Synthesizers based on old game hardware

I'm a big fan of Plogue, a company that (among other things) makes digital synthesizers based on old game hardware with startling accuracy. These synths even let you import a game soundtrack and start messing with individual channels / sound settings!

Here's an example of a musician playing around with their synth recreating the SEGA Megadrive's Yamaha YM2612 sound chip:

And here's a very cool video about the research they did to get such an accurate emulation:

This company also makes a Super Famicom synth, if that's more your thing.

What are your favorite synths which emulate old hardware or songs using those kinds of synths?

Oh damn. Let me introduce yall to the SIDStation, a midi synth based around the soundchip to the commodore 64.

A while back I found that a friend of mine had one and I got to play with it for a little bit. It was incredible.

@marlfuchs2#26190 reminds me of Jeri Ellsworth's C64 bass guitar

Gameboy makes a good music thingy

@copySave#26192 Gameboys are very good at turning into synths. There's some really cool software for a variety of Game Boys, but in particular the GBA, for just using the on board sound chips to do cool things:

LSDJ is sort of the Ur-example, but it turns out there are a bunch of other ones too!

I wonder if anyone has done anything like LSDJ or Nanoloop for other handhelds, like the Neo Geo Pocket or the Game Gear.

I‘ve always admired the Teenage Engineering line of synths. Their OP1 is a production-quality portable sized synth. In the spirit of the thread however are their line of Pocket Operators. These are all directly inspired by video games and video game sounds. Some of them are even officially licensed like the Street Fighter one. The look and feel is that of the Nintendo Game and Watch line. I’m not an accomplished enough musician to justify picking one up - even as a toy I don‘t think I’d use it much. But I think they are fun, whimsical, and extremely well designed and built.

@antillese#26216 I have the Po-33, which is the sampler, and it‘s probably one of the best pieces of gear I own, even though it’s pretty limited in what it can do, it still feels like a really expressive tool. Also you can hold it in your pocket and fiddle with it, instead of breaking out a huge machine (or worse, a computer) to make some simple loops and beeps.

Also not sure if it counts as "older" hardware (lol) but there's the excellent Korg-DS for the Nintendo DS. I bought it twice after losing a cart. There's no midi in and you can't do pulse width modulation without some tricks, but it's very good at making stuff

I really wish i could find my old GB camera, because it had a music sequencer on it that was pretty extensive.

@marlfuchs2#26227 Dang I had no idea that the Game Boy Camera came with an audio editor, let alone one that's that robust!


Cool thread!

This is freaking cool too:

Also, the music studio in the Nintendo Labo piano kit is really thought out and fun to mess with. My favorite part is drawing my own waveforms and scanning them into the Labo. I've made a bunch of cool music with that thing.

Like this!

I‘ve spoken about my affection for PICO-8 in a few other threads on Insert Credit. The PICO-8 tracker is a lot of fun to use! It’s got 4 channels and enough ability to manipulate the instruments - especially now that PICO-8‘s latest update supports several per-SFX distortion effects. I’ve learned a fair amount about composition by playing around with it and by following Jon Gruber's tutorials.

[Here's my own music cart]( I wrote the songs mostly over last spring/summer and whenever I write a new song, I drop it in. The title "music(-1)" is the PICO-8 API command to immediately stop all music on all channels. I think that's a funny joke.

@marlfuchs2#26227 I've gigged with both of these!

Korg DS-10 is pretty flexible, especially if you pair it with some external processing and effects. I don't think I ever made anything that good with it though, I mostly just used it for live noise-making.

The GB Camera is **great** for quick, simple backing loops that you can play over with other instruments - I have a couple of songs that were built that way.

I had a brief flirtation with Nanoloop and LDSJ too at one time, but usually got frustrated and ended up cheating with soft synths in Logic Pro or just using the Game Boy Camera, which is usually what I do now too when I want something chiptune-ish sounding (_shhh, don't tell anybody about the soft synths_).

I like to play around with Korg's Gadget app on my iPad. They added a Genesis/Mega Drive drum machine, a Namco synth and a Taito synth. Neat stuff.

Michael Rucci makes these by hand in California, and I bought one s couple years ago and used it for an LCD Soundsystem cover show. He sells about a dozen of these oddball synths that all work really well together

@tomjonjon#26356 i have the switch version of Gadget, it doesn‘t seem useful for anything much besides using it as a beat sketchbook for me personally but it’s still pretty cool to have.

I have a couple of old C64s lying around that I tell myself I'll use the sid chips for a synth project some day but who am I kidding

@goonbag#27034 it’s definitely great for sketching out quick ideas, and on the iPad it has a nice set of features. Being able to sync/ connect with other apps and actual hardware goes a long way.

@dylanfills#27025 I’m curious about this LCD Soundsystem cover show.


@dylanfills#27781 Oh wow this is great!

Glad I looked for this thread.

A MIDI controller for SNES was announced for pre-order today.

Also, I've been trying and failing to get my Rock Band 3 Keyboard MIDI out working with my PC. I think my USB cable might not be the best. This workaround where you use the USB dongle in place of MIDI actually did work for me.

@“hellomrkearns”#p37207 This is cool as heck. I hope others build on this to make all my old consoles into synths!