VOGONS


First post, by Joseph_Joestar

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I just got this SC-155 today. From what I gather, it's a somewhat uncommon variety of the original SC-55. This is my first external MIDI device, so please bear with me if some of my questions seem silly. 😀 Before we get to that, I should mention that I have already initialized the SC-155 to return everything to factory settings and also did a GS reset.

1) I would like to check on the internal battery as per this thread. There are some videos on YouTube where people open a regular SC-55 and that seems pretty straightforward. However, the SC-155 has a completely different design and I don't know how to open it. Any ideas?

2) I have come across some posts that mention that a GS reset might be needed from time to time in order to wipe out the settings that some games left behind. Is this the case? If so, how often do I need to do a GS reset? Also, is there tool or something that can execute a GS reset from DOS? I don't like doing it from the front panel of the device all the time.

3) What about a GM reset? Is that something that Roland devices can do as well? I did notice that my SC-155 does have both the GS and General MIDI markings.

4) Is there a known list of games which have issues with drum set fallback as mentioned here? So far I have only found mentions of TFX and Inferno: The Odyssey Continues on Great Hierophant's blog.

5) Is there a known list of games that use GS mode? As I understand it (possibly wrongly) GS has more instruments than GM, in particular drum sets and such. I have seen some games that have separate "General MIDI" and "Sound Canvas" options in sound setup. Does the presence of the latter mean that the game supports GS mode?

6) Initially, I had connected the output of the SC-155 to the Line In of my ESS AudioDrive 1868F. This worked fine in most games. However, certain Sierra titles like Gabriel Knight seem to mute the Line In of the ESS card which means no music. The SC-155 still works fine, and if I connect it directly to the speakers, the music plays normally. So I'm guessing this is a bug with the ESS card and/or Sierra games. My question is, do I lose any sound fidelity if I connect the line out of the ESS card to the inputs of the SC-155 instead?

7) I read that the SC-155 outputs in 16-bit at 32 kHz. Should I adjust Audacity to record at that frequency or can I leave it at the default 44.1 kHz when recording music from the device?

Well, that's it for now, but I may have more questions as I experiment with the SC-155 further. Lastly, here are some of the recordings that I made:

EDIT - added a few more recordings

Last edited by Joseph_Joestar on 2021-03-29, 17:41. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 1 of 33, by auron

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grab the GM/GS reset files from this post's attachment: Re: Roland GS gamelist (timeline) + driver fix links you want to send a GS reset after every game or MIDI, if the MIDI file you play back does not contain a reset itself. doom already sends a GM reset at startup by itself.

GM/sound canvas options in most games don't seem to do anything. incidentally even the "GM only" devices like the SC-7 contain the extra GS variation drumsets, which are fairly often used in games, blurring the lines between the two a bit. DOS games just use the 128 capital tones in the vast majority of cases.

the input of the SC-155 is to be expected to be of high quality, but you should just try it out.

regarding sample rates, i think in theory a perfect recording/playback would involve setting 32khz in audacity and setting your playback device to that rate as well, but i don't think standard onboard sound allows to go below 44.1khz so you will most likely dealing with sample rate conversion anyway, and especially when you try to put your recordings on youtube. it is perhaps best to do the 32 -> 44.1 khz conversion during recording in audacity than leaving it to windows or youtube.

to my knowledge, noticeably bad sample rate conversion was mainly an issue with the older live! and audigy chips whose DSPs ran at a fixed 48khz rate.

Reply 2 of 33, by darry

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auron wrote on 2021-02-04, 23:58:
grab the GM/GS reset files from this post's attachment: Re: Roland GS gamelist (timeline) + driver fix links you want to send a […]
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grab the GM/GS reset files from this post's attachment: Re: Roland GS gamelist (timeline) + driver fix links you want to send a GS reset after every game or MIDI, if the MIDI file you play back does not contain a reset itself. doom already sends a GM reset at startup by itself.

GM/sound canvas options in most games don't seem to do anything. incidentally even the "GM only" devices like the SC-7 contain the extra GS variation drumsets, which are fairly often used in games, blurring the lines between the two a bit. DOS games just use the 128 capital tones in the vast majority of cases.

the input of the SC-155 is to be expected to be of high quality, but you should just try it out.

regarding sample rates, i think in theory a perfect recording/playback would involve setting 32khz in audacity and setting your playback device to that rate as well, but i don't think standard onboard sound allows to go below 44.1khz so you will most likely dealing with sample rate conversion anyway, and especially when you try to put your recordings on youtube. it is perhaps best to do the 32 -> 44.1 khz conversion during recording in audacity than leaving it to windows or youtube.

to my knowledge, noticeably bad sample rate conversion was mainly an issue with the older live! and audigy chips whose DSPs ran at a fixed 48khz rate.

Sample rate conversion issues only come into play when doing sample rate conversion in the digital domain (digital to digital) . If you run a 32KHz signal through a DAC (like the one in your SC-155) and want to re-digitize the resulting analogue signal, any sampling rate at or above 32KHz should be fine . You do not need to limit yourself to 32KHz .

Reply 3 of 33, by Joseph_Joestar

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auron wrote on 2021-02-04, 23:58:

grab the GM/GS reset files from this post's attachment: Re: Roland GS gamelist (timeline) + driver fix links you want to send a GS reset after every game or MIDI, if the MIDI file you play back does not contain a reset itself. doom already sends a GM reset at startup by itself.

Thanks! I did notice that some games seem to send a reset on exit. Mostly Sierra titles. Others like Stonekeep, just leave the settings at whatever the last song used. I guess my best bet is to take a look at the SC-155 display after exiting a game and send a reset as needed.

to my knowledge, noticeably bad sample rate conversion was mainly an issue with the older live! and audigy chips whose DSPs ran at a fixed 48khz rate.

Yeah, that's what I've been thinking too. My current capture method is SC-155 output > X-Fi Titanium Line In > Audacity. That's what I used for recording the tracks linked above, and if they sound ok, I'm guessing I'll stick with that.

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Reply 4 of 33, by Joseph_Joestar

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darry wrote on 2021-02-05, 00:16:

Sample rate conversion issues only come into play when doing sample rate conversion in the digital domain (digital to digital) . If you run a 32KHz signal through a DAC (like the one in your SC-155) and want to re-digitize the resulting analogue signal, any sampling rate at or above 32KHz should be fine . You do not need to limit yourself to 32KHz .

Cheers! Any tips on how to prevent clipping using Audacity?

My knowledge on this subject is subpar. I generally just try to lower in-game volume so that the peaks never go above -12. Sometimes my recordings end up sounding too quiet though.

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Reply 5 of 33, by darry

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-02-05, 09:05:
darry wrote on 2021-02-05, 00:16:

Sample rate conversion issues only come into play when doing sample rate conversion in the digital domain (digital to digital) . If you run a 32KHz signal through a DAC (like the one in your SC-155) and want to re-digitize the resulting analogue signal, any sampling rate at or above 32KHz should be fine . You do not need to limit yourself to 32KHz .

Cheers! Any tips on how to prevent clipping using Audacity?

My knowledge on this subject is subpar. I generally just try to lower in-game volume so that the peaks never go above -12. Sometimes my recordings end up sounding too quiet though.

I am still having fun trying to learn all this and throwing time and money at problems 😉 , so take anything I write with a grain of salt, as I may not be using "best practice" myself .

12dB of headroom is a nice margin to avoid clipping, IMHO, but it may not optimal if you are recording at 16 bits (whether this matters will depend on the quality of the source) . AFAICR, Audacity processes audio internally at 32 bits, but recording at 24 bits in Audacity used to be a PITA, IMHO and might still be, at least under Windows (never tried under Linux). AFAICR, 24 bit recording in Audacity was supposed to work using Windows' (Vista and up ) WASAPI audio API, but I never got to work. I compiled a custom build of Audacity with ASIO support and that might have worked, I honestly do not remember . Things might have changed since then.

The point of recording at 24 bits is that you have so much SNR and dynamic range, that you don't need to record as "hot" (close to 0 dBFs) while still preserving quality (see followin paragraph, for more info) . You can record at say -18dB for average peaks ( See https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/q-h … 4-bit-recording ), and then remove the headroom by "digitally amplifying" to desired peak or loudness level ( see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_normalization ) and then converting/dithering back to 16bits .

The usefulness of recording at 24bits is explained nicely here :
https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/q-d … 4-bit-recording .

Another way to look at how that works is to consider ENOB (effective number of bits). By recording at -12dB at 16bits , the max SNR you can get when recording a theoretical perfect signal is 84dB (96dB-12dB=84dB). This translates to about 13.7 bits of resolution (see
https://www.analog.com/en/analog-dialogue/raq … q-issue-90.html# for explanation and calculation). Recording at -18dB at 24bit, while give about 20.6 bits of resolution. This assumes perfect ADC, which do not actually exist (see https://www.presonus.com/learn/technical-arti … 20upper%20limit. ).

I hope this is accurate and that it helps .

Cheers!

Reply 6 of 33, by Joseph_Joestar

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That's some interesting reading. I recognized myself in the words of the guy who "watches the peak meters like a hawk". 😁

BTW, the Owner's Manual for the SC-155 is still available on Roland's website. And archive.org hosts a copy of the Service Notes. I checked both in the hope that they would reveal how to change the battery, but the only reference to that was "contact your local Roland service center".

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Reply 7 of 33, by yawetaG

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-02-05, 14:34:

That's some interesting reading. I recognized myself in the words of the guy who "watches the peak meters like a hawk". 😁

BTW, the Owner's Manual for the SC-155 is still available on Roland's website. And archive.org hosts a copy of the Service Notes. I checked both in the hope that they would reveal how to change the battery, but the only reference to that was "contact your local Roland service center".

Actually, since the service notes show how to take apart the SC155, it should be possible to figure out how to open it up and then look for the battery. Normally Roland devices have the battery in a holder already, so it's easy to swap it with a new one.

Reply 8 of 33, by Joseph_Joestar

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yawetaG wrote on 2021-02-05, 20:45:

Actually, since the service notes show how to take apart the SC155, it should be possible to figure out how to open it up and then look for the battery. Normally Roland devices have the battery in a holder already, so it's easy to swap it with a new one.

I tried that, but after removing all the screws (I double checked), attempting to lift the top of the SC-155 still results in a fair bit of resistance. Now this could very well be because the device hasn't been opened in years, but I would rather not force it without knowing for certain that this is how you're supposed to do it.

EDIT - success! Just after writing that, I gave it another shot and managed to replace the battery.

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Here's how I went about it. Instead of trying to completely lift up the top, I only slightly nudged its lower half open (see picture above). Fortunately, that was enough for me to access the battery holder and remove the damn thing. Of course, it had started to leak, but thankfully, not too much. Good times!

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Reply 9 of 33, by yawetaG

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It's likely that the display board is attached to the top of the unit and then links to the main board with a flat cable. In those cases you can usually flip open the module of synthesizer like a book after slightly lifting the top half (some synths even have hinges build into the case for this purpose).

In your top picture of the internals you can see that cable right behind the battery holder, I think.

Reply 10 of 33, by Joseph_Joestar

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I have a question about the headphone jack on the SC-155.

It's a bit more convenient for me to connect the headphone jack to the Line In of the sound card than to use the RCA jacks, which need an adapter. Is there any downside to this?

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Reply 11 of 33, by Thermalwrong

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I dug out my SC-155 to check the battery on mine (looks like I replaced it when I got it) and had a go with some demo tracks going through a Bose Soundlink Colour speaker via the headphone connector. I'd say the sound through the headphone jack with a good speaker was better than my Roland MT90S so there should be little to no difference. But I guess it would be slightly amplified compared to line level

Regarding the buttons / cables, in my experience once you've unscrewed the top part, you can lift the whole thing up & to the right without dislodging cables.

Reply 12 of 33, by Joseph_Joestar

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Thermalwrong wrote on 2021-02-06, 20:13:

I dug out my SC-155 to check the battery on mine (looks like I replaced it when I got it) and had a go with some demo tracks going through a Bose Soundlink Colour speaker via the headphone connector. I'd say the sound through the headphone jack with a good speaker was better than my Roland MT90S so there should be little to no difference. But I guess it would be slightly amplified compared to line level.

Nice! At the moment, I prefer to use the headphone jack because the RCA outputs seem to produce a slight buzz while paired with this somewhat flimsy adapter:

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I have ordered a higher quality adapter cable which should hopefully resolve the issue. But if it does not, then it's good to know that the headphone jack remains as a viable, buzz-free backup.

Regarding the buttons / cables, in my experience once you've unscrewed the top part, you can lift the whole thing up & to the right without dislodging cables.

Cheers! I'll keep that in mind the next time I open it up. At some point, I intend to check the capacitors to see if any of them might need replacing.

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Reply 13 of 33, by Thermalwrong

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Hmm, if you're hearing a buzz, I'd usually say that's down to a ground loop or the PSU.

I was using a power bank > roland specific step-up adapter I made to listen to the headphones, but I had another go with the mains PSU that the MT90S usually uses. I did hear the buzzing sound if I use amplified headphones, but not with unamplified headphones, on the headphone port. I can't find the adapter for phono > 3.5mm right now so I can't check that 😀

The mains PSU I'm using is one from ebay, since every roland thing I've bought so far has come either with no PSU or the wrong power supply.

Reply 14 of 33, by darry

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Thermalwrong wrote on 2021-02-06, 22:34:

Hmm, if you're hearing a buzz, I'd usually say that's down to a ground loop or the PSU.

I was using a power bank > roland specific step-up adapter I made to listen to the headphones, but I had another go with the mains PSU that the MT90S usually uses. I did hear the buzzing sound if I use amplified headphones, but not with unamplified headphones, on the headphone port. I can't find the adapter for phono > 3.5mm right now so I can't check that 😀

The mains PSU I'm using is one from ebay, since every roland thing I've bought so far has come either with no PSU or the wrong power supply.

I am a big fan of OEM Roland PSUs, like the PSB-120 . If you still have noise using one of those, the issue is not the PSU . I believe that PSU is compatible with the SC-155 , but you should check to be 100% sure . I use one with my SC-55 and another on my SC-88VL .

I am sure there are plenty of other choices that are both safe and quiet (in terms of electrical noise), but the simplest one for me was to get something meant for audio gear and built or made to specs by a brand with a reputation .

Reply 15 of 33, by Pierre32

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I use these for my MT-32 and SC-55: ebay item number 382919049395. They look very generic but after struggling with others of the same spec, I finally found these and I can vouch for them.

(I thought my MT-32 had a fault for ten years. Ten years!)

The Roland PSUs are the prime option though. They're 3x the price but I'm starting to think they'd be a smart investment, given the age and value of the gear we're playing with.

Reply 16 of 33, by darry

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Pierre32 wrote on 2021-02-07, 02:50:

I use these for my MT-32 and SC-55: ebay item number 382919049395. They look very generic but after struggling with others of the same spec, I finally found these and I can vouch for them.

(I thought my MT-32 had a fault for ten years. Ten years!)

The Roland PSUs are the prime option though. They're 3x the price but I'm starting to think they'd be a smart investment, given the age and value of the gear we're playing with.

There is also the home safety aspect to consider. Those cheap no-name PSUs that look identical from one batch to another may actually have different innards. One batch might be fine, another might be out of spec, a source of RF noise, plagued with ripple or simply a firestarter.

About 25 years ago, I actually had a wall wart type PSU that wss used with a MIDI keyboard start heating, up, melting and smoking . This was a not a well-known brand, AFAICR, but it was nonetheless branded and a retail product purchased at Walmart . It was not being run out spec and just decided to commit suicide after a few weeks of use . The keyboard was fine, luckily . Walmart accepted the return with pretty much no questions asked .

Since then, I have been more careful in choosing my PSUs . I won't limit myself to the OEM made/marketed ones, but I will make sure to get UL certified ones from companies that have a reputation to uphold . I also avoid buying through channels that are at risk for counterfeits. This usually means a brick and mortar chain store or a reputable online vendor (not one of their affiliate "marketplace" resellers), but even that is no guarantee, as in a pinch, I bought a branded (not one that I knew, though) PSU from a reputable brick and mortar chain music store and the said PSU had a counterfeit UL number!

It goes almost without saying that I never use the bundled PSU that comes with something like a fly-by-night manufacturer's HDMI switch or other cheap gizmo that needs 5v . I do sometimes test them though and I have had one actually release the magic smoke upon being plugged in (I was expecting as much based on comments on the seller's site). In lieu of the cheap bundled PSUs, I use PSUs with multiple USB type A sockets and buy proper type A to barrel or micro USB (or whatever is needed) adapter cables . I always check the amperage rating of the adapter cable and test for heat buildup during first use. If anything seems odd, I also test for voltage drop due to excessive resistance (too thin wires used in cable). I have actually once seen a USB cable that was so crappy that a low powered entry level phone would not want to charge with it .

IMHO, a good quality PSU from a reputable company will last a long time, will be safer, and is worth paying a bit more for, especially if it is going to power something rare and/or expensive .

Just my 2 cents of an opinion, experiences and rants.

Reply 17 of 33, by Pierre32

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Agree with all of your sentiments. The world (and its auction sites) are absolutely flooded with poorly built and sometimes hazardous power supplies. Most people here are already mindful of PSU quality in the AT/ATX realm, and we have to remember to apply that same vigilance to wall warts and the like. While I do have faith in the ones I mentioned, if you can afford to go with a more reputable, higher end option, it's never a bad idea.

Reply 18 of 33, by Joseph_Joestar

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Thermalwrong wrote on 2021-02-06, 22:34:

Hmm, if you're hearing a buzz, I'd usually say that's down to a ground loop or the PSU.

Now that you mention it, I don't think the power adapter which came with my device is the original one. And it does look somewhat cheap.

Would this Boss PSA-230S be appropriate for the SC-155?

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Reply 19 of 33, by darry

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-02-07, 05:24:
Thermalwrong wrote on 2021-02-06, 22:34:

Hmm, if you're hearing a buzz, I'd usually say that's down to a ground loop or the PSU.

Now that you mention it, I don't think the PSU that came with my device is the original one. And it does look somewhat cheap.

Would this Boss PSA-230S be appropriate for the SC-155?

It has the right voltage, polarity and amperage rating. Theoretically, it should be good .

But, the official Roland US recommendation for the SC-155 was the PSB-1U whose european version was replaced by the PSB-230EU, AFAICT .

The Roland EU AC adapter guide does not mention the SC-155 or any Sound Canvas .

USA:
https://www.rolandus.com/assets/press_media_r … dapterGuide.pdf

Europe:
https://static.roland.com/assets/media/pdf/ro … information.pdf

Sorry for initially not realizing you are in Europe.