You might have heard about the Roland SC-55 and SC-88 Pro which were quite popular in the retro PC-gaming scene as sound modules for high quality sounding tunes in the mid-to-late 1990s.
However, there are alternatives available like the Roland JV-1010 coming from Roland’s more professional JV -line. Taste of music is subjective but the JV-line should sound more realistic and hi-fi compared to the SC (Sound Canvas) line that was created mostly for home video game music and amateur music creators. The SCs tend to sound more punchy and computerish as you would expect from old DOS games. The SC-88 was upgraded to the “Pro” label because of its wide range of instruments but I don’t believe that these devices were widely used professionally outside of video game music production.
Seeing is believing, so check out the video for a small guide and some real examples using the General MIDI standard. The music is coming from DooM and Rise Of The Triad, both 90s PC games.
Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played on the JV-1010’s pianos.
I don’t claim that the JVs sound “better” than the SCs but they are an interesting alternative for less money nowadays on the used market.
How to use this box today? Easiest way is to use a USB-MIDI cable like the Roland UM-ONE mk2. Authentic vintage PC systems require a PC-MIDI cable that you can find on Ebay. These PC-ports were typically on sound cards and combined the joystick and MIDI out into one connector. My old SB16 has such a connector and can be used to playback MIDI music in vintage games under DOS.
Obviously you can connect this box to any piano that supports MIDI as well. There are quite few buttons on the front so changing settings on the JV-1010 itself is cumbersome and it should be done on the input device through MIDI signals.
Recording the audio output can be done using a capture device with a line-in like the V.TOP USB2 audio capture grabber and Audacity freeware to record the audio on your laptop or Mac.
Free software players for MIDI files are plentiful but I am using a payed version of Synthesia because it allows you to see the notes flying by visually.
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