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Posted By

Spektro
on 2016-01-14
08:37:17
 Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

I found an interesting sound and speech synthesizer chip: Babbblebot. It's targeted for the Arduino platform, which made me wonder if it could work with the Plus/4. Maybe someone who understands hardware can have a look.

The chip has 6 sound channels and a speech synthesizer with an unlimited vocabulary. The music synthesizer part has fine features very much like in the SID. The only "missing thing" is a filter.

* 6 independently controlled voices
* 8 waveforms: sine, triangle, saw, ramp, pulse, noise, level, and vocal
* built-in note table: 8 octaves
* Amplitude Modulation
* Frequency Modulation
* Ring Modulation
* Hard Sync
* ADSR envelopes
* English phonemes
* sound morphing

Chip's datasheet can be downloaded from here: http://www.ginsingsound.com/download/category/8-datasheets

Here are some sound samples: http://www.ginsingsound.com/what-it-does/software

And here is some information about the chip: http://www.ginsingsound.com/12-public/hardware/12-about-the-chip

Posted By

gerliczer
on 2016-01-15
06:09:47
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Took a bit longer peek, but actually your hopes were for nothing. The thing you linked is the combination of an Arduino firmware and a sound modulator add-in board. It is not a chip. The picture shows the add-in board which is built out of only the Holtek HT8950 modulator, an amplifier IC, some passives components and other necessities. Somewhere in the description it was written that the whole thing is controlled over a 9.6k serial line.

If I should express myself with a well known phrase I'd say "I wouldn't touch it with a ten feet pole".

Posted By

Chicken
on 2016-01-15
11:34:05
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Not about this chip/board in particular but rather generally speaking …

I don't want to sound too negative or even discouraging but I don't really see the point in adding another sound chip – except for the (personal) fun of it.
Yes, "Because I can" is a valid reason to build hardware and to code software If you do something on plus/4, you pretty much do it for yourself. But it's more fun, if people actually use it – and if ppl like to use it.

We have some "semi-established" sound add-ons, i. e. the SID-card in its various flavors and – far less common – the digi-blaster. How many programs support the digi-blaster?

The problem with any new sound add-on would be the software. The scene is small and even with "new" ppl catching interest in our platform, the plus/4 is still a somewhat "obscure machine". Add another rare hardware and you end up with an even more obscure thing.

Personally, I'd prefer if ppl would concentrate on supporting what's already there. That might sound pretty backward (but hey, that's coding on a "built in 1984" computer anyway ). Having a common hardware standard is actually a strength of these old machines.

Another point: Why add a modern sound chip to an old platform? I think it's even a bit different from using modern hardware like SD drives in order to improve usability.
The SID-cards came kinda naturally … Converted SID musics have been used for a long time, so it wasn't such a big step away from the platform. Still, I do prefer if demos and programs run on out-of-the-box plus/4s or C16s. Though, it's nice if they support SID-cards (and various disk drives to start with) as well.

Anyway, I have the deepest respect for all the hardware developers and I'm not against using up-to-date-hardware to achieve cool things. (Though, I understand if some ppl prefer to use "available at that time" components – but that's a different topic.) If it's fun for you, go ahead

Posted By

George
on 2016-01-16
01:26:09
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

I like Spektros idea to modernize a plus/4. Sometimes i try to figure out, how a plus/4 would have looked like, if it was ugraded continuesly to our day? Obvioulsy it would be a modern PC.

But I agree with chicken. Every modification reduces the group of possible users.
For me its the limitation of the standard machine, the fun to make the best possible of it AND to share the results with other people, that brings joy in our hobby.

Posted By

Spektro
on 2016-01-16
07:44:44
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Well, I welcome any audio innovation (hardware or software) as long as it's low cost and widely available

Posted By

MMS
on 2016-01-16
11:57:47
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Well, the next logical sound chips are the widely used Yamaha and TI ones (Spectrum 2.+, Sam coupe, sound blaster 1.0) but they hardly reached the level of SID, we already have as a worked out solution. There ARE good development in Russia for the Z80 based, Zx spectrum like computers, but the ones used the Amiga like sample based method in mono, stereo and quadro versions,simply using 8bit DA concerters. This is the next logical evolution step the computer world did in music. Then you have ALL the 8bit samples of the world, fity into the memory. (The russian clones uses 128, 256 or even 512kb and 6Mhz Z80, so they are really stronger, but as seen not long ago, plus/4 is a really capable machine)
This is the Covox based sound card I highlighted before, much easier and cheaper to implement (at least on Plus/4 user port) than any complex circuitry on expansion bus. Not to mention the price. You can build from precise resistors a converter ladder from eurocents, and user port can be bought for few dollars.
Chicken was right: you may have a nice Hw, but there is no SW. This Covox one is very same as the Digi blaster BUT much much cheaper, and ANYONE can build it at home. Yes,so easy. I built one for my PC too, despite i am the most amateur HW guy of the world
very few and very expensive Digi blaster=very few people=low interest=no support.
The 8 bit output is perfect fir a 4 track tracker, no complex mathematics and conversion tables needed, like for the 3bit output for internal TED. just need to add the 4tracks current volume, divide by 4 (shift by 2 bits) and just send it to the the 8 bit covox. Very straighforward and spares on resources. I think if Cpc can do it,plus 4 can do it too.
Szigethy Andras's Digiplayer is amost there. It is missing the Digiblaster and covox support, and (i am convienced, but maybe wrong) that it loosing resources by using 3 channels and not 4 (much more comlex calcilations needed to get the proper sound, i think). It just needs a good UI to manage samples and edit tracks and an ptimized player, (similar to the recent fantastic Tracker). This is my 2 cents for zhe topic.

Posted By

MMS
on 2016-01-16
12:06:42
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Sorry for the lot of typos, my phones display is rather small for long typing.

Posted By

TMR
on 2016-01-16
12:20:53
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

i don't see the point to adding big arsed sound hardware apart from the "ooh, can we do THIS" aspect really... you only end up with the same graphical power accompanied by an orchestra. But if there's going to be an OPL2 or similar add-on it needs to A) be cheap enough and in the quantities required to make it fairly common with owners, B) supported by the emulators (so all of us using cross assemblers can do tests before flinging it at real hardware), C) very well documented (frequency tables, well commented code examples) and D) not a pain in the feckin' arse to work with.

Get that lot all sorted and it's a matter of bribing some coders to get them working on it... i'm cheap, just post me the hardware and a Plus/4 to go with it and i'll knock a couple of demos out. =-)

Posted By

Spektro
on 2016-01-17
04:17:57
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Covox building instructions for the Plus4 would be nice. I'd like to try building one.
However, I've understood that Covox is a parallel device and Plus4's user port is a serial port.

Posted By

gerliczer
on 2016-01-17
05:43:18
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

You are wrong, Spektro. There is an 8 bit parallel port and a serial port on the User Port of the plus/4. However, if you happen to own one of BSZ's SID card, it has a Digi-Blaster compatible 8 bit DAC. I don't remember which address it is mapped to, but the documentation will surely help you. Furthermore, plus4emu supports the emulation of Digi-Blaster. Digi-Blaster was the add-on for the SID card made by Solder that featured 8 bit DA/AD converters.

Posted By

MMS
on 2016-01-17
06:03:53
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Nope. User port has 8 separated line too,named as p0 -p7 on the schematics. The can be used as input or output lines. I am sure some english version available as well
ftp://www.zimmers.net/pub/cbm/schematics/computers/plus4/connectors-1.jpg

As far as i know, plus/4 has a proper uart ic, much faster that what c64 has. If the theoretical bandwith is enough for a proper music? I think the pc parallel port was not much faster.

Posted By

Spektro
on 2016-01-20
15:52:27
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Ah, okay. Thanks gerliczer and MMS!

Posted By

MMS
on 2016-05-08
07:36:58
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Hi

I think the Speccy now way ahead of us, even the 48K. But it needs a 50 Pound investment

http://www.sellmyretro.com/offer/details/Turbosound-FM-and-SAA1099-sound-card-for-zx-Spectrum-4057

Based on the specs it is not crystal clear, why it required 2 different FM sound chips (2x ym2203 with 3 FM channels, and an SAA1099 that is used 6 channel OPL2 FM in SAM Coupe and Soundblaster 1.0).
The Yamaha YM3014 doing the D/A (similar to Covox, but multi channel), so seems enable the MOD playback, as I saw on the Youtube. Or something similar. I do not know, how the ZX Spectrum get the CPU power to play a multichannel MOD, but it sounded like that...


UPDATE
The best and most advance sound card for 8 bit machines could be something like the SAM Coupe Quazar Surround.
It is a 6channel, 16bit external sound card (I am not sure, maybe it has it's own memory?). For me it is highly resembles a Gravis Ultrasound card specs.
Well SAM can be ugraded to 512KB or even more, so this could be a little overshoot for Plussy :-)

http://www.samcoupe.com/hardquaz.htm<\url>

you can hear it here (but I thinka stereo DAC can do a similar job):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wODAMIVCTWs&index=1&list=PLIX_JEOFSuKGLhatXwMqftG3lNpDm_jch

UPDATE2
CHOOSE YOUR DESTINY :-)

http://velesoft.speccy.cz/turbosound-cz.htm<\url>

QUESTION: Why the hell the links does not work? I use the < url > and < / url> but no change

Posted By

RobertB
on 2016-02-12
21:51:01
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Hmm, perhaps Vanessa Ezekowitz's DigiMAX for the C64 can be adapted to the Plus/4. See

http://digitalaudioconcepts.com/vanessa/hobbies/projects.html

and scroll down the page halfway until you come to DigiMAX.

Truly,
Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group
http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm

Posted By

MMS
on 2016-05-05
18:02:30
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Wow, RobertB, you are fantastic! It is a very nice find.

Yes, it is exactly the same. The only difference between the C64 and the Plus/4 is where are the pins connected on the user port.
Even the PRG drive this (assembled, or anything) could be the same, just by changing the output address of the 8bit data, instead of CIA to ACIA.

UPDATE:
As I see, it is a stereo device (?)

You can check a real design in step by step, and how it sound in real life action, though the MOD player and the WAV players also requires REU due to big file size.
You can hear it in action from 5.20 onwards, it is an evidently clearer sound than internal SID (or TED):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gn1w9tJHtAQ

Although there is an existing C64MOD player, just need to be converted (http://csdb.dk/release/?id=58189&show=review#review)

As visible, it supports the playback via SID (4bits); the 8bit extension of SID(8bits) and the Covox (8bits)

So, the Digimax circuit on http://digitalaudioconcepts.com/vanessa fits to our needs, and almost there, but need to be conncted on different User Port pins on Plussy.

The C64 Pin9 (ATN) need to be connected on Plus/4 on same Pin9 (ATN), but C64 Pin8 (PC2 handshaking line) I am not pretty sure.
Maybe the Pin8 PC2 is equivalent to the Plus/4 PinD (RTS, Request to Send) ?
BUT the TI's tlc7226 is a little overshoot here and stereo output is more complex to program.

TI 7226 has 4 independent outputs channels, and you need to connect them properly. That's why it need those extra lines and a lot of extra components.
If you compare with a ZN428E-8 circuit, it is much simplier.




Price-wise: 4pcs of ZN428E-8 costs 10USD with shipping (probably I can find cheaper too) --> 2.5US/pc
http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/4pcs-lot-ZN428E-8-DIP/1908244_32482071868.html
TI7226 5pcs of TI7226 costs 25USD + shipping --> 5.5 US/pc
(and the cost of extra components)

Still, the DIGIMAX has a proper layout diagram and schematics on the link RobertB provided, and a working protoype with step by step built instructions (pictures in the Youtube video), also a C64 (REU) program that can play MODs, and an other one that can play big WAV files.
More complex and expensive to build than the ZN428E Covox device, but already has some support.

OFF: while the heck the links in the < url > tags do not work?


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, there was an OPL2 solution by Commodore itself, supported by Yamaha chip YM3526 with DX technology, and later almost the same implemented in Adlib on PC.
Called Commodore SFX Sound Expander.

It has 9 voices, two operators and works well with an external (midi?) keyboard too, or the below addon.
And proven work with Commodores. There are some videos controlling it with Arduino

There is a add-on keyboard ("Incredible Musical Keyboard") that works with the form of C16 too, and with that Sound expander would sound better (and higher polyphony) than the SID itself.
The sound it produces is very similar to the background music I remember from Dune2 on PC.

Incredible Musical Keyboard (plus a demo of Sound Expender at 7:30):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RX4JfLCaBMU

Sound Expander demo from 2008
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR5RcXSlKNU

Longer from 2015, and this guy told he can produce one for C64, just in case :-)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOKcDSakqt8

Posted By

RobertB
on 2016-05-05
22:13:46
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

MMS wrote:

> Although there is an existing C64MOD player, just need to be converted (http://csdb.dk/release/?id=58189&show=review#review)

Vanessa also wrote MODPlay 128.

http://csdb.dk/release/?id=16381

Perhaps the 128 version is easier to convert to Plus/4.

Truly,
Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group
http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm
July 30-31 Commodore Vegas Expo v12 -
http://www.portcommodore.com/commvex

Posted By

MMS
on 2018-04-03
03:42:28
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

OFF
I found the topic for this cards, this guy is producing and selling the closed, built with the improved Yamaha chip: 30€ + postage
I will probably buy one from my C64, but I will need the piano-simulating plastic add-on keys too.

http://www.lemon64.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=54697&sid=2d03f861634423c7e6a79ddc109356a0

I quickly checked some documentation, I think due to memory mapping it will be not easy to implement for Plussy. Despite has a very nice voice...

All the details: http://www.floodgap.com/retrobits/ckb/secret/sfx.html

UPDATE:
SFX Expander Schematics:
http://www.zimmers.net/anonftp/pub/cbm/schematics/cartridges/c64/sfx/

Posted By

4-Mat
on 2016-05-08
14:12:33
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

On subject of that FM cart, I wrote a music driver using that and SID chip together which you can download here: http://csdb.dk/release/?id=147615 Uses XM module files for input. If there is ever a plus/4 version perhaps it can be adapted for FM and TED.

Posted By

MMS
on 2018-04-02
16:18:19
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Hey 4-MAT! Thanks!
Nope, the SFX Expander does not exist for Plus/4, although Commodore should have develop it for the Plus/4, not for the C64.

I write my note, because there is a Covox revival project for PC, with very accurate resistor ladder (probably the 0.1% resistors sound even better than the ZN428E-8)
https://www.serdashop.com/CVX4

What would happen, if this device would be connected to the user port, and controlled by high speed ACIA? Just sending our bytes...

I am not sure, but I think even no specific voltage conversion required (as in case of RS232), just sometihng similar to the GEOCABEL or cable or this with different connector:
http://plus4world.powweb.com/hardware/Userport-Centronics_Cable

I will built this one...
http://old.pinouts.ru/ParallelPortsCables/GeoCable_pinout.shtml


Posted By

MIK
on 2018-04-03
05:37:16
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

2-op FM can be a bit flat by it's self and like it's big sister the 6-op DX7, if you can pass the sound through something else, (as many pro musicians do/did) to not only clean it up but to also add a bit more body then your find it can do amazing things. In my own view FM was the greatest sound chip of the last century, much of the commercial pop music from the 1980's and 1990's is testament to that. Many an arcade machine and even Pinball machines used it from the late 80's to early 90's, and why Sega would put a 2-op FM chip in a Megadrive.

If you can pass FM through something else then even a 2-op synth can be impressive in the right hands. Something a Yamaha PSS680/PSS780 has is Stereo Chorus which bounces the sound from left to right very quickly. What it sort of does is make an average sound become bigger, wider and sound more fuller, more expressive. If you have one of these keyboards and want a sound or 3 that might blow your mind then ask, over the many years I've created some nice ones.

So yeah..., the chip by it's self isn't really enough to make use of FM's full potential. If you want to give SID a run for it's money, (and then some) using a 2-op FM chip then add something like Stereo Chorus before it passes out of the aux.

Posted By

MMS
on 2018-04-03
04:18:40
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

The Sound Expander (and their siblings) were release between 1984 and 1986.
I suppose if Plus/4 would have been more successful, they would release it for the 264 series too.
(as it had expansion port passthrough connector too, the 1551 connection would not be a question too)

Checking the schematics (taking away the keyboard decoder part, we do not need) it does not look too complicated either. I will check with my contact who is an expert in such stuffs, how easy to realize this.

Posted By

MIK
on 2018-04-03
05:38:54
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

That C64 Sound Expander might be an easy option to look at but really it's a bit too simple in my view. Unless you have full control over the sounds, as in sound editing synth software then it will offer very little. It might as well be called a pre-midi sound module.
Don't forget that like the Portasound keyboards that came around that time such as the PSS460/PSS470 they have FM drums. Those drums are regarded as cool today but could use 3 of the 9 voices.

If such a thing was possible the 1988 PSS480/PSS680 era of 2-op FM chip keyboards would be the one to go for as these babies are 12 voice/note polyphonic. Another idea would be to have a midi box on the Plus4 and software so it can talk to these keyboards directly. That would reduce the need of an FM chip to put on a circuit board.

Posted By

MMS
on 2018-04-03
19:20:41
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Hi MIK,
Actually I tend to agree with you.

Some comments for consideration:
-Adlib FM chip (=almost the SFX Expander) is really a kind of limited and not easy to program. But SFX Expander released by Commodore itself, it was existing for a C= 8bit, and released almost at the same time as our machine. there are existing drivers and programs on C64, and the sound card can be controlled played via simple keystrokes, no other HW is a must. 4-MAT just made 2 years ago a driver, it can be done together with TED too, as he said (really kind from him).
It could be more or less historically accurate "what if Commodore..." equipment. Because this could have been easily happened back in 1985 with Plus/4 too.
Did I mention the nice black box of it? :-)

-8bit mono or stereo Covox/Digimax on User Port just follows in a simplified form the evolutional step made by Amiga, and made it's music so attractive for so long together with MOD music. It exists on a lot of 8bit machines, ZX spectrum, SAM Coupe. Very easy to build, easy program, just send out bytes to an address.
Cheap.
Mod players exists on C64 and C128, though we are short on memory and CPU power, and we have no REU to extend our RAM, nor SuperCPU.

-MIDI: midi is nice. It is standard. You plug any midi synthetiser, and it will play, irrespective the chip it uses.
The funny thing, that IF we would have a MIDI interface like MSSIAH or DATEL, you could use Roland MT-32 music with Plus/4. (I will explain later).
BUT we do not have.

We are REALLY lucky. HERMIT released few years back ai IEC based MIDI interfae, HERMIDI
As it is IEC based, it is fully compatible with C16 and Plus/4 too (C116,sure!)
https://sourceforge.net/projects/hermidi/?source=navbar
http://csdb.dk/release/index.php?id=126812

and TEDZakker has built in support! Question, what a Roland MT-32 would do with the TedZakker MIDI output? (as it is a pre-GM device)

I have a MiniMoog VST on my PC with USB KORG keyboard, but it is not general Midi compatible, as it is fully analog. But really nice sound
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=222&v=2-zGWXZ8uU8
My Yamaha Portasound PSS-102 has no midi connection, so I am out of devices...

As on the bright side, I see how a current PC connected with a MIDI2USB can emulate MT-32/General MIDI.
SW used MUNT.
You need an external control, like a PC with sound card with MPU-401, but TEDZAKKER with HERMIDI may do something similar.
Very interesting, WORTH to check, even if you only a PC retrogamer. I will try it out in the next days.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvuncHhza5A

So maybe we just need next to HERMIDI, a PC and a MIDI to USB converter (few bucks), I suppose it should work. And we have Roland MT-32 for Plus/4

Some cost calculations:
-Yamaha chip based sound card: ~30€. Still without box or cover
-Covox card / DigiMAX: 10€, but just digi playback, we are limited on CPU power and RAM
though SID wave emulation could be done thought it, with less CPU requirement (no 4 bit conversion), better quality
-Connect CVX4 (22€) to Userport somehow. Same as Covox, better sound.
-Build HERMIDI (10€?), buy a MIDI2USB interface (10€), have a normal PC with free MUNT SW

Posted By

MIK
on 2018-04-04
12:47:18
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Yeah that reminds me from what you said,

The PSS480/680 do not have general midi, they have an older version. In fact even the Korg M1 doesn't have general midi either. When I used to mess about with midi on the Amiga you had to remap the sounds to what the keyboard uses, like general midi has a Piano on voice 01 but that might be voice 52 on something that came before general midi.

If you get the time, check out the manual of a PSS680. With the correct hardware a lot could be done via midi, even your own patches/custom sounds could be save to a floppy drive via midi. Very cool but yeah like the Korg M1 things were changing as they were in the computer world very quickly so things like the PSS680's midi are largely forgotten about.

Posted By

Frederick
on 2018-04-06
12:40:00
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

If newer hardware is a possibility then someone might want to look into the Propeller microcontroller from Parallax. It's a 40-pin DIP microcontroller that has eight separate cores you can program to perform different tasks concurrently, and it has found its way into more than a few retro-inspired builds as a substitute for an FPGA or CPLD (for example, the Propeddle project). People have written emulators for the SID and AY/YM chips along with some others, as well as some totally new audio implementations that are pretty impressive.

There's a representative list of audio projects at http://obex.parallax.com/projects/speech-sound that might give you some idea of what the chip can do (look at SidCog and AYCog as places to start). There's also some online forums at Parallax that have some really neat stuff but it's not very easy to find anything there. I'd post more but I don't want to take over the conversation, and also the forum thinks I'm a spammer if I add too many links.

(Something like that might also open up the possibility for a low-cost multimedia module for the Plus/4 series, as the Propeller also has onboard circuitry for composite video generation and there are sprite-based graphics drivers written for the Propeller using the cores to render video scanlines. I had thought about trying to build such a thing as a hobby project but I don't own a Plus/4 at this time, and I also have a nomadic lifestyle that prevents me from collecting more old electronics at the moment.)

Posted By

MMS
on 2018-04-11
20:52:15
 Re: Modern sound chip for the Plus/4?

Hi Frederick,

Thank you for your comment! I checked the Parallax, and seeems to be a very competitive product. Strange, that I did not hear about that so much, and somehow the projects seems to be stopped around 2014 (?).
The projects I cheked are very promising, but only the SID one (and a VGA) was something related to this matter.

The concept I have in my mind, would be to be compatible with SOMETHING. I mean, we have very few musicians on this platform. The possibiltity, that they will change from TED or SID to a completely new concept (music editor?) is almost zero.
On the other hand, if we choose a chipset have wide acceptance (or standard), support on other platforms, even available music files, make us possible to just download a music and use it, like the SID musics.
MIDI comes very handy, if the MID files could be transferred played somehow via HerMIDI interface...



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