Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby Kahenraz » 2016-6-11 @ 22:49

Would you provide a comparison recording on the mkII, please?
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2016-6-12 @ 01:47

So, I just got a Roland MT200, which is GM and GS capable and seems to be close to the original SC55 in specs.

What is the "proper" way for a device like this to act (with regard to the situations in the OP) and how can I test it with this unit?

I know these are somewhat rare, so I'm curious to see if it works like the more common devices.
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby Cloudschatze » 2016-6-12 @ 02:22

James-F wrote:I have written a sysex message for custom Voice Reserve to all channels as I think it would be ideal for the SC-55 MKII...

I wouldn't recommend applying this generally. Once the polyphony is exhausted, it's all a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and changing the voice reserve simply rearranges where the dropouts occur. While the adjusted settings may make that particular Warcraft example more listenable, they may have the opposite effect where the default reserve values had been assumed.
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby James-F » 2016-6-12 @ 05:13

Kahenraz wrote:Would you provide a comparison recording on the mkII, please?

The Warcraft youtube video is a recording of the MKII.
I can attest to that, because it sounds the same (cut off Bells) on mine.
But on the SC-VA or other SC-88 youtube videos, the bells are not cut off, so it's only the SC-55 and its low polyphony.

Cloudschatze wrote:I wouldn't recommend applying this generally.

I would.

There are 3 things to consider when analyzing the SC-55 polyphony behavior:
1. The first/longest sounding note out of the 28 will be cut first.
2. The channel priority of the first/longest note.
3. The Voice reserve of the channel.

So I've done some testing:
I played huge sustaining chords on channels 1-3 using "Violin" with velocity on 40, and switched to channel 16 with velocity on 127 to test what happens to it.
This while setting Voice Reserve in various configurations.

What would happen if channel 16 plays two notes while channels 1-3 take all the polyphony, and all Voice Reserves set to 0?
Channel 16 would be able to play only 1 note at a time, because it has the lowest channel priority and has 0 voice reserve.
It will remove one note from ch.3 because it is the lowest in order before ch.16.

What would happen if channel 16 plays two notes while channels 1-3 take all the polyphony, and channel 16 Voice Reserves set to 1?
Channel 16 would be able to play 2 note at a time even if all other channels set to voice reserve 0, the first note on Ch16 is reserved and the second which is the last note played.
Two notes will be gone from channel 3.

What would happen if channel 1-3 have all 28 voices reserved, will channel 16 play anything?
No, ch.16 will be SILENT no matter what you play.

Voice Reserve has priority over Channel Priority.
Now you understand (I hope :cool: ) why setting ch.11-16 with voice priority 0 is a stupid choice by Roland.
Equally distributing the voice reserve is a MUCH better way, that will NOT rob Peter to pay Paul if you clearly understood how the SC-55 polyphony works.
Besides, maximizing the polyphony is a rare occasion, only big symphonic moment will, and they are rare.
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby Cloudschatze » 2016-6-12 @ 06:14

James-F wrote:
Cloudschatze wrote:I wouldn't recommend applying this generally.

I would.

Great. How are you accounting for the fact that a GM System On or GS Reset message resets the values to their defaults?

James-F wrote:Now you understand (I hope :cool: ) why setting ch.11-16 with voice priority 0 is a stupid choice by Roland.

Roland provided the default settings, but proper voice allocation is and was always the responsibility of the composer.

Equally distributing the voice reserve is a MUCH better way, that will NOT rob Peter to pay Paul if you clearly understood how the SC-55 polyphony works.

I'm not sure that you understand how it works, frankly. :) If all 24 or 28 partials are in use (depending on the model), and another needs to play, voice stealing *will* occur.

Besides, maximizing the polyphony is a rare occasion, only big symphonic moment will, and they are rare.

This is not as a rare an occasion as you think.
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby James-F » 2016-6-12 @ 06:38

Cloudschatze wrote:Great. How are you accounting for the fact that a GM System On or GS Reset message resets the values to their defaults?

That is indeed a problem.
Most games don't use sysex commands, so it would be safe to send the voice reserve rearrangement sysex command after a reset and before the game starts.
With games that do use sysex reset at start I would run the sysex after the game started.
With midi music that was written specifically for the SC-55 I think the composer took that into account and would hear if an instrument was cut off, hence fix it.

Roland provided the default settings, but proper voice allocation is and was always the responsibility of the composer.

Indeed, but there is an endless amount of GM files that were written on a synth with greater polyphony than 28, and the SC-55 with the default settings does not do them justice.
I think it is much better to hear at least 1 note on channel 13-16 than none at all.

I'm not sure that you understand how it works, frankly. :) If all 24 or 28 partials are in use (depending on the model), and another needs to play, voice stealing *will* occur.

I think I do, hence the two big ass posts above with multiple examples, all tested by yours truly. :happy:
This "voice stealing" has some logic behind it, that I thoroughly tested with multiple configurations.
You may even try to re-read my previous post...

This is not as a rare an occasion as you think.

That's why it's important to properly set the SC-55 Voice Reserve, or play these high polyphony midis on an other more capable synth.

Or use two SC-55s, one for the even channels and one for the odd channels. ;)
But that would require a special and more efficient Voice Reserve settings on each unit (which I'm sure you don't use).

Play these on your SC-55 and watch and listen closely to channels 13-15:
You can Solo (All+Mute) the channel to hear what you are missing. :happy:
2Midis.zip
(12.65 KiB) Downloaded 38 times

https://sites.google.com/site/hiddenwindowsmidi/windows-3-0
These 2 midis are from Windows 3.0 (1990) which means they predate the SC-55 MK1 and strangely exceed the 24 sound polyphony of the GM standard.
Were there a more capable GM synth than SC-55 back in 1990? I believe the SC-55 was the first to fully support the GM standard.
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby Cloudschatze » 2016-6-12 @ 08:35

James-F wrote:I think it is much better to hear at least 1 note on channel 13-16 than none at all.

Fair enough. We have a difference of opinion. At the end of the day, I just think there's probably more trouble to be had by lowering the reserve for part 1 than there is by not having any reserve for the upper parts.

Or use two SC-55s, one for the even channels and one for the odd channels. ;)
But that would require a special and more efficient Voice Reserve settings on each unit (which I'm sure you don't use).

Voice reserve is only ever relevant when the partials are exhausted though. Having two SC-55s in a split-channel configuration effectively minimizes this likelihood without the need for any special settings. :)

Play these on your SC-55 and watch and listen closely to channels 13-15:
You can Solo (All+Mute) the channel to hear what you are missing. :happy:
2Midis.zip

https://sites.google.com/site/hiddenwindowsmidi/windows-3-0
These 2 midis are from Windows 3.0 (1990) which means they predate the SC-55 MK1 and strangely exceed the 24 sound polyphony of the GM standard.
Were there a more capable GM synth than SC-55 back in 1990? I believe the SC-55 was the first to fully support the GM standard.

These are Microsoft abominations known as "Device-Independent MIDI Files," each containing separate arrangements for both "Extended" (Ch.1-10) and "Base-Level" (Ch.13-16) synthesizers. Having a GM device play-back all fourteen channels is definitely not ideal. :)
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby James-F » 2016-6-12 @ 08:49

Thanks Cloudschatze, I learned something. :)

I just think there's probably more trouble to be had by lowering the reserve for part 1 than there is by not having any reserve for the upper parts.

Its a loooonnnnggg way to part 1 if you take into account the Patch Priority.

BTW, how do you split the midi channels to two different units?
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby keropi » 2016-6-12 @ 09:34

James-F wrote:[...]
BTW, how do you split the midi channels to two different units?


I was about to ask the same. Did you setup each SC-55 to only respond to specific channels? Do resets affect the setting or is it a one-time-setup ?
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby James-F » 2016-6-12 @ 19:31

The quickest way would be using Midi-trough to the second unit and muting every other channel.
But I think that resets at sysex reset command.
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby Kahenraz » 2016-6-13 @ 04:36

I guessed that the SC-55st might be configured differently to support all channels by default since it has no front panel buttons. But someone has proven that wrong:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=lr2Vm4EIe5s

We should still confirm if this is an issue with the SCB-55 and SCB-51; that would be terrible!
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby Great Hierophant » 2016-6-13 @ 04:41

The SC-55ST is based off the SC-55mkII hardware, so is the SCB-55. I have never heard of the SCB-51. I used to think that the SC-55 sounded better than the SC-55ST with the Ultima Online MIDI files such as those played in the video because of capital tone fallback, but I no longer believe that is the case.
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby James-F » 2016-6-13 @ 05:20

I could find the second song "JHELOM.MID" from Ultima Online, from the youtube video.

We should still confirm if this is an issue with the SCB-55 and SCB-51; that would be terrible!

The echoing Flute on channel 15 is indeed cutting off with the SC-55 MKII with default Voice Reserve settings, tweaking the voice reserve fixes that.
So this is indeed an issue with the "55 family" and its low polyphony abilities and shitty default voice reserve distribution.

What goes to show that Ultima Online was not written on the SCC-1 or SC-55.
Maybe SC-88+ or maybe not even a Sound Canvas.
Also, you must not forget that Ultima Online is from Sept' 1997, by then the 88Pro could have been the synth of composition.
EDIT: Or the soundfonts provided with it... :happy:
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JHELOM.7z
Ultima Online midi
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby Great Hierophant » 2016-6-13 @ 15:56

I have discs of the last public beta and the original UO Charter Edition. The latter comes with Soundfonts designed for the Sound Blaster AWE series. In the Charter Edition, there is a 512K and a 4MB version for each song I believe. There is also a third version without an accompanying soundfont. I can provide them if it helps anything.
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby Cloudschatze » 2016-6-13 @ 18:16

James-F wrote:BTW, how do you split the midi channels to two different units?

With the SC-55 and CM-64 setup, I'm using a Music Quest MQX-32M as the primary MPU-401-compatible MIDI interface. The MQX-32M allows for splitting the 16 channels in various combinations between its two output ports, and this configuration is then applied at boot, through an AUTOEXEC.BAT entry.

Since the CM-64s are daisy-chained to the SC-55s, I created two manually-initiated batch files that apply SysEx messages to differentiate desired playback between the two, (mostly) negating the need to power-off or mute the respective devices.

For "CM-32L" playback (CM.BAT), this involves:
- Sending an All Parameters Reset
- Setting the CM-32L Master Volume to 70%
- Setting the CM-32P Master Volume to 0%
- Setting the MIDI Channel reception for the CM-32P parts to "OFF"
- Setting the MIDI Channel reception for the SC-55 parts to "OFF"

For SC-55 playback (SC.BAT), this involves:
- Sending a GS Reset
- Setting the SC-55 Master Volume to 80%
- Setting the MIDI Channel reception for the CM-32L and CM-32P parts to "OFF"

I also use a split-channel configuration for two 1.07 MT-32s over on my "main" setup, but through use of networked Mark of the Unicorn MTPAV and MTPII units. I much-prefer the MOTU devices to the MQX-32M, given the multitude of other features and capabilities (not to mention being relatively inexpensive and available). The compact "Micro Express" variations can likewise be used for this purpose.

James-F wrote:
Kahenraz wrote:https://youtube.com/watch?v=lr2Vm4EIe5s

So this is indeed an issue with the "55 family" and its low polyphony abilities and shitty default voice reserve distribution.

This is an example of the behavior I'd alluded to a few days ago. It's certainly an issue of inadequate polyphony with either device, but it's also bit more complicated than just the voice reserve settings, given that both the 24-voice SC-55 (SCC-1) and 28-voice SC-55mkII (SC-55ST) share the exact same default voice reserve settings - and yet it's the less-capable device that provides the more-pleasing playback.

I had another idea of what Roland might have changed to result in this dissimilar behavior, and just need to verify when I have a chance...
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby James-F » 2016-6-13 @ 18:29

Thanks for clarifying how you split to two units.

Cloudschatze wrote:given that both the 24-voice SC-55 (SCC-1) and 28-voice SC-55mkII (SC-55ST) share the exact same default voice reserve settings

Its the SCC-1A (SC-55 MKII) so they both have 28 polyphony and the same voice reserve.
The video shows the difference in sound processing between the SC-55 MKII and the SC-55ST, with the latter being less capable not only by lacking tweakability.
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby Cloudschatze » 2016-6-13 @ 18:30

James-F wrote:
Cloudschatze wrote:given that both the 24-voice SC-55 (SCC-1) and 28-voice SC-55mkII (SC-55ST) share the exact same default voice reserve settings

Its the SCC-1A (SC-55 MKII) so they both have 28 polyphony and the same voice reserve.

The SCC-1A does not have 28-voice polyphony.
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby James-F » 2016-6-13 @ 18:49

Ah, then you're right, the SC-55ST is a strange unit.
I shall compare the youtube video more attentively to my SC-55 MKII.
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby keropi » 2016-6-13 @ 21:00

Cloudschatze wrote:
James-F wrote:
Cloudschatze wrote:given that both the 24-voice SC-55 (SCC-1) and 28-voice SC-55mkII (SC-55ST) share the exact same default voice reserve settings

Its the SCC-1A (SC-55 MKII) so they both have 28 polyphony and the same voice reserve.

The SCC-1A does not have 28-voice polyphony.


I always thought it was a mk2-on-a-card , so what exactly is the difference from the non-A SCC-1 ?!

As for the sc-55 combining, great info there but I'll cheat and use the 8820 :lol:
btw, anyone wanting a MQX-32M someone on AmiBay posted he has one for sale... he did that on Chrisnova777's thread but I think the fellow is not visiting anymore...
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Re: Apparently not all GS-only sc-55s are the same, some are GM

Postby Cloudschatze » 2016-6-13 @ 23:09

keropi wrote:
Cloudschatze wrote:The SCC-1A does not have 28-voice polyphony.


I always thought it was a mk2-on-a-card , so what exactly is the difference from the non-A SCC-1 ?!

The SCB-55 is the equivalent of an SC-55mkII-on-a-card. (Well, apparently except for the drumset program-change behavior, if the manual is to be believed. What-the-heck, Roland?!)

Compared to the SCC-1, the SCC-1A:

- Contains 354 instruments (vs the SCC-1's 317)
- Sets Rx.NRPN=OFF and Rx.BANK SELECT=OFF with reception of a GM System On message
- Omits the capital-tone fallback feature

Sort-of like an SC-55mkII with an SC-55 engine. I'm not sure if they had a surplus of the older synth chips, or what...

As for the sc-55 combining, great info there but I'll cheat and use the 8820 :lol:

You could also use one of Roland's digital pianos from the late 90s - early 00s, which contain a full, SC-55mkII-equivalent engine (but lack the MT-32 tones), and have, like, 128-voices of polyphony. (I have a KR-3 downstairs.) :lol:
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