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Full Version: Retro midi machine!
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Charming little device! Both its looks and sounds. Of course, 12 bits can sound nice if you are going for those retro-new-age sounds!

Looks like it has the very bare essentials but I am sure you can push it to its limits with modern DAWs.

I love these boxes. They look so portable, like they were designed to be used alongside modern day laptops.
I think it was actually aimed at portable use also, since it has a serial interface as well as regular MIDI I/O. So you could hook it up to a computer without lugging around a MIDI interface.
...and now that you mention it, it doesn't really look like hardware that is almost 30 years old! I hadn't really thought about that.

I think I just found out why the TG100 sounds so appealing and oddly familiar to me, even though I've never used one before. Turns out the TG100 uses the same AWM sampling engine and 12 bit samples as Yamaha's 1990 SY22 synth which I talked about here, one of the first real synths I got a chance to explore for a longer period of time. I borrowed one from a friend sometime around 96/97 for recording a bunch of demo tracks, and as he wasn't using it he was in no hurry getting it back. I think I ended up keeping it for like six months.

I'm not sure all samples are the same across both devices, but I definitely recognize the strings and various other stuff even though it's been more than 20 years. The SY22 has an FM engine mixed with the AWM engine so it's not like the two units sound the same, but the resemblance is there. Some of the SY22 patches were very characteristic (and not always in a good way).

Really cool! What's the percussion patch (or patches) you're using here?
I only use two different patches: the GM Taiko Drum, and the Orchestra Kit, from which I'm just using bass drum, congas, triangle and timpani. It was tempting to layer on more percussion but you have to watch out for that 28 note polyphony Wink
(08-14-2018, 09:21 AM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]I only use two different patches: the GM Taiko Drum, and the Orchestra Kit, from which I'm just using bass drum, congas, triangle and timpani. It was tempting to layer on more percussion but you have to watch out for that 28 note polyphony Wink

Nice! I use taiko drums a lot but I don't think I'm getting at their full potential; I need to study / practice more. Also, congas are something I need to try out.

Arrangement here sounds pretty full, though. I would never have guessed you were limited (though perhaps inferred, by the age of the unit).
Lucked out today and was able to add this guy to my collection!

[Image: IMG_20180816_162056_031.jpg]

It's a Roland M-GS64, the 1U rack version of the SC-88 Sound Canvas.
Sorry for the monologue here, but I'm using this thread as a sort of road diary for this project so that I have an idea of what stuff was added when, what my impressions were and so on.

OK, the M-GS64. First of all I must say that while I've heard tons of music played back on various incarnations of the Sound Canvas, I've never used one myself aside from maybe plinking some notes on one in a music store in the nineties. And the difference between listening to the WarCraft II or Duke Nukem 3D soundtracks on Youtube and actually sitting down to explore the presets yourself... well that's a completely different story. And I must say I'm pleasantly surprised.

The Sound Canvas range has a reputation for being cheap-sounding. Thin, soulless, generic rompler fare. I dunno, maybe I've spent too much time with the Yamaha TG100 lately, but I'm not really hearing that? I think the M-GS64 sounds really damn good -- not "for a 1995 piece of hardware", but actually good as in something I would consider reaching for outside retro-style music. It has some really lush slow/warm strings patches that would work great for more ambient orchestral textures, or for just providing big string pads for non-orchestral music. A lot of the synth patches are great as well and cover what I consider to be the missing ground in many modern VSTi synths: those sparkly, chiffy digital synth sounds from the late 80's and early 90's that I love (but no one else, apparently). Yes, there's tons of cheesy dated stuff as well, but nothing strikes me as completely unusable in the right scenario.

On top of that it has some very impressive features. 32 parts (16+16 midi channels), 64-voice polyphony, per-part EQ, a ton of effects, two stereo outputs (or 1 stereo + 2 mono), lowpass filter, ADSR envelope, velocity-triggered filtering, detune, and what I think is some randomization to the note attack that helps alleviate the machine gun effect for repeated notes. And probably more, I have only started exploring this thing. All in all it's pretty hard to fault the M-GS64/SC-88.

There is one thing that I don't like about it though. Not a biggie, but it annoys me. The desktop Sound Canvas units like the SC-55 and SC-88(Pro) are really neat-looking little gadgets, with their large LCD screens and friendly front panel interfaces. They are sort of timeless and don't look out of place even in a modern studio setup. The M-GS64 though looks like some kind of lab equipment from the mid 1980's. I can understand and appreciate why Roland used a different approach for the rack version -- it's meant for live use, something to be lugged around in a rack case and able to withstand all sorts of abuse that would likely kill a SC-88 in no time -- but why did it have to look so damn utilitarian? At the very least, some color besides black and gray would have been nice. Ah, well.
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