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!


  1. Awesome!

    Very easy to compare them properly! Especially when you can adjust the volume of the clips individually. Beats my 'feed them to the earphones simultaneously' method :)

  2. Nice. Would be good to first normalize both tracks and then do some stats math on a result of difference. Also comparative study based on frequency domain should give more details. But anyway, it's nice review.

    1. The goal of this comparison is to show the true and real audio outputs without any modification. That's the reason I didn't even normalize the wave files or did any retouch. I think it's more important to show how the chips really sound and this way the difference is more audible between them. I'm a musician and not an engineer, don't want to go into technical details, actually, I don't really care. The true audio output and musicality is more important to me than the technology behind it.
      However, I hope somebody can spend some time with tech comparison and details in the near future because it would be interesting.

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