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elastictroubadour's picture
Joined: 2014 Aug 4
Roland MT-32

Hi everyone,

The opportunity to buy a Roland MT-32 sound module has recently presented itself, conveniently just after getting a MIDI interface for my Mac SE and tracking down a couple of DAWs to try out.

That's kind of incidental to what I'm asking though. I was wondering how many Mac games are capable of using the MT-32 for its sound. It seems like a big deal for DOS, but I'm having a bit of trouble finding any information about it for Mac OS. Are the Mac Sierra games also compatible with the MT-32?

Thanks

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Duality's picture
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Joined: 2014 Mar 1

Yep, most late 80s/early 90s Sierra games should come with a tiny app that lets you change the sound driver used by those games to output audio, and some of the early Dynamix games have this too. Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers and Castle of Dr. Brain, for instance. That app might even work with other games from that era that don't have that tool, like Rise of the Dragon and Heart of China. I know those two games had soundtracks that were composed with the MT-32 in mind.

I haven't gotten the ADB MIDI interface necessary to hook up the MT-32 to my Mac yet. So far, I've been using a Roland MT-32 in DOSbox with an Edirol-branded USB adapter from Roland. Though Midiman's Macman should do the trick for any ADB capable Mac.

I noticed that some MIDI composition tools have profiles specifically made for the MT-32. So far I have Steinberg Cubasis and Opcode Musicshop. Can't really confirm anything until the hardware comes in, and I have the right cable to route the MT-32's audio output through the Mac's microphone in port.

elastictroubadour's picture
Joined: 2014 Aug 4

Thanks for the quick reply. I was expected a prolonged wait on that question, given that there seems to be such a focus on emulation.

I was primarily interested in the MT-32 as a synth, and then just stumbled across its use as a MIDI sound card when trying to figure out whether it was worth having. I'm curious now.

I'm waiting on a USB floppy drive to be able to get anything to my older computers, but it's good to know it works on DOSbox. I have a selection of games on gog.com I'd love to try it out on, most of which aren't available on Mac. Frustratingly, my current Macs either don't have audio inputs (Mac SE, second gen iMac) or don't have screens (LCII and some PowerPC beige thing), so I'm in a bit of an awkward situation for most games. Oh well.

I'm glad you've found old MIDI software with MT-32 profiles. I thought they'd exist given it seems so popular, but it's so difficult to find out anything about those old sequencers. There's an
Opcode users Yahoo group, but very little of that is devoted to sequencing with System 6.

Duality's picture
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Joined: 2014 Mar 1

No problem. I've been interested in using my MT-32 as a synth for quite some time, too.

I'll have to make a correction to my past post; to the best of my knowledge, you can't connect a MIDI interface through ADB. That has to go through one of the serial ports, either modem or printer. I've checked the manuals online for a few controllers (the Macman, the Opcode Studios), and they're all in agreement on that.

I don't know of a forum that's specific to making music on the classic Mac, though there's been quite a few interested parties talking about the subject on 68k MLA lately. I'd strongly recommend against talking about abandonware there, as their position is that it's illegal and cannot be discussed on their forums.

All of the MIDI software that I've named so far requires System 7.5 or later, in the versions you'll find on this site.

For System 6, you're probably looking at Apple's MIDI Manager instead of Opcode OMS for handling MIDI hardware. Apple MIDI Manager was abandoned by Apple around the time of the PPC transition, and their official position since then has been to use Opcode's OMS software to drive MIDI interfaces. However, you can still download MIDI Manager 2.02 directly from Apple.

One solution for playing games would be to have the MT-32 output the audio directly to your speaker system, instead of piping it through the Mac. That's probably be the only viable solution for the Mac SE, and it might even be the best thing for the Sierra games.

For MIDI composition, you might want to give MOTU's Digital Performer 1.7.1 a try if it works on System 6, though it has some truly awful copy protection.

elastictroubadour's picture
Joined: 2014 Aug 4

I've got an Opcode MIDI Translator 2, with a serial connection. I just haven't had a chance to use it. To be honest, I don't really know what you mean by ADB (Apple Data Bus?), but I just assumed you meant Apple serial, so it didn't throw me off at all.

I've managed to track down Opcode Vision 1, which works on System 6, and I think there is a copy of OMS that's about the same vintage as well. To the best of my knowledge I can also get Cubase and MOTU Performer, but I haven't been able to track either down, which I put down to copy protection and so forth. I'll give Vision a go before I start getting picky.

Apart from that, I'm also looking at using Laurie Spiegel's Music Mouse. I have two SEs, and once I've fixed the hard drive on one of them, I'm looking at using one as a sequencer and the other as a real time controller, using Music Mouse. I'm sure there's a much easier way of doing this sort of thing that doesn't involve tracking down software years my senior, but I'm also sure they wouldn't look as good on stage.

For a demo of Music Mouse on Atari:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-mmEvGOopk

And for the Music Mouse website:
http://retiary.org/ls/programs.html

Music Mouse is shareware, even after almost 30 years, but I'm not fussed because the developer, Laurie Spiegel, does still support the software. I've been in touch with her about compatibility, and she has been really helpful.

Thanks for the heads up on 68k MLA. On one level I completely understand their position, but on another I think so much software is lost through lack of publisher support. I doubt Steinberg would get too excited about sending me 24 year old copies of Cubase on 800k floppy disks these days.

Anyway, I'll see how I go and may well end up publishing some of my findings at some stage. Still not sure whether to get the MT-32 though. I have other synths to both sequence and play, just no polyphonic ones. It was when I discovered it was a classic piece of gaming history and remembered that I had seen it in sound options on games that I started getting excited.

sfp1954's picture
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Joined: 2013 Dec 29

My understanding is that Quicktime Musical Instruments was based off of the General Midi sample set in the original Roland Sound Canvas. That was why Macs never need dedicated sound cards.

Temporary Joe's picture
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Joined: 2009 Nov 14

Yeah, the QuickTime instruments are licensed from Roland, which is why the soundtrack of Mac games sound like DOS games with MT-32. Without MT-32, DOS games sound completely terrible.

Duality's picture
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Joined: 2014 Mar 1

The situation with MIDI and old computers is a little more elaborate (ain't it always?)

- The Roland MT-32 uses a proprietary set of instruments, predating the General MIDI standard that was established in 1991. The MT-32 was released in 1987, and several games from Origin Systems and Sierra On-Line took advantage of it. Sierra even used to sell MT-32s through their mail order catalog.

- Because the instrument set is different, games and software that expect to play MIDI music through an MT-32 or its derivatives sound absolutely horrible under a MIDI synthesizer using the General MIDI instruments. That includes Microsoft's emulated General MIDI synthesizer that ships with Windows.

- Most DOS games published after 91, and especially after 92, use the General MIDI instruments instead of the MT-32. This also coincides with the rise of sound cards of reasonable quality. Up to that point, the high end of DOS sound tended to be dominated by MIDI synthesizers and very low quality sound cards, like the AdLib.

As for Macintosh, though QuickTime Instruments emulated the Roland General MIDI instruments instead of MT-32 in software, QuickTime's instruments changed quite drastically between QuickTime 2.0, 2.5 and Quicktime 3.0.

That was an issue among hardcore Marathon players back then, Hamish touches on the situation in the July 27, 2011 update on Marathon's Story.

QuickTime 3.0 and later came closest to emulating the General MIDI sound. For most games, it probably makes sense to stick with the latest QuickTime you can find, but if you really want to hear what Mac gamers in the early 90s were listening to, 2.1 and 2.5 sound best for games of that vintage.

Dimitris1980's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 21

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMF7rya9TW0 . You can check this video. It is Larry 5 on my performa 6116 connected with roland mt32 . Roland mt32 is fantastic. The only problem is that there aren't many games that support it on Mac, Amiga and Atari ST. But dos users are very lucky. Plenty of games support roland on dos and i am thinking of buying a retro pc just because of this. Lots of mac games have better graphics and sound than IBM PC and compatibles but no one can beat roland mt. On my mac only some sierra on line games support roland like Gabriel Knight, Space Quest 3 & 4, King's Quest 5, 7, Larry 1, Larry 5 etc.

Dimitris1980's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 21

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMF7rya9TW0 . You can check this video. It is Larry 5 on my performa 6116 connected with roland mt32 . Roland mt32 is fantastic. The only problem is that there aren't many games that support it on Mac, Amiga and Atari ST. But dos users are very lucky. Plenty of games support roland on dos and i am thinking of buying a retro pc just because of this. Lots of mac games have better graphics and sound than IBM PC and compatibles but no one can beat roland mt. On my mac only some sierra on line games support roland like Gabriel Knight, Space Quest 3 & 4, King's Quest 5, 7, Larry 1, Larry 5 etc.

IIGS_User's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 8

Important regarding MIDI, this is only an information what instrument to play (and how long).
How it sounds depends on (say MT-32, QuickTime) the specific hardware you're using.

Dimitris1980's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 21

My Roland MT32 runs perfectly on my Performa 6116 and on my Power Macintosh G3 Minitower but i haven't managed to hear sound from my motorola macs (Powerbook 540c and Macintosh LC475). I have exactly the same connection (macman midi interface, cables etc), the sierra on line games start normally and you can see also the midi message on the roland but there is no sound at all. I do not know yet what is the problem. On the powermacs i go to the sound panel and check the microphone for the sound input and the music plays. But on the motorola Macs there is no result. There is not even choices for the sound input. I want to run the sierra on line adventures on my Macintosh LC475 because they run better than powermacs where very often you see system error.

dr.zeissler's picture
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Joined: 2016 Sep 4

MT32 is working fine here on my LC475. Do you have the midi-manager installed correctly?
I will use my MT32 on ScummVM PPC on my G4 MacMini next.

Dimitris1980's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 21

I have the apple midi manager files (taken directly from one of the sierra on line games) in the system folder and in the extension folder. The games start normally and the roland mt32 shows the midi messages but there is no sound at all. I am at work now but as i remember the connection is the following:

- Macman midi interface where the one edge of the serial cable is attached in the macman midi out port and the other is attached in the printer port of the LC475.

- 5-Pin DIN to 5-Pin DIN MIDI Cable where the one edge is attached in the macman midi in port and the other in one of the roland mt32 out ports.

- connection cable between the roland mt32 and the macintosh lc475 where the one edge is 2 x 5,5mm jacks are attached in the roland mt32 and the other edge 1 x 3,5mm jack is attached in the sound in (mic) port of the Macintosh LC475.

as i remember the connection is like the description above.

I have done exactly the same connection on my Performa 6116 and on my Power Macintosh G3 Minitower and the roland runs normally. But to be able to hear the music, l have to go to the sound panel and choose the mic option at the sound in options. There are various choices, like the mic option and the cd option in order to hear music directly from the cd for instance.

So, on my powerpc macs the Roland works perfectly but I cannot hear the music on my Motorola Macs like the LC475 and the Powerbook 540c. I go to the sound panel but there are no options to choose in the sound in.