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What's the difference between GM, GS and XG?


The GS Format is a set of specifications for sound sources which defines the manner in which multi-timbral sound generating units will respond to MIDI messages. The GS Format also complies with the General MIDI System -Level 1.

The GS Format, from Roland, also defines a number of other details. These include unique specifications for sounds and the functions available for tone editing and effects (Chorus & Reverb), and other specifications concerning the manner in which sounds sources will respond to MIDI messages. Any device that is equipped with GS Format sound source can faithfully reproduce GS Music Data (music data created under the GS Format).

Roland fully supports General MIDI while providing the GS Format as a means to access compatibility and features beyond those specified within GM. General MIDI defines fundamental support to allow wide compatibility across a wide range of products. The more detailed definitions within the GS Format allow greater creative control for compatible sound sources.

Microsoft realised the full potential of Roland GS Format adopted the GS sound set and will be using them in their new Microsoft Network, the DirectX APIs and Microsoft® Internet Explorer. This combination of Roland’s gs Format and the forthcoming Microsoft software Synthesizer will result in unprecedented compatibility,flexibility and sound quality in interactive musical applications.

Here’s what Microsoft had to say. By combining Roland’s superior sample set of GS Sounds with our soon to be released ActiveMusic Control and DirectMusic API, we assure the user the highest quality audio experience on the PC, said John Ludwig, Vice President of the Internet platform and tools division.

Recognizing that music is essential to a top-notch interactive entertainment experience, Microsoft has created a comprehensive interactive
music solution consisting of intelligent musical accompaniment and software synthesis featuring the Roland GS Sound Set. Users can expect to see this technology appear in numerous Microsoft Internet and desktop products in the coming months the first of which will be included on MSN, The Microsoft Network.

We are proud that Microsoft has chosen Roland’s GS Sound Set for its music applications, said Mr. Ikutaro Kakehashi, Chairman and CEO of Roland Corp. We believe that the combination of Microsoft’s proven software expertise and Roland’s industry-leading GS Format will enhance the compatibility and expand the use of MIDI, as well as provide a vast improvement in the
quality of interactive audio.

Roland introduced the world’s first GS Format/General MIDI compatibility sound module in 1991 in the shape of the SC-55 Sound Canvas. As a GS product, it supported Roland’s extensions to the General MIDI specification, giving MIDI users additional sounds and controls. The Sound
Canvas has been recognized as the reference for General MIDI compatibility by the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group (IASIG) of the MIDI
Manufacturers’ Association (MMA). The sounds Roland has licensed to Microsoft included the complete GS instrument collection supported by
Microsoft software Synthesizer.

Although the GS mark is currently not used on other manufacturers’ instruments, you will find that the majority of these instruments are now
GM and GS compatible.

The Yamaha XG format is basically a set of rules describing how a tone generator will respond to MIDI data. The current GM (General MIDI) format is a similar concept, allowing GM music data to be reproduced accurately on any GM tone generator from any manufacturer. GM, however, applies only to a limited set of parameters. XG significantly expands on the basic GM format, providing many more voices, voice editing capability, effects, external input, and other
features that contribute to enhanced musical expression. And since XG is totally upwardly compatible with GM, GM data can be accurately reproduced on any XG tone generator.

The XG Format Offers the ability to create music data with greater music expression. A vastly expanded voice set. A consistent format that bridges the gap between computers and musical instruments.

The ability to create data that will not become "out of date".

The ability to create "karaoke" data including echo settings

and much more

1. Compatibility
XG data will play accurately on any XG tone generator. And, since XG is upward compatible with GM, GM data will play accurately on any XG tone generator.

2. Scalability
Although the XG format defines an extensive range of parameters and allows exceptionally fine musical control, not all XG devices need to conform to the full XG specification. The XG format allows features and capabilities to be "scaled" according to price and target applications. When music data is played on a scaled-down XG device, playback is adapted to the capabilities of the device used. If, for example, a specified voice is not available for a certain part, that part will be played using a similar basic voice. On the other end of the scale, models equipped with a graphic equalizer can be automatically set to play hard rock pieces or classic compositions with appropriate overall EQ.

3. Expandability
The XG format has been designed to allow future expansion whenever needed.

For up to the minute information, visit: Yamaha at
or Roland at

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Article details
Article ID: 47
Category: General MIDI Questions
Date added: 2015-06-07 19:41:02
Views: 2787
Rating (Votes): Article rated 3.7/5.0 (37)

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