First post, by Dusko
During the last 4 years I've been putting together a 486 PC for my retro gaming collection, it's been a fun and expensive experience, I got a whole bunch of video/audio cards, motherboards, CPUs, you name it. Then I started looking into MT-32s, SC-55s, etc. and ended up spending some more cash than what I wanted to. I watched quite a few videos on YouTube about different midi set ups and recomendations, (LGR comes to mind but there are a few other good ones). I took advantage of my experience working with audio many years ago, so I have no problems when it comes to figure out how to connect one thing to another. Luckily I was already aware of the existence of HardMPU and bought one on ebay, it's the perfect replacement of a MPU-401 (Kudos to "abotj", here's the link to his post: HardMPU, anyone?)). Then, I needed something to connect all these modules to my 486 and wasn't too exited about using a midi switch, so I got myself a MOTU Mcro Express and a small 4 channel stereo mixer (a FIFINE N5) which ended up working pretty good (yeah, funny name). I connected the midi out of the HardMpu to the Micro Express and from there to the midi modules, the lines out of midi modules to the the lines in of the N5 and from there to the line in of my Sound Blaster Pro 2.
The Micro Express is just perfect for my needs, it has 4 ins and 6 outs and you can configure everything anyway you want, specially the midi channels, you can assign them as you please, good thing if you want to re-route them to the non GM standard MT-32.
If you are interested in getting a MOTU (Mark of the Unicorn) Micro Express, they're not hard to find on Ebay, but keep in mind that the old model has several versions, one with a parallel port (you don't want that) and one with a USB port, some of which are Mac only. The thing with the old USB model is that they all look the same and have the same label: USB-Macintosh-Windows Compatible (at least by my experience). The new model looks more modern and its powered by USB only, I have one in my main PC, it also can be powered with a USB wall adapter, so that'll work for a 486. I use the old model, looks cooler ! They're all stand alone units, you only need to connect them to a PC if you want to configure the user's presets. MOTU is still in business, you can go directly to their website and download the drivers (even for win 10), so you wont have a problem if you want to configure the user presets, you'll be fine with the default ones anyway.
Basics first, my 486 consists of:
Motherboard: Biostar MB-8433UUD-A ver 3.1 (I have a few other ones with VLB, etc)
CPU: Intel 486 DX2 66MHz (I have an Intel overdrive 83MHz but I wanted to stick to a DX2-66, I'll use it for another build... one day)
Sound: Sound Blaster Pro 2 (re-capped)
Video: Matrox Millenium I 4Mb PCI or Diamond Stealth 3D 2000 Pro 4Mb (S3 Virge/DX) I haven't decided between the two. I have more but that's not the point here.
HDD: 2Gb CF /adapter
Mouse / Kbd: IBM
Monitor: Dell LCD 4:3
MT-32 (I didn't know what a MT-32 was for like 20 years, back in the 90's I thought it was some sort of a "better" sound card!)
SC-55 GS Standard
I also have these other modules that I use in my modern win 10 PC, once in a while I use them to test a game or two, so I just wanted to mention them for reference:
SC-88 Pro (no game in my collection was designed for it, some of the instruments sounded a little lower than others. Sounds good, don't get me wrong)
JV-1010 (I haven't tested it in any games yet (I will). The sound quality is way better than anything I have, it has a more natural, brighter, cleaner and realistic sound, you can notice that right away)
FB-01 (nothing to do with gaming)
That's my 486 Midi / Audio set up (with a few extras), oh, I forgot about the speakers! I just use a Dell sound bar that attaches under the monitor, it's not as bad as I thought it would be, I know, I need to get something a little better, I just don't have enough room.
The point here is to share the "adventure", ideas and experiences, not to brag about what I have. Share your thoughts, devices, modules, how do you connect your stuff, etc. (and share some pictures of course!). I'm curious, maybe I can learn a few things from you or vice versa.