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Understanding Roland MT-32

Posted: Thu May 27, 2010 3:29 am
by Nevac
Now I've seen a lot of people talk about needing a Roland MT-32 to get the best sound in most Sierra games and I've seen various clips on youtube comparing them. But I still don't fully understand them as I'd be interested in getting one but not too keen on paying for one if I'm not too sure if I'm getting the right one or even if I can get it to work once I do have one.

What I'm interested in is if anyone here on the forums owns one and uses it, could you explain how you set these up, which one to get, are there more then 1 type? How much did it cost you or where did you get it? At the moment I only see 1 for sale on ebay ... 414fbf7acf

I read there are some emulators like MUNT but it isn't as good as the real thing and another one you need the ROM or something?

Re: Understanding Roland MT-32

Posted: Thu May 27, 2010 4:20 am
by Rudy
Never had a Roland MT-32, but i would like to advice caution because the seller has a less than 98% positive feedback.

Re: Understanding Roland MT-32

Posted: Thu May 27, 2010 5:33 am
by Collector
I wouldn't say that it is best for most Sierra games, but perhaps so for the pre VGA SCI games. By the time that General MIDI was supported, MT-32 support became almost an afterthought. There was a short transition between, when the support for the unit is not that great and before GM was widely used in the games. They did a reasonable MT-32 track for the VGA game Conquests of the Longbow, but KQ5 (the first Sierra VGA game) had neither good MT-32 support nor a GM driver. Sierra did supply an after market GM driver for some of these games, but not all. The SHP installers provide these drivers for that games that Sierra did.

For the pre GM games where there was a genuine effort put into programming the MT-32 track, it did sound great. You can hear what some of these games sounded like by going to the pages on SHP for these games. There is a flash player under the thumbnail of the gamebox that plays a piece from that game. For the games that had reasonable support for the MT-32, I have a recording that I made from my own MT-32. KQ4 is the first Sierra game to support it and one of the first games ever to do so. QfG2 is a fairly impressive one, too. Conquests of Camelot also has a nice one.

Munt, while promising, still leaves something to be desired. The SHP Munt page was made a while back and Munt has progressed some since, you can at least get a sampling of the difference between the real thing and Munt. Besides not being very accurate, it also has a couple of issues. First is the need for the ROMs. The ROMs are Roland's IP and as such a C&D was slapped on the original MT-32 emulator project. The status is still in somewhat of legal limbo. The ROMs cannot be legally distributed, but can still be found. The second issues is that the Munt driver can be a challenge to install it and cannot be installed on 64-bit systems at all.

Setting up an MT-32 on a modern PC is not that hard, but you do need to keep a couple of things in mind. You need to have a MIDI out or a game port and MIDI adapter on your PC. Many sound cards today do not. If you do not, you can get a USB MIDI adapter. If you go this route and have 64-bit Windows, be sure that you get an adapter that has a 64-bit driver. Finally, if you have Vista or Win7, you will need to install something like Putzlowitsch's Vista MIDI Mapper to select MPU-401 or its equivalent for the unit. Physical connections are fairly easy. You just hook up the MIDI out from the PC to the MIDI in on the MT-32. There are standard audio jacks on the back of the unit for the output. You can route this back into the audio input of your sound card or directly into some kind of amp or receiver to hear it.

Edit, I just looked at your eBay link. That comes with an ISA card and breakout box. These are good if you intend to setup a dinosaur, but are useless on a modern PC. For that, all you need is the the unit, itself with power adapter and a few cords, like I described above. BTW, DOSBox works great with an MT-32 with nothing extra needed.

Re: Understanding Roland MT-32

Posted: Fri May 28, 2010 1:50 am
by Nevac
Thanks for the informative writeup that makes a lot more sense. I do play a lot of the pre VGA SCI games they have a certain charm to them and it'd be a lot more fun to replay some of them with a roland, I'm watching this PQ2 LP on youtube with a Roland and it just sounds great.

I don't have any intention of buying the one I posted I was using it as an example. But someday I'll seriously look into buying one of them. Is the only way to get one from ebay/2nd hand they don't still actually make a similar modern version right?

One of my older P3 PC's has a sound card with the usual 3x3.5mm jacks and a port that looks like a wider version of a serial port this would be the game port you mentioned right? Going from what you've posted I'd need the roland, a USB MIDI out thing is this what you meant would it do the job? ... 414fdf3365

As well as some Vista 64 drivers for it as well not to mention a power plug converter if I buy it from the US.

Re: Understanding Roland MT-32

Posted: Fri May 28, 2010 3:30 am
by Collector
Any true Sierra aficionado should have an MT-32. It is the way that the early SCI games were meant to be heard. The old game port was perhaps about twice as big as an old serial. That USB to MIDI cable is what I was talking about. Just be sure about your driver needs, as I mentioned. The only other thing that you would need to hook it up would be that cables to hook up the audio out of the MT-32. There are two standard jacks (like that of a full sized microphone jack or for an electric guitar) on the back of the unit. What you need on the other end depends on where you plug it into. If a stereo receiver it needs to go to RCA jacks, if the audio input of your sound card, probably Sony mini, etc.

One last note. This applies to whether you are setting up a real MT-32 or just Munt. Don't forget to select MT-32 for the game's music driver in the RESOURCE.CFG, either manually or with the INSTALL.EXE.

Re: Understanding Roland MT-32

Posted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:09 am
by Aroenai
Replying to an old post but thought I'd share :geek:

For my setup I use a Stereo Mini Plug to 1/4" Left/Right Mono Plugs Y cable adapter to plug my MT-32 into the line-in jack on my sound card, it seems those cables are hard to find and most places either don't specify or they use stereo 1/4" plugs instead of the mono that the MT-32 uses (if it works it'd be like plugging in only one cable). I got mine from for $5.59.

USB to MIDI devices:
No-name for $4.99 (untested, supposedly works without drivers?) ... 2a057380db

E-MU Xmidi 1x1 for around $30 (this is what I use on Win7 x64 but it works for XP/Vista/Mac too) ... 234&sr=1-1

Re: Understanding Roland MT-32

Posted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:34 am
by Collector
Thanks for contributing.

Re: Understanding Roland MT-32

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 5:45 pm
by MusicallyInspired
I know this is an old topic but I just wanted to add my two cents worth (can't believe I didn't notice this thread before!). If only for future reference.

The MT-32 is indeed the best possible way to experience most Sierra adventure games. (any black box version will do. The white ones, named CM-32L, CM-64, and CM-500, are good but opinions vary. But 90% of the time the original black box is the best, any revision. Little LCD message screen!). The games that were written specifically for the MT-32 were all of the SC0 EGA games (starting with KQ4) and all of the SCI10 games (starting with King's Quest 5, and I've gotta disagree with you, Collcetor. The KQ5 MT-32 soundtrack is superb). All the VGA Sierra games with black and white cursours sound best with the MT-32 as that's what they were written for. All other games (SCI11 games and over) have MT-32 support but most of them were written for use with the Roland Sound Canvas SC-55.

Here's a list of games that sound best with the MT-32:

King's Quest IV
Police Quest II
Space Quest III
Conquests of Camelot
Codename: ICEMAN
Hero's Quest/Quest For Glory I (The remake has a General MIDI driver but the MT-32 is still the best way to experience it)
Quest For Glory II
King's Quest I Remake
King's Quest V
Space Quest IV (CD release has a reworked GM soundtrack but it's inferior to the original MT-32 version)
Space Quest I Remake
Police Quest III
Conquests of the Longbow
The Castle of Dr Brain
Eco Quest I (CD version has a decent GM soundtrack, though)
Jones in the Fast Lane
Laura Bow 1
Laura Bow 2 (this was created with General MIDI as well but it was composed for the MT-32)
Mixed Up Fairy Tales
Mixed Up Mother Goose

That's most of them anyway. The following below support General MIDI but sound excellent on the MT-32:

Laura Bow 2
Space Quest IV CD
Space Quest V
King's Quest VI
Eco Quest I CD

And probably one or two others. After that they just added MT-32 support as an afterthought (with GM mapped instruments) like Collector said.

And MUNT doesn't hold a candle (yet) next to the real thing.

Re: Understanding Roland MT-32

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2015 3:37 pm
by Hedegaard
Been trying to set up my MT-32 on my "new" 80386 that I had in the closet for a year.
Man this things a pain!

Been trying with 3x different sound cards, using the joystick port for the MIDI adapter.
Some games will freeze and others start up, but nothing shows on the display on the MT-32 and theres just silence.

I don't have the dedicated ISA MPU-401 controller, just trying to get it to work on soundblaster compatible sound card using the joystick port.

Do I need to set something up in the autoexec.bat file?
Such as:
SET BLASTER= A220 I7 D3 ??????

I can get split audio on e.g. SQIV - the flying spaceship in the intro will whooooosh from the soundblaster output, but nothing comes from the MT32.

Some help would be appreciated if someone knows how to get this working?

Re: Understanding Roland MT-32

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2015 6:02 pm
by Collector
I didn't have my MT-32 back then, but if I remember there were always problems trying to use it with an SB instead of a compatible MPU-401. MI has not been around much lately, but he would probably would have more input.

Re: Understanding Roland MT-32

Posted: Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:13 am
by envisge0ne
What version of windows are you using? Did you go into the control panel and adjust the midi mapper settings?

Re: Understanding Roland MT-32

Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:06 pm
by MusicallyInspired
My guess is he's in DOS. Typically your MIDI output would be set to address 330 by default and games will automatically look here for it. You shouldn't need to set any SET BLASTER parameters. Perhaps check to make sure your sound card driver is loading correctly on bootup?

If memory serves, hooking an MT-32 to a Sound Blaster's joystick/MIDI adapter is not ideal as there are possibilities for stuck/hanging notes and buffer overflows. But your mileage may vary between cards. It all depends on if the MPU-401 compatible output device on the card is "intelligent" or "uart". Can't remember the specifics. Google may help. Getting a decent MPU-401 MIDI device would be best, though. In my 486, I use a Music Quest MIDI card that I got with my first MT-32 from the seller on ebay. Lucky break there. Perfect playback without overflow issues or hanging notes.