Philips NMS 1205 Music Module as midi synthesizer

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By treblig

Resident (60)

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28-09-2022, 11:16

Hello to all,

I would like to use the Philips NMS 1205 OPL-L chip as a midi in synthesizer, which is connected to a midi sequencer / live looper. See diagram below:

[MSX audio] <- [sequencer] <- [midi piano]

Is there some existing software that can edit and assign OPL-L sounds to midi channels that uses the hardware of the NMS 1205? Since I use a external sequencer, I don't need Tracker software. Yamaha has made a lot of cartridges, but I guess they only work with the special Yamaha MSX computer.

As background information: I have a Canon V-20 MSX1, Philips VG-8235 MSX2 and a Megaflashrom with microSD. I prefer to use the MSX1.

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By Wlcracks

Hero (587)

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28-09-2022, 16:46

I had the idea to use the midi in at one time. My conclusion is that its a very slow process. The Philips keyboard had software, I don't think this it supports multi midi channels. The computer locks up to process the midi in.
Maybe use free Dexed VST on PC gives you FM sound. The output of the music module isn't really noise free also.

By Manuel

Ascended (19816)

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28-09-2022, 18:41

Note that OPLL is not the same as MSX Audio OPLL is the base of MSX-Music.

By treblig

Resident (60)

treblig's picture

28-09-2022, 20:23

@Manuel, you're right. According to the Yamaha OPL wiki, MSX Audio was based on the OPL(1) with ADPCM features added, MSX Music was based on a cut-down OPL2, the OPLL.

@Wlcracks: Hmm, that doesn't sound promising for the Philips music module. How does the Yamaha music computer handle midi? Is that machine able to process multiple midi in channels?

By Poltergeist

Champion (281)

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28-09-2022, 21:21 from Grauw comes to mind, but you would need to use the MSX2 computer...

By treblig

Resident (60)

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29-09-2022, 09:08

@Poltergeist, from what I can see is that Synthesix is using the NMS 1205 as midi input only. The output sounds of the synth are coming from a Konami SCC. It does not use the Y8950 chip in the NMS 1205 unfortunately.

By Grauw

Ascended (10862)

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29-09-2022, 22:35

I had plans to support different sound chips in Synthesix, but I dropped the project.

By gflorez

Expert (69)

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29-09-2022, 22:55

C-quenser and Meridian, MIDI applications downloadable from this web page, are good examples of correct use of the NMS-1205 as input/output Midi device.

The MIDI stream is UART driven, so if a program is correctly written using interrupts, the Z80 could have enough processing time to send some notes to the Yamaha chip while doing more tasks.

I think the Music Module was a powerful hardware device with a naif accompanying software that made it look like a child's toy.

By MSXcri

Rookie (28)

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25-04-2023, 22:44

@Grauw, that is a real pity that you dropped the project, the implementation of the OPL4-Chip in Synthesix would give carts like Wozblaster a real boost having the possibility to use that as synthesizer... More and more electronic musicians try to get their hands on real classic gears and sounds for their music production. For example, some friends of mine from the bands Agonoize, Addicted Dreams, And One, still use Yamaha synths like DX-7, SY-99 because of the FM synthesis but are sometimes annoyed creating sounds on that, fiddeling with buttons and the small screen... Talking about that after the club we finished at my home and I showed them the MSX in action, creating sounds on the SFG-05/YRM-502, then the SCC with Synthesix and after some sound examples of the OPL4 they're flashed about nearly 40 years old computers generating FM sounds in a comfortable way they always wished Smile They were excited about Synthesix with hopefully OPL4 support, that will lead them to buy MSX gears for their studio production, I already had to borrow mine to them for some weeks Crazy Maybe this is a motivation for you to continue you great project Big smile

By Grauw

Ascended (10862)

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25-04-2023, 23:40

Thanks for the encouragement Smile. I have no concrete plans at the moment, but given my interests I’m sure I’ll create some synthesizer software again in the future.

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (10158)

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26-04-2023, 00:50

MSXcri wrote:

... still use Yamaha synths like DX-7, SY-99 because of the FM synthesis but are sometimes annoyed creating sounds on that, fiddeling with buttons and the small screen... ... generating FM sounds in a comfortable way they always wished

Not that it really matters, but while the DX-7 is indeed a headache to operate, the SY-77/99 is actually rather easy (at least easier) to operate. If they would prefer an MSX, then I wonder whether it's the MSX or the architecture of the sound chip that matters most. See, it's easy to see an MSX with MSX-Music and/or MSX-Audio (e.g. Moonblaster or whathaveyou) as easy, but that's hardly surprising as it has only a fraction of the possibilities compared to the DX/SY. Should they prefer hardware with physical controllers, they might find the Twisted Electrons Mega FM more useful than a DX/SY. 2ct

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