M (Origin)

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M (Origin).png
Developer: Origin Systems, Inc.
Header: Custom
Content: Notational
Instruments: Optional
Target Output
Output - Digital Audio - No.png Output - MIDI.png Output - FM Synthesis.png Output - PSG.png
Released: 1988-??-??
First Game: Times of Lore (DOS)
  • *.m
  • *.tm

M, it is assumed that M stands for "Music," is an audio format created by Origin Systems and was used in several of their games from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. Each game received a slightly different version of the format, but they're effectively the same. The format stores game music and, using drivers, can be sent to various output devices including Ad Lib Music Synthesizer Card, Creative Music System, Roland MT-32, Sound Master, SSI 2001, and Tandy 3 Voice, although not every game that used the M format supported every device.

The format does not store system exclusive data for any Roland devices. Sysex data is sent to the device by the game engine before the song is played. If you plan on recording your own audio, you must first manually send the sysex data to your device or the music will use incorrect instruments.


There are at least four versions of the M format. The first version was originally made for Times of Lore (DOS) where it is compressed with an LZW algorithm. The Ad Lib Music Synthesizer Card and Creative Music System formats are stored in the M files, and the Tandy 3 Voice music is stored in separate TM files. A second version was used in Ultima VI: The False Prophet (DOS) which uses the same LZW compression, but it incorporates the Tandy music into the M file and adds support for the SSI 2001 and Sound Master. The third version was used in Bad Blood (DOS) and appears to use a new, and, as of yet unidentified, compression method. The fourth version is used in the PC-9801 conversion of Ultima 6 which uses a different and yet unknown compression method and adds support for the YM2608 chip. Also, in this version, there is a duplicate of every music file with a "F_" prefix on the file name for an unknown reason, probably for a different output.

Although the two Worlds of Ultima games (Martian Dreams and Savage Empire) use the Ultima 6 engine, they use the OMI audio format, which was also used in the first couple Wing Commander games.


  • AdPlug - DOS, foobar2000, UNIX, Winamp, XMMS (Only works with version 1 and 2, doesn't handle uncompressed files.)


Released Title Sample
1989-02-?? Times of Lore (DOS)
1990-??-?? Bad Blood (DOS)
1990-??-?? Ultima VI: The False Prophet (DOS)
1991-11-21 Ultima VI: The False Prophet (PC98)

How to Obtain

For each game that uses this format, the M files are located in the root install folder.


If you want to study the structure of M files, they can be decompressed with the Ultima LZW Decompressor, although AdPlug can only play them when they're compressed.