SidBlaster Tic Tac

SidBlaster Tic Tac

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After composing a few tunes in GoatTracker and CheeseCutter, both editors that use the reSID emulator in Windows, I thought it might be prudent to test them on the real deal. Stein Pedersen (of Prosonix fame) then recommended the SidBlaster, a small device that can be equipped with a real SID chip.

The device is connected to the USB port of the PC and supports the HardSID DLL standard. This makes it compatible with the classic SidPlay, ACID 64 Player Pro, GoatTracker, VICE, and more.

I got in contact with the creator of the Tic Tac design, Andreas Schumm, on Facebook. He created and sent me the device for 83€ via PayPal. I had mentioned that I intended to use it with an 8580 SID chip and all of its jumpers were already set accordingly when I received it. It was also encapsulated in a Tic Tac box.

Earlier that day, I had also received the 8580 SID chip which I had bought on eBay for 33€. I took the device out of the Tic Tac box and put the chip into the socket. On the GitHub page for the device, there was a document about how to set jumpers, how to connect, and various other practical information.

One of the caveats in that document was that I should avoid using USB hubs as they could be trouble. I first tried connecting the device to a USB port on the front edge side of my PC cabinet, but this didn’t work. I had to use a USB port on the back of the PC before it was detected properly. I guess the front edge line of USB ports is actually regarded as sort of an internal USB hub.

From JCH’s Special Collection

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I had my entire collection of 2500+ C64 floppy disks converted to D64 files a few years back, but I also had a few special boxes that wasn’t in on that deal. It was mostly my own work disks plus a few unique ones I had set aside for later studying. Back in April, a friend converted all these to D64 files as well.

Lately, I’ve been snooping around in these 670+ D64 files, and oh yes – there were gems to be found.

I’m going to present my findings in this blog post. Some have been uploaded to CDSb already, some are entirely new. Of course it’s mostly SID tunes, but there are a few PRG files to run as well.

DeepSID

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I have made my own online SID player.

This was actually something I had originally discarded since I wasn’t satisfied with the state of the JavaScript SID emulators I had found online. The one for the SID Visualizer (which uses jsSID by jhohertz) couldn’t play digi tunes and neither could the one by Hermit. Playing digi tunes was a requirement for me.

But then I checked out Jürgen Wothke’s WebSID and it was at a level I found satisfying. It can play all sorts of tunes with weird timings, including digi tunes. Only BASIC tunes are not supported (sod those) as well as 2SID/3SID tunes (a shame but I can live with that for now).

Later, I also added Hermit’s jsSID emulator, and it can play those 2SID/3SID tunes. And again later, I added support for Stone Oakvalley’s Authentic SID Collection with real C64 recordings.

Another reason I wanted to make my own SID player was that I didn’t really like most of the existing ones, offline and online. Many are small and doesn’t offer a lot of info, or it’s hidden away in windows and tabs. I wanted to create a player that was KISS while also offering all the useful info at a glance.

CLICK HERE TO FIND YOURSELF IN DEEPSID

Comparison of C64 Music Editors

I have created a large HTML table that compares a lot of music editors on the Commodore 64.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE TABLE

You can use it for a ton of things. How much CPU time does a player from that editor use? How many SID chips does it support? Does it have multispeed? How many instruments can it have? Does it have this or that feature in a table? Almost anything you can imagine, this table aims to deliver.

And if it doesn’t – or you have an update – just throw me a comment in this blog post.

Discussion threads: Facebook, CSDb, Lemon 64, Reddit, ChipMusic.org

Updates

March 8, 2018: Double-checked and updated player sizes and rasterline numbers.
March 4, 2018: Added DefleMask 0.12.0.
March 2, 2018: Added capability rows for arpeggio and vibrato in the Player section.
March 1-2, 2018: Added capability rows for pulsating and filtering in the Player section.
February 28, 2018: Used SIDDump to measure and update some of the rasterline numbers.
February 27, 2018: An Unsticky Table button can now be used if the table won’t display properly.
February 26, 2018: Added SidTracker 64 1.0.3.
February 25, 2018: Added DMC 5.0.
February 24, 2018: First version with 10 editors.

One Knight Stand

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Here’s my first GoatTracker SID tune in standard PAL speed. It was made for the 8580 SID chip.

The bass drum instrument is not quite as sharp in the packed tune as it was in GoatTracker. Perhaps it was the packer that messed with this – I’ve had similar difficulties with my own packer back in the day. Does anyone know how to match that in the packed tune?

Here’s the SID tune: One_Knight_Stand.sid

SID Musicians

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I was reading this thread on the Commodore 64 forum Lemon 64, and it had me pondering what I thought of the SID musicians back when I was JCH of Vibrants.

I was a coder and musician myself on the C64 and often paying attention to other composers, both to the technical side of things as well as the music itself. It was important to keep track of the competition to see if there were new tricks, styles, sounds or techniques to pick up on.

At the end of the day we all needed inspiration.

So, what did I think of the other top dog C64 musicians back in the 80’s and 90’s?

The Later AdLib Music by Vibrants

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This blog post contains the later AdLib music from 1993-94 by Thomas Mogensen, Jesper Olsen, Torben Hansen and Morten Sigaard Kristensen. Most of it was composed in EdLib, an editor I wrote that used the same track editing system as my Commodore 64 editor.

EdLib (Editing)EdLib (Instruments)

In addition to composing a few test tunes in EdLib, Jesper Olsen also wrote his very own AdLib player and composed tunes for it in an assembler listing. These tunes are also included below.

You won’t need an emulator plugin to play the tunes – they have all been saved as MP3 for easy listening.

Game Boy Music by Drax

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Thomas Mogensen not only composed a ton of awesome C64 tunes, he also composed for a few Game Boy Color games in the late 90’s. This page contains all the work he has done, including demo tunes.

The process of creating these tunes actually began in FastTracker 2. Thomas composed the tunes using samples from a Game Boy Color. The saved XM files were then converted to Game Boy Color binaries using a tool coded by Thomas Egeskov Petersen. The Game Boy Color hardware has two square wave channels, one wave channel, and one noise channel, but note that most in-game level tunes only use two voices.

Everything has been converted from the original XM files to MP3 for easy listening.