Setting Up the Roland MPU-401 Under DOS With No Drivers

Roland MPU-401 MIDI Interface True DOS Setup and Drivers


NOTE: This page deals with the Roland MPU-401 and it's compatible cards. The information below does not relate to the Roland Super SMPU line of MIDI interface cards. For SMPU drivers please see our Roland SMPU drivers page


If you have a genuine Roland MPU-401 ISA card or one of the various Roland cards that contain an on-board MPU-401 (Roland's LAPC-I, SCC-1 MPU-IPC-T, MPU-401AT) then you do not need any additional drivers in order to use the MPU-401 directly in DOS.

The MPU-401 (and true MPU-401 compatible MIDI interfaces) are serial devices where all the work is done in real hardware on the card itself. Back in the days when we actually used DOS, we generally did not install any extra drivers for hardware like serial port cards or true hardware modems because they were serial devices and DOS already contains the info that it needs to communicate with hardware serial devices. The Roland MPU-401 works on this same concept.

As time progressed and main CPU speeds increased, it became significantly cheaper for manufactures to design cards (MIDI interfaces and otherwise) where the majority of the heavy lifting is done in software rather than specialized hardware on the card. This allowed the new pseudo-hardware products to be sold at a fraction of the price of the real thing, but at the downside of having to load a software "driver" in order for the device to function at all and that your CPU will be doing work that it was not having to do in the past.

This is where stuff like "WinModems" and "FakeRAID" cards came into play and in general, these types of devices are less desirable than an real hardware based card. This not always the case however as often times the newer software/hardware cards will offer more features than the older hardware only devices.

The Roland Super MPU (a.k.a SMPU series) line of PC ISA based MIDI interfaces are pseudo-hardware devices that require software drivers in all situations, DOS or otherwise. To use a Roland SMPU interface in DOS you will need to call the file SMPUENA.EXE (which i highly suspect stands for SMPU Enabler) from the AUTOEXEC.BAT file. An Example Line from an AUTOEXEC.BAT file calling SMPUENA.EXE at boot time. C:\SMPU2\SMPUENA.EXE -pE0D0 -iC

Now back to the real MPU-401. Even though an MPU-401 does not need a DOS driver you will still have to set up the proper IRQ lines and port addressing settings for your MPU card. Here is a document from Roland that helps to guide you along the process of setting the proper hardware settings for your MPU card Keep in mind that this will only need to be done if you are using a real MPU card running on a real machine actually running DOS. All of this is generally handled differently if you are using any type of emulation such as DOSBox or ScummVM.

If you plan to use an MPU-401 interface under any version of Windows (Win3.1, WIn95, Win98 or even Win NT) then you will need a set of drivers. The Roland supplied Windows drivers give the MPU-401 additional capabilities that are not possible with only the basic serial communications that DOS mode automatically supports.

Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 drivers for the MPU-401 can be downloaded from our Roland MPU driver download page.