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Orchestra-90 CC (26-3143)
The Orchestra-90 CC is a stereo 8-bit audio player that plugs into the Color Computer's expansion port. It has a ROM-based program that allows the user to compose and play software-synthesized music through the two 8-bit Digital to Analog Converters. Audio can be routed to an external stereo amplifier and speakers through two RCA jacks in the end of the cartridge, or to the speaker in the CoCo's TV or monitor through the SND pin on the CoCo's expansion bus. In the latter case, sound is reduced to one channel.
The built-in ROM software can save and load music files on tape or disk (one of the few ROM-based programs to support the disk drive) and can even transfer files over a modem. Music files are ASCII text files written in the Orchestra-90's special music language. Music could be composed in four voices, or five with slightly reduced sound quality.
There were versions of the Orchestra-90 for other computers in addition to the Color Computer, including the TRS-80 Model III and 4. The Orchestra-90 CC is compatible with Orchestra-80/85/90 music files from the other platforms. Because of this, there is a large library of music files available to the Orchestra-90 user. trs-80.com has a page dedicated to the Orchestra music synthesizers, including many music files to download.
In addition to the built-in software, the Orchestra-90 CC hardware can be used to play sampled music and digitized sound effects. Version 5 of the OS-9 Play program can use the Orch-90CC to play digitized audio file formats originating on the Macintosh and Amiga.
While the Orchestra-90 is used more for music than game sound effects, there are a few games that make use of it. John R. Strong sells Soviet Bloc and Gems, which support Orchestra-90 CC if present. And in a message to the Maltedmedia CoCo email list, L. Curtis Boyle had this to say:
I should mention that I have made quick patches to OS-9 games (and OS-9/NitrOS9 itself) to use the Orch-90 for full 8 bit sound, including Kyum-Gai:To Be Ninja (which actually has 8 bit samples in the code; it masks out the unused 2 bits). I even had plans to add stereo support to the standard OS-9 calls, but never quite got that far (the TC-9 driver did use native 8 bit sound, though, and it would work fine with the Orch-90 pak as well).