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. Then 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 synthesizer. 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. 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 vSTI wrapper. The wrapper can be downloaded from here.
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
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. Also, the MT-32 emu comes default without the system roms like openMSX.
6. A 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.
We get a lot of questions lately of people who order a MIDI-PAC2, PlaySoniq and Modulon, among other stuff.
Here’s how the order proces works: when you place an order, we put your name on our reservelist for the chosen product. Sadly, for most products we can not meet demand directly. We produce a few pieces, sell it, scout parts, save some money for a new production run and then deliver to the people who have made a reservation. Current policy is that we will not ask money beforehand until we know for sure we can deliver your item within a few weeks.
So, filling in our order form secures your place on our reservation list. If we have stock we will contact you with payment instructions.
Currently a small batch of Modulons is being produced, which will go to the people who made reservations some time ago. We are busy with a big batch of MIDI-PAC2’s which looks like it will be bigger than our reservation list so we can finally also do some advertisement for it. For the PlaySoniq we are still scouting parts for a new batch, but this is almost complete. Also we have an idea how to restart the production itself. This could take some months. So, keep those orders coming and rest assured that while we can’t inform you on a daily basis we will contact you when we can deliver your order.
For our new product called “Darky” (See earlier posts below) development now lies with Worp3 who also did work on the design. Thanks to Tjeerd we now make great steps in development, weekly.
Thank you for your support and happy MSX-ing!
First happy new year to you all! Hopefully we can all achieve some great goals this year and make our life a bit better.
An important part of some of our lives are of course toying around with our old MSX homecomputers and to see if we can learn those old machines some new tricks. We got great plans, but real life eat most of our time so we got to settle with what we can do in the time available to us.
Currently we are busy with the following:
- Scouting the necessary parts to restart production of the PlaySoniq, our multiexpander for MSX. This has proven more difficult than expected because we use a lot of parts that are obsolete for quite some time. But we are getting there and we hope to run a new batch later this year.
- The Modulon is being produced again. We already finished the pcb’s for a small new batch and are now working with suppliers to see if we can 3D print the casings again for a reasonable price. We hope to have some ready at the end of January. Please note that people who have reserved/ordered a Modulon in the past year will be contacted first; there’s no need to order again if you ordered before.
- We are busy to see if we can produce a extension cable for the Modulon. Hopefully we got more news on this soon.
- The MIDI-PAC2 has finished development and is now being produced. We hope to start shipping in February. Selling price will be 70 euros without shipping. This device supports PSG over MIDI next to OPLL to MIDI and we are very excited about this product. WORP3 redesigned the hardware but also the software has gotten a complete overhaul with much more tweaks due to faster hardware. Also: people who were on the waiting list for a MIDI-PAC1 will get an invitation to buy the MIDI-PAC2 first.
- Our stereo ePSG project ‘Darky’ is moving on slowly. The first prototypes are being send to developers and we are already busy to test the hardware together and yes some bugs needs to be addressed before we can go to production. We have no estimate yet when this product will be available. Hopefully we got more news soon.
- We are busy with reproducing a small batch of MSX Audio prints. These will be available later this year.
- We are investigating to reproduce the Philips NMS 1250 cartridge casing with injection moulding. This design is also used by Sunrise and in some of our products. The 3D design is almost finished. Because injection moulding is quite expensive we are looking to people who would like to participate in obtaining some professionally produced cartridges for their own projects, and need more space than the konami sized alternatives offers. We are thinking of reselling batches of 50 pieces for about 4 euro per piece (so 200 euro total) to cover total production costs. Please mail us (info @ thisdomain) for more info. Please note that we want to make this -as all our products are- free of profit. So if we can reduce the production costs we will charge less per batch.
- We have some other (small) projects on the drawing board but is too early to make announcements yet. Hopefully later this year.
Have fun in 2017!
The SuperSoniqs team.
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.
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.
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
Thanks to Brazilian MSX developers FRS and MSXPró, we can now publish a do it yourself guide for building your Sega own Audio and Video cartridge named “Franky”.
FRS took over some bare-boned pcb’s and worked out a instruction manual together with MSXPró. MSXpró improved the original design with better audio, audio and CVBS connectors and support for real vga monitors (that can handle 15KHz signals).
Because the cartridge enclosure needed for the board is hard to come by, we developed a 3D model of the cartridge enclosure needed together with Dutch 3D- model company D-byte, which we offer as a free download to use in your own personal projects. This model is compatible with Philips NMS 1250 and Sunrise Moonsound type casings. The model is in the Sketchup format (plug-ins exist to export to .stl and other formats your 3D printer accepts)
3D Printer Franky casing, free download.
Price for one Franky PCB board is 15 euro. That includes worldwide shipping (unregistered by letter mail). Please note that this only contains the pcb. You will have to acquire the necessary parts yourself (the part list is in the manual).
Link to the Franky DIY manual (.pdf): DIY Franky manual
Link to the cartridge enclosure file for 3D printing (.skp): Franky Cartridge Casing 3D model
Thank you for your support and happy holidays!
P.S. The order page and form is now updated, you can order one or multiple pcb’s. Please note that multiple pcb’s will be only send registered, so you need to order 6 pcb’s or more to make it cheaper for worldwide shipping.
We are sorry to say but currently the stock information is as follows:
- Playsoniq – sold out. We have some bare pcb’s left that could be finished. However, finding the parts is difficult and we are busy with a new project. We don’t know yet when this product will be available again.
- Modulon – first batch is sold out. We are looking into making a new batch, but we don’t have any time table for this. Maybe we will make changes to the design and this will take more free time we don’t have at the moment.
- MIDI-PAC. Sold out. Worp3 is busy with a new batch. New redesign is ready, software is not. We expect this product around the end of Q1 2016 or early Q2.
- MSX-Audio. We might produce some new boards in cooperation with MVM. Don’t expect these before Q2 2016.
Please keep using the order form. This will tell us that there is demand for these products so we might put some little more effort to reproduce them. Also, people who are so kind to use the order form will get on the reserve list and will be contacted first when new batches arrive.
All our free time and efforts are now being redirected to finish a new product we have been working on for the last two years. We hope to tell you more early 2016.
Thank you for your support,
SuperSoniqs & Worp3