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Turn NES into synth Desktop Synthesizers
Old 20th January 2009
  #1
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Turn NES into synth

Hey,

I got a NES system lying around and also a cheap little keyboard. I want to use the sound card from the NES and the keys on the keyboard to make a little 8-bit synth. Is this possible and is there anything I should know before getting into something like this?

Thanks!
Old 20th January 2009
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
Martin Dubka's Avatar
 

Old 20th January 2009
  #3
Gear interested
 

This is awesome! Thanks! I hear there is something similar. I will now mull over buying this.
Old 21st January 2009
  #4
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
yeahyeah, i've seen that, but i want to do it real diy and raw. I want to wire together the sound card to my keyboard to make use of the convertersion on the NES. any ideas in this regard?
Old 21st January 2009
  #5
Gear interested
 

Conversion?

As to 8bit?

Not the same idea but in theory - from what I can tell - you could use the wayfar, a midi keyboard, a small lcd, and mount the controller into a singular stand alone case. But this wouldn't be any more useful than just controlling via MIDI. It'd be cool though....
Old 21st January 2009
  #6
Gear addict
 

I think it's awesome that you're interested in making a "NES synthesizer", and I hope I can be of help to you.

01) Learn everything you can about the NES microprocessor, "Ricoh", the 2A03 microprocessor, as it controlled the NES programmable sound generators.

02) Take a look at the 20A3 synthesizer. It's software, but if the creator has done his homework he'd have some information for you regarding the NES soundchip -- otherwise he couldn't really create an accurate emulation.

03) Visit the Parodius NES page, as there is a really good collection of technical documents about the sound on the NES, as well as software tools designed for development (in other words, you could use them for basic sound tests).

04) Visit the HardNES web page. It's a project where a guy pulled the NES soundchip out of a NES and created a hardware NSF player (NSF files are the software "rips" of audio instructions from NES ROMs/games). If you can get this guy to provide you with some information he'll be your number one help, as he really hasn't done anything much more different than what you're interested in doing.

05) Visit the Famitracker page. It's the homepage for a Windows-based NSF/NES song composing program. It's able to output files in the NSF format for playback on actual NES hardware, so the creator has a deep understanding of NES hardware and how sound works on it. To my knowledge the creator has been involved in the NES development scene for nearly ten years, and he'd be able to provide you with a plethora of information. This guy is easy competition for your "number one help" spot.

06) The Japanese NES (AKA: The Famicom) had the ability to allow cartridges to expand the sound capabilities of the NES. For example, Castlevania III on the Famicom has a much better soundtrack than it does on the NES. Many Konami games used this option, and so did the Famicom Disk System, a device that played NES games on floppy, and had extended sound capability options for any floppy-drive based game. I have two such devices gathering dust. If you're serious about making a NES synthesizer, I'd be interested in one as well, and I'd be willing to provide funds for the construction of mine -- as well as both my Famicom Disk Systems to utilize their sound expansion chips (one for yours, one for mine).

07) Side-thought: You may want to consider putting a couple NES soundchips in to such a synth, you know, for increased polyphony and sound.


Edit: If you don't know anything about programming in ASM or PIC-controller devices, or putting together your own digital instruments, you'll have to learn all that stuff first. Additionally, you can kiss goodbye any dreams about using dedicated knobs for altering sound, as there are too many parameters so you'll have to use an LCD and a couple knobs (like the Roland JX-3P without the PG-200 or the Sequential Circuits Six Track).
Old 21st January 2009
  #7
Gear maniac
 

Wayfar looks like a fun toy, I've got an old NES lying around that I might have to stick in my rack eventually.

There's a guy who made a few freeware VSTi with NES waveforms. I think they're called Peach and Triforce, and there's a drumkit kinda thing called Toad as well. Not very deep synths but you can get some cool bleeps and bloops while you wait for your Wayfar to ship.
Old 21st January 2009
  #8
Gear Addict
 
dwaynedelario's Avatar
 

If you don't want to put the time in to learn how to code 6502 assembly, then this midi interface will get you as close... I don't think you could use the NES as a bit-reducer or "convertor" as Selidor was correct in mentioning the A203...it's a synth chip which generates 2 squares, a triangle, noise and one "sample" channel which does what you are thinking but it only holds very small bits (which is why there were games with those awesome sounding dialogue stings) so you wouldn't be able to 'process' your tracks on it.

You could try some trashy bit reducer plugs and mess around with ring modulation to create an effect but the sound mostly comes from the character of the chip.
Old 21st January 2009
  #9
Gear nut
 

variant: i'm interested in composing using the sounds from the nes, and while using a genuine nes console is fine, i'm not willing to futz around with hooking up a video output for it -- i have never owned a tv and sure as **** don't want to start now. as far as i know the ui of the wayfar midines requires one.

so: authentic nes sounds, proper midi control from a sequencer or keyboard (ie not just a cart with a looper app) and minimal hassle (size, video output, other logistics)?
Old 21st January 2009
  #10
Gear nut
 

or gameboy, alternatively.
Old 21st January 2009
  #11
Gear addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veej007 View Post
variant: i'm interested in composing using the sounds from the nes, and while using a genuine nes console is fine, i'm not willing to futz around with hooking up a video output for it -- i have never owned a tv and sure as **** don't want to start now. as far as i know the ui of the wayfar midines requires one.

so: authentic nes sounds, proper midi control from a sequencer or keyboard (ie not just a cart with a looper app) and minimal hassle (size, video output, other logistics)?
So you want:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Selidor View Post
05) Visit the Famitracker page. It's the homepage for a Windows-based NSF/NES song composing program.
Old 29th November 2012
  #12
Gear interested
 

Arduino 2A03 Synth

Old 29th November 2012
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
joostoftoday's Avatar
nice, I'll have an eye on this!
Old 29th November 2012
  #14
Lives for gear
Any of you experts have any info on using the SUPER Nintendo for this kinda thing?! Talk about a really cool sounding system. It's a little less bleepy blippy, but it still has a cool, nostalgic, lo-fi sound thing going on...
Old 29th November 2012
  #15
Lives for gear
 
natefrogg's Avatar
 

midines works just fine without a monitor or tv, all it needs is audio out and plug the carts midi in into an out, may want to hit select button a moment after it has started though
Old 29th November 2012
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by halcyo View Post
Any of you experts have any info on using the SUPER Nintendo for this kinda thing?! Talk about a really cool sounding system. It's a little less bleepy blippy, but it still has a cool, nostalgic, lo-fi sound thing going on...
I think it was sample based.
Old 29th November 2012
  #17
Reaktor really is amazing. Especially with talented people making these kind of ensembles.

Old 29th November 2012
  #18
Lives for gear
 
lain2097's Avatar
cool project but i gotta admit that my MIDINES works well enough. the drum samples on the DMC channel are cool lo-fi but yes monophonic. the NES is a weird instrument to compose on with three fixed super-basic mono 'synths', mono noise and mono sample channels!

@plaid: yes the SNES was sample based, like a tracker basically. every game had its own custom samples made by the composer / company. most of which sound ripped M1 / proteus /mt32.
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