Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Discussion about old sound cards, MIDI devices and sound related accessories.

Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby techweenie » 2018-6-24 @ 14:02

Based on what little info I could find, it seems the CM-300 is better than the SC-55 for accuracy in DOS games. It supports CTF, but I cannot confirm if it correctly handles GM PC#121 Breath Noise. Can anyone confirm that? I'd pay a pretty penny if so. I have my first midi device on the way, which is a SC-55 ROM ver. 1.00, so not fully GM compliant. It was such a good deal I grabbed it anyway, so now I'm looking for the next step up. I play a lot of Doom and DN3D, so I want the best experience possible (meaning 100% accurate to original composer's intentions). If the SC-88 series is 100% accurate to those games I'd be happy with that too.
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby Shponglefan » 2018-6-24 @ 14:54

When you speak of accuracy, it sounds like you're referring to two different ideas. There is technical accuracy (i.e. how well a unit implements a certain MIDI specification). And then there is compositional accuracy of the musical reproduction with respect to how it was originally composed.

For the former, the only real issue is if you're using a unit that doesn't either fully support a particular specification (i.e. General MIDI) or other potential limitations like max voices. Therefore any music written for later specifications might not work correctly with earlier units with incomplete or wonky spec implementations.

For the latter, that is more a matter of personal taste. I tend not to worry about what the tracks were originally composed for versus what actually sounds good. If you are concerned about what the composers originally used, then I'd suggest a triumvirate of Roland hardware (MT-32, SC-55 and SC-88) which will likely cover the majority of what tracks were composed on and/or intended to be listened on. Beyond that you could also add in a Yamaha XG-based unit (I'd recommend the MU2000) in the event you want any XG-specific playback and/or an alternative to Roland units. Personally I think the Descent soundtrack sounds amazing on the Yamaha units even though it was probably composed on a Roland.
Last edited by Shponglefan on 2018-6-24 @ 15:18, edited 1 time in total.
MIDI module collection: Edirol SC-D70, SD-90 | Kawai GMega | Korg AG-10, NS5R, Triton Rack | Roland MT-32, CM-32L, CM-64, CM-500, SC-55, SC-88, SC-88 Pro, JV-1010, XV-5080 | Yamaha MU-80, MU-2000EX
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby SuperDeadite » 2018-6-24 @ 15:13

There were various revisions of the CM-300 (and also CM-500) as well. Older units only have the GS mark, while later units have both the GS and GM marks on the case, just like SC-55 MkI's did.
Modules: CM-64, CM-500, SC-55MkII, SC-88 Pro, SY22, TG100, MU2000EX, PLG100-SG, PLG150-DR, PLG150-AN, SG01k, NS5R, GZ-50M, SN-U110-07, SN-U110-10, Pocket Studio 5, Dreamblaster X2
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby techweenie » 2018-6-24 @ 15:41

Regarding accuracy, I'm referring to adhering to the GM specification, while also retaining features some composers relied on such as CTF. The SC-55 ver. 1.2x is ideal in that regard, so basically I'm asking if the CM-300 is equal to or better than that specific SC-55. I wasn't aware there are different revisions of the CM-300, so does anyone know which ones have which quirks? I just haven't been able to find much about it.

If I ever find a good deal on a MU2000 I will certainly grab it. I love the sound of anything Yamaha.

I want to also be clear I'm not looking for one device to do all. I'm looking for an "old" MT-32 for the older games, something undetermined from Roland for 100% GM compatibility, and the MU2000 as the ultimate eargasmic experience for midi music. I'm bummed the SC-55 I have coming is only ver. 1.00, but it will cover the early 90s games beautifully, and for $50 I wasn't going to pass it up.
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby infiniteclouds » 2018-6-25 @ 00:24

Shponglefan wrote:Personally I think the Descent soundtrack sounds amazing on the Yamaha units even though it was probably composed on a Roland.


I prefer Yamaha to Roland for these as well... but I strongly prefer the FM Synth over either of these. Not even because of the sound so much but because the FM Synth have different tracks altogether. I mean to say that the 'midi' data is different... there are notes, chords or bass lines in certain FM tracks that are altogether absent in the GM/GS ones. It's most obvious in the title theme. Based on this I think it's hard to say that Descent was composed for the Sound Canvas.
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby yawetaG » 2018-6-25 @ 08:03

infiniteclouds wrote:
Shponglefan wrote:Personally I think the Descent soundtrack sounds amazing on the Yamaha units even though it was probably composed on a Roland.


I prefer Yamaha to Roland for these as well... but I strongly prefer the FM Synth over either of these. Not even because of the sound so much but because the FM Synth have different tracks altogether. I mean to say that the 'midi' data is different... there are notes, chords or bass lines in certain FM tracks that are altogether absent in the GM/GS ones. It's most obvious in the title theme. Based on this I think it's hard to say that Descent was composed for the Sound Canvas.


FM bass lines are a thing that is fancied by many a musician :happy: . 4-operator FM has the best ones (OPL is 2-operator), but unfortunately the MIDI specs for different levels of operators are different, so sounds aren't portable from one type of synth to the other...
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby techweenie » 2018-6-25 @ 11:40

The Sound Blaster CT2770 has MASSIVE bass on the FM synthesis. I absolutely love that card for FM only games. Good luck figuring out how to get the driver working though. Took me 3 days and 3 motherboards to figure it out. Hint: do not use CTCM.
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby techweenie » 2018-6-25 @ 14:24

So I have a Yamaha MU2000EX on the way from Japan. I quite unexpectedly found an amazing deal on one with a 16MB Smart Media card included. I'm going to see how the GM mode compares to the SC-55 that's also coming before deciding on the CM-300 or SC-88. I kind of want the CM-300 just to experiment since there's not much info about them.
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby SuperDeadite » 2018-6-25 @ 16:42

techweenie wrote:So I have a Yamaha MU2000EX on the way from Japan. I quite unexpectedly found an amazing deal on one with a 16MB Smart Media card included. I'm going to see how the GM mode compares to the SC-55 that's also coming before deciding on the CM-300 or SC-88. I kind of want the CM-300 just to experiment since there's not much info about them.


Well there isn't much to compare between CM-300 and SC-55. They are the same hardware. You really can't go wrong with an MU2000 though. Some games will sound more "authentic" on older modules, but when you can do stuff like this https://youtu.be/79K04ZqoouI?t=3m10s who cares? lol
Modules: CM-64, CM-500, SC-55MkII, SC-88 Pro, SY22, TG100, MU2000EX, PLG100-SG, PLG150-DR, PLG150-AN, SG01k, NS5R, GZ-50M, SN-U110-07, SN-U110-10, Pocket Studio 5, Dreamblaster X2
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby techweenie » 2018-6-25 @ 17:01

That video is amazing! My reasoning behind the CM-300 in addition to the SC-55 lies purely in DN3D and how it uses both CTF and Breath Noise, the latter of which my unit doesn't support. But I know there's a workaround to get CTF on later units, so we'll see how it goes with the MU2000.
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby techweenie » 2018-6-28 @ 00:56

I'm so pissed right now. I got my SC-55 today, which works (but is in rough shape), and sounds amazing and all that. But I'm pissed because now I'm learning that build engine games cannot properly use MPU401 and PCM sounds together on SB16 cards. I only have one ISA slot on the motherboard I want to use, so I can't add in something else for MPU401 duties. I even spent way too much money to get a CT3670 (SB32 with AWE64 chip) only to find it has the same problem (I didn't buy it hoping to fix this issue, I just wanted to use it). At least it works well with Duke Nukem 2. Is it really too much to ask for 16 bit stereo and SC music???
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby techweenie » 2018-6-30 @ 07:27

I found a solution! I'm using a CT2770 SB16 in conjunction with a Aureal Vortex 2 for MIDI only. I don't know how it works, but it does. The SB16 is A220 I5 D1 H5 P300 T6 and the Aureal ignores the blaster variable and uses A240 I7 D3 P330 T4 (and Joystick 202). The only issue I have so far is DN2 doesn't have any audio, but that may be because the Aureal loads after the SB16. I'll have to try switching that around. DN3D plays smooth as butter and so does every other game I've tried. I don't really play any A3D games so I'm ok with "wasting" such a good card.
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby derSammler » 2018-6-30 @ 07:36

techweenie wrote:Is it really too much to ask for 16 bit stereo and SC music???

Either get an early SB16 or an ALS100-based card instead. Then you have 16-bit stereo and working MPU-401 interface.
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby techweenie » 2018-7-01 @ 04:58

I used to have an ALS100+ and hated it, but I never knew how amazing the non plus is. I just ordered one from Italy with a dedicated line out jack and a OPL3 clone chip. Another user on here has a similar card and he swapped a genuine yamaha chip onto it and upgraded the opamp. This may be the unicorn card I've been looking for!

For anyone curious, the SB16/Aureal combo works perfect for everything but FM. I haven't found a way to avoid a resource conflict there. It never locks up the pc and all tests pass, but the music is very quiet and garbled slightly. I even swapped in a ct3670 for full AWE sound capability and it all works except FM. Does anyone know of a pci card that lets you disable FM? In case you're wondering why I don't just swap motherboards, it's a special Gateway build I did for Youtube and I want to be able to show off this project. It runs Windows Me hacked for pure DOS.
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Re: Roland CM-300 vs SC-55

Postby techweenie » 2018-7-28 @ 18:25

After a month of waiting and initial failure I can finally confirm there is one card to rule them all, and it is the ALS100. The one from Italy took an extremely long time to arrive due to a complete failure of the US Postal system. Once I got it I was heartbroken to discover my computer would not detect it AT ALL. I tested in another computer with a different chipset and it didn't work there either. Determined to test this card, I ordered another (but without the line out jack). This time the computer could see it, but it just didn't work and never played anything more than static. In disbelief that I could receive two dead soundcards, I started digging further back into my collection and found a socket 7 system I have never even used. To my amazement, both cards worked! Not only do they work, but they do EVERYTHING I wanted, including SB16 Stereo, SB Pro 2.0, ADPCM, and MPU-401. The output is a little quiet, but tweaking the mixer made it perfectly acceptable with minimal noise.

I know this thread has gone way off topic, so to bring things back on track I am happily gaming away with an SC-55 MK1 rom ver 1.21 and the ALS100. I also have the SC-55 ver 1.00 I plan to resell. I haven't done a side by side comparison, but my ears couldn't detect any difference between the units in DN3D. I'm starting to think the CTF and Breath Noise issues are rather insignificant and don't distract from playing the games at all.
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