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Ultimate MIDI Emulator Project

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First post, by PhilsComputerLab

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In this project we are using a Windows tablet, USB MIDI interface and Falcosoft's awesome MIDI Player to build the Ultimate MIDI Emulator!

Video of the project

Falcosoft's MIDI Player: Falcosoft Soundfont Midi Player + Munt VSTi + BassMidi VSTi

I mucked around with Raspberry Pi a little bit, but found it way to clunky and complicated and once you factor in all the accessories, a cheap tablet doesn't cost that much more 😀

The idea behind this is to make MIDI DOS gaming more accessible seeing how expensive some of these modules are. With this project you can emulate:

- MT-32 (Old)
- CM-32L
- Sound Canvas (SC VA needs to be purchased unfortunately)
- Yamaha SoftSynth
- ANY SF3 SoundFont (Spoilt for choice)

I created shortcuts to launch each config, so it's super easy to use.

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Reply 1 of 24, by clueless1

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Hi Phil, thanks for doing this! Is this only for emulating MIDI when playing games on a modern OS (such as through DOSBox), or can it be used on a real DOS system? I haven't watched the video yet - maybe you answered that question already. 😊

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 2 of 24, by PhilsComputerLab

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clueless1 wrote:

Hi Phil, thanks for doing this! Is this only for emulating MIDI when playing games on a modern OS (such as through DOSBox), or can it be used on a real DOS system? I haven't watched the video yet - maybe you answered that question already. 😊

Using Munt and SoundFonts with DOSBox has always been easy to setup 😀

This is for connecting to a real DOS system (that's the Gigabyte tower, my Pentium 100 Time Machine).

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Reply 3 of 24, by clueless1

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PhilsComputerLab wrote:
clueless1 wrote:

Hi Phil, thanks for doing this! Is this only for emulating MIDI when playing games on a modern OS (such as through DOSBox), or can it be used on a real DOS system? I haven't watched the video yet - maybe you answered that question already. 😊

Using Munt and SoundFonts with DOSBox has always been easy to setup 😀

This is for connecting to a real DOS system (that's the Gigabyte tower, my Pentium 100 Time Machine).

Perfect, that's what I needed to know. Thanks 😀

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 4 of 24, by Scali

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I would like to see Yamaha FB-01 support as well.
The IBM Music Feature Card used the FB-01 as 'onboard' synthesizer (similar to how the LAPC-I has an onboard MT-32).
Some games (mostly Sierra) support either the IBM Music Feature card, or an FB-01 connected to an MPU-401.
See also here: http://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.nl/2015/02/th … overpriced.html

There is a 'vfb01' emulator out there... It can interpret MIDI data, and has an OPL emulator for the YM2164 chip that powers the FB-01/MFC. It would have to be put into some kind of VSTi form, so it could be used as a virtual device connected to the MPU-401 like MUNT.

In the meantime, I'm trying to get to grips with the native MIDI interface on the IBM MFC (it's not MPU-401-compatible), and hopefully implement it as an alternative to MPU-401 so it can also output the MIDI data of games using the MFC natively, rather than only when they support MPU-401 and external FB-01.
If the MFC interface works in DOSBox, it should also be possible to create a TSR for 386+ machines which uses v86 mode to emulate the ports and reroute the MIDI data to an MPU-401 on real hardware.

http://scalibq.wordpress.com/just-keeping-it- … ro-programming/

Reply 5 of 24, by gerwin

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PhilsComputerLab wrote:

The idea behind this is to make MIDI DOS gaming more accessible seeing how expensive some of these modules are.

This is very practical. When I did a similar thing with a netbook (eee 1000HE) it occured to me that never had to bother with external modules really. The most famous general midi synths are all available in software form. It is just the MT-32 that is only available as an unnofficial interpretation, But since I never had a true MT-32 I won't be a purist about that.
The only downside is the cable requirements: Gameport to Midi + Midi to USB adapter + Power adapter for the small PC + Preferably a line-out to line-in jackplug connector. In case of an ipad the Midi adapter is expensive. But once you have it set-up: it works perfectly and it is very versatile.

--> ISA Soundcard Overview // Doom MBF 2.04 // SetMul

Reply 6 of 24, by PhilsComputerLab

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There are some MT-32 vs Munt videos on my channel. Bottom line is the quality of the Munt project is fantastic! If I'd slip in Munt recordings into my videos, nobody would be able to tell.

The cables can be become a bit messy, but it is nothing in comparison to have 3 or 4 real MIDI modules and the cable mess that comes with it! You usually need a mixer or audio switcher also, 4x PSU and so on 😀

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Reply 7 of 24, by gerwin

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PhilsComputerLab wrote:

There are some MT-32 vs Munt videos on my channel. Bottom line is the quality of the Munt project is fantastic! If I'd slip in Munt recordings into my videos, nobody would be able to tell.

Great! Munt development was quiet for a while but I did notice it getting updates again in past year/years, seemingly it paid off.

PhilsComputerLab wrote:

The cables can be become a bit messy, but it is nothing in comparison to have 3 or 4 real MIDI modules and the cable mess that comes with it! You usually need a mixer or audio switcher also, 4x PSU and so on 😀

That is true. But since I have the luxury of some good midi daughterboards; Attaching one of these takes care of everything.
I haven't really thought it through (did I spell that correctly?) but I always start to wonder how someone like 'dreamblaster' from the serdaco shop will one day supply a mini computer with waveblaster or gameport connector that can run those virtual midi synths. With a minimal touchscreen interface placed outside of the computer case. It should become economical eventually. Already a dedicated midi processing chip us no longer necessary, it can be done in software on a cheap general purpose CPU. Just need to tie it together in a nice and easy package.

--> ISA Soundcard Overview // Doom MBF 2.04 // SetMul

Reply 8 of 24, by PhilsComputerLab

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I'm sure that when the time is ripe, he will work on such a project 😀 He certainly shares the same vision / idea, which is awesome.

I dug up these two comparison videos. I use a switcher to switch back and forth for best comparison.

Munt Emulator vs real Roland MT-32 The Secret of Monkey Island

Munt Emulator vs real Roland MT-32 Space Quest 3

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Reply 9 of 24, by Predator99

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This looks really cool and I am going to test it (with a standard Laptop)!

I looked on Ebay for a game-port-->MIDI adapter. Maybe I searched for the wrong keywords, but the only one I was able to find was this one:
http://www.ebay.de/itm/281957225946
I hope it is the right one and it should also work with other soundcards than Terratec.

Maybe also recommendation for others as the price seems to be quite reasonable for a Terratec adapter (Germany).

Reply 10 of 24, by cyclone3d

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Predator99 wrote:
This looks really cool and I am going to test it (with a standard Laptop)! […]
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This looks really cool and I am going to test it (with a standard Laptop)!

I looked on Ebay for a game-port-->MIDI adapter. Maybe I searched for the wrong keywords, but the only one I was able to find was this one:
http://www.ebay.de/itm/281957225946
I hope it is the right one and it should also work with other soundcards than Terratec.

Maybe also recommendation for others as the price seems to be quite reasonable for a Terratec adapter (Germany).

That should work just fine. It is a standard gameport/midi cable. Good price as well. Last one I purchased years ago was about $15 USD.

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Reply 12 of 24, by elod

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Jorpho wrote:

The high cost of those cables has always been very discouraging. It's strange that they can't be ordered for pennies from Hong Kong like everything else.

You can always make more for a couple of bucks. I think a whole cable cost me around 1 euro for connectors, whatever scrap cat5 I might have at home and a couple of minutes searching for a schematic and soldering.

Reply 13 of 24, by melbar

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It's a nice project !!! I like it. 😉

Once you have all these cables... then it might be a good Midi station instead of the expensive modules (for a lot of people).

Maybe the raspberry solution is a bit more 'clunky and complicated', as you said, but from my point of view there is one more disadvantage of this tablet solution:
The internal battery.

After years, sometimes already after 2 or 3, the battery is nearly dead and then you have not much options:

  • - A new tablet
    - A battery replacement...

Once, i've replaced also a tablet battery. At the end, it wasn't funny cause a small data connector was broken...

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Reply 14 of 24, by PhilsComputerLab

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Yes that is a good point. Better / newer models have USB C or dual USB ports, so you can power the device and drive the USB MIDI adapter.

Also old notebooks, maybe also netbooks can work.

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Reply 15 of 24, by luckybob

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There are cheap tablets with a usb connector and a charging one. Case in point; the LG G pad F. I got mine for free from T-mobile (cell phone company). It has a full usb port on one end, and the charging on the other. I use it as a ebook reader, but with just a usb midi cable, I can replicate Phil's video. I've even used it with a usb floppy, to make an emergency bios disk at a friend's house.

I have a midi adapter on order, so I can't wait to try this out. ^.^

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Reply 17 of 24, by Predator99

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I received my cables. Unfortunately all connectors are male 🙁 But as only 2 of the 5 Pins are used I connected them with wires while thinking about ordering a female-female adapter 😀 It took me some more time to figure out that the out-port from the sound card needs to be connected to the out-port of the USB connector...doesn't make any sense from my point of view.

However...now it works and sounds absolute fantastic 😀 Thanks again! 😀

Reply 19 of 24, by jtslade

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Thank you for the Videos Phil. I went ahead and purchased the following to get midi emulation on my 486 DX2-50 computer.

The system has a ESS688 ISA sound card.
I purchased:

Midi Coupler:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hosa-GMD-108-5-Pin-D … 872.m2749.l2649

Gameport to Midi cable (no label on which connector is send or recieve?)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/MIDI-To-Joystick-Gam … 872.m2749.l2649

NIB Roland UM One MK2 USB Midi cable:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Roland-UM-ONE-MK2-US … 872.m2749.l2649

I have not had much luck getting anything to work. Not sure what I am doing wrong.
Got the ENMPU.exe loaded in Autoexec.bat .. it shows the MPU-401 on address 330

I'll get the exact error messages I get when trying to send a config over to my miniPC with Phils batch file. The MDF.exe errors. Not sure if I need to edit the MDF.INI file? when I try other settings I get error messages about the INI file. Again I'll get the exact messages tonight.

Maybe I need a actual SB16 or SBPro card?
Maybe my Gameport to Midi cable is bad?
Maybe I need a different MPU TSR like Soft-MPU?
Maybe I need to set different options in the MDF.INI file?

Not having much luck but I am sure it can be figured out.

Edit: I feel like my cable is not of the quality needed to pass th emidi signals???