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List of SC-55 clones/compatibles?

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Reply 20 of 30, by yawetaG

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Spikey wrote on 2020-11-04, 17:04:

yawetaG, are you able to record short demos any of the bank that has the "pre-GM GM" sound set? Patches that would be interesting would be Overdrive Gt (O.D Guitar 1), Acoustic Bs (AcousticBass), Clarinet (Clarinet 1), and maybe some of the synth patches.

Not yet, I still have to set up my "studio" so I can actually make recordings (I have all the equipment, but setting everything up has been a work-in-progress for the last 6 months or so...).

But you can try U220 demo's on Youtube, as all the banks on the MV-30 make use of the 226 internal tones of the MV-30 (which is basically the same set as on the U220), just with specific settings per patch. So if you listen to a U110 or U220 demo you can get a decent idea of how it sounds.
However, don't listen to a D70 demo, it has some major differences in how its patches are assembled (on the U110/U220 and MV30 you have 1 tone per patch, whereas on the D70 you have four...).

To me, it looks a lot like a SC-55 bank's origin, and is interesting in that the GM spec appears to have potentially come out of this bank.

I think the bank just provides a bunch of instruments that happen to be ordered like in the GM spec. The other banks don't use that order, and in fact you can make your own banks because the banks with patch data are saved on a floppy and the MV-30 is versatile like that.

The GM-like bank also has an alternate version that makes use of the tones included on the optional MV30 card set.

Plus, the font used on the MV's LCD seems the same as what was used in the SC line.

That font is used on almost all of Roland synths from that period. 😁 The actual menu's etc. seem inspired by classic Mac OS, they look quite pretty.

The user interface is also really easy to use and the manual is good (all the opposite of the D70, which has a horrific interface and unreadable manual).

I have a Roland INTEGRA-7, which has the 1080/2080/5080 patches. I guess it doesn't have their GM set though, unless the 5080 GM Set is related to the 1080 one. Are you saying the JV's "GM" set was based on the SC, or the SC was based on the GM timbres of the 1080? Or were you speaking broadly, that the 1080's GM set was just higher quality GM?

All of the patches found in Roland's romplers ultimately make use of the same source data, often just using different compression algorithms. This is fairly easy to check because many patches will have the same names as on older synths, getting progressively higher quality on newer models. Some patches on later romplers originate from optional expansion cards for older models (e.g. JD990 has some patches that originate from the SPLA cards for the Roland D70, while some of the patches from the U220/MV30/D70 originate from two optional cards for the U110).

So the JV "GM" sets are based on the older "GM" sets in a fashion.

The MV-30 is cheap (equivalent of about 100 US bucks), and seems to have the 2 MV cards and 2 U110 cards, so I'll try and get it if I can.

That sound like a good deal. Keep in mind that the MV-30 boots off a floppy disk (the image is available on the web) and won't work without the boot disk. It uses a DD 3.5" disk.

yawetaG: Also, does the MV receive controller 0 (MSB), reverb, chorus, and Data Entry MSB (controller 6)?

Download the manual, it explains everything. MIDI control is quite limited, it uses sysex for most stuff (limited to sequencer section; sound module portion has no sysex control). It reacts to velocity, aftertouch (key & channel), pitch bend, modulation wheel, volume, pan. It does use MSB and LSB, but there does not appear to be any effect control available. There are no separate settings for the GM-like bank; it won't react to GM-specific messages because those don't exist in its MIDI implementation.

It is much more similar in use to a groove box (a desktop synth with live editing/mixing capabilities) than a GM module. Just like the D70 it really is a highly editable synthesizer. Basically the way I use it is by connecting a MIDI keyboard for playing the patches, and use the MV-30's own controls to mangle the sound (it's very good at that, D70 filter oblige). It's not very interesting as a mere playbacker (most patches are a bit boring), but the moment you start to edit the sounds it gets interesting. On one hand you have the filter (it's HARD and LOUD), on the other a slightly limited but quite versatile modulation matrix with a LFO with quite the modulation wave selection. It's easy to make nice evolving synth pads. There is a primitive phrase sampling ability, so you can record a short sequence of key presses and play that sequence by pressing a specific key. It's possible to make a drum set that can use any of the internal tones or one of the phrases you recorded. You can record 16 tracks on the sequencer (8 with the internal tone generator, and 8 using an external module) and then play that back and adjust the volume and panning live.
In short: it's really a nice tool for creating music. However, I suspect it will not work as you think it might for playing back GM.

Last edited by yawetaG on 2020-11-05, 12:13. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 21 of 30, by Salient

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Spikey wrote on 2020-11-04, 17:14:

Incidentally, does anyone know anything about the PMA-5? It appears to use the headphone jack as a combi jack for headphones/line out. Kinda of a cool gadget, but if the sound is worse than the other SC-55's, I don't need to be a completist. 😀

I own a PMA-5 and while it is a neat little device it does miss some tones when comparing it to the real SC-55.
I think it is best to see it as a portable battery-powered SC-7 (when using as a sound module), a lot of the normal tones also sound more similar to the SC-7 than to the SC-55.

MIDI comparison website: << Wavetable.nl >>
(Always) looking for: Any Wavetable daughterboard, MIDI Module (GM/GS/XG)

Reply 22 of 30, by Spikey

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Short reply: Thanks for the reply. I guess the big one is, will it accept a CC #6 message? As in, for Sierra GM games, Data Entry MSB of 12 is sent, which is non standard and varies the pitch bend range. I'm curious if the MV will accept it.

Salient and Crossbow, thanks for the replies about the PMA-5. I wasn't seriously thinking getting it, but it looks cool!

Reply 23 of 30, by yawetaG

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Spikey wrote on 2020-11-05, 06:04:

Short reply: Thanks for the reply. I guess the big one is, will it accept a CC #6 message? As in, for Sierra GM games, Data Entry MSB of 12 is sent, which is non standard and varies the pitch bend range. I'm curious if the MV will accept it.

The only CC numbers mentioned in the MIDI specification for the sound module in the back of the manual are 1, 7, 10, 64, and 121. So probably not.

Reply 24 of 30, by Spikey

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Thanks Yaweta, I won't buy it then. Cloudschatze has piqued my interest by calling the MV-30 "a way to get hi-fidelity SC-55 playback", but if it has 8 channels AND can't take Data Entry controllers (or many controllers at all), it is probably too much messing around with to bother with.

Reply 25 of 30, by yawetaG

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Spikey wrote on 2020-11-08, 13:03:

Thanks Yaweta, I won't buy it then. Cloudschatze has piqued my interest by calling the MV-30 "a way to get hi-fidelity SC-55 playback", but if it has 8 channels AND can't take Data Entry controllers (or many controllers at all), it is probably too much messing around with to bother with.

I went looking for his post, and he does mention you need two of them:

The compression that he mentions is very much a sonic detriment of the SC-55 though, whereby, even having uncompressed versions of 30kHz/12-bit samples would be an improvement over the derived versions found in the SC-55. With this in mind, and given the similarities, a split-channel pair of MV-30s with the SN-MV30-01/02 cards and GS instrument banks loaded might be an interesting alternative for anyone looking for higher-fidelity, "SC-55-like" playback.

Re: SCC1 vs Roland SC-55 modules.

What is a bit confusing is that the MV-30 basically has two MIDI specifications: one for the sequencer, and one for the sound module section. The sequencer takes controllers 0-121, while the sound module is much more limited. Look at the wrong one, and people can get the impression it can do more than the sound module part actually can.
That said, it could also be the MIDI specifications are wrong (I mean, my SC-88VL also reacts to controllers not actually mentioned in the manual).

But looking at the U220 manual (the MV-30's predecessor) shows that on that synth the various controllers are assignable, while they're not on the MV-30. On the MV-30 all the controllers are fixed (no assignation changes) and you can only modify how much each controller affects various parameters.

I will have a try later this week to see whether I can select patches over MIDI from a Sound Canvas (i.e. if the MV-30 uses the same locations for its patches), and whether it reacts to controllers not mentioned in the manual. In principle some additional things ought to be possible, because you can record them on the internal sequencer...

Reply 26 of 30, by Spikey

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Thanks a lot!

I attached a couple of MIDI files that need cc6 to play (bend) correctly, Orion's Belt Bar #1 (Tuba) and Roger's Quarters (Overdrive Gt) from the SQ6 soundtrack.

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  • Filename
    SQ6cc6.zip
    File size
    25.15 KiB
    Downloads
    6 downloads
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception

Reply 27 of 30, by yawetaG

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yawetaG wrote on 2020-11-08, 21:04:

I will have a try later this week to see whether I can select patches over MIDI from a Sound Canvas (i.e. if the MV-30 uses the same locations for its patches), and whether it reacts to controllers not mentioned in the manual. In principle some additional things ought to be possible, because you can record them on the internal sequencer...

Used gear: Roland JV-35 (SC-55 Mk. II in keyboard form) + MV-30 with "GM"-bank loaded

Preliminary findings (will update post as I proceed):

  • MV-30 reacts to patch changes for non-drum patches from JV-35 control panel just fine (so uses same memory locations*). Note that this applies to all MV-30 banks (so regular MV-30 bank, demo banks, "GM"-banks, "MT-32"-banks).
  • No reaction to drum set changes, possibly because the MV-30 only has one drum set in the "GM"-bank.
  • No variation patches.
  • Synth patches have different names on MV-30 than on SC-55 (and possibly do not fully match with regards to sound). Various MV-30 patches sound rather bad compared to the SC-55 (worst offenders: blown instruments and SFX).
  • No support for playing two different patches at once on the same track/channel.
  • All 16 receive channels can be selected for each track, but there are only 8 tracks available for the internal sound module. I don't think you actually need a MIDI splitter box to connect two MV-30 together, just hook up the second one to the first one's MIDI thru port and set the tracks to the correct MIDI channels (so 1-8 on the first MV-30, and 9-16 on the second one).
  • No reaction on the MV-30 to switching the effects on/off on JV-35, nor effect-related CC. I somewhat expected this one, as the MV-30 has five effect patches that can be freely set based on the available parameters, while the SC-55 only has two effect patches at fixed locations, and the effect options do not match between the two synths.
  • Reacts to pitch and modulation wheel, pitch CC (1), panning CC (10, manual wrongly puts this as 64), volume CC (7), sustain (64), reset all controllers (121).
  • No reaction to portamento setting.
  • No reaction to CC 6 or any other CC number not mentioned above (except probably ones involved in patch selection, but those aren't free to choose on the JV-35) .

* The JV-35 only supports selecting patches on other gear if the patches use the same MSB/LSB as on the JV-35 - i.e. it only works correctly with other SC-55-based gear (and JV-80-based gear in expansion mode).

You could use a MIDI utility box to convert the CC 6 messages to CC 1...

However, I still think you'd have a better GM experience with, say, a JV-1080 module set to its GM bank, because the lack of both sysex and extensive CC control on the MV-30 means it won't be able to properly render a lot of the more complex General MIDI files.

Last edited by yawetaG on 2020-11-12, 15:19. Edited 10 times in total.