Sega Master System FM Audio
The Sega Mark III was a console launched in Japan that was essentially the early version of the Master System. One of the many options available for this system was an “FM Sound expansion board”. It was a device that plugged into the Mark III and allowed games to utilize it’s built-in sound chip. Games would have to be programmed to use this module, but surprisingly, many were.
|After Burner||Game Box Série Esportes Radicais||R-Type|
|Alex Kidd: BMX Trial||Game Box Série Lutas||Rampage|
|Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars||Golvellius: Valley of Doom||Rastan|
|Alien Syndrome||Great Golf||Rescue Mission|
|Altered Beast||Hoshi o sagashite…||Scramble Spirits|
|Aztec Adventure||Kenseiden||SDI: Strategic Defense Initiative|
|Blade Eagle 3-D||Lord of the Sword||Shinobi|
|Bomber Raid||Maze Hunter 3-D||Solomon’s Key|
|California Games||Megumi Rescue||Space Harrier 3-D|
|Captain Silver||Miracle Warriors: Seal of the Dark Lord||SpellCaster|
|Casino Games||Mônica no Castelo do Dragão||ThunderBlade|
|Chōonsenshi Borgman||Out Run 3-D||Turma da Mônica em: O Resgate|
|Cloud Master||OutRun||Ultima IV|
|Double Dragon||Parlour Games||Wonder Boy in Monster Land|
|Fantasy Zone II||Penguin Land||Ys: The Vanished Omens|
|Fantasy Zone: The Maze||Phantasy Star||Zaxxon 3-D|
|Galactic Protector||Poseidon Wars 3-D||Zillion 2: Tri Formation|
|Galaxy Force||Power Strike|
Play SMS Games with FM Sound
There are a few methods that allow you to play your SMS games on original hardware with FM sound. Some require console modifications and others do not:
Install an FM Sound chip into an SMS:
Tim Worthington sells an FM kit that you can install in your SMS. Installation in an SMS 1 is pretty easy, as it can plug directly into the expansion port in back, requiring only a few wires to be soldered. A full internal installation (required for an SMS 2) is also available, but a bit more complicated. There have also been reports of people installing this kit into a Power Base Converter, or even a Genesis itself, but no instructions for that are available: http://etim.net.au/smsfm/smsfm.html
Original Carts on Original hardware:
Power Base FM
The Power Base FM allows you to play all your FM Sound-compatible SMS games on a Genesis (or Mega Drive) without any modification to your system. This will also work with SMS ROM Carts, such as the Master Everdrive: https://stoneagegamer.com/powerbase-mini-fm.html?afmc=retrorgb
If you’d like to sue original SMS hardware, you can get a Japanese Master System model MK-2000 (not Mark III). The Japanese Master System had the FM sound chip, as well as the 3D glasses adapter and the rapid fire module built directly into the console! The only problem is Japanese Master System cartridges are a different size than the ones released in the rest of the world, so you’ll need an adapter to play SMS games on them. Luckily, there are a few available and I’ve tested these two:
Pro’s: Uses the top cartridge slot, so no modification needs to be made to the console; Just plug and play.
Con’s: The game cartridges look a little silly sticking that high up above the console.
If you’re using a Master Everdrive, it’s recommended you use OSv7 with this adapter. As an FYI, after flashing to OSv7,the SD card needs to be re-formatted to FAT32.
SMS Rear Adapter
Pro’s: Sits behind the unit, so your console always looks “clean”.
Con’s: A small bit of plastic needs to be cut for it to fit properly & if you’re using cartridges, it’s a pain to go behind the unit each time to switch it out. Also, there’s some compatibility issues with some games and ROM carts.
If you’re using an original Master Everdrive, it’s recommended you use OSv6 with this adapter. As an FYI, after flashing to OSv6,the SD card needs to be re-formatted to FAT16.
Using a ROM Cart that supports FM Audio
There’s a few ROM carts available for the Sega Genesis that use their FPGA chip inside to emulate the SMS’ FM audio chip. There’s one ROM cart for the SMS that has the FM chip built in, but it requires a modification to your console and it’s confusing to use. Here’s the choices:
Mega Everdrive Pro (includes Sega CD Support): http://bit.ly/megaedpro
Mega SD (also includes Sega CD Support): https://bit.ly/terraonionmegasd
Mega Everdrive x7: https://stoneagegamer.com/flash/genesis/carts/mega-everdrive-x7/?afmc=retrorgb
The “Neo” ROM carts for both SMS and Genesis support FM audio:
Genesis Version = NEO Myth MD 3in1: http://www.ic2005.com/shop/product.php?productid=33&cat=3&page=1
SMS Version = NEO SEGA MKiii: http://www.ic2005.com/shop/product.php?productid=130&cat=3&page=1
Please note that the SMS version requires you to run the audio output of your SMS AV cable through it, for FM audio to be mixed in. If you’re using RGB, you can try to order (or make) a custom SCART cable with an RCA audio output and input. Alternatively, you can use a Genesis RGB SCART cable that gets audio from the 3.5mm jack, then wire audio directly from the SMS’ multi-out: http://www.retrorgb.com/smsaudioout.html
While the NeoSD carts do work, I feel I need to warn you about a few things before proceeding:
Using the enhanced menu’s is a must, as the stock menu’s are terrible:
Genesis cart enhanced menu: (1st post): http://www.neoflash.com/forum/index.php/topic,5880.0.html
SMS cart enhanced menu: http://www.neoflash.com/forum/index.php/topic,7199.0.html
The Neo carts are not plug-and-play like the Everdrives, they actually require software to read and write ROMs. You can purchase an additional MicroSD card adapter, but it’s expensive and you’ll still need the software for initial setup (although after setup is complete, you can just read and write ROMs like a normal ROM cart): http://www.ic2005.com/shop/product.php?productid=33&cat=3&page=1
Support is pretty bad. I had an issue with mine and it took over a month of exchanging emails with pictures and videos proving my issue before they agreed to a return.
Comparison of the above methods:
I have a few pretty outdated videos demonstrating the differences between the above choices. I also included an audio analysis section on the Mega Everdrive Pro review, so here’s links to all of those:
As with all solutions these days, I suggest using whatever is the best for your setup. Some people will be fine playing original carts on their SMS and switching to a more advanced Genesis ROM cart for SMS sound. Others will just use a MiSTer for special use cases like that. And, of course, there are those of us hardware enthusiasts that will chase solutions on real hardware, for no reason other than we want to. All are great choices 🙂
Please click here to go back to the Master System page. If you’d like info on mods for other systems, head to the Getting RGB From Each System page or check out the main page for more retro-awesomeness.