SC-8850 information

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jaffa225man
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SC-8850 information

Post by jaffa225man » Tue Nov 22, 2016 4:03 pm

I recently bought the venerable SC-8850 and was wondering if anyone still has the original software. Roland U.S. support says they "no longer have the CD-ROM in stock (it has not been available for several years)", but that they'll check with Roland Japan for the "Roland GS Advanced editing software" I saw mention of elsewhere on the Internet. I've not heard back yet (admittedly just a couple days). I know it's a 17 years old module, but if it were my company, I think I'd have kept at least .iso images of every disc released, for circumstances such as this. I mean, Roland modules seem to last forever...

In the queststudios forums once, I believe I read a discussion about how, initially, the SC-8850's drums didn't seem as punchy or fun as the SC-88Pro's, but that they grew on you. Now it seems that's lost to time, as even achive.org's queststudios forums are quite hit-and-miss. Anyway, if anyone remembers it or has experienced both modules, could you please comment on that? My other GS module is a Roland SC-33, so I don't know how the SC-88Pro truly sounded, and think this latest upgrade is the last I will do.

Thanks for keeping this community alive!

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Re: SC-8850 information

Post by Trisk » Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:13 am

As for the software ISO, I hope they can find it for you. If they do, could I get a copy? I could host it on my website.

On the subject of "pleasing sound," that is SUCH a subjective topic it's really hard to answer. I have the entire line of sound canvases, and once hooked each one up, one after the other, and listened to music from "Under a Killing Moon."

I found that each module sounded better than the last, with noticeably more natural drums and instrument samples. This was only a sample of the Jazz Brush drum set... but it sounded clearly the best on the SC-8850 with a very natural, realistic sound that was much less "synth" like and more life-like.

It comes down to two camps, in my experience;
-Those that want the games to sound the best possible, and don't mind if balance and mix is slightly off from what was intended by the composer so long as it is better and more realistic (I'm one of these)
-Those that want utterly exact reproduction of the music as it was composed. They don't care if there are better options for instrument quality and realism, they want an SC-55 and only an SC-55 for DOS games.

If you belong to the former camp and don't mind a bit of difference from the original sound, the SC-8850 is the clear winner in my testing of the Sound Canvas line.

...but of course, my absolute favorite, and the best sounding module in the world for DOS games, IMO, is the Studio Canvas SD-90/SD-80. Both sound vastly superior in realism to the SC-8850. You can hear some samples of it on my Youtube channel at

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... rzMX3X_TuG

Ben

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Re: SC-8850 information

Post by jaffa225man » Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:41 pm

They still haven't responded with feedback from Japan. I doubt, even if they do find the software, that it will be in ISO form. It would probably just be a compressed executable or zip file. Although, I'd still love the original ISO, so I'll probably have to look elsewhere as I was doing here.

Oh, yes, I noticed your youtube channel about the time I bought the SC-8850, searching for examples of what to expect. Thanks for providing it. Yes, your SD-90 examples sounded pretty good, but I see from the manual that Roland did away with even the compatibility maps for the SC-55, SC-88, & SC-88Pro. That (and it not being a "Sound Canvas", which the change from "SC" to "SD" cements) probably makes the upgrade not worth it to me.

I like the realism of the SC-8850, but I love the true synthesis of the MT-32 too (after all, it's what got me started). Also, to me, the MT-32 has a great french horn. Compensating for the lack of capital tone fallback, the SC-33 (SC-55mkII) sounds great to me too, but the extra polyphony of the SC-8850 does show (in more modern compositions than DOS gaming, anyway). I suppose I should experiment with the SC-88Pro map more, to make up my mind on the SC-8850 drums, but I have no basis for comparison with a real SC-88Pro. Also, the SC-8850's wealth of sounds and polyphony makes it harder for me to discern any drum differences, in a mix.

Your experienced opinions are helpful! Thanks for testing through the Sound Canvas line, all on up. I'll take your word for it, that the SC-8850 sounds most real of any Sound Canvas. That probably just means the SC-88Pro's drums were more commonly composed for, and that they are differently mixed compared to the SC-8850's.

I had hoped to make this kind of discussion available to others again, because I feel so much good information was lost to posterity on the now defunct queststudios forum. Thanks!

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Re: SC-8850 information

Post by Spikey » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:04 am

Hey guys :) Just happened upon this.
In the queststudios forums once, I believe I read a discussion about how, initially, the SC-8850's drums didn't seem as punchy or fun as the SC-88Pro's, but that they grew on you. Now it seems that's lost to time, as even achive.org's queststudios forums are quite hit-and-miss. Anyway, if anyone remembers it or has experienced both modules, could you please comment on that? My other GS module is a Roland SC-33, so I don't know how the SC-88Pro truly sounded, and think this latest upgrade is the last I will do.
Yep, totally how I felt. Owned a SC-8850 for 10 years now, and sometimes they sound like tin, and usually they sound great. The 88Pro has a great snare but overall the 8850 drums are better. The 8820 are probably slightly better again.

Sad what happened with the forums.

...but of course, my absolute favorite, and the best sounding module in the world for DOS games, IMO, is the Studio Canvas SD-90/SD-80. Both sound vastly superior in realism to the SC-8850. You can hear some samples of it on my Youtube channel at
See, I prefer the Sound Canvases because it's a good balance between the accuracy of the samples to the original SC-55 and an improvement in sound quality/realism. I heard some SD-90 stuff and it was very good in some ways and very bland in others. The problem with a lot of 'slightly realistic' synths such as the SD line is that for playing GM games, they have no punch. You can mix the output outside of the video game to sound much better, but for GM gaming they usually lack pretty badly (because the true capabilities of the synth are not the basic GM synthesis).

The 8820/50's strength is that it has a very strong GM map, several patches being the same as the SC-55, mainly synth ones but some others. It also has much better patches, but that is another story. ;)



They still haven't responded with feedback from Japan. I doubt, even if they do find the software, that it will be in ISO form. It would probably just be a compressed executable or zip file. Although, I'd still love the original ISO, so I'll probably have to look elsewhere as I was doing here.

Oh, yes, I noticed your youtube channel about the time I bought the SC-8850, searching for examples of what to expect. Thanks for providing it. Yes, your SD-90 examples sounded pretty good, but I see from the manual that Roland did away with even the compatibility maps for the SC-55, SC-88, & SC-88Pro. That (and it not being a "Sound Canvas", which the change from "SC" to "SD" cements) probably makes the upgrade not worth it to me.

I like the realism of the SC-8850, but I love the true synthesis of the MT-32 too (after all, it's what got me started). Also, to me, the MT-32 has a great french horn. Compensating for the lack of capital tone fallback, the SC-33 (SC-55mkII) sounds great to me too, but the extra polyphony of the SC-8850 does show (in more modern compositions than DOS gaming, anyway). I suppose I should experiment with the SC-88Pro map more, to make up my mind on the SC-8850 drums, but I have no basis for comparison with a real SC-88Pro. Also, the SC-8850's wealth of sounds and polyphony makes it harder for me to discern any drum differences, in a mix.

Your experienced opinions are helpful! Thanks for testing through the Sound Canvas line, all on up. I'll take your word for it, that the SC-8850 sounds most real of any Sound Canvas. That probably just means the SC-88Pro's drums were more commonly composed for, and that they are differently mixed compared to the SC-8850's.

I had hoped to make this kind of discussion available to others again, because I feel so much good information was lost to posterity on the now defunct queststudios forum. Thanks!
I actually bought a new SC-8850 back about 10 years ago, and have the CD somewhere. It's travelled with me all over the world- both the synth and the CD :)
I will get an ISO uploaded to my Sierra music site sometime this year, you might need to remind me.

Something really cool about my beat of a synth, the Roland Integra-7, is that it not only has a XV-5080 inside (which the 8850 was a cut down version of, the XV was an industry leader for a long time), but it has a SC-55 map, which is not advertised or mentioned anywhere I have seen. First time I triggered it (if you have 'Bank Select' set to 0), I was almost jumping out of my skin.

The SD line is cool but not worth the prices, for that money you could get a much better synth.

I don't think the SC-8850's strengths are its realism, more its richness and stripped down nature, compared to the overblown sound of the older SC-55/88. The 8850 sounds a lot more classy and ear-pleasing (more realistic, but not realistic, if you follow). French horns and trumpets in Space Quest 5 are a good example.

The MT-32 is still cool after all these years. :) And the SC-55- an underestimated module. So many people know the MT-32 but still use random soundfonts for GM gaming. I did away with my original, got a mk II. Much prefer it. It has slightly higher sound quality with the circuitry (kinda like the MT-32's second gen).

The SC-88Pro map is basically the same as the 8850 one minus some sounds. The drums are occasionally useful but 95% of the time I used the 8850 ones, when that was my "goto" module.

The polyphony and amount of sounds is why I keep the thing, that and the fact that it sounds like an upgraded SC-55, which is cool in itself.

I don't think almost any games were composed for the Pro or 8850, and most MIDIs on the internet are for 8850 versus Pro (and of course both will play on an 8850).

Incidentally, I also have a SC-8820 (well, a SC-D70, which is an 8820 + digital sound card in a box). Its sound quality is slightly superior to the 8850, as it has digital outs, and some patches are better (and a couple worse). Roland revised the 8820 before it was released, so it has some upgrades- although as I hinted at, some actually take it a step backwards, or at least different.


As you said, nice to get a conversation going. Shame more people haven't found their way here, although it's nice to have sound module discussion instead of ancient sound card discussion for once.

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Re: SC-8850 information

Post by andrew603 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:57 am

Hey guys. I am pretty sure I still have that SC-8850 CD somewhere at my parent's house in my old room. The software on it is not really of much use IMHO other than for archiving purposes at this point. I don't even remember if it even had an editor... I always just did all my programming right on the module and used the "Dec + Inc" button combo, which if you do not know, will make the SC-8850 dump the currently highlighted setting as SysEx that you could just record from it's MIDI Out or the "usb/virtual midi out". That was such a godsend of a feature! Regardless, I'll take a look for the CD this weekend when we go over there for Sunday Dinner™.

EDIT: When I find the disc, I'll make an archive or ISO of it. :)

Also I just want to say that I'm sorry for the long hiatus with the QuestStudios Archive updates. It's been a very busy couple of years for me and I just have not had the time I need to put into the site. I do have some interesting things in development though that are slowly moving along that I think will be really cool regarding the individualized game soundtrack MIDI files.

All the best,
Andrew

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Re: SC-8850 information

Post by andrew603 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:59 pm

I forgot! I made a 7-Zip archive of the contents of the SC-8850 CD-ROM a long time ago. You can access it from https://www.midimusicadventures.com/Slib8850.7z

That archive has: GS Advanced Editor 4.0, GS Picture Book, Old versions of the SC-8850 drivers, and all of the included demo MIDI's.

Hope that's enough to get you started!

I'll still check this weekend for the real CD and make an ISO of it when I can.

Edit: Also, here's a copy of the 64-Bit driver that I have installed and working on my Windows 10 systems: https://www.midimusicadventures.com/SC- ... Win_x64.7z
Unfortunately, I do not have the full-on installer for it, can't seem to find it right now, though I'm hoping I still have it saved on one of my other PC's. However, that driver SHOULD work... As I said, I exported it from my running Windows 10 system via PowerShell. ('Export-WindowsDriver -Online -Destination C:\DriverExport' exports a copy of all Non-Microsoft drivers installed on your computer.)

Edit 2 - the edit sequel: I'll also just add that I have the following synths, and can offer my opinions/comparisons/impressions as needed for any of the following:

Roland: MT-32 (2 of them), MT-32 with Real World Instruments modification (3 MT-32's total! LOVE IT), CM-64 (a number of the SN-U110 expansion cards), SC-55mk2, SC-88, PMA-5, SC-880 (SC-88 Pro as a Rack-Mount synth with a few extra features), SC-8820, SC-8850, D-550 (Rack-Mount version of the D-50; 2 of them), D-110, XV-5080 (fully loaded with SR-JV80 and SRX expansion cards), Fantom XR (fully loaded with SRX Expansion Cards)
Yamaha: MU128, PSR-530, QY100
Korg: X5DR
I think that's it...

~Andrew

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Re: SC-8850 information

Post by andrew603 » Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:54 pm

Unfortunately, I was not able to find the CD at my parent's house. I must have stashed it somewhere at my house! Haha! I'll take a look for it when I get home.

~Andrew

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Re: SC-8850 information

Post by jaffa225man » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:45 am

Wow, thanks to both of you for the enthusiasm, expertise and willingness to share it!
Spikey wrote:
Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:04 am
Sad what happened with the forums.
I agree and I'd only been aware of it for about two or three years prior to that, but I was enthralled with my discovery. It was a great resource on topics so little known on the Internet.

See, I prefer the Sound Canvases because it's a good balance between the accuracy of the samples to the original SC-55 and an improvement in sound quality/realism. I heard some SD-90 stuff and it was very good in some ways and very bland in others. The problem with a lot of 'slightly realistic' synths such as the SD line is that for playing GM games, they have no punch. You can mix the output outside of the video game to sound much better, but for GM gaming they usually lack pretty badly (because the true capabilities of the synth are not the basic GM synthesis).
That has been my impression, without paying to try the SD line of modules. For me, it's at least wishful thinking. ;) Thanks for convincing me further. It has been a very pleasant suprise to find that the SC-8850's map does have such a high degree of compatibility while sounding nicely improved (but as you've said, not striving for realism, exactly)

The 8820/50's strength is that it has a very strong GM map, several patches being the same as the SC-55, mainly synth ones but some others. It also has much better patches, but that is another story. ;)
I've been enjoying the default 8850 map and haven't initialized it in GM1 yet, but on your recommendation I'll have to try that soon.

I actually bought a new SC-8850 back about 10 years ago, and have the CD somewhere. It's travelled with me all over the world- both the synth and the CD :)
I will get an ISO uploaded to my Sierra music site sometime this year, you might need to remind me.
Thanks for the kind offer! ISO format is my preference for posterity, but the disc's contents Andrew suggested is quite generous too.

Something really cool about my beat of a synth, the Roland Integra-7, is that it not only has a XV-5080 inside (which the 8850 was a cut down version of, the XV was an industry leader for a long time), but it has a SC-55 map, which is not advertised or mentioned anywhere I have seen. First time I triggered it (if you have 'Bank Select' set to 0), I was almost jumping out of my skin.
It's very interesting that such a useful feature (as XG-lite is too), is undocumented; I'd think Roland would benefit from that publicity because the SC-55 is the origin for much of the popularity of these synths. Isn't it a bit odd that Bank Select 0 doesn't activate the map already selected through the front buttons/controls? That is how the SC-8850 has been working for me, if I understand it properly.

I don't think the SC-8850's strengths are its realism, more its richness and stripped down nature, compared to the overblown sound of the older SC-55/88. The 8850 sounds a lot more classy and ear-pleasing (more realistic, but not realistic, if you follow). French horns and trumpets in Space Quest 5 are a good example.
Yes, classy is a good way to describe it. I've been listening to a lot of classical music with it lately. Although they're really 88Pro (and yamaha) renditions, any of the files I've found on this blog has been wonderful: http://tirolmusic.blogspot.com/2007/10/ ... sques.html I'll have to try Space Quest 5 with it too; thanks for the tip. ;)

The MT-32 is still cool after all these years. :) And the SC-55- an underestimated module. So many people know the MT-32 but still use random soundfonts for GM gaming. I did away with my original, got a mk II. Much prefer it. It has slightly higher sound quality with the circuitry (kinda like the MT-32's second gen).
I never had the original SC-55, but I assume the SC-33 is close to the SC-55mkII, without its CM-64 map. I also only bought the old generation MT-32, but in my setup I never noticed the undesirable noise that's reported; it's probably just my noisy office and probably some filter in my audio chain. I have yet to try to make a high-quality recording of it, though. Recording the SC-8850, I noticed some interference when using the USB virtual port. Without that cable, and with a MIDI cable instead, the noise disappeared, probably due to MIDI's ground loop solution.

The SC-88Pro map is basically the same as the 8850 one minus some sounds. The drums are occasionally useful but 95% of the time I used the 8850 ones, when that was my "goto" module.
That's good to know. It confirms what I've been seeing in the 8850 manual, while trying to map it for Rosegarden.

The polyphony and amount of sounds is why I keep the thing, that and the fact that it sounds like an upgraded SC-55, which is cool in itself.
Yes, I've played a song with around 20 channels in use, and I don't think that's even close to its limits.

Incidentally, I also have a SC-8820 (well, a SC-D70, which is an 8820 + digital sound card in a box). Its sound quality is slightly superior to the 8850, as it has digital outs, and some patches are better (and a couple worse). Roland revised the 8820 before it was released, so it has some upgrades- although as I hinted at, some actually take it a step backwards, or at least different.
I hadn't realized the 8820 had changes other than removals, so maybe I'll have reason to buy another module someday.

As you said, nice to get a conversation going. Shame more people haven't found their way here, although it's nice to have sound module discussion instead of ancient sound card discussion for once.
I agree wholeheartedly, thanks!

andrew603 wrote:
Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:59 pm
I forgot! I made a 7-Zip archive of the contents of the SC-8850 CD-ROM a long time ago. You can access it from https://www.midimusicadventures.com/Slib8850.7z

That archive has: GS Advanced Editor 4.0, GS Picture Book, Old versions of the SC-8850 drivers, and all of the included demo MIDI's.

Hope that's enough to get you started!
Of course it would be! But actually, (I only just now tried it and) the link isn't working for me.
I'll still check this weekend for the real CD and make an ISO of it when I can.
That would be amazing, thanks!

Edit: Also, here's a copy of the 64-Bit driver that I have installed and working on my Windows 10 systems: https://www.midimusicadventures.com/SC- ... Win_x64.7z
Unfortunately, I do not have the full-on installer for it, can't seem to find it right now, though I'm hoping I still have it saved on one of my other PC's. However, that driver SHOULD work... As I said, I exported it from my running Windows 10 system via PowerShell. ('Export-WindowsDriver -Online -Destination C:\DriverExport' exports a copy of all Non-Microsoft drivers installed on your computer.)
I hadn't known powershell could export drivers and I consider myself a computer guru, but I'm a slow adopter and windows 10 is no exception. I used a 3rd-party program for that in the past, but it didn't work real well when last used: https://sourceforge.net/projects/drvback/.

Edit 2 - the edit sequel: I'll also just add that I have the following synths, and can offer my opinions/comparisons/impressions as needed for any of the following:

Roland: MT-32 (2 of them), MT-32 with Real World Instruments modification (3 MT-32's total! LOVE IT), CM-64 (a number of the SN-U110 expansion cards), SC-55mk2, SC-88, PMA-5, SC-880 (SC-88 Pro as a Rack-Mount synth with a few extra features), SC-8820, SC-8850, D-550 (Rack-Mount version of the D-50; 2 of them), D-110, XV-5080 (fully loaded with SR-JV80 and SRX expansion cards), Fantom XR (fully loaded with SRX Expansion Cards)
Yamaha: MU128, PSR-530, QY100
Korg: X5DR
I think that's it...

~Andrew
I've been wondering if the Real World Instruments MT-32 modifications interfere with games. As mine seems fine to me and I'm not really using it professionally anyway, if he starts doing them again I doubt I'll choose to upgrade it. On occasion, I've considered buying almost all the devices you mention, even the multiple MT-32s (I wanted to try out overflow assign). But, for now at least, I'm pretty satisfied with my meager three: the MT-32 (old), SC-33, and SC-8850 (which is already much more than I ever thought I'd own; even my first, the MT-32, was out of my reach for a while). :)


Thanks again, to all of you, for the great discussion and kind offers!

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Re: SC-8850 information

Post by andrew603 » Thu Feb 02, 2017 10:07 am

Quick reply,

Sorry about that. Typo'd the link: https://www.midimusicadventures.com/SLib8850.7z

Stupid Case-SeNsITivity...

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Re: SC-8850 information

Post by andrew603 » Thu Feb 02, 2017 10:41 am

jaffa225man wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:45 am
I've been wondering if the Real World Instruments MT-32 modifications interfere with games. As mine seems fine to me and I'm not really using it professionally anyway, if he starts doing them again I doubt I'll choose to upgrade it. On occasion, I've considered buying almost all the devices you mention, even the multiple MT-32s (I wanted to try out overflow assign). But, for now at least, I'm pretty satisfied with my meager three: the MT-32 (old), SC-33, and SC-8850 (which is already much more than I ever thought I'd own; even my first, the MT-32, was out of my reach for a while). :)


Thanks again, to all of you, for the great discussion and kind offers!
Another quick reply, as I'm at work...

The RWI MT-32 does sound a bit different in some games. I can't remember any specific ones I could list at the moment though. I do remember that it never worked at all with Willy Beamish for some reason...

As part of my project to bring back the MIDI Soundtrack pages of individual MIDI's per game, I was thinking down the road, I could also put some recordings of the songs from my Original MT-32, RWI MT-32, CM-64 (CM-32L), and MUNT (via Muki.io). I think that would be fun!

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