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Roland MT-32



roland mt32

audio demo Country: Japan
Weight: 1,5 Kg
Dimensions: 305 (w) x 220 (h) x 45 (d) mm
audio demo trend price : 70€
manual demo video comments

Roland MT-32
Multi-Timbre Sound Module (1987)


A consumer module from more professional series D-10 / D-20/ D-5/ D-110 synthesizers based on LA Synthesis (Linear Arithmetic synthesis) which flagship is the classic Roland D50.

Today the MT32 is mostly famous as THE music expander for pc gamers during the 90'. There are two motherboard revisions known as "OLD" and "NEW" with some minor differences on the circuit board.

mt 32 display

info MODULE Main panel features a 10 x 2 lines display, a Midi activity led, 10 buttons and a potentiometer for volume settings.

Rear panel terminal connectors:
- Midi interface
- main signal out
- headphones out (only in second release).

ac Power supply standard 9V PSU with -)+ polarity 650 mA.


edit TECH main CPU 16 bits intel I8095 (or 8098) handles 32 voices polyphony based on LA synthesis. Linear Arithmetic is not like a standard wavetable synthesizer: the sound generation is based on very short attack PCM transients for limiting expensive (at the time) memory usage. Psychoacoustic facts demonstrate that the attack segment is the most important part for the sound identification by human ear. MT 32 DAC is a standard 16 bits IC Burr Brown PCM54HP same found on mighty D50.

L.A WG Wave Generator is a mix of 2 syntheses:
- PCM wavetable (1)
- Digitally generated basic waveforms (2)

WG mt32

the WG handles a non-expandable 512 kb ROM wavetable (sampled at 32 kHz ) that contains 128 waves organized into 3 main categories:
- transient PCM acoustic
- transient PCM spectral loops
- transient PCM "normal" loops

tones mt32

DIGITALLY GENERATED WAVEFORMS is a kind of primitive V.A (virtual analog synthesis) able to generate 2 kind of classic waveforms: sawtooth + pulse which relative pulse width can be changed or directly assigned to a keyfollower.

WG generator
demoHEAR pulse width range

the minimal synthesis part is the PARTIAL, then up to 4 PARTIALS make a TIMBRE. In the TIMBRE, the PARTIALS are combined in 2 pairs only in this way:
- 1 + 2
- 3 + 4.

mt 32 tech
Each partial features 3 main parameters:
- volume level
- pitch coarse / fine amount
- pitch keyfollow mode (from -50 to + 50%).

the WG combines partial synthesis elements with a digital ring modulator in 13 possible pathways or so-called algorithms split into 3 categories (check out colors below: 1-7 blue, 8-9 green, 10-13 red).

Structure Partial 1 Partial 2 Combination of 2 partials diagram
1 S S mix partial 1-2 structure1
2 S S mix partial 1 + Ring modulator structure2
3 P S mix partial 1-2 structure3
4 P S mix partial 1 + ring modulator s1
5 S P mix partial 1 + ring modulator structure5
6 P P mix partial 1-2 (mo s1
7 P P mix partial 1-2 + ring modulator structure7
8 S S each partial is send to left right s1
9 P P each partial is send to left right
10* S S partial are ringmodulated then out s1
11* P S partial are ringmodulated then out structure11
12* S P partial are ringmodulated then out structure12
13* P P partial are ringmodulated then out structure13

(p= pcm sample / s= digitally generated wave)
* in ringmodulation mode, the first partial defines the pitch while second one is the harmonic content.



system handles 8 parts + rhythm and some functions:
- 4 poly modes with different voice priority assignment
- individual volume / panning
- reverb on/off
- bender range
- fine tuning + semitones shift.

main panel

edit FILTER a digital 4-poles resonant lowpass filter only for the "S" synthesis: cutoff is quantised to 100 levels, assignable to velocity with keyfollow mode and breakpoint.

filter cutoff
demoHEAR digital filter cutoff with Q resonance


edit ENVELOPE 3 EGs for each partial:
- EG AMP: 5 segments ADSR + 5 times
- EG filter: 5 segments ADSR + 5 times (only for S synthesis)
- EG pitch: 5 segments ADSR + 5 times.
The EG amp can be also assigned to velocity or to keyfollow mode (depends on note).


LFO a single triangle-shapped modulatorfor the WG pitch (filter? PWM? shame!) with variable depth, frequency and global amount to pitch bender.

demoHEAR the LFO modulator

a dedicated IC HG61H20R36F (at IC17) manages some simple digital reverbs with adjustable duration and intensity (only by sysex).

audio chip
4 reverbs algorithms: room, hall, plate and tap-delay.


MEMORY is volatile and holds:
- 128 ROM patches (dowload full patchlist)
- 64 RAM slots.

Roland Mt32 main board
edit VIEW High-res motherboard pic / DAC PCM54 HP / CPU I8095 /


MIDI limited CC controls (modulation, hold, pan, expression) but full SYSEX implementation.
For some absurd reason Midi and MT-32 channels are not matched: 1-8 are assigned to MIDI channels 2-9, however it is possible to change it from direct panel.
TIP: This unit is NOT compliant to GS/GM Midi protocol, but there are some third-part applications are able to make an approximative conversion GM->MT example :
demoGS non-converted / GS converted



edit EDIT it is NOT possible to deeply edit MT-32 from panel, consequently an external programmer is required:
- Soundquest (PC/MC commercial) PIC
- DR.T's MT-32 (Atari ST/ old PC dos, out of business) PIC
- LA synth (old PC out of business)
- JSynthLib (Java, free, out of business )
- MT32 sound designer (Atari ST) PIC


mt32 editor


some custom modification:
- Classic experimental modification is the CIRCUIT BENDING
- The most famous mods were officially done by Real-World music for the Mk1 model including: sound quality improvement, battery backup for sounds, waveform polarity debug, some extra front parameters, new reverb modes and individual analog Aux outs.


roland mt32 circuit bending real world interface
Mt 32 circuit bending VIDEO. Real world DAC modification document download

FUN FACT MT32 is indeed a strange synth case: today it is still praised by the retro-gamers as the unit ihas been a standard on the games musics from the nineties when connected by Midi to PC some AMIGA computers even ATARI ST.

retrogaming mt32

demo HEAR some MT32 famous sounds track: Ultima7 - Space quest 3 - Ultima Underworld - Castle Dr Brain

demoDOWNLOAD full Sierra games MIDI soundtrack collection especially designed for MT32.


roland d50

the best and the most complex of the LA series even if the wavetables is smaller (128kb) . The Filter and LFO section are more flexible and less strict than D10/MT structure.No drums but better FX. Rackmount version is D-550

roland d10 D10 61 keys synth same structure as MT32, very similar but fully programmable from panel. Also a version with floppy drive (D-20) a budget version (D-5) and a rackmount version (D-110) VIDEO

LAPC-I LAPC-I is a sound card module for old ISA PC slots.
It is compatible with MT32 and CM32L VIDEO

CM32L (CM COMPTER MUSIC) a kind of MT32 repackage with an extra array of waveforms. VIDEO NB: the CM32P is not an LA, but full PCM based on U-20 synthesis

CM64 CM64 is a mix of CM32L + CM32P VIDEO
Cm500 CM500 expanded CM64 based on CM32L + CM32P+ CM300 (GS/GM compliant devices) VIDEO
roland mt100 MT100 is a MT-32 (new board) with internal sequencer and (ugly) quick disk drive VIDEO



effet VST PLUGIN / SAMPLED VERSION some free samples, soundfont and a kind of virtual (not VST) emulator:

  name note
mt32 free samples

-Music machines



<-- Download FREE sample set

MUNT emulator

MUNT emulator

This utility creates a virtual MT32 Midi port. It *should* needs original MT 32 ROM + WAVETABLE dump

Some latency: great for games, less for playing on Midi.

Some test I made:

demo Original MT32 DUNE game

VS. demoMUNT version




demo Track 100% MT32 (no fx, overdub)
demo Soundtrack: ultima VII game recording
demo Soundtrack: Castle Dr brain
demo Soundtrack: Space quest 3
demo Sountrack: Ultima underworld
demo piano: early piano
demo piano: kinda rhodes EP
demo organ: lounge organ trovajoli
demo synth: fatty sound
demo synth: TB-303
demo synth: Analog moog
demo pad: worried
demo pad: ambient noises 2
demo pad: ambient noises (2+2 partials)
demo pad: resonant pad
demo flute: recorder
demo bell: falling down
demo string: pizzicato
demo perc: taiko war drums
demo perc: Timpani
demo perc: drum kit
demo Fx: useless telephone
demo FX: Ring modulator rhythm
demo Comparison: u7* by mt32
demo Comparison: u7* by MV30** (mt32 emulation)
demo track: factory demo 1 (from NEW board)
demo track: factory demo 2
demo track: factory demo 3
demo tracK: factory demo 4
demo track: factory demo 5
demo Track recovered from planet zero
demo test: 4 minutes of random sounds
demo test: Resonant filter
demo test: Pulse width range
demo test: LFO
demo test: ring modulator

*Roland MV-30 (1990) with a special MT32 emulation mode.


ultima VI monkey island mt32 day of the tentacle
Ultima VI Guybrush mt32 another hit from the past:day of the tentacle



Company: Roland
Model: MT-32
Class: Synth Module
Dates: 1987
Price: 70€
Synthesis: L.A digital
Polyphony: 32 voices
N.waves: 128 PCM
ROM table: 0,5 mb
N. PCM: 128 waves
Multitimbric: 8 parts
Algorithms: 13 models
Filter: Digital Low pass
Envelope: 3 EGs
LFO: 1 modulator
CPU: I8095
Demo: 40


big picture





Roland MT-32 Reset / factory procedure

The mt32 makes a reset every time it is switched ON.



DOWNLOAD Mt32 PATCH Collection designed from SIERRA, the best SYX collection for FREE!

MT 32 sierra collection





mt 32 banner

roland mt32
edit original brochure


roland mt32
edit original advert




mt 32 banner

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Roland MT32 FOR SALE

mt32 for sale


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mt 32 banner



PCM54HP burr brown logo intel MT32 cpu
solid solid
Obsolete stuff Retro-nerd champion


REVIEW "Interesting synthesis structure limited compared to big brother D10/D20 and totally different from D50, but needs to be deeply programmed: it is NOT a simple rompler! ringmodulation and structure make interesting sounds. Now totally obsolete for acoustic sounds, MT32 is still precious gem for retrogamers."

manual manual
-a classic -limited panel edit
-volatile memory


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Roland MT32 3 out of 5 based on 17 ratings. price € 50