Mark another one off the wantlist (MSX)

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Mark another one off the wantlist (MSX)

Postby xjas on Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:21 pm

Hey all, been a while... Thought some of you might appreciate this. Here's something I've been wanting to try out for a very long time... Someone very kindly responded to a wanted ad I posted on a local site (note: this never works!), so I picked up this lovely Yamaha CX5M-II Music Computer:
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This is a machine that Yamaha developed specifically for interfacing with their (notoriously hard to program) DX-series FM synthesizers in the mid-eighties. As you may have guessed, it's also a completely functional MSX system. This is the near-MSX2-spec version II with 128k of system RAM (+16k video), two cartridge/expansion slots, and composite+RGB AV out. It can be upgraded to MSX2 with some hardware mods and a firmware update - I don't know if I'm gonna do that yet though. I was lucky to get the hard-to-find disk drive & mouse with mine making it a lot more functional.

(The original CX5M was a bit of a kludge with only 32k RAM and no expandability - it wasn't even compatible with the disk drive. I saw one on Trademe once but didn't bite as it came with nothing.)

Despite intending this to interface with external synths like the DX7, Yamaha also went and added a nice little SFG-05 soundcard with MIDI in/out and a 4-operator FM chip (similar chip to Adlib/early SB.) The CX5M-specific keyboard uses its own connector to leave the MIDI ports free for external gear.
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Here it is in situ with my current studio setup (still WIP) :
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Anyway that's the main system ... but wait, there's more!

I also got with it some rare original Yamaha software, boxed, with manuals, and a few disks & cassettes of DX7/21 patches:
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Here's one of the voice editors in action if you're curious:
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A freaking dot matrix printer with three NIB ribbons:
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(With this and the word processor cartridge pictured above, I'm really tempted to start writing docs for work on this thing!)

...Original manuals for everything and even some docs & programming info from a user's group that existed back in the day:
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(Yes, I am totally going to scan those in and release them into the wild!)

So yeah, I'm pretty stoked about it. Everything is in great shape and it should slot into my studio nicely; I've been experimenting with FM synthesis a lot lately so this will be a great setup to dig into. Fun stuff.
xjas
 
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Re: Mark another one off the wantlist (MSX)

Postby xjas on Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:26 pm

Oh yeah, ** bonus content ** (not related to above) :

Here's one for Clym5 as he originally tipped me off to this. Certain very early models of the original Playstation seem to have all this hype & rumour about them being audiophile-grade CD players. Supposedly they shipped with really high-quality DACs and have a clean signal path with lots of shielding.

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Needless to say I don't exactly believe it myself. But I *did* spot this original-release SCPH-1001 Playstation (mfgd. September 1995) on the shelf of a thrift shop. They had scrawled "parts only" in wax pencil and stuck a giant ugly $19 price tag over the lid. I tested it in the shop and naturally it worked fine.

I had a 33% loyalty discount card going that day so I figured why the hell not. I scrubbed it down with some vinegar to get rid of the wax pencil and removed the obnoxious sticker tag with a razor, and... it's actually kind of mint! I don't have much other 20-year-old gear that's this tidy.
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(If you want an easy way to identify the "original" PS, look for the RCA jacks on the back as later models removed these. Or just flip it over and look at the model number.)

So yeah, if it lives up to the hype, maybe I can flog it on Ebay to some guy who likes to pay $279 for HDMI cables and make some tidy profit. Otherwise I can always play Wipeout & Gran Turismo 2 with it. No loss.

By the way, the giant stack of tractor-feed dot matrix paper? Where the hell can you find that these days? Same thrift shop, cost peanuts. Hahahahaha.
Last edited by xjas on Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mark another one off the wantlist (MSX)

Postby xjas on Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:28 pm

( PS - are my pics loading for everyone? They are hosted on photobucket which seems to be acting up lately. If you get some or all of the photos blank just re-load the page until they all show. Sorry about that. :( Some of them are larger than the forum software displays so be sure to right click+view if you want to see the full-size image. )
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Re: Mark another one off the wantlist (MSX)

Postby tezza on Tue Apr 28, 2015 2:44 pm

I can see the photos. They look great!
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Re: Mark another one off the wantlist (MSX)

Postby Clym5 on Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:53 pm

Usually with hose PS1 units, people build a linear PSU for them too. Knowing what some people spend on audio gear (I saw someone buy a $22k turntable last year), I'm sure you've made a tidy profit. I wish my local thrift stores had things like that. Closest I ever got was an Apple QuickTake 200 without the impossibly hard to find memory card...

Anyway, great finds, and awesome setup! A far sight better than my A4000/1200 and 486 I use for tracking!
Amiga 4000: Apollo Turbo 040, 128MB Fast, 40gb HDD, CD-ROM (needs internet)
C64: 1541U-II, MixSID, WiFi, LumaFix64
ZX Spec, A1200, CD32, MacPlus/SE, A500, BBC Turbo Master (NASA), 2600, Acorn 4000, VIC-20, IBM 5155, GameBoy
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Re: Mark another one off the wantlist (MSX)

Postby xjas on Wed Apr 29, 2015 12:16 pm

Clym5 wrote:Usually with hose PS1 units, people build a linear PSU for them too. Knowing what some people spend on audio gear (I saw someone buy a $22k turntable last year), I'm sure you've made a tidy profit. I wish my local thrift stores had things like that. Closest I ever got was an Apple QuickTake 200 without the impossibly hard to find memory card...

Anyway, great finds, and awesome setup! A far sight better than my A4000/1200 and 486 I use for tracking!


Hey, you got an A4000? That's cool! Add a cheap MIDI interface and get OctaMED SoundStudio going (now freeware :) ) and you'll have probably one of the BEST tracking rigs you can get... HEAPS of professionally-released oldschool techno, house & jungle were made using that setup, even into the 2000s!

I sold the CDTV I had earlier... it was just gonna need TOO many upgrades to do what I wanted (i.e. ^^ that) - everything from Kickstart to RAM to storage to Workbench... As cool as it would have been to have a rack-mount Amiga in my setup it just wasn't the right one.

The CX5MII is a bit of an orphan machine, Yamaha's own sequencer was notoriously kinda really bad (and didn't offer the crucial option to track FM voices & MIDI instruments at the same time - I don't think it had MIDI out at all - what were they thinking?) :
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( ^^ NO WAY IN HELL am I going to write trance or DnB on a music staff! )

There were a few other, much better, sequencers released back in the day like Carolyn Eng’s DMS-II although actual cartridges are virtually impossible to find. (The ROMs are out there ... time to roll my own maybe.) But fortunately there are a TON of 'modern' freeware trackers, sequencers, synth modules, etc. available in more useful (disk) formats. UNfortunately, virtually nothing supports the CX5M's SFG-01/-05 soundcard natively (a lot of MSX stuff supports FM in other modules e.g. the OPL4-based Moonsound cartridge though.) Yamaha marketed the CX5M as a "musical instrument accessory" and it seems most owners don't really interact with the MSX community at large. Will work on this myself though. :D
xjas
 
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