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By rderooy

Paladin (683)

rderooy's picture

08-01-2020, 11:38

Looking through old Japanese MSX Magazines, in issue 1986-07 on page 134 there is an image of a PCB with the marking YMX-AUDIO-MINI. There is Japanese text which seems to speculate it being the "new" MSX-AUDIO.
https://issuu.com/msxblog/docs/msx_magazine_1986_07

The PCB does not match any of the production MSX-AUDIO products, and the YMX-AUDIO-MINI text on the PCB leads me to believe it was created by Yamaha, as the SFG boards also have the YMK text on them.

MINI could refer to a smaller sized SFG version to fit into standard MSX slots, so as not to need the converter, or it could refer to a minimal implementation of the MSX-AUDIO standard.

So, is this some SFG variation that never got produced, or did Yamaha create the MSX-AUDIO standard? It would explain why the music keyboard connector is compatible between the SFG and the Panasonic/Toshiba implementations.

By gdx

Prophet (3571)

gdx's picture

09-01-2020, 14:47

MSX-Magazine wrote:

これがMSX-AUDIOらしい...

だいたいねえ、MSX2になってグラフィックスも強力になったのに、どれもサウンド面はとり残されていた感じがしてたんだよね。でもMSX-AUDIOってのが出ればサウンド面も強カになるから待っててね、と言われていたから待っていたんだ。で、やっと登場したのがこの基盤、ウワサによるとこれがMSX-AUDIOの本体なのだ。ステレオのオーディオアウトからして、強力なサウンドが期待できそう。一説にはFM音源を採用しているとか。それにキーボードも接続でき、なんとサンプリングもできるという。現実音をデジタルメモリして効果音に使えるというわけだ。今後も情報が入りしだい伝えていくことにしよう。

The text doesn't say much.

I also think Mini refers to the size because it seems to be a complete MSX-AUDIO (although nothing indicates Basic is included). Yamaha had probably plans to release an MSX-AUDIO but gave up so as not to dent its image as a seller of professional music devices.

If it's Yamaha that has created the MSX-AUDIO standard, it's quite possible that this board is a sample for demonstrations.

By mars2000you

Enlighted (5635)

mars2000you's picture

09-01-2020, 15:27

Google Translation:

"This seems to be MSX-AUDIO ...

Most of the time, the graphics became more powerful with MSX2, but they all felt like the sound was left behind. But if MSX-AUDIO comes out, the sound will be strong too, so wait. And finally, it was this base, which, according to rumor, was the main body of MSX-AUDIO. You can expect a powerful sound from the stereo audio out. One theory is that they use FM sound sources. They can also connect a keyboard and sample anything. Real sound can be digitally stored and used for sound effects. I'll keep telling you as the information gets in the future."

By rderooy

Paladin (683)

rderooy's picture

09-01-2020, 15:48

I suspect it is not MSX-AUDIO, but rather a smaller SFG that was never actually released (although the board is not really that small...). If this would be a sample board for the unreleased at the time MSX-AUDIO, why call it "mini"? And the SFG-01 and -05 boards also carry the YMX text.

By rderooy

Paladin (683)

rderooy's picture

09-01-2020, 15:58

Looking again at the picture, I can see that there is a sticker on what is presumably the ROM that has "MSX AUDIO" written on it. Also looking at the main Yamaha chip, the chip marking seems to start with MSX and Y and the style and print seems to match the MSX AUDIO Y8950 pretty closely. While the SFG chips like the YM2151 look completely different.

So I am starting to think that MINI here refers to a minimal implementation, and that there was perhaps also a MAXI with a full implementation.

By mars2000you

Enlighted (5635)

mars2000you's picture

09-01-2020, 16:52

What surprises me also is the fact that stereo is mentioned. Maybe the original project was to use 2 MSX-AUDIO soundchips together and to combine their sounds to produce stereo. I guess it was dropped because the price would have become really too expensive, and as we know it, the Panasonic MSX-AUDIO cartridge had only a limited commercial success because the price was already too expensive.

So, in chronological order:
- project of stereo MSX-AUDIO (dropped because too expensive)
- release of mono MSX-AUDIO (limited success because too expansive)
- release of light mono version = MSX-MUSIC (FM-PAC)
- inclusion of MSX-MUSIC in most MSX2+ computers (but not part of standard features)
- MSX-MUSIC becomes part of the standard features only with MSX Turbo R
- extesion of MSX-MUSIC BASIC to support MIDI internally (GT) or externally (ST), while it was initially planned to use MSX-AUDIO for the MIDI support

About the last point, MIDI support on MSX was also very chaotic:
- first Yamaha defines his own standard (using SFG-01/05) reserved for his musical computers
- then Philips extends the MSX-AUDIO features by adding his own proprietary MIDI interface
- Bit 2 releases in Japan the MIDI-Saurus package that seems to be a first version of what Panasonic will name MSX-MIDI
- Panasonic supports MIDI only at the end of the MSX commercial history by creating the MSX-MIDI standard, including an extenion of MSX-MUSIC features for the BASIC part

By rderooy

Paladin (683)

rderooy's picture

09-01-2020, 16:55

So this is either

1) A reference implementation of MSX-AUDIO that Yamaha made on behalf of ASCII. That would have been made available to vendors to create their own. Not that much of a stretch considering Yamaha created the Y8950 specifically for the MSX-AUDIO. This would also explain how the magazine got hold of the board or photo in the first place.

2) A prototype that Yamaha created, as they were considering to launch their own MSX-AUDIO product(s).

By sdsnatcher73

Paladin (989)

sdsnatcher73's picture

09-01-2020, 21:49

Well for me it is clear Yamaha was very closely involved in developing the MSX standard. V9938 and V9958 being called MSX-Video, the MSX2 prototype of ASCII being an early Yamaha CX7. It is not a stretch to see Yamaha being involved in developing MSX-Audio.

By gdx

Prophet (3571)

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10-01-2020, 01:33

mars2000you wrote:

What surprises me also is the fact that stereo is mentioned. Maybe the original project was to use 2 MSX-AUDIO soundchips together and to combine their sounds to produce stereo.

The use of a second Y8950 as slave chip is indicated in MSX-Audio spécifications. I think it's planned for true stereo. In fact, this was used for a second MSX-Audio.

mars2000you wrote:

inclusion of MSX-MUSIC in most MSX2+ computers (but not part of standard features)

MSX-MUSIC is a standard feature optional since the MSX2.

About MIDI support, MSX-Audio nor MSX-MUSIC doesn't support it. Yamaha should have integrated it into its MSX2 computers. This is a feature easy and cheap to implement. Atari 520ST was popular among amateur musicians for that. Yamaha understood this too late.

Yamaha has also not deemed it necessary to port its music software to MSX2. This too was a big mistake. If Yamaha would have done these two things, I probably would have chosen a Yamaha MSX2 at the time.

By Grauw

Ascended (9163)

Grauw's picture

10-01-2020, 12:23

sdsnatcher73 wrote:

Well for me it is clear Yamaha was very closely involved in developing the MSX standard. V9938 and V9958 being called MSX-Video, the MSX2 prototype of ASCII being an early Yamaha CX7. It is not a stretch to see Yamaha being involved in developing MSX-Audio.

The Y8950 literally says MSX-AUDIO on the chip, so… yes Smile.

gdx wrote:

About MIDI support, MSX-Audio nor MSX-MUSIC doesn't support it. Yamaha should have integrated it into its MSX2 computers. This is a feature easy and cheap to implement. Atari 520ST was popular among amateur musicians for that. Yamaha understood this too late.

The lack of MIDI standardisation has been what held back its adoption on MSX imo. There’s no shortage of MIDI interfaces so lack of options wasn’t the problem, however they all work in different ways (often undocumented) so it’s very troublesome to write software for them that supports the entire user base.

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