Affordable external MIDI devices

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

Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2017-12-24 @ 14:48

I've been on the hunt for an MT-32 (I know that's pre MIDI) and SC-55 (or SC-88) for ages now, but I'm not willing to spend 3 figures in USD to own one. I just don't have that kind of spending cash anymore. Yamaha MU50/80/100 are a little cheaper, but still a bit up there. Not sure why the MU80 is the most expensive.

What other options are out there, specifically just to get some GM playback from a sound blaster 16 (I'm not concerned about hanging note bug). Any gems that are a bit more affordable? Or just other devices to be on the lookout for? Roland and Yamaha are household names, I'm afraid everywhere they turn up for a good price they sell fast. I'm not sure where else to look online besides ebay (most of which are japan) and local either where I can confidently spend.

Note: I'm not looking for EMU8000 or any other internal devices, just external GM modules that I can connect to my joy port (I believe MPU-401 Emulation is the proper term)

edit: Just learned of the KORG NS54, also very expensive. I guess these are just expensive to own toys :blah:
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby derSammler » 2017-12-24 @ 15:13

In Germany, all these are very cheap on ebay. I've got an SC-7 for 30€, SC-55 and MU80 for ~50€ each, and most expensive was a SC-88 Pro for 90€.

So I recommend looking on ebay.de or ebay.co.uk for sellers that offer international shipping.
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby SuperDeadite » 2017-12-24 @ 15:33

If you can are willing to use a proxy service, Yahoo Auctions always has modules for sale, prices very, but a 55mkII usually goes for almost nothing.
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, Dreamblaster X2
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby Dominus » 2017-12-24 @ 15:48

You could also go for a dedicated Midi emulator via a Raspberry Pi...
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby jesolo » 2017-12-24 @ 15:51

Although I'm fortunate enough to own the devices the OP mentioned, if you are struggling to find one or more of these for a reasonable price, then I can recommend this alternative: https://youtu.be/nvuncHhza5A
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2017-12-24 @ 16:47

jesolo wrote:Although I'm fortunate enough to own the devices the OP mentioned, if you are struggling to find one or more of these for a reasonable price, then I can recommend this alternative: https://youtu.be/nvuncHhza5A


Thanks for all the replies guys. I think this one is the winner for me, that's just flippin cool and I have my 486 right next to an XP machine so this could be easily workable. $35 on ebay for the cable plus another 15 or so for a joy to midi cable + joy splitter

Though I have been looking for an excuse to get a raspberry pi. I think this will be a good start until I hopefully get lucky enough to find a sound canvas for a humane price. Thanks!
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2017-12-24 @ 16:48

SuperDeadite wrote:If you can are willing to use a proxy service, Yahoo Auctions always has modules for sale, prices very, but a 55mkII usually goes for almost nothing.


Is this relatively safe to use (i.e. not get scammed?). I've heard this mentioned often and there are literally always things I want that seem to be ubiquitous in japan. Can I have a link to an example page of something on this market?
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby Dominus » 2017-12-24 @ 16:50

I've successfully used easyauctionsjapan.com several times in the last two years
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby SpeedySPCFan » 2017-12-24 @ 16:57

I don't own one of these myself but this seems like it might be a very interesting budget option. It's a tiny little device called the MIDIPLUS miniEngine, you can find an example of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS_fQP447pI

You can find them for $50 to $60 on Amazon brand new.
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby SuperDeadite » 2017-12-25 @ 10:15

BeginnerGuy wrote:
SuperDeadite wrote:If you can are willing to use a proxy service, Yahoo Auctions always has modules for sale, prices very, but a 55mkII usually goes for almost nothing.


Is this relatively safe to use (i.e. not get scammed?). I've heard this mentioned often and there are literally always things I want that seem to be ubiquitous in japan. Can I have a link to an example page of something on this market?


I live in Japan, so I don't use proxies myself. But I have heard mostly good things from friends who live abroad and use them. I can't even remember the last time I heard about a proxy deal going bad to be honest.
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, Dreamblaster X2
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby blurks » 2017-12-25 @ 10:37

There's a Roland SC-7 on eBay Canada for around $40 BIN/OBO including cable right now. So if that's what you're looking for...
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2017-12-25 @ 15:10

blurks wrote:There's a Roland SC-7 on eBay Canada for around $40 BIN/OBO including cable right now. So if that's what you're looking for...


Would I be able to connect a midi keyboard to this device? I see it has what looks like an RS-232 interface along with one MIDI in, what's the serial cable for? . Or do I have to use a DB15 to Midi cable to drive this from my 486?

Glad to learn about the SC-7 though, I see they typically sell for around $35USD, so this may be a good one for me.

Strange that there aren't more recordings of games using it on youtube? I'm assuming GM games like DOOM will play fine
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby derSammler » 2017-12-25 @ 15:28

Yes, you can connect a keyboard to it. The SC-7 is more a less a SC-55 Mk.II with GS/MT-32 features removed and in a much simpler case (no displays, no keys). It's perfectly fine for anything that does GM.
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-12-25 @ 15:52

The RS-232 is just an alternative input.
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2017-12-25 @ 16:35

gdjacobs wrote:The RS-232 is just an alternative input.


I'm not sure I understand though, is there a such thing as a game port DB15 to DB9 adapter I could then use to plug that into my sound blaster 16, and use the other input for my midi keyboards output? Or is that serial connector for other special devices?

derSammler wrote:Yes, you can connect a keyboard to it. The SC-7 is more a less a SC-55 Mk.II with GS/MT-32 features removed and in a much simpler case (no displays, no keys). It's perfectly fine for anything that does GM.


That being the case, this is an awesome device for the pricetag on them.
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby derSammler » 2017-12-25 @ 17:03

You use the MIDI-In to connect a keyboard or your Sound Blaster. The serial connector can be used to connect to a Mac or a PC without a MIDI port (also to a notebook with no sound card, for example). Since no MPU-401 is involved in that case, it won't work for DOS games unless you use a tool like SoftMPU. But you just use MIDI-In, so don't care too much about it.
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby chinny22 » 2017-12-27 @ 10:14

I got a Yamaha MU10 for £5-£10 of ebay few years back.
It was collection only which probably kept the price down but even still it was in central London (was actually a music school) so not like its out in a town far from anyone.

A lot of people focus on Roland for external devices, Yamaha goes under the radar a lot more, Korg or anything else probably even moreso (I don't know much about anything outside Roland/Yamaha myself)
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Re: Affordable external MIDI devices

Postby Schafeman » 2017-12-27 @ 19:27

I've tried them all, in the end I ended up with a real (1st gen) MT-32 that I got from a local music shop for $30 about 2 years ago (dumb luck), and a Yamaha MU100R (rack mount MU100). Together I can literally play any old DOS game with GM or XG support and they sound fantastic. I also have a rack of much more expensive workstation sound modules and a MOXF8 that is fun to play games through but extremely overkill. Deals CAN be found, and my MU100R I got off eBay from a Japanese seller, and it came quickly with the original box, demo floppies, manuals and everything for well under $100.
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