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Roland MT-32 Multi-Timbre Sound Module

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The Roland MT-32 Multi-Timbre Sound Module is a MIDI synthesizer module first released in 1987 by Roland Corporation. It was originally marketed to amateur musicians as a budget external synthesizer with an original list price of $695. However, it became more famous along with its compatible modules as an early de facto standard in computer music. Since it was made prior to the release of the General MIDI standard, it uses its own proprietary format for MIDI file playback.

Within Roland's family of Linear Arithmetic (LA) synthesizers, the multitimbral MT-32 series constitutes the budget prosumer line for computer music at home, the multitimbral D-5, D-10, D-20 and D-110 models constitute the professional line for general studio use, and the high-end monotimbral D-50 and D-550 models are for sophisticated multi-track studio work. It was the first product in Roland's Myuujikun line of Desktop Music System (DTM) packages in Japan.


Like the Roland D-50 Linear Synthesizer, it uses Linear Arithmetic synthesis, a form of sample-based synthesis combined with subtractive synthesis, to produce its sounds. Samples are used for attacks and drums, while traditional synthesis assures the sustain phase of the sounds.

The original MT-32 comes with a preset library of 128 synth and 30 rhythm sounds, playable on 8 melodic channels and one rhythm channel. It also features a digital reverberation effect. Successors (see below) added a library of 33 sound effects. Because of the absence of a piano attack sample, it cannot play a convincing acoustic piano sound.

Sounds are created from up to 4 partials which can be combined in various ways (including ring modulation). With 32 partials available overall, polyphony depends on the tonal complexity of the music, and 8 to 32 notes can be played simultaneously.

The MT-32 by default assigns its parts 1~8 and R(hythm) to respond on input MIDI channels 2~9 and 10 respectively. By consequence, MIDI files using the popular channel 1 or the other channels 11~16 cannot have those parts played on the MT-32. However, the MT-32's melodic parts can be shifted down to respond to channels 1~8 using a button combination or through MIDI system exclusive messages, enabling improved compatibility with non-MT-32-specific MIDI sequences.

Additionally, in 1993 Roland released the "GM2MT" SysEx pack, which can be used to reprogram the MT-32 and compatibles to match General MIDI specifications as close as possible. 64 of the 128 patches (the limit of possible variations) are completely new or modified sounds, with additional sounds having been added to drum channel 10. Despite this, compatibility with GM is still limited by the lack of parts (9 on the MT-32, 16 per GM specification) and reversed panpot compared to MMA MIDI specifications. The utility was predated by a pack called "MT32GS", released by Mike Cornelius in 1992.


Technical Specifications
Type: Digital
Synthesis: Linear Arithmetic, ROM, Subtractive
Oscillators: 4
Waveforms: Pulse, ROM, Saw Up, Wave Table
ROM Size: 512 kb
ROM Resolution: 16 bit, 32 kHz
Osc Modulation: Envelope, LFO
Oscillator Notes:
+ 128 waves
Envelopes: 3
Evelope Paramerters: Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
Filters: 1
Types: 24dB Slope (4-pole), Low Pass, Resonance
Filter Modulation: Envelope, Keyboard, LFO, Velocity
LFO: 1
LFO Parameters: Triangle
Polyphony & Tuning
Polyphony: 32
Timbrality: 9
Tuning: Standard
Modes: Polyphonic, Split
Patches RAM: 40
Patches ROM: 128
Storage: Internal
Editing: MIDI
+ Reverb
+ 33 sound effects
Case: Desktop
Controls: Aftertouch, Velocity, Buttons, Knobs
Display Type: LCD, LED
Display Count H: 20
Display Count V: 1
Dimensions (WxDxH): 12 x 8.5 x 1.75 inches / 305 x 220 x 45 mm
Weight: 3.5 lbs / 1.5 kg
Audio Output Connections: 1/4" Phone Jack, Stereo Main
General MIDI: GM - General MIDI, GM2 - General MIDI 2
DAC Bits: 16
Power: 9V DC 350 mA
Year Released: 1987
Manuals & Documents
MSRP List Price: $695 - convert
Related Synthesizers
References & Sources

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