This was surprising because of what I had read about synthesizer equivalence. […]
This was surprising because of what I had read about synthesizer equivalence.
My synthesizers tested with assumed equivalence:
Roland SC-55 (v1.21) - Baseline
Roland SC-55mkII (v1.00) - More polyphony, more instruments
Roland SC-88VL (v1.04) - More polyphony, more instruments
Roland SC-7 - Similar to SC-55mkII?
Roland SC-55ST - Equivalent to SC-55mkII but not LCD?
Yamaha MU50 (v1.06)
Microsoft GS Synthesizer (Roland)
In terms of equivalence, I'm not sure what you read, but aside from all being GM compatible, several of these are fundamentally different. Was your assumption that all of the above should be the same as far as SC-55 sound in gaming?
- SC-88VL is not SC-55 equivalent, only compatible. Hence why you hear different sounds for instruments such as French Horn. Although, it appears to be in 88 mode, not 55 mode, which would yield closer results (although since you have a 55, not sure why that would add anything).
- The rest of the Rolands should be very similar sounding for GM, polyphony and minor quality differences of DAC's aside.
- The MU50 is obviously a Yamaha XG synth, and again, compatible but certainly not equivalent, although I'm going to assume you didn't think it was.
- The Microsoft GS Synth is the same samples in theory at least, but doesn't utilise any effects (except the WinAmp version of it, which allows them), so doesn't really sound like a SC-55.
As for EverQuest - I opened it up and there's no obvious reason why synths should operate differently, there's no MSB or LSB instructions for GS devices, for example. There's a "Balance" MIDI CC being sent, which I've not run into before, but apparently controls stereo balance of stereo patches (probably not related to the issues).
There is lots of reverb and chorus, but that shouldn't be an issue either.
My hunch is it's related to the reset you're using, or maybe polyphony, although if it was polyphony the SC-55ST wouldn't be having the issues and the 55 would.
Question - when you did the recordings, did you - or could you - record one of the synths (that "worked") immediately after a reset and then do the exact same procedure with one of the synths (that "didn't work")?
The two I would limit your scope to would be the SC-55 and SC-55ST, which again should be the same other than minor quality differences/polyphony. Those should reproduce a 95-99% identical result. Right now there's too many synths and too many variables. By reducing the variables we can find out what's actually going on, or give it our best shot.
While I agree like the others that your workflow sounds efficient, since you're not an expert on the MIDI side of things, unless you record the file identically after sending identical resets followed by identical SysEx's, there can always be differences (especially with the ST since you can't "see" what's going on).
It's possible, for example, that some of the synths simply have not been reset - you sent the SysEx to the wrong MIDI port, or the SysEx you use doesn't reset them fully, or you forgot to reset one, and so on. I'm not trying to put you down, mind you - I'm just trying to figure it out. The conclusion is more likely, after all, to be "some minor mistake by Kahenraz" than "half his synths are broken or randomly acting strange".
I can say having been doing similar activities for 20 years, the odds of making a minor mistake are very high, particularly when using multiple synths. It's incredibly easy to forget a step here and there.
I've done it so many times over the years I couldn't tell you how many. 😀
I'll try in the coming weeks to record my SC-55mkII playing the file after a hard reset, and then after using your reset if you upload/link to it, and see if the two recordings are the same as each other, and if either is the same as your recording (minor recording quality differences aside).
On that note - do you have a copy of or link to the GS reset you're using?
My dumb assumption is that these are merely the differences to be expected due minor hardware differences, on top of that era's MIDI standards flux. For example some devices are GS, some aren't. Some MIDI files contain GS instruments, maybe even just for the occasional note here or there. Some don't. Even specific issues like CTF (a minor vagary between different revisions of SC-55) have been the basis of many a detailed discussion on Vogons. Merely highlighting the real world differences between "compatible" synths, once you dig down into the details. But I am not expert enough to say for sure.
Reasonable assumptions but they don't apply here, I'm afraid. Whole instruments missing isn't a "minor hardware difference", especially between two near-identical Roland synths.
There's no GS instruments in this file except for the drumkit, which should still work on all the devices he mentioned. And CTF isn't relevant here, either.
The reasonable expectation is the 4 Roland devices he has, other than the 5th (88VL), should sound extremely similar.