother stole my old PC with a SB32 PnP... I hope I can get it back some day. I used to do that :P.

I never knew what was the difference between AWE32 and plain 32, though.

And, hey, I have a SB Live in this PC... Maybe I should try one of these soundfonts. I still don't trust this kind of thing -_-...
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LogicDeLuxe
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Post by LogicDeLuxe »

Actually, there is no such thing like a "MT-32 compatible" sound card which is not built by Roland itself. It's a myth, made up by the competeting companies.
What they really mean when they print "MT-32 compatible" on their boxes is merely that they have a wavetable with can remap the instruments to the default instrument of an MT-32, the so called MT-32 bank. That way, you can play MIDI with the corrent instrument, as long as they don't reprogram the MT-32, which in fact is a synthesizer. Even that's the case with a particular MIDI, it still wouldn't sound like a real MT-32 as they use a different wavetable.
Only Loom and Monkey Island 1 do not reprogram the MT-32 and therefore can be played that way. Monkey 2 and Indy 4 won't work that way. I'm not sure about DOTT and SAM, which I didn't tried since they are better with a good GM wavetable anyways.
The Spoony Hou wrote:say, anyway I can buy a real MT-32 and fit it in a modern PC?
Since it's an external MIDI device, all you need is a MIDI port which PCs have onboard nowadays (game connector on the back panel) and most most sound cards have it as well. You can connect the MT-32 audio to the line in of your PC/sound card and you have to select your external MIDI port in the OS's preferences.

There is also a LAPC1, which is basically a sound card version of the MT-32 for an ISA socket, though apparently needs an old PC with an ISA bus.

If your only purpose of purchasing an MT-32 is to run the emulator legaly, it doesn't have to be in a working condition, ie. you might buy a cheap broken unit as well. All you need are the ROM files in that case.
cappuchok
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Post by cappuchok »

LogicDeLuxe wrote:Actually, there is no such thing like a "MT-32 compatible" sound card which is not built by Roland itself. It's a myth, made up by the competeting companies.
What they really mean when they print "MT-32 compatible" on their boxes is merely that they have a wavetable with can remap the instruments to the default instrument of an MT-32, the so called MT-32 bank. That way, you can play MIDI with the corrent instrument, as long as they don't reprogram the MT-32, which in fact is a synthesizer. Even that's the case with a particular MIDI, it still wouldn't sound like a real MT-32 as they use a different wavetable.
Only Loom and Monkey Island 1 do not reprogram the MT-32 and therefore can be played that way. Monkey 2 and Indy 4 won't work that way. I'm not sure about DOTT and SAM, which I didn't tried since they are better with a good GM wavetable anyways.
Thanks for clearing that up. Yes, I've noticed a few games (non-LEC ones as well) that apparently try to reprogram the MT-32 and therefore fails on the AWE32. However, for games that don't reprogram the synthesizer the emulation mode works well enough. I have heard comparisons between the AWE cards and a real MT-32, and I agree that a real MT-32 has superior audio quality. So IF you can get one that should be the first option, but if you are sure your game doesn't reprogram the synth and you already have an AWE32, there's no reason not to try the emulation mode first. You do need the synthmt.sbk from an original AWE32 installation CD, though.
If your only purpose of purchasing an MT-32 is to run the emulator legaly, it doesn't have to be in a working condition, ie. you might buy a cheap broken unit as well. All you need are the ROM files in that case.
In some countries, I understand that the only legal means of acquiring a ROM from any machine is that you must dump the ROM yourself from your own machine. With a broken machine, I'm not sure that's possible. Again, in some countries you just need to own the machine (broken or not) and download the ROM from some backup site. So depending on where you live, you might want to check with someone who is well versed in local law before buying a broken unit.
The Spoony Hou
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Post by The Spoony Hou »

LogicDeLuxe wrote:There is also a LAPC1, which is basically a sound card version of the MT-32 for an ISA socket, though apparently needs an old PC with an ISA bus.

If your only purpose of purchasing an MT-32 is to run the emulator legaly, it doesn't have to be in a working condition, ie. you might buy a cheap broken unit as well. All you need are the ROM files in that case.
Thank you for your informative post :). I thought the MT-32 was a ISA board... Nice to finally know what a LAPC1 is. I always saw that name in old Sierra games, I believe. And even nicer to know I can plug a real MT-32 in my PC :D.

Well, it's going to be hell finding one here in Brazil...

Interesting your idea of buying a brocken one to be able to run the emulation legally... But, that again raises the question about the quality of the emulation... Which I can't verify.
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LogicDeLuxe
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Post by LogicDeLuxe »

There is a sample for comparision to the MT-32 emulator: http://www.artworxinn.com/alex/downloads.htm
Also check out some OGGs of Loom and Monkey 2 tracks sampled from an MT-32 here: http://s-island.mixnmojo.com/
Also there are a lot of Sierra Soundtracks at http://www.queststudios.com/ including some MP3/OGG sampled from an MT-32.


For the ROM transfer thing, afaIk, there is no way to read the ROMs when they are built in. You need to put them into a programmer or in a specially designed reader. You probably have to solder them out first. Hence the ROMs are all what need to be in a working condition. I didn't tried this myself, though.
Cirion81
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Post by Cirion81 »

Hello Spoony Hou,

as noted before by LogicDeluxe, there is no way past a real MT-32 - at least if the games use their own sounds (e.g. the Sierra games do heavily rely on that). If you are asking for personal oppinions here: the MT-32 emulation is a nice thing, but the real MT-32 sounds way better IMHO.

If you only want to play the old LA games with (e.g Monkey Island 1+2), you might not even need a MT-32 to hear the great music as it was supposed to sound. I do own, besides an MT-32, a Roland SCDB-55 (was sold as a Roland SCD-15 daugtherboard in Europe) GS device.
Here I have to give my compliments to whoever did the "mapping" of the MT-32 sounds to the GS device's instruments. I tested a lot of the music of MI2 on both devices, and I must say that I like most of the music better on my GS. The used instruments are practically the same, but the GS instruments do sound more real than some of the MT-32 sounds (e.g. the Pizzicato Strings). So chapeau to the guy who did this!

-Christian
The Spoony Hou
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Post by The Spoony Hou »

Well, after comparisson, I guess the emulation really is lacking... No reason to use ilegal ROMs :p.

I'll try get some info in Sound Canvas devices... They seem to be the only viable way :(.
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LogicDeLuxe
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Post by LogicDeLuxe »

The Sound Canvas is a GS wavetable and has different samples than the MT-32. Listen to the Opening Credits-Track and the Moleman-Track on the Sam&Max CD! They are sampled from a Sound Canvas. Its sound is notable different to an MT-32.
If you want to hear all LEC MIDI tracks in the intended way, you need both, the MT-32 and a Sound Canvas. I don't know if there are any Sound Canvas or compatibles as PCI rather than ISA cards. (In contrary to the MT-32, there are really compatible cards this time, since there is a Dream chip featuring the original Roland wavetable.)

Also there is a Virtual Sound Canvas (expiring Demo available), which is a software version (unfortunately not for DOS games as they usually need an MPU401 port). It has the advantage that you don't need to build in any (old) hardware. Though the sound quality is notably worse than that of the hardware solutions, imho.
The Spoony Hou
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Post by The Spoony Hou »

Ah, I wanted to know from where did they record those tracks... They sound really nice 8).

Hmm... Sorry, this is getting confusing. I'll try to track down some Sound Canvas capable card that is PCI, and find a MT-32...

But, what is this Dream chip you mentioned? Is it a MT-32 synth chip on some modern card, or I'm too confused to make sense of anything?
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LogicDeLuxe
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Post by LogicDeLuxe »

As sayd above, there is no MT-32 chip not comming from Roland. Dream is no exception.

I guess Dream does not use the Roland wavetable anymore, since they once lost a lawsuit against Roland related to the wavetable.

I have a board for a Waveblaster connector labeled "DREAM GSWAVE". That one was sould by Terratec and uses the SAM 9203 for GS.
There is some info about the Dream chips (in German) http://www.synrise.de/docs/types/d/dream.htm
In that link I found that there is also a SAM 9233 which is Roland GS compatible, though I can't tell if that one also has the Sound Canvas wavetable or a different one.

GS is a synthesizer type and says nothing about the wavetable, hence they are all Sound Canvas compatible on the software side (as having all the registers Roland specified), but not in the sound itself (as they can use any wavetable). All GS boards have that MT-32 bank which can't be reprogrammed as mentioned before.
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