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.
To make up for not being around in Barcelona, we will pay the shipping costs for our items bought by Spanish residents until the end of December and we hope to see you again next year.
Last Saturday, the monthly MSX Mariënberg meeting was held. We still had all the PlaySoniq, MIDI-PAC and MSX gear in boxes due to the Bonami retro fair that was held one week before. So we could easily also show a little demonstration in Mariënberg.
At the Bonami fair, people liked the PlaySoniq and the MIDI-PAC. For the PlaySoniq we had to convince people that it was actually a MSX that was playing Sega games. For the MIDI-PAC we’ve got questions about which CD’s we were playing (while we actually were demo-ing MSX games). This was also partly due to Tjeerd bringing his Yamaha XG wavetable MIDI module. Which actually blows away our simple Yamaha TG-300 tone generator.
Over the last weeks, we also managed to let the PlaySoniq work together with the MIDI-PAC.There are about 64 Sega Master System games with support for OPLL (the same chip as in the MSX Music standard or the FM-PAC has). Since the PlaySoniq can reroute that music and sound effects to the MSX, the MIDI-PAC can pick those up too and convert that to MIDI data on the fly. In short: with the PlaySoniq and the MIDI-PAC combined, you can also enjoy your SMS-FM games with your MIDI equipment. Try that with a Master System Console 😉
We recorded a little video at Mariënberg to show the MIDI-PAC and the PlaySoniq working together. A big thank you to Filip Slagter who was willing to demo YS2 FM and Scramble Spirits on the PlaySoniq and MIDI-PAC combined. And Firehawk with the MIDI-PAC. we hope you like this video. But keep in mind that this demo was recorded with a phone (and the TG-300). A lot of the lower frequencies in the bass and drums sounds are therefore missing in the sound output.
Some users report that their FM-PAC is not working with the PlaySoniq. Others report that the joysticks are not working. For FM-PAC support you first have to activate the FM-PAC. After typing CALL MUSIC (or add this enty in the sega.bas file) everything works. Albert Beevendorp wil release a tool with which you can activate the FM-PAC from MSX-DOS. We hope to make this available soon. For joystick support you also have to edit the sega.bas file. By default only the keyboard is active. To change this, change line 120 by entering ‘ 120 OV=4 ‘ and save “sega.bas” again. Please note there’s an overlay matrix in the manual were you can check which option best suits your needs, or the game you want to play. PCEFAN reports that overlay code 3 works best in most situations. Just try and check the results for your configuration.
If you experience soft SCC sound, there a few ways around this. First of all, there’s a volume adjuster on the PCB which you can adjust to balance the SCC mixing. Please check the manual for details. To get full control over the audio mixing, also for mixing OPLL sounds with PSG, MSX with PlaySoniq and our upcoming MIDI-PAC we bought a Behringer VMX-300 3-Channel audio mixer. These can be picked up for about 50 euros at local or webbased trade-in markets. New it’s about 120~150 euros. We got ours for 50.
You can see the VMX-300 and the MIDI-PAC prototype in action here:
Already spotted in the wild by some of you, but now it’s official: the PlaySoniq is on sale! The price of this multi-expander is set to 150 euros. The default connector cable from the PlaySoniq to Euro-SCART is 15 euro. A customized cable for J-SCART, CVBS or extra audio outputs can be made for you (please allow for some extra delivery days), prices are around 25 euro. Worldwide shipping not included. Please ask for details.
The first software package is ready and we have been busy with the instruction manual. Detailed information for users and programmers included. Check the PlaySoniq User Manual v1.3 on our documents page for all its amazing features.
Our product packaging (the outside box to shelve) will be produced by Sunrise by the end of this year and all buyers can apply for a free one (shipping excluded) when they’re ready. Please note that all PlaySoniq expanders will be send with a cartridge enclose (as seen on the above photo). We will start to process your orders at Monday the 6th of September. As all expanders have to endure testing, not all orders can be send out immediately.
Send your pre-orders to email@example.com. We will contact you when we are ready to process your order. Until then!
After months of preparation we are now at a point that it is safe to announce our next product the PlaySoniq: This exiting new multi-expander for MSX compatible computers will open up a great deal of new possibilities. It’s main features are:
- Sega 315-5246 Audio/Video chip (found in latest Sega Master System II game consoles)
- PAL/NTSC Encoder (50/60Hz real-time software switchable)
- MOS Technology 6581 or 8580 Sound Interface Device (SID), also found in the Commodore 64/128.
- Up to 128 Megabit RAM (16MB) addressable memory
- Memory switchable between MSX or Sega Master System mode
- Spartan FPGA running at 80Mhz
- SCC/SCC-I (in FPGA) + 512KB Konami mapper, compatible with romload, loadrom and others
- JTAG Connector
- PSG to SCC redirecting in FPGA hardware, software switchable
- Real-time Joystick, Keyboard and OPLL to MSX remapping when in Sega Master System mode.
- Support for +/- 400 Sega Master System, SC-1000 and SG-3000 games
- Software switch for VDP addresses: MSX1 Mirror mode, SEGA (Franky) or Colecovision mode
- Total of 13 extra sound-channels, SID filter controllable
- Gold plated slot-connector for durability
At the moment the production of the PCB with the SMD components has started. Afterwards, we have to finalize the PCB’s and product packaging. Some final testing and programming also needs to be done. We hope to start shipping in August. We’ll do our utmost best to keep the final sale price between a Moonsound and a OPL4 shockwave ;-). We have published a little video about the manufacturing process for you. Enjoy! (If you get an error while playing, please select 480p resolution first.)
Tjeerd of WORP3 informed us that developments on the MIDI-PAC go well. And he wanted us to hear the progress already. Please note that the algorithms to convert MSX Music to MIDI out commands are still being tweaked. The software to create mappings for MIDI instruments is also still under development. In the mean time please enjoy the following recordings (made with a Roland Sound Canvas SC 55):
Xak: Tower of Gazzel
Of course, in the end the final quality of the sound output will be determined by your equipment and instrument presets made.
Update October 2010: Please note that these audio files are in not representative anymore. The current quality that the MIDI-PAC can deliver is way better.
We just found out at the MRC that Kralizec is releasing their new game “Goonies ‘R Good Enough’ on the next 37th MSX users meeting in Barcelona, which will be held on June 19th in Barcelona. The first 35 buyers will get an official Goonies badge and a poster. The game is priced at 35 euro and the cartridge also contains a SCC and PSG in FPGA. Apart from being a great game, the best news is of course that this game also supports the MSX1 compatible screen mode of Franky ;-). Which could be nice for those users who have Franky and a MSX1, but no RGB output on the MSX1. It’s also great for testing your Franky card.
The game can also be ordered from the MSX cartridge shop and Sunrise if you are unable to attend the meeting. Check Kralizec at the MSX cartridge shop for details.
There’s an old promo of the game on Youtube: