Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Full AY emu prototype

Well I've talked about this before, but I'll say it again.
Designing a synthesizer that claims full chip authenticity and playability at the same time is the toughest challenge I'm faced with.

It hard to give access to powerful sound tweaking possibilities available on some chips when the synth paradigm you are basing your whole design on is of the standard
[voice0 + voice1 + voice2 + (...) + voiceN = mix]

Look at this signal path for instance:

It becomes clear that something like this doesn't fit that particular mold.

The AY has five generators: 3 tones, 1 noise, and 1 envelope.
It also has three independent audio output pins, that are mixed in the analog world differently in all the AY-based systems.

Now each of the output has its own tone generator, but it can also be mixed with the lone noise pattern (either, or combined with a binary AND). On top of that each output can have its volume changed independently (16 log steps), or be amp-modulated by the LONE Envelope generator. (more in the spec)

Anyone who's messed with an AY knows that the fun comes from mixing the env/tone+noise in certain ways which can make unique drones/beats that any IDM/Experimental student would enjoy.

But you can't currently do these in chipsounds v1.0 due to voice paradigm its based on. From recent user questions on the AY matter, it surprised me how programming a straight chip emu sounds like a hard task.
But in reality, in comparison to trying to make it fit in ARIA/SFZ, making a separate module that purely emulates the chip in bit perfect manner (and with all its limitations) is really not the challenge it appears to be.

The AY is a relatively simple digital state machine

Here is a snapshot of my current prototype (made using Bidule's C++ SDK):

And the type of drones you can dynamically make by moving the sliders here:
Example A
Example B

Its currently unclear if/how this will be integrated in chipsounds, or given for free for Bidule users. Please stay tuned!


  1. Nice! Looks like fun to me! I'd be eager to have a play with that in Bidule if it finds it way in there. I love reading the background story to Chipsounds but get more excited this more pure emulation approach, warts and all.

  2. Wow, that low pitch fluffy VW beatle sound was amazing!

  3. This is so very promising. I do hope that it can be integrated into Chipsounds as it is currently the only reason that is putting me off buying a copy of an otherwise outstanding product.

  4. I have trouble limiting what will be in chipsounds 2.0, hence the delays.
    If i get my way it will have everything under the sun in it :)

  5. But then no one will ever get the chance to enjoy all of your hard work. I know what you mean though, it can be hard when you are really passionate about something. Maybe you could add a post about the current status of version 2.0 for those of us who are waiting.

    I was really gutted that the deal that you had on version 1.6 didn`t last a little longer as I just missed out by the time it was brought to my attention. Now I`m not sure whether to wait for version 2.0 as £70 is a lot of money for a product that may be superseded shortly. Maybe there will be more opportunities for people like me who missed out last time who cannot afford the full amount but are more than willing to pay a slightly lesser price and who want to offer our support to your great work.

    It seems a shame that there are many people who love this sort of thing but cannot afford to own a copy :(

  6. Also I forgot to ask, if there are no future plans for a similar sale as the one before (which would be a shame) when you release ChipCrusher is it possible for you to do a special bundle pack of the two products (for a slightly less price) for people who do not previously own ChipSounds?

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. I wish you all of the best with your future products and hope that they see the light of day at some point in the hopefully not too distant future.

  7. Hello
    Anything is possible, but we dont give out those details in advance.