Found this old PC + soundcard, any way to get Midi to run?

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

Found this old PC + soundcard, any way to get Midi to run?

Postby uniter64 » 2018-12-06 @ 20:33

Hello, I just rediscovered my old PC from the 90s which still works apparently.

P3 600MHz
Matrox Mystique
Windows ME...
An old sound card - is this model appreciated for old school sound? DOS and Win9x would be the OS of choice.
CT2800 it says and VIBRA 16S on the chip

I am also interested to get an external MIDI device like a Roland 88 Pro to work with older games. Is that possible with this card? It seems to have a long connector (but not the round MIDI connector).
What exactly would I need to get this setup running if possible?

Related: is there a way to get my older ThinkPads (T23, T43P) to connect to MIDI? They do have serial and analog ports and PC-Card slots.
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Re: Found this old PC + soundcard, any way to get Midi to run?

Postby jaZz_KCS » 2018-12-06 @ 20:44

So I think you are in luck with that Vibra 16S.
If memory serves correctly, the CT28xx series still has the old Yamaha OPL chip on there, which will result in you having the right FM synth vibes when playing older DOS titles. I am not sure though, as I cant make out the Yamaha chip under all that dust :)

The Vibra 16S were the first in the Vibra series, which was introduced as a cost saving measure, but the early Vibra16S models (not all!) do still have the genuine Yamaha chip. Later models of the Vibra series (later 16S, 16C and 16XV) all feature CQM chips instead of Yamaha, Creative's own take at emulating its sound, which was only to a certain degree successful.

The Vibra series has a newer DSP version in its DSP chip though, which will result in it having the widely known but rarely experienced hanging note bug, which will result in some tones hanging ad infinitum when changing levels, exiting games, etc., amongst others. But generally, what you are aiming at, using an external MIDI device with this card, is possible, as it has a fully MPU-401 compliant interface and gameport/MIDI connector.

What you would need is the once and still widely availyble MIDI/Gameport Breakout cable, on one side the Gameport Connector, on the other side both - a Gameport Connector as well as two standard MIDI DIN(5) plugs.


PS: Sorry, this pic.... it's rather big. I guess half the size would have sufficed :)

PPS: With regards of getting those laptops to work with MIDI --> I dont know these models, but if they run XP already, then a standard MIDI->USB adapter would work out of the box. If they are still under Win9x, you either need a laptop with a gameport/MIDI connector, or use an older MIDI->USB breakout adapter like from Roland (because for Win9x you need specific drivers). Some ThinkPads featured for example a Gameport adapter cable or had the Gameport/MIDI connector ONLY on the docking station, but not on the laptop itself.

Long story short: To connect any of those old Computers to MIDI devices you need a MIDI port (usually comes in Gameport fashion in those times) or need a MIDI adapter if your PC has none. On your old Desktop machine, that job is done by the gameport/MIDI connector on the soundcard. Your laptop may have it as well (probably only on the docking station OR as some proprietary breakout cable if it's an IBM ThinkPad.) Example for that: I have a ThinkPad 760, and it does have a Gameport/MIDI connector on the laptop itself, but its a proprietary connector (to save space), and you need to plug in a special cable which ends in the normal Gameport.
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Re: Found this old PC + soundcard, any way to get Midi to run?

Postby uniter64 » 2018-12-07 @ 15:09

Thank you very much for the great answer.

Now I am looking for a fitting midi cable, but they seem to be pretty rare nowadays on ebay? I found this one from China, is it okay. Does the cable quality make a difference for transporting the midi signal? ... rk:34:pf:0

I am looking through my old ThinkPads and none seem to have a gameport available, not even the 600X. Now with a modern USB to midi device, is it possible to run older DOS/Win9x games with that in some form of emulation (Dosbox etc.) because there won't be drivers for these newer USB devices available.

I am also looking on ebay for midi devices and so far we have the SC-55, SC-88 Pro and much cheaper the SC-88ST Pro. Is the last option a workable solution as well (apart form the many options and buttons that the non-ST version has)?

I am also looking a the Roland JV-1080 which is about the same price as the SC-88 Pro, any downsides to this one?
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Re: Found this old PC + soundcard, any way to get Midi to run?

Postby chinny22 » 2018-12-12 @ 12:00

They are getting rare! few years ago they were still more common then the USB versions.
DB15 midi, gameport midi, joystick midi may get more results but €13.00 seems to be about the going price. Midi is pretty lightweight so quality shouldn't be much of an issue.

I cant find if the JV-1080 has a SC-55 mode which is what your really after. but as long as it supports GM then it is an option it'll just sound different just as the dream blaster, Yamaha midi modules do
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Re: Found this old PC + soundcard, any way to get Midi to run?

Postby uniter64 » 2018-12-12 @ 21:32

So I have bought a JV-1010 for 120€ and a Roland USB-Midi cable to test the waters. The Chinese PC/midi cable should arrive next year or so. I will put some videos on my yt-channel if I get it running. Anything in particular that I should try out besides playing Midi files and older games?
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