VOGONS


First post, by m5215tx

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Anyone here have one of these units?

I am evaluating it myself and upon reading the Roland Sound Canvas wiki about it I found the following statement:

"Contains a new native map as well as SC-55, SC-88, and SC-88 Pro maps for backwards compatibility. However compatibility with MIDI files made for these modules is poor."

I was wondering how much of a negative impact this issue is to someone who has one of these.

Roland MT-32 (old), CM-32LN, SC-55, SC-88VL, MT-120, SD-35, SD-20, SD-80, SD-90
Yamaha TG100, TG300, MDF2, MU15, MU100, MU2000EX + PLG150-DR + PLG150-PF + PLG150-VL
KORG NS5R, X5DR
AKAI SG01k
KAWAI GMega
KETRON SD2

Reply 1 of 12, by DX7_EP

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I've got one of these (and used it to contribute the SC-8850 demo MIDI recordings for a Sound Canvas module recording project). Here are my thoughts on the module:

For SC-55 MIDIs (ie. most western games, many DOS/X68000/PC-98 titles), the module's compatibility is at least serviceable with the SC-55 map. There will be some patch and sample differences versus a real 55, but in its defence, SC-88s and above/newer aren't 100% accurate with the SC-55 series anyway.

But when we get to SC-88 and SC-88Pro, compatibility is considered poor due to several patches being quite different and (in the case of 88Pro MIDIs that use EFX) the effects render very differently on a 8850 due to a different synth engine. For western titles, though, these modules weren't really all that commonly used IIRC due to things like tracker music and CD audio becoming more prevalent, ergo mitigating this caveat; eastern works (eg. early Windows Touhou games), however, can and will utilise them at times.

Which then brings us to the 8850 native map...I think it's quite rubbish, honestly. Some of the new additions such as the piano are nice, but others such as the stereo strings and the Standard 1 drumkit are beyond atrocious. There may be a royal ton of available patches (1640 including the other three maps), thereby making it an interesting "sketching" module, but I don't consider it a good option for a ROMpler, as it occupies a very odd middle ground between the "home studio" Sound Canvas line (limited editing potential, lower quality samples) and professional JV and XV series (effects engine).

So all in all, I do not advise getting this module unless you have something that really needs one of these. Chances are, most people - and their wallets, considering the prices the 8850 tends to go for - will be better off getting a SC-55 or SC-88Pro instead if MIDI compatibility is important, or a secondhand JV/XV module for a Roland sample box.

CM-64, FB-01, SC-55ST, SC-8850, SD-20

Reply 2 of 12, by m5215tx

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Thank you for the excellent information DX7_EP!

Your final conclusion is what I suspected so that confirms it for me. The other model I am looking at is the SC-8820 which I have read a fair amount on and it looks like it does not have most of the issues that the SC-8850 is known for. It sounds pretty good emulated through Sound Canvas VA so it should be just as good or better with the actual hardware.

Roland MT-32 (old), CM-32LN, SC-55, SC-88VL, MT-120, SD-35, SD-20, SD-80, SD-90
Yamaha TG100, TG300, MDF2, MU15, MU100, MU2000EX + PLG150-DR + PLG150-PF + PLG150-VL
KORG NS5R, X5DR
AKAI SG01k
KAWAI GMega
KETRON SD2

Reply 3 of 12, by SuperDeadite

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Yeah, in general the 8850 was a disappointment. Most people prefer the 8820.
If you are interested in pricier modules, consider an MU1000 or 2000. Even though
they share the same basic GM sounds as the 100, they sound quite a bit better if you
use the digital (toslink) output.

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

Reply 4 of 12, by Agent of the BSoD

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I own an SC-8820. The module is pretty nice, able to connect not only via MIDI but USB too. Its compatibility with SC-88 and SC-88Pro is pretty good, not perfect, but close, mostly due to a new internal engine. For most things, you'll probably not notice much difference, if any. I sure haven't. Its SC-55 compatibility is pretty good, but obviously will not match the real deal, as only the SC-55 itself can play SC-55 MIDIs perfectly. That's not to say SC-55 playback is bad, it's just not "perfect". And it has its own SC-8820 map, which if you're interested in changing the sounds in your favorite games, could be worth a listen with some updated instruments.

A user here made a pretty nice list of some details of these synths.

K6-III+ 400MHz | 256MB RAM | FIC PA-2013 rev2.0 | Matrox Mystique 220 | SB16 CT2230 | Music Quest MPU Clone | Windows 98SE
MT-32 (old) | SC-8820

Reply 5 of 12, by DX7_EP

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The 8820 is indeed another popular choice - it doesn't have all the 8850 extras (such as the stereo instruments), but it does share a similar synth engine to the 88Pro, making it somewhat better for compatibility. Sure, it doesn't have the front panel or screen of the 8850 and most other SC modules, either, but for simple playback of MIDIs and changing of the instrument maps on the fly, it does the job just fine.

I'd recommend the SC-D70 model if you do go this route, mainly because it comes with digital I/O (coax and optical) as well as the ability to function as a USB audio device (complete with the ability to mix down and record synth output into PCM audio).

CM-64, FB-01, SC-55ST, SC-8850, SD-20

Reply 6 of 12, by m5215tx

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DX7_EP wrote:

The 8820 is indeed another popular choice - it doesn't have all the 8850 extras (such as the stereo instruments), but it does share a similar synth engine to the 88Pro, making it somewhat better for compatibility. Sure, it doesn't have the front panel or screen of the 8850 and most other SC modules, either, but for simple playback of MIDIs and changing of the instrument maps on the fly, it does the job just fine.

I'd recommend the SC-D70 model if you do go this route, mainly because it comes with digital I/O (coax and optical) as well as the ability to function as a USB audio device (complete with the ability to mix down and record synth output into PCM audio).

I was just about to say... Hey, what's up with this SC-D70? It's based off the 8820 but also has digital I/O and other additional features as well. 🤣

Yes, it looks like I get a better deal buying the SC-D70 as it costs just about the same price as the 8820 on eBay. I like big LCD displays 🤣 but it offers a lot of extra features that I don't have on any sound modules that I currently own. I think I am going to zero in on this model as my next purchase.

Roland MT-32 (old), CM-32LN, SC-55, SC-88VL, MT-120, SD-35, SD-20, SD-80, SD-90
Yamaha TG100, TG300, MDF2, MU15, MU100, MU2000EX + PLG150-DR + PLG150-PF + PLG150-VL
KORG NS5R, X5DR
AKAI SG01k
KAWAI GMega
KETRON SD2

Reply 7 of 12, by SuperDeadite

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SC-D70 is a solid unit, but be mindful of what you plan to use it with.
It was really meant more for desktop musicians and not gamers.
It does not have a button to change the sound maps at all.
You can only change the soundmaps via sysex.
So any game that sends a GM/GS Reset will overwrite your personal choice.

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

Reply 8 of 12, by m5215tx

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SuperDeadite wrote:
SC-D70 is a solid unit, but be mindful of what you plan to use it with. It was really meant more for desktop musicians and not g […]
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SC-D70 is a solid unit, but be mindful of what you plan to use it with.
It was really meant more for desktop musicians and not gamers.
It does not have a button to change the sound maps at all.
You can only change the soundmaps via sysex.
So any game that sends a GM/GS Reset will overwrite your personal choice.

Ah, I see yes that would be a concern. Perhaps I may need to reconsider.

I actually just stumbled on a great deal for an SD-20 on eBay for just $50 on a BIN so I purchased it right away. The only issue with it is that the USB port is not working but I can power it with the DC power jack and I only plan to use the MIDI in jack and RCA jacks for audio out. This unit will be the first I have which supports General MIDI 2 and it has XG lite support but I am sure my Yamaha MU sound modules will be better for XG. I would not use the USB for connecting to a PC so it's no big deal at all that it's not working as I will be just using it for MIDI playback. It seems to me that I got a very good deal on this.

Roland MT-32 (old), CM-32LN, SC-55, SC-88VL, MT-120, SD-35, SD-20, SD-80, SD-90
Yamaha TG100, TG300, MDF2, MU15, MU100, MU2000EX + PLG150-DR + PLG150-PF + PLG150-VL
KORG NS5R, X5DR
AKAI SG01k
KAWAI GMega
KETRON SD2

Reply 9 of 12, by DX7_EP

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Congratulations on your acquisition! Commence the SD-20 demo MIDI recordings (albeit recorded on a SD-90, a notably different cousin).

I don't find the module all that interesting, myself - I can't find a good use for mine other than as a portable source of certain SD-90 instruments! 😜 The GM2 support is indeed there, but the SD-20 comes with three different GM2 banks (Classic for a Sound Canvas-like feel, Contemporary meant for general purpose, and Solo which has more vibrant sounds at the cost of polyphony) - and when in GM2 mode, it defaults to the Contemporary bank for all channels. It sounds okay for that use but doesn't excel at any particular thing. The bank selections for each channel can be adjusted via bank selection commands, SysEx, and/or the SD-20 editor (which is still available on Roland's support page).

The GS and XGLite support is nominal at best. GS support uses an assortment of sounds from a variety of Roland synths, making it a poor emulation of the usual SC-55 specification; even the 8850 would be better in that regard. For XGLite...yeah, this is where your MUs will be far preferable. 😜

Maybe I should get my SD-20 out to record those demo MIDIs on an actual unit....U:

CM-64, FB-01, SC-55ST, SC-8850, SD-20

Reply 10 of 12, by m5215tx

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Yes, I did not dig up anything spectacular about the SD-20 but on average it got pretty good reviews for playback use which is really all I am going to use it for. It has a distinct sound to it from what I have heard on youtube in comparison to my other sound modules since its a newer model so its an interesting addition to my collection.

Also as it turns out when comparing the sound between the SC-8820 and SD-20 native mapping I preferred the SD-20 after listening to the same MIDI played on both. I am not too concerned about any alternate mapping that may be available as I have other sound modules to cover most of those so this SD-20 will take the place of the SC-8820 that I had considered acquiring.

Last edited by m5215tx on 2017-09-02, 16:27. Edited 1 time in total.

Roland MT-32 (old), CM-32LN, SC-55, SC-88VL, MT-120, SD-35, SD-20, SD-80, SD-90
Yamaha TG100, TG300, MDF2, MU15, MU100, MU2000EX + PLG150-DR + PLG150-PF + PLG150-VL
KORG NS5R, X5DR
AKAI SG01k
KAWAI GMega
KETRON SD2

Reply 11 of 12, by Shponglefan

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SuperDeadite wrote:

It does not have a button to change the sound maps at all.
You can only change the soundmaps via sysex.
So any game that sends a GM/GS Reset will overwrite your personal choice.

I'm still mystified that they didn't include an option for changing soundmaps on the fly given the number of button + knob combinations it has compared to just the 8820.

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

Reply 12 of 12, by Shponglefan

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m5215tx wrote:

Ah, I see yes that would be a concern. Perhaps I may need to reconsider.

As a module with the 8820 soundmap, it's a perfectly usable option. I've compared it directly to recordings from the 8820 and they sound identical near as I can tell. As long as one isn't looking for ease of switching between soundmaps, the SC-D70 is an affordable version of the 8820.

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