HardMPU, anyone?

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

Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby the Goat » 2018-2-08 @ 15:42

matze79 wrote:Whats the difference beetween HardMPU and Music Quest ?

Both to the Same Job right ? :)


Yes, but radically different approaches to solving the problem.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby DigitalBrains » 2018-2-08 @ 15:58

I can think of a practical difference.

The HardMPU, like SoftMPU, has a provision to slow down SysEx traffic for old model Roland MT-32s. Using this, you can just use your old model MT-32 with games that send the data too quickly. This quick data would work fine with newer MT-32's, but old ones would get overrun and possibily have wrong patches for the instruments used in the game.

On the other hand, I think it is unlikely there would be anything that the original MusicQuest card could do but the new one could not, since they are so much the same. Ergo, the knowledge that has been gained about the excellent compatibility of the Music Quest card over the past decades applies directly to the clone Music Quest card.

SoftMPU and HardMPU are much newer beasts. They haven't proven themselves over as long a time as the Music Quest card has. But I haven't seen any reports of incompatibilities. By the way, the HardMPU is the only card I have, so I can't compare, but I did notice something. When I play Monkey Island 1 on my 386DX-40, I need to switch off the Turbo switch, or the sound is all wrong. I haven't looked further into it, I presume it's a problem of Monkey Island that also occurs on other hardware, but that is purely an assumption.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby bjwil1991 » 2018-2-08 @ 16:12

According to VogonsWiki, The Secret of Monkey Island (Roland MT-32) doesn't list the speed on there. Maybe because it requires at most a 386 SX-33 or equivalent. http://www.vogonswiki.com/index.php/Lis ... tive_games NHL Hockey 95 does the same thing as well (Exc. Checksum error), but when I use the cache controlling programs that I made using the MS-DOS debug program, the MT-32 plays nicely with NHL Hockey 95.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby ab0tj » 2018-2-08 @ 16:18

DigitalBrains wrote:When I play Monkey Island 1 on my 386DX-40, I need to switch off the Turbo switch, or the sound is all wrong. I haven't looked further into it, I presume it's a problem of Monkey Island that also occurs on other hardware, but that is purely an assumption.

That is interesting... I test cards in a Pentium 90 machine and Monkey Island is one of the test games. But on the other hand, I seem to remember having to slow down my K6-3 machine to play Monkey Island. I'll have to look into this one some more.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby ab0tj » 2018-2-08 @ 16:37

TrekkiesUnite118 wrote:If you need people to help test I'm sure volunteers could be found, myself included.

I'd rather blow up my own machine. I'll have to keep an eye out for a decently priced Model 70 or something.

I have also toyed with the idea of making a HardMPU for S100 machines. Of course, that is even more niche than MCA and doesn't have the benefit of existing software. But it might be fun anyway.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby DigitalBrains » 2018-2-08 @ 16:46

bjwil1991 wrote:According to VogonsWiki, The Secret of Monkey Island (Roland MT-32) doesn't list the speed on there. Maybe because it requires at most a 386 SX-33 or equivalent. http://www.vogonswiki.com/index.php/Lis ... tive_games NHL Hockey 95 does the same thing as well (Exc. Checksum error), but when I use the cache controlling programs that I made using the MS-DOS debug program, the MT-32 plays nicely with NHL Hockey 95.


I'm not sure I understand what you mean, but in that list, the entry for The Secret of Monkey Island (1990) says: "Garbled MT-32 music with fast CPUs". That corresponds to my experience. FWIW, I get the impression that especially instrument selection is problematic, subsequently playing back the notes with the wrong instrument.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby keropi » 2018-2-08 @ 17:45

Well a 386DX is not a fast cpu for MI , I just think it's a specific system quirk.
I am also using MI for quick testing, it just runs OK even on my 233mmx setup without any slowdown needed. The SB/AdLib drivers do need slowdown IIRC else they crap out - remember there was a driver update for 486 cpus.

A K6-3 isn't really suitable for testing, I would put the MAX system to use any kind of MPU (Roland or whatever iteration of it) to pentium-mmx. Sure you can use it with faster machines but even with a versatile p1 build you'll need to use cache disable utilities or other tricks for "badly" written games - and they are LOTS. It's not the hardware that doesn't work, it's the software and it's kind of expectable since the games that require the so called "intelligent mode" are 286/386 games.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby bjwil1991 » 2018-2-08 @ 18:07

https://web.archive.org/web/20070616123 ... key-1.html is the link. The one in the VogonsWiki redirects to starwars.com nowadays.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby keropi » 2018-2-08 @ 19:10

this is the patch that adds the mt-32 driver and music to the game, not a speed-fixing one
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby ab0tj » 2018-2-08 @ 22:00

On the subject of an MCA bus board, after some reading I'm not sure how useful it would really be. The main issue being IRQ 9 is used by the hard drive controller in the PS/2 systems, and some games are hardcoded to use IRQ 2/9.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby TrekkiesUnite118 » 2018-2-09 @ 02:51

ab0tj wrote:On the subject of an MCA bus board, after some reading I'm not sure how useful it would really be. The main issue being IRQ 9 is used by the hard drive controller in the PS/2 systems, and some games are hardcoded to use IRQ 2/9.


Honestly even if it was no better or worse than the original Roland MPU-IMC I think most people would be happy. And I think the IRQ9 issue only applies to SCSI/IDE drives, and even then it's not exact:

http://ibmfiles.com/pages/mpuimc.htm
http://ps-2.kev009.com/ohlandl/sound/Ro ... U-IMC.html
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby aquishix » 2018-3-10 @ 23:03

keropi wrote:Well a 386DX is not a fast cpu for MI , I just think it's a specific system quirk.
I would put the MAX system to use any kind of MPU (Roland or whatever iteration of it) to pentium-mmx. Sure you can use it with faster machines but even with a versatile p1 build you'll need to use cache disable utilities or other tricks for "badly" written games - and they are LOTS. It's not the hardware that doesn't work, it's the software and it's kind of expectable since the games that require the so called "intelligent mode" are 286/386 games.


But in this case, it's definitely a hardware issue. After I purchased my first MT-32 a few weeks ago, I also purchased a HardMPU from eBay because I simply could not find a genuine MPU-401 or really any other acceptable solution.

All the games I tried sounded fantastic with two exceptions: Secret of Monkey Island and Prince of Persia. In the case of Prince of Persia, it could be that the MT-32 version of the soundtrack is just not as good as I expected it to be. It's still pretty good but I slightly prefer the Sound Blaster(which is really Adlib?) version. I'm withholding judgment on this until I do some more research. I will note that Prince of Persia is NOT listed at: http://www.vogonswiki.com/index.php/Lis ... tive_games

However, I just recently got my hands on a genuine Roland DG MPU-401 from a Yahoo! Japan auction, and hooked it up. Secret of Monkey Island sounds PERFECT on this Pentium II @ 350MHz with the real MPU-401, but sounds like complete garbage when using the HardMPU. Everyone can go listen on youtube to what it's supposed to sound like. Here's my recording of the garbled version: http://www.hilbertspace.net/stuff/SoMI_ ... nction.mp3

The system is a Pentium II @ 350Mhz. Therefore, I can safely say this is not a CPU speed issue. It sounds like the instrumentation is completely wrong... almost as if the Intelligent Mode is failing to work on that game.

It seems like I'm in a minority of a minority by possessing two MT-32s and two different interfaces (MIF-IPC-B -> MPU401 and HardMPU). I also ordered another PII motherboard/CPU combo, which should be arriving soon. I could probably rig up a very clean testing environment to compare the MT-32 output on all of these games via these two setups. If I get around to doing that, I'll report my results somewhere.

If someone feels like contributing a list of games with proper MT-32 support that seem to be failing due to CPU speed issues, I'd gladly run through those with my genuine MPU-401 / MT-32 machine and reply back with my results.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby the Goat » 2018-3-11 @ 00:28

aquishix wrote:. . .
However, I just recently got my hands on a genuine Roland DG MPU-401 from a Yahoo! Japan auction, and hooked it up. Secret of Monkey Island sounds PERFECT on this Pentium II @ 350MHz with the real MPU-401, but sounds like complete garbage when using the HardMPU. Everyone can go listen on youtube to what it's supposed to sound like. Here's my recording of the garbled version: http://www.hilbertspace.net/stuff/SoMI_ ... nction.mp3

The system is a Pentium II @ 350Mhz. Therefore, I can safely say this is not a CPU speed issue. It sounds like the instrumentation is completely wrong... almost as if the Intelligent Mode is failing to work on that game.
. . .

That is certainly not what secret of monkey island should sound like. But MPU-401 intelligent mode "failing" can not cause symptoms such as that. Intelligent mode will either work or not. Your symptoms could be caused by custom samples not loading into the MT-32 correctly. Is the MT-32 powered on before you start Monkey Island? Or maybe the messages are being sent to the MT-32 too quickly?
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby ab0tj » 2018-3-11 @ 01:13

aquishix wrote:Here's my recording of the garbled version: http://www.hilbertspace.net/stuff/SoMI_ ... nction.mp3

Definitely sounds like its playing the wrong instruments. I can think of a few reasons why:

- Is SysEx delay enabled? If so, try it without. If not, try turning it on.
- Did you play any other games before MI? Try power cycling the MT32 on just before loading up MI.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby aquishix » 2018-3-11 @ 01:19

the Goat wrote:
aquishix wrote:. . .
However, I just recently got my hands on a genuine Roland DG MPU-401 from a Yahoo! Japan auction, and hooked it up. Secret of Monkey Island sounds PERFECT on this Pentium II @ 350MHz with the real MPU-401, but sounds like complete garbage when using the HardMPU. Everyone can go listen on youtube to what it's supposed to sound like. Here's my recording of the garbled version: http://www.hilbertspace.net/stuff/SoMI_ ... nction.mp3

The system is a Pentium II @ 350Mhz. Therefore, I can safely say this is not a CPU speed issue. It sounds like the instrumentation is completely wrong... almost as if the Intelligent Mode is failing to work on that game.
. . .

That is certainly not what secret of monkey island should sound like. But MPU-401 intelligent mode "failing" can not cause symptoms such as that. Intelligent mode will either work or not. Your symptoms could be caused by custom samples not loading into the MT-32 correctly. Is the MT-32 powered on before you start Monkey Island? Or maybe the messages are being sent to the MT-32 too quickly?


Hmm. I was under the impression that Intelligent Mode included instrumentation changes on the MT-32. That would explain why, when I play Space Quest III and then try to play Kings Quest IV, the music sounds screwed up in certain very specific ways that go away after resetting the MT-32.

From another post on vogons: "Channel Remap - for changing on the fly what instruments are being triggered from an external sequencer" <--- a feature of Intelligent Mode.

Yes, I have it powered on before starting Secret of Monkey Island. I've tried resetting the MT-32 in the middle of the game; no effect.

It doesn't seem to me that it could have anything to do with the messaging rate between the game's runtime and the MT-32, because I'm using a MIF-IPC-B which is an almost identical replacement for the original Roland MIF-IPC-A. I don't see any mention of rate limiting features on the MIF-IPC-B...but I do recall seeing them for the HardMPU when I bought mine.

What's the recommended way of getting to the bottom of this? Fork the serial cables coming out of the HardMPU and MIF-IPC-B and record the impulses for analysis?
Last edited by aquishix on 2018-3-11 @ 04:07, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby ab0tj » 2018-3-11 @ 01:26

aquishix wrote:It doesn't seem to me that it could have anything to do with the messaging rate between the game's runtime and the MT-32, because I'm using a MIF-IPC-B which is an almost identical replacement for the original Roland MIC-IPC-A.

A lot of games load custom patches via SysEx when the game loads, and I don't remember if Monkey Island is one of these, but I think it is. If SysEx is arriving too quickly, the MT32 might discard these updates. It is entiely possible the HardMPU is faster than the MPU401 when sending SysEx, so thats why I mentioned turning on SysEx delay may help. It is also possible the opposite is true if you're enabling SysEx delay already.

Incidentally, Monkey Island is one of the games that every HardMPU is tested with before it goes out the door. So it will be interesting to see what the outcome of this is.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby the Goat » 2018-3-11 @ 02:32

aquishix wrote:Hmm. I was under the impression that Intelligent Mode included instrumentation changes on the MT-32. That would explain why, when I play Space Quest III and then try to play Kings Quest IV, the music sounds screwed up in certain very specific ways that go away after resetting the MT-32.

Yes cycling the power clears out the custom setting from Space Quest III.

aquishix wrote:From another post on vogons: "Channel Remap - for changing on the fly what instruments are being triggered from an external sequencer" <--- a feature of Intelligent Mode.

I'm not sure what "Channel Remap" is. As far as I understand it MPU-401 Intelligent mode is just a different way for the game to talk to the MPU-401 interface. The actual serial MIDI stream coming from of the MIDI out port (and going into the MT-32) is exactly the same as what could be produced with MPU-401 "dumb UART" mode.

aquishix wrote:Yes, I have it powered on before starting Secret of Monkey Island. I've tried resetting the MT-32 in the middle of the game; no effect.

I just did a quick test on my Pentium III 550Mhz, with Music Quest clone card and MT-32. Once I got Monkey Island to load, it sounded fine. But I cycled power and the music changed (for the worse). It was the SCUMM bar music not the intro music though. So I could not compare directly to your recording. So it defiantly seems like your MT-32 is not getting loaded with the custom settings when you launch Monkey Island.

I tried launching Monkey Island again to repeat the experiment with the intro music. But unfortunately my experimenting stopped at that point, because I can no longer get Monkey Island to run. It crashes consistently, no matter how many times I reboot etc. Not sure what I'm doing wrong -- or if my copy is bad. At the risk of polluting the topic, any hints for how to properly launch Monkey Island?
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby Great Hierophant » 2018-3-11 @ 02:35

The Secret of Monkey Island uses neither Intelligent Mode nor uploads custom instruments via sysex. You should never reset or power cycle the MT-32 during a game, it will not fix any issues and will wipe whatever instruments or parameters the game has set in the module. You should always reset an MT-32 between running games so that the later game is not using the parameters or instruments from the earlier game. A power cycle is not necessary.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby the Goat » 2018-3-11 @ 02:40

Great Hierophant wrote:The Secret of Monkey Island uses neither Intelligent Mode nor uploads custom instruments via sysex. You should never reset or power cycle the MT-32 during a game, it will not fix any issues and will wipe whatever instruments or parameters the game has set in the module. You should always reset an MT-32 between running games so that the later game is not using the parameters or instruments from the earlier game. A power cycle is not necessary.


If Monkey Island does not load custom instruments, why did the music change when I power cycled my MT-32 during the game? I'm not saying your are wrong -- I am not a Monkey Island expert. But there must be an explanation for the change in sound I experienced.
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Re: HardMPU, anyone?

Postby aquishix » 2018-3-11 @ 05:44

ab0tj wrote:
aquishix wrote:Here's my recording of the garbled version: http://www.hilbertspace.net/stuff/SoMI_ ... nction.mp3

Definitely sounds like its playing the wrong instruments. I can think of a few reasons why:

- Is SysEx delay enabled? If so, try it without. If not, try turning it on.
- Did you play any other games before MI? Try power cycling the MT32 on just before loading up MI.


- It wasn't when I first posted here. After I saw your question, I found your github repo. It would be nice if you had build scripts or instructions so I don't have to trust your pre-compiled binary...but beggars can't be choosers. ;) I tried turning on SysEx delay via hardmpu.com and it had zero effect on Secret of Monkey Island. It did, however, break Rise of the Dragon -- so that's fun. It splashed the message "Exc. checksum error" on the LED readout on the front of my MT-32 when I loaded the game, and plays messed up sound now with lots of hanging notes.

- I've tried it from a cold boot, after playing other games without power cycling the MT-32 in between, and after playing other games with power cycling the MT-32 in between. It's the same behavior in all cases.

I tried to send you a private message through vogons, but it's telling me I'm not allowed to do that because n00bism.
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