Analog Chiptune Snob Heaven: over 154,000 audio recordings of real C64's chirping away

Have you heard about the best-selling computer of all time? No, it's not your Mac. It's the mighty Commodore 64, which was released in 1982.

The Commodore 64 not only rocked the world of computing, it also created an entirely new genre of music called "chiptune", also known as videogame music to the common folk like myself. The chip used in the Commodore 64 to create the spacey sounds is called the SID 6581.  The once mass-produced chip is now a rare retro-gem mined by synth geeks on online markets such as evilBay--not the easiest electronic component to find.  Needless to say, the chip has a special sound character that cannot be easily reproduced.

It is no surprise, then, that the SID has inspired hundreds of musicians since the early 80's to compose chirpy electronic sequences and songs.  Yes, SID composers are now somewhat rare and massively outnumbered by contemporary electronic music producers, but believe it or not, they are still out there.  But where did all of their compositions go? Did they end up buried inside a giant C64 5.25" floppy drive somwhere in a landfill? Welp, perhaps a good chunk did, but for all the surviving chiptunes there is the High Voltage SID Collection (HVSC).

HVSC is the largest collection of SID tunes with over 64,000 files.  SID files are tiny and can be played on any computer via emulation (i.e. SidPlay), which according to SID purists, does no justice to the real SID chip sound. So what if you wanted to listen to the real deal? That would usually mean having to find a working C64, maybe on evilBay, then finding a working floppy disk drive, then somhow finding a way to download the SID files onto the floppy disk drive and also the software for your C64 to play it... in other words, you would have to go through retro HELL.


Luckily two cool dudes decided to take on the challenge of systematically recording the ENTIRE HVSC SID library using their own highly advanced, but simultaneusly outdated, SID-crunching robots from outer space.  Okay, I don't knwo if that's really what they are called, but check out their setup--it's pretty gnarly.  In short, these guys named their project Stone Oakvalley's Authentic SID Collection (SOASC) and not only recorded every SID song in the HVSC, but also did so using using every version of the SID chip--each yielding distinct sonic characteristics.  The result is over 154,000 high-quality MP3's of authentic chip-tunes straight from real C64 chips for your enjoyment--so what are you waiting for? Go download some chiptunes!


music, audio, sound, technology

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