Which "old-type" Roland MT-32 to get for DOS games?

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Which "old-type" Roland MT-32 to get for DOS games?

Postby SierraGamer » 2018-1-03 @ 23:02

UPDATE: I think I posted this in the wrong section. Should have been posted in hardware section. Sorry about that!

I have read that "old-type" Roland MT-32 units play old DOS games' Roland MT-32 music better than "new-type" Roland MT-32 units. But does it matter which "old-type" Roland MT-32 we get, if we are interested in playing old DOS games, including, but not limited to, Sierra On-Line games?

Wikipedia page says that there are two "old" types:
MT-32 with revision 0 PCB, used in units up to serial number 851399.

The PGA LA32 chip is later replaced with a 100-pin QFP type.

MT-32 with "old-type" revision 1 PCB, used in units with serial numbers 851400 - 950499.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_MT-32#MT-32_models

Do you guys know of any DOS games that sound better (or different at all) with an "old-type" revision 0 unit versus an "old-type" revision 1 unit?

I am considering purchasing a Roland MT-32 currently for sale online; it has serial number 911800 (see attached pictures), meaning it is "old-type" revision 1. Would it be better to wait and look for "old-type" revision 0, or do games sound exactly the same with both types of "old" Roland MT-32 units?


Thank you!

P.S.- I have heard that emulation sounds great, but I want the real Roland MT-32 external module sitting on my desk with its little light-up screen staring at me. It's those details that really matter to me. :blush:
Attachments
MT32-2.jpg
Roland MT-32 sound module with serial number 911800
MT32-1.jpg
Roland MT-32 serial number 911800
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Re: Which "old-type" Roland MT-32 to get for DOS games?

Postby 7retro2000 » 2018-2-10 @ 22:49

You are better with an MT-32 instead of none. Just get one and play with it.
People recommend the old one as a standard. Just a personal opinion - when you deal with sound, there is no perfect choice.
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Re: Which "old-type" Roland MT-32 to get for DOS games?

Postby gdjacobs » 2018-2-10 @ 23:44

There's a handful of games which only sound right with the glitches in original MT-32s. I understand the revised version (with the dedicated headphone jack) is kind-of the worst of both worlds wrt compatibility, as it's not the best for those titles which use glitches, and it doesn't support extensions like the CM-32L or LAPC-I do. I believe it's a little less noisy than the old version, though.

For a more thorough understanding of the Roland LA synth module lineup, probably just watch this video:
https://www.philscomputerlab.com/ultima ... orial.html
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Re: Which "old-type" Roland MT-32 to get for DOS games?

Postby Spikey » 2018-2-12 @ 06:21

I doubt anyone would notice unless they were aware of it. I like a second-gen unit to overcome polyphony issues with games such as Larry 5 and PQ3, many want the weird SFX in games like SQ1/4.

Apparently SQ3's intro piece has different vibrato, but with examples like that you can see how much of a non-issue it is. I would think the lower noise permanently would outweigh perfect accuracy in 0.1% of situations, but that seems to be a minority opinion.

Using the MUNT software seems to be a better choice, you can even go '3rd gen' which is beyond the hardware itself- for example, 1st gen with 32-bit output, or 2nd gen with 32-bit output. Very cool stuff. Not many reasons to own a module any more IMO (except for recording with one mixed with other synths).
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Re: Which "old-type" Roland MT-32 to get for DOS games?

Postby gdjacobs » 2018-2-12 @ 16:41

Yes, ideally you'd need a CM-32L/LAPC-I and an MT-32. Munt gives you both.
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Re: Which "old-type" Roland MT-32 to get for DOS games?

Postby sergm » 2018-2-13 @ 17:33

I'm afraid, munt will never sound identical to the real units, only better :)

Well, as for the subj, the answer really depends on the scope of the preferred games. If 100% compatibility with old Sierra titles is preferred, this unit is likely the one you need. Although beware, the serial ID does not guarantee the compatibility. In case the unit occasionally got to the service, the main PCB could be theoretically replaced with the new one (and with phone jack removed as explained in the service notes). So, only seeing the PCB (or playing those hacky patches) can actually confirm whether it is the old-gen unit.

As for the PCB-0 vs. PCB-1, I am not aware of any differences (from the consumer PoV) between the two. AFAICT, the LA32 chip design remained intact, only the package was changed. Besides this change, all ROMs were also replaced at the SN #851400 boundary but the contents kept the same.
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Re: Which "old-type" Roland MT-32 to get for DOS games?

Postby Cizkaro » 2018-3-08 @ 11:21

You could also look into a SC-55. It has limited MT-32 backwards compatibility and is a very good unit.
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Re: Which "old-type" Roland MT-32 to get for DOS games?

Postby Danfun64 » 2018-4-24 @ 17:53

Yeah it's limited... limited to only the default instruments with no support for custom instruments whatsoever. If you want to listen to MT-32 music, the SC-55 isn't the way to go...though if its any consolation, it's better than non Roland midi devices which claim mt-32 compatibility
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