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Old 04-12-2011, 10:09 AM   #1
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Default Some classic adventure game MT-32 music (recorded from real MT-32)

Over the past week or so I've recorded a couple of tunes from various classic adventure games, using the Roland MT-32 I finally got around to finding the required cables for.

All of these videos start with the Adlib versions of the tunes, and then play the MT-32 versions... so that it's easy to compare them directly.

I'm suspecting a lot of people here are already very familiar with the MT-32 soundtracks for these games, but I figured maybe it could be helpful if for some reason you want to show what it sounds like to someone who might never have heard MT-32 sound before.

In any case, here are the links to the tunes I've recorded so far -

Legend of Kyrandia in-game music
Leisure Suit Larry 2 opening tune
Leisure Suit Larry 3 opening tune
Leisure Suit Larry 3 in-game music
Police Quest 2 ending tune
Secret of Monkey Island opening tune
Secret of Monkey Island 2 opening tune
Space Quest 3 opening tune
Space Quest 4 opening tune
Willy Beamish opening tune

And here are some more recordings not by me but doing exactly the same as mine (Adlib & MT-32), also recorded using a real MT-32 -

Colonel's Bequest opening music
Kings Quest 4 opening music
Police Quest 2 opening tune
Quest for Glory 2 opening music

Finally, here's a video I found interesting... apparently, some Sierra Amiga ports (horrible as they are) support the MT-32... on the Amiga, pretty cool
The music sounds too slow in this clip, as the Amiga is running in PAL mode instead of NTSC... so that's why the music is slower than it should be.
Still cool to have a look at, though -

MT-32 hooked up to and playing music on an Amiga computer

Last edited by laffer; 04-12-2011 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 04-12-2011, 05:48 PM   #2
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Fantastic! I love the sound of the MT-32, great work.
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Old 04-12-2011, 06:10 PM   #3
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Thanks and yeah, the MT-32 does sound really good in many of these games!

So much so in fact that the MT-32 is one thing I have no problem recommending to any big fans of classic Sierra games... in many cases, such as Police Quest 2, it's really the only way to play the games in my opinion.

It's especially easy to recommend to any fan of these games, regardless of their skills when it comes to PC related things, seeing as hooking this up to modern PCs and getting it up and running is so extremely simple and easy.

Basically, all you do is get a MIDI-USB cable to connect it to your PC, and a TSR cable with two 1/4" mono plugs on one end and a normal 1/8" stereo plug on the other end, to connect to your PC line-in.
The later model of the MT-32 has a normal stereo 1/8" output, but this one is a lot more rare than the older model which has the two 1/4" mono outputs which is why you need this kind of cable in most cases.

Anyway, both of these cables are really easy to find, and very cheap.

It's very much plug and play, just connect the cables and you're pretty much ready to go... the only other thing you need to do (if using Dosbox anyway) is change one little setting in the Dosbox configuration file... basically just change the "midiconfig=" setting to whatever number your MT-32 is listed as (which you can easily find by typing "mixer /listmidi" at the Dosbox prompt which gives you a list of your available midi devices, each with a number assigned).
Simply put the number assigned to your MT-32 in that setting in the Dosbox config file... in my case it is listed as 1, so the line is "midiconfig=1".

And that's it, that's all it takes to get it up and running perfectly.


About the links I've posted in this thread, here are my favourite MT-32 tunes out of all the ones I've posted -

Police Quest 2 opening and ending tunes, as they're maybe the most dramatic improvements compared to the adlib sound out of all of them... much because of, for whatever reason, that game has really bad sounding adlib music... adlib isn't great but it can sound a lot better than it does in PQ2.

Space Quest 3 opening music, as this is another huge improvement and is also a really nice and catchy tune

Secret of Monkey Island 2 opening tune - again because I find this to be one of the more drastic improvements compared to what you get when using adlib, but also because it's the only Monkey Island game for PC in which people normally have to use adlib... unless you count the new, remastered versions.
It's the only Monkey Island game in which this is the case, Monkey Island 1 has the CD version with CD audio tracks, and later MI games are too modern to even have an adlib option.

I also really like the Willy Beamish one... it's not that it's a very good example of the MT-32 improving the sound dramatically, as the adlib in this case also sounds pretty good... I just happen to really like this tune and despite maybe not being the best example, I still love how it sounds on the MT-32.

The one I like the least out of the ones I've posted is the Legend of Kyrandia one... I'm not at all fond of the pan flutes in the MT-32 version, so in this case I might actually prefer the adlib version (the adlib music in this game is really nice!).

Last edited by laffer; 04-12-2011 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 04-13-2011, 05:55 AM   #4
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One question: what is an MT-32?
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Old 04-13-2011, 05:59 AM   #5
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A great and sadly overlooked adventure with a superb MT-32 soundtrack is the first Gateway. The main tune sounds incredible to this day! In fact, most Legend titles of that era had amazing soundtracks.

That said, Space Quest 3 remains the king of MT-32, which is ironic considering it was the first adventure that used it
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Old 04-13-2011, 06:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UPtimist View Post
One question: what is an MT-32?
The Roland MT-32 Multi-Timbre Sound Module is a MIDI synthesizer module first released in 1987 by Roland Corporation.



Basically this little black thing you connect to your PC to get very much better sound in several old games

Last edited by laffer; 04-13-2011 at 06:15 AM.
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laffer View Post
Basically this little black thing you connect to your PC to get very much better sound in several old games
And here my technical curiosity gets piqued.
You mentioned the device has an USB interface. Does this mean the device you're using is a modern variant of the 1987 MT-32? Or does the USB standard go further back in time than I thought? I'm surprised by how plug-n-play the process appears to be. Are the drivers needed for the MT-32 really that universal? How does it show up in the computer's device manager? As an audio card?

Also I'm curious about the sound pipeline details. Would DosBox feed the MT-32 with MIDI digital signals, which are then converted to sound by the device and handed back to the Line-In of the computer's own sound card?

Anyway, thanks for the recordings. It's always nice to hear those tunes the way they were meant to be heard.
Also, I actually enjoy Adlib's "tinny" sound. It's funny, because I must agree that the sound generated by the MT-32 device is far superior. Oh well, I'm strange.

And sorry for the many questions
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:07 AM   #8
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I'm also one of the very lucky people who also own an MT-32 as well (I got it for cheap at a garage sale).

Keep up the good work laffer, really enjoying these!
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeframCochrane View Post
And here my technical curiosity gets piqued.
You mentioned the device has an USB interface. Does this mean the device you're using is a modern variant of the 1987 MT-32? Or does the USB standard go further back in time than I thought? I'm surprised by how plug-n-play the process appears to be. Are the drivers needed for the MT-32 really that universal? How does it show up in the computer's device manager? As an audio card?
The MT-32 does not have an USB interface, it has normal MIDI interface... so you need to buy a MIDI to USB cable, which is used to connect many different kinds of MIDI equipment to PCs via USB.
The drivers aren't MT-32 drivers, they're drivers installed for your MIDI-USB cable... which is responsible for 'converting' the signal from USB to MIDI.
As such, it shows up as another MIDI device, and it will have whatever name the MIDI-USB cable happens to have.

Quote:
Also I'm curious about the sound pipeline details. Would DosBox feed the MT-32 with MIDI digital signals, which are then converted to sound by the device and handed back to the Line-In of the computer's own sound card?
Yes, from what I understand that is exactly what goes on. The PC (well, the games) program the MT-32 through the MIDI-USB cable and then the sound is fed back to the PC through your in-line port of your soundcard.


Quote:
And sorry for the many questions
No problem!

EDIT - I will record a little video showing exactly how everything works in a little bit, just need to go borrow a camera from this guy I know.. don't have a camera myself.

Last edited by laffer; 04-13-2011 at 07:22 AM.
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Old 04-13-2011, 08:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laffer View Post
No problem!

EDIT - I will record a little video showing exactly how everything works in a little bit, just need to go borrow a camera from this guy I know.. don't have a camera myself.
Thanks for the interesting technical info!
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Old 04-13-2011, 09:59 AM   #11
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Can you listen to any MIDIs on it for improved sound, or do they need to be created with MT-32 in mind?
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Old 04-13-2011, 10:31 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Venkman View Post
Can you listen to any MIDIs on it for improved sound, or do they need to be created with MT-32 in mind?
IIRC yes, the General Midi sounds of the MT-32 are very nice compared to the sounds you will find on your basic sound-card.

Like for example the Stones Theme in Ultima VI: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8eLSO9zVf0
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Can you listen to any MIDIs on it for improved sound, or do they need to be created with MT-32 in mind?
No, it was MT-32 specific. The MT-32 had some presets and recorded sound samples in its ROMs, but the best MT-32 tracks had custom sound programmed into it. Data, via sysex information from the game, is sent to the MT-32 unit. Without the unit a game set to use the MT-32 music sounds absolutely terrible with wrong instruments and noises. Because of this dynamic programming, SoundFonts can never replace the MT-32.

The units have not been sold for sometime now, so if you want one you have little options other than the likes of eBay. The good news is that there is an emulator project called Munt under development. This project has been going on for years, but has little progress for the last couple of years. Recently there has been renewed progress that promises the possibility of 100% accuracy.

It has been incorporated into ScummVM and some special builds of DOSBox and a driver for 32-bit Windows, but requires the ROMs from the unit. There are potential copyright issues involved with the ROMs, so they cannot be distributed with the binaries. It is also why it has not been added to the official build of DOSBox. To use it with ScummVM you need to add the ROMs to ScummVM.

For more information about the unit, check out QuestStudios' Roland MT-32 Sound Module Resource Center. For information about using the unit with DOSBox and more information about Munt see this thread. Sound samples of Munt vs a real MT-32 can be found here. Keep in mind that the Munt samples are now quite old and do not reflect the current status of the emulator.

Last edited by Collector; 04-13-2011 at 07:24 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:22 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeframCochrane View Post
Thanks for the interesting technical info!
Here's the video I promised, I decided to make it into somewhat of a tutorial.
Fast forward to 6 minutes in if you just want to see the MT-32 "in action" -

Roland MT-32 setup tutorial video
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Old 04-14-2011, 06:41 PM   #15
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I really love these vids laffer. Just a suggestion:

The Roland Vs Whatever videos are fine (and some of them REALLY show off how great the MT-32 is), but could you do a version that is JUST the MT-32 version. Just so I could add those to my favorites, along with the few I have done so far.
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Old 04-16-2011, 01:10 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laffer View Post
Here's the video I promised, I decided to make it into somewhat of a tutorial.
Cheers! That was a very interesting video.

Which means... more questions! Sorry, but I'm a very curious person.

I've been taking a look at several "X vs. Y" YouTube videos about old MIDI music. Which has made me ask myself "which sound card did I have, back then?". I'm pretty sure I had a Sound Blaster 16 card, because whenever I installed a game, I always chose "Sound Blaster 16" as sound device. I must've been something like 8 years old or something, and I can't remember if I tried all of the options and eventually decided that SB16 was the only one that worked, or if I had someone who told me which one I was supposed to pick. I'm thinking it was the former, 'cos no one in my family really knew anything about computers.

But anyway, back to the point. What I was trying to do is trying to figure out what Monkey Island 2 sounded like the first time I tried it on my 486 with Windows 95. I notice that videos titled "Monkey Island 2 on Adlib" and "Monkey Island 2 on SB16" sound practically identical
(Eg: your Adlib section sounds a lot like what is here identified as Sound Blaster).
So, assuming I did own a SB16, would it have sounded like the "Monkey Island 2 on Adlib" videos?

On an unrelated note, I can't help but feel deep fascination for the pioneeristic sound of the PC Speaker. The MI2 opening is even better. I gather whichever chip generated the sound fed to the speaker could only generate one note at a time and couldn't deal well with simultaneous sound events.... I positively love the syncopated rhythm this causes.
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Old 04-16-2011, 01:03 PM   #17
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Laffer!

Thanks for posting these wonderful videos! I used to have an MT-32, which I bought back in '90 or '91, and spent $500+ on it -- which was tough as a highschool student.

These songs bring me back to great memories!

I have a question: can you possibly record one of my favorite songs using your MT-32?
It's from Willy Beamish and the song is called "Willy's Backyard" -- I think it cues whenever you walk in his backyard, hence the name. Unfortunately, I have only found an ad-lib version.

Thanks!
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Old 04-17-2011, 10:58 AM   #18
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It's from Willy Beamish and the song is called "Willy's Backyard" -- I think it cues whenever you walk in his backyard, hence the name. Unfortunately, I have only found an ad-lib version.

Thanks!
Recorded a video with Adlib vs MT-32 comparisons of two Willy Beamish in-game tunes, the music playing while on the neighborhood map screen, and the tune playing in the backyard.

The MT-32 version of the backyard music starts at 4:21 in the video.

Willy Beamish - two in-game tunes - Adlib vs Roland MT-32

Since you were only looking for the MT-32 version of the backyard song, I uploaded an MP3 of it -

Backyard music MP3 download
Neighborhood music MP3 download
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Old 04-17-2011, 01:04 PM   #19
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Laffer,

Thanks for making that video! I really appreciate it! 'Willy's Backyard' is right up there with the 'Beamish Household' - that's my favorite. But, it's already available as a digital mp3 on Quest Studios now.

You're the best!

By the way, some of the best MT-32 music I remember from a Sierra game was The Colonel's Bequest. The opening sequence starting at Tulane (which you have a link to), the victrola songs and the honkytonk piano numbers were all just stellar.

Last edited by talkshow; 04-17-2011 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 04-18-2011, 07:28 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeframCochrane View Post
Cheers! That was a very interesting video.

Which means... more questions! Sorry, but I'm a very curious person.

But anyway, back to the point. What I was trying to do is trying to figure out what Monkey Island 2 sounded like the first time I tried it on my 486 with Windows 95. I notice that videos titled "Monkey Island 2 on Adlib" and "Monkey Island 2 on SB16" sound practically identical
(Eg: your Adlib section sounds a lot like what is here identified as Sound Blaster).
So, assuming I did own a SB16, would it have sounded like the "Monkey Island 2 on Adlib" videos?
That is indeed the case, Soundblaster cards pretty much used Adlib sound for MIDI music.
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