Roland MT-32

Roland MT-32 Image

A home marketed module with sounds like the popular D-50. It uses the same basic LAS type digital synthesis to create its sounds. And it has some rhythm presets that sound like the TR-626 rhythm machine. However this module is quite rough around the edges, and it's noisy too. It isn't rack-mountable, and was intended to be used in conjunction with a MIDI keyboard, sequencer (like the PR-100) or computer software. Aside from basic volume, tuning, reverb, and timbre/part selection, on-board sound editing is not available and can only be achieved externally with knowledge of the MT-32's MIDI implementation. Through MIDI you can edit the modulation, timbres, pan, expression and hold controls. Unfortunately, the programmable memory dissapears when turned off, requiring MIDI SysEx dumping for memory storage.

It has 128 sounds grouped into 17 instrument groups like bass, synth, wind, perc, etc. The MT-32 is also 8-part multitimbral, one of which is the rhythm track. There are 6 'Part' buttons on the face of the module for useful access to changing patches within a part. The MT-32 is a cheap source for quick access to D-50 sounds in a box, but remember that it is not exactly pro-quality and would most benefit newcomers to synthesizer-music who are on a very limited budget.

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32 Visitor comments
March 29, 2014 @ 6:21 pm
A D10 without the keys or the programmer essentially. It's a very usable machine if you program it using a free editor, and there's 1000s of sounds for it. The presets are crappy and mid-80s, though better than 2-op FM like many cheap Yamaha boards, and not without their charm. Running a GM file through it, (a sysex will make it almost-GM and the GM standard is actually based on the MT32) often renders a quite listenable retro, almost Wurli theatre organ sort of effect. One of my favourite synths! For the most fun combine it with an Amiga tracker and a budget Yamaha board!
October 23, 2013 @ 6:43 am
This is a great little unit with some really great presets for a box of its type and price range. Awesome bowed strings and drum sets. Not as sonically rich as big brother, D50 but compare 2nd-hand prices for the two. VERY noisy output, would recommend routing through a limiter or appropriate noise gate if intending to gig one of these.
October 5, 2013 @ 9:08 am
The MT-32 was meant to be used by amateur musicians and was priced for amateurs with a feature set that matched the price. Any professional musician who attempted to use one of these in the studio was going to be disappointed, as it was not meant for them. Roland had much better synths for professional use. The noise to signal ratio of the MT-32 made it totally unsuitable to a professional recording environment, though there was an aftermarket upgrade which helped greatly to reduce the noise. Some PC games also supported it and the sound output was better than anything else at the time.
June 11, 2013 @ 7:57 am
May 22, 2013 @ 4:13 pm
Pardon me, "it's a real contender next to any of the computer sound systems of *the day.*"

Though honestly I'd take some of the better MT-32 soundtracks over modern gaming's ultra-generic "orchestral film soundtrack" library music, but that's another topic...
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Rated 3.21 (312 Votes)

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  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 8 voice (32 partials)
  • Multitimbral - 9 parts
  • Oscillators - Digital LAS (Linear Arithmetic Synthesis) & PCM
  • Effects - Digital Reverb
  • Filter - None
  • Memory - 128 synth presets, 64 volatile programmable, 28 rhythm presets
  • Keyboard - None
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1987
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