MIDI-PAC2 without MIDI synth hardware

If you have your Windows PC next to your MSX setup this tip we got might be for you. There are ways to use your Windows PC as the MIDI playback device.

You need a few things. First of all, Microsoft removed support for extra midi mappers since Windows 8. You’ll need a midi mapper to install alternative playback devices for playing MIDI. There’s a default MIDI playback device installed in Windows, but the quality is low and it lacks a lot of professional features.

For Windows 8 and up, you need to install Coolsoft’s MIDI-Mapper.  It can be downloaded from https://coolsoft.altervista.org/en/forum/thread/427 after registering for that forum. Coolsoft Midi MapperThen there are several ways to install a better software synthesizer. Coolsoft’s has also made available the Virtual Midi Synth, that can be downloaded from Coolsoft’s forum and it will add a new MIDI playback device under Windows. It’s soundfont (sample based synthesis) based.

Another option is to install the S-YXG50 software synthesizersyxg50 This shareware synthesizer was released by Yamaha in 2003 and supports XG and Roland GS extensions. Basically it’s the software version of the MU-50 MIDI Sound Module.

installing2

 

It’s wrapped in a vSTi (plug-in software standard for audio editing programs). To get it to work as a global MIDI device under Windows, you need to install a vST MIDI-driver. The vST MIDI-driver can be downloaded from ‘Mudlord’s Lair’.

usb midi

 

An USB to MIDI cable can be ordered from different sites. Aliexpress sells them for around $5 including shipping. You’ll also need a 5 pin din midi coupler to connect the MIDI-PAC cable to the pc midi cable, that can be bought for about $2.5, also at Aliexpress.

Further reading, viewing and listening:

1.XG MIDI Files archive.
2. Soundfont MIDI Player as better alternative for playing MIDI files midi player
Youtube video with the MIDI Player and S-YXG50 together:

3. Roland Sound Canvas vSTI obtainable as test or buy for 115 euro. Video here:


4. The LoopMIDI driver to reroute programs that want to open hardware MIDI ports under Windows to your installed software synthesizers (e.g. for playing old dos games etc.)
5. There’s also a MT-32 emulator on Github (thanks Grauw). Please note that you first need to install the Coolsoft MIDI Mapper and create a loopback port with the LoopMIDI driver before you can use the emulator as the global MIDI playback instrument under Windows 8 and up.

MT-32a.png

To support legacy MIDI programs like MT-32 emulator you first need to create a virtual hardware port with loopMIDI. Then you can can select the new virtual MIDI port as the default Windows MIDI device with Coolsoft’s MIDI-Mapper.

Also, the MT-32 emu comes default without the system roms like openMSX.

MT-32b

After creating the hardware port with loopMIDI, you can assign it to the ‘Munt’ MT-32 emulator under the Tools menu of the MT-32 emulator (first option: ‘New midi port’). After assigning the port you can use normal Windows programs like Windows Media Player to play MT-32 files. With the Coolsoft’s MIDI-Mapper you can also easily switch between (Virtual) MIDI devices for default MIDI-Playback.

6. MT-32 files of XAK: The Tower of Gazzel and Illusion City can be found here
7. Another collection of MT-32 MIDI files can be found here. Please note that the drum channel is different on a MT-32 so these MIDI files may sound off when using another MIDI-playback device.
8. Some more MSX-themed general MIDI files at MSX Resource Center

MSX user ToughKidCST Kim made a movie with the Coolsoft MIDI mapper and Virtual Midi Synth implemented. See it in action below!

Happy listening!

Introducing Darky, the stereo ePSG soundcard with effect processor

Hi all,

You know these questions that start with “What if?”. Here at SuperSoniqs it is all about making our own “What if’s” possible. One of those was of course the lack of stereo sound in any MSX.  A while ago we stumbled upon an AY8930 sound processor. It was designed by General Instruments as an successor of the AY-3-8910 and sold to Microchip Taiwan together with their other chip designs. Microchip actually released it, implementations were made for PC (the infamous Sound Master) and the design was also used in a few arcade systems. The fun thing about the AY8930 is that it has two different operating modes, one is AY-3-8910 compatible, and the other one is the enhanced mode. The enhanced mode of the AY8930 adds separate envelopes for the three channels (as opposed to one shared envelope in the AY-3-8910), variable duty-cycles, more bits of precision for note frequency, volume, and envelope frequency, and a much better configurable noise generator.

darky

 

But of course the main fact that it was backwards compatible with our MSX PSG made us thinking why not release a cartridge with this soundchip? And why not a cartridge with two new ePSG’s? Since these chips have separate outputs for each PSG-channel (even our MSX PSG has, but few MSX’s actually make use of this), we thought it would be nice to put each channel into a stereo mixer, so that each seperate channel can be mixed and placed into the stereo dept field (stereo panning). Also, the channel mixers used have some more functionality like treble, bass, equalizing and 3d stereo spatializing.

But that’s not all. The audio end result of the mixed channels is fed into a SPIN FX-1 Effect processor, which has fixed effects such as echo, reverb, flange, chorus, etc. and 8 programmable effects. For this a EEprom is also part of the PCB design.

In default mode our new cartridge will start in the MSX PSG compatible mode, with the second PSG on a different clockspeed to create a pseudo stereo effect, usable with all existing MSX software. Registers are being made to access all PSG’s in MSX or ePSG enhanced mode, and to control the mixers and effect processor. An Atmel processor and Philips CLPD are used to control all hardware on this PCB.

The ePSG stereo card has two stereo mini-jack outputs, one line-out and the other one is an amplified headphone output.

Programming and testing this pcb will take some time. We hope to be able to release this card later this year.

Franky Cartridge Enclosure .STL files

Dear all,

Due to populair demand we hereby publish the .stl files of the Franky cartridge enclosure too. Some people had problems converting the Sketch-up files. With these .STL files you can 3d-print a compatible casing for your Franky project. Most professional 3d printer companies also accept these .stl files. Have fun with it.

Link to zip file containing the stl files

 

PlaySoniq Toolset updated, SMSSAVE released

BiFi informs us that PSQTOOLS, the toolset for the PlaySoniq module has been updated.

SMSSAVE is completely new and can savegame data for Sega Master System roms that had support for battery back-upped save states.

SMSLOAD now not only loads Sega Master System, SG-1000 and SC-3000 roms files, but also loads Sega Master System savegame data created with SMSSAVE. SMSLOAD now also supports displaying  SG-1000 and SC-3000 ROM images on the MSX VDP, because these games are TMS9918 compatible. Funny when you realise that we already had the option to use the PlaySoniq for the MSX1 screen output (with the tool DUALVDP), and can now put Sega SG and SC roms on the MSX VDP output.

BiFi uses the PlaySoniq stateful memory option to reserve one part that is then configured as SRAM and used by the loaded rom to write the savegame information. After a soft reset, the SMSSAVE tool can then be used to write that information from memory back to disk. Next time you start SMSLOAD, you can then add the savegame to the SMSLOAD command instruction, which will load the savegame back into the Playsoniq memory and then execute the rom.

In our opinion this is a very clever trick. Also, in the past we heard some users say they liked the PlaySoniq very much, but regretted that progress in games that had some sort of back-up was lost every time they had to quit playing.

This has now been solved, thanks to BiFi!

Grab it at www.tni.nl

PSQTOOLS updated and SMSLOAD for PlaySoniq released!

TNI informs us that PSQTOOLS, the toolset for the PlaySoniq module has been updated! Three new tools have been released: PSQSAVE and PSQLOAD, to save and load PlaySoniq module settings and SMSLOAD, a tool to load and run Sega Master System ROM images. SMSLOAD also supports Sega SC-3000 and SG-1000 rom files, when the correct extension (e.g. name.sg) is given at the command line. Grab them at the TNI site: www.tni.nl

Playsoniq tools

Already announced last year on http://www.msx.org is the new Playsoniq tool made by BiFi of TNI, called PSQTOOLS.

These are support tools for the PlaySoniq module. As more tools are released, the archive is updated. Currently the list of tools is:

DUALVDP

  • Show the MSX screen on both the MSX VDP and Sega VDP in the PlaySoniq module

PSQSET

  • Configure every setting in the PlaySoniq module:
  • Memory layout
  • SCC(+) emulation
  • Frequency selections:
  • VBlank frequency
  • Composite output signal
  • SID frequency
  • Base I/O port configurations
  • Special features:
  • SCC join PSG
  • Sega pad overlay
  • Sega OPLL
  • Show current settings

BiFi also updated the MSX rom loader ROMLOAD (imho the best romloader around) with support for the DAC of the Playsoniq.

Please download his tools from the TNI website:

PSQTOOLS

http://www.tni.nl/products/psqtools.html

ROMLOAD

http://www.tni.nl/products/romload.html

Thank you again BiFi!

Philips MSX-Audio Expander Bios Upgrading

Some users have asked us how to modify the Philips Music Module expander to support the new MSX Audio Rom 1.3 made by Brazilian MSX user FRS. This new bios has quite some new features like better MSX-Music instrument support and support for games that make use of the MSX-Music (FM-PAC) bios. A lot of ASCII MSX-Music now work! Please follow the FRS page link later on in this article for the release notes.  We have tested this new rom with our expander and indeed some modifications needs to be done. Although those modifications are not complicated to do at all.

First you have to remove the yellow wires on the bottom of the expander:

Then you have to connect jumpers labeled 2 and 3 on the expander board. See below for the example (done on the bottom of the expander)

And this is all you have to do! Please note that the new MSX Audio bios from FRS does not include the original Philips software.
The latest bios from FRS can be downloaded at his homepage, in the tools section: http://frs.badcoffee.info/tools.html

You need the file msxaudio13.NMS-1205.rom from the MSX Audio Bios v1.3 zip package. Please contact Bas at www.bas-ditta.info if you need help obtaining a new flashed rom. If you own a Music Module and want better support for games and music, please note that we still have a few MSX Audio Upgrade boards left.

MSX meetings

Unfortunately we could not attend the latest MSX meeting held by AAMSX in Barcelona due to an unexpected strike of the air traffic controllers in Spain. Luckely Spanish MSX user Salva managed to bring his PlaySoniq to the party so at least visitors could take a peek. Thank you Salva for demoing the PlaySoniq.  We did however manage to attend the nice MSX Info Party in Helsinki last August and made a small video of the PlaySoniq in action for you to enjoy.