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Roland MT-200 - The retro device you didn't know you need!


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#1 -^CrožBow^- OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Feb 5, 2018 10:17 AM

Recently acquired and repaired an Roland MT-200. It is basically like having an SC-55 sound module with the ability to play midi files jukebox style from a floppy disk drive! Aside from not having MT-32 support, it covers the rest of the early 90s era DOS gaming Midi needs. Also this module works great with DosBox, ScummVM, and the X68 Sharp x68k emulator through the use of a Roland UMONE mkii usb to midi adapter set.

 

 

For those interested, I picked up my MT-200 listed in as is condition for $40 shipped. It ran another $40 for a brand new set of the Roland USB - Midi cables. Overall, I'm really happy with it!

 

Repairs needed:

 

Settings and Instrumentation was all goofed up. A factory reset from the hidden diag menus took care of this.

Floppy drive would light up but not read or recognize a disk had been inserted. Turned out to be a bend pin on the floppy interface connector on the mainboard. I'm not the only to have gotten inside this module. Also cleaned up the floppy read/write heads as they were pretty nasty as well. About an hours worth of time to fix given I'd never been inside one of these before.


Edited by -^CrožBow^-, Mon Feb 5, 2018 10:20 AM.


#2 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Feb 5, 2018 7:27 PM

That looks rare and I'll bet it was expensive (like $600+) when it launched in 1994 or so. Do you know where there are any vintage reviews? I'd love to read some writeups from the time it was new. 

 

Congratulations on the new thing!



#3 -^CrožBow^- OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Feb 5, 2018 9:33 PM

Information on this is pretty scarce. However, it would appear that over the last year, more information from Roland is at least available. You can find the 2 manuals that came with it online freely and easy enough. And Roland at least lists how to access the hidden diag menu where the factory reset option is found. What I do know about my unit is that based on the serial number, it was likely from around 1992, but as I found out when I got inside it to fix the floppy drive issue, mine has an updated firmware 2.01 firmware chip in it dated from 11-30-1994. The chip is also hand written on and not at all like the date red dot code stickers I've seen on other Roland devices. Not sure it the chip was burned manually or if this is how Roland sent out updated firmware chips? It was missing a screw as well which, was another way I knew it wasn't virgin before I opened it up.


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#4 OLD CS1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Feb 5, 2018 11:05 PM

I saw a MIDI boombox not long ago.  Really cool stuff.  This would be a neat thing to have.



#5 -^CrožBow^- OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Feb 5, 2018 11:20 PM

I saw a MIDI boombox not long ago.  Really cool stuff.  This would be a neat thing to have.

 

Yes there are quite a few devices like this that Roland released all the way up until like 2007 or so? The first of these was the MC-500 and the MT-100. The MT-100 was the exact same thing only it was an MT-32 sound module with sequencing ability using the built in MT-32 sounds of course. There is also smaller units with built in speakers like the newer MT-90 series and also another one called the SD-35. As I said, quite a few of these types of things exist and when I first saw a video from Techmoan talking about the MT-80s, I set out on the quest to get something similar. Also in looking at those units like the MT-80s, MT-90...I'm not sure you can actually use them as sound modules like for old games. Because they only contain just the single Midi IN port and I'm sure that is for the Piano only Midi input. So you would only get Midi sounds that sound like a piano on one channel. That is what I was experiencing when I first was getting this up and running. Turns out you have to use the Midi Aux IN to have it work like an SC-55...etc.



#6 pacman000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 6, 2018 7:58 AM

Seems to be quite a few posts on Google Groups: https://groups.googl...Roland$20MT-200

 

But none of the ones I saw had much info...


Edited by pacman000, Tue Feb 6, 2018 8:01 AM.


#7 -^CrožBow^- OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 6, 2018 12:48 PM

Seems to be quite a few posts on Google Groups: https://groups.googl...Roland$20MT-200

 

But none of the ones I saw had much info...

 

That's pretty funny as most of the posts are asking about how to convert the native rsc type files that the MT-200 saves in to normal midi format. I actually discovered this myself when I recorded and then saved the Vampire Killer song as it was playing through the x68 emulator. However, I also found a conversion program written by some guy from the late 90s early 2000s that only works in DOS and he doesn't state it will convert everything perfectly. 

 

Point being, I was able to use this exact conversion program in Dosbox to convert the vampire killer recording back to standard midi format and to my eyes at least, it sounds the exact same as it did while playing through the module.

 

But yes, not much to be found on these. They weren't really marketed as sound modules for studio professionals. They were really marketed to music teachers and those learning to play piano. Hence the name MT (Music Tutor). So I don't imagine they sold them in the same numbers as say....actual sound canvas modules bitd. I honestly don't know what they even cost back in 92 when this model was first released but I did see one of those older posts from like 96 or something where a person was asking $1000 for his. So I have to assume they at least cost that much if not more when new back in 1992. 



#8 x=usr(1536) ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 6, 2018 8:15 PM

The MT-200 is kind of a neat device.  The Techmoan channel on YouTube did a video on its little brother, the MT-80, a couple of months ago:

 

 

Incidentally, there was also a Boss model that used Zip disks:

 



#9 -^CrožBow^- OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 6, 2018 8:40 PM

The MT-200 is kind of a neat device.  The Techmoan channel on YouTube did a video on its little brother, the MT-80, a couple of months ago:

 

Incidentally, there was also a Boss model that used Zip disks:

 

 

I mentioned the techmoan video in one of my other replies. It was his video that got me interested in looking these up. I was especially drawn to the thought that they could be used not only as self playback Midi devices, but also as sound module given they featured a midi in port and had the entire GS sound bank in them. I only happened to discover the MT-120 and MT-200 when I started looking into the specs of the MT-90 that I actually had my eye on. I'm really glad I picked up this MT-200 as it was much less expensive then I thought I might have to pay for something like this and turns out it has more features than what I'd be able to likely do with the MT-80 or MT-90. 

 

The Boss unit in the 8-bit guy video is strictly a digital studio composer. So it isn't a sound module and is strictly designed for recording audio into the various 8-tracks to manipulate and create songs.


Edited by -^CrožBow^-, Tue Feb 6, 2018 8:42 PM.


#10 -^CrožBow^- OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:12 AM

I've done a quick video on this tech before, but after my frustrations with lack of information on the web about this specific sound module, I thought I would do a small sieres of videos detailing more about it and what I've discovered in using it. Here is part 1 where I cover the basics on the functions or the modules various buttons and describe the uses of the ports along the back. Especially important is that I do a basic overview of the hidden diagnostic/test menu that is hiding within this module and I suspect others as well. This is Part 1 of what I predict will be a 3 part video series.

 

Enjoy!

 



#11 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:08 AM

Recently acquired and repaired an Roland MT-200. It is basically like having an SC-55 sound module with the ability to play midi files jukebox style from a floppy disk drive! Aside from not having MT-32 support, it covers the rest of the early 90s era DOS gaming Midi needs. Also this module works great with DosBox, ScummVM, and the X68 Sharp x68k emulator through the use of a Roland UMONE mkii usb to midi adapter set.

 

 

For those interested, I picked up my MT-200 listed in as is condition for $40 shipped. It ran another $40 for a brand new set of the Roland USB - Midi cables. Overall, I'm really happy with it!

 

Repairs needed:

 

Settings and Instrumentation was all goofed up. A factory reset from the hidden diag menus took care of this.

Floppy drive would light up but not read or recognize a disk had been inserted. Turned out to be a bend pin on the floppy interface connector on the mainboard. I'm not the only to have gotten inside this module. Also cleaned up the floppy read/write heads as they were pretty nasty as well. About an hours worth of time to fix given I'd never been inside one of these before.

 

It looks like a police scanner from the 70s/80s,  but cool!   How does it sound?



#12 -^CrožBow^- OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:52 PM

 

It looks like a police scanner from the 70s/80s,  but cool!   How does it sound?

 

At the end of the video I have a few songs playing directly off the disk drive through the unit. If you have heard stuff on a Roland Sound Canvas before (Especially the SC-55), then you pretty much know what to expect. I've got an MT-32 on the way as well and will hopefully be able to get that working by simply daising chaining it off the Midi Thru from the MT-200.



#13 -^CrožBow^- OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2018 12:01 PM

And here is part 2 of my MT-200 Tutorial. Mainly covering how to change the date and time because believe it or not, that isn't covered in either of the two main owner manuals these come with and certainly hasn't been documented online anywhere before...until now. Additionally, I go over the full functions of diskette operations such as using the built in format function and how to copy songs back and forth..etc. Finally I show the music playback from diskettes and jukebox mode.

 

 

 

Not sure how much anyone really cares about this LOL! But at least it is here if someone should happen to need information regarding these. Will begin work on part 3 hopefully in the next few days.



#14 -^CrožBow^- OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:41 PM

I have finished up my tutorial series on this pretty amazing little sound module and sequencer. But I figured it would be better suited to put all of these into my hardware blog I have here at AA instead of this thread which, aside from using this module and others like it for classic PC games, seems to fit better there than in this thread.

 

http://atariage.com/...rial-and-guide/






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