Chiptune is a musical genre built upon the creation of music through the use of chip-based sound synthesizers, found in early game consoles. The Commodore 64’s venerable SID chip and the Game Boy Sound System are the by far the most popular on the scene. However, the Sega Genesis took a different path at the end of the videogame chipmusic era, packing a YM2612 FM synthesis chip to deliver fat basslines and searing solos. [Thea] has always been a fan of these electric 90s sounds, and thus decided to build the Genesynth.
The synth initially allowed only for playback of existing video game scores, but its capability has been expanded as [Thea] took the project from breadboard to protoboard to custom PCBs – with anime artwork, to boot. The synth uses a Teensy 3.5 as the brains, speaking USB to enable the synth to receive MIDI commands from music software. All parameters are exposed over the interface, and [Thea] has several videos showing the Genesynth under control from an Ableton Push.
The sound capabilities of the YM2612 are of an entirely different character to most chiptunes, by virtue of the FM synthesis engine. FM synthesis is a little less intuitive then classical additive synthesis, but we still see it crop up now and then.
11 thoughts on “A Genesis Inspired Synthesizer That Has Nothing To Do With Phil Collins”
What have you got against Phil Collins?
I think because Phil’s Genesis is the band, not the game console. It’s not against him, but assumes synthesizer and Genesis would make people think of the band.
I love FM synth stuff and have a YM2151 that I hope to get around to using someday, as well as hopes and dreams of doing something with (I think) a YMU765. I’m always happy to see stuff like this come to fruition.
You probably meant to say subtractive synthesis rather than additive.
Of course, because the Genesis’ keyboardist is Tony Banks.
I’d love to see a retro article on the For-Ti music board. It was an expansion board for the TI-99/4A with four of the sound chips used in the console, TMS9919, SN94624, identical to the SN76489 used in various other computers and game consoles. That would provide 12 square wave tone and four noise channels that can be white or periodic.
There are a bunch of arcade hardware that used a huge pile of these PSGs. Mr. Do!’s Castle used four; Dive Bomber Squad and Lady Bug used six…
More recently, Little-Scale made a modern board with eight. It was even featured here: https://hackaday.com/2018/01/08/eight-segas-singing/
I was hoping it was a reference to Peter Gabriel’s time at the helm..
For the love of (insert favorite divinity here), please don’t make this thing play Firth of Fifth! :)
We can’t of course talk about a Genesis player without mentioning Aidan Lawrence’s Mega Blaster: https://github.com/AidanHockey5/STM32_VGM_Player_YM2612_SN76489 (example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYfTF1OynrA&t=1s)
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