Tuesday, April 26, 2016

C64 SID Shootout part 4. - SID 8580 vs. SwinSID Ultimate

Page has been updated with a nice music player, shouldn't any playback issue appear anymore \o/

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Had some time to make another comparison! This time I compared a 8580 (2288) to the very new, only prototype shaped SwinSID Ultimate.
Don't let it fool you, it doesn't look nice yet but who cares if the sound is great, right? I don't. The audio quality, replay and features are more important than the look.

It's sitting in a C64 E (469 REV B) board and is happy there. I'm thinking of keeping it there forever, first because it fits very tight and is tricky to insert/remove without hurting the legs. And then because I like the sound much so why should I remove it?

I don't really want to write about technical details and stuff, you can read more about it at ilesj.
Do it, read his article because it's great, however, there are no audio examples so I take it as a challenge to be the first to record, compare and release some audio material with the SwinSID U.


I've chose some great demoscene tracks again - and only one game music -, tried to select some tricky tunes with good sound design and musicality to see how the SwinSID U performs in kinda extreme conditions.

Let's start with one of my favorite music that starts with one of the coolest car engine sound effect:

Necropolo - Cadmium - SID 8580 R5 2288

How cool is that sound, right? Necropolo bends the SID like it was his guitar, pushing the limits and making the SID bleed. Now here comes the SwinSID U version:

Necropolo - Cadmium - SwinSID Ultimate

Output volume is definitely lower but I must say, it's impressive how the SwinSID U reproduces the original sound. It's not 100% there but almost reaches it. The 8580 is a bit more beefy but basically that's it, the 2 are identicaly - and don't forget the fact that the SwinSID U is still an emulation

Let's jump to the next track:

David Whittaker - Lazy Jones subtune 1 - SID 8580 R5 2288

Not much to say, it's Lazy Jones. However, due to the special playroutine the previous version of the SwinSID had issues with it until CodeKiller's "lazyfix", and the Ultimate just says, "naah, I can take it":

David Whittaker - Lazy Jones subtune 1 - SwinSID Ultimate

Flawless victory.


Let me interrupt the show with more fancy visualization of audio waveforms. I know, I know, this is my fetish.

The following screenshot is the side-by-side comparison of Cadmium on 8580 (upper) and SwinSID U (lower).

8580 looks a bit more sharp and spikey, SwinSID U is softer - now you can see it, not only hear. However, the waveform reproductions is awesome, it's as close as it can be. Just think about it, the SID is a kinda analog synthesizer and the SwinSID U is a digital replica. Impressive.

Lazy Jones waveform comparison, 8580 upper, SwinSID U lower:

Again, 8580 is a bit louder and sharper. The visual waveform differences are barely audible.


Back to music comparison. How about a heavy metal track, written on a 6581 SID, played on a 8580?

Thomas Danko - Wonderland X intro - SID 8580 R5 2288

Awesome track, great sound design. And btw, great demo, you should watch it.

Thomas Danko - Wonderland X intro - SwinSID Ultimate

Quieter but similar sounding. Another flawless victory.

So far the SwinSID U did the job well, but I want digitized sounds. Ready?

Fanta - Coma Light XIII tune 4 - SID 8580 R5 2288

Funky track, we are Oxy. Clean digisound, no beeps, no cracks, just the clean digisound.

Fanta - Coma Light XIII tune 4 - SwinSID Ultimate

Let's play a game. Find the 10 differences between the original and this one. Send the result via email to me.

And the last track for today is another digitune:

Swallow - Fantasmolytic - SID 8580 R5 2288

This is a remake of Danko's popular demo-loader music, mixed and remixed by Swallow. Hardsync, digi sounds.

Swallow - Fantasmolytic - SwinSID Ultimate

Aaand, SwinSID U. A bit different, carrier signal is audible but it's not bad at all. It's not beeping all the time, only when the samples kick in. Still great, still sounds good.


SwinSID U is a great SID replacement. It's not 100% true to the original sound but I don't think it's even possible. There are many different methods to play - plus digi - music on the C64 that faithful emulation is technically nearly impossible. SwinSID U is softer than the original SID, maybe a bit of waveshaping could help but not really necessary. The audio quality is top notch and it has the mojo.
Well done Hermit and CodeKiller!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Blu - Close to perfection

*I renamed my "Blue" C64 to "Blu". It's better now, right? Right??


It's so wonderful how many options we have to ruin those good old computers. For example, expansion cards, extra RAM, extra CPU, etc. This time I decided to ruin Blu with an additional SID.

It's not really a new method to expand the sound capabilities of a C64 with another SID. DualSID, so called. Use 2 similar SIDs, set them to different memory address and that's it. If the software, for example a music editor supports this, you will have 6 independent SID channels which is great. It means more sounds, more opportunity to create great music on the '64.

The "Pseudio-Stereo SID" by Tynemouth Software is a bit different. The idea was to create a Stereo C64 using 2 SIDs, where the SIDs are set to the same memory address AND they play the same audio output AND they can be either 6581 or 8580 SIDs.

This way the C64 has still 3 channels but they are doubled and have separated audio outputs as well
I ordered my PCB for a C64C (SID 8580) with additional slot for a 6581.

You know me, I like to compare the SID revisions to each other and this would be a great way to listen to some music and record it simultaneously - or just simply compare the audio differences.

So, it has arrived. Nice and clean PCB, well organized and made. I wanted to use RCA connectors as they are easy to connect to any interface or mixer. I decide to drill holes on the left side of the case as there is enough room for them.

One RCA connector for 8580 (right side) and another for 6581 (left side). Maybe they are a bit too close to each other but well, it works fine and is not _that_ ugly.

The 2 best sounding SIDs (in my opinion) were plugged into the slots, 8580 2288 and 6581 1485. This 8580 is significantly louder but that can be compensated on my mixer easily.

I tested it with a 8580 3991 and that was on kinda the same loudness level as the 6581. Conclusion, there _is_ difference between 8580 models as well.

Anyway, I will keep 2288 and 1485 because I like them.

Blu is close to perfection. I still need two things to solve:
  1. Blue keycaps, replacing the original white keys (Kickstarter is over, we are waiting for shipping)
  2. Additional electronics to protect SID outputs (SID output is very sensitive and can break easily)


Today's music: Chiptune Extravaganza @ Revision 2016 demoparty

Saturday, April 16, 2016

SwinSID V2 - aka. SwinSID Ultimate

I received a SwinSID prototype for testing and after a first round I must say, it's impressive. Very impressive. Waveform emulation (simple and mixed), filter emulation, digi music, everything is there. While this specific SwinSID is meant to be the emulation of a 8580 SID it emulates the 6581 really good as well.

Obviously, there are slight differences but overall it's great. Filter is a bit more open than the original 8580's, white noise is a bit softer. It's highly recommended to get one as soon as the developers are ready with the final version.

Day 5. They still suspect nothing.


Today's music: Jammer - Foregone Destruction C64 version

Sunday, April 10, 2016

C64 G - Black screen :(

I got my hands on a C64 G, a nice and beautiful one. Warranty seal was untouched so I had high hopes when I turned it on... then nothing happened.

Ok, that's bad.
I quickly plugged in another PSU and voila, the machine was... almost alive.
Black screen, nothing else.

That means, I had to remove the warranty seal and check what's going on inside the C64.
The memory chips were heating up very quickly, so it seemed obvious they were defective.

Others were fine, no presence of overheating so I thought the solution will be simple.
I started to search for replacement chips and sockets immediately.

Ordered a pack of sockets (sidenote: it's much cheaper if you order 20+ pieces than order only 2...) and finally found XX464 memory chips as well for a good price. So, I removed the defective chips and soldered the sockets.

After memory replacement it still doesn't work :(
Black screen.
So I have to dig deeper and find out what might be the problem.

I even tried to touch the G-spot but didn't help :(


Today's music: X Marks The Spot - 64k Intro by Portal Process