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Roland CM-500 = MT-32 + SC55?

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First post, by Saotome Ranma

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Found one CM500 and wish to grab it. If what I asked is true, I think this little box is the ultimate solution for all dos games with midi BGMs, but it's quite expensive as everyone knows.

So I wanna make sure on this point, in order to help me make my final decision on this second hand plain little box. 😕

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Reply 1 of 42, by keropi

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it's CM-64 + CM-300 (CM-64 is CM-32L + CM-32P)
you can read more here: http://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.de/2013/06/fi … gs-devices.html

it's a good all-in-one module IMHO, has some qwirks like the CM-64 but nothing that can't be solved with some SysEx messages

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Reply 2 of 42, by jesolo

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I seem to recall that the vibrato of the CM-64 part (and by extension the CM-32L) of the CM-500 is slightly different to that of a real CM-64.

I think that Phil did a review of this module and the other modules on his website a while ago (it's called the "Ultimate Roland Tutorial").

But aside from that one difference, it does offer a very nice "two in one" solution.

Reply 3 of 42, by PhilsComputerLab

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The vibrato is off (too fast), you can tell in the Monkey Island 2 tune.

It's a dual PCB module, so it's somewhat noisier.

But I think that's it in terms of differences.

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Reply 4 of 42, by Saotome Ranma

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Update: Got that CM-500, costing me 140 dollars.... God damn expensive. I can get an SC-88 pro and a MU-100 here with that price!!!

But still a little bit cheaper than buying CM64/CM32L/MT32 + CM300/SC-55 separately...

I'm not quite familiar with those 386-era dos games. So I think this little box will be my ultra solution if I build up my pentium gaming rig for dos.

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Reply 5 of 42, by F2bnp

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I think this is actually a decent price for the unit, considering that I've seen it go for over 200$. Would love to get one at some point, looks like a lovely unit, but people wanting separate devices is just as acceptable, I can totally understand that (plus it does have some quirks as pointed out).

Reply 6 of 42, by Shponglefan

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You definitely got a good price. CM-500's are somewhat rare and typically go for a lot more in my experience. I paid about double for mine.

As others have mentioned, it does have somewhat faster vibrato which can make things sound a bit different than an MT-32/CM-32L/CM-64. Although it's one of those things that if you're not specifically listening for it, you may not even notice.

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Reply 7 of 42, by Shponglefan

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keropi wrote:

it's CM-64 + CM-300 (CM-64 is CM-32L + CM-32P)

My understanding is the CM-32P portion is emulated on the CM-500. Although it's a bit irrelevant for gaming, I suppose, as CM-32P is not used for games.

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Reply 8 of 42, by gdjacobs

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I would agree that it's not very relevant for PC games, but wasn't the CM-32P supported by some titles in the Japanese market either on the NEC or Sharp platforms?

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Reply 9 of 42, by Spikey

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I can't remember for sure, but I think someone told me the CM-32P (and U110) uses a lot of similar waveforms to the SC-55, so it's sort of a "pre-SC-55" sound. Both are PCM based.

Reply 11 of 42, by Kodai

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The CM-32P ( or CM-64), is a very important option on the Sharp X-68000 series of computers. About 1/3 of the games make use of it and being able to change instruments on the fly really makes a game feel just right. I mean going from generic synth guitar on the CM-32 to a sampled electric guitar via the CM-32P makes the atmosphere so vibrant.

I use it on the X-68000 and have several U110 cards to get the sounds that are right for my gaming experience. I only wish the PC could have made use of this type of PCM based audio gear.

The OP will still want an original MT-32 for older DOS games from about 1987-1990. The CM-32 has a different instrument map and some sounds and instruments will not play on those older games. Of course if the OP doesn't really play late '80s games then the MT-32 is kinda pointless.

Reply 12 of 42, by Saotome Ranma

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Kodai wrote:

The CM-32P ( or CM-64), is a very important option on the Sharp X-68000 series of computers. About 1/3 of the games make use of it and being able to change instruments on the fly really makes a game feel just right. I mean going from generic synth guitar on the CM-32 to a sampled electric guitar via the CM-32P makes the atmosphere so vibrant.

I use it on the X-68000 and have several U110 cards to get the sounds that are right for my gaming experience. I only wish the PC could have made use of this type of PCM based audio gear.

The OP will still want an original MT-32 for older DOS games from about 1987-1990. The CM-32 has a different instrument map and some sounds and instruments will not play on those older games. Of course if the OP doesn't really play late '80s games then the MT-32 is kinda pointless.

Thx very much, I'm still thinking of buying an MT-32 or not. It's still quite expensive, even in Japan...

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Reply 13 of 42, by Great Hierophant

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The CM-32P uses samples for instruments, and sounds pretty impressive in its own right. It can also be upgraded with removable U-110 Expansion Cards and at least one X68000 game supports two of those cards as well. The CM-500 can't emulate the expansion cards.

CM-64 = CM-32L + CM-32P.
CM-500 = CM-32L + Emulated CM-32P + CM-300

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Reply 14 of 42, by NewRisingSun

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The identical samples will sound better on an actual CM-32P/CM-64 than on the SC-55/CM-500. I think it is because the CM-32P uses uncompressed samples, while the SC-55 uses compressed samples.

The CM-500 has the SC-55 sound engine, but clips far more easily than the original SC-55. Don't know whether the CM-300 has that problem as well.

Reply 15 of 42, by Kaminari

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The CM-500 actually has several more samples than the base CM-32P/CM-64.

On top of the 64 instruments provided by the SC-55 to "emulate" the CM-32P, the CM-500 fills the remaining 64 slots (which are not configurable) with a kind of "best-of" selection from the U-110 ROM cards -- probably borrowed from the SC-55 samples as well.

However, I don't think any Japanese game uses that particular CM-500 tone map. And while I know of two dozens X68000 games which support the CM-32P, "one third" of X68000 games seems to me a very optimistic figure. Kodai, do you have a list to back up that info? I'm certainly interested in learning more about it.

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Reply 16 of 42, by Kodai

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I may be wrong on the total amount, but I'm going by what I've learned from commercially available games. I have 87 games (ahem, mostly "backups"), and about 1/3rd of them support my 32P. Considering how many games there are for the X68000, I'm more than willing to say it could be far fewer than 1/3rd. It still makes quite a few of the games sound fantastic!

Reply 17 of 42, by Saotome Ranma

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Great Hierophant wrote:

The CM-32P uses samples for instruments, and sounds pretty impressive in its own right. It can also be upgraded with removable U-110 Expansion Cards and at least one X68000 game supports two of those cards as well. The CM-500 can't emulate the expansion cards.

CM-64 = CM-32L + CM-32P.
CM-500 = CM-32L + Emulated CM-32P + CM-300

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Reply 18 of 42, by SuperDeadite

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Hi, I suppose it's time I finally register here.
I am the same SuperDeadite from youtube.
Living in Japan I tend to focus on Japanese games that many westerners are not familiar with.
I have done a LOT of X68000 MIDI videos on my channel.

I know this place is mostly DOS focused, but if you love MIDI modules and you don't at
least emulate the X68K you are seriously missing out.

Anyway, there are actually 2 games that use the U110 Expansion cards:
Gemini Wing: https://youtu.be/_FBR4ktmhMo
Choujin: https://youtu.be/Z4jq3ql8etY

If you want another obscure one, the FM-Towns version of Xak III supports
CM-64.

Regarding the CM-500, it was my first module ever. Found it in Hardoff for 2,000yen.
If you can get one cheap enough, it's a great starter module, but for today's prices, it's limitations
make it a hard recommendation imo.

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Reply 19 of 42, by Saotome Ranma

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SuperDeadite wrote:

Regarding the CM-500, it was my first module ever. Found it in Hardoff for 2,000yen.
If you can get one cheap enough, it's a great starter module, but for today's prices, it's limitations
make it a hard recommendation imo.

WTF??? Which HARDOFF???? I'll be there right now if I've known it!!!

BTW, the cheapest thing I got is a CM-300, costing me 2160 yen (around 20 USD) with tax.... the thing is completely tested in a very nice condition!

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