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First post, by johnnynismo

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I have a 286 AT with a Digital Research DRSOUND sound card. Would it be worth it to find a wavetable MIDI daughter board or would it be too taxing on the CPU? I have a few games that have MIDI support that'll run on a computer of that vintage. I imagine it would be similar to a Sound Blaster with MIDI support from the era. Have any of you tried this?

Thanks

(FYI, that sound card works GREAT for sound effects on old ATs and XTs. It has easy-to-install drivers that make it almost as easy as plug an play on DOS 6.22)

Reply 1 of 31, by keropi

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The only thing I'd add to a 286 build is a MT-32 for all the adventures/rpgs of the era. That's the "correct" synth for that machine era. A GM board would be almost useless IMHO in a 286.

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Reply 2 of 31, by PhilsComputerLab

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Keropi said it. Roland MT-32 is what you want for a 286. Space Quest III, Monkey Island, maybe even some Wing Commander.

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Reply 3 of 31, by Scali

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MIDI isn't very taxing on the CPU at all. The CPU just has to send the MIDI commands to the (wavetable) synthesizer, which processes everything.

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Reply 4 of 31, by vmunix

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Depends on the CPU speed, if it is a fast 286 like 20Mhz or 25Mhz, you can play (I did) much more games and they will be benefited by the WT.
Dune2
X-wing
Indy's
Monkey's etc.

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Reply 5 of 31, by PhilsComputerLab

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Monkey and Indiana Jones use MT-32. X-Wing and Dune II might not run very well on a 286 IMO.

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Reply 7 of 31, by alexanrs

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Some WTs have decent MT-32 emulation, so games like Monky Island, that only uses the default patches, will sound correctly with those as long as you use both SoftMPU and put it in MT-32 mode. Other games migt have missing effects, but emulated MT-32 may still be better than OPL. A 286 is pretty slow for SoftMPU, though, so yeah, using a WT board for games might be a bit too taxing. Nothing beats a true intelligent MPU-401 interface with a true MT-32 (or a machine with MUNT).

Reply 9 of 31, by alexanrs

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carlostex wrote:
alexanrs wrote:

(...) A 286 is pretty slow for SoftMPU(...)

SoftMPU requires at least a 386 running EMM386 or QEMM.

Oh... There os that. A wavetable daughterboard then is pretty much useless.

Reply 10 of 31, by Artex

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Maybe you could use one of Keropi's awesome MPU-401 replica cards (wink wink). 😀

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Reply 11 of 31, by vmunix

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philscomputerlab wrote:

Monkey and Indiana Jones use MT-32. X-Wing and Dune II might not run very well on a 286 IMO.

That's right, and the TB Maui emulates MT-32 or it can chew the MT-32 with its sound patches. The floppy version of X-Wing runs fine on a 20Mhz 286 with sound and music, the same for Dune2

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Reply 12 of 31, by PhilsComputerLab

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vmunix wrote:
philscomputerlab wrote:

Monkey and Indiana Jones use MT-32. X-Wing and Dune II might not run very well on a 286 IMO.

That's right, and the TB Maui emulates MT-32 or it can chew the MT-32 with its sound patches. The floppy version of X-Wing runs fine on a 20Mhz 286 with sound and music, the same for Dune2

The Secret of Monkey island does use the default instruments, but Monkey Island 2 and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis use custom patches. Your Maui will sound terrible in these games.

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Reply 14 of 31, by idspispopd

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Agreeing with everybody.
Just some facts:
GM was introduced in 1991. Here is a Mobygames list filtered for GM usage: http://www.mobygames.com/attribute/sheet/attr … et,0/p,2/so,1a/
(I know that Mobygames is not complete, but it is probably one of the best resources we have.)
Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have a filter for multiple attributes, so I entered the following search in Google:

"DOS" "sound devices supported" "general midi" "Minimum CPU Class"  ("8088 / 8086" OR "80286") site:mobygames.com

There are not very many separate games in the result. Some of the better known ones are: Leisure Suit Larry 5 (1991), King's Quest VI (1992), Leisure Suit Larry 6 (1993), Day of the Tentacle (1993), [more Sierra games], ...
As a cross-check I searched for

"sound devices supported" "general midi" "DOS" -"80486DX" -"80386DX" -"80486" -"80386" -"80486DX2" -"Pentium" -"80386SX" -"80486SX" site:mobygames.com

which results in even less entries.
I would say that all of these games would run fine on faster machines so if you have multiple old boxes you should first get a wavetable module for a faster one.

Reply 15 of 31, by vmunix

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alexanrs wrote:

Does the Maui have an Intelligent MPU-401 interface? If not, Secret of Monkey Island will also sound VERY wrong.

MPU401 is implemented in hardware in Maui, and it has sample-store technology so with the correct patchset Maui will sounds similar to a MT-32.
However, reading the manual it recommends a minimum of 386@25Mhz in a Windows environment, otoh Maui can be installed in a 8bit ISA slot aswell as 16bit and has a waveblaster header.

I have no other choice but to test it myself in the 286, I had an Audio Excel there and every game sounded just fine but honestly didn't try a WT board.

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Reply 16 of 31, by PhilsComputerLab

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vmunix wrote:

Does the Maui have an Intelligent MPU-401 interface? If not, Secret of Monkey Island will also sound VERY wrong.

Hmm that wasn't quite what he was asking for. A lot of sound cards have MPU-401 interfaces. To UART standard. But does it support intelligent mode?

Easy tests:

Start Gateway with

GATE MT32

or Wing Commander with MT-32 option. It usually hangs on non intelligent interfaces, which most fall under.

Regarding "patchset". The Roland MT-32 can get re-programmed during the game. Often going from one level to the other with custom instruments or even sound effects. So this is far beyond loading a patchset before running the game. Wing Commander, Space Quest III, Gateway, The Heart of China are all great games to test.

AWE64, Yamaha, Sound Canvas, DreamBlaster, they all have MT-32 patchsets, but that does not make them MT-32 compatible I'm afraid.

Maybe provide a recording so we can listen to how it does?

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Reply 18 of 31, by johnnynismo

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You guys are sending me down the rabbit hole. Unfortunately my system's CPU and 80287XL are 12Mhz. I also haven't found the necessary documentation to set the jumpers on two cheap 2MB memory expansion boards I got off of eBay. Y'all have also made me want to find a 20+Mhz 286 to fool with!

Reply 19 of 31, by dr.zeissler

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I put a S2-Midi Module on my SC1630 Soundcard and configured that MPU uses the SB-IRQ's.
This works for "overkill" and sounds pretty nice on my 286/8! I can't see a slowdown compared
to no music at all.
I will take that thing out and use a midi-breakout-cable in order to use my SC55 and MT32.
Though I have no slot free and I am not able to use softmpu (386+ ems), but I will have a look
what MT32/SC55 games will work without intelligent mode.
We will see.

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