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Roland SC-88 versus SC-88 Pro?

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First post, by Shponglefan

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A Roland SC-88 Pro just popped up for sale locally. I already have a Roland SC-88 and was wondering if there would be an point to getting the SC-88 Pro if the intended use is just GM/GS MIDI playback.

MIDI module collection: Edirol SC-D70, SD-90 | Kawai GMega | Korg AG-10, NS5R, Triton Rack | Roland MT-32, CM-32L, CM-64, CM-500, SC-55, SC-88, SC-88 Pro, JV-1010, XV-5080 | Yamaha MU-80, MU-2000EX

Reply 1 of 33, by James-F

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How often do you REALLY use your hardware SC-88?
For "just GM/GS MIDI playback" the 88 is way more than enough.
If you buy the 88Pro the only real material that utilizes its EFX abilities are its Demos, and some rare Japanese game midis.
Personally, the SC-88 covers all the hardware Sound Canvas ground any retro gamer or musician needs for GM/GS.
In my opinion of course.

But, if you can pick it locally for 20$, do it.


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Reply 2 of 33, by Shponglefan

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I'm mainly interested if there are any differences in the GM/GS soundset of the SC-88 Pro versus the regular SC-88. If not, then it's not worth getting for me.

MIDI module collection: Edirol SC-D70, SD-90 | Kawai GMega | Korg AG-10, NS5R, Triton Rack | Roland MT-32, CM-32L, CM-64, CM-500, SC-55, SC-88, SC-88 Pro, JV-1010, XV-5080 | Yamaha MU-80, MU-2000EX

Reply 4 of 33, by James-F

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Yes there is a significant difference between the SC-88 and SC-88 Pro soundset.
But most (99.99%) that support MIDI music were composed on a device before the SC-88Pro appeared in 1997, at that time it was all about CD Audio and Windows.
Later games like Warcraft 2 and Duke Nukem 3D were composed and meant to be played on the SC-88.
Even if a newer game after 1997 supported midi music it was backward compatible with the SC-55, usually GM.

You can always download SC-VA demo and check check the 88Pro soundset for yourself.
If anything, I would suggest getting the SC-55 because even though all the later units support the SC-55 Map, a lot of the instruments do not sound the same as in the original unti.


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Reply 5 of 33, by keropi

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Why DN3D was composed and meant to be played on the SC-88 ? This is the first time I hear about it, did you analyze the midi files?
Up to this point AFAIK the general consensus was that the game was composed on a SC-55 Mk2 😕

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Reply 6 of 33, by Spikey

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For GM gaming, a 55 or 88 will be the way to go (probably 55).

For further applications the 88Pro and 8820/50 are far more advanced modules and are definitely better.

The default drumkit on the 88Pro is kind of lame, so I would certainly advise against picking it for GM gaming just based on that. It will still sound good- it will just vary depending on the soundtrack type and how balanced for the SC-55 it was.

To generalise a bit, orchestral scores will sound good on higher SC's. Rocking scores will probably be a little off, especially with non electric guitars, because of how different they sound on the Pro and 8820/50. Synth scores will likely do well on either, a lot of synth patches on the 88Pro are the same patches as the 55 (although as James said some will sound different with better clarity, in a negative way for gaming- e.g. Saw Wave).

Reply 7 of 33, by James-F

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keropi wrote:

Why DN3D was composed and meant to be played on the SC-88 ? This is the first time I hear about it, did you analyze the midi files?
Up to this point AFAIK the general consensus was that the game was composed on a SC-55 Mk2 😕

After some research, yes, you are correct.

DN3D is about 50/50 between Lee Jackson and Robert Prince.
Robert Prince composed everything on a SC-55.
Lee Jackson was given a SC-88 only after he already done all the compositions on a RAP-10 (SC-55) GM only; he only enhanced the Grabbag (into) with the SC-88 GS mode, but it did not went into the final game.
So yes, the final DN3D is 100% SC-55 in GM mode, but the Grabbag intro for the SC-88 in GS can be found on the internet.

Spikey wrote:

(although as James said some will sound different with better clarity, in a negative way for gaming- e.g. Saw Wave).

What I wanted to say is on SC-88xx units the 55 MAP has only around 70% of the original 55 sounds, and some wrong Controller ranges.
Instruments like Strings, Oohs, and most cymbals on the Standard drum kit are different between a 55 MAP and original hardware SC-55.
If I'll have more time I will do a list of differences between 55-Map and hardware SC-55.


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Reply 8 of 33, by Shponglefan

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For the record, I already own an SC-55 (Mk1), in addition to the SC-88 and a CM-500.

Personally, I'm less interested in pure authenticity as I am in what may or may not sound good or interesting. For example, I routinely play games using a Roland JV-1010 which has a mixture of sounds from the SC-55, SC-88 and some different ones as part of its GM/GS soundset. Sometimes I also use a Korg AG-10 or a Yamaha MU2000. I find soundtracks sometimes sound better using modules outside of what they were written for.

That's why I'm curious if the GM soundset on the SC-88 Pro may have differences compared to the regular SC-88.

MIDI module collection: Edirol SC-D70, SD-90 | Kawai GMega | Korg AG-10, NS5R, Triton Rack | Roland MT-32, CM-32L, CM-64, CM-500, SC-55, SC-88, SC-88 Pro, JV-1010, XV-5080 | Yamaha MU-80, MU-2000EX

Reply 10 of 33, by keropi

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@James-F
ah yes, that's what I remember being the deal with DN3D. But the possibility it can sound better really excited me 😁 🤣

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Reply 11 of 33, by James-F

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I really like how the SC-8820 sounds on practically anything.
They fixed the standard drum kit snare to sound nice (because it sucks on the 88Pro) and made it resemble the 55 or 88 but less artificial and much punchier.
So for a nicer than 55 and 88 GM set, I would skip the 88Pro altogether and go straight to 8820.

From a quick comparison, the most noticeable differences between 88Pro and 8820 are mainly the drum kits, including the basic ones.


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Reply 12 of 33, by keropi

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I like the 8820 as well, it can also act as a USB MIDI INTERFACE so you can connect your MT-32 to it, connect the 8820 via USB to your PC and enjoy old mt-32 games on dosbox 😀
Plus it has that handy button in the front to cycle though device mappings: SC55/SC88/SC88pro/SC8820

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Reply 13 of 33, by Shponglefan

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James-F wrote:

So for a nicer than 55 and 88 GM set, I would skip the 88Pro altogether and go straight to 8820.

I may do just that, especially after listening to demos of both on Youtube and this site: http://www.wavetable.nl/category/comparisons/ The 8820 does sound nicer; reminds me of the JV-1010 actually.

I'm assuming the Roland ED SC-D70 would make a good substitute for the 8820. Near as I can tell, it's supposed to be the same module in a modified form factor with USB + digital outputs added?

MIDI module collection: Edirol SC-D70, SD-90 | Kawai GMega | Korg AG-10, NS5R, Triton Rack | Roland MT-32, CM-32L, CM-64, CM-500, SC-55, SC-88, SC-88 Pro, JV-1010, XV-5080 | Yamaha MU-80, MU-2000EX

Reply 14 of 33, by Spikey

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Exactly the same thing internally, and is a digital sound card as well. I love mine. 8850 is a bit more interface friendly but I wish it had digital outs.

SC-D70 has ben useful many a time for me.

Reply 15 of 33, by kode54

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James-F wrote:
DN3D is about 50/50 between Lee Jackson and Robert Prince. Robert Prince composed everything on a SC-55. Lee Jackson was given a […]
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DN3D is about 50/50 between Lee Jackson and Robert Prince.
Robert Prince composed everything on a SC-55.
Lee Jackson was given a SC-88 only after he already done all the compositions on a RAP-10 (SC-55) GM only; he only enhanced the Grabbag (into) with the SC-88 GS mode, but it did not went into the final game.
So yes, the final DN3D is 100% SC-55 in GM mode, but the Grabbag intro for the SC-88 in GS can be found on the internet.

Tracks such as Water World used SC-55 mode commands, which are reproduced fairly accurately by the SC-VA in 55 mode.

Grabbag in SC-88 mode is actually used in the game, in the form of the ending theme loop, which comes from the reprise half of the "complete" version MIDI file. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the other music loops were also composed on the SC-88.

Reply 16 of 33, by Saotome Ranma

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James-F wrote:
I really like how the SC-8820 sounds on practically anything. They fixed the standard drum kit snare to sound nice (because it s […]
Show full quote

I really like how the SC-8820 sounds on practically anything.
They fixed the standard drum kit snare to sound nice (because it sucks on the 88Pro) and made it resemble the 55 or 88 but less artificial and much punchier.
So for a nicer than 55 and 88 GM set, I would skip the 88Pro altogether and go straight to 8820.

From a quick comparison, the most noticeable differences between 88Pro and 8820 are mainly the drum kits, including the basic ones.

Seems the 8820 and the digital D70 are highly evaluated. I think I'm gonna skip the 88 pro (I wished to get it so much before) as u guys recommended and grab a D70 instead.

BUT what about the 8850? 8820 should sound great but unlike 8850, some of its samples are mono according to the WIKI. This is the very reason 8820 is not listed as my first choice. Any other thing people normally complain about on 8850 besides it's lack of digital output? Really in need of informs to help me make a clearly smarter choice.

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Reply 17 of 33, by Shponglefan

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Spikey wrote:

Exactly the same thing internally, and is a digital sound card as well. I love mine. 8850 is a bit more interface friendly but I wish it had digital outs.

SC-D70 has ben useful many a time for me.

Sweet. I pulled the trigger on an SC-D70 and hopefully should arrive this week.

Although one thing I did find out after the fact was apparently the only way to switch sound maps is via MIDI. I was a little surprised there is no other way via the physical interface; especially since the SC-D70 has far more buttons and knobs than the 8820. Yet, the 8820's one button is for changing sound maps. 😒

MIDI module collection: Edirol SC-D70, SD-90 | Kawai GMega | Korg AG-10, NS5R, Triton Rack | Roland MT-32, CM-32L, CM-64, CM-500, SC-55, SC-88, SC-88 Pro, JV-1010, XV-5080 | Yamaha MU-80, MU-2000EX

Reply 18 of 33, by yawetaG

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Shponglefan wrote:
Spikey wrote:

Exactly the same thing internally, and is a digital sound card as well. I love mine. 8850 is a bit more interface friendly but I wish it had digital outs.

SC-D70 has ben useful many a time for me.

Sweet. I pulled the trigger on an SC-D70 and hopefully should arrive this week.

Although one thing I did find out after the fact was apparently the only way to switch sound maps is via MIDI. I was a little surprised there is no other way via the physical interface; especially since the SC-D70 has far more buttons and knobs than the 8820. Yet, the 8820's one button is for changing sound maps. 😒

Probably because the primary application of these modules is for desktop music production using a MIDI controller keyboard (or a synthesizer). Then you can switch maps via controls on the keyboard, which is much more practical than switching via the module's own interface IMHO.

Reply 19 of 33, by Spikey

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Saotome:

Seems the 8820 and the digital D70 are highly evaluated. I think I'm gonna skip the 88 pro (I wished to get it so much before) as u guys recommended and grab a D70 instead.

BUT what about the 8850? 8820 should sound great but unlike 8850, some of its samples are mono according to the WIKI. This is the very reason 8820 is not listed as my first choice. Any other thing people normally complain about on 8850 besides it's lack of digital output? Really in need of informs to help me make a clearly smarter choice.

I mean, if you can get an insanely cheap 88Pro, get it, if for no other reason than to resell it. But for the price, get an 8820/50/D70. They are better modules with a better GM map. Let's face it, drumkits are important, they are in almost every single GM piece of music ever. The ED series default kit blows the 88Pro default kit out of the water. QuestStudios' and my site's "Sierra Soundtrack CD's" use it on almost every single recording from 1999 onwards, to enhance original the MT-32 or SC-55 kit.

I have both 8820/50, and I think the 8820 has better sound. The mono samples are not an issue. I like the stereo pianos on the 8850, but the realism of the pianos is better on the 8820. Also, the clarinet is way better on the 8820. There are some isolated examples beyond that, but those are the most important.

The digital output is somewhat important. I feel you get much clearer, crisper sound. The 8820/50's are tight sounding synths, they are not as overly reverby as the 55 in particular is. They have a very classy, punchy sound. I think the digital output goes with this, others may disagree. I have used both extensively. I only use the D70 (8820)'s output any more, although I use my 8850 as an interface, because it has the LCD screen, because I'm spoiled. 😉

Shponglefan:

Sweet. I pulled the trigger on an SC-D70 and hopefully should arrive this week.

Although one thing I did find out after the fact was apparently the only way to switch sound maps is via MIDI. I was a little surprised there is no other way via the physical interface; especially since the SC-D70 has far more buttons and knobs than the 8820. Yet, the 8820's one button is for changing sound maps. 😒

Congrats! You should enjoy it.

Yeah, sound map issue may be a bit annoying. Do you have a MIDI sequencer? If so, it should be very easy. See pages 34 and so in the manual.

EDIT: I spent the last hour looking for a SysEx string or something but came up short. I did find that the program I used to use, the XG/GS Utilities, are now free and apparently have a map selection option for the 8820. See this page:
http://recordingmaninoz.blogspot.com.au/
(After installing, use the XG/GS Reset function to hopefully restart the synth in your desired map mode.)

I also found this SysEx on his site, which may do it (see attachment).

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