VOGONS


First post, by DevanWolf

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Willing to use the Casio LD-80 for MIDI music would be great, but it would sound cool. Guessing Casio however actually didn't program this thing, actually a re-release of Medeli DD-306 (or MC-306), still with Suzuki sounding instrument and drum samples like some found in Roland and Yamaha sound gear.
General MIDI playback is supported. However, it may be not fully 100% compatible. Possibly all 128 GM patches are implemented but not documented in the manual. In the MIDI Implementation Chart of the LD-80, it mistakenly lacks/doesn't list the MIDI messages: Portamento Time+Switch, Data Entry, RPN, NRPN (e.g. pitch bend range, channel fine/coarse tune, etc.) and SysEx, however they are still received. The Reverb and Chorus effects (8 each) can also be changed with controllers 80 and 81 even though not to be confused with the 4 selectable panel reverb depth levels (0 for minimum (not off), 3 for maximum, etc) which sets the reverb level for each MIDI channel.
However, my Yamaha DD-55 I have (also I got from eBay) does officially support full GM compatibility (as it can handle GM reset and effect changes since DD-55 has DSP effects, "Stereo & Latin and/or "pad"" drumsets, no XG variations) The Yamaha DD-50 (which I now own one!) also has undocumented GM mapped support (not fully supported but can be able to still play some GM MIDIs, no GM reset SysEx).
Also the LD-80 has no local control option (even if there is a CC to turn it off but it won't), so if you're trying to render a MIDI to audio file while connected to computer's line in using the LD-80, accidentally hitting a pad/pedal can cause an extra drum or note sound to be recorded into the audio track on purpose. (I know a workaround: use Part Channel Assign GS SysEx to set MIDI channel for parts 10-15 to OFF) Yamaha's DD-50, DD-55 (and other newer DD series with MIDI) have the option to disable Local Control and change MIDI transmit channels for the pad/pedals (DD-65/YDD-60/DD-75: is able to receive Local Control On/Off CC).

Part of C.D. Cracknell's review from Amazon said:
Worse than this is the fact that the machine has very poorly implimented MIDI capabilities. There's no excuse for this as the machine has a good enough control panel to have been able to access more MIDI features so adding them would not have increased the cost. If you plan to use the LD-80 as a drum machine in your MIDI rig you will be annoyed to discover that the machine responds to MIDI data on all 16 channels. You cannot disable the channels you do not wish the machine to respond to. Channels 1-9 play General MIDI patches, Channel 10 plays a General MIDI mapped drum kit and channels 11 to 16 play different mapped drum kits including sounds not accessable by the pads or even mentioned in the manual. While it may sound like a bonus feature not covered in the manual that your LD-80 will also function as a synth module you will soon discover that with only 16 voices you will max out the polyphony pretty quickly in even a modest MIDI sequence. The fact that channels cannot be disabled on the LD-80 pretty much eliminate's it's usefullness as a MIDI drum machine and synth module for the serious musician who employ other MIDI synths in their rig. I was very disappointed with this. Either the engineers who designed this product were too lazy to impliment proper MIDI capabilities or they just no longer understand what musicians need in a MIDI instrument.

Okay, the review calls that the melodic parts are channels 1-9, and the drum parts are channels 10-16. The additional drum channels on 11-16 by default (drumkit PC 127) are the 76 drum sounds played in order. That seemed to be a way which makes channels 11-16 melodic is by a specific reset function which is the System Reset (FF) or the GM Reset SysEx (F0 7E 7F 09 01 F7) SysEx which is undocumented in the manual which lists it can't receive SysEx but in reality it does. Note when MIDI resetting, it makes the drumpads itself use melodic notes instead of drums however you can turn the power off and on to reset everything. There is also an additional Roland GS compatible SysEx command where you can set a MIDI part as a drum part.

Here's the list of GM tones, drum map, and updated MIDI Implementation Chart I made for the LD-80 (or DD-306/MC-306).
About a month later since I wrote this: I apparently got one from eBay and came! Then tried it out to confirm all the MIDI instruments and drums the LD-80 recognizes. The "Accomp. Volume" controls the expression for MIDI channels that correspond to rhythm+backing and metronome channels. (And truly enough, the voice "one", "two", "three", and "four" is used in the native drumkit which can be played as it is used for the metronome)

Last edited by DevanWolf on 2020-06-12, 16:05. Edited 7 times in total.

Reply 1 of 14, by yawetaG

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DevanWolf wrote:

Part of C.D. Cracknell's review from Amazon said:
Worse than this is the fact that the machine has very poorly implimented MIDI capabilities. There's no excuse for this as the machine has a good enough control panel to have been able to access more MIDI features so adding them would not have increased the cost. If you plan to use the LD-80 as a drum machine in your MIDI rig you will be annoyed to discover that the machine responds to MIDI data on all 16 channels. You cannot disable the channels you do not wish the machine to respond to. Channels 1-9 play General MIDI patches, Channel 10 plays a General MIDI mapped drum kit and channels 11 to 16 play different mapped drum kits including sounds not accessable by the pads or even mentioned in the manual. While it may sound like a bonus feature not covered in the manual that your LD-80 will also function as a synth module you will soon discover that with only 16 voices you will max out the polyphony pretty quickly in even a modest MIDI sequence. The fact that channels cannot be disabled on the LD-80 pretty much eliminate's it's usefullness as a MIDI drum machine and synth module for the serious musician who employ other MIDI synths in their rig. I was very disappointed with this. Either the engineers who designed this product were too lazy to impliment proper MIDI capabilities or they just no longer understand what musicians need in a MIDI instrument.

You'd think a "professional musician" would have heard of the existence of MIDI utility boxes that can filter out undesired channels...(some patchbays can also do this). 😐

Last edited by yawetaG on 2018-09-08, 05:52. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 2 of 14, by DevanWolf

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yawetaG wrote:

You'd think a "professional musician" would have heard of the existence of MIDI utility boxes that can filter out undesired channels...(some patchbays can also do this). 😐

Well I'm not talking about MIDI channel disabling via MIDI filter which I already know about. I'm talking about how you can use it as a General MIDI tone generator rather than standalone drums.

Last edited by DevanWolf on 2018-09-14, 01:45. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 3 of 14, by yawetaG

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DevanWolf wrote:

Well I'm not talking about MIDI channel disabling via MIDI filter which I already know about. I'm talking about how you can use it as a General MIDI tone generator rather than standalone drums.

MIDI ≠ General MIDI - I was reacting to the review text, not whether or not you can use a drum machine as a GM box when it was not designed to be used as a GM box - and if it can't be used as a GM box despite reacting to all 16 MIDI channels, that's not a design error, that's just because it's not a GM box, like a bazillion polyphonic synths that can react to all 16 channels and that were not made with the GM specification in mind. At a quick glance, I don't see anything in the manual that refers to GM.

Knowing Casio's tendency towards cheap solutions, they probably just recycled some aspects of one of their other (maybe GM) synths in this drum machine, which may include chips, parts of the motherboard, and/or sound sets.
Many other manufacturers did similar things in their cheaper home keyboards and related gear, which is why it's sometimes possible to enable interesting additional options with some soldering (I don't mean circuit bending). For example, adding additional switches can give access to more sounds on a wavetable-based synth if the standard implementation only used part of the waveform matrix. Some interesting examples can be found on this site: http://weltenschule.de/TableHooters/instruments.html (lots of Casio's).
To be clearer, if the LD-80 reuses some other Casio's electronics, it may be possible to enable the additional GM functionality with a little surgery. That is, if the additional drum sets on channels 11-16 come, for example, from an additional ROM chip.

Reply 4 of 14, by DevanWolf

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yawetaG wrote:
MIDI ≠ General MIDI - I was reacting to the review text, not whether or not you can use a drum machine as a GM box when it was n […]
Show full quote

MIDI ≠ General MIDI - I was reacting to the review text, not whether or not you can use a drum machine as a GM box when it was not designed to be used as a GM box - and if it can't be used as a GM box despite reacting to all 16 MIDI channels, that's not a design error, that's just because it's not a GM box, like a bazillion polyphonic synths that can react to all 16 channels and that were not made with the GM specification in mind. At a quick glance, I don't see anything in the manual that refers to GM.

Knowing Casio's tendency towards cheap solutions, they probably just recycled some aspects of one of their other (maybe GM) synths in this drum machine, which may include chips, parts of the motherboard, and/or sound sets.
Many other manufacturers did similar things in their cheaper home keyboards and related gear, which is why it's sometimes possible to enable interesting additional options with some soldering (I don't mean circuit bending). For example, adding additional switches can give access to more sounds on a wavetable-based synth if the standard implementation only used part of the waveform matrix. Some interesting examples can be found on this site: http://weltenschule.de/TableHooters/instruments.html (lots of Casio's).
To be clearer, if the LD-80 reuses some other Casio's electronics, it may be possible to enable the additional GM functionality with a little surgery. That is, if the additional drum sets on channels 11-16 come, for example, from an additional ROM chip.

I know the manual for it, but yes I know the "General MIDI" part is undocumented and was likely unofficially supported for this tone generator. And you're a little funny when you talked about not fully supporting GM when it still receives on all 16 channels even though channels 1-9 are GM melodic and channels 10-16 make 7 drum channels played simultaneously, and I am either probably or probably not wrong as said in the review. There is no additional ROM chip that has that other than the DREAM sound chip.
Oh, and I bought an LD-80 from eBay and when it comes, I'll try it out and see what results I got there. (And of course, it came and tried it out.)
There are other LD-80 clones such as Simmons SDMK4 and Fender TT-1 and a relation to Medeli DD-306 that have the same sound source and MIDI input but have different design (and maybe slightly different programming/songs, also including a Tap Start button).

Last edited by DevanWolf on 2018-09-19, 04:05. Edited 3 times in total.

Reply 5 of 14, by yawetaG

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DevanWolf wrote:
yawetaG wrote:
MIDI ≠ General MIDI - I was reacting to the review text, not whether or not you can use a drum machine as a GM box when it was n […]
Show full quote

MIDI ≠ General MIDI - I was reacting to the review text, not whether or not you can use a drum machine as a GM box when it was not designed to be used as a GM box - and if it can't be used as a GM box despite reacting to all 16 MIDI channels, that's not a design error, that's just because it's not a GM box, like a bazillion polyphonic synths that can react to all 16 channels and that were not made with the GM specification in mind. At a quick glance, I don't see anything in the manual that refers to GM.

Knowing Casio's tendency towards cheap solutions, they probably just recycled some aspects of one of their other (maybe GM) synths in this drum machine, which may include chips, parts of the motherboard, and/or sound sets.
Many other manufacturers did similar things in their cheaper home keyboards and related gear, which is why it's sometimes possible to enable interesting additional options with some soldering (I don't mean circuit bending). For example, adding additional switches can give access to more sounds on a wavetable-based synth if the standard implementation only used part of the waveform matrix. Some interesting examples can be found on this site: http://weltenschule.de/TableHooters/instruments.html (lots of Casio's).
To be clearer, if the LD-80 reuses some other Casio's electronics, it may be possible to enable the additional GM functionality with a little surgery. That is, if the additional drum sets on channels 11-16 come, for example, from an additional ROM chip.

I know the manual for it, but yes I know the "General MIDI" part is undocumented and was likely unofficially supported for this tone generator. And you're funny when you talked about not fully supporting GM when it still receives on all 16 channels even though channels 1-9 are GM melodic and channels 10-16 make 7 drum channels played simultaneously.

Am I funny? There's a few other modules that only support part of the GM spec and/or have out-of-GM-spec MIDI control options, e.g. Korg 05R/W (limited real synth ability), Korg AG-10 (module chaining option).
The same is valid for Yamaha's XG, e.g. the pre-XG (or "proto-XG") TG-300 has a MIDI spec very similar to XG which came just a few years later, but with much more extensive options for some parameters because it's not merely a box of predefined sounds, but a real synth (it actually has a GM sound set and a separate wave set for synthesis). Later, they produced some non-GM/XG synths that use the same hardware components as their MU-series...

Oh, and I bought an LD-80 from eBay and when it comes, I'll try it out and see what results I got there.
There are other LD-80 clones such as Simmons SDMK4 and Fender TT-1 that have the same sound source and MIDI input but have different design (and maybe slightly different programming/songs, also including a Tap Start button).

Be sure to open it up and post pictures of the internals.

Reply 6 of 14, by DevanWolf

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yawetaG wrote:

Be sure to open it up and post pictures of the internals.

Okay, let's have a look inside and how the chips operate this thing.

First, the main unit itself. Sorry for the blurriness, but I will have to be very steady when I take pictures of them with higher resolution next time.
QqKPK2i.jpg
And the unit that's opened up. There are a bunch of screws I had to unscrew to open it up:
ORq0rUt.jpg
The main circuit board:
qMpyYVA.jpg
Some closeups on those chips:
qDfNR2o.jpg
The IC-306 ROM chip is likely the program for the digital drum which connects to the CPU, and some others are 2 RAM chips:
BAurqS0.jpg
Surprisingly enough, this is the Dream SAM9733 which contains the sound data and stuff for the drums and MIDI sound and could act as a CPU for everything else:
N94q8r6.jpg
The DSP2000 chip which runs the DSP effects which may be for the Super Bass:
n2bPfdi.jpg
And the coin battery which holds the backup memory (e.g. for custom drum kit setup and custom drum song data). The one here is the old battery that is in it, and oh yes, I just replaced the battery recently with a space one I have since with the old battery it sometimes clears the internal memory because that battery is getting low bumped at the top:
bllLHrS.jpg
Not much on the other circuit board which just contain heatsinks and capacitors for power and audio:
o851JSW.jpg
Of course the outer casing was originally going to be same as the other LD-80 clones out there but Casio's shaped it differently however.

Last edited by DevanWolf on 2019-07-24, 17:17. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 7 of 14, by yawetaG

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Could you please take sharp pictures? I can't read half of what's on the various chips, especially those around and including the large chip that has "IC-306" on it.
The coin cell merely powers the backup memory when the LD-80 is powered off. It holds no memory in itself. The last board is a combined power/audio out board.

Anyway, Dream SAM9733 spec sheet is here: ftp://retronn.de/docs/pc_hardware/wavetables/ … eam/SAM9733.PDF Looks like it's a single-chip solution that unfortunately holds the wavetable data in the same chip instead of having it in a separate ROM chip like on more professional stuff. Which sounds are available depends on the firmware version, and custom firmwares are possible. The same chip does the effects. Strangely there's no MIDI spec in the datasheet, so it probably strictly adheres to General MIDI.

The DSP2000 chip is actually more interesting, as googling the numbers printed on it doesn't find much *and* the SAM9733 has its own DSP processor. So why an additional one? Of interest is that Casio chips can use "CA" in front of their type number, so I think it's likely a custom Casio chip to support those features the SAM9733 can't support.
Looking at the LD-80 manual and the SAM9733 spec sheet, that should include the 100 preset rhythms, sequencer features, metronome, converting the pad, button, and foot pedal signals to proper MIDI messages...for some of those features it likely also needs external ROM and RAM.

Reply 8 of 14, by DevanWolf

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yawetaG wrote:

Could you please take sharp pictures? I can't read half of what's on the various chips, especially those around and including the large chip that has "IC-306" on it.
The coin cell merely powers the backup memory when the LD-80 is powered off. It holds no memory in itself. The last board is a combined power/audio out board.

Yes I know some of the other chips don't have names on them. I probably should've used a higher resolution on my camera.
BTW, would you people like to listen to a MIDI file played on the LD-80? If so, which song is going to be played?

Reply 9 of 14, by yawetaG

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Speaking of MIDI (I have no preference for files, maybe Descent?), are the only things that are MIDI-controllable on the LD-80 the sounds and other General MIDI stuff, or can you also control the additional features over MIDI? I didn't see an extensive MIDI specification in the manual apart from the usual MIDI chart, which seems to suggest the only thing controllable over MIDI is indeed the sounds.
Could you try playing around with selecting sounds over MIDI, and check whether the rhythm bank is accessible by trying different memory bank numbers?

Reply 10 of 14, by DevanWolf

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yawetaG wrote:

Speaking of MIDI (I have no preference for files, maybe Descent?), are the only things that are MIDI-controllable on the LD-80 the sounds and other General MIDI stuff, or can you also control the additional features over MIDI? I didn't see an extensive MIDI specification in the manual apart from the usual MIDI chart, which seems to suggest the only thing controllable over MIDI is indeed the sounds.
Could you try playing around with selecting sounds over MIDI, and check whether the rhythm bank is accessible by trying different memory bank numbers?

I played the title theme and level 1 of the MIDI game Descent on the LD-80 which uses General MIDI (what you asked for), it sounded pretty well. (Not to be confused with the "Descent" track made by Tim Samoff for the Loonies 8192 game)

Filename
Descent Level 1 LD-80.ogg
File size
3.84 MiB
Downloads
39 downloads
File comment
Level 1 from Descent played on Casio LD-80
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Filename
Descent Title LD-80.ogg
File size
4.37 MiB
Downloads
40 downloads
File comment
Main Title Theme from Descent played on Casio LD-80
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

I tried experimenting the program changes, drum notes, bank select before and no, there is no bank select where the additional tones are; there are no GS variations and SFX kit. However, there are differences between other GM synths: the stereo panning is reversed (like in MT-32), the Piccolo tone is one octave higher, and a few other instruments like Steel Drums sound nothing like an actual Steel Drum. The Native Kit (where the playable 76 drum sounds are) was replaced from the CM-64/32L kit (where this is also where the one, two, three, four voice comes from).
I could still use MIDI input to control the additional features like maybe adjusting the volume of/panning an active drum pad channel separately or changing the reverb and chorus effect type which you can't select from the panel, also a System Reset or GM Reset which resets into a nearly full GM mapped tone generator.

I believe you didn't expect this; I have already made this appendix (which I already explained in the very first post) which lists the LD-80's 128 GM tones, the drum map for the 8 (9?) drumsets, and the updated MIDI Implementation Chart (which now lists the missing MIDI messages in the chart compared to the original MIDI Implementation Chart in the manual). I may have to work on a MIDI Implementation document (which lists each supported transmitted and received MIDI message separately) sometime later.

Reply 12 of 14, by yawetaG

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I didn't see your message, that's all 😀

DevanWolf wrote:

I tried experimenting the program changes, drum notes, bank select before and no, there is no bank select where the additional tones are; there are no GS variations and SFX kit.

As in "No program change occurs" or "Nothing sounds at that location"?

However, there are differences between other GM synths: the stereo panning is reversed (like in MT-32), the Piccolo tone is one octave higher, and a few other instruments like Steel Drums sound nothing like an actual Steel Drum. The Native Kit (where the playable 76 drum sounds are) was replaced from the CM-64/32L kit (where this is also where the one, two, three, four voice comes from).
I could still use MIDI input to control the additional features like maybe adjusting the volume of/panning an active drum pad channel separately or changing the reverb and chorus effect type which you can't select from the panel, also a System Reset or GM Reset which resets into a nearly full GM mapped tone generator.

I believe you didn't expect this;

Let's say that I was more afraid it wouldn't be possible (because Casio... 😵 ). There are several other GM boxes by other manufacturers that have similar "hidden" stuff.
Although in the case of the two that I own for that explicit feature it's actually vaguely mentioned in the manuals... The Korg AG-10 has crazy glitch cross modulation, and the Yamaha MU10 has full control via sysex available because Yamaha didn't implement the control interface limitations of the other MU-boxes.

I have already made this appendix (which I already explained in the very first post) which lists the LD-80's 128 GM tones, the drum map for the 8 (9?) drumsets, and the updated MIDI Implementation Chart (which now lists the missing MIDI messages in the chart compared to the original MIDI Implementation Chart in the manual). I may have to work on a MIDI Implementation document (which lists each supported transmitted and received MIDI message separately) sometime later.

So, does it react to sysex hexadecimal messages? You could try starting with the ones for GM messages (should work). You should be able to determine basic stuff like device ID by recording the LD-80 MIDI output.

Reply 13 of 14, by DevanWolf

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yawetaG wrote:

As in "No program change occurs" or "Nothing sounds at that location"?

It still receives program change, but no bank select, still just GM tones.

Let's say that I was more afraid it wouldn't be possible (because Casio... 😵 ). There are several other GM boxes by other manufacturers that have similar "hidden" stuff.
Although in the case of the two that I own for that explicit feature it's actually vaguely mentioned in the manuals... The Korg AG-10 has crazy glitch cross modulation, and the Yamaha MU10 has full control via sysex available because Yamaha didn't implement the control interface limitations of the other MU-boxes.

I have a Yamaha MU5 that some of the parameters like Velocity Sense, Modulation Depth, etc. can only be changed by parameter change SysEx, not by the panel itself.

So, does it react to sysex hexadecimal messages? You could try starting with the ones for GM messages (should work). You should be able to determine basic stuff like device ID by recording the LD-80 MIDI output.

Yes, it does, but the MIDI implementation chart in the manual mistakenly lists it as cannot be received, but it still does. Some SysEx that are supported are: GM On, Master Volume, Master Balance, Roland compatible SysEx (e.g. GS reset is same as GM on, set drum part, scale tuning, etc.) No device ID (except for Roland compatible?) by the way. It doesn't transmit SysEx though, one of the only messages that are transmitted from the LD-80 are Program Change then Note On on MIDI channel 10 when playing a pad, and also Active Sensing which is also mistakenly unlisted but still transmitted. And no, you cannot record MIDI input using the recording function on the LD-80 like said, only the drums and the rhythms itself can be recorded.

Just an update, I have now created a MIDI implementation of the LD-80 that lists each supported transmitted and received MIDI message the LD-80 recognizes.

Reply 14 of 14, by DevanWolf

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Also, if anyone here has an LD-80 but never tested the MIDI input yet, you should try it now; just connect the MIDI in to the LD-80 from your computer's MIDI interface (MIDI output also works) and play a specific General MIDI file and see if yours sounds like my LD-80 I have! (Don't forget the audio recording of it too.)