Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

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

Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby zarkon » 2019-1-26 @ 11:20

I've recently had a hankering to play my old games with roland sound systems. I didn't get a chance to when I was young as I couldn't afford it, but now I can it would be nice to finally play my old faves with better audio.

There's one small problem - I know next to nothing about all the different versions and how to output to them on a modern win10 system. I've been doing some googling and have come up with the idea of over time picking up the following:

MT-32 old type
CM-32L (or 64 with clicking bug fix)
SC-55 MkI (for capital tone fallback - are all mkI's guaranteed to have this?)
SC-8820 (should cover everything after SC-55 MkI - is that right?)

Roland UM-ONE mk2 USB MIDI Interface

The hope is I can get programs like dosbox to output to the roland via the UM-ONE. So computer->UM-ONE->roland device->speakers/headphones. Is this correct? Is there any extra equipment/software required that I don't know about?

Also, is an SC-55 really needed if I get an SC-8820? I read some stuff that seemed to suggest CTF wasn't really used in games.

Cheers for any help.
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby realnc » 2019-1-26 @ 23:48

If you're going to use emulation to play the games, then you might as well use emulation for the MT-32 and SoundCanvas.

Munt is an extremely accurate MT-32 (and CM-32L) emulator. It's free. It's so good, I cannot hear any difference whatsoever between Munt and a real MT-32 or CM-32L (the CM-64 is not useful for games.) Here's a comparison video that switches the audio in real time between Munt and a real device:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QN6V340b7ys

For Sound Canvas, there's Sound Canvas VA from Roland. It costs money, but it's also accurate. It sounds just like an SC-8820. It also supports the SC-55 mode of a real SC-8820 (for the vast majority of games, the SC-55 mode should be used.)

However, just like a real SC-8820, SCVA does not sound 100% identical to an SC-55. It is however, very, very close:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kY9vvyj-Dk

Just mentioning this because it will end up being much cheaper (you only pay for the Sound Canvas VA). Buying real hardware will of course give you that extra level of satisfaction that only real hardware can give you when it sits in front of you and you can see it. But if you're only interested in the actual sound rather than the real hardware feeling, then emulation is much cheaper and will give you identical results in the case of Munt, and nearly identical in the case of Sound Canvas VA.

Since you mentioned capital tone fallback, the best way to use SCVA is through Falcosoft's MIDI Player, which will load the SCVA VST plugin and it has an option to enable capital tone fallback.
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby zarkon » 2019-1-27 @ 01:41

Thanks. I think at this point I'm willing to spend the money for the original equipment.

CM-64 I believe will be useful for PCM using an X68000 emulator. I believe a few of the games even use the PCM cards (I know gemini wing uses the drums card for instance).

Do you see anything in my post that's out-and-out wrong? I'm mostly worried I've picked up wrong info or misinterpreted something I've read, as my audio knowledge is so limited.
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby SirNickity » 2019-1-27 @ 03:37

You've got the connectivity right, but consider getting a small mixer to mix the sound card line out with your MIDI modules. You can just feed the module's output into the line in of your sound card, but then you'll need to swap it every time you change modules. You already need to do that with the MIDI cable unless you get one of those 4x4 MIDI interfaces or something, but the less the better.
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby Dominus » 2019-1-27 @ 04:46

Why is the CM64 not useful for games?
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby doaks80 » 2019-1-27 @ 05:03

Dominus wrote:Why is the CM64 not useful for games?


He means the PCM part of it.
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby SuperDeadite » 2019-1-27 @ 06:55

CM-64 is the one to get if you are interested in Japanese computers. If you plan to emulate everything on a modern system, there is really no reason to not at least try Japanese systems.
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
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby zarkon » 2019-1-27 @ 11:39

SirNickity wrote:You've got the connectivity right, but consider getting a small mixer to mix the sound card line out with your MIDI modules. You can just feed the module's output into the line in of your sound card, but then you'll need to swap it every time you change modules. You already need to do that with the MIDI cable unless you get one of those 4x4 MIDI interfaces or something, but the less the better.


Thanks. Is there one you'd suggest? Most of the ones I'm finding look rather professional.

SuperDeadite wrote:CM-64 is the one to get if you are interested in Japanese computers. If you plan to emulate everything on a modern system, there is really no reason to not at least try Japanese systems.


Yep, as I posted above I am 100% interested in using this for X68K games. I'm going to get the two PCM cards that are known to be used in games as well.
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby SuperDeadite » 2019-1-27 @ 15:07

X68k is the king of MIDI, but other systems have some support as well. Xak III for FM Towns has CM-64 option as an example.
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
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby zarkon » 2019-1-27 @ 16:06

SuperDeadite wrote:X68k is the king of MIDI, but other systems have some support as well. Xak III for FM Towns has CM-64 option as an example.


Yup, I'll be looking at FM-TOWNS/PC98/MSX etc
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby CrossBow777 » 2019-1-27 @ 16:14

These other guys are going to be way more knowledgeable than me in this case, but this is what I'm doing with the two modules I have and it sounds great! Well..to me it sounds great!.

I have both an older revision MT-32 and also an MT-200. The MT-200 is basically an SC-55 sound canvas with built in sequencing and the ability to save music to itself locally through the use of a disk drive and for playback. But...the MT-200 also has a pass-thru midi port. So this is what I have setup:

Roland UMOne MKII via USB to the Midi Aux IN on my MT-200. Small Midi cable from the Midi Thru on the MT-200 into the Midi In on my MT-32. Each module has it own audio output going into an old and cheap AV selector box that I'm using for audio only in this case. Audio out from the selector box goes into the Line-In of my sound card on my PC.

This setup works for both MT-32 stuff and for GM/SC supported games. Games that use the additional CM-32 sounds do not produce their sounds of course with this setup, but then there aren't that many games that specifically used them and I certainly had no knowledge of this when the games were new back in the day and we were all playing them.

So again that only covers two modules in this case, but it covers pretty much anything I would want to play and hear through these.
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby gdjacobs » 2019-1-27 @ 19:03

SuperDeadite wrote:CM-64 is the one to get if you are interested in Japanese computers. If you plan to emulate everything on a modern system, there is really no reason to not at least try Japanese systems.


Interesting topic for discussion.
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby SirNickity » 2019-1-29 @ 02:02

zarkon wrote:Thanks. Is there one you'd suggest? Most of the ones I'm finding look rather professional.


Eh, it's the most commodity of all the professional pieces of equipment. Primarily, you need a stereo mixer with the number of inputs you need, and ideally both line and headphone outs. If you browse ads for pro (or prosumer) level stuff, you might see the term "line mixer" -- which indicates that it has line-level inputs rather than mic/line combo inputs. You don't need or want mic inputs -- you don't need the mic preamp, XLR jacks, 48V phantom power, etc... also the channels are often mono, so you would need two, panned left and right, for a stereo input. Line mixers are often stereo coupled channels.

If you look at the more "industrial" companies (meant for installed sound systems for businesses or whatever), like Rolls and Raine for example, then you might have RCA inputs - which is arguably more convenient. Although you will probably end up buying special cables for this purpose anyway, so not a big deal.
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby zarkon » 2019-2-04 @ 16:28

SirNickity wrote:
zarkon wrote:Thanks. Is there one you'd suggest? Most of the ones I'm finding look rather professional.


Eh, it's the most commodity of all the professional pieces of equipment. Primarily, you need a stereo mixer with the number of inputs you need, and ideally both line and headphone outs. If you browse ads for pro (or prosumer) level stuff, you might see the term "line mixer" -- which indicates that it has line-level inputs rather than mic/line combo inputs. You don't need or want mic inputs -- you don't need the mic preamp, XLR jacks, 48V phantom power, etc... also the channels are often mono, so you would need two, panned left and right, for a stereo input. Line mixers are often stereo coupled channels.

If you look at the more "industrial" companies (meant for installed sound systems for businesses or whatever), like Rolls and Raine for example, then you might have RCA inputs - which is arguably more convenient. Although you will probably end up buying special cables for this purpose anyway, so not a big deal.


Something like this?

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... _Line.html

Ideally it'd have more channels as I'll probably end up with five modules, but it seems all the ones with more have the mic/preamp etc stuff.
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby BloodyCactus » 2019-2-04 @ 17:07

--/\-[ Stu : Bloody Cactus :: http://kråketær.com :: http://mega-tokyo.com ]-/\--
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby zarkon » 2019-2-04 @ 17:24



Fantastic, thanks. No idea why that didn't come up in the many, many searches I've been doing.
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby SirNickity » 2019-2-04 @ 19:11

Yeah, I have two of those in my monitoring rig. Drum submix in one, band submix in the other, then off to a set of headphone monitor distribution boxes. Behringer is a mixed bag, but I like that rack mixer a lot. It's simple, cheap, and it works.
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby Cbb » 2019-2-08 @ 07:28

there's no need in mixer for connecting external midi stuff. just buy av switch (4 or 8 channel depending on device quantity and free space). that's because of those modules have volume knobs so you can adjust sound without any other device.
the line mixer comes in play when you use several internal devices. many of them don't have volume knob and sound in different games at different level.
that 12ch behringer is a great choice, it sits in the basement of my midi rig, but trust me, you'll gonna buy av switch as a companion after few days using any mixer.
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby SirNickity » 2019-2-08 @ 19:06

At 15 MIDI modules, my perspective is a little skewed from the typical retro enthusiast. My audio and MIDI routing is a work in progress, relying on 2x MOTU 24io interfaces for DSP-based mixing and audio routing, plus an as-yet undertermined MIDI matrix for virtualizing the MIDI patch bay. :dead:

That said... if I were in his position, I would absolutely go for the mixer.

At the very least, you have to mix outboard MIDI + digital audio. You can, of course, route your AV switched audio to the sound card line-in, but now you have a software mixer to deal with -- which some software can't seem to leave alone.

Second, why deal with a button to select sources when you can just mix them together? For as long as you can get away with using MIDI Thru to patch all the modules together at once, that's a completely automatic setup. :-)

OK, your turn -- what's better about the AV switch? (Genuinely curious.)
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Re: Some questions regarding roland hardware and using it on a modern system

Postby Cbb » 2019-2-08 @ 20:36

I didn't say that you don't need mixer at all.
Just shoot as much as you can eat ))
count your sound fx devices, add music devices lacking mechanical volume control, add 1 for av switch and 1 more (for some perspective) to that sum and you'll get the number of stereo channels to mix by your mixer. the musical modules with volume knob will be connected to the mixer through av switch by one of those 2 channels I've told about.
not all retro enthusiasts are maniacs building these towers of midi synths, putting 3 or 4 sound cards in the same system etc.
av switch comes very, very handy when comparing differences in sounding of different devices or when you ”browsing” through bunch of games which use different music standards (mt32 or GM for example).
I'm using 2 switches: one for GM and one for LA standard, that's handy.
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