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What maintenance on SC-55?

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First post, by root42

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I have just received a SC-55, labeled untested/defective. I plugged it into power (9v 2A, center negative) and fired up the demo songs. They play just fine!

However the display has low contrast. And I think I read they come with a leaky button cell?

Can I tweak the contrast settings? I have no manual to this device, purely the SC55, nothing else.

And I guess checking the battery is advisable?

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Reply 1 of 20, by digger

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You should definitely check the battery in that thing. See this topic: Have you opened your SC-55 to check the battery inside?

Reply 2 of 20, by keropi

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remove battery and plug into mains after a couple of mins, I don't remember for sure if there are any lcd settings but maybe the previous user tweaked them. Keep the battery off the unit so each power-on is a default state - best for gaming 😀

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Reply 3 of 20, by root42

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Allright... that means I will open up the box tonight!

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Reply 4 of 20, by derSammler

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The display has weak contrast, that's just how it is.

Remove the coin battery and check all buttons. The buttons are prone to fail. On my unit, I replaced all 17, since half of them weren't working correctly anymore.

Reply 5 of 20, by root42

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derSammler wrote:

The display has weak contrast, that's just how it is.

Remove the coin battery and check all buttons. The buttons are prone to fail. On my unit, I replaced all 17, since half of them weren't working correctly anymore.

Hm. I wonder if the display can still be tweaked. Most LCDs have an input to control the contrast.

Buttons will be tested! I doubt that I will need them a lot, but I will fix them when they fail.

I am very happy to have this thing. 15 years ago I sold my SCC1, because I didn't have any ISA PC anymore. Regretting it now...

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Reply 6 of 20, by root42

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Ok, I have just tried out the device on my Mac using a cheap Roland UM-ONE mk2 to connect MIDI. I set up scummVM to use a "real" MT32 and booted the SC55 into MT32 mode using the left Instrument button on power up.

Monkey Island 2 sounds... weird. The intro sequence at the beach sounds ok-ish -- there's flutes in the theme. But the main Monkey Island theme was very weird. No steel drums, but weird synth hits.

So... what is the best setup? Just General Midi and defaults, and telling ScummVM not to try for MT32 on this device?

Last edited by root42 on 2018-07-18, 20:01. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 7 of 20, by root42

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Ok, one more test done: I reset the whole box using left+right instrument buttons, and told ScummVM to ignore MT32, but go for general MIDI. This sounds again VERY different. But I think I like this best. The flute on the beach was replaced by some brass instrument, but it sounds overall more well balanced.

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Reply 8 of 20, by root42

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Oh and by the way: the reset fixed the display... 😀

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Reply 10 of 20, by root42

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Yes, I also found the manual on Roland's web page and will check it out.

However, I found out that my Mac has no line-in. D'oh! So I only used headphones with the device so far. However, a colleague gave me this thing here:

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He says it has some kind of defect, but I will try it out nevertheless. It even has MIDI in / out so I can possibly get rid of the ugly Roland UM-ONE.

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Reply 11 of 20, by Dominus

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isn't the SC-55 not fully MT32 compatible and will always sound not completely right?

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Reply 12 of 20, by root42

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Dominus wrote:

isn't the SC-55 not fully MT32 compatible and will always sound not completely right?

Well yes, of course it is not fully compatible. But I am trying to find out the "best" sound. So there are really a bunch of settings: GM mode, GS mode, MT32 emulation mode. They all sound rather different.

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Reply 13 of 20, by root42

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Ok, so I opened up the SC-55 and removed the battery. It was indeed a bit leaking. Not badly, but still. Better to be safe than sorry, and the device works perfectly without it. I do not need the presets at the moment.

I captured the process and results with some demos of Monkey Island 2 theme song and the two built in demo songs:

https://youtu.be/N37QYlC2Pc0

Also here are the raw captures from ScummVM for the different modes (GM, MT32 and GS). The GS version sounds way off. I wonder why?

GM: https://youtu.be/Yw6X8b_6MGw
MT32: https://youtu.be/IlnBtFiK8Rk
GS: https://youtu.be/vwngZHjYH_U

EDIT:

For completeness, here is the theme played on my 286 with AdLib OPL2 sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_cMmiF3VDM

Last edited by root42 on 2018-07-18, 20:59. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 14 of 20, by CrossBow777

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The GS mode doesn't sound right at all. Are you sure you don't have something else loaded up that could be overriding all of this? I also believe in the ScummVM setup that I have to select it to use my UM-ONE as the midi device or I use Windows Midi but then use another program to set my windows midi device to the UM-One. Almost sounds like you have a soundfont that is loaded up taking control for the GS side. I don't know about the accuracy of the MT-32 on the SC-55, but I can tell you that it no...that isn't exactly how it sounds on an actual MT-32 either. But that is at least much closer to the overall sound than what you are getting with GS mode. Gen Midi does also sound off as well.

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Reply 15 of 20, by root42

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CrossBow777 wrote:

The GS mode doesn't sound right at all. Are you sure you don't have something else loaded up that could be overriding all of this? I also believe in the ScummVM setup that I have to select it to use my UM-ONE as the midi device or I use Windows Midi but then use another program to set my windows midi device to the UM-One. Almost sounds like you have a soundfont that is loaded up taking control for the GS side. I don't know about the accuracy of the MT-32 on the SC-55, but I can tell you that it no...that isn't exactly how it sounds on an actual MT-32 either. But that is at least much closer to the overall sound than what you are getting with GS mode. Gen Midi does also sound off as well.

I am just using ScummVM and the Roland UM-ONE. All running on macos 10.13. No other programs that might interfere, as far as I can tell. I simply pick the MT32 settings in ScummVM. I also tried setting the SC 55 into GS mode upon start, but that didn't change anything.

Maybe someone with a SC-55 can chime in?

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Reply 16 of 20, by Dominus

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Sadly I'm moving and put everything in the storage boxes already. Otherwise I'd be ideal (on OS X and having a Sc55,mt32 and cm64)

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Reply 17 of 20, by root42

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Dominus wrote:

Sadly I'm moving and put everything in the storage boxes already. Otherwise I'd be ideal (on OS X and having a Sc55,mt32 and cm64)

Sorry, but the move has been canceled!

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Reply 18 of 20, by Dominus

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Sorry 😉
Ask me in two months again 😉

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Reply 19 of 20, by gex85

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derSammler wrote:

... The buttons are prone to fail. On my unit, I replaced all 17, since half of them weren't working correctly anymore.

Where did you get the replacement buttons and what make/model did you use? Since you are from Germany as well, if you happen to have a part number that can be ordered from any German electronic parts supplier that would be really helpful. This way I wouldn't have to take my SC-55 apart just to figure out which buttons to get.
Thanks in advance!

EDIT:
Nevermind, I found a blog entry of someone taking a SC-55 apart and replacing the buttons with excellent photos:
https://modelrail.otenko.com/retro/roland-sound-canvas-sc-55
This guy uses 3x6mm 2-pin through-hole tactile switches. This type can easily be found on eBay for a very low price (just ordered 25 pcs for 3€, shipping included).

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