ZX Spectrum loading options

For experts to discuss very technical stuff and newbies to ask why the Spectrum they bought off ebay doesn't work.
studio_lowfi
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ZX Spectrum loading options

Post by studio_lowfi »

Hi all!

I recently re-capped my first ZX Spectrum motherboard and replaced the 7805 with something more modern that runs less hot. Maybe not the most necessary mods, but I mainly did it just as an experiment and to refresh my rusty soldering skills. It's an issue 2 board, so I also had to tweak the variable resistors to get a nice, clean white video output.

Lo and behold, everything works and it's time to play some games.

However, what loading options are available? I've not used a Spectrum in quite a while, and currently don't have access to a tape recorder. I tried PlayZX for Android, but that doesn't seem to be loud enough.

Similarly, I have tried some wav files on my laptop, and they too don't appear to be loud enough.

However, OTLA does seem to produce files that are loud enough. The Spectrum recognises that there is input, begins loading and the file name appears at the top of the screen. It then begins to load, but when it gets to the 'high speed' part of the audio file generated by OTLA, it doesn't recognise it and gives an error message, or says it has loaded the file or (on two occasions) the machine resets.

On the plus side, using OTLA suggests that my laptop can generate audio signals that the spectrum can recognise. However, it doesn't seem to want to fast load.

Are there any ways of generating normal speed audio files that are similar in amplitude to the files generated by OTLA?

Or are there any other reliable ways of producing audio from a laptop that the spectrum recognises? I've heard that issue two boards require particularly loud audio signals. Is that the case?

Any help or suggestions are much appreciated!
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MrClump
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Re: ZX Spectrum loading options

Post by MrClump »

So long as you’re not determined to have the tape loading experience I would suggest getting a Retroleum Smart Card. You’ll be able to load .tap files from an SD card in seconds, plus you get a joystick interface too.
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studio_lowfi
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Re: ZX Spectrum loading options

Post by studio_lowfi »

Thanks for the quick answer!

I am tempted by something like for my own use, as the tape loading experience can be a massive pain, as I have discovered.

That being said, I still want to try to be able to test tape loading on the computers I have. Ultimately, I probably will need to sell some of them to clear out some space, and it would be nice to be able to prove that tape loading works properly.
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MrClump
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Re: ZX Spectrum loading options

Post by MrClump »

If you have one kicking around I find that my old (hard drive based) iPod works really well. You can switch off the volume limiter to enable it to crank out the sound. It even loads OTLA stuff flawlessly.
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p13z
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Re: ZX Spectrum loading options

Post by p13z »

I've found most PCs / laptops can generate a loud enough output - but normally involves "overdriving" the audio output. On most Linux sound drivers / interfaces you get the option to delimit the system volume, so you can go above 100% - at which point pretty much any .wav player / .tap player works with the Speccy. I'd imagine there must be a way to do this on Windows / Mac too - possibly with a third party app.
I'd recommend a Spectranet - if you do go the route of "modern" loading alternatives - so you can just load / save straight from the internet, without faffing with removable media.
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Hedge1970
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Re: ZX Spectrum loading options

Post by Hedge1970 »

There are quite a few options available today some are new hardware that bolts into the existing expansion slot and some are old hardware with new ROMs and some offer new hardware in old hardware for authenticity

DIVMMC
VDriveZX
ZXC4 Programable Rom Cartridge

Google them all for links I like the new old stuff as it is retro while being reliable.

If your going to get a tape player get an old one off ebay as they support the sound levels you need, the new ones that look old are too low and dont load. I use a Panasonic RQ 2102 slimline

Good luck, happy times ahead
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akeley
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Re: ZX Spectrum loading options

Post by akeley »

There's a plugin for Winamp which allows to load tap directly from a PC: https://mega.nz/#!ox9lnRCC!tnH4nRdRxxSt ... LVOhOdv7P8
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studio_lowfi
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Re: ZX Spectrum loading options

Post by studio_lowfi »

akeley wrote:
Thu Nov 19, 2020 5:31 pm
There's a plugin for Winamp which allows to load tap directly from a PC: https://mega.nz/#!ox9lnRCC!tnH4nRdRxxSt ... LVOhOdv7P8
Thanks for this suggestion, it worked a charm!

I haven't used Winamp for years but loaded the plugin, and after a bit of tweaking of volume levels I was able to load and play Horace Goes Skiing.

It seems the magic settings were full volume on Winamp, and 95% volume on the laptop's mixer.

Now to try out some more games...
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JollyRoger
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Re: ZX Spectrum loading options

Post by JollyRoger »

studio_lowfi wrote:
Wed Nov 18, 2020 10:09 pm
I've not used a Spectrum in quite a while, and currently don't have access to a tape recorder. I tried PlayZX for Android, but that doesn't seem to be loud enough.
From my experience, some phones work better than others in these situations. I have a Redmi 7A that can load games onto my CPC using the TapDancer app but PlayZX is a complete loss - it works great on my other Android phone, though. :? If you have a spare phone available, it's worth seeing if it gives better results.
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MrClump
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Re: ZX Spectrum loading options

Post by MrClump »

JollyRoger wrote:
Sun Nov 22, 2020 9:28 am
From my experience, some phones work better than others in these situations. I have a Redmi 7A that can load games onto my CPC using the TapDancer app but PlayZX is a complete loss - it works great on my other Android phone, though. :? If you have a spare phone available, it's worth seeing if it gives better results.
If you don't mind some mild software hacking to put the Google Play Store on there I have found a Kindle Fire works pretty well with PlayZX, and is an incredibly cheap way to get an Android compatible tablet.
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