Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Xenphor » 2014-4-24 @ 10:23

So I no longer have windows and midi in linux is pretty terrible. I'm basically limited to using timidity or fluidsynth and soundfonts but of course none of them are anywhere near as good as the syxg50 synth/vst for windows. So I was wondering if there was a decent external yamaha module that could act as a good replacment using usb? From what I've read, ALSA should support usb midi devices, at least I hope.

One thing that's bugging me is that the syxg50 synth appeared to support GS midis but only the highest of the high end yamaha modules advertise support for GS after firmware update. Is there some reason why a free synth would have GS capability but not an external module? Anyway GS is not that important if I can just get good XG and acceptable GM.
Xenphor
Member
 
Posts: 152
Joined: 2009-7-08 @ 00:33

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby MMaximus » 2014-4-24 @ 11:37

I suppose any Yamaha module from the MU series would be ok. I have a MU80 and think it sounds fine for GM stuff.
User avatar
MMaximus
Oldbie
 
Posts: 617
Joined: 2014-3-30 @ 20:28
Location: EU

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Xenphor » 2014-4-26 @ 08:47

Is there a good place to get used yamaha modules? ebay has some but most are from japan and quite expensive.
Xenphor
Member
 
Posts: 152
Joined: 2009-7-08 @ 00:33

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby keropi » 2014-4-26 @ 09:56

^ you could try placing an ad in vintage computer forums and amibay...
User avatar
keropi
l33t++
 
Posts: 7318
Joined: 2003-9-08 @ 06:45
Location: Greece

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Kodai » 2014-4-26 @ 10:05

Only the MU1000 and MU2000 could be upgraded with the EX firmware. It was the EX firmware that allowed them to offer real GS support. More or less it allows the modules to use the same sound map as the SC-55, but with Yamaha MU series samples. The GS portion of the firmware is licensed from Roland so its official GS. Just remember that uses Yamaha sound samples as well as the MU's onboard effects so it still sounds different than a real SC-55. On the MU128, MU500, MU100, and MU2000 there is a mode called TG300 (not to be confused with another Yamaha midi module that was called a TG-300), and this offered a type of GS mode but could not be called GS as it was not licensed from Roland. Its also is not 100% sound map of the SC-55, but still sounds pretty good. The EX update is a worthwhile improvement if you want GS support though.

Also, not all MU1000's and MU2000's have the EX firmware installed. It is not as simple as running a little batch file and saying "yay, I now have EX". I have an MU2000 that I patched to be an MU2000EX. I did this over a year ago and don't remember all the steps, but do remember that I was sweating a bit because its REAL easy to brick the unit. Period. It can only be done on certain OS's using multiple programs and multiple updates done in phases as there are several EEPROMS that get flashed in a certain order. If you screw up, you keep the unit for spare parts and spend a few hundred more buying another module (plus shipping). The flash programs, and files can only be pulled down from a Japanese IP (I had to be a bit creative there ^_^) from Yamaha's Japanese FTP site. Not simple to navigate if you don't read Japanese. The instructions are of course only in Japanese, and the units instructions will only be in Japanese. That's because the MU1000 and MU2000 were never released outside of Japan. It also takes about 10 minutes per patch so expect at least a half hour of sitting and staring at the unit and your screen. You have to wait it out as the thing will time out and mess up the install if you don't look for the right screen to show up.

Never have I seen such a complex thing to do a firmware update on. But well worth it. Several hundred more instruments for XG (with some fantastic Yamaha string, horn and bass samples), real GS support, and some improved effects. It also allows the use of 64MB and 128MB SmartMedia cards, but eh. With USB on the MU2000 I could care less about the long dead SmartMedia card.

If you want a Yamaha XG module, then you go small with something like the MU50 that can buy on ebay for under a hundred from time to time. Or you go big and get the MU2000(EX) since it offers everything under the sun and for not that much more than all the other post MU50 modules. So about $100 for the MU50 or about $300 for the MU2000. The MU1000, MU500 and MU128 average $200.00 plus shipping and lack TOSlink, USB, and lack lots of other bits that make the extra $50 worth pumping into the MU2000. Shipping from Japan is a bit high, but there really is no other option for these modules.

Then you can add PLG100 and PLG150 cards to expand the unit. I currently have a PLG150-DR in mine. The past year the price on these cards have started to shoot back up. Last year seems to have been their low point. You could buy many of them for between $45.00 to $80.00 if you looked around. Now they are back to their original selling price in the $150 to $300 range. With shipping you can max out an MU2000 with over $1500.00, so keep it simple. Better to go with a modern Motif instead if you are spending that kind of bread as the Motif's can do XG.

So if you really want to hear Final Fantasy VII in all its glory, play and make XG music and hear it at its best with a TOSlink, then its money well spent. But if you are just looking for basic midi support, then you can do it for far less money. Also when buying from a Japanese seller on ebay, they will try their best to answer your questions but more often than not they might not really understand you. Example "Does your MU2000 have the EX firmware update already installed?" The answer may be yes and in reality it wont be. Many of the sellers see printed info about the unit and have no idea it has to be upgraded and the assume it has it. Or they have no idea about what it is and don't really understand your question. Also they may have a dozen of them to sell and use stock photos with the MU2000EX production unit that came from the factory with that lable and firmware already installed. Yamaha only did this the last six months of production so they are rare units. More often than not, they will need to be upgraded by hand.

When it comes to shipping you may have to wait a while or you may be surprised at how fast it gets there. I paid about $200.00 total with shipping and it was at my front door in Atlanta Georgia within two days. I've never before or since got anything from Japan in 48 hours. That really impressed the hell out of me.
User avatar
Kodai
Member
 
Posts: 396
Joined: 2013-7-31 @ 22:46
Location: Atlanta

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Xenphor » 2014-4-26 @ 10:39

is there any disadvantage to getting a rack model?

edit: didn't see that last reply. thanks that's a lot of information. I was wondering about the EX models and GS support so it's good knowing that it might be best to get one already updated because that sounds like a major hassel. Ideally I would go for one of those but just not sure if I could justify it. Do you know what the GS support on the syxg50 is really? just some sort of compatibility mode? I'd probably be happy with just gm and xg - or actually just happy if it could adequately replace the softsynth. Not really for final fantasy (using linux anyway) but for random xg midis.

edit2: oh ya the other thing is usb midi cables. Theres a lot of cheap ones I see and some more expensive ones also. I guess the cheaper ones might have more lag? It doesn't matter just for playback though right? Any compatibility issues with some cables?

Also, many of the units don't come with an AC adapter but say to make sure to use + polarity and 700mA. Is this just something I could pick up at radioshack?
Xenphor
Member
 
Posts: 152
Joined: 2009-7-08 @ 00:33

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Kodai » 2014-4-26 @ 11:12

The GS support in the SYXG50 wrapper is the TG300 which is found on the non EX upgraded midi modules. Its similar to SC-55 (GS) mapping, but not 100% and it uses Yamaha sound samples, and of course it has limited to no effects since its just a small software version of the MU50. Also, I think you have to use XGWorks to access the TG300 options in SYXG50 and I have no idea how well that will work in Linux. In all honesty, if you want GS then look for a an SC-55, SC-55 MkII, or any of the SC-88XX series of Roland modules. I don't think the Virtual Sound Canvas works under Linux (but maybe with wine it will). If you want XG then go for the MU50 or MU2000.

I'm assuming that you are going to doing games with this setup (which is a key factor in Very Old Games On New Systems), and XG is not the best option for that. Using XG for many games can mess up the melody as most midi games were made with GS in mind. Things like french horns in place of electric guitars, goofy rhythm changes, and multiple instrument mixes will be common place for lots of songs in lots of games when you do this. Sometimes you can find some songs that sound great in XG even though they were made for GS, but more often than not, you wont. Getting into XG is something to look at once you have your GS bases covered if you are doing midi for games. At least with a SC-55 you can load up in MT-32 mode and play many Lucas Arts games just like you had a real MT-32 (but those are about the only MT-32 games I'm aware of that work that way). With XG you pretty much have Finaly Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX. After that I cant think of any PC based XG games but those are golden soundtracks and worth getting XG for. The GS part of the EX upgrade sounds great in most GS based midi games and in fact to my ears sounds way better than the SC-55.

If you want a real treat, then play something like Castlevania on the Sharp X68000 (or an emulator if you don't have real X68000 hardware) with the MU2000EX in GS mode while hooked up via its optical output. It sounds amazing. Like listing to a whole new revamped soundtrack that few if any other people on the planet will ever get a chance to hear.

***EDIT***
I see you edited while I was typing this so I will do the same to reply. Yes you can get the little universal wall warts at Radio Shack or Walmart or any place that work fine with the MU modules. They are not like the harder to find Roland power adaptors. And yes, I believe they use the center pin as positive unlike the Roland adaptors, so they use common, cheap, easy to find power supplies.

As far as USB to MIDI cables go, you should try a cheap one first. There is no "lag" in the cheap ones. Lag between modules really has nothing to do with midi cables. If you find that you are having issues with sysex commands or really messed up instruments on playback, then go for the premium cables. I personaly use a Roland UM-ONE MKII USB to MIDI cable because I did have some trouble with cheaper no names and my MT-32. Most people seem to never have problems with them, so try to save a buck on that if you can and start with a cheap one to test the waters.
User avatar
Kodai
Member
 
Posts: 396
Joined: 2013-7-31 @ 22:46
Location: Atlanta

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Xenphor » 2014-4-26 @ 11:23

well actually I was mostly satisfied with the gm capability of syxg50 so as long as I can get something close to that I'd be happy. The GS stuff was just something extra I wanted to know about. I really don;t play any of the main games that use mt32 and anything released later that uses GM usually sounded okay on syxg50. It'd sound better on a roland but then I wouldn't have xg. You do have a point about x68000 games though as those seem to specifically support later SC modules. Unfortunately x68000 on linux isnt great.

edit: I bid on a MU90R
Last edited by Xenphor on 2014-4-26 @ 11:36, edited 1 time in total.
Xenphor
Member
 
Posts: 152
Joined: 2009-7-08 @ 00:33

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Kodai » 2014-4-26 @ 11:35

Well like I said before, the MU1000 and MU2000 with the EX upgrade has full GS support. It will just sound different since they use Yamaha samples instead of Roland samples as well as Yamaha effects. The EX also changes the sounds you may be used to in the TG300 portion of the SYXG50. So if you are use to hearing GS via that wrapper, then it will be a night and day difference. But on the whole, its a vast improvement. If you want to really hear what the MU2000EX can do then watch some videos on YouTube by a user called Superdeadite. Those vids are played via the games sound menus and not ripped midi files. You'll either decide that you are going to spend the cash and get one or look for a more cost efficient midi answer after you watch those vids.
User avatar
Kodai
Member
 
Posts: 396
Joined: 2013-7-31 @ 22:46
Location: Atlanta

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Kodai » 2014-4-26 @ 11:42

Xenphor wrote:edit: I bid on a MU90R



Good luck with that. Keep in mind that the MU90R is a big fu*ker. It was not meant for a small home rack, but for a real, honest to goodness studio rack. Its a couple of feet in width. You can always take a hack saw to the front and lob off those rack mounts to save a few inches on each side. Then touch it up with some birchwood casey gun blue to prevent rust.
User avatar
Kodai
Member
 
Posts: 396
Joined: 2013-7-31 @ 22:46
Location: Atlanta

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Xenphor » 2014-4-26 @ 12:12

Is there any value to getting any of the modules in between the low end (mu50,80,90) and the high end (mu1000,2000)?
Xenphor
Member
 
Posts: 152
Joined: 2009-7-08 @ 00:33

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Kodai » 2014-4-26 @ 12:59

I'm trying to remember the correct sequence here, as its been a while since I last looked into it. All the MU series from MU10 through the MU90(r) used the original Yamaha samples and compression for said samples for the first line of XG devices (there are keyboards and other instruments as well but we will only focus on MIDI modules here). Then came the MU100 and MU128 line. Those used better samples on some of the more popular sounds. Then came the third and final XG wave which consisted of the MU500, MU1000, and MU2000 modules. They revamped the samples again, and lowered the compression of the samples on the roms. This gave a much improved sound signature to the units. Not quite good enough to be called true professional grade studio gear that you would record multiplatinum albums with, but at least in the realms of semi pro and could be found in radio/tv stations and smaller music production houses. Coupled with the MU2000's effects, high quality opamps, digital outputs (kida rare for the time), and number of other features it quickly became the goto unit for lots of musicians and smaller recording studios in Japan for many a year. In fact, its only been the past couple of years that they have been showing up on auctions sites in large numbers as people are just now upgrading to PC DAW's with modern sound fonts.

I read a rumor last year on an IRC channel with a former employee over at FOX, that Matt Groening uses one in his sound studio for audio work on the Simpsons. I don't know if that's true, but I wouldn't doubt it. I hear that he swears by his old Atari ST's for running his now ancient sound studio and refuses to upgrade to more modern PC or MAC's for his midi work. I find that very amusing, and it gives me a chuckle each time I hear a musical number of the Simpsons knowing its done with old Cubase, on Atari ST's and XG midi modules. ^_^
User avatar
Kodai
Member
 
Posts: 396
Joined: 2013-7-31 @ 22:46
Location: Atlanta

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby keropi » 2014-4-26 @ 13:22

small thread derailment, my MU80 has a "TG300B" mode, is that the "sc-55-like" mode you mention Kodai?
User avatar
keropi
l33t++
 
Posts: 7318
Joined: 2003-9-08 @ 06:45
Location: Greece

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Kodai » 2014-4-26 @ 13:27

Yeah, it is Keropi. I forgot about the "B" part, lol.
User avatar
Kodai
Member
 
Posts: 396
Joined: 2013-7-31 @ 22:46
Location: Atlanta

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby keropi » 2014-4-26 @ 13:35

dang, I thought B was a special variant LOL LOL LOL
Someday I will get a MU2000 and a SC-8850 :D , probably both overkills in gaming but they are super cool to have... atm my most advanced module is a SC-8820 but I can only recommend getting one only after having a real SC-55
User avatar
keropi
l33t++
 
Posts: 7318
Joined: 2003-9-08 @ 06:45
Location: Greece

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Kodai » 2014-4-26 @ 14:42

From my understanding the 8820 is the better unit for games as its cleaner sounding and the difference between it and the 8850 are only issues for making music. And the TG300B is a special variant compared to the official GS option in the EX upgrade. I quite liked the way mine sounded before I did the upgrade to the firmware. I mean, I like the GS sound better with the EX upgrade, but the TG300B had character and I liked it. Quite different sounding but still good. Yeah, these final model GS and XG units are WAY over kill, but they are a lot of fun. ^_^

I'm gonna get a 8850 or 8820 in the next year or two myself. Then I will be done with collecting midi modules, unless a CM-500 at a decent price rolls my way.
User avatar
Kodai
Member
 
Posts: 396
Joined: 2013-7-31 @ 22:46
Location: Atlanta

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Xenphor » 2014-4-26 @ 15:42

Well I won it. Is something like this good for power supply? http://www.radioshack.com/product/index ... absetBasic

I'm assuming I should have oriented like in this picutre? Image
Xenphor
Member
 
Posts: 152
Joined: 2009-7-08 @ 00:33

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby MMaximus » 2014-4-26 @ 15:54

be careful about this sort of adapter, if you make a mistake and invert the plug you run the risk of frying the unit. Maybe it's not such a bad idea to shell out a few more bucks and get a proper replacement power supply - I have this one for my MU80, does the job well and is of good quality.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/12V-Yamaha-MU80-replacement-power-supply-/261462057864?pt=UK_MusicalInstr_Access_RL&hash=item3ce05a6388
User avatar
MMaximus
Oldbie
 
Posts: 617
Joined: 2014-3-30 @ 20:28
Location: EU

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby Xenphor » 2014-4-26 @ 16:02

hm unfortunately I'm in USA

edit: Actually I guess it is the same as this one? http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-generator- ... B00GQYDQAA
Xenphor
Member
 
Posts: 152
Joined: 2009-7-08 @ 00:33

Re: Best Yamaha midi module to act as replacement for syxg50 in linux?

Postby sklawz » 2014-4-26 @ 16:33

lo

both the edirol SC-8820 and edirol SD-20 work in linux via USB.

sc-8820
Code: Select all
$ pmidi -l
 40:0     SC-8820                           SC-8820 Part A
 40:1     SC-8820                           SC-8820 Part B
 40:2     SC-8820                           SC-8820 MIDI


this device offers four maps which are the 55, 88, 88pro and 8820.

sd-20
Code: Select all
$ pmidi -l
 40:0     SD-20                             SD-20 Part A
 40:1     SD-20                             SD-20 Part B


this device offers GM2, GS and XG Lite and has an S/PDIF output

bye
User avatar
sklawz
Member
 
Posts: 240
Joined: 2011-3-27 @ 15:46

Next

Return to General Old Hardware

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: jaZz_KCS and 11 guests