Arcano MIDI NES Chiptune Synthesizer Now Available Via Kickstarter

chiptune-synth

The Arcano MIDI NES Chiptune Synthesizer is a minimalistic, microcontroller-based synth, designed to emulate the classic chiptune sound of the Nintendo Entertainment System’s APU (audio processing unit.)

The synthesizer’s MIDI input allows musicains create NES-video-game-style chiptune music using a MIDI keyboard or other MIDI device.

It’s being made available via a Kickstarter project, which is already fully funded. Here is the official intro video:

The Arcano is being made available prebuild and as a DIY project.

Each Arcano MIDI NES Chiptune Synthesizer includes a preprogrammed microcontroller; however, each synth also features a 6-pin AVR programming header, allowing programmers to flash the embedded ATmega328 microcontroller with their own custom software. The programming header enables hackers to create their own custom waveforms, envelopes, software low-frequency oscillators, and PCM samples.

Unlike many other microcontroller-based synthesizers which use internal PWM peripherals to generate weak, scratchy, low-quality audio signals, the Arcano MIDI NES Chiptune Synthesizer uses an auxiliary digital-to-analog converter chip to create a clear, high-quality audio signal.

Specifications:

  • 3-note polyphony
  • 1/8” (3.5mm) jack mono audio output
  • MIDI input through standard MIDI DIN connector
  • 7-segment LED waveform mode indicator
  • simple two-button interface
  • embedded ATmega328 microcontroller

The Arcano is available to Kickstarter backers, prebuilt or as a DIY kit, starting at US $65.

How To Make 8-Bit Music: An Introduction To FamiTracker

nes-systemIn this post, guest author Joe E. Allen takes a look at making 8-bit music with FamiTracker  – a free windows tracker for producing music for the NES/Famicom-systems.

How To Make 8-Bit Music:
An Introduction To FamiTracker

In this series, I’ll be introducing programs that you can use to make music on old video game consoles, or more specifically, the sound chips found inside these machines.

Each of these programs can be learned using information and tutorials found online – so through this series, I hope to simply offer an overview of the software/hardware in question and the artists that use it. Perhaps this will whet your appetite and encourage you to learn more in your own time.

SONY DSC

One of the best places to start is the Nintendo Entertainment System, above, or the Famicom, right, as it was known in Japan.

The NES redefined the home console experience when it was rolled out across the globe in the 1980s, and these days its sound chip (commonly known as the 2A03) enjoys a prominent role as one of the most popular tools for making chiptune/8-bit music. And one of the most popular ways to program this chip is with FamiTracker. Continue reading

Game Of Thrones Theme On 8-Bit NES Keytar! Plus – Friggin’ MIDI-Controlled Lasers!

This video, via Greig (Theremin Hero), captures an 8-bit NES Keytar performance of the Game Of Thrones theme – with MIDI-controlled lasers.

Greig’s NESKeytar is a cross between an original Nintendo console, a Guitar Hero controller and a miniature toy keyboard. The hybrid instrument fully utilities the NES sound chip to produce lo-fi arpeggios, heard in this tribute to the theme of Game of Thrones. Continue reading

Ninstrument Intros MCTRL – A MIDI Controlled NES Gamepad

MCTRL-midi-nes-controller

Ninstrument’s Chris Blarsky contacted us to let us know about the new MCTRL – a MIDI-controlled NES Gamepad.

Why would you want a MIDI-controlled NES Gamepad?

There are many homebrew audio/video titles for the NES that can’t easily be synced with a traditional DAW or MIDI keyboard/device. The MCTRL (pronounced M-CONTROL) incorporates MIDI In, Thru & Out – making it easy to integrate the NES into your MIDI setup.

MCTR-midi-connections

Continue reading

Free Music From The Electric Witch

Reader Zac Bentz let us know about a couple of new albums released by his project The Electric Witch.

  • Assassin is an album of dark synthpop originals with vocalist Marcus Matthews; and
  • NEScapism is a collection of Nintendo covers. Bentz notes, “These are the songs that I would let play over and over, ignoring whatever might have been happening on-screen.”

On both albums, Bentz makes extensive use of iPad synths, including Animoog, DM1 and Sunrizer, along with some microKorg vocoding.

The albums are available now for $1 or more. You can stream them for free via the links above, and Bentz has released a free track for each album.

You can download a free track from Assassin, the title track, above.

Continue reading

NESynth Gets MIDI Support

NESynth

NESynth – a synthesizer that recreates the ‘8 bit sound of video games in the 80’s’ – has been updated with MIDI support.

New in NESynth 1.6:

  • CoreMIDI is supported. ?iOS4.2 or later )
  • Supported MIDI interface
    • YAMAHA i-MX1
  • Supported USB MIDI keyboard(iPad only)
    • KORG nanoKEY
  • Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit is required to connect a USB MIDI keyboard.
  • Connection with a MIDI network is possible via WiFi from MAC.

NES Controller To CV Interface Lets You Control Your Expensive Modular With A Cheap Game Controller

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This is a sneak preview of an upcoming NES controller to CV interface. 

The NES controller to CV interface will let you control your expensive modular synth with a cheap game controller.

Awesomely geeky? Continue reading

New Cartridge, BeatBox, Turns Nintendo Into A Drum Machine

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Here’s a preview of Beatbox – a new cartridge that turns a Nintendo into a playable drum machine.

Features include:

  • Ability to play live and record Drum Loops & Fills.
  • Each Loop or Fill can contain up to 99 key presses.
  • 4 Recordable Drum Loops
  • 2 Recordable Drum Fills
  • 2 Drum Kits, 8 samples each
  • 4 Sample Frequencies
  • TV or Monitor is not required.
  • Works with original Nintendo controllers
Beatbox is available now for $49.99.