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
May 22, 2013 @ 4:11 pm
*However,* as a piece of computer-gaming history, it's another story. As cheap as the little alarm clock sounds when put next to a professional synthesizer, it's a real contender next to any of the computer sound systems of today; the Amiga can beat it for sheer capability, but can't touch its polyphony, and it sounds incredible next to the typical voices used on Yamaha OPL2-based sound cards (though with musicians who actually know their way around FM it's a bit more neck-and-neck.) Some of the presets are terrible, but it can sound amazing with custom patches. Definitely a gamers' classic.
May 22, 2013 @ 4:06 pm
From a purely instrument level, the MT-32 is one of those frustrating pieces of gear that were obviously kneecapped in order to keep them from threatening a company's higher-end offerings. The PCM sounds are understandably lower-fidelity than the D-50's, but what's really frustrating is that the synth sounds have been severely cut-down, with minimal modulation options, and the on-board effects (sorry, *effect*) is much lower-quality. As much as it may have in common with Roland's classic keyboard, the MT-32 really can't lay a finger on it sonically.
Robert Goldie
May 11, 2013 @ 2:40 pm
I got an old Roland MT-32 out of a seedy junk shop in Glasgow years ago for £60 at first I thought it was pretty cheesey but I found it pretty good for celeste, marimba, glock plinky plonky sounds, especially if you whacked up the reverb. As soon as I upgraded my old Atari ste to a decent Pentium pc I came across an editing programme (cant remember its name) that enabled you to coax out some extremely weird and usable sounds. For similar sounds these days I just use Linplug Albino Vst. If you persevere with the mt-32 along with a editor you can still coax out some pretty goods sounds.
March 25, 2013 @ 4:52 pm
An interesting synth because of it's use in classic DOS videogames, making it sort of like a digital Wurlitzer organ for accompanying silent movies!
Essentially it's a cut down D110 (uses the same chip I think) without the front panel programmability, multiple outputs and battery backup. You can load D110 patches via an editor/librarian such as the shareware LA-SYNTH, and there's a hell of a lot of them around. Presets don't do the machine justice!
January 20, 2013 @ 8:33 am
Historically, this box was quite a milestone.
Came out at least 6-months before the other D-series synths, with the exception of the D50. The MT32 was the very first multi-tibral sound module featuring drums, reverb and sampled instruments, at a price that was totally crazy for 1988. It was a poor man's Kurzweil K250. It was the perfect sollution for people who had an Atari, a drummachine and a few synths, to add even more instruments to their tracks. I was pissed off when Roland released the D110 late 88, but I still have great memories of the MT32. Wish I'd kept it.
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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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