An Englishman And 48 Gameboys Walk Into A Bar…

The original Nintendo Gameboy is perhaps one of the most revered platforms for the music known as chiptune. Primarily, artists will use the console with software like LSDJ or Nanoloop to produce their compositions. Some artists will even use two consoles when performing live. However, that’s all fairly quaint as far as [LOOK MUM NO COMPUTER] is concerned.

Back in 2016, a rig was constructed with three Gameboys. With each console having 3 oscillators and a noise channel, this gave plenty of scope. There was even a facility to detune the oscillators for a fatter sound.

Yet there remains a universal human philosophy – more is always better. In this vein, the plan is to create a monster machine consisting of 48 Gameboy consoles. This offers a somewhat maddening 144 oscillators and 48 noise channels to play with. The plan is to produce a massive synthesizer capable of producing incredibly thick, dense tones with up to six note polyphony.

The hardware side of things is at once simple and ingenious. Buttons on the consoles are connected together for remote control using ribbon cables and transistors. System clocks for the consoles are provided by a LTC1799 oscillator chip, which allows the clock to be modulated for audio effects. Initial tests with up to six Gameboys running from a single clock source have been remarkably successful.

Any mad scientist could see the genius involved in this project, and we can’t wait to see the full rig in operation. If you’re just getting started with Gameboy music, check out this primer on modding your Gameboy for hi-fi sound. Video after the break.


23 thoughts on “An Englishman And 48 Gameboys Walk Into A Bar…

  1. Wow, talk about doing things the hard way! I understand why he’s doing it this but emulation could turn this insanity into an interesting computer program that could scale to as many Gameboys as you wanted as long as you have the computing power. Art is a very interesting because efficiency rarely the goal.

  2. Look mum no computer always gets a thumbs up from me!

    He builds a lot of interesting modules and instruments and is one of the few people that seems to be able to use modular synths as a true ‘musical’ instrument instead of only sound exploration; Not something you need to be able to do with a synth imho as sound exploration in itself a lot of fun but being able to create music with it is just amazing.

    I also have a lot of respect for people that don’t restrict themselves too much and just get projects done. I would feel the need to ditch the perfboard in favour of designing a PCB, optimizing cost & space and be very specific in my requirements; it just seems more fun playing with electronics the way he does.

    So, inspired by him I’ve lately been trying to start and finish projects within 1 or 2 days and have successfully finished several projects within a short time and I’ve been enjoying them immensely!

  3. as a general rule, I don’t care much for circuit bending. The reason is the random torture of the electronics is just noise to me.
    This guy is still producing noise, but he’s not not as random as touching the circuit board to get different sounds, he’s actually making something that is reliable (to a point) and can be used as an instrument. I can see him being a DJ with this setup and with about 200 fidget spinners in the background, popping Ritalin.

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