MSX Blaster : wrong expectations ?

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Door MarkL

Supporter (15)

afbeelding van MarkL

02-11-2019, 12:13

I just bought a MSX Blaster but only succeeded to get excellent Moonsound out of the audio jack.
Shouldn't I be able to hear any MSX-Audio,MSX-Music or FMpak sound too ? Tried many demos and
music disks but no one ever gave any of the 'inferior' sounds. Just no sound at all if it did not support Moonsound.
But I would like some FM sound too...
However my NMS 8250 seems to have an internal audio bug. SCART Audio is not just little crappy
producing native PSG sound but it is absolutley rubbish when the Moonsound is routed back to the
8250. I will have to look for these 2 resistors to replace by electrolyte capacitors.
But it shouldn't do anything for the FM-sound output, should it ?
Thanks and regards

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Van karloch

Prophet (2159)

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02-11-2019, 12:53

MSX Blaster is an OPL4, and as such, it is hardware compatible with OPL1, that is MSX-AUDIO (without the ADPCM part). There is no compatibility for OPLL (MSX-MUSIC).

Van Grauw

Ascended (10821)

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02-11-2019, 13:53

The MoonSound (MSX Blaster in your case) is an excellent cartridge, and it is from the Yamaha OPL family like most of the MSX FM sound units. However that doesn’t mean they can be used interchangeably, so practically speaking you still need separate cartridges depending on whether the game or music disk supports MSX-MUSIC, MSX-AUDIO or MoonSound.

If you want to enjoy FM music in games you need an MSX-MUSIC (OPLL) cartridge, such as the original FM-PAC or a modern clone. Nearly all games that support FM use that. You can recognise whether a game supports MSX-MUSIC by the music note logo on the packaging and labels.

MSX-AUDIO was not used by many games or software in Japan, but it was used in a decent number of European games and music disks, and for that you need a Philips Music Module cartridge, or a GR8NET which emulates it in FPGA.

So that’s as far as the simple story goes.

Going into some more detail now how the OPL4 can still play music for other chips to some degree;

MSX-AUDIO is compatible with OPL1, and OPL4 (MoonSound) is compatible with OPL1, OPL2 and OPL3. But OPL4 is not compatible with MSX-AUDIO, since the PCM units are different, OPL4 having 24 channels PCM and MSX-AUDIO 1 channel ADPCM. Additionally MSX-AUDIO and MoonSound use different I/O ports, so even MSX-AUDIO music which does not use ADPCM normally won’t play on MoonSound. And lastly MSX-MUSIC (OPLL) is incompatible with either, even though it is technically a cost-cut derivative of the OPL2.

With VGMPlay though you can play OPL1 music in the VGM format on both OPL4 and MSX-AUDIO, and you can play MSX-AUDIO music without ADPCM on OPL4 as well. You can also play OPL2 and OPL3 music on the MoonSound. The OPL3 matches the OPL4’s FM capabilities so OPL3 music will use the 18 channels FM to its full potential. In the future I also want to add support for playing MSX-AUDIO ADPCM and OPLL on MoonSound, but currently that is not possible.

There’s also something called the MSX-AUDIO BIOS v1.3, with which you can also play a handful of Japanese (Compile) games with MSX-AUDIO music on OPL4, and I think it also works with several games supporting MSX-MUSIC music. However it doesn’t work for European MSX-AUDIO or MSX-MUSIC games and music disks since they generally don’t use the BIOS (it was not present on European MSX-AUDIO cartridges), so it’s not a universal solution. Additionally you would need a MoonSound with MSX-AUDIO BIOS and currently the DalSoRi R2 is the only one which supports that.

As for sound output, since OPL4 is stereo and assuming you have a mixer and speakers, it is best to connect it directly to the mixer rather than through the MSX sound output since it makes the sound mono and introduces some noise. Many MoonSound cartridges do not even output to the MSX but some do.

Van meits

Scribe (6577)

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02-11-2019, 13:49

OPL4 shockwave (at least #2) outputs to MSX. If MSX Blaster does not, then OPL4 Shockwave (at least #2) is the only one that does.

MSX might be the home computer with the biggest scala of completely different and incompatible sound extension out there. There's not (yet) a complete all in one solution. If it ever appears, it will probably be through emulation (thinking of a cable between MSX and a singleboard computer running emulation software) or fpga (It's highly unlikely that there'll ever be a cartridge with all the original harware in it). Until that day you'll have to live with a collection of different cartridges.

Van Pablibiris

Paragon (1834)

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02-11-2019, 14:24

Meits wrote:

OPL4 shockwave (at least #2) outputs to MSX. If MSX Blaster does not, then OPL4 Shockwave (at least #2) is the only one that does

Wozblaster Enhanced have this upgrade too (and better quality of sound according to some users who have been able to make comparisons :P )

Van meits

Scribe (6577)

afbeelding van meits

02-11-2019, 14:54

I personally don't see it as an upgrade, more as a feature.

Edit: Sorry I forgot about that revision of Wozblaster.

Van MarkL

Supporter (15)

afbeelding van MarkL

02-11-2019, 14:58

Thanks for those elaborate descriptions and hints. I like it a lot what had been going on in your community.
Hence it won't do any harm if I already have ordered and paid down a Carnivore2 cart last week. This cart should deliver some of the missing sound function namely FMpak if it is basically working together with the MSX-Blaster in the other slot of my 8250.
Am I right with the cooperation of both of those cartdridges from 8bits4ever ?

At the moment I am struggling to start up any .COM program which most of the players are obviously :-(
LOAD".COM",R does not work
BLOAD".COM",R does not either
It is a little hard to get hold of some comprehensive 21st century introduction into MSX covering all those quirks and features one might have to obeye.

VGMPlay and the Rips website looks great let alone this heavy loaded overview of sound chips. I am fanatic about soundchips from a collectors view. That's the reason for getting my hands on the MSX system now.
Formerly I had only been writing the Exotic Ripper for Amiga systems btw.

Van meits

Scribe (6577)

afbeelding van meits

02-11-2019, 15:08

Both cartridges won't hurt each other, so no problem having them both inserted.

COM files can't be loaded from Basic. You need to be in DOS and execute them by just typing its name and press enter.
Once you have your Carnivore 2 you'll probably get acquainted with the DOS prompt.

Van Pencioner

Scribe (1612)

afbeelding van Pencioner

03-11-2019, 02:26

Funny enough that with all that extensions with incompatibilities and such, afaik MSX has the better audiochips support with all those cartridges comparing to other 8bit systems. Not only MSX native ones such as OPLL, OPL1, PSG, SCC, semi-native such as OPL4 and OPM, second FPGA PSG by a number of cartridges, but also ones like SN76489 on MMM/Franky/Playsoniq/FlashJacks, OPNB on Neotron, two ePSG on Darky. There were rumors on development of OPNA too (but long time no news). Also emulation support of VGMplay makes possible to extend the list to OPN (OPM + PSG), OPL2, OPL3, etc adds a lot. And MIDI-PAC solution is a great addon too. That's actually what i like so much with MSX Smile

PS: I call SFG semi-native because it was rare and hard to obtain until the clone was developed, and was only supported by Yamaha in old times

Van MarkL

Supporter (15)

afbeelding van MarkL

03-11-2019, 13:49

I seem to get an idea of MSX music in general slowly. However I still wonder why a Moonblaster dedicated demo (Fuzzy Logic: Moonblaster Muzax #1 ) does not give any noise with a MSX-Blaster...

Van Manuel

Ascended (19691)

afbeelding van Manuel

03-11-2019, 14:33

Because Moonblaster is something different than Moonsound, the latter of which your MSX-Blaster is a clone.

Moonblaster Muzax is a series of 3 music disks with music written in Moonblaster, hence the name.

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