I got my hands on 5 different Commodore 64 SID revisions (6581 R2 R3 R4 R4AR and 8580 R5) so it seemed obvious that a comparison would be a good idea. So I did it.

Started with a track that has been composed on a 6581 SID, recorded it with all the 5 different chips and wrote a post about the procedure. Then I thought it would be fair to do the same thing with a 8580 track and record it through all 6581's as well.

The result is a 3 part article with audio examples, waveform screenshots, some additional information and conclusion. Bring some cold beer, chips, etc. and follow these links:

SID shootout Part 1.
SID shootout Part 2.
SID shootout Part 3.

I've chose nice demoscene music instead of well-known game soundtrack because these ones are great to listen to and also show serious sound design skills, sometimes I felt the SID was crying while producing the audio.


This is really cool. Great job!

Wow, very cool comparison! Part 2 definitely shows the differences between each chip and that R3 sure is noisy as hell.

Thanks for this.  I've always heard they were different, but this shows how different they really are.

yeah, all of those revisions are different and in theory none of the c64's sound the same because of the circuit design and different elements in and around the SID chip smile
i'm going to make another test soon because i'm curious how the R3 would sound in the Breadbin motherboard. will it be noisy as hell or the noise depends on the VIC chip..?
ladies and gentlemen, make your bets smile

Most modern demoscene musicians stick with 8580, though personally I have a soft spot for the rumbly R4 filter.  (the best sid is the one you grew up with I guess)  The 8580 also has slightly different waveform reponses here and there iirc.

Just in love with R3 smile

4mat: yes, each sid revision has its beauty. for a loong long time i only had the 8580 and once i bought an old breadbin with 6581 every music sounded weird smile even the ones that were composed on 6581.
the 8580 can mix waveforms and it has some other advantages as well.

i would love to hear more opinion about different revisions and their sound, probably everyone has a different opinion and taste smile

Since the initial post in this topic I made a few more comparison tests. Check it out if you are interested to hear how the SID replacement chips sound compared to the original:

(start from the bottom, newer posts are on the top)

I really like some of the mixed (broken) waveforms on the 6581. If I remember correct the tri+sqr can be really raspy and expressive with PWM.

This is a great resource, thanks for the hard work