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Looking for a retro-synthy-midi orchestral library


New Member
I'm not sure whether this is the right forum, but I'm looking for a library/vst intrument which replicates the sounds from the 16-bit era.

Kind of like the default sounds in MuseScore I guess?

Does anything of that sort exists? Or is this too weird? :P



Senior Member
I was thinking old ROMplers might be good-- stuff with General Midi soundsets, from 1995-2005 or so. Old soundcards (if you have a PC with the old slot) would have really dated sounds as well. Old SoundBlasters and such.

ISW makes Super Audio Cart, as mentioned, but also Super Audio PC, which might have more acoustic/orchestral type sounds.


Senior Member
Ok after going down the rabbit hole there are some fun things like modern MIDI DSP chips with ROM sets, there are modern expansion boards that will fit on soundcards if they have the right header. So instead of an old Edirol Sound Canvas you can get a modern General MIDI usb device like https://www.serdashop.com/Webwinkel-Product-198933047/Dreamblaster-S2-General-MIDI-Module-Bundle.html

But I would absolutely buy an old Emu MR series (Proteus, etc.) with the Orchestral expansion boards. If you really want SNES style, get this (4MB of ROM lol!)
https://www.emumania.net/emu-proteus-1-plus-orchestral-sound-module/ or the v2 https://www.emumania.net/emu-proteus-2-sound-module/ I think it sounds pretty awful but gets you right in the middle of that SNES sound. It might actually be too good for SNES but the thing about retro is it's usually better to be a bit better than whatever you're nostalgia-ing. Not always but just in general.

I think the later Peter Siedlaczek Advanced Orchestra Sound ROM is better without being too good in this regard. 32MB ROM that's just on the edge of sounding like it comes from an early workstation, but it hits this weird mix of being terrible but yet good because of the variety of articulations packed in.

Anyway there's tons of stuff out there but since you said specifically 'orchestral' this is what I found. For VST, here's something I didn't even know existed but might fit the bill:

Also, https://www.rolandcloud.com/catalog/anthology/anthology-orchestra

These are, I think, some JV1080 expansions in VST form.

The K2000 Orch ROM really captures that feel too (may be the best of all of these). But not sure it's available in VST form, you'd need to get the actual hardware. But quick skim of some web posts about it suggest that ROM may have been incorporated into the standard K2000 sound set, or maybe added to later series (pC3x series?) which had more built in ROM. Might be worth looking at.


Senior Member
I always think of Super Ghouls n Ghosts. Even all these years later the first level song still randomly get stuck in my head. It's catchy!

Shireen, I would recommend listening to the whole score for this game if you want to get ideas about 'snes orchestral'. (probably a bunch of JRPGS are also good sources, Chrono, FFIV, etc.)

One thing that gets that sound is the really really short loop points, if you listen close you'll hear it all over the place. So taking existing samples and doing bit rate reduction, sample rate reduction, stereo to mono reduction, and creating short loops will basically give you the type of sounds that they were creating themselves.



Senior Member
Judging by the demo songs and the list of systems included, the samples in Super Audio Cart PC seem more aimed for the sound of modtracker music than synth-orchestra.
I checked all demos for SAC and SAC PC and they are all basically non-orchestral, so hard to say which library would be better at that. Maybe @zircon_st could help? :)
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